So here’s the file that almost killed me, Director.
I won’t bore you with the tally of databases plundered, light-years jumped or cute, sniffling orphans created in its compilation—our fee already reflects Level Of Difficulty. But this dirt is out there, if you know where to look. Seems your cleanup crews weren’t quite as thorough as you’d like, and your little corporate war isn’t quite as secret as you’d hoped.
You’ll find all intel we could unearth concerning the Kerenza disaster compiled here in hard copy. Where possible, scans of original documentation are included. Fun Times commence with the destruction of the Kerenza colony (one year ago today), and proceed chronologically through events on battlecarrier Alexander and science vessel Hypatia as best as we can reconstruct them.
All visual and audio data is included in original form, along with written transcripts. All typographical and graphical anomalies are present in the original files. Commentary from my team is marked by paper clip icons. Some written materials were censored by the UTA and had to be reconstructed by our commtechs, though profanity remains censored as per your instruction. Sure, the story kicks off with the deaths of thousands of people, but god forbid there be cussing in it, right?
The Illuminae Group
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” —Orwell
Interviewer: Tell me about how it started.
Kady Grant: I was in class. This is going to sound stupid, but I broke up with my boyfriend that morning, and he was right there on the other side of the classroom. I’m staring out the window and coming up with all the things I should say to the jerk, when these ships fly right overhead, and all the windows start shaking.
Interviewer: Did you know something was up?
Kady Grant: No. You don’t jump straight to an invasion. The Kerenza settlement wasn’t exactly legal, but we still got traffic around the mine and refinery. I figured it was an ore carrier coming in too low and went back to plotting my idiot ex’s downfall.
Interviewer: When did you become aware of the invasion?
Kady Grant: That would be when all the alarms started screaming. Some bright spark who’s probably dead now sounded the spaceport alarms. The Defiant—that was our WUC protection ship—had transmitted an alert to let the spaceport know unfriendly people with big guns had arrived, and—
Interviewer: How do you know the Defiant transmitted a warning?
Kady Grant: I’m good with computers. I wanted to know what was going on at the ‘port, so I took a look.
Interviewer: You evacuated at that stage?
Kady Grant: You make it sound way more organized than it was.
Interviewer: How was it?
Kady Grant: All kittens and rainbows. Apart from the screaming and explosions.
Interviewer: How did you make it out?
Kady Grant: I’m a lateral thinker.
Interviewer: Meaning you used your comput—
Kady Grant: Meaning I broke open a window.
Kady Grant: I had a truck in the parking lot. I borrowed my Mom’s because I didn’t want to have to take the tube home with him. Having the truck there saved my life. I saw one of my teachers in the lot, and this chunk of metal came screaming in from the sky, and …
Interviewer: Miss Grant?
Kady Grant: I had this moment when I thought I’d left the keys in my desk, and I pulled apart my bag and threw stuff everywhere—I guess I knew I wouldn’t need any of it again, isn’t that weird? But I found the keys at the bottom and jumped in, and just as I start the engine, I look across and he’s standing right there, staring at me. I swear—
Interviewer: Hold on, the survivor list is refreshing. What was the name you were after?
Kady Grant: Ezra Mason.
Interviewer: We have him. He’s on the Alexander.
Kady Grant: (inaudible)
Interviewer: Are you okay to continue, Mr. Mason?
Ezra Mason: I’m all right. My shoulder hurts.
Interviewer: I’ll have an orderly bring you some more meds. You were saying about your escape from the school?
Ezra Mason: Never seen anything like it. Just this crush of people and screaming. Teachers. Students. I mean, we knew each other. Colony that isolated, everyone pretty much knows everyone. But it was like they all just lost it. I remember getting pushed along in the mob and wondering why the hallway was soft under my boots. And then I realized what I was walking on.
Interviewer: So how did you get out?
Ezra Mason: I’m six-five. Played point defense on the school geeball team. One time I hit this receiver so hard they had to ID him with DNA.
Interviewer: Where did you go after the first missile strike?
Ezra Mason: Everyone was headed for the tube station, but I figured a tin can in an underground ice tunnel was the last place you’d want to be with bombs going off. So—
Interviewer: Wait, you people had a subway system? I thought this settlement was illegal?
Ezra Mason: Chum, the Kerenza mine operated undetected for 20 years. Whole families lived there. You know how far from the Core we are, right?
Interviewer: Maybe further than you might think …
Ezra Mason: … What the hell’s that supposed to mean?
Interviewer: Nothing. I’m sorry.
Interviewer: You were saying about the subway?
Ezra Mason: Yeah … Right. Basically I didn’t wanna risk it down there, so I lit out through the fire escape. Doubled back into the parking lot. Which might not have been the best plan, since I didn’t have wheels. And I’m looking around, and the sky is raining fire and I’m still freezing because the wind chill on Kerenza could hit forty below on a bad day. And there she was.