The Plothole

CatB Page 1 opens Clear and the Broken with its first Chapter Clear and the Body Thieves. It opens with a reintroduction to Clear, the state of Mars and the fate of The Hopeful at the end of Clear and the Hopeless, as well as the reminder that her current ship is The Unbroken.

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Introduction of the Bounty Hunters

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The story then opens with Clear perched upon a rock and spying on an old mine, once belonging to Liger Electronics, through binoculars. A new bounty was out on her and she knew that a group called the Crystal Bounty Hunters were on Mars in search of her. She had laid a fake trail to the mine as her hideout and waited until, finally, a vehicle approached, which she assumed was a hovercraft on loan from Saffron 5. She recognises one of them as Altus Grant from the records she had obtained from The Republic concerning this group. He was a former member of the Army of Light, a religious group of militaristic zealots in the name of a deity called WriterGod. Clear could see the Angel Core on the spine of Grant's armour as he headed towards the mine. He stopped outside the mine, however, and she knew he must have seen her trap. Regardless, she sets off the explosives and hopes that it will at least cover her as she makes her escape. She uses a motorcycle that has been specially designed for Mars' dusty plains with their oversized wheels and rides towards her true hideout[CatB 1]. Clear puts a new Conglomocorp battery into the capacitor she uses to power up her hidden den. She accessed the satellite network around Mars, which centred on Saffron 5. That is where must human visitors go, rarely leaving its perimeter, though some went to Martian 'ghost towns' or to execution zones, or to the old hospitals that had been overburdened with the last of the Martians during the final pandemic. She used the satellite feed to look at the mine but saw no signs of Grant or the other bounty hunters. Her den was overlooking the Bay of Elysium, which, despite being named after Elysium, was used to dump industrial waste and a place nobody visited since the corporations moved out and left it a wasteland. Her PIP alerts her to people approaching. She shut off the power to the den and packed a bag, in which she included her old shoebox of photographs of Martians before they were wiped out. There were three men approaching in another rental vehicle, but she only recognised one of them, a man named Sayo. She ran, but as she got outside a stun grenade knocks her down. She manages to scramble, eventually to her feet. She manages to reach her secret hangar with a curtain covering the front and her starfighter, Hoopa, under a sheet. She climbs in, powers up and exits the hangar where she finds the hovercraft. The occupants instantly vacate and flee as she opens fire on it. She then flies off[CatB 2]. She goes to meet with her old friend, Kara Pashna. Pashna had been charged by the Indran Gods to preserve the Indrans and the life of the planet elsewhere through bioengineering. Here, on Mars, with Clear's blessing, is an area filled with life from his homeplanet, such as the plants and insects. When Clear spots a humanoid figure, she thinks he had finally brought back one of his people, but it turns out to be an automata. Then she realises that he has turned her old Bug into part of his home and he explains there was no saving it as a spacecraft so he wanted to use the old vehicle as part of his home in its honour. He also mentions that he has named the automata Map, which she remembers is the name of Litik Map - Pashna's old love. She explains the trouble she is in with the Crystal Bounty Hunters and needs to use the terminals. She researches the hunters and manages to find one of the faces aside from Sayo, Brandiff Alexander Kerwin III, who was owner of an antiques business called Toy House. He seems to be a grave robber and a thief of indigenous peoples' artefacts. However, he did not seem to be a trafficker of people, so she suspects she might be able to use him against the rest of his outfit by appeal to his moral compass, especially if she is his first time trying the trade[CatB 3]. Clear has flown Hoopa close to Saffron 5, which sits besides the inland Hellas Sea, between two fjords; Dao Fjord and Harmakis Fjord. She doesn't want Hoopa stolen, so she leaves it hidden near the spaceport and drives a van along the road between the fjords. She leaves the van in the parking lot and pushes past the crowds into Scimitar Building, the lower half of the spaceport. The upper half being Twilight Station. The rules of Scimitar Building were less rigid than those of Twilight Station. She found her way to the office of Chief Eos, in charge of station security. Inside she met the anthropomorphic bat alien, who she dubs "Batgirl". The woman dressed rigidly and formally and neatly, with everything in exacting position. Clear asks to stay on Saffron 5, as she wants to try hiding in plain sight as hiding in the middle of nowhere hasn't worked. When Eos wants to search for the group online, Clear asks her not to as their technology expert might detect that security is onto them. Ultimately, Eos asks if Clear wants a beautiful room with a view, or a less conspicuous abode[CatB 4].

From her new secret apartment, she goes to the pub and orders two ciders with lime from the bartender, who is named Red and nicknames Clear 'Other Red'. However, a stranger then starts trying to talk to her, commenting that Red gets around the galaxy, maybe the universe, or that there's more than one Red. This banter is shut down when Clear shouts at him, tells him she doesn't need a new friend and eventually turns to leave until he says her name and then tells her that the bounty hunters know she's on Saffron 5 and are on the way. Outside the pub, the man approaches her again and offers his assistance. She recognises his accent as an Imperial, though he reminds her that the Galactic Empire is no more and he needs work. Named Lomond Manse, he offers he information on the group and who exactly hired them and data on each member of their team. She agrees and when given his price, agrees again. He is surprised by this and she explains that she will sell his data to the security of Saffron 5 for even more money and she pays him. As he walks he uses a stick for his limp, a war wound that he tells her he picked up in the final battle around Earth when his TIE went down. He curses Polk, who had commanded the Imperial forces, as a president who led the military instead of a real commander. He gives her the data on the hunters so she can inspect them at her leisure, but he tells her directly who hired them. A name named Tiberion Asclepiodotus. He explains this man is a geneticist who leads the way in subjects such as cloning or bringing back extinct species. The man's greatest passion is genetic splicing and that he wants to use Clear's DNA with one of his genetic scarecrows. The man is obsessed with fabricating what he thinks would be the perfect being, but every being he splices together is never worthy and he kills them. When she asks where the information comes from, he openly admits that he's been hired by the hunters. He sees himself as an independent contractor, able to play both sides for money. She curses him out, but he offers her a tip and subtlety points out where Sayo is. Unfortunately Sayo sees her too and she has to run for it. However, the chase is halted when security suddenly barges into the square and Clear suspects they were sent by Eos[CatB 5]. Clear has taken one of the luxury apartments of Saffron 5 after debating with Eos who eventually agreed to keep Clear in the Scimitar Building where she could assign a security detail to keep watch over her. Her view from the large window is of the Red Plains, officially known as Hesperia Planum, and her bed faces the window, where is is using a tablet from Earth to peruse the data she got from Lomond Manse. She identifies who could be the third man she saw with Sayo and Brandiff. He is identified as 'Face' and he is the master of infiltration. She also notices that his skin can change colour from the data, so she doesn't know what he really looks like. She suddenly gets a message on her tablet from someone called 'Quiet'. Though Clear doesn't trust Quiet's words, she cannot help but be intrigued by them. He claims that the hunters know she is still on Saffron 5 and promises to tell her if he learns they know her location. She wants to know his price and he admits he just wants to meet her. She refuses, thinking it's a trap, but he eventually admits that he wants to meet her because he is like her - he is also Martian[CatB 6].

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At the designated meeting spot, Clear makes the stranger wait until she eventually reveals herself to him. He is Quiet, of the devra race of Martians, and he tells her that he only discovered she existed when he saw she became Ambassador of Mars at the Cosmic Nullius. He explains that he was once kidnapped by aliens - the Greys - and taken to Mirare, where he was studied by them. This was how he survived the extinction of their people. She then steals some of his DNA to have analysed, though he says it was usually Martian women that brought gifts to the men, not men giving gifts to women[CatB 7]. She takes the sample to a DNA lab in the Scimitar Building, with permission from Eos, where she meets the lab technician, Cillian Hughes. He has a strange laziness to him that amuses Clear and they play video games and drink while they wait for the sample to spin in the machine. She flirts with him, but they were interrupted by the results. When the results are positive, she cannot think of Hughes any more and demands that he have it sent up to Twilight Station for a second assessment[CatB 8].

Clear ends up sitting atop of the Scimitar Building to keep better watch for the Crystal Bounty Hunters. She speaks to Eos via an old communications system. Eos wishes she could arrest the hunters, but the lawyers for the group would be highly rated and the hunters would definitely walk. But with a benefactor like Tiberion Asclepiodotus, it was unlikely the problem would simply go away. Clear wonders if the hunter named Face could be Quiet in disguise so Eos will go through records on the man. Surprisingly an Æon Starfighter arrives, which makes Clear suspicious as she is the only person on Mars with one. Eos relays the information that the owner identifies as Dark Lancer and has arrived after an incident on Tangris, the homeworld of the Æon Knights[CatB 9].

Clear meets Eos inside a security booth where they enact a plan set up by Clear. They are watching Lomond Manse on the promenade where he meets with Sayo. He gives Sayo a datapad with information to sell out Clear - except it is planted information from Clear herself. She hopes to split the group, leading the more militaristic of them to Syrtis, where there were defence droids, and the less dedicated of them to Newcomb, specifically Brandiff Alexander Kerwin III. She was hoping she would be able to talk him out of his arrangement and weaken the hunters. However, Manse was suddenly harassed by a group of Primary Order stormtroopers, led by the Ambassador of the Primary Order, Millicent Tarq. Clear decides it is none of her business and heads off for Newcomb[CatB 10].
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