Chapter 2
Official Silence
ESS Ticonderoga, Martian Sphere
Date: Wed 11 Mar 123
Time: UST 1147

NIS had a reputation for being overzealous in pursuit of its cases. Lives and careers were often ruined by false accusations as the barest pretense was used to justify third-degree treatment. Maybe they thought it was necessary to ensure no offenders slipped through the net, but their indiscriminate tactics made them hated by most sailors. Supposedly NIS' counterparts in the Army and Air Force had similar reputations. Perhaps it was a case of those who hunt monsters becoming monsters themselves.
Whatever the case may be, NIS had gone too far this time and Admiral Mfume would see them answer for it. Nine of his people had been apprehended with no notification given to the chain of command. Worse yet, the agents afloat used their pull to suppress the security cam footage of the apprehensions. It all stank to high heaven.
Commodore Frazier very nearly deployed the Ticonderoga to pursue and detain the NIS shuttle, but the Admiral stopped him. They would go through proper channels to resolve the matter, but Admiral Mfume did not intend to start at the bottom of the ladder.
The Admiral had spent the past 24 hours waiting for a response from SupCom. When the response finally came, he was greeted by General Watton, the Deputy Supreme Commander.
"Admiral Mfume."
"Sir, where is Marshal Van Daan?" Admiral Mfume asked.
"The Marshal has other priorities at present," General Watton replied. "Besides, he doesn't need to personally answer your every call."
"I am aware of that, sir, but NIS has committed a grievous breach of protocol and it must be answered."
Thoroughly disinterested, the General said, "If you have a complaint with the activities of NIS, take it up with their director and if that gets you nowhere, go to IG."
"So SupCom intends to do nothing."
"SupCom intends for you to follow protocol, Admiral."
The Admiral knew exactly what would happen if he followed General Watton's directions. It was precisely why he went to SupCom first.
"The NIS director will stonewall me and IG will take forever to act on the issue."
"You are speculating, Admiral," General Watton replied. "When you have some evidence to support that speculation, then SupCom may deem it appropriate to expedite matters. That is all. Good day, Admiral."
With that, General Watton severed the connection. Admiral Mfume should not have been surprised. For all the obstructionism of the bureaucracy during the war, it was ten times worse in peacetime. For now, all he could do was follow the book to its inevitable dead end. He did not intend for that to be the end of it, though.