The Separatists are fragmented, largely decentralized, naturally. But they’re political dissidents, nonviolent except the most extreme offshoots, like those out in Alpha Crucis, or the lessor known and more radical sect at Mintaka.
It was the Mintaka group that bombed the hospital on Amaranth Station, a residential outpost well within the Federation’s borders. From what I can tell, they wanted to make it look like a botched Federation job—clandestine—that was supposed to look like a Crucis sponsored attack. Make it look like the Federation did a sloppy job of bombing their own people in an attempt to build support for an invasion of Crucis. In theory, this would generate sympathy towards the Separatists and make the Mintaka group seem less extreme, more justified.
What a clusterfuck.
Might work, too. People are looking sideways at each other for someone to blame for their own shitty choices, maybe wouldn’t mind retiring early on war bonds. But the radiation signature is wrong.
The gamma scattering from the blast points to a very specific mix of isotopes—NNN; an unusual arrangement of Niobium, Neodymium, and Neptunium. It has no commercial applications, military either, so it isn’t something worth the cost to synthesize. It’s inefficient. But its magnetic and radioactive properties make it a half decent core for a dirty bomb if you’ve got nothing else around. The only place NNN is found naturally is the third moon of Pearl, a gas giant. A gas giant at Mintaka.
The problem now is knowledge density. I know, but no one else does, except for a handful of Mintaka extremists who planned the attack from 100 lightyears away. 100 lightyears is a long way. Long enough, apparently, to miss the small science outpost with line-of-sight visibility to Amaranth. I can’t get a message out now with all the local noise from the residual radiation, so I’ve got to take my chances with the escape pod.
But who is going to pick me up? Seems like anyone who might be looking is someone I’d rather not bump into. Like I said, it’s complicated.