"Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree."


221 to 222 - 1122.

Mikie decides to bag the pursuit of the blond man, and goes back to the office. As soon as he gets there, the coroner calls, asking about the "disposition of the remains of your family members". That would be Theresa (again), her father, and the rest of the Blake family. Mikie is sort of frozen in front of the vid-phone when Brigitte comes up, touches him on the shoulder, and offers to take care of the arrangements. Mikie nods. She'll make sure it's something traditional and quiet. Mikie thanks her.

"How'd you like to have that rock." Jenessa's ears perk up at the male patron's comment, and she looks at the tri-dee above the Bread and Bean's coffee bar. It's showing an auction program, and the new purchase by a private collector on Regina, who has just picked up a really big diamond with a yellow-red flaw that looks like a female figure - it's known as the Scarlet Lady. It's an old, cursed (of course) stone that dates back to the founding of the Imperium. The purchase price was $35M credits, to an anonymous buyer. It's part of a lot from and estate that has just come up for auction. It's a very nice collection, 117 pieces, including the Scarlet Lady, some lovely little onyx pieces, and a small jewel-encrusted falcon. Jenessa: "Ford, do you know where the auction house is?" Ford: "Sure. It's nice. Sometimes they have cool old machines." Jenessa: "Do they have a lot of security?" Ford: "I wouldn't know." Jenessa: "Can we go there? Is it open to the public?" Ford: "Sure, when they have stuff up for auction." Ford and Jenessa go to the auction house.

Jenessa meets a tall, dark, handsome man named Rafe Anjou at the auction house. He's very charming, obviously has money, and he's interested in the gems. He's also interested in Jenessa, who he invites to dinner. Jenessa: "Can my friend Ford come too?" Rafe: "Of course, he's welcome. I'm sure he'd find it frightfully boring though." Jenessa is about to protest, but Ford's response to their interaction is: "I'm sure I would find it frightfully boring, with you two talking about gemstones, and making cow eyes at each other. I'm going to the Ship's Chandlers to see if they have any drill presses." Jenessa: "Well, if you want Ford. Let me know if you find something you like." Ford leaves the silly humans.

Shaw, bored, has gone to see the auction. A sword (one of several) is in the display case that used to belong to Admiral Tupelov. The Admiral was killed (along with everyone else on his ship) at the Battle of the Three Suns, when he rammed his badly damaged ship into a Zhodani ship, turning the tide of the war. (Same date as William and Danirelle Grey's wedding anniversary.) Shaw decides that he'll register as a bidder after all.

Jenessa notices a man of about forty who is checking out the gem collection in the same way she would be - looking for cameras, etc., and the shoes the man is wearing are very comfortable looking, soft-soled, and very quiet. And he keeps adjusting his tie (with the nice little tie tack with a flat black stone) every time he changes direction. Pictures? Shaw also notices the man, and the fact that he is using a hearing aid or some kind of earpiece.

Mikie has shown up, and he takes one look around the room, and mentally tags all the pros. Including Jenessa, although he doesn't know her, and the man she and Shaw were watching. He notices that Shaw is there too.

Treal is back on Regina, has some money, and has gotten a message from his dad, Falcon. Falcon is fine, but he's involved in some 'discrete government business', and can't take care of the little favor he needs Treal to do for him. A friend of Falcon's wants him to bid on a sword that's coming up at auction. It's the Tupelov sword, and there's a line of credit set up with a limit of $200,000 credits. Falcon was obviously expecting Treal to pick up the message earlier, as the auction is today. Eep. Treal calls for a suit rental, and then starts calling around for a date.

Shaw is approached by Jenessa, who recognizes him from earlier. Anjou joins them, and he recognizes Shaw as having been involved in the recent relief effort, as Baron Anjou was on the board. They discuss the charitable work briefly. Rafe: "Do join me at my club soon, won't you?" Shaw: "I'm sorry, your club?" Rafe: "Oh, I'm sorry, the Heritage Club." Rafe gives Shaw his calling card, which Shaw will take very good care of. Jenessa: "Perhaps you would like to join us for dinner tonight?" Shaw declines, politely. Does Jenessa not like Rafe?

They do all go to sit and prepare for the bidding of wine to start, and are joined by Commissioner Globber. When introductions are made, Jenessa gets much more quiet, and tries to sink into her chair. Fortunately, Rafe and Globber become very engrossed in a discussion of wine - and they know a lot about wine.

Treal has had no luck getting a date, so he just gets his suit and takes off for the auction house. There are many attractive females at the auction house. Some are obviously 'trophies', some are apparently 'side bits', some are powerful corporate types with their own decorative young things. Treal could adjust to being a kept man, he just needs to find some one to keep him. Treal recognizes Col. Shaw, and goes over to speak with him. Pleasantries are exchanged. Shaw decides to point out the man who has been casing the joint. Treal will keep an eye on him. Treal says hello to Mikie, then goes over to check the lot he's going to bid on, so he knows the number and to register as a bidder.

After viewing the professionals in the crowd, Mikie asks for the man in charge. "Ah yes, you want to speak with Mr. Lawry. He will be available after the wine auction, and before the swords are auctioned." The man is very polite, doesn't make any remarks about Lawry being a busy man, and Mikie easily picks up fear. Interesting.

Jenessa <referring to Globber>: "That is an interesting gentleman." Rafe: "Yes, that's Seymore. He's quite the character, and knows his wine. A brilliant investigator as well." Jenessa: "Is he?" Rafe: "Oh yes. Seymore has the distinction of being the only member of the Regina Police Department who has never had an unsolved case." Jenessa: "Really? I must admit he makes me a bit nervous." Rafe: "Oh you needn't worry. He's only interested in lawbreakers." Jenessa: "He's been paying me a lot of attention." Rafe: "It might be that you've caught his eye. He's got a reputation as a ladies man." Jenessa: "Oh really." If she sinks any lower into her seat, she'll be under it.

Rafe's wine of interest comes up, and he gets the case for $30,000. A bargain. Jenessa: "Do you often frequent this kind of auction?" Rafe: "When I'm bored." Jenessa: "Really. What do you do?" Rafe: "Nothing really. I suppose you could say I'm unemployed." Turns out Rafe's great-great-something did a 'little favor for the Emperor', and now the family owns some property on Regina. Quite a bit of property, really. About a million acres. Rafe: "During my grandfather's days, several large deposits of lanthanum were discovered on the property, and we've been working on trying to spend the profits ever since." Rafe has the old money attitude towards money, and he knows everyone who's anyone. Rafe points out people of importance to Jenessa.

Rafe looks over, and ponders "I wonder what could be going on over there? Is there something awry? I think that's Mr. Griffin, or Griffith, or something like that. He works for Regina Security, that's one of our planetary police agencies, of some repute." Jenessa: "How many police agencies do you have here?" Rafe: "Oh, I don't know, five or six. There's the Starport Authority, the local police department, the IBI, the ISA and ISS - I suppose, and Regina Security - they're sort of a catchall." Globber is momentarily distracted from his consumption of truffles, and comments to Jenessa: "Are you from Rethe?" Jenessa: "Yes, that's my home planet." Globber: "I recognized the accent." Jenessa: "Oh, you've been there?" Globber: "No, but I have a number of recordings... What was it you said you did for a living?" Jenessa: "I craft jewelry." Globber: "Ah yes."

What Rafe was looking at was the head of the auction house, Mr. Lawry, speaking with Mikie. Mikie has introduced himself. Lawry: "Ah, I know why you're here. I observed the gentleman and the young lady. I noticed the man was very interested in the security, as was the young lady." They discuss the presence of obvious 'professionals' in the crowd. Mikie: "The female isn't local. There may be some off-planet interest." Lawry: "Well, yes, I'm not surprised, given the quality and variety of the current consignment." Mikie: "Were the gems or the rest of the estate obtained locally?" Lawry: "I'm sorry, but in order to obtain the rights to auction the items, we had to maintain the anonymity of the seller." Lawry is shielded, but it's a bulky, pocket-sized one; probably trying to make sure no one is monitoring him during the auction, to gain an advantage. Mikie will have to try Lawry away from the auction, later. Mikie does keep Lawry talking about the collection, especially about the falcon, that's from the planet Malta. Any information might help Black find out what he needs to know. Mid conversation, a runner delivers a note to Mr. Griffin. Mikie takes it, but doesn't open the note until he asks who it's from. A "big blond guy" is the description, but the runner can't point him out, as he has apparently left.

Lawry mentions that there's another piece of the collection that is not out for viewing: a black rod with some kind of foreign writing on it. It isn't being auctioned at this time, because they are still working to catalog it properly. From the description, Mikie knows exactly what it is - a Therian control baton. Oh boy. One more little tidbit of information: the owners of the auction house are Blanc-Noir et Cie. [Jeeze, who are these guys!] In the midst of this discussion, there's a really big explosion, and all the lights go out. (bursting obscurant, Magnum Thunder Flash, multi-flashes). Treal heads for the sword case, crawling, gun in hand (he's supposed to bid on that sword, and he can't do it if some one steals the thing). He hears the sound of glass being smashed, by where the swords are, and fires that way. Treal goes closer, after hearing a female scream, and he sees a female figure on the floor, blood on her white silk dress. He keeps crawling.

Shaw goes for door, runs into some one, stomps on their booted foot using the new grab boots, 'grabbing' the bad guys' boot. Shaw is about to use his Eggsterminator®, but he's tackled from behind by some one, and they go down in a big pile, so he's not about to use an indiscriminant weapon. He goes for his tranq gun instead.

Lawry's on the floor, yelling "Close the doors!!" Mikie is 'looking' for some one trying to get into the jewel case, finds the man, hits him once in the head, taking him down. He continues searching for a partner. Jenessa has made her way in the confusion over to the jewel case, and she eventually manages to get the lock picked, and picks a handful of jewels. She then realizes she doesn't have pockets, but then she crawls back over to Rafe and Globber, and in a "reverse pickpocket" places the jewels in the Commissioner's jacket pocket. Jenessa figures no one is going to search the police commissioner, and she'll relieve him of them later. What she doesn't realize is that Mikie followed her movements psionically.

The lights eventually do come on, the fans are clearing the smoke, and Shaw and the bad guys are in a heap. Treal runs that way too, and he shoots the man behind Shaw, who's aiming a snubgun at the back of Shaw's head. Shaw meanwhile has shot what is now obviously a female in a stealthsuit with tranq. At the same time, the female stabs Shaw on the throat with the stolen sword blade. During the struggle, the blade - which is still impaled in Shaw's throat, comes loose from it's handle, and the handle falls to the floor. When this happens, Treal sees something small and shiny roll out of the handle. He quickly scoops it up as soon as he is able and pockets it; no one else has seen this apparently, but most of the people in the auction house are understandably distracted at the moment.

Treal and the man are exchanging fire still, while the female finally falls over backwards, bleeding slightly from the chest (where she was hit by the tranq). The male bad guy's gun detonates in his hand (Globber shot the gun out of his hand) and Treal shoots him in the upper arm. Faced with this sudden turn in the tide, the man then throws his hands up and demands a lawyer. The female would be sword-thief is dead; tranq fired at really close range can be rather permanent. Shaw is holding onto the sword blade, trying to keep it stabilized, as it's still in his neck. There is a doctor amongst the patrons, and he is able to keep Shaw, who is conscious but unhappy, stable until the ambulance arrives. Fortunately, with the doctor there, and the immediate medical care, Shaw's injury is spectacular (and messy) but no where near fatal. Since Shaw is a doctor, he'll have a great opportunity to complain about the wait in the emergency room, and the general quality of care, but all doctors make bad patients. Treal has gone along in the ambulance, partially for Shaw, and partly to keep the sword parts together. (Well, his dad wants the sword for his friend; Treal is trying to be a good and dutiful son.)

Globber stood up when the lights came up, popping another "truffle" into his mouth. It's a gem not a truffle that goes down and Globber almost chokes on it (oops), then going to remove a handkerchief from the same pocket. When he does so, a handful of gems arc out away from Globber, and onto the floor amongst the crowd. So much for a discreet hiding place for the ill-gotten gains.

Mikie speaks to Jenessa, stating that he'd like to ask her a few questions. She wants to know who is and what he wants of her. Rafe initially attempts to intervene, offering to call his lawyer, until he remembers who Mikie is and who he works for. Then he agrees that Jenessa should probably go speak with Mikie. At Mikie's request they are escorted to a more quiet room away from the crowd to hold this conversation. Once he is alone in the room with Jenessa, he remembers the note he was given during his conversation with Lawry, just prior to the fight breaking out. Mikie takes the paper from his pocket and opens it. It's blank. [Big uh-oh from the player]. Jenessa watches in amazement as the paper falls to the floor, followed by Mikie, who has gone into what appears to be a Grand Mal seizure.

Jenessa gets up slowly and goes over to Mikie. She pokes him with a finger and says: "are you all right?....do you need some help?" [Boy, you wouldn't want to need first aid wherever she's from!] Jenessa eventually goes to the door and calls for help. Several people come in, mill around, and try to remember what to do when some one's having a seizure. After a couple of minutes a doctor is sent for, and he's at least useful, although he at first thinks it is an epileptic seizure. But, it lasts too long, and Jenessa tells the doctor that "he was just fine, and he opened up that piece of paper <indicating the paper on the floor> then he fell down". The doctor suggests picking up the paper without touching it, and has the plastic bag it's in transported to the hospital with Mikie. A second ambulance is called for, and after Mikie is taken away, Jenessa takes the opportunity to leave. Rafe meets her, and offers to drive her home. Jenessa: "Yes, I think you could give me a ride back to my drawer." Rafe: "A drawer?! A lady such as yourself shouldn't be staying in a drawer. You can come with me." Jenessa: "I couldn't ask you to do that." Rafe: "I insist!" Jenessa is somewhat concerned about Ford, and not appearing to be unable to help herself, but she does eventually go with Rafe to his Daimler limo, to Clairidges. She is eventually given a room adjoining Rafe's [although she doesn't know that he's next door yet].

When Mikie wakes up in the hospital he sees: Black, Trunk Boy, and a couple of other people. Black's doctor tells Mikie that "the paper contained neuro-toxin, a very common one, but a sub-lethal dose (probably). So, whoever tried to kill you was either incompetent, or didn't want to kill you." Mikie knows which it was; they wouldn't really care if he died, but it's more fun to make his life a living hell, which is what they've been doing. Brigitte comes into Mikie's room, looking really upset. Brigitte: "I don't know if I should tell you this now....The funeral parlor has been broken into." The room is suddenly very cold.