Cadice was both puzzled and frustrated by this exchange. Clearly, there was already a conflict of personalities among the assembled soldiers, but weren't trained members of the military supposed to put such things aside? Secretly, she was glad that Mio had the sense to remind everyone of how they were meant to behave in this situation. Sighing, she decided to leave the room and locate what she had originally come to find: the Brieder tissue sample.
Remembering Mio's instructions, the researcher made her way to the shipping department at the command center. After giving her name and the serial number of the parcel she was to receive to a cooperative desk clerk, Cadice waited as he punched several series of keystrokes into his console.
"I...I'm sorry," the baffled clerk said, "but there seems to be no record of such a package in our S & R system. Are you sure it was to be shipped here?"
"Actually, it wasn't," Cadice answered. "I've already been to the facility at Cretia, where the package was supposed to be delivered, and it's not there. One of my colleagues suggested it was probably at this command center. If it's not, then do you have any idea where it could be?" Her mounting feeling of unease grew. "Any idea at all? This parcel is vitally important to me."
Feeling his stomach flip a little, the clerk made several more network queries. Not only did he re-check the shipping and receiving logs at the command center, but also the Cretia database and incoming shipments in both. Nothing. It was as if such a package had never existed at all--so much the worse for Cadice. She had come to believe that this particular 'catalogued' Brieder tissue sample could be the most important "missing link" in her project!
"Nope. Nothing. Hey--!" He leaned forward. "My screen's reading 'Access Denied'. I'm supposed to have full clearance in this part of the network, which means only one of two things: this system is having serious technical difficulties, or it's been hacked." His face was as pasty-white as a corpse. "All the other packages we've sent and received today are fine. They're all here, or on their way 'there', wherever 'there' is. It's only your package's serial number that's displaying this reading in the Cretia database, although not in the database of our shipping department. What on Earth?!"
"It could have been stolen. Is that what you're thinking, sir?" Cadice asked.
"W--we prefer the term 'misdirected' or 'compromised', ma'am, but yes."
"I have to leave. Thanks for your help!" Without another word, feeling her bowels turn to liquid, Cadice bolted back down the hallway and into the nearest restroom. She had been seconds away from soiling herself outright.
"This can't be happening," she murmured softly, sinking her face into her hands after flushing the toilet. She continued to occupy the seat, squinting her eyes shut against sudden tears. It's not simply that Brieder tissue samples are classified, meant for the eyes of only the finest researchers. Their cell tissue does not 'die' as ours does: that's why it has to be frozen in liquid nitrogen. Brieders are mortal, but unless they're 'dealt with' using lethal, unconventional weaponry, their bodies might regenerate. Very slowly.
If someone unfreezes that vital sample, whoever they are, and studies it improperly, the 'graft effect' might take hold. Who could have stolen it?!