Iron Triangles -- Phase I: The fate of Regisan is set to be announced but the minister is nowhere to be found.

Theatre <Enaj Convention Centre: Sivad>

This is a fairly large theatre, which can probably seat about five hundred people. The walls are dark and lit only indirectly by the houselights. Rows of burgandy seats emanate from a theatre-in-the-round style stage. Rings of lighting instruments surround the stage to light it, and a screen over the stage can be raised or lowered for the presentation of videos and such.

The stage has been set up with a table covered by a mint green table cloth in front of the flags of the Department of Health and the Kingdom of Sivad. There are four chairs behind the table, and in front of each is a microphone, a glass of water and a name card. The name cards read, from house left to house right: "Hon. Geoffrey Cruyer, Minister for Health," "VAdm. John P. Lind, Surgeon-General," "Dr. Anorelezuixal, PHS," "Dr. Rupert James Ellison, PHS."

Anorelezuixal floats into the theater section of the convention center, the heavy light in the room causing its glass-like body to almost glow.

Raisa is currently hurrying from left to right, a dark frown on her lips as she pauses every now and then to speak with someone working the theater. She always bobs her head after a few moments, and moves onward.

~Miss Amondella,~ casts the Centauran to Cruyer's ever-faithful chief of staff. He floats over in her direction. ~I take it you are the director of tonight's event?~

"Until the minister arrives," Raisa replies with a bob of her head. "Just trying to make sure that things are in order." She comes to a complete halt to regard the Centauran for a moment. "Are you ready for this evening?"

"If you could explain to me in somewhat greater detail what I might be asked in tonights event," says Anorelezuixal, switching over to its vocalizer. "I have only been with the PHS for a few months, and thus far have not been particularly involved with the Regisan debate."

"AS far as I know, the Minister is just going to be making a statement," Raisa replies with a faint shrug of her shoulders. She pauses in speaking to brush back a strand of hair. "Perhaps taking some questions... try to best explain to the press what has happened. He may call upon you and the rest of your committee to answer questions that are beyond his knowledge. Medical and such."

Mann steps into the theater, wielding a VIP pass that allows the Councillor to cut through the crowds of clutter and the assembling press as he moves towards the stage. His hands are at his sides and his customary cool smile spread over his features, betraying an inner sense of confidence as he moves.

"I understand," replies Anorel to Raisa. "I will of course answer all questions deferred to me to the very best of my abilities. Though I am not an authority on Isherwood Syndrome, I am still rather well versed on the topic." It pauses. "Still, little is really known about the condition. What we do know is mostly just conjecture."

Raisa gives a nod of her head, "Yes, of course," she replies. "However there are some medical things that the Minister is not as well versed in, I'm sure. It could only be natural, of course, as you've spent time training in the medical field, whereas Minister Cruyer has not."

Mann finds a seat with the other politicos, exchanging a few cursory greetings with his colleagues before focusing his attention on the stage, specifically looking towards Raisa and Anorel as they speak.

A mild sense a of surprise eminates from Anorel. "Really? The Minister has no medical background? This surprises me. I had thought the head of all medical services for the entire Sivadian Empiere would have some medical degree of sorts."

"As far as I know of the Minister, he is not a trained doctor," Raisa says with a shake of her head. "Though... he is somewhat older, so in his youth, perhaps, he could have obtained a medical degree. He has not made any indication to me, in any case, so it leaves me to believe that he will rely upon the committee for medical related questions." The Lunite and the Centauran are speaking near the stage.

"I see," says Anorelezuixal through its vocalizer. "And who else is attending this conference? Admiral Lind I would assume?"

The stage has been set up with a table covered by a mint green table cloth in front of the flags of the Department of Health and the Kingdom of Sivad. There are four chairs behind the table, and in front of each is a microphone, a glass of water and a name card. The name cards read, from house left to house right: "Hon. Geoffrey Cruyer, Minister for Health," "VAdm. John P. Lind, Surgeon-General," "Dr. Anorelezuixal, PHS," "Dr. Rupert James Ellison, PHS."

"Admiral Lind, yourself, and Mr. Ellison, I would assume. Those that were assigned to your committee." The Lunite pauses for a moment to take a breath, fingers once again moving back a stray piece of hair before waving in the direction of the table. "They are the only ones that I know of."

Sage walks through the door into the vast auditorium with hand resting through the crook of Penumbras arm. After squinting at the stange, she leans in a asks him, "What is this about anyways?"

"Isherwood Syndrome and treatment thereof, as I recall," Penumbra replies as he stops next to one of the rows of empty seats and motions for Sage to move in ahead of him. "Another charitable giving opportunity."

Lind steps into the auditorium in his mint PHS uniform, removing his hat and tucking it under his arm - the same arm that holds a black leather briefcase with a brass clasp that almost screams "government issue." He makes his way down a side aisle and towards the stage.

"Isher whatome?" Sage replies with a wrinkle of her nose. "Never heard of it." She scoots past Penumbra and flops down onto a seat.

"I look forward for the conference to begin," says Anorel to Raisa. "Do you know when the Minister will arrive?"

"Quite like arthritis, with some scientific differences that matter little to me, really," Ian says to Sage, settling into the seat next to Sage and resting a hand on hers. "Afflicts a small percentage of Sivadians, you see."

Raisa shakes her head, frown appearing on her lips. "No... I believe he should have been here by now. If you'll excuse me for a moment, I had best check with his secretary to see if he was held up for any reason..."

Rupert enters the theatre late and flustered (as usual). Pulling at his beard he notices Raisa standing and walking towards him. "Miss Amondella," he says with a smile, "sorry I'm late: did I miss anything?"

A lowly public affairs civil servant from the DSA -- ranked no higher than assistant principal -- approaches Raisa anxiously. She glances down at her watch, then asks, in a sort of a hiss, "Where is the minister?"

Anorelezuixal floats away from Raisa and over towards Lind. "Admiral," its says to him in greeting. "How have you been since the ATRV crisis ended? Well, I hope?"

Lind steps up onto the dais and makes his way towards his seat, putting his briefcase down next to him and his heavily braided cap onto the table, facing so that the PHS logo is out towards the crowd. He pulls out his chair, sits down, and pours himself a glass of water from the pitchers on the table.

Sage doesn't seem overly impressed by the answer Penumbra gives her. "So it's its just some wacko disease. How utterly exciting..." She slides down in her seat a little and lifts on foot up, resting it against the seat in front of her.

Penumbra laughs softly. "Indeed. We don't have to stay for very long, I assure you. But considering the Orphic's role in the ATRV crisis and our convenient presence in the vicinity, it seemed prudent to make an appearance. We'll be out of here promptly."

Raisa lifts a finger to hold Rupert and the person from the DSA at bay for a few moments as she turns her back to the pair, fiddling with her commlink. When she turns back, concern is etched across her pale features. "I am not quite sure where he has gotten himself to, but he should be here at any moment," she says, her voice calm, even though anxiety shows in her eyes. "And no, Mr. Ellison, though it would be well if you would join Dr. Lind and Anorel."

"Well, do you have the statement?" asks the Assistant Principal anxiously. "The report will be published tomorrow. We need to get it out now." She shakes her head and says to Raisa, "It looks like you're on."

Rupert shrugs, evidently unconcerned by Raisa's anxiety. He makes his way towards the dias and takes a seat beside Lind, offering the Surgeon-General a smile. Removing a battered datapad from his pocket, he begins to puzzle over today's Enaj Times crossword.

Sage waves her hand in a dissmissive gesture in reply to Penumbras comment, "Yeah I get it. Don't worry. I'll survive."

That gets a chuckle from Ian, who then turns his attention to the assembled scientific types on the stage.

Raisa gives a nod of her head, "Yes, I have the statement," she replies to the anxious woman, hand dipping into her pocket to come up with a datapad. She seems about ready to hand it over before her hand pauses, "Excuse me? You want /me/ to deliver the statement?"

"Do it or get Admiral Lind to do it," replies the Assistant Principal over her shoulder as she runs to inform the media that the press conference is about to start.

With a furrowed brow, Rupert chews over some particularly tough clue. He nudges Lind: "Surgeon-General," he says, turning the datapad so that Lind can see. "Any good at crosswords?"

Lind glances sideways, "I'm rubbish at them, sorry. I stick to fencing. And chess." He smiles slightly, and adjusts his necktie as he waits for things to get under way.

Penumbra is sitting in one of the back rows of the theater with Sage to his immediate right, a hand resting on hers as the scientific types up on stage try to figure out who's giving what statement and the media hounds scramble for position in front of the stage.

Mann sits near the front with the other politicos, a smile on his features and hands folded into his lap as he awaits Minister Cruyer, his mere presence a sign of his political support.

Anorelezuixal , seeing that things are about to begin, floats up onto the stage and levels himself to hover just above the chair behind the card with his name on it.

Raisa brushes back her hair before turning to locate Lind, hastening to join him on the stage. "It seems there's a problem... the Minister is missing. No one's heard from him, and the last I heard he had returned to Aniger-on-Nova to deal with some issues." She pauses for a moment, eyes drifting around, before refocusing on Lind. "If you would prefer to give the statement, that can be done, or I will do it as the representative of his office."

Rupert mouths a clue aloud as he works away at the crossword on his datapad.

Ora drifts into the theatre like a tame cloud of riotous colors, pausing just inside the entrance to eye the stage first before surveying those who attend. Almost unerringly, her gaze slows to a stop upon the proprietor of the Orphic near the back, and as she begins to pad toward him with the muffled brush of charms, a pale brow rises as she notes his choice of companions.

Lind makes a somewhat dismissive gesture, "I suggest you just deliver the statement." He sits back and takes a sip of his water, "Your public awaits."

Sage's look of boredom, soon starts taking on an air of exasperation as the muddle on the stage continues. She leans her head towards Penumbra as if to say something, shakes it slightly and instead rests it against the back of her seat as she starts gazing up at the ceiling high above her.

Mann quirks a golden eyebrow at the exchange between Raisa and Lind, a look of amusement spreading over his features as one foot taps silently against the floor of the theater.

The sigh from Penumbra isn't much more patient-sounding than Sage's. He shifts in his seat. And then he hears a familiar tinkling noise and glances to his left. He sees the Timonae consigliere approaching and his eyes get a little wide in surprise. "Trouble on the Orphic, Ora?"

It takes Sage a few seconds to clue in that her companion is talking to someone. Her head rolls to the side to look. After a moment she grins faintly, lifst her head up and nods at her.

Ora's brows rise delicately at Penumbra's question, her lips curving in the barest hint of dry amusement as she sweeps into the empty seat by his side opposite Sage. "Trouble? On the," she notes mildly, mismatched eyes sliding back toward the stage while her hands play through the scarves and scraps woven into her attire, straightening and untangling them.

Penumbra hmms. Scratches his chin with his free hand. Glances toward the stage. "Burning interest in Isherwood Syndrome, then, eh?"

Anorelezuixal continues to float silently above its seat, awaiting the arrival of the Health Minister and PHS head Cruyer. Patience is not a hard thing for a being that lives for centuries.

Rupert glances at the Centauran doctor as he settles into his position on the dias with Rupert and Lind. Laying aside his datapad for the time being, he watches Raisa with interest as she prepares to make her statement.

Sage listens to the two converse and casts another impatient gaze at the stage.

With a frown, Raisa takes her seat that had been left open for Cruyer, glancing down the table to ensure that all doctors are present before speaking into the microphone, voice calm and confident. "Good evening ladies and gentlemen," she begins slowly, eyes flicking about the theater before she continues. "The Minister has been caught up in other important matters at this moment, however this press conference is to go on as planned." Her hands pause for a moment before a data pad appears on the table, opening up a file. Her eyes drift down to it for a moment before back upwards. "In October 3004, a team of researchers at the University of Enaj conducted a study into the effects on the liver of Regisan, a drug approved for sale on Sivad for the treatment of Isherwood Syndrome. Their paper will be published in this week's issue of the The Scalpel," she reads, gaze flickering back and forth between the document in front of her and those of the audience. After a pause to take her breath, she strives onward. "The study examined the medical histories and health of fourteen thousand patients, half of whom had been treated with Regisan. Among the patients treated with Regisan, there was a substantial increase in the number of cases of liver cirrhosis, a chronic disease of the liver that is in rare cases fatal. Upon completing their research in June of this year, the researchers forwarded a preliminary draft of their paper to the Drug Safety Authority. The Drug Safety Authority convened a Therapeutic Substances Safety Panel to examine the evidence, which recommended in July that Regisan be suspended from the market pending the committee's final report." With this, the Lunite pauses to once again examine the room.

As Raisa speaks, Rupert casts a surreptitious glance at his datapad again, where his crossword remains unfinished.

Lind continues to sit next to Raisa and the others on the dias, listening to the statement, and obviously reading along with the prepared text.

Anorelezuixal adjusts several of its optical sense organs to regard Raisa more clearly. It listens as she reads from the prepared text on the Regisan issue.

Ora hms noncomittally for a moment before she murmurs absently, "Burning interest in a most intriguing thought, yes, which led to a most intriguing sight, but as for the rest..." She tilts her head as she listens to Raisa's report, the focus of her gaze lost somewhere in the shadows high above the stage, before she finishes musingly, "No, I cannot say this is not a familiar conundrum. It is comforting to finally see the balance, lest it fall too far beyond our ability to pay when the bill comes due."

Penumbra blinks a few times as he tries to digest what Ora just said. Moments later, he leans over to Sage and says, "Suffer no longer. Much more interesting events are afoot." He then returns his attention to the Timonae on his left and grins. "Outside, I should think." He stands, smoothing his jacket as he does so.

Sage perks up as the woman finally starts to talk. Slowly but surely she zones out and stares at the wall. It's not until Penumbra speaks and stands that she is jolted from her reverie. "Er yah," she says gladly and perhaps a bit too loud as she jumps up from her seat.

Selia checks her data recorder to make sure its running as she listens

After a brief break in her speaking, Raisa continues on with the lengthy statement. "Based upon the final report of the TSSP, the Drug Safety Authority is announcing the immediate and permanent withdrawal of Regisan's market certification." Her voice slowly grows in confidence as she looks down at the data pad once. "Any patients who are still taking Regisan should immediately consult with their physicians about alternative treatments for Isherwood syndrome. Any patients who took Regisan should also talk to their physician about being tested for liver function. These adverse effects to Regisan did not present during the pre-market clinical trials of Regisan. As a result, the Department of Health is convening an independent committee comprised of three respected Public Health Service officers to investigate how Regisan was approved for sale despite these critical failings." Her gaze then turns to look down the table. "This committee includes Dr. Anorelezuixal and Dr. Rupert James Ellison, and will be chaired by the Suregeon-General, Vice-Admiral John Lind. They will report within two months." Her hand makes gestures to each man or Centauran as their name is spoken. "The Drug Safety Authority would like to acknowledge the continuing cooperation of Grey-Bambury Pharmaceuticals, which developed and manufactures Regisan, in its investigation." Once finished the long string of statements put together into one super- statement, she takes in a deep breath.

Rupert glances up as his name is mentiones, laying aside his datapad again. He smiles amiably.

Anorelezuixal likewise awaits any questions from the audience for it to answer.

Lind folds his hands on the table and looks out over the audience. He leans forward into the microphone and says, "Thank you. We will now take questions."

"So quickly? But I have a burning interest in Isherwood Syndrome," Ora protests serenely, her attention refocusing intently upon the disheartening report given so gravely by the representatives at the fore of the theatre.

You have altered your comment for Raisa to: Nice speech..

"Yes, well, I'll buy you a copy of the magazine, if you like," Penumbra grumbles. "In fact, if you like, I'll buy the magazine publishing company. But we've put in our appearance. Time to go." He turns toward Sage and nods meaningfully toward the opposite end of the row and the other aisle leading to doors out into the lobby.

Selia turns her hoverchair in Lind Lind's Direction "If I understand correctly, Regisan is the most common treatment for regisan, what are the current alternatives?

Lind leans forward again as he answers, "There are a number of safe alternatives to Regisan, including Ishpropan. Regisan is the most popular drug on the market, however, which is why the potential side effects are of grave concern the the Department of Health and the PHS."

Rupert chimes in. "The alternatives are somewhat more expensive however."

It doesn't take Sage long to figure out that if one way of escape is blocked then the other will do. She's already turning the other way as Penumbra directs her.

"Any other questions?" asks the Assistant Principal from the side of the stage.

The corners of Ora's lips dimple further, her contemplation remaining for a few heartbeats longer upon the stage, before she finally consents with a quiet, "Such a considerate man," and then lifts smoothly from her seat to follow.

Selia nods thoughtfully and ponders her next question

"Thank you, ladies and gentlemen," says the Assistant Principal brightly. "You will find a copy of the paper in your press packages. If you do not yet have a press package, you may collect one from the back."

Shortly later, in a city halfway across Sivad...

High Street <Angier-on-Nova: Sivad>

The High Street of Aniger-on-Nova is pleasant. Once traffic roared through the Aniger-on-Nova downtown core, but today much of the High Street is open only to pedestrians and hovertrams. The pedestrian mall continues for several blocks, beginning at King Street (where there is a taxi stand for hovercabs) and ending at Jubilee Street. On the other side of Jubilee Street is the red-brick campus of the University of Aniger-on-Nova.

About halfway down the length of the mall there is a bridge over the Nova River under which sailboats and other watercraft occasionally travel. A small marina is located right beside the bridge. The mall is lined by elegant streetlamps, benches and trees. Near the bridge is Queen Paulette Park, which is a small park green centred around a statue of the former queen. Right beside the park is St. James-on-Nova, a Sivanglican church.

The buildings here are limited to being six stories tall and are constructed in a Georgian style. But though the buildings are shorter than their Enaj counterparts, some important Sivadian firms are still located here. Grey-Bambury Pharmaceuticals is headquartered here, as is AnigerBioNova (ABN). Several national law and accounting firms and merchant banks also have branches here.

The first floor of most of the buildings on the High Street are taken up by street-front shops and restaurants, many with sidewalk patios. One of them is Sabatini's, notorious mostly for being on the site of the famous Il Pomodoro's that burnt down mysteriously in early 3005. There is also a small storefront office under the banner: "Constituency Office of Hon. Geoffrey Cruyer".

Everything seems normal for 10:00 pm on Aniger-on-Nova's High Street. Restaurant patrons enjoy the sidewalk cafes and young couples walk down the pavement.

Raisa comes a tumbling out of a taxi, a frown on her lips. "Still hate the damn things," she mutters under her breath as she straightens out her clothing, handing over money before it goes speeding off. She looks around, arms crossing over her chest. "Now where is he..."

Suddenly the quiet evening is interrupted by a shrill scream from Queen Paulette Park. Heads turn, and some restaurant patrons seem irritated that their meals have been interrupted.

One hand swings down to the right side of Raisa's hip, an almost natural reaction for the Lunite before she clears her throat and smooths out a wrinkle in the skirt. Her gaze moves in the direction of the scream, before she heads in that direction swiftly.

Two newlyweds are staring in horror at something in the bushes. A few other citizens have come running to see what the screaming is about.

Cautiously, Raisa makes her way up, frowning darkly. "What's the problem?" she inquires softly, eyes focusing on the bush, eyes narrowing slightly.

A leg in charcoal grey trousers emerges from the bush terminating in a fine black Oxford. The wife in the newlywed couple points noiselessly at it, seeming to be unable to summon the courage to speak.

Raisa's cheeks whiten a little bit, but she takes a few cautious steps in. "Stand back," she commands softly. "And someone run and find a member of your local law enforcement." With no more regard for the bystanders, she moves in a bit more, gently trying to push the branches of the bushes aside in order to find the rest of the body.

Blood. The theme of the scene in front of Raisa is blood. It is hard to tell just who it is who is lying in the bush. It is a male, probably Sivadian, but his distinguishing features have been obliterated. His face has been ruthlessly beaten and one side of it is now a bloody pulp. His left arm is bent at an odd angle on the ground. A few feet from his right hand lies the man's briefcase, which has been jimmied open and now lies open on the grass. A brass name plate on the briefcase reads: "G. CRUYER." If the man is still alive, he is giving no sign of it.

A long series of curses escape the Lunite's lips as she kneels down in the grass, her face white. "Someone get a doctor or something. He needs medical attention /now/." She looks up, emerald eyes blazing. "NOW," she practically roars, anger appearing on the usually calm and professional features. One trembling hand reaches out to lightly touch his shoulder, before gently sliding upwards to search for a pulse. "Minister? Minister?" she inquires worriedly.

In a moment, several bystanders run off in search of help.

A frantic look slowly begins to appears on Raisa's face as she gingerly tries to check at the wrist. "Minister? Minister?" she questions yet again, her breathing shallow. "Please answer me..."

The beaten man does not respond.

Raisa tries a different approach as she looks around franticly for some sign of medical life approaching. "Geoffrey?" she inquires hesitantly, biting on her lower lip. "Answer, please?" Tears have filled the younger woman's eyes as she focuses in on trying to rouse some sort of movement out of the bloody Minister.

The sound of an ambulance can be heard in the distance, roaring down Jubilee Street.

As the ambulance sounds in the distance, one tear plops down, though the rest are fiercely blinked away. "Minister, stay with me, please," she begs softly. "Don't be dead..."

Cruyer may or may not be dead; but he is not conscious. The ambulance pulls up near the minister and medics pop out. They are quickly directed to the beaten politician by bystanders. The medics each wince before one of them kneels down to determine if the minister is still alive.

"Is he alive?" Raisa inquires hesitantly, shifting back a little bit to give room, though she doesn't leave Cruyer's side.

The medic doesn't answer. "I've got a pulse," she shouts at the other medic. The other medic nods and unloads a stretcher from the ambulance. Meanwhile police officers arrive and try to control the scene of the crime. One of them approaches Raisa and tries to lead her away.

Raisa lets out a large sigh in relief, rising to her feet in order to stay with Cruyer. As the officer tries to lead her away, she growls a little bit, narrowing her eyes. "I'm not leaving him," she says determinedly.

"He's being taken to St. Jerome's Hospital," replies the police officer. "You can find him again there." The bloodied minister is loaded into the ambulance and the ambulance speeds off.

Raisa gives a slow nod of her head as she tracks the ambulance with her eyes. "Alright, thank you," she says softly.

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