"What's needed here is some Regina street justice."
- S. Globber
208 - 1122.
Mikie is with Paul, set up in the rafters above a store across from Clairidges. Gosh, it's frightfully clean up here now, thanks to the Pikhans. Mikie has managed to sneak in a shower, a change of clothing, and he's been given a new cell phone. They are above a nice Vilani restaurant, with all the lovely smells wafting up, so food is obtained and eaten. Afterwards, Mikie tells Paul he needs to get some sleep, wedges himself in, and actually rests. There is something to be said for exhaustion. Corina, Nicolai, Ghaer, et al, get a good night's sleep too. (In regular bed-like things though.)
The gross pathology is back on the 'spare' brain. It is from a fairly young person, with some oddly underdeveloped crenulations, and areas of the brain had been damaged or destroyed. The medical people had heard about organ leggers doing something like this in order to keep a body functioning and alive as a walking donor, but this brain looks like it was 'grown' that way. They think that the body may have been a noble - the blood was almost pure Solomani; a textbook example of Solomani human. And they've accounted for pretty much all of the known Solomani on Regina. Not too hard, since they keep dying off.
Black's people are watching everywhere, but now they aren't even sure who they're looking for. Corina suggests they look for Pamela, which they are doing. Rollings still hasn't resurfaced since he was spotted on camera. Where has he gone, and for whom is he working?
Paul is observing the back of Clairidges, and says "Damn. Why can't I meet women like that?" Mikie sees a very attractive female - short blonde hair, very high tech shades, expensive business attire. Could be Pamela. Mikie tells Paul. The blonde is checking out cases of wine and other comestibles out in back of the hotel, and she speaks to one of the chefs before going inside. Mikie can't be absolutely positive, but physically it could be Pam, and she is definitely completely shielded psionically. Paul calls it in.
Black informs Corina of the Clairidges spotting. Corina: "Well, we certainly don't want her poisoning the food at Clairidges." Black: "I eat at Clairidges." Corina: "Precisely." Corina is concerned that the chef might be Blaelok, but the chef isn't a young man by any means, and is a known employee. Black will keep Corina informed. Her secretary asks what Corina wants for lunch? Her response: "Chili. From a can. I'll heat it myself."
Black asks Mikie to get closer, to confirm Pamela's identity. Mikie agrees, and Black will arrange for a reservation. Mikie gets cleaned up, changed out of the nondescript blue overalls, and heads over to Clairidges.
Nicolai is at the Tea House, and overhears the tea man behind the counter saying something about Stygian Bliss as he wraps up a package. He gives it to the delivery boy, Tommy, who goes outside to his bike. Nicolai asks Tommy to whom he's delivering the tea, but Tommy doesn't think it's any of his business. "Mr. Blevins is very particular. He says some people are picky about their privacy, and we should respect that." Nicolai offers to get Tommy box seats to the Rottweilers' game, but Tommy doesn't like grav-ball. Nicolai eventually decides to just attach a tracker to the bike, but Tommy throws it off a few yards down the road. Nicolai calls Globber, tells him about what he overheard and who he knows that liked Stygian Bliss, but he doesn't know to where it was being delivered. Globber: "And you didn't beat it out of the delivery boy?" Like Nicolai could beat anyone up right now. Globber calls back in a couple of minutes with the answer: "Clairidges, to the concierge". Nicolai calls Corina to give her the info, and then he calls Ghaer with the same. Corina calls Black, but he's unavailable, so she leaves a message and goes back to her chili. Ghaer calls Corina to give her the same information after Nicolai calls him. Ghaer is being post-cognitive again. Nicolai decides to go get lunch at Clairidges.
Corina has asked Ghaer to go to Clairidges, to keep an eye on things, and she'll be over later after she's eaten. Mikie goes to the restaurant, and is taken to his table. A nearby table is occupied by the blonde, and a couple of men in nice suits, not from around here. They are joined by several other people, including an older distinguished man and a dark-haired woman. Mikie watches as the blonde takes off her shades. It doesn't appear to be Pamela, or at least not exactly. But it's so hard to tell with these people. Damn. All the people at the table are wearing little lapel pins, but Mikie isn't close enough to see what it is.
Nicolai comes in, is told he will have to wait for a few minutes as a table is being cleared (since he doesn't have a reservation). He is told he can wait in the lounge, and he walks through the restaurant on his way. He sees Mikie, in a table Black frequently uses as it has a perfect tactical viewpoint. Nicolai continues on, and sits at the bar. He gets a drink from the attractive redheaded bartender (although he doesn't drink it - no more drinks from strangers for him), and they pass the time. Redhead: "Ah, Solomani. Are you with those other folks out there?" (Gesturing towards the restaurant area vaguely.) Nicolai: "Oh, are they already here?" She doesn't know anything more useful than that.
Nicolai is taken to his table after a few moments. He can see Mikie, but not the other Solomanis. Mikie watches them as the waiter explains the specials. Nicolai sees Mikie concentrating at something, but he can't tell what. Mikie has just discovered that all the people at the table are shielded. Oh boy. Mikie needs to ask some one what to do, but he has no idea who to call when Black isn't available, and he's not. He gives up and calls Paul, who asks "Didn't they brief you??" Well, they did, but Mikie was falling asleep at the time, so he doesn't know who they said to speak to. Paul will find out who Mikie's control is. In the mean time, Mikie is to observe, and only call if something major happens.
Ghaer sees the tea delivery boy show up, looking a bit miffed (after being detained by the police). He delivers the package to the concierge, and is given a really nice tip. The concierge gives the package to a female, and tells her "Anna, please see to it that this gets to the guest in suite 2A." Ghaer phones Corina, and gives her the info on where the tea went.
Shortly thereafter, Mikie sees an elderly oriental woman come over and join the Solomanis - it's Ming-Na Ling. Mikie phones the Duchess, and asks her "what shape are the Ling Standard lapel pins?" Corina: "Rectangular." Mikie: "What color are they?" Corina: "Blue. Now that we're done playing mega-corporation trivia, why are you calling?" Mikie: "Your grandaunt is at Clairidges, having lunch with a bunch of Solomanis. One of them may or may not be Pamela, and they're all wearing what I think are LingStandard lapel pins. Is this something you were expecting?' Corina: "Nooo." Mikie: "Okay, just thought I'd let you know." Corina decides it's time to go to Clairidges, after putting on her armor. Her personal bodyguards, Jack's old friends, are told "it could get nasty, but it looks like it's a family matter, so you'll mostly be preventing other people from interfering."
Corina enters the hotel, goes to the restaurant, and joins Ming-Na's table. Aha! Nicolai knew they were all in this together! Corina is greeted very affectionately by her Grand Ma-ma, who didn't tell Corina she was coming because "this is just boring business." Ming-Na needs an hour or so to deal with this little bit of business, and then she'll be free to speak with Corina. A waiter comes by with a flaming roast beast, which looks like the boar is poised to leap off the platter. Corina gets one whiff of the meal, leaps up, and runs for the bathroom to throw up, panicking the bodyguards who run after her. She eventually returns to the table, after tidying up. Ming-Na understands - "some women are affected that way. How are you? And how is our little one?" Corina: "All right today, but there are some of your business associates who will not be invited to the christening." Ming-Na lets that one slide. Corina: "Will you be introducing your associates?" Ming-Na: "Oh, I'm sorry. This is Dr. Blevelt, and this is his wife Tracy." Those are actually the only Solomanis - the Ken and Barbie couple. Corina is a much more interesting topic of conversation than boring old business, so they change the subject. Tracy: "How fascinating. You're planning on actually bearing your own child? Won't that be painful?" Corina: "Yes, but that's a small part of it." Tracy: "I have two children of my own, but I can't imagine what that would have done to my figure. " Corina: "Nothing a little nip and tuck won't fix." Tracy: "Compared to decanting, it just sounds so barbaric, like animals. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be offensive." According to Tracy, her husband is on Regina studying the "culture". Corina asks when they got in, and is told they arrived with Ming-Na on her ship, and yes they arrived after the quarantine was in place. Corina: "You know, when you arrive in a system under quarantine, most people would think it advisable to stay away." Dr. Blevelt: "Oh we heard about the Jenghe Fever quarantine, but we've all been vaccinated against Jenghe Fever, so we weren't concerned." C: "Well, it's not Jenghe Fever, it's something that would make you useless to the company." Dr. Blevelt: "I see. What is it?" Corina: "I'd rather not say until we're in a more private location." Dr. Blevelt: "If you're concerned about privacy, we could go up to my suite." Corina declines.
Nicolai sends Mikie a note, via waiter. The note says "How's the company?" It's from the beat up looking guy over at the side. Mikie is not entirely certain what Nicolai means by 'company'. Mikie sends the note back, having added: "The view is interesting, but more confusing than helpful. You aren't going to blow anything up, are you?"
Corina: "Because of security concerns, I'd suggest we continue this conversation at the DukeDome." Ming-Na: "If security is a concern, what about my ship? The ducal palace is notorious for being a sieve, and I'm sure that horrible little man of yours has the place wired for sound." Actually, not any more. Corina and Ming-Na leave just as Nicolai arrives at Mikie's table. Great. (Next time Mikie will add "don't come over") Nicolai can't read the lips of the remaining Solomani - it's too far away. So he just picks food off of Mikie's plate. Mikie: "Don't you have food at home?" Ghaer sees Corina and Ming-Na, trailing bodyguards leave. Corina and Ming-Na are in the back seat of Corina's limo, with the bodyguards in a chase car, and Ming-Na's limo.
Corina has encountered too many people lately who weren't who they appeared to be, so she's taking no chances with Ming-Na.
Corina: "So, what was the present that Jack gave you before you left last time?"
Ming-Na: "Oh, nothing really."
Corina: "You know, a fall from a moving limousine could be fatal at your age."
Ming-Na: "I know they're not good for me, but at my age... They were cigars. And that sounded suspiciously like a threat, my dear."
Corina explains her concerns, especially with Blaelok on the loose.
Ming-Na: "The rumor I heard was that he was under lock and key."
Corina: "Not any more. He's a dead man, he just doesn't know it. Once I find his grave, I intend to desecrate it. There are some things I will not tolerate, even from family."
Ming-Na: "Mr. Blaelok is not a member of the family, neither is he a business partner any longer." Corina tells her that "Mr. Blaelok removed the family member to be, and was going to raise it as his own, in Section 9. I've tried to kill him already, and I've promised to desecrate his grave." Even Ming-Na is displeased with that behavior (Blaelok's).
Ming-Na: "He's proven to be a valuable ally, but we can do without him, especially now that we have Dr. Blevelt. Family always comes first. I've always had a special place in my heart for you."
Corina: "Being one of your favorites makes me glad that I'm not one of the ones you don't like."
Ming-Na: "Well, yes, for the sake of the family certain sacrifices have had to be made." This reminds Corina of Xavier, and the missing Mr. Rollings. As Rollings was also in charge of investigating Xavier's little "accident", Corina suggests that Rollings may also be some one the family needs to perhaps handle; Ming-Na agrees.
The topic segues back to the missing Mr. Blaelok, and Ming-Na tells her that "We already have Mr. Blaelok's contribution to employee relations." Corina: "Sometimes I think you need to take the longer view over profit." Ming-Na: "My dear, as I'm sure you'll become aware, it's not just profit. One is hard put to find entertainment as the years go on."
Corina: "If I'm going to accomplish the task that the family had set before me, it would be nice if the family wouldn't screw it up for me. I haven't been made subsector Duchess yet, I'm on probation. And testing this type of thing here, at this time..."
Ming-Na: "We didn't have anything to do with that. We certainly wouldn't want to spoil things for you."
Corina: "Now is the time for the family to get rid of anything that could tie them to this, and that includes the end product..."
Ming-Na: "You're right, this is not the time. We'll push this back, ten or twenty years. And we can see to it that any evidence points directly to, oh SuSAG should work nicely."
Corina: "I've already made a deal with SuSAG to help mitigate the problems with my planet. If you're going to plant evidence, I would rather it point in a different direction."
Ming-Na: "But SuSAG is so perfect. Very well. You want it cleaned up, I give you the authority. I'll see that the family is informed that you are taking charge."
Corina: "Have you been inoculated against this?"
Ming-Na: "Of course. You don't think I'd release those precursors to a deranged Solomani without taking precautions? As a matter of fact, you should stop by my ship and see the doctor."
Corina: "I don't know, the last time I went to a company doctor, I ended up sterile for ten years."
Ming-Na: "Well, you know best dear. I'm going back to my hotel room." They part company.
Mikie is leaving the restaurant when he's approached in Clairidges lobby by one of the Solomani. "Excuse me, are you Michael Griffin?" Brief moment of panic overcome by curiosity. Mikie: "Yes... Why do you ask?" Solomani: "I've run into several reports that make reference to you. My name is Dr. Harold Blevelt. I'm here on business with Ling Standard, but I have an interest in primitive cultures, and I'd love to chat with you about these Sengi people. If you could spare me some time I would appreciate it." Mikie: "Uh, that would be okay. I can't right now, but maybe in the next couple of days." Blevelt: "That would be perfect. Should I give you a call?" Mikie: "No, I'm having phone problems right now, so it would be better if I called you." Blevelt gives Mikie his business card, with "Suite 2B" written on the back. The doctor goes upstairs.
Nicolai goes home to Christie's to be near his equipment and everything. He doesn't want to go all the way Down Port right now. Christie is pleased Nicolai hasn't managed to injure himself further. Maybe he's learning? Nah.
Mikie returns to his perch with Paul, giving him an update on Dr. Blevelt, etc. Paul decides this is perfect, and since things are temporarily quiet he pulls out a briefcase filled with electronics. Paul: "Now we're going to have to try to be clever, since these guys will know where to look for bugs. Of course, since you've never done this before, you probably won't make the mistake of putting them in the places that pros would." Mikie gets a briefing on bugging, and a small in the ear commo unit. Paul: "So, how are you going to do it? You have a plan?" Mikie: "I thought I might knock."
Corina goes to the ship and gets a shot. Then she chats with some of the old family retainers. And some of them are really old. Even Ming-Na's ship looks frumpy. There are a bunch of crotchety old cats on board too. Lots of plants, big fluffy old furniture, etc.
Ghaer tells Globber that the tea was delivered to 2A. Ghaer also sees the megacorp and Solomani people head out. One of the bellboys says good-bye to the doctor, and hopes he "feels better". Ghaer inquires after the doctor's health, and the bellboy tells him he thinks "the doctor was a bit looped last night - he was a bit wobbly when he came in." Wobbly like drunk, or wobbly like has just been put into a new body? Not that Ghaer's paranoid or anything. He's done drinking coffee and going to the bathroom, so he decides to just go in and have lunch. But no coffee! It's easy to get a table after all the suits have left.
Mikie takes the bugs and heads for the service entrance of Clairidges (where else would some one in coveralls go?). A security guard asks Mikie where he needs to go, and Mikie tells the guard he was sent by the staffing agency, to report to John. (It's a guess.) Yes, John is available, and the guard puts him on the phone. John: "About time! The last thing we need is to have the environmentals go out in this building. Come right down." Mikie goes down to the basement, where John was expecting to see one "more experienced", especially given the age of the equipment. Mikie explains that the person they're waiting for is on his way, and that Mikie was sent along as an apprentice. Mikie is told to stay out of people's way, which he promises to do. Taking advantage of being ignored completely, Mikie takes a small toolbox and heads up to level 2 in the service elevator. An attractive maid chats him up in the elevator, indicating a desire to see him later. Mikie checks in with the concierge, asking for suite 2B. Concierge: "More stuff huh?" He lets Mikie into the room.
There's a lot of computer equipment in the room, and an electronic wipe board with the screensaver running. Mikie uses the toolbox to 'bump' the wipe board, and the screensaver shuts off. Mikie can read the scientific notations, he just can't understand it. He starts to tell Paul what he's looking at, but the commo unit shorts out. Damn. Better hurry. He hits the print button while planting bugs in places that make sense to him. He has a bit of a start when he goes into the bedroom and sees Alex sitting there. Fortunately, the robot isn't active, and ignores him. Mikie finishes planting his bugs, and puts the printouts into the toolbox, under the tray. He's about to leave when the door opens.
Dr. Blevelt walks in and picks up an earring from the table, Mikie does a quick scan as the doctor puts on the psi shield. He's not Blaelok, but Blaelok told him everything about Mikie. Blevelt: "I suppose I should have been more careful, Michael. Your are a resourceful young man." Mikie: "Look, all I'm interested in is Blaelok. Do you know where he is?" "Why yes. I'll get him for you then shall I?" He goes over and gets one of the 'backup' tapes, and throws it at Mikie's feet. Blevelt: "There you are." Mikie glances down and is grabbed from behind by Alex, who has an unnaturally firm grip on Mikie's biceps. Mikie: "Besides the tape, is he still alive?" Blevelt: "Yes, and no." He picks up the phone, enters a number, then says "Pam dear, would you come up please?" Pamela (yes, it was her) enters. Pam: "This is like old home week hon." Blevelt <to Mikie>: "You know it's strange, but as opposed to my real nature, I have some reluctance to kill you. You seem to bring out the paternal instinct in people." (Just not the kind of people you'd want to bring it out in.)
Blevelt goes into gloating villain mode - must be where Blaelok got his 'sharing' urges. Blevelt tries to get Mikie to guess the connection between Blaelok and Blevelt, but Blaelok wasn't a robot, or anything like that. Mikie's other guess is that it is some how related to Sontag (his name keeps coming up)? Blevelt: "Sontag served his purposes, and Section 9 had no use for him any longer. Do you think we'd come out to the Marches, knowing about all the uncontrolled psionics you people allow to run loose, without being able to deal with that? I sweated over "Blaelok" for months. I wanted to make sure even a psionic couldn't penetrate the disguise. You're doubtless confused because you're thinking of Blaelok as a person. He was a disguise. I made Blaelok and wore him. I had to protect my self. I must say the transition back to the original body was a bit traumatic, but once the disguise personality was removed, it was much better. Blaelok had his weaknesses, he was bit soft. He had some sentimental feelings about you. Something of a father son connection. That was an unforeseen problem, but one I have overcome. You will know some despair before I put you out of my misery. We don't want any unexplained bodies, now do we. We made certain arrangements. Money withdrawn from your banking accounts, passage booked, etc. People will understand why you left planet - everything that happened with Blaelok, etc.. I can't take the thought of any loose ends, so we will have to take care of oh, what is her name? Ah yes, Theresa." Pamela: "Oh, let me take care of her for you, dear. Please?" Blevelt: "Whatever makes you happy." Blevelt eventually finishes his soliloquy, and he and Pamela depart, leaving Mikie with Alex. Blevelt has left an armed LB5 (big bright flash grenade) sitting on Alex's head.
Once the evil doctor and his little woman leave, Mikie is able to get the auto-injector out of his pocket (Alex is holding him from behind, by the biceps, so Mikie has his hands mostly free), and use it on himself. It takes a few minutes to take effect, but when it does, it is definitely psi-boost. Mikie feels like he can barely contain the amount of psionic energy in his head. He is able to find the small organic brain that controls Alex, and it's fairly easy to 'fry' it. Alex goes limp, but that leaves the deadly little grenade.
Ghaer is just leaving Clairidges when a guy in a leather jacket comes running in and smashes into Ghaer, literally. It's Paul (not that Ghaer knows who he is), and he leaps up and runs off, swearing. Ghaer tries to tell him he's dropped his gun, but Paul runs off. Ghaer decides to try to return the suppressed 5mm to the odd man, so he runs after him. They run up to level 2, and down the hall towards 2B. Paul runs past a supply/janitor's closest ahead of Ghaer, and when Ghaer gets to it some one fires from inside. Ghaer returns fire, taking the man out. He catches up with Paul, who has stopped to the side of 2B's door, and has tried to draw a missing firearm from his shoulder holster. Ghaer asks "Are you looking for this?", and hands Paul his gun.
Nicolai is laying down in the bedroom when the doorbell rings. He suspects it's trouble, so when Christie says "Get that will you hon?", Nicolai pretends to be asleep. Christie goes to answer the door, and Nicolai hears the unmistakable sound of a Surf gun being fired, followed by a thump. Then he hears "Shit! It's not him. Give me a grenade." Nicolai pops up, surf gun in hand (and stump), and shoots the guy from very up close. Then he steps over Christie's inert form, and manages to surprise the other one outside. He goes back in, picks the door up off of Christie, who is amazingly still alive. Her legs have been basically shot clean of flesh, and she's bleeding out. Christie manages to croak out "Get them." Nicolai responds with "Got 'em." [How romantic.] He calls for an ambulance, and puts tourniquets on Christie. She is still barely alive when the ambulance comes. Nicolai goes with her, as he doesn't know who to go after. Another 'loose end' being taken care of?
Mikie looks around the room quickly, and sees a large, metal trunk open on the floor in the room (one of the packing trunks for the computer equipment, more than likely). He dives into the trunk, tipping it away from the grenade, and slamming the lid shut. Mere seconds later, there's a BIG bright flash of light, with a kill radius that extends out of the doorway and into the hall where it catches the tip of Paul's shoe (OW!) and the edge of one jacket sleeve.
En route to the hospital, Nicolai notices a bright familiar flash from the second floor of Clairidges. Nicolai demands that the ambulance stop and let him out. The driver and attendant are convinced that stopping is out of the question. Until Nicolai makes his point with the business end of his surf gun. The ambulance driver slams on the brakes and Nicolai dives out, triggers, and is off toward Clairidges.
Ghaer and Paul enter the room, where they find Alex's metal frame, and a lot of electronic equipment and crates. The natural wool carpet, real wood wainscoting, and other natural fibers used in the room have not fared terribly well; these people will not be invited back to stay at Clairidges. Mikie is stuck in the crate, which is thick enough to be soundproof, and very hot. Yelling and pounding doesn't help, so Mikie finds Paul's mind, and gets across the need to open the metal trunk. Paul: "I don't understand why, but I need to get this trunk open." He can't get the jammed lock open, and is getting a bit frantic, but with Ghaer's help, it's popped open in time for Mikie to continue breathing. Mikie tells Paul and Ghaer that Blevelt is Blaelok, and the blonde they saw earlier is definitely Pam. Paul didn't see them come out the front door, so they might have taken the side exit onto the park. Mikie heads to the balcony, Ghaer following, Paul following, but slower.
Mikie and Ghaer spot Blevelt and Pamela walking in the park, headed away from Clairidges. Mikie knows Blevelt is shielded, but hopes he can do enough damage to break through the shield. He uses a psionic assault on Blevelt, putting more behind it than would normally be needed, and Blevelt stumbles forward, holding his head. Pamela helps him keep his feet, and starts looking around for a gunman. Mikie tries again, kicking it up a couple of notches. This time Blevelt falls to the ground, bleeding but still conscious. Ghaer takes a shot at Pamela, who is unfortunately wearing armor.
Suddenly, a man with a grenade launcher (evidently a support Solomani) pops up near the edge of the park, firing at the balcony. Ghaer and Mikie are mostly missed, the grenade takes out the window and curtain, showering Paul with glass but not hitting him.
Corina was returning home in her limo when the ambulance in front screeched to a halt and disgorged Nicolai. Her driver was turning around to get out of the area of danger when the grenade launcher wielding man appeared in front of them. After firing on the balcony, he turns towards the limo heading his direction and takes aim. The driver is trying to get out of the line of fire, Corina yells "Hit him!!", and the limo is fired on just as the driver finishes making a bootleg 180. The grenade impacts the rear window. The bodyguards are bleeding and stunned, and the rear window flies forward and kills the driver. The obligatory car crash follows. Ghaer fires on the guy with the launcher. At that moment, Nicolai comes charging full tilt through the room, and when he sees what the situation is (no unfriendly targets in the room) he just keeps running right off the balcony and down into the park. (That ankle is going to hurt later.) Paul: "Did you just see that?" Ghaer hits his target - dead launcher guy.
In the park, Pamela throws Blaelok behind a burm as they begin to take fire. Mikie drops off balcony and goes after him. Corina has had enough, picks up a shotgun from one of the unconscious bodyguards, and goes looking for some one to shoot. She finds Dr. Blevelt's little friend. Pam doesn't catch Corina coming, and ends up hit in the head with a shotgun load of scimitar, she just shakes her head (remember that M&M jar). Nicolai charges up to her and gets skewered through the chest on the blades extruded from her hands. At the same time, Nicolai shoots Pam through the heart and she does finally go limp. Nicolai carefully holds onto Pam's wrists as he gently slides her 'claws' straight out from his chest (trying not to do himself more damage). Nicolai then drops, going into survival mode. As Pam's body is laying on the ground near Nicolai, Ghaer watches carefully trying to see if she's alive before he goes to help Nicolai. One of her contacts pops out, revealing her ice blue eye, and she smiles at Ghaer. He's trying to figure out a way to get Nicolai out of the way, with Ghaer weak from his own injuries. Ghaer suddenly remembers that he has a can of super lubricant he's been carrying around since the killer robots started to show up, so he lays down a trail of it, just like a slip and slide, and shoves Nicolai off down the path. Once Nicolai's safely out of the way, and from behind the cover of the burm, Ghaer shoots Pam in the head with a snub pistol loaded with HEAP. Not only does her head explode, the whole body does. The Vargr goes flying through the air, suffused by a golden glow. He feels the wind on his scorched rump. All the fur has been parboiled off his tail and buttocks. And now there's another koi pond. Nothing left, not even biologicals. One of Pamela's memory metal blades just misses Ghaer and sticks in the ground before collapsing; Ghaer puts it into his pocket as a souvenir.
Mikie and Corina, tailed by Corina's remaining two body guards, are following blood trail left by Blaelok, which leads into the park's underground access tunnels. The first bodyguard says "Looks dangerous, I'll go first." He then breaks his ankle as he trips on the ladder going down. He gets left behind at the foot of the ladder with a radio from the other bodyguard. The blood trail continues into a smaller tunnel, which requires crawling on hands and knees. Mikie goes first, since he's the smallest and knows the tunnels because he used to work in the park. Blevelt/Blaelok has crawled between some pipes in the tunnel to conceal himself, and when Mikie approaches Blevelt/Blaelok uses an electrical cable that he has ripped loose from the wall on Mikie's kidney. There is screaming from the tunnel. Corina who is in the tunnel too, shoots at Blevelt's position, which is given away by the electrical sparks. The pipes in the tunnel are punctured and begin spraying water. Blevelt scrambles further down the tunnel and out into another access tunnel that's larger; he's not only limping as he retreats, he's cackling in a rather weird, monkey like fashion, and he's missing an eyeball (it's left behind down the corridor). His psi shield is finally blown too.
Ghaer heads into the tunnel. After the bodyguard at the bottom of the ladder makes a comment about "Hell of a view", Ghaer uses burnfoam on himself as a temporary solution, then he heads after Corina and Mikie. He catches up, and medicks Mikie enough to get him up and functional again. Corina continues in pursuit, with Mikie just behind her. As she rounds a corner, she sees a flash of something, and she fires hitting Blevelt in the hip. At the same time, she's hit in the nose by Blevelt with a chunk of armorcrete. Mikie continues his psionic assault on Blevelt's rather fried brain, finally finishing the job - Blevelt, or Blaelok, or whoever the hell he is, is finally dead.
Ghaer says "Get out" and tries to drag Corina back. She complies and begins to retreat rapidly down the tunnels with Mikie and then Ghaer at the rear. The explosion goes off, which they are mostly shielded from, but the blast ruptures both the water pipes and the Koi pond above. The surf's up in the tunnels. A soggy and battered pair, Corina and Mikie are fished from the tunnels by the body guard and the responding rescue workers. Unsuccessful attempts are made to locate and rescue Ghaer from the tunnels.
209 to 210 - 1122.
(Not necessarily in correct chronological order.)
Sometime after midnight on 209...
Ghaer wakes up - bright light. Go towards the light? Shakes his head, opens eyes, looks - he's dangling on the edge of the superstructure, just above the bright fusion lamp that simulates the sun. He was blown straight up. The rescue workers tell Corina "We've looked everywhere." A faint 'Help', but no one hears. Ghaer throws a dead something down to get their attention. They get STA to come out with the maintenance ladders, and get Ghaer down. The injury is painful, and embarrassing, but not life-threatening.
Hospital time for everyone. Room 2B in Clairidges has been all cleaned out. Globber only finds a Ling Standard pin in the room. Nothing more. Globber and Corina agree that the official story will be that there was an explosion in a service tank down below the park. Globber: "The shooting we can pass off as just the usual."
Christie's doing okay, but she tells Nicolai "it's not safe to hang out with you." She needs time to think about their relationship. Maybe they could go to couples' counseling?
The really high tech medical stuff that Ghaer found in the safehouse, he gives to Anders. About 15% is Section 9 stuff, that isn't readily identifiable (although Anders is the best one to try). One of them is a mutated white blood cell (there are six doses of it).
Anders has been contacted by one of Black's doctors, who are getting desperate. She gives them a dose of Nanogen, which repairs the damage already done. The other thing, the mystery "white cell drug" Anders can't guarantee won't do more harm than good, but Black's doctor just gives it to him with out saying what it is. (Like they have anything to lose at this stage?) Black gets hideously sick, then he gets all better. Black goes to visit Anders - he wants more of whatever she gave him, for his sister. Anders willingly gives him another dose of the "white cell" stuff. That cures the disease, but not the damage. Christine's off her nut, and desperately trying to have sex with anyone. Anders tells Black about the nanogen, and where he can order more. She only had the one dose that she gave him. Hopefully that will help get Christine back to her self again. (Well, you can't say back to normal - it is Christine.)
Black goes to see Nicolai, in his downport home. Just Black. Nicolai lets him in - he's brought a bottle of really good vodka, made by Polish ex-pats. And it's cold. He's concerned about having an "unaligned Solomani commando" on planet. Black: "You could leave, or I could have my men kill you, but considering what you've already survived that might not be wise. I'm running short of men. Or you can work for me. We do have a service branch. You can have as active a role as you want - in the field or strictly as a trainer."
Nicolai: "And what about this little matter of the bartender?"
Black: "What if we made your employment retroactive? The bartender was, after all, a Zhodani agent. [Poor Dead Jeff was not!] And you'd be covered by the official secrets act."
Nicolai: "I don't suppose this is subject to negotiation?"
Black: "If you stay on Regina you'll be working for me. I won't have you running loose. Well, what's it going to be? Shall I book you a flight?" Black lights up, takes a few puffs, and Nicolai tells him "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't smoke in my house. There are no ashtrays." Black takes another puff, then puts out the cigarette with his fingers. Nicolai agrees finally, but he wants a dose of memwipe (to keep for future use). Black: "You don't ask for easy things do you?" He will get it, but it's expensive. Black leaves.
Grand Ma-ma comes to visit after Corina gets out of the hospital. Corina asks for a favor: "Do you happen to have any of the cure for this? There is at least one person I would like to cure." Ming-Na: "Well, we can arrest the progress, but cure..." She does give something to Corina, telling her "Don't ask me where I got this." Corina: "Do I look like I ask stupid questions?"
Mikie wakes up in the hospital. Brigitte is outside his room. She's been given a lot of grief for the lack of bodyguarding, not that it's really her fault. Mikie asks her about the equipment in suite 2B, and she tells him it was cleared out. Mikie tells her she needs to find out if there was a toolbox found in the room - he put some papers in it, under the internal tray, under some tools. It's really important to find those. Brigitte will see to it; maybe the boss won't be so upset if she can find it.
Corina comes in to see Mikie, and gives him an auto-injector. "This is for Theresa. I don't know if it will cure her, but it will at least halt the progress of the disease permanently." Mikie thanks her. Mikie gets to tell Ghaer (while he's still in the hospital) about Khirrll working for Blaelok, for money, reporting on Ghaer and "other Vargrs of interest" (per Blaelok). Mikie hasn't told anyone else about Khirrll, and leaves it up to Ghaer to decide what he wants to do, but Mikie wants Khirrll kept away from Theresa. Khirrll may not have known exactly what Blaelok had in mind when he had her send Theresa to his doctor for a 'flu shot', but she had to know it was not for a flu shot.
Ghaer comes home after being discharged, with his chair doughnut. Click. The light doesn't work. Then the light flips on. It's Khirrll, with a gun. She tells Ghaer "I'm sorry, I have my orders." Then she drops the gun, bursts into tears, and runs into Ghaer's arms. She only did it for money, to help her family.
The one surviving Solomani is the young marine, and he's not talking to anyone about anything. Somebody came in and showed him some pictures, and he's decided to not remember a damned thing.
Nicolai gets permission to go into the Solomani Consulate (one of the perks of a Regina Security ID). He gets Irving to help him get into the armory room. What Nicolai finds inside is: a lot of stingball grenades, some armor, two of the cool Rim rifles, and some very interesting stuff - two (disposable) needlers with nerve agent ; a low-velocity gauss machine pistol in a briefcase; a case with 6 unlabelled auto-injector vials; various Zhodani and Imperial weapons, sealed in plastic (throw downs); a bunch of stuff that can be left as 'evidence' (hair samples, etc.); a big orange box. Nicolai gets Irving to help open it, as it is locked. It has a cool lock, which Irving spends 2 hours getting open. It contains high tech padding, a whole bunch of empty slots, and a single small LB5 'crystal' looking grenade (one of those nasty things that kill people, but not their clothes - unless their clothing is made of natural fibers, that is). Nicolai asks Irving to re-lock that case, and make a key. There's also a large refrigerator-sized case. It contains a large chair-like object with restraints, a wraparound visor, etc. It's not one of the tape/backup things, it appears to be some sort of uneasy chair; Nicolai will keep this also. Irving gets the spare robot parts as payment for his help.
As Nicolai is sorting through all his newfound equipment, Irving asks if "there's a tape player in here?" Nicolai: "What?" Irving: "I found this tape in the garbage." Nicolai recognizes the tape as a 'backup', and takes it from Irving. Nicolai wipes off the coffee grounds and looks at the label: 'Theresa".
Mikie comes back to his apartment above Regina Security. When he turns on the light he sees dried blood everywhere. Written on the wall in blood, is "oderint dum metuant" ["Let them hate so long as they fear."]. Mikie numbly follows the blood trail into the bedroom. Theresa is on the bed, a victim of the 'Regina Slasher' (Pamela). The wounds were not immediately fatal, but were precisely inflicted so that Theresa bled out. She evidently had enough time to crawl onto the bed, to reach a wedding photo still in her hand. Mikie sits on the blood-soaked bed, and takes Theresa into his arms.