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Episode 11: Down To The Bone

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Episode 10: Gag Order

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Episode 12: Full Payload

Episode 11: Down To The Bone
Artwork for Episode 11: Down to The Bone.
Series overview


Hunt the Truth


Season 1

Episode specifications



Air date:

June 7, 2015[1]

Run time:



Episode 11: Down To The Bone was the eleventh full episode in the first season of the Hunt the Truth audio drama.[2] The episode was originally released on Soundcloud on June 7, 2015.[1]

Official summary[edit]

The window on Petra’s lead is closing. With only 72 hours to get past ONI and into Deep Space, it’ll take a miracle–or a timely intervention–to keep the story on track.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

Deciding to stay in his apartment, Benjamin Giraud hears voices outside. Coming to the conclusion that the voices are of Office of Naval Intelligence agents, Ben quickly runs into the hallway outside his apartment and hides in a random room, trying to make as least noise as possible. Ben hears the ONI agents searching for him and he quickly tries to run up a stairway, and is grabbed by the agents, but FERO runs in just in time to kill the agents and then tells Ben to follow her. They find a place where they can talk, and FERO gives Ben a bank account with an abundant balance. FERO tells Ben she will be going dark, but Ben tells her to hold out on her plan for a little while. They part ways and Ben heads to the freighter which takes him to the location of Petra's lead, the human colony world, Bliss. After arriving on the planet, Ben heads to the location. With less than 1,200 feet to go, he is hit by a huge silicate storm but manages to reach the glassed building and kick out a window to get inside. Ben, realizing the building is an abandoned ONI facility, starts to search around. When he reaches the bottom floor, Ben finds shelves stacked with firearms, but turns around to find an operational relay interface. To his surprise, Ben is able to connect his comm-pad to the relay. He finds recordings from alternate views of the incident on Biko, as well as evidence against his interviewee's stories. He also finds details on the SPARTAN-II program and John-117, confirming the rumors Anthony Petrosky told him about. Ben downloads all the evidence but starts getting hit with corrupted files, so he immediately disconnects. With all the files he needs safely with him, Ben heads back to the settlement.[4]

Audio transcript[edit]

  • Benjamin Giraud (voiceover): (sighs) I was running out of time to catch the freighter to Bliss and follow up on Petra's lead. But I wasn't going to the Outskirts; I wasn't going to take down ONI. I was going to sit here, in between the floor joists of my old bedroom and let all those loose bits of silica glass poke through my clothes and scratch up my skin. At this point I didn't care: the room I used to sleep in didn't even have a floor anymore. The night was pouring in over my shoulders and no matter how hard I tried to disappear into my hoodie, the temperature just kept dropping. I never should've come here. They'd evacuated my neighbors, taken all my things, my stash of money, torn everything down to the bone, and they haven't even left me a hint that I had ever existed in the first place. ONI could erase anything they wanted to.
  • Giraud: (whispering) Hunt the truth.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I just sat there. It was quiet... when I got a call.
  • Giraud: Hello, who is this?
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Ben, you need to get out of there now. They've found you.
  • Giraud: What-- FERO? Wait, no-- how, how did you--
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Ben, listen to me. I told you I'd protect you. Now go before it's too late.
  • Giraud: Protect me? I don't even know who you are, how can I even trust what you-- what you--?
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Ben would you-- do you-- just--
  • Benjamin: What you-- what you-- I'm not going anywhere.
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Damn it Ben, have a pity party later. You need to get out of there now!
  • Benjamin (voiceover): It was already too late.
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Okay Ben, listen to me. Ben--

(shuts off call)

  • Giraud: Damn it , damn it, damn it...
  • ONI Operative #1: Oh...
  • Giraud (voiceover): I could hear them out there, through the giant hole where my windows used to be.

(ONI Operatives talking in the background)

  • Giraud: No, no, oh no...
  • Giraud (voiceover): I needed to hide, stay quiet. If they were using biometrics, I needed to slow my heart down too, but I was terrified. And then, I froze. ONI was here and everything became instant.

(door opens, quick footsteps)

  • Giraud (voiceover): I flew out of my apartment into the hall. A door, any door. I picked one. But the plastic sheeting, I stepped too loud, so I retreated and slipped to a door across the hall, soft feet this time, moving as fast as I could toward a back bedroom, avoiding the wrinkles on the floor, navigating the silhouettes of draped furniture, trying to be silent. I curled up beneath the bedroom window and listened. That was my door opening. They were in my apartment. Had I left any evidence?
  • ONI Operative #1: Okay, over there.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I needed to relax.
  • ONI Operative #2: Clear.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I breathed and waited.
  • ONI Operative #1: No, he's here.
  • Giraud (voiceover): They would systematically scan the building until they found me and then they were going to stuff me in a bag. I closed my eyes, tried to disappear. The sounds had gotten faint. This was my chance. I could make it to the stairwell but I had to go now. I went and three strides into the living room, I could hear them coming around. I dropped down out of sight behind a couch. They were right outside.
  • ONI Operative #1: Shhh... he's here.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I waited. It was quiet... and then they struck.

(ONI operative loudly breaks door)

  • Giraud: No, no, no, no!
  • Giraud (voiceover): The agents began to overpower me. They were about to put me down when...

(Giraud gagging, then gunshots)

  • Giraud (voiceover): The agents crumpled to the floor. They-- they were dead. What happened? I-- I tried to clear my eyes so I could see when suddenly, I heard one of the agents, still alive...

(ONI Operative gagging, than a gunshot)

  • Giraud (voiceover): And then he wasn't. I saw the shooter emerge from the shadows, snatching up the ONI COM pads and stepping right up to me.
  • FERO: Do you trust me now?
  • Giraud: (panting) Yes, yes! What-- why-- yeah--
  • FERO: More agents will be here in two minutes. You can wait here to die or you can get your ass out that window right now!
  • Giraud (voiceover): I did what she said.
  • Giraud: Okay, okay, okay!
  • Giraud (voiceover): I just met FERO. I'm Benjamin Giraud and this is Hunt the Truth.
  • Giraud: Alright, I guess.
  • Giraud (voiceover): FERO led the way along the ledge to the fire escape. I was trying not the look down. We jumped the last several feet and I immediately ran across the street to take cover.
  • Giraud: (whispering) FERO, where are we going?
  • FERO: Stop talking.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I did as she said, trying not to think. She moved quickly, staying in the shadows. I tried to step where she stepped but it was hard to keep up. I was almost out of breath by the time she finally ducked into a drainage canal and stopped. I was trying to digest what had just happened.
  • Giraud: (panting) W--were those agents-- Were those agents even--
  • FERO: I don't have time to talk. I only came here to make sure you stay a free man so I need you to listen carefully. If they haven't already, ONI's definitely greenlit you now. You need to get offworld; agents are probably searching your neighborhood as we speak and they won't stop until you're neutralized.
  • Giraud: Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God...
  • FERO: Listen to me. We will protect you. Oh, we're mobilizing in the Outer Colonies right now. Major pieces are in motion so everything's on lockdown. You'll have to make it on your own for at least a few more days. We'll give you the resources you need to lay low.
  • Giraud (voiceover): She handed me a COM pad.
  • FERO: This is completely untraceable, so use it for whatever you need. It gives you access to a secure account too. You'll have more than enough credits.
  • Giraud: What, really? Seriously?
  • Giraud (voiceover): Ever since ONI froze my accounts, I hadn't even been able to buy a cup of coffee. And now FERO was giving me a trap door out of financial ruin. She already saved my life and now this.
  • Giraud: Oh, this is great. I-- I-- I can't thank you enough.
  • FERO: You can access our network of safehouses on there. The protocol's blocked right now but when the lockdown ends it'll automatically prompt you. I'll make sure they know to take care of you.
  • Giraud: Wait, wait, wait. Won't-- won't you be there?
  • FERO: The move we're planning is dangerous, but I'm about to go dark. And this time, it might be permanent.
  • Giraud: What?! Wait, why are you taking this much risk?!
  • FERO: There's no time. The window's closing and the Chief is still taking the fall. Your story exposed ONI, the Biko leaks cut deep. We have those bastards bleeding but when the senators didn't buy on our hack, ONI had a chance to recover so we are going all in while they're still vulnerable. That's why we're on lockdown. The mission's desperate at best, but there's no silver bullet here.
  • Giraud: No, no, there has to be.
  • FERO: It's okay, Ben. I'm not afraid to die. What we're doing is so much bigger than me, and I know there will always be people to continue the fight, people like you.
  • Giraud (voiceover): ONI was coming after me with everything they had. FERO had saved my life and now she was prepared to lay down her own. I couldn't lay low. I knew what I had to do.
  • Giraud: Wait, wait, wait, I may have a silver bullet.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I convinced FERO to hold off on her plan for a few more days while I followed up on Petra's lead. I knew whatever I did, with whatever I found there, would have to be big. But if it took making a major impact to keep another one of my friends from dying in the fray... I thanked FERO again...
  • Giraud: Thank you.
  • Giraud (voiceover): ...told her I'd see her soon and we parted ways. I stayed in the shadows and moved quickly across town to the freighter headed for Bliss, only stopping once at an old military surplus along the way. I stocked up there, then caught my ride out to deep space. When I arrived, I headed straight for the Office of Mineral Rights. On the ride up, the freighter captain had seemed far more interested in bribery than my aspiring prospector backstory. I was hoping the Claims Coordinator would be equally pragmatic.
  • Claims Coordinator: Mr. Jared, a entrepreneur diversifying into silicates does not usually hop on a deep-space freighter to walk the glass troughs. I like your gumption, but I'd love to show you some of these projected yields.
  • Giraud: Uh, actually I already have a projected plot in mind.
  • Giraud (voiceover): After negotiating transport up here, I understood better what the industry considered acceptable compensation. With all the haggard men outside holding gold-plated COM pads, I figured the man who issued the permits would have me plundering FERO's account. So 75,000 cR later, I had access, NAV, and full gear. He seemed alarmed though when I refused an escort.
  • Claims Coordinator: Uh, that's four klicks from here and beyond that periphery, it's a hard slog through raw glass. Some of those formations will stab through bone.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I just signed the waivers. To his credit, we offered me some parting advice... free of charge.
  • Claims Coordinator: Wind really kicks up out there, and the particulates' been extremely rough. We've had to close the shutters twice in the past week. So, uh... if you hear that alarm, you get to cover, okay? Otherwise, it'll tear your skin off.

(automated door opens)

  • Giraud: Thanks, appreciate it.
  • Giraud (voiceover): On the outskirts of the settlement, the horizon seemed to be all quarries. When I reached the periphery though, open pit operations stopped abruptly, and I saw the real glassed planet: a daunting chaotic sea of shapes and textures, black brittle swelling and troughing without end scattered with the skeletons of melted buildings. The terrain was brutal, repeatedly slowing my trek to a crawl, picking through fields of jutting glass. The climate was killing me too. Constant thirst despite constant water breaks. My skin felt like it was cracking beneath my soot-caked gear. And after choking on a mouthful of dust, I've been breathing on the respirator for the past hour. Occasional desert plants pushed through the cracks, bright blue or blood red. But aside from the crows stalking the settlement's landfill, that was the only non-Human life I'd seen. It was all that fine ash, thirty-two years later still suspended in the atmosphere; it precluded thriving life. As it painted the surreal sky above, constantly shifting with the erratic winds, gorgeous streaks to diseased poles; I had been making relatively good time when a cloud of dense ash suddenly descended. I stopped; I was totally blind. I didn't want to take a step; a lethal fall seemed far too possible. I checked the NAV, only twelve hundred feet to go. I was debating whether or not to wait out the fog when it suddenly lifted. It was beautiful for a moment... when a low rising growl snapped me out of that reverie. The storm siren. I pulled up the NAV and started moving as fast as I could. Sudden pockets of cold, hot, and cold again. The wind whipping, sharply back and forth. Bits of sand spraying against me. But I didn't see anything. Behind me everything was calm and front, the sky above the mountains were perfectly clear. Where was the storm? I looked down at the NAV, only a few hundred feet to go. Ahead, I saw the ruins of a huge complex; I'd be there in no time. But then I realized it: those weren't mountains. A black wall was coming from the horizon and it was coming right at me. I flat out sprinted. The storm was closing in. It was the color of night and impossibly tall. I got to the ping on the map; the structure had been leveled. There was nowhere to go and the sand was flying faster. Stinging my cheeks, I looked around desperately, trying to shield my face. They was a massive collapsed section up ahead. I scurried over, bits of glass starting to spray against the debris like tinkling wind chimes. The glass was stinging through my clothes. I half-climbed, half-slid down the waves that oozed and sloped in the pit, slicing my leg on the way down. The sound... was deafening. I had to get in now. I started tugging at a split in the collapsed floor. The storm blasted harder, my skin on fire. I made one last push. The glazing shattered and I slid in as the wall of glass exploded overhead and I plunged into the darkness. I laid there for a bit, before pulling off the respirator. My skin was stinging all over. I checked my outer thigh.
  • Giraud: Damn it, damn.
  • Giraud (voiceover): It was bleeding and it hurt like hell but it wasn't too deep. I pulled out my medical kit, wrapped it, and started looking around.
  • Giraud: Oh, it's collapsed here... also debris on the ground.
  • Giraud (voiceover): Whoever abandoned this place must have had advanced warning and left in a hurry. I shined my light along the back wall.
  • Giraud: Office of Naval Intelligence Subspace Communications...
  • Giraud (voiceover): It was an old ONI subspace relay facility. One of the hundreds scattered in deep space to cut back on comm delays between Earth and the outskirts. ONI wouldn't have left anything useful in a place like this.
  • Giraud: Okay, Petra, what am I looking for?
  • Giraud (voiceover): I followed every warning sign I could find, looking for anything "Restricted Access". Few flights down and dozens of turns in, I was standing in what appeared to be the lowest level and based on the long echoes in the darkness, the room was huge. I moved through dozens of rows of tall shelves draped with drop cloths. Whatever had happened on Bliss, hadn't made a dent down here apparently.
  • Giraud: What am I looking for...
  • Giraud (voiceover): I peered behind one of the cloths.
  • Giraud: Damn...
  • Giraud (voiceover): Guns, explosives, ammunitions, all kinds of after-market mods. None of this was UNSC-sanctioned.
  • Giraud: Seriously, guns?
  • Giraud (voiceover): Had I come all this way for neatly organized contraband?
  • Giraud: You got to be kidding...
  • Giraud (voiceover): But that's when I saw it, out of the corner of my eye. Coming from the shadows at the back of the room, through a glass door.
  • Giraud: No way.
  • Giraud (voiceover): A tiny blinking light.
  • Giraud: No way, it can't be active.
  • Giraud (voiceover): An active relay?
  • Giraud: The relay?
  • Giraud (voiceover): In an ONI facility? There could be anything on it, there could be everything on it if someone screwed up. The surface destruction was catastrophic; they could've just assumed that the glassing had gone this deep. And ONI probably wasn't even operating in any real capacity out here anymore. This had to be... why I was here.
  • Giraud: Okay, let's see...
  • Giraud (voiceover): I immediately hooked up my COM pad and I couldn't believe it. The server was in standby but it seemed fully functional. Something kicked on deep below and low auxiliary light filled the room.
  • Giraud: (laughing) Oh my God!
  • Giraud (voiceover): I started entering queries. Biko. It was current! I remembered the name of the raw file for the Biko video that FERO leaked. That video popped up and so did the second video, the one FERO hadn't seen. I pulled it down and opened the footage. It was a composite of every single angle cameras captured that day. The original video just showed Chief firing down the hallway where four civilians had died. But I didn't see civilians in that hallway, I saw two janitors with a rocket launcher. I saw two couriers with frags and none of them had a chance before Chief dropped them. Shot for shot, bullet for bullet, I watched him take out the terrorists, firing his handgun exactly twelve times, hitting only assassins every time. I saw the bodyguard and four embassy guards firing at Sekibo himself. And the best part was the coroner's reports backed up all of it. Ray's scavenger was dead on; it was indisputable. Chief killed the bad guys, bad guys killed the innocents. I found Sekibo's original request for security and the UEG's immediate automatic rejection.
  • Giraud: I can't believe it.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I had everything I needed to clear the Chief.
  • Giraud: Wow, we got him.
  • Giraud (voiceover): But there was so much more to implicate ONI. I got an awful idea, and I knew exactly what to search next.


  • Giraud: Benjamin Giraud...
  • Giraud: As the results popped up, a chill went down my spine. Psychological profiles on me, conversations between Sully and his bosses, bulletpoint lists of my pressure points and relationships. This was making me nauseated. I downloaded the files but I couldn't read it.
  • Giraud: Oh, no way.
  • Giraud: I scrolled through the interviewees. Gabriella Dvørak's real military jacket? 2524, she was on Dwarka. She never set foot on the planet where she supposedly liberated a young John. The war camp survivor Thomas Wu, the man who also lied about there being camps on John's planet? ONI chose the carrot over the stick with him. They promised to fund more memorials and awareness campaigns for survivors of the Insurrectionist camps that Thomas and countless others endured. I found the actors too.
  • Giraud: Walker, I see you bastard.
  • Giraud (voiceover): Paul Gustivson, A.K.A Jacob Walker, was in there. His acting resumé, personality notes, agreements to surrender existing work and retire. And then I found Deon, or Simon Kensington. There was even video of him rehearsing, tweaking his "Deon" delivery, responding whatever prompts his ONI handler was giving. As I listened to him discuss my emotional vulnerabilities, my nausea turned to rage.
  • Giraud: Bastards.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): But when it came to the story I never wanted to hear, Anthony's story of the SPARTAN program, I realized I was still scared to see hard evidence, to prove the rumors... but I went for it. I quickly found myself looking at highly classified assignments pushed to ONI's scouts in 2516. Queries and requisitions from planet after planet, weighted toward the Outer Colonies and then the qualifications for the SPARTAN-II program: a list of physical and mental criteria, genetic compatibility with a slate of augmentation procedures, and optimal age: six years or younger. I did one last search.
  • Giraud: John-117.
  • Giraud (voiceover): There he was, on a list, 2517. I began to follow his name on a trail of documents that continued past the day his parents thought they buried him. The progress reports, written by scientists. Language you'd use to describe an expensive technological prototype, but they were talking about a child. They had done that to a hero. To my hero, and countless other children. I was just digging in when--
  • Giraud: What the hell is that?
  • Giraud (voiceover): Corrupted files started hitting my COM pad. I immediately disconnected from the server and checked the files. They were fine.
  • Giraud: Oh, thank God.
  • Giraud (voiceover): Then, it just shut down.
  • Giraud: Wait, wait, oh no. Oh-- oh no.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I was terrified. Had I gone over Petra's seventy-two hour window? Had ONI just caught me looking? I checked the time.
  • Giraud: (sigh) Ok. Ok, I'm fine.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I was fine but then, what was that? I looked at the server one more time. That little standby light? It was glowing brighter, pulsing at me. I was starting to lose it, but it didn't matter, I had what I needed and the storm was over. I emerged from the bunker. It was time to leave this sad, ashy nightmare behind. As I trekked back across the wasteland, I stepped with more confidence. I knew this terrain now, and I had ONI right where I wanted them. Please, join me for the next episode of Hunt the Truth.

Blog posts[edit]

The following blog posts were released on the Hunt the Truth Tumblr blog for Episode 11's release.

Buried Secrets[edit]

A bunker on Bliss.
I couldn’t believe the station had survived, and yet here it was—an administrative tomb sealed in layers of glass.[5]

BXR 1774[edit]

A quarry on Bliss.
It was hard to imagine this wasteland as a city. Glass stretched for miles in every direction, frozen like an ocean in mid-churn. Even here, where excavation had left some kind of human thumbprint, the landscape was a harsh one.[6]


From Manikata to Site #1774:

The Silicate Industry and the Profits of Tragedy on the Outskirts

When an alien race launches a catastrophic global attack on a human planet, melting everything on the surface into a chemical soup, most of us would look at that and see a horrifying tragedy. But BXR Mining Corporation saw a business opportunity. As they annihilated world after world in the Outer Colonies with blistering plasma bombardments, the Covenant was doing the silicate industry a solid—literally liquidating every resource curated by society.

Cities that belonged to millions had now been reduced to concentrated surface deposits that belonged to no one. In fact, as part of the rebuilding effort, governments actually offered subsidies to anyone who would remove these building blocks of civilization, already repackaged in convenient silicate glass form. BXR and the rest of the cartel got paid to claim mother lodes of raw materials, and then they sold them at bargain rates. Ever since, silicates had been quietly booming.

Politicians claimed that these open-pit operations made up a crucial first step in the rebuilding process; but virtually none of the resources mined were used to rebuild anything in the Outer Colonies. Market prices sent everything inward, for industries in the Inner Colonies to make every product imaginable. The prices were so low that no one seemed to mind that a disturbing percentage of those products contained the partial remains of millions of melted people. BXR just called those silicates "organically enriched"— not coincidentally richer in valuable zeolites - and I guess when you have ungodly amounts of money, you can call the commercial sale of genocide victims whatever you want and an expensive PR campaign to infer that the dead had all simply evaporated. A partial, but cynical contortion of the messier truth.

I arrived on BXR1774 looking to dig up the truth of the Master Chief; but I unearthed something else along the way: the wholly foreign cultures that accrete in isolated mining settlements. Bliss wasn't a planet anymore; it was an industrial excavation site—not legally BXR's property, but they effectively controlled everything here. And within the confines of the operations perimeter, it's an oddly bustling world: a complex of bars and casinos and commissaries, street vendors with kiosks on every corner selling shockingly expensive goods. You wouldn’t imagine a tiny, gold-plated COM-Pad worth upwards of 6,000 credits to be a hot commodity in a mining settlement; but it was. Everywhere I looked, I saw roughnecks walking around in filthy coveralls, swiping away on their high-end devices.

It seemed as though the miners lived a hard, weird life. Mostly loners, living in barracks, doing back-breaking work 100 hours a week and making a lot of money. People, as it turns out, are much more durable in silicate dust storms than mechanized mining equipment, at least until the constant exposure catches up with them. Apparently, this is how they spent their money—living in this noisy, grimy, depressing place where above the sounds of street commerce and machines and wind, the only sound seemed to come from the countless cawing crows that survived off of the settlement's trash.

Further out, it was all quarries, spanning into the distance, gouged a quarter-mile deep into the crust, massive drills and earth-movers growling way down at the bottom. From the road above, the workers looked like ants.

Beyond the periphery though, I saw the real glassed planet: a wavy, bumpy, chaotic sea of brittle, black glass, cresting in the strangest shapes, crunching and cracking underfoot, jaggedly rough, then suddenly smooth. The landscape resembled a bizarro, surrealist’s nightmare, completely abstract until a familiar shape would materialize from the chaos—skeletons of buildings, pieces of vehicles, the most unexpected pieces of civilization. I guess everything melts a little differently.

I didn't realize how striking BXR's appropriation of land was until it dawned on me that no one working here ever referenced what this place used to be. Everyone who remembered that life was either dead or long gone. Still, out here, some sections had been cleared away—unlike the extreme gouging of the mining operations though, this work had been done with care. I'd heard about that—people going back to their home, clearing away the glass.

Even if they couldn't stay or didn’t want to, they'd spent all that time, trying to reclaim the small plot of land that had been taken from them. From the meaningless weirdness, reminders of what had been seemed to emerge and recede everywhere: crude memorials to victims carved into the glass, curious remnants of lives, lived and lost, reaching from the sludge, frozen in time. The occasional shrine popped up, usually shredded by the storms, but in some places, the sentiments had survived. I repeatedly had to remind myself that half-a-million people used to live in this city. It was their home. It was called Manikata — but to BXR employees, this was simply Site #1774.

Whether you could put the history out of your mind or not though, it was impossible not to see the destruction—it was everywhere. I began to wonder what would happen if the Covenant's attack on New Mombasa six years ago had claimed all of Earth. Or Mars even. What if the Covenant had decimated one of the worlds where UEG Senators and the media moguls had their vacation homes? I’d imagine BXR and the rest of the industry would tread over that wreckage with a little more reverence. We’ll never know though, because no one would ever have let that happen.

That reality had to be infuriating for the people who had carved out a life in this remote region of space. While the patriots of Earth often dismissed the grievances of the Outer Colonists as the whining of entitled children, it occurred to me these people had actually shown remarkable restraint. They'd had more than enough reason to stage a bloody revolt years ago. Perhaps if the Inner Colonists could walk these glass troughs, they wouldn’t be so outraged by the idea of a fight for independence in the Outskirts. Civil conflict would be horrible, but in a way, it would just be the bill finally coming due.

If they could see what I had seen, they would know that so many out here had gone through so much pain. This was the consequence of powerful forces—ONI, BXR, the media—operating in the shadows. Whether for money or power, too many of them had exploited hard-working people, courageous people who stood tall and held themselves accountable—trying to do the right thing, trying to make their corner of space a little bit better. But greed is a pig’s mouth with a black hole for a stomach; and if you let it, it will devour everything that makes us good.

As my freighter cleared the orbital space around Bliss, leaving the Outskirts behind for the comforts of the Inner Colonies, I wondered how many innocent people’s remains were spread throughout the cubic mile of silicates in the cargo holds below. How many people who had tried to make their corner of space a little bit better? How many parts per million of "organically enriched" silicates was low enough, that after tallying all those profits, BXR and all the rest of us, could justify that human cost?

I guess I used to be a pragmatist—a human version of the A.I. that steered ONI's policy—believing that there was always a cost-benefit calculation. But I don’t think I believe that anymore. Because those bits of silica that still hung over that broken planet, trapped in the atmosphere of a world that had been erased, hurt like hell when they hit you in the face. And the insulation that a contractor had squashed into the floor of my apartment, purchased at a bargain rate—a discount made possible by the loss of so many lives in the Outer Colonies—was filled with those same little bits of glass. Now that I'd seen where they came from, the fact that some of those silicates were organically enriched was still scratching at my skin.

The price of our freedom and safety had been steep. ONI had buried that truth under the floorboards, but now they’d torn a few of them up to make a point. But I wasn't scared anymore.

How many people had our government kept in the dark? How many had been rendered powerless or ground up for profit? How many sacrificed people were too many? As far as I was concerned, the answer was one.[7]



External links[edit]

Preceded by
Episode 10: Gag Order
Hunt the Truth episodes
Episode 11: Down To The Bone
Succeeded by
Episode 12: Full Payload