[16] The Metal Case

The spaceport was a mess.

Nihlus picked his way through the debris, searching for a very specific object. With the warped metal and carbon dust coating just about everything, this was becoming more of a chore than he’d thought it would be. And he hadn’t thought of it as a walk in the park in the first place.

Good thing the officer was there. In just five minutes, she’d managed to usher away a trope of hanar poets, a pair of giggling human children, and a turian couple, looking for a daughter who may have been caught in the blast. The officer had directed them to the hospital a block away, in the direction of the Presidium spindle. Nihlus brushed the dust off of another chunk of bulkhead. This wasn’t it, either.

A man sprinted to the police line, skidded to a stop, and dropped to his knees while panting heavily. Officer Adelai walked over, concern covering her face. “What’s the matter, sir?”

The man had rivulets of sweat running down his cheeks and neck. “My father–luxury cruiser Argo–“

“Calm down. Here. Breathe with me.” She made long, exaggerated breaths. Soon, the man began to fall in with the rhythm. “Some passengers are at the hospital right up–“

“Hospital? He’s in hospital?! How come no one– How come no one–“

Nihlus walked to the next pile. Some geometrical things were sticking out. He began to heave off the top. Suitcases. A melted-down shipping crate full of suitcases. One of the misshapen ones he’d tossed aside sprang open. It was full of what looked like human formal wear.

“I… I said, some passengers are at the hospital.”

The man looked up at the officer with tears in his eyes, shining, even at this distance. Nihlus threw away another suitcase. A small one, with a charred picture of the Galactic Crusader’s spaceship on it. He used to follow that show, years ago. It had to be in this pile. It had to!

“Oh god.” A woman had joined the man by the police line. The pile was at his waist now. He kept digging. A solid red one; seemed like it used to be real leather. Out with the rest. And beneath it, there was–

“No! I was supposed to get the flour today! What’s going to happen to my crepes now, hmm? What, officer? I better get compensated for this, I’m telling you! C-Sec better compensate me for this!”

The man looked from Adelai to the newcomer, tears flowing freely now.

Nihlus stuck an arm in, pulled. A metal case came free reluctantly–a metre long, and half again as wide. He pressed it to his chest.

“Stop it,” he whispered. “Just stop it.”

In the background, the woman raged on to the accompaniment of quiet sobbing. Nihlus couldn’t mourn–and he was too tired to even laugh at anything else he’s seen here. So he openly laughed at that.

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