"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth." -- Umberto Eco

222 to 223 - 1122.

At Regina Trauma, Treal calls the auction house to check on the identity of the man they sent to pick up the sword blade (from Shaw's neck), and the sword handle that Treal picked up (minus the little metallic thing that fell out during the fight). John Vetter is apparently legit, but the sword blade is evidence, so the police still have it. Vetter and Treal are walking toward the auction house when Vetter tells Treal he thinks they're being followed. Treal suggests they go directly to the auction house, but Vetter doesn't think that would be a good idea, and wants to cut into an alley; Treal vetoes this idea. As they continue to walk, Vetter sneaks a glance back, and Treal sees him give a brief nod. Treal responds like a good Reginan, and tries to get Vetter into a come along hold while drawing his cutlass, but Vetter is better and faster, and Treal finds himself spun around, with his arm locked up behind his back, facing a very large man who hits him in the nose. OW!

The big guy was evidently wearing rigiplast gloves, because that really hurt. The fight continues, with Treal getting the worst of it, repeatedly. Treal is basically being held from behind by one guy while the other bashes his face to pieces. Finally he's had enough, draws his handgun, and shoots the big man in front. Then he shoots the man holding him from behind in the foot. The big man in front of him hasn't dropped yet, so Treal shoots him again, right in the heart, as the bad guy is trying to draw. Both bad guys are now down, when a total stranger runs towards Treal, firing repeatedly. Treal is worried for a moment, but the man is not firing at Treal. The other two are hit several times though, and very dead.

Treal: "Excuse me, who are you?" Shooter: "I'm John Vetter", he holds out his bonded courier ID. Treal: "Ah, and I'm bait??" Vetter: "No, I just arrived and they told me you had left. With me." The police show up at this time, and it's discovered that Vetter is a retired cop, so there is no trouble. The police give Treal a lift back to the hospital - which he now needs personally, where Shaw is just leaving. Shaw: "Treal? Are you all right?" Treal: "Yes, my face always looks like this." Treal explains what happened, and Shaw will hang around to give Treal a lift home after his face is reset. A lovely end to a great day. Treal is happy at this point that A) it's a rented suit with blood all over it, and B) he didn't have a date.

Jenessa has gotten ensconced in her lovely hotel room at Clairidges when there's a knock on the door. It's a young man in hotel livery. Jenessa: "May I help you?" Bellboy: "Delivery for you, ma'am." Jenessa: "Leave it by the door please." The bellboy leaves the box, and Jenessa waits for a few minutes to make sure he's gone, then carefully takes the package. After listening for any ticking, Jenessa opens it. The box contains: a rose, one of Anjou's cards with "Dinner at 8:00?" on it, and a lovely, simple black dress (very nice, and exactly the right size). Okay, she's intrigued now.

Shaw escorts Treal (who has reloaded his gun - if this keeps up, he's going to have to order out for more ammo) home in an autocab (to Falcon's place). Shaw promises to call Treal when he finds out when the sword will be available. Treal, after Shaw leaves, calls the auction house himself. Since Treal is also a registered bidder, Mr. Lawry assures him that he will be contacted about a new auction date for the sword. Since the police have the blade locked up as evidence, it may be a week or more before it's available though.

Shaw goes to pay a visit to the Amazing Pandaron. Just as he's about to press the call button, the voice says "Yes?" Shaw: "I shouldn't have to introduce myself, should I?" Pandaron: "The Amazing Pandaron doesn't have time for silliness." The door is buzzed open, Shaw goes in, the door opens by itself (same schtick as last time." Voice from within: "Come, sit, the Great Pandaron sees all." Shaw goes in and sits down, stating: "That's why I'm here." Pandaron: "You have a cloud of darkness about you. I see violence and death." Shaw: "The man who stole your arm?" Pandaron: "Yes." Shaw: "He ended up dead in my apartment. I want to know how he got there." Pandaron: "You have something of the man's? An item of clothing, something personal?" Shaw: "No." Pandaron: "The Amazing Pandaron sees nothing." Shaw: "He had your arm for a while..." Pandaron: "Yes, but it is an ancient item. It has no vibrations." Shaw: "Well, what can you tell me?" Pandaron: "As I said, this arm has some history. Perhaps he was after it." Shaw <thinking back>: "He was after a 'key'." <the now-deceased lunatic said Watson was 'the key'> Pandaron: "Place your hands on the orb.... I see a dark haired, mysterious woman....I see a far off place....I see ancient treasure...and the knife is the key. That is all." Shaw: "That was no help at all." Pandaron: "I see what I see. That will be $50 credits." Shaw gives him the same $50 credit bill he gave Shaw yesterday - the one that had turned into a blank piece of paper. When he hands it to Pandaron, the piece of paper has become a $50 credit bill again, and Pandaron says "Thank you." Neat trick.

As Shaw is leaving, the Amazing Pandaron stops him. Pandaron: "Wait, I have something for you." He goes to the back, comes out, gives Shaw a pair of heavy-duty shears, and tells Shaw to 'keep these with you'. Okay.... Maybe he'll have to cut some kind of ribbon at the mall or something. Not wanting to get into an argument with some one with such a tenuous connection to this reality, Shaw takes the shears, leaves, and goes home to get some rest.

Jenessa goes to dinner with Rafe, who looks smashing, to Clairidges restaurant. Rafe has a conversation with the waiter in some kind of foreign language, and then the waiter tells them what the day's menu is, in Galanglic. A lovely meal is ordered. Jenessa: "Thank you for the delivery." Rafe: "Think nothing of it. I wasn't sure if you'd packed anything appropriate." The meal is wonderful, Rafe is charming, he walks Jenessa back to her room, wishes her good night, and leaves.

Back at Regina Trauma, Brigitte tells Mikie that "a body was stolen from the funeral parlor. Theresa's body. We're checking for clues as to who might have done it, but there are ashes scattered all over the place <the remains of the Blake family> , making it difficult to find fingerprints. Don't worry, we'll find out who did this." Mikie tells Brigitte and Black about the blond man, and the conversation on the vidphone. Black: "That's not terribly helpful. Do you know who they might be?" Mikie: "No. Not really." Black: "Perhaps you should stay at the safe house once you're released. I'll send some people with you; after all, we wouldn't want anything to happen to you." Mikie: "Whatever you say." The doctor wants Mikie to stay in the hospital overnight, just in case, since neuro-toxin was used.

223 to 224 - 1122.

At about 5:00 a.m., there's a knock on Jenessa's door. She looks through the peep hole, and a man in a suit flashes a badge. She asks "Who is it?" Cop: "Regina Police, ma'am. We'd like to speak with you." Jenessa very reluctantly opens the door. Jenessa: "What do you want?" Cop: "This is a warrant." Jenessa: "What for?" Cop: "Your arrest." Jenessa: "For what?" Cop: "Jewell theft." Jenessa: "I don't have any jewels. You're welcome to search my room." Cop: "You don't need to have the stolen property on you to be arrested. Now, are you going to come along quietly?" Jenessa: "I'll need to put on clothing." The police officers are being polite, and they agree to wait outside the door while Jenessa changes. As soon as the door shuts, she throws on some clothes and knocks on the adjoining door. After a few minutes, Rafe's servant answers. Jenessa is a bit put out to see that Rafe was in the adjoining room, but she recovers quickly, and asks to speak with him. Servant: "The baron never rises before 10." Jenessa: "Tell him I would like to see him." Servant: "The baron never rises before 10." Jenessa: "Tell him I need to see him. Please." Servant: "One moment." The servant stalks off, then returns. Servant: "The baron will attend upon you directly." Jenessa: "I need to see him in a hurry." The door is shut, and she bangs on it again, to no avail. The cops in the hall are getting impatient, and ask that she open the door, unless she wants them to open it for her; she does finally let them in. Jenessa: "I'm only trying to obtain a lawyer." Cop: "You can call a lawyer from the station. I have some nice bracelets for you." Jenessa: "Is that necessary? I'll come peacefully." They don't cuff her, but they do take her in to the station, to see Commission Globber.

Jenessa is brought in to Globber's office, where he is having a light morning snack of coffee and powdered doughnuts (judging from the box beside his desk, a lot of powdered doughnuts). Jenessa: "Good morning, Mr. Globber, how are you?" Globber: "I'm well, but we seem to have gotten into a bit of trouble." Jenessa: "Really, what have you done?" Oddly enough, the Commissioner doesn't seem to enjoy the humor. Globber: "Normally, we don't pay too much attention to the security tapes, but a high resolution thermal imager was just installed in the auction house. Take a look for yourself, but I should warn you that the imager is quite revealing." [Yes, it can look through clothing.] Jenessa's attitude gets a bit more chilly. Jenessa: "What can I do for you sir?" Globber: "As I said, you are in a bit of a bind. We tend to deal with thieves rather harshly here." Jenessa: "How do you know it was me?" Jenessa insists that it's just a thermal image, and they can't prove it was her, but Globber points out that a thermal image can be identified almost like a fingerprint. Jenessa suggests he call her when they've checked that out, but it's already been done. Globber: "So you see, with the thermal image, supported by eyewitness testimony, we can prove it was you." Time for a new approach. Jenessa: "How did you like my gift?" Globber: "I don't appreciate being made sport of." Jenessa: "I'd just met you, and I was quite impressed." This tack doesn't work either. Jenessa: "There was really no harm done. I didn't profit after all." [Only because she forgot she didn't have pockets, and she never had a chance to recover the jewels before they were discovered.] Globber: "That's true. Perhaps we can come to some arrangement." Jenessa: "I should hope so." Globber: "We can discuss this further over dinner tonight." Jenessa: "Will your wife be coming?" Globber: "I'm not married." Jenessa: "Do I have some time to consider my options?" Globber: "You have until noon. Don't leave town. We shoot fleeing felons, you know." Jenessa <rising to leave, and smiling sweetly>: "I wouldn't think about leaving Regina."

Jenessa leaves the police station. It's now 6:00 a.m., and some of the cops give her a bit of a leer when she leaves. She returns to Clairidges, bangs on the interconnecting door, and demands to see the baron. The servant attempts to explain that the baron is in the midst of his morning toilette, but Jenessa pushes her way past, and heads for the bathroom. She doesn't get far before she is stopped by a younger, larger, and much more threatening looking servant in a suit. After a few tense moments, the baron emerges, in his bathrobe. Rafe: "That's all right, Peter. <to Jenessa> You must excuse Peter, some one tried to kidnap me once." Jenessa: "I've been trying to see you for an hour!" Rafe: "Well it is <looks at watch> good heavens!" Jenessa: "The police paid me a call this morning, and arrested me." Rafe: "Good heavens, whatever for?" Jenessa: "They claim I stole some jewels from the auction house." Rafe: "You didn't, did you?" Jenessa: "I don't have any gems." Rafe: "Did you steal the gems?" Jenessa: "Well......I did put on some gloves, pick a lock, reach in, take a handful of gems, and put them into Mr. Globber's pocket..." [Sounds remarkably like stealing, doesn't it?] Rafe: "Leave it to me." He calls Seymore, and after a few minutes he hangs up. Rafe: "Well. You are in trouble." Jenessa: "Can't you arrange something with your friend Seymore?" Rafe: "What, for a common thief? I thought you a lady of quality." Fine. Jenessa marches into her room, gets changed, and leaves the hotel. Or tries to. She's stopped at the front desk by a man with the bill. She walks over, writes "Screw you, Rafe" on it and leaves.

Mikie wakes up, after an unpleasant night. In spite of the sedative, he had a bad time (night sweats, thrashing, calling out some one's name, etc.). And an unusual number of patients have complained of headaches and nightmares; this would be a side effect of having an emotionally distraught empathic psionic on the premises. There are some flowers in the room, and a few get well cards (all have been checked for poison already). Mikie opens one, and on the inside it reads: "Wishing you were here." There's a picture of the blocky blond man sitting with his arm around a female in lingerie. It's Theresa's body. F..k. The card bursts into flames, and Mikie flips it into the trash can. A small piece of paper fluttered out of the card's envelope, and fell under the bed. Mikie picks up the piece of paper. It's a receipt, from "Grenville's Taxidermy" (EWW!) Mikie looks up the business, and it's on Up Port.

Shaw, sharing coffee with Treal, comments on how bad he looks, and makes disparaging remarks about the doctors on Regina. (Doctors always make the worst patients.) Treal doesn't think the doctors did such a bad job - Shaw's still alive, after all. And Treal will eventually get over the recently beaten look, and be back to his normal handsome self. Shaw has some things to take care of, so he leaves.

Treal calls Mikie's apartment, but that number has been disconnected. He tries Mikie's cell phone, but it's the old one, and the Verbils answer it and make cell phone ringing noises into it. Treal <to himself>: "How bizarre." He calls Discarding Sabot, and Irving answers. Treal: "Hi Irving. I was looking for Mikie." Irving: "Oh, he works for Regina Security now. But I heard he was in the hospital." Treal: "Really? Thanks." He calls the hospital, but is told "that patient is not receiving calls." Treal decides to go there, somewhat concerned, as when he last saw Mikie (yesterday) he was just fine.

Shaw goes to Watson's little storage house, and checks him out. Nose to tail. Nothing. Then he checks his programming. Nothing. Or at least he doesn't find anything that looks out of place - no signs of tampering or bugging, or anything hidden he was not aware of. He decides to move on to something else, and he does some checking on the Baron d' Anjou. Old, noble family. Old money. Lots of it. There is enough money to keep Rafe and his extended family in the good life, for life. He has an eye for the ladies, but hasn't been linked to anyone in particular. Shaw then tries to find something on the female Rafe was with at the auction, but she's not local.

Jenessa is walking over to speak with Globber, when a large car pulls up. A really big man gets out and tells her to get in. Jenessa: "And who are you? I don't go any where with strangers." The man shows her a large gun, and she decides that maybe she will get in. A no-nonsense kind of man is in the back, smoking a cigarette. It's Gino Scalese. He discusses Jenessa's line of work with her, including the little issue of union dues. Jenessa demurs, as she claims to not be working on Regina, so there really isn't anything to discuss. Jenessa: "Now if you could just drop me off at the police station..." Mr. Scalese does not run a cab service, so Jenessa is invited out of the vehicle where it is.

Jenessa walks the rest of the way to the police station, and goes up to see Globber, who is having lunch. Or brunch. Jenessa: "Are you going to eat, or are we going to chat?" Globber: "I thought we could do both." Jenessa: "I'm not used to men not giving me their undivided attention." Globber sets aside his meal, somewhat reluctantly. Jenessa: I've been thinking about our conversation earlier." Globber: "Really? I was just thinking about the same thing. I thought we'd start with dinner, then see what develops." Jenessa: "No. I'll take my chances in court. You don't have my fingerprints, I don't have the loot, and those pictures, really, only show me near the case, and near you." Globber: "I'm sorry to hear that. If you feel you need to bring the law into it, then we can proceed officially. My hands will be tied." Jenessa: "I don't see why we couldn't come up with some sort of alternative. Your police department may need some one with my skills." Globber is not interested in any 'counter offer'. Jenessa: "I don't plan on staying on Regina for long. Do you know how long it will be before my case is heard?" Globber: "Well, the courts can be busy, but I can make a call." Jenessa: "I'd rather get it over with."

Mikie is discharged, and is offered some sleeping pills. Mikie takes the pills, not that they really helped. The staff doctor is concerned about Mikie, and suggests perhaps he "might want to speak with one of our counselors; they're very experienced, and perhaps they have medication that could be of some help." Mikie: "No." Treal shows up at Regina Trauma to see Mikie. Treal: "Are you all right? Physically? When I saw you at the auction house, you were fine." Mikie: "I'm all right. I came into contact with something that didn't sit well with me." Treal: "I need to talk to you about something. Do you have a few minutes?" Mikie: "Okay."

Shaw leaves the warehouse district, and while heading back home is accosted by a couple of large 'gentlemen'. Seems they're interested in the sword, and Shaw "had it". Shaw explains that he never "had" the sword, some one imbedded it into his neck (temporarily). And the police have the blade now. Semi-veiled threats are made about the sword, and it's possession. The men also make mention of 'other' people who may be interested in Shaw and the sword, people referred to as "not real gentle." The men leave, and Shaw decides he better warn Treal, since contact with the damned sword appears to be attracting a never ending stream of unpleasant people. Treal is not at his father's house, so Shaw sets out to find him.

Mikie's current cell phone rings. Black: "I'm sorry to bother you, but we have a couple of errands you might be able to help with. Something to keep you busy." Mikie: "What do you need?" Black: "We've had a request from Starport Authority. They want some assistance with the conviction of a thief. I'll send some one to assist you." Mikie: "Who?" Black: "Tonya Rainier, from Support Services. I don't think you've worked with her before, but she can show you a few tricks. Where can I have her meet you?" Mikie: "Um, the hospital cafeteria." He goes down there, with Treal.

Shaw shakes a Weasel, and is told that Treal may be at the hospital. Shaw has "Dr. Treal Delgado" paged, and Treal hears it, but he figures they're just confused, and want to page his twin brother Will (who is a doctor and formerly on staff at that hospital), so he doesn't answer it. Mikie: "So, what happened to you?" Treal explains about the sword, the men, etc. Then he tells Mikie about what he found in the sword hilt, and shows it to Mikie. Mikie looks at the little metal cylinder, unscrews it, and takes out a ribbon of brown tape. Mikie recognizes it as computer tape, from a really old computer. Treal: "Do you know where I might find some one who could read it?" Mikie tells him that the museum may have a reader, as may a couple of other places. Treal puts the cylinder back in his pocket, but Mikie helps him hide the tape in his belt. Treal gets a cut strip of x-ray film from the supply cabinet, and puts it in the cylinder. Just in case. Then the door bursts open, and Shaw rushes in to warn Treal. Treal shows him the metal cylinder.

Mikie notices a young blonde female enter the cafeteria; she keeps glancing at him. After Shaw and Treal leave for MilTech, the little bookish blonde comes over. "May I join you?" Mikie stands up, offering her a seat. Tonya: "Whoa! Old world manners." She sits down. What she needs Mikie to do is put a small item onto Jenessa's person, and Tonya will take care of the residence. Mikie takes the little package, asks if she knows where the target is now? Tonya takes out a small device, and shows Mikie where Jenessa is moving to at the moment. She's on the move, but slowly enough that she should be easy to catch up to, so Mikie heads out.

Mikie picks up Jenessa's trail, on the slidewalk. She's being followed by a couple of Regina cops, who have a loose tail on her. They appear to be waiting for something. Probably Mikie, so he moves in. Jenessa doesn't notice she's being followed, but she's in an enclosed environment, so it wouldn't make much sense for the cops to worry about her leaving. Mikie does the reverse pickpocket routine, using telepathy to distract Jenessa, just in case. She's sure the man to her right has copped a feel and she belts him, knocking him to the ground in a confused heap. Mikie fades back, and the police move in.

One of the cops is the detective who picked her up at her hotel room earlier in the day. Cop: "Hi there." Jenessa: "What do you want?" Cop: "Well, it's almost the end of my shift, and I thought I should check in with you." The two cops have her bracketed. Jenessa: "And where are we going?" Cop: "To the station. We just need to make one little stop." Jenessa: "Where?" Cop: "You'll see." Jenessa: "I'd rather know where we were going." Cop: "Are you resisting arrest? 'Cause if you were, I'd have to subdue you." Jenessa: "I'm going with you, I'd just like to know to where." He points, and Jenessa sees a group of police around her drawer. This just keeps getting better.

The two officers escort Jenessa off the slidewalk and over to the Econo Shelter (drawer hotel), as other officers are removing weapons (sawed off shotgun, knives, etc.) from her drawer. Jenessa is searched, and the packet Mikie put on her is 'found'. Cop: "Well, well. What have we here?" Jenessa: "I wouldn't know." The packet is opened, and it contains some sort of powdered substance. One of the cops is going to taste it, but Jenessa's 'friend' stops him. "Are you nuts? We'll use the test kit. The cop takes out a test kit, and starts adding a very small amount of the powder to a series of vials. Cop: "No...<shake>...no...<shake>...Oooh. Better confirm." He gets another test kit, and gets the same result. Cop: "Well, little lady, I didn't realize you moved in those circles. I'm going to have to cuff you, for my own protection." Jenessa: "That's not necessary. It's not like I'm going to hurt you." Detective: "I don't know, any one who's carrying around distribution weight Frenzy..." Jenessa is cuffed, taken downtown, booked, searched (very thoroughly), and put into a bright orange paper jumpsuit that's way too small (it's either too small, or too big - she got one of the revealing ones). She gets her one phone call, and dials Gino Scalese, at the Legitimate Businessman's Association. Jenessa: "I'm in jail." Gino: "Yeah, I heard that." Jenessa: "I realize I made a mistake, and I should have paid my dues this morning. You caught me at a bad moment." Gino: "Oh, so now you want uncle Gino to make things all better?" Jenessa: "Yes." Gino: "I'll see what I can do."

Jenessa gets to spend some unhappy hours in the cell, until she is brought out to see her 'lawyer'. Lawyer: "Mr. Scalese sent me, and we've got a bit of a problem. You drew Judge Bubba." Jenessa: "And that's bad?" Lawyer: "He's the straight and narrow type." Jenessa: "How much is it going to cost?" Lawyer: "That's the problem. We can't go that route, so we'll have to see to it that the evidence 'disappears'. And that's going to be expensive." Jenessa: "I don't have a lot of money." Lawyer: "Mr. Scalese says you can work it off." Jenessa: "Doing what? I design jewelry." Lawyer: "Whatever. Let's say that Mr. Scalese wants a certain piece of jewelry designed, and let's say that some of settings for this jewelry need to be obtained from some one. That's where you come in." Jenessa: "How long is it going to take me to pay off this debt?" Lawyer: "That depends on how good you are. Mr. Scalese says it's going to take about 50K, what with you being a dangerous drug dealer and all." Jenessa: "I don't suppose this is up for negotiation?" Lawyer: "This is Mr. Scalese. Either you take the offer, or you don't." Jenessa <unhappily>: "Fine. I take it." Lawyer: "And don't get any ideas about skipping town. Mr. Scalese has friends in lots of places." Jenessa: "The thought never crossed my mind. It's $50,000, right? No 'accrued interest'?" Lawyer: "It's $50,000. We'll go see the judge tomorrow, and ask that the charges be dropped due to lack of evidence." Jenessa is taken back to her cell, to contemplate things.

Treal buys body armor and a new cutlass in MilTech. Also some more ammo for his gun. Clerk: "Do you want that wrapped, or will you be wearing it?" Treal: "I'll be wearing it." Clerk: "Why does everyone always say that?" Treal and Shaw leave, and are unaccosted as they go to the shuttle bay and head Down Port to the Regina Museum of Science and Technology. The techie is tickled pink at being able to fire up an old machine. Shaw is very interested in this tape, and the asteroid belt charted on it. The techie transfers the information onto a data crystal, which Treal takes. Treal then puts the original tape into the cylinder. They get to Up Port, heading from the shuttles, and Treal is paged. He doesn't answer it, and they keep going. Some one behind them clears his throat, they keep going. Some one behind them racks the action on a shotgun, and Shaw and Treal carefully turn around.

The man holding a SURF gun aimed at them says: "We've been frustrated, and have been running around a lot, and we're getting kind of cranky." The other man is holding an automatic shotgun, also pointed their way. Treal tries to explain that he's down on his luck , and just wants to get a little profit out of this. During this conversation Shaw is slowly moving sideways away from Treal. The spokesman (with the SURF gun) finally agrees to pay Treal the $5,000 credits he wants, but when Treal rolls him the cylinder, the man takes it and the money and laughs "Sucker!" Then the guns come up anyway. Treal manages to beat the surf gunner to the draw, and drops him. Shaw does the "I'm just a harmless old man" routine, then when the second man draws down on Treal, Shaw uses the Darn Eggsterminator®, and Treal sees the admin guy (Shaw) gesture with his hand, and the bad guy's chest sort of explodes. But no noise! Must be a powerful psionic!!! Treal is going to wait for the police, but Shaw moves the jacket on one of the men, revealing a shiny badge of some sort. OH-OH Treal and Shaw decide it's time to go now.

Jenessa's attorney has filed a motion for dismissal of the charges against her based upon "lack of evidence"; now how did he find that out so quickly? When the government agrees that the evidence of this crime has gone missing, Judge Bubba says: "Well, ma'am, I am truly sorry. You have the apology of the government of Regina. <to the police> I hope I'm not going to hear about any harassment, boys. <to Jenessa> You're free to go." Jenessa: "Thank you, your honor." She takes the opportunity to leave! Yet another example of the well oiled machine that is the Regina we know and love.

Mikie goes back to the big grey building with no windows, to report back in to the boss. Black: "While you've been busy, we've found out the source of the items in the auction. All of them, including the swords, the wine, and the treasure. It all comes from the estate of a man recently deceased on planet, no one of any real importance or repute. His name was Patrick O'Flanahan. He was quite old, and had eventually built up a resistance to anagathon, which resulted in his death. It took a lot of digging, but we found out that there was a cabin boy on board the Exeter, Admiral Tupelov's flagship, during the Battle of the Three Suns. The cabinboy's name was Patrick O'Flanahan." Mikie: "So how old would that make him?" Black: "A little over 200. You know, there was an ancient race in the area, known as the Lyrians. There are almost none of them now, it's an extinct race for all intents and purposes, although there are some individual Lyrians still living, sort of like gypsies. According to the legend, during the final battle, the prince and his concubines disappeared with the crown jewels. No one knows what happened to them."

Treal returns the cylinder to Mr. Lawry at the auction house, explaining where it came from (the sword hilt, during the fight, after the robbery). He tells Lawry that he is one of the registered bidders for the sword, and should he buy it, he will expect the cylinder to be in the sword. Lawry: "Of course." Treal advises Lawry consider beefing up his security system, considering all the interest in it, and the various people who showed up looking for it after the robbery attempt. He also points out that the men that assaulted him in the hallway knew that the cylinder was no longer in the handle of the sword. So they've been getting information from someone at the auction house, since the handle was returned from the hospital by Vetter.

Treal then parts company from Shaw, goes to an X-boat communications office, and sends an encrypted message with the information on the data crystal to the address Falcon had left him (where the sword should be sent, once purchased). Then he goes to a different office, and sends a second message to the same address: "The code is 'Falcon'. " This is the key to the encryption for the map.

Mikie tells Black about the flaming card, and the receipt from the taxidermist. Black: "This is definitely personal." Black sends some people to the taxidermy business. Black and Mikie go there afterwards, where the dead and (badly) stuffed taxidermist was found. The man obviously knew his business, judging from the animals in the shop. The security guys did find some other "things", that they don't mention to Mikie (they're treating him like a ticking time bomb right now). Maybe a good idea. They do tell him they found some blond human hairs on the body of the taxidermist. Also a bit of blood on one of his instruments that appears to be human; the taxidermist may have gotten in a slash or two before he died, even if it was with a little tiny taxidermy blade. Not much, but it's a start.

Mikie <to Black>: "I don't know who's doing this." Black: "The same group who did this originally?" Mikie: "I don't know who else I could have made this... angry." Black: "I think it's safe to say that this is one sick individual." Samples of the blood and hair will be sent to Rhylanor for DNA testing, but that will take at least two weeks.

Treal goes to the public library, and looks up information on Admiral Tupelov. He follows the information on the fleet's movements during the war, and he is able to find the asteroid belt on the map. It's in a system near where the Imperial fleet met the Lyrian fleet in combat. Treal wonders why the Admiral would have had a map to a Lyrian asteroid belt in his sword hilt. Is it the site of a military base? There were rumors of a weapon, but just rumors. There are also rumors of the crown jewels disappearing with the prince. Treal looks for some kind of gem or jewel that would be identifiable as coming from the crown jewel collection or the Lyrian sector, and he does find information on what is referred to as an "Opaloid pearl" that came from a particular rare bivalve, native only to Lyrian space. Treal checks out the auction catalog, and finds several "opals, ground round" that fit the description; he marks them in his catalog.

Treal phones Mikie, on his cell phone (the new one). Mikie: "Hello?" Treal: "Do you know you're old cell phone is in the hands of Verbils?" Mikie: "Yes." Treal: "You might want to consider canceling it." Mikie: "Oh. Yeah." Treal: "Are you interested in helping me out with a search for missing treasure, or are you busy in your official capacity? Or are you working at Discarding Sabot (DS)?" Mikie: "Looking for what?" Treal: "Can we meet and talk somewhere?" Mikie: "Uh, sure. Where?" Treal: "How about D.S.?" Mikie: "Fine."

Treal gets a table at D.S., and Mikie joins him. Irving is behind the bar, polishing it with the automatic polisher, and operating the fountaining drink dispenser. It's apparently working well now. Treal: "So, are you all right after whatever landed you in the hospital?" Mikie: "Yeah." Treal: "I'm on the mend too." Mikie: "Did you get the film read?" Treal: "Yes, it's a map of an asteroid belt." He tells Mikie about what happened Down Port at the museum, that Shaw saw the map, the two heavily armed men, etc. This includes the description of Shaw just gesturing at one of the men, who then exploded. Treal: "I've never seen anything like it. There was no weapon that I could see, and it didn't make any noise. But the guy's chest just exploded - like from a shotgun. Any how, we were going to wait for the authorities, but one of the guys had a badge of some sort on him, so we left." Treal gives Mikie the rest of the info on returning the cylinder to the auction house, and the fact that some people obviously knew this item was in the sword. Mikie: "It was a map to an asteroid belt, where?" Treal: "In the Lyrian sector. Any how, Shaw is really interested in all this, for whatever reason. Are you interested in following up on this Lyrian thing with me?" Mikie: "I guess. At least for now." Pause. Mikie: "Look, there is one thing you should know. I'm not that safe to be around right now." Treal: "Why? Are you contagious?" Mikie: "No, but I've made some one very angry, and I'm not sure who." Treal: "Well, maybe this would be a good time to leave planet and lay low for a while." Mikie: "I'll have to think about it." They agree that Mikie will get in touch with Treal later.