"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."-- Aldous Huxley
Steve Corwin gets a call from the University, requesting him to come UpPort. He does have to teach the occasional class, so he can justify the money they give him to go on his safaris. He takes his Pampas Groat, his Wombat, and two varieties of snakes (one poisonous and one not, but almost identical). While he's at the University, he gets a call from the police who have someone in custody they believe is one of the men who landed the ship illegally.
He's shown into a viewing room in the station, where they have six men in jumpsuits. Cop: "Look at these men carefully, and if you see someone who matches either of the men you saw, tell us the number." There's one in particular who might be the man, but Steve isn't positive, and requests a closer look. Steve: "Or maybe you could have them say something?" They have them all say "Mind your own business", but they all sort of sound alike. Steve: "I can narrow it down to two, but they don't have any distinguishing markings, you see." They do have the videotape, but would like independent confirmation. He tells them which two he was thinking of, and before he leaves he sees them dragging off one of the men he picked. That must have been him. Steve leaves, since he remembers having left the animals in his car. The Groat has not had a chance to eat the upholstery. Then it's back DownPort.
Steve opens the door of the shed to drive the vehicle in, and sees that his living area has been trashed, and the cages are all open. There are two poisonous snakes, three boa constrictors, a bobcat, and a giant spider on the loose, but the monkey is in the rafters and screaming. Archie responds to his clicker, so he gets a treat. That just leaves the five snakes and the bobcat. Steve takes out his video camera, sets it up, and films himself tracking down the animals for the next hour. But he's successful except for the bobcat, who does not want to come down from the crate. Steve takes out his cloth bag, and issues the bobcat "challenge" to get him to come down and try to attack him. The bobcat leaps onto Steve's back, and is clawing him. The brawl is on, but Steve doesn't want to hurt the animal, just recapture him. After being scratched up rather well, Steve goes into dominant mode and the bobcat goes back up onto the crate. Steve crawls over to where the contents of the his cargo container have been dumped out, and finds the gun case with his tranq rifle. He loads it up, sneaks over to where he can take careful aim at the suspicious bobcat, and brings him down. Steve: <looking at the camera> "Fortunately for me, tranquilizers are much faster than they used to be." He peels off his shirt, showing how he's been mauled, and describing what happened, and which claws were used, etc. He tucks in all the animals, bandages himself , and then calls his usual doctor to advise him he'll be over.
Kiffin wakes up in a room, and judging from the hospital green paint, the hospital bed, etc., she figures she's in - the hospital. Regina Trauma, to be more specific. Mr. Sykes is sitting in a chair reading the Regina Times. Sykes: "Kiffin. I see you're awake." Kiffin: "Is George all right?" Sykes: "We've sent him off to Rhylanor. He sustained severe blast damage, but since he was kept alive long enough to freeze him, I'm sure he'll be fine." Kiffin: "I'm glad." Sykes: "The police have been asking to speak with you. The doctors say it's all right, but only if you feel up to it." Kiffin: "I'll speak to them if they want me to." Sykes calls the station, and a detective is sent round to take her statement.
Inspector Johnson introduces himself and asks when she got back to the Jasmine Club, and did she drive or walk? Kiffin: "I walked." He asks her to describe her actions, what she did and saw just before the explosion. Kiffin tells the detective everything she can remember, which includes the license plate number on the car the bomb was in. That might be helpful. Johnson: "Had there been any threats that you're aware of against the Jasmine Club? Any disgruntled employees?" Kiffin: "Not that I know of, no." Inspector Johnson: <handing Kiffin his card> "If you think of anything else...With these traumatic incidences, often people don't remember things until later. If it's after hours, you can call and leave me a voice mail message." He leaves. Kiffin will be kept in the hospital for several days, due to external tissue damage. She's stuck in bed, and turns to channel surfing after Mr. Sykes and the detective leave. She keeps running into similar footage of a Naval vessel's lifeboat with smoke billowing out of it. She turns up the volume. Apparently there's been a bombing of an Imperial Navy ship, and the lifeboat is doing evac. Reporter: "Sources close to the investigation tells us that the Naval vessel was in high orbit when another ship rammed it." The ship was hailed, then fired on, but still managed to crash into the Navy ship.
Back in his apartment, and just a bit sore in spots, Randall Shelzie hears a knock on his door. Two men in suits are there, and identify themselves as Regina Security. He lets them in. (Like he could keep them out?) Agent: "Yes, Mr. Shelzie, we'd like you to come down to the office and speak with us." Randall: "Sure." He gets a ride to the big grey building with no windows, but in the back seat of the car, as opposed to the trunk. Randall has to check his weapons at the door, and he turns in his handgun. Yes, that's his only weapon. Yes, they can tell. Then he's shown in to see Mr. Black.
Black: "Randall Shelzie this week, is it?" Randall: "Yes." Black: "I make it a point to know all the ex-ISA agents on Port. What brings you back to Regina? Why are you on planet now? And more to the point, why did you phone the Commissioner of police on the morning of the bombings and invite him to breakfast?" Randall: "I'm on Regina because it's a quiet place to live. I called the Commissioner to offer my services." Black: "Is that as an intelligence operative, or...?" Randall: "My specialty was forensic pathologist." Black: "If I were a suspicious person, I'd wonder if an intelligence agent who was involved in the bombings would arrange to be near an explosion, with a reputable witness, to throw off suspicion." Randall: "Good thing you're not a suspicious person." Black: "Yes. Well, I've decided take you up on your offer of assistance." Randall: "I didn't make the offer to you, I made it to the Starport Authority and the local police." Black: "We all work here for the betterment of the planet. Mr. Globber has his job, and I have mine. And since a Naval vessel has now been blown up, that makes it my problem." Randall: "A Naval vessel was bombed?" Black: "Yes. Don't you watch the news?" Randall: "Given the credibility of the majority of the news services on Regina, I haven't been watching them a lot." Black passes over a file. Now Randall is worried. Black: "This man we have apprehended and interrogated. He was part of an Ine Givar cell. The rest of his cell were killed in the suicide attack on the ship, so we can't question them. We need to know who recruited him." Randall: "If you have him in custody, why don't you ask him?" Black: "We know everything he knew." Randall: "Knew? Past tense? I thought he was still alive." Black: "He is. In a manner of speaking." Ah. Randall: "So is this file something you want me to read?" Black: "Yes, please." Randall: "May I take it with me, for bedtime reading?" Black: "No." Randall: "Do you have a room I can use to read it?" Black: "Yes. And if you need any other resources, we can provide it." It's not normal for Regina Security to ask for outside help, but then again, it's not normal for the ISA to show up and offer help just before the bombing. And Randall would be very deniable.
In a small room, Randall reads the file. The photo is of a young man in his early twenties - Marino Lapointe. He was a student at Regina University with a major in archeology and a minor in political science. There is a list of the five professors he was studying with this semester. In the interrogation notes, he talks about stealing a starship, going Down Port and loading it with explosives. One thing that is not clear to the interrogator is why this man was still alive, wandering around on the starport, when the other members of his cell were blowing themselves up. No local records, Imperial or planetary, have a record of the man or his friends being in military service, but it's possible. Randall asks if any evidence has been brought in from the bombings. Black: "Physical evidence, including body parts from the bombing outside the restaurant is available. There is more of the same from outside the Jasmine Club, but there were no fatalities there." Randall: "There was a bombing outside the Jasmine Club?" Black: "Yes." Randall: "So there were three bombings?" He's really got to start watching the news. Black: "Yes. They're in the process of dealing with the aftermath of the attack on the Navy ship, so it will be a while before we get our hands on anything substantial from that scene." A Fat Trader loaded with explosives was used to ram the Naval ship, that they do know. According to the report Randall is reading, the only bombing the prisoner was involved in was the last one, and all he did was help load the explosives. He was picked up on Level 3, in one of the commercial transit areas. He has a residence here, but it's currently sealed. Randall: "Would you mind if I check it out?" Black: "That would be fine, but one of my men will accompany you." He indicates Agent Abercrombie. Randall: "That's fine, as long as he doesn't step in any blood." Abercrombie: "The only blood I'll be stepping in is yours." Regina Security humor.
Randall asks to make a stop at his apartment to pick up some tools (camera, ziplock bags, rubber gloves, forceps, etc.). Then it's on to Lapointe's residence, in a college dorm. Randall lets Abercrombie break the seal on the dorm room, and they open the door, since Abercrombie also has the key. (Regina Security has the key to pretty much everything.) It's a pretty typical dorm room. Bed to the right and left, two desks, two computer terminals, and the closet rotates with the bed (since you can't use both). Obviously set up for two students. Randall: "Do we know who his roommate is?" Abercrombie: "Yes. It's in the file, but he hasn't shown up yet." Randall takes a couple of photos from the doorway, then inside the room, from as many angles as possible. The right side of the room is Lapointe's. They check the bed (under the mattress, inside the pillowcase, etc.) but other than an issue of Playbeing, there's nothing odd. Randall sets the magazine on the floor, then rotates the bed to check out the closet and chest of drawers. Randall carefully starts to pull out one of the drawers when he notices a wire. Randall: "Abercrombie?" Abercrombie: "Yes?" Randall: "We need a demo expert." Abercrombie: <backing towards the door> "Ookay." Since Abercrombie doesn't want to be blamed for Mr. Black's evidence being blown up, he motions for Shelzie to back out of the room with him, without moving the drawer. That floor of the dorm was cleared out already, and Randall and Abercrombie end up outside with the residents of the floor above and below. Lapointe's roommate isn't due back until early evening, according to his class schedule.
Randall: "Do we need to wait here?" Abercrombie: "No, they'll page me when they're done." Randall: "Good, then we can go have some lunch." Randall leads the way to the university cafeteria. Abercrombie is not impressed with his culinary taste. Randall: "Hey, the last nice place I went to eat blew up." It doesn't take long to disarm the boobytrap (wire, grenade), and then Randall and Abercrombie are back inside the room. The rigged drawer contained a tin of racquetball balls, a racquet, and a handwritten journal. Randall removes the journal and puts it with the Playbeing. He takes a look at the balls, which appear to be normal, but he's not going to bounce them to see if they blow up; he passes them to the bomb guys. There are also some toiletries in the drawer, and Randall bags a sample of hair from a brush. The second drawer was not boobytrapped, and contains books, notebooks, class stuff. Anything Lapointe has written in, Randall sets aside with the journal and the magazine. Other than that, the chest contains clothing. A lot of the clothing is natural fiber, and not from around here. Could be expensive, could be from a low-tech world. Randall writes down the name. Then he turns his attention to the desk, looking for personal letters (there are a few). There is also a purple flyer:
Expand your mental acuity! Hone your perceptions! Think faster and more clearly!
Get to the bottom of what people really think about you.
Collins Hall, Conference Room B, Fourday, 7:00 PM.
That would be last Fourday. Randall hands the flyer to Abercrombie. Randall: "We probably want a list of who gave the conference, and who attended it." That's it for the personal papers on the desk.
Jacob Spencer goes home to his tiny apartment. It's still as tiny as before. What he currently does for fun in the evening involves grading papers and working on his thesis. And he frequently goes to the gym to beat on the bag while complaining about the Dissertation Committee, his advisor, his professor, that little shit who sits in the third row... Or he goes to the Student Union Building to watch Groat Hunter with the other students, since the man is insane. Tonight, Groat Hunter has been preempted for the coverage of the bombings. Hmmm. This gets Jacob thinking, and he goes to the library to check the linguistics files for 'Wilbur'. He comes up with a hit on a person who was a planetary national hero on one of the border worlds, around the 2nd Frontier War. He worked to overthrow the evil Imperials who had taken the once Zhodani world, which has now gone back to being under Zhodani rule after being part of the Neutral Zone. The man is known today as a hero. Jacob searches further on this person and finds there are two books in the library on him, but one is checked out. He finds the second book and checks it out. The book is about 25 years old, and has stories about the Wilbur person as well as other heroes. Wilbur was a revolutionary, populist guerilla, who was rather renown for his bombs. Fancy that. Jacob goes to a librarian to inquire about the other book. It's due back on 113, and was checked out by a Mr. Lapointe. He's a student, so Jacob looks him up on the directory so he can ask to borrow the book briefly. Jacob goes up to the dorm room, to see if he's in.
Back in Mr. Lapointe's room, Randall is sitting at the computer desk reading the journal. Jacob arrives to see dangling crime scene tape around the door, a man sitting on one of the bunk beds reading Playbeing (could be a cop), and a much older man at the computer. Jacob: "Excuse me, are either of you gentlemen Mr. Lapointe?" Randall: "Come in, have a seat." Jacob: "Are you Mr. Lapointe?" Randall: "No. Was he expecting you?" Jacob: "No, I've come to see about borrowing a book - 'Heroes of the Second Incursion' by Valchek." Randall: "And you would be?" Jacob: "Spencer. Jacob Spencer. I'm a TA here, and I'm looking for a second reference source for a research project I'm working on. I did find one source, but..." He goes off into academics, which bores Abercrombie, but not Randall. Randall: "How long have you known Mr. Lapointe?" Jacob: "I don't. I'm just interested in the book. I have this project, as I mentioned, and I found out that the second reference book had been checked out by Mr. Lapointe, and I came by to see if I could borrow it." Randall: "If we do run into the book we'll turn it in to the library." Jacob: <pointing> "It's in that box." Randall and Abercrombie glance at the box. Randall: "So it is. Sorry." Jacob: "Are you a professor here? Randall: "Nope." Jacob: "You have the qualifications for it." There follows a really boring conversation between Jacob and Randall about the author and translator of the book in question, which Abercrombie ignores. Randall: "Did you have any classes with Mr. Lapointe?" Jacob: "No." Randall: "So your only interest in Mr. Lapointe is the book?" Jacob: "Yes." As far as Randall is concerned, the book is now even more interesting, since someone else wants it.
Since he's not going to get the book from the odd men in the dorm room, Jacob decides to leave and go in search of a bookstore. As he's leaving, Randall picks up the book and the purple flyer and holds them up. Jacob: <to himself> "Probably a flyer for a band from his generation."
Randall: <to Abercrombie> "This book relates to Zhodani history, and this flyer strikes me as pro-psionic." Abercrombie: "And where do you get that from?" Randall: "The wording." And because that would be the worst possible take on it. Randall: "I think it would be important to find out who just left, and what his interest in this book is. He was way too cool about this, even after finding us here." Time to leave, with the box of written material and the book. Randall wants to take the box home with him to study. Abercrombie: "No can do. This is evidence. We can lock it up at night, and you can come play with it during the day, and we do operate 24 hours a day, so if you come down with insomnia, you can come by at three in the morning." Randall doesn't want to go back to the big grey building with no windows right now, so he leaves Abercrombie to take care of impounding the box of books, and Randall is going to see if he can have a chat with that Spencer person.
Jacob found a second hand copy of the book, and takes it back to his office to right up a report with footnotes and everything. When he gets in, he realizes that someone has messed up his mess. He thinks. It's kind of hard to tell, really. Randall is searching for Jacob's office, after looking him up, and eventually finds it. Jacob has put the books down and moved on to the papers he has to grade. But he keeps thinking about the report, so he leaves the papers and goes to his computer to write the report. He notices that there's someone watching him at the door. Jacob: "Just a minute, just a minute...Okay, what can I do for you?" Randall: "I was hoping to find out some more about the 'Heroes of the Second Incursion'." Jacob: "From what I've been able to determine, it was fairly well written, and a good translation. This Wilbur person was a terrorist, really, which is rather disturbing." Randall: "You have an interest in this Wilbur terrorist, do you?" Jacob: "He's not a terrorist any more, he's an historical figure, since he's been dead for several hundred years." He's been working on the computer as he was speaking, and e-mails his notes off to the police officer who spoke with him. Randall: "So, are you researching this Wilbur person?" Jacob: "No, something came up and I'm assisting the authorities with their inquiries." Randall: "Oh really? Which branch of the authorities?" Jacob: "The local police. Now I need to deal with these papers if you don't mind." Randall: "Mr. Spencer, you've mentioned a couple of things of interest to me, specifically terrorism and Mr. Lapointe." Jacob: "Mr. Lapointe has been involved in 300 year old terrorist activities?" Randall: "Mr. Lapointe's activities are a bit more recent." Jacob: "Isn't this the part where you flash a badge at me?" Randall: "I would if I had one. Let's just say I was asked to assist the authorities, and I thought it was a request I shouldn't turn down." Randall's pager goes off. Randall: "May I use your phone?" Jacob: "Yes. It's a 1910 Glickman. I found it in an odd little place." He sets a candlestick rotary phone onto the desk. Randall picks it up and starts dialing. Boy, he is old.
Abercrombie: "You know that Jacob Spencer?" Randall: "Yeah." Abercrombie: "He's the witness who spoke with the Ine Givar. There was a call claiming responsibility, and he's the one who reported it." Randall: "I see." He looks at Jacob quizzically. Abercrombie: "You're right that he's of interest. He may not have been called at all. We'll need to check on him." Randall: "I'm in his office right now." Abercrombie: "Is he there?" Randall: "Yes." Abercrombie: "We'll talk later." Randall: "Mr. Spencer, I understand you were the one who took the call from the terrorists claiming responsibility for the bombings?" Jacob: "I don't remember reading that in the Times." Randall: "It wasn't in the Times." Randall says his good-byes and leaves to see Abercrombie. Turns out it was Dr. Tuesla who signed out the conference room for the odd lecture. Dr. Tuesla whose office Jacob Spencer was in when he received the call from the Ine Givar.
Elsewhere, on DownPort, Steve is getting himself repaired. Doctor: "You know, Steve, I don't demand cash in advance, but I would appreciate being named as the beneficiary of your will." Steve: "I can afford to pay." The doctor gives Steve the same lecture he always does. Not that it does any good.