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Xavier sits listening to the conversation around him carefully. Mulling over the thoughts in his head, he waits until the conversation pauses before beginning to speak.

Based on what I have been able to learn of the ISN and how it operates from the fleet records, what occurred during our mission is not something that is uncommon. There are several recorded incidents of such missions – investigating insurgencies in systems across the Empire. During these missions, a common theme is a complete sensor blackout, more often than not attributed to some unfortunate equipment failure.

Xavier pauses, letting that sink in. Though he has been well aware of the implications, and had prepared himself to encounter such an instance, the realisation of the truth of the information he has been able to glean weighs heavily upon him

No record is made of any order given to deliberately destroy or kill civilian populations. But based on what we have ourselves experienced, and on the information I have analysed on post mission reports – stations disappearing for all sorts of “accidental” reasons, civilian populations later recorded as “lost” – its evident that these “system purges” are the Empire’s way of maintaining control. I suspect Petrov deliberately avoided using voice communications to give the order; the text comms systems can easily be altered or purged to doctor certain communications.

The problem is, how our mission played out is not how it is supposed to go. The loss of the 3rd Hunter Group and quarantine of the 4th Hunter Group have meant Command have a serious issue to deal with. Official reports still have to be made, and they sure as hell can’t say that the 3rd Hunter Group was destroyed by civilians and the 4th put out of action. It would stir up a hornets nest of issues.

Heavy forces have already been dispatched to the are and the investigation has started. I imagine Command will work up some kind of cover up story –
pirates or hegemony. Whatever happens, they are going to have to spin it some way or another, and that is probably what has got them so riled. We need a solid plan of action for when the quarantine period is up.

Xavier leans forward in his seat. His expression hardensr.

We can’t help those people. It sickens me to think that we are leaving innocent civilians to their fate but we don’t have the resources or the manpower to do anything that would save them. We acted honorably to save them against the 3rd Hunter Group, and we have given them a fighting chance. But that is all we can do.

Pausing again, Xavier’s expression softens slightly.

I think our story of an attack against our ship’s computer systems might just hold up. There was an operative aboard one of those stations, and we came pretty close to the shuttle they tried to escape in. We also tried to retrieve that black box, which we could easily claim had a virus package aboard. What do we need to do to make this convincing? Our explanation of events needs to be water-tight. What do we need to make sure we don’t overlook?