The senator stared, blank faced, for a few seconds at the gaudy flyer then, with pointed deliberacy, pressed a point on his desktop and the image of Joe Spivey's flyer,
along with the grinning buffoon face of Kort Chorfaleo joined those of the two doctors in electronic limbo.
The three images might still be on their faster than light journey through sub-space but they no longer took up the senator's time, and that was the important thing.
Senator Geesh turned to his head of security.
"Well, it looks like Mr Spivey and his companion are no longer of much concern.
So, may his business prosper and his name never darken my office in the future, hmm?" Although the man's lips formed a smile, it never reached his eyes.
Rif's ancient feline senses tingled beneath his skin and it was only through much practiced effort that he was able to prevent his fur shifting in response.
Now that Geesh had finished with the trivia of this unusual case it was Rif's turn to brief the senator on the more serious aspects of the Federation ship's intrusion into Imperial space.
"Update me please Rif."
Unlike Kort Chorfaleo, Rif knew how to conduct a briefing to his superiors.
"As my report says sir, the debriefing of Mr Spivey revealed only the sparsest details. It would seem that our latest citizen is somewhat familiar with being interrogated.
Of course, this may indicate that he has had formal training in interrogation techniques and could reasonably, therefore, be suspected of being a Federation agent.
" Rif paused to see if Geesh reacted to that but the politician's expression never altered from that of mild impatience. Rif continued.
"However, his psychological assessment would rather suggest that an ingrained criminal past is a more likely reason behind his skill in avoiding giving relevant information as to how,
where or why he came into possession of the Federation ship. This conclusion is further backed up by the surprisingly large amounts of suspicious notes and records found about his person.
" Rif managed to form a surprisingly accurate attempt at a human smile. "It would seem that the advertised carrying capacity of Mr Spivey's coats is largely accurate."
Geesh hurried things along by adding his own conclusion.
"Not to mention the fact that a Federation spy would hardly be likely to be taking a coma patient with him on a mission.
" The senator glanced over Rif's shoulder to the cushion bedecked giant bed and its two small occupants.
He had plans for the afternoon and it was almost noon now "Never mind about Spivey or his companion.
The evidence of the reports suggests that they are just a pair of locals who somehow came across the ship, maybe murdered the occupants, who knows?
And then used it to flee whatever authorities were pursuing them."
Rif personally thought there was more to it than that.
Again, to use the senator's own reasoning, what was he 'fleeing' that required the presence of the comatose girl?
But it was obvious that his employer wasn't interested now that Spivey couldn't or wouldn't shine any light on what was his main concern.
"As you say, Senator."
Geesh was scrolling through his report on his desktop.
"The ship was traced back to a planet belonging to an out of the way cluster of systems in a disputed zone. It shouldn't have been there. There was no reason for it to be there.
Those systems are pretty much worthless to either ours or the Federation's economy. The only reason they are 'disputed' is because neither side wants the other to have them.
Hence the thousand-year treaty to stay away from them." The senator stabbed the screen and his desktop went blank. He turned to Rif.
"Find out why the Federation risked an incident to send that ship to that planet. One way or another there is gain to be made here Rif.
And just remember, if it benefits me, it benefits you and your family."
Geesh flapped a hand in the direction of the door and Rif was dismissed.
Rif stood up. For a second, he caught a glimpse of white fur on the bed of cushions. He concentrated on the door.
As the door hissed closed behind him his imagination made him think he heard a frightened, desperate mewing.
In the sterile looking room in the hospital, Joe put the newly framed and enhanced photo on top of the equally sterile looking bedside cabinet.
He adjusted it so that it could be seen from the bed. Should she ever open her eyes he wanted her to see something friendly. Something from before.