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14. Betrayals and balls-ups

After wonderful successes with Lydia Lance and Gwendolyn Wurt, the group headed back to Nederland to await the arrival of Dona Ilsa in the basement of the Dreaming Crystal,  but not before buying Algernon a new weapon.

         *   *   *  *  * *   *  *   *  * *       

“Are you sure you’re twenty-one?”  The shop assistant in the camping and hunting store turned Algernon’s Seattle identification edge on to witness the iridescent Washington hologram appear briefly.

“He has a pituitary issue.”  Rain commented casually.

“He certainly doesn’t look his age.” Added Bruce uncomfortable with the fake ID.

Algernon said nothing, just a letting the administration do its thing while he admired his latest purchase, a state of the art rifle-style hunting crossbow.

In the end the shop assistant had no reason to deny the ID and rang through the $600.00 purchase.

As Rain and Algernon left the store, Bruce wandering behind for one last look at what was on offer, Rain quietly spoke to Algernon, 

“Now you have your crossbow, please don’t kill things with brains.”  

“If I shoot them in the head they won’t have any brains.” Algernon quipped back making Rain laugh nervously.

“Everyone you don’t kill is a potential friend.”

“Everyone he doesn’t kill is a potential threat.”  Peggy added. She’d been waiting outside and heard the conversation as they passed.

“See, she gets me.”  Algernon acknowledged the doctor’s contribution as they all climbed back into the van for the long ride back to Nederland.

Though only a day had passed, Nederland had undergone a transformation.  Blue and white decorations festooned the public spaces, small tents and massive marquees filled the town.  Posters with the illustration of a blue old man were everywhere proclaiming that Frozen Dead Guy Days had arrived.   Once back at the hotel, Rain made his mission to find a program for this unusual festival and tried to get everyone involved.

“How is this relevant to our mission here in Nederland?” Peggy asked when he showed her the poster.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with our mission, that’s the beauty of it.”  He replied holding out the list of events on offer over the weekend.

“Pancake breakfast, I can get into that.” Her eye alighted on the first event the next day.

“Pancakes, put me down for that.” Bruce sat down in one of the chairs in the hotel’s lounge with a wistful look on his face.

“Pancakes…are they good with bacon?” Algernon asked.  Most foods he rated in relation to bacon so this question came as no surprise.

“Yes,” Rain replied with enthusiasm, “and even better with maple syrup.”

“Ooh live vulture and other scavenger demonstrations.”  Peggy cooed over the program that she had now taken from Rain, “this may not be a complete waste of time.”

“See, something for everyone!”

“My mom made  the most excellent Saturday morning stacks.”  Bruce reminisce almost to himself in his chair, his thoughts miles and years away.

“Oh, I heard of that on the Internet.  Your mother had an excellent stack?” Algernon asked still cradling his purchase like his first born.

“She made excellent pancakes.”  The comment pulling Bruce from his revelries, “Always very round and fluffy, with little brown centres where the batter’d hit the skillet first…”

“Yes well, better than sausage and egg.”  Peggy said handing the program to Bruce.

With a horrified expression, Rain turned Peggy as if she had berated a sacred thing.

“Nothing is better than a full English Breakfast fry up.”

“So, what’s the plan for dealing with the crow woman?”  Bruce tried dragging the conversation back to the problem at hand.  This was more difficult than he would have thought as no one had any decent ideas.

“We need to catch Dona Ilsa, stop her from translating back.”  Rain said adamantly, but then lost momentum when it came down to how to achieve that end.

Peggy had picked up the program again and saw the first event of the festival was the Blue Ball.

“I guess it would be interesting to view the culture and social rituals around this festival.  Right here in front of us is the birth of a new fertility god. Anthropologically speaking this is a great opportunity.”
“Fertility god?”  Rain asked now distracted by Peggy, “Old dead Bredo Morstoel?”

“Sure.  The festival is set at the end of  winter, the rites of spring, even the giddy silliness of the activities are  classic pagan symbolism.”

“Back on topic.” Bruce cleared his throat and this time Algernon had a suggestion.

“I was going to use my net to entangle her and Peggy  could strip search her.” 

“So you’re leaving me alone with the crow lady?”  Peggy queried, an eyebrow raised.

“Well, they won’t let me do it.”  Rain smirked.

“Fair point.”

“You and Celia, obviously, when she’s up to it.  “ Bruce added, giving Rain a glare for almost derailing the conversation once again. “We also need something to distract her to hinder a natural translation.  Maybe we can have something trigger a recording of Rick Astley?”

“Regardless, I think we have to clean up the spider.” Peggy proposed, “Good fun in the moment, but a hindrance to our abilities to catch her.”

“Yes,” Rain agreed, giving Algernon a look of  apology, “Sorry to destroy your fun Algernon but it’s just in the way.”

“I don’t want to clean it up, I went to a lot of trouble smashing up spiders and I don’t think it should be touched.”  Algernon suddenly stood up, his crossbow forgotten. The action and attitude struck Rain as odd. Algernon was hiding something, but he kept silent wondering what thoughts his friend was concealing.

“We need to catch her.”

“Sulfuric acid?” Algernon suggested

“Urgh, you don’t want to clean up after that.” Rain shivered.

“Nitrous Oxide?”

“Laughing gas?  Safer. Can we get enough of the stuff?”

“Carbon monoxide is easier to make.”  Algernon piped up picking up his crossbow and walking around the group.

“Are we overthinking this? Are we forgetting something simple?” Peggy asked tiredly wiping her face, it had been a long day.

“We can just bash her over the head.” 

The conversation kept moving in circles around what was possible, all the time getting nowhere.  Suddenly an alarm on Bruce’s phone went off and he quickly brought up a camera image of the basement to see nothing unusual in the room.

“False alarm?”  He suggested, looking around for confirmation from Algernon.  He wasn’t with them, he couldn’t be seen anywhere.

“Where’s Algernon?” Peggy asked as Bruce called Algernon’s phone.

“Algernon. Just got the alarm.”

“I know, I’m going over there now.” Algernon’s voice could be heard replying through the phone.

“Right, we’ll meet you there.”  Bruce hung up and was about to put away his phone when Rain stretched out his hand for it.

“Can I just have a look at that footage?”  He asked. Bruce handed over the phone and Rain searched the video feed for signs of illusions. It was then he noticed that things weren’t quite as the group had left them. “Someone’s been in there, look the buckets have moved.”
“I think Algernon’s been there a few times.”  Bruce commented off handedly as they all left the hotel for the store.  

“Ah,” Rain’s demeanor sunk as realisation dawned on him,”That would make sense.”  He said almost sorrowfully.

The camera feed to the basement suddenly flickered off and Rain quickened his pace.

Camera down, what’s going on?  He texted from Bruce’s phone and quickly received a reply back.


The camera feed flicked back to life with the bucket gone.  Rain handed back the phone and started running.

We’re going to have a talk, young man. Bruce texted which caught Peggy’s attention.

“So you really have adopted him?” She said with all seriousness.

“So, have you….step mum.” Rain replied automatically as he also sent a text.

And then we’ll chat.

When the group arrived at the store the back door was open.  Rain quickly checked the front door was closed before following the others downstairs to where Algernon stood.

“All by myself.”
“We know.” Bruce was already in the door, arms crossed like a father confronting his wayward teen.

“So we’ve gathered.” Rain walked in and knew at a glance at Algernon that all his suspicions were confirmed.

“Nothing happening here, false alarm I guess.”  Algernon tried to brush off the affair, but his bravado petered out when he noticed Rain looking at the pieces of spider on the floor inside the translation square.

“So, what would happen if I do this…”  Rain said quiet as he started walking over to the pile of spider goo and body parts.  His moves were deliberate and inevitable, he was not stopping at the pile but intending to walk through it.

Faster than words, Algernon brought up his net crossbow and shot it at Rain.  Rain stopped instinctually at the sound of the net and it sailed in front of him to hit the back wall. Rain looked up at Algernon, his friend and closest companion for almost a year and then turned away.

 A horrible silence filled the room.

“I wouldn’t do that, Rain.”  Algernon’s voice was small and cracked, but it broke the silence giving everyone a start.

“And why is that Algernon?”  Rain responded quietly, still turned away still not having moved, “What would happen?  What would happen if that stuff covered a small person or someone with a compromised immunity.  What would happen, Algenon?”

“It’s a biotoxin.”  He said in a rush, “It will make someone sick. If they’re already ill, it will kill them over a number of weeks.”  

“Why, Algernon?” Bruce asked now stepping between the two men.

“She’s a threat.  She could kill Rain, or you Bruce or Peggy.”

“We’re not dealing with just one person, “ Rain rasped out his voice thick with emotion, ”We have a nation thinking they can use the human race for their own ends.  But they don’t know humans, they don’t know the levels of hate, the gen-gen-” He stumbled over the word like a physical barrier, “-genocidal levels humans will go to destroy what they perceive as a threat.  You don’t know!” He pointed at Algernon targeting him among the four of them who was not of Earth. His voice may have started quiet, but the last phrase was said with such force it was like a slap that was heard by everyone in the room.

“Rain!”  Peggy shocked by the violence in Rain’s words.

“That’s enough, Rain. Just calm down.”  Bruce turned to Rain and the smaller man held his tongue and quietly seethed.

“In a team, we don’t always get to do exactly our own thing…”. Bruce said returning to look Algernon squarely in the face.  “Sometimes we don’t agree and that means somebody isn’t going to have it exactly their own way. Being in a team means you’ve got each other, that you watch each other’s backs. “

“If you ignore what the team wants, you lose that and then you won’t have anyone helping and watching out for you to help keep you safe.”

“ Had to do it this way, “ Algernon pleaded over Bruce’s shoulder to where Rain still stood, “I had to try and protect you, but if I’d told you then Rain would have been disappointed.”

“Yes, and now he’s disappointed twice, “ Bruce acknowledged the young man’s reasoning in a gentle tone, “Once that you did it, but even more you did it without talking to us  If you really want to look after the team you need to be part of it.”

“Team?”  Algernon asked in a small voice.

“Family…” Rain said from his corner, “It was us against the world, now it’s just you.”

“And you, “ Bruce turned on Rain, “As brilliant as Algernon is, he really still a child and needs to be shown how to live, not told.  You have to model the behaviours you expect from him, by God, didn’t you have siblings?”

At this Rain turns as if slapped.  The anger was gone replaced by confusion and fear.  It was such an odd response that Bruce was taken aback.

“No.  No family.”  Rain said barely above a whisper, wrapping his arms around himself though the basement was close and warm with everyone in it.

“How about a rabbit trap.”  Peggy suggested breaking the tension of the scene and returning everyone to the problem at hand. “I could probably rig up a physical trap with what we have here.”

“It still doesn’t stop translation,” Rain croaked wearily from his corner, “Isn’t there something that blocks translations?”

“Radiation?” Bruce replied stating a fact, “The radiation of the desert recursion blocked McCain.”

“That was an event unique to that translation.”  Peggy shook her head, “McCain’s assumption about the radiation was false, but understandable in the circumstances.  How about paralysis?”
“Digitalis?  It’s a poison.”  Rain shook his head, “No, I could keep her here.”

“What are you going to persuade her to stick around?” Bruce asked seriously.  He’s seen some pretty amazing things from this group and he’d never believed in Rain’s claims to not have powers of his own.

“No, I did it before on Peggy, after Celia touched her and they became mind linked.”  He started moving towards Peggy, “I was trying to calm her down and she…froze.”

“Often the things you say leave me cold, but I remember…” Peggy started saying as Rain stepped in close and started talking quietly to her.  It wasn’t what he was saying, as much as how he said it. An intensity, an intimacy that was akin to when he encouraged them at tasks. Peggy stopped what she was saying mid sentence, she stopped everything even blinking and her breathing was slow and shallow like that of sleep.  Rain kept talking for a few more moments and then stopped, turning to the others, careful not to attract Algernon’s eye.

“…very clearly that I was having a panic attack….why are you looking at me like that?”  Peggy continued where she had left off until she noticed the other two staring at her.

“You stopped Peggy talking!” Algernon exclaimed forgetting the distance between him and Rain at that moment, even though they were less than a metre apart.

“I’m still not talking to you….but yes it is.” Rain tugged the cuff of his sport’s coat as an excuse not to look up.

“How?” Bruce asked and Rain shook his head.

“It’s subtle.  You said it yourself. I can’t scream and hurt people’s minds or make them levitate, but I can do this.  As long as I can talk, I can keep Dona Ilsa here.”  

“It would mean Rain staying down here twenty-four-seven.” Bruce looked to the rest.

“That’s why I hadn’t suggested it.”  Rain agreed reluctantly, “I’m going to miss the festival.”

Peggy sighed in frustration, they were going around in circles again, getting caught on trivialities that got them nowhere.  She was sick of the basement, sick of the smell from the translation square and thoroughly sick of this subject.

“Well, are we cleaning this up?” She asked and Rain nodded his agreement.

“I wouldn’t recommend it.” Algernon repeated. “It’s far too toxic.”

Peggy grabbed a broom.  She’s spent a lifetime handling the toxic, the caustic and the vile.  This was no different.

“You’ll only spread it everywhere with that.” Algernon protested stepping up to take the broom from Peggy and coming up against her obdurance.  He backed off.

“Don’t you think I know safe chemical handling protocols?” 

“It’s not that..”

“Well then tell us how to clean it up then.”

Algernon sighed and shook his head.  He had tried to save his creation against Rain’s fears, Bruce’s practical reasoning only to be defeated by the stubbornness of the Peggy.

“At least neutralise it with a strong alkaline.”  He gave in, withdrawing back into himself sullenly.  His net still lay against the wall where it had fallen. Without looking at anyone else he went over to it and started packing it back in its canister.

“Well that shouldn’t be too difficult.  Gentlemen, get looking while I work on some protection.”

 So while Peggy scavenged around the storeroom making a splash suit to deal with whatever chemical concoction Algernon’s fertile mind had created, Bruce and Rain found anything that could be used to neutralise it.  Washing soda, bicarbonate of soda, cleaning ammonia and several packets of antacids, even a few nice limestone pieces from the shop were crushed and thrown into the collection.  

Anticipating the fumes, Algernon tried retreating from the basement only to be pulled back by a plastic and rubber clad Peggy.  

“Oh no.  Your mess, you get to help clean it up.”  She expertly grabbed his ear and pulled him back.  The process was messy, smelly and thoroughly stomach churning.  They all took turns in adding the cleaning agents to the pile where Peggy mixed it with the spider parts with the broom.  

“It will need to settle, we have to leave at least overnight.” Algernon finally instructed and they all stepped away from the bubbling, fuming pile. 

“Right, trapmaking.”  Peggy now turned her attention to the task even though it was already late and neutralising the toxin had not been an easy task. Doggedly she went back to the stores, even pulling apart shelving for materials, to make a noose trap set at the door.  Her first attempt fell apart under the tension required for to spring a human body into the air. She carefully gathered the parts once more reinforced the locking pin that held the tension in balance and reset it. This time the trap held, a simple construction very much like a rabbit trap with the noose whipping the legs out from under the hopefully unsuspecting Dona Ilsa or associate.

“And now I’m going to the ball because I need a drink.”  Peggy announced to the dispirited group in front of her. Bruce wasn’t keen but at the same time would not see her go alone and nodded a tired agreement.  Algernon said nothing, but neither did he disagree. Only Rain looked like he’d refuse.

“You were pretty distressed back there, I’m sorry for that and I get if you don’t feel like socialising now.” Bruce said quietly to Rain who straightened visibly and gave Bruce a laconic smile that Bruce knew instantly was a facade.

“Why, that’s my life Bruce.”  He turned to Peggy, “Drink! Yes, many.  Let’s go!” And he left without a backward glance to make sure Algernon was following.

On getting back to the hotel and checking the time and location of the Blue Ball the group found it was a masquerade.  Peggy still had her chemical cleanup suit so she added a few pieces from her personal supply and turned herself into a steampunk mad scientist.  Rain raided Celia’s makeup and turned himself into a dead Frank Sinatra without even changing his clothes. Algernon stayed in his school uniform look while Bruce just cleaned up a little. Dressing up wasn’t his thing.

In a huge marquee tent the Blue Ball was in full swing.  Rain leaped straight into the thick of the activity as if nothing unusual had occurred only an hour before. Bruce, always watchful, noticed that he was never without a drink, an image he found disturbing. 

Peggy sat at the bar, a spider in her web. When people came by to ask her about her costume or just chat her up, she interrogated them about local social customs and their views on the new fertility god. Algernon just stood by the tent wall and watched the spectacle, detached from it all and very alone in the crowd.

An already inebriated Rain tripped out of the dancing crowd to the bar and held his glass up for another. 

“Dude!  Where did you get those trippy contacts?” A voice said clearly beside him and Rain turned to see two men chatting, one clearly displaying the spiraled iris of a dust user.  

“I have my sources.” He said looking smugly at his companion.

“Don’t leave me hanging.” Said his friend, “I’ve seen a few people wearing them tonight.  What’s the big deal?”

As Rain’s drink arrived at his elbow, he smoothly passed it forward to the man with the spiral eyes.

“Give your friend a break, it sounds like it might be a good story.” He said making eye contact with the user.  The man said nothing, just stared through Rain, twitched once, then again and then pulled back his fist. Rain ducked as the man made to King hit his head off.  Not taking his eyes off the guy he noticed his expression never changed, it was blank and emotionless, a puppet going through the motions set by its unseen master.

Bruce tackled the guy but couldn’t hold him, the man seemed unnaturally strong.  Rain, seeing Bruce pointed to the man’s eyes and Bruce nodded. This wasn’t just one insane guy, this was a Spiral dust user.  From her side of the bar Peggy grabbed a heavy looking ale flagon from a party goer and threw it at the spiral-eyed.  His expression never changed as the heavy glass made solid contact with his face. Bruce tried to grab him again as Rain stepped in.

“Hey, hey listen.  We don’t have to be enemies.” He said as his hand slipped into the man pockets and very quickly returned full. The wallet and other bits and pieces disappeared and Rain stepped back again. 

Peggy was enjoying her view of the fight when something hard and brittle cracked across her head, turning she saw another man with spiral eyes staring blankly back.  Behind him two women and another man were moving through the crowd, all sharing the same empty look. Algernon listened to the thoughts of the one who was nearest him without making his presence known to the Spiral-eyed.

Get the interloper for Nakarand.”

Watching the two at the bar tussling with his friends, Rain noticed their action seemed to be coordinated, synchronised as if controlled by one mind.

“Something is controlling these guys, they’re not in their right minds.” He said as he hopped out of the way by leaping on the bar.

Peggy’s screamed flavoured with Greek obscenities, but it did nothing to her attacker.

“Can  you make this look like a gang attack?” Bruce yelled from the floor, gaining for himself an odd look from Rain.

“What, like this?”  He started dancing across the bar clicking his fingers as if from West Side Story.  Bruce could only shake his head and move to protect Peggy’s back. He bopped an assailant on the head. The spiral-eyed attacker swayed on their feet, stunned and unable to move.

All as one the spiral-eyed moved in, now their eyes glowing in the low light of the ball.  There was no question that these people were being controlled by a force outside of human knowledge.  The one grappled by Bruce tried to break free, but Bruce’s arms held him in place. The bottle breaking guy made another swipe at Peggy, but she moved down and out of his way, tripping him up as she passed.  A third made a swipe with finger grown unnaturally long but again Peggy was faster and the nailed hand sailed passed her face. 

“This is something new.” Rain commented drunkenly from on top of the bar, “Celia really should be here.”

Two attacked Bruce but he used the grappled one as a defensive shield and neither could land a hit.

It was then that Algernon and Bruce’s phones buzzed an alarm. 

Algernon pulled out his phone and clearly saw a black haired woman in the neutralised spider parts beside a large pile of grey rocks.  In her hand she held a mug sized device from which she now removed something and put in her pocket. They had to get out of this fight.  Algernon looked around the ring of spectators that the fight was making and saw two muscular guys. Running forward, he tried pretending to trip, succeeded in actually tripping and fell in front of one of the Spiral-eyed.  The intended push just signalled his presence in the battle and the Spiral-eyed turned to look down on the prone young man. Algernon smiled sweetly, just a stupid kid.

The eyes glowed.

“Glowing eyes? Controlled spiral dust users? What does all this mean?”  Peggy asked The Strange.

Something is aware of our meddling, was the reply.

Bruce was weighing up his grappled aversary.  

How big is this projectile?  Average hipster? Is it a heavy bashing weapon? Sure, why not. Should be okay.  

Swinging from the hips like an olympic athlete, Bruce threw the Spiral-eyed into the other two ganging up on him.   One collapsed unconscious from the force of a full grown man propelled into their face, the other one faired only slightly better and stayed on their feet.

“Murder!  Murder! Bloody murder!” Rain cried from on top of the bar, so that many at the ball thought this was all part of the show.  Seeing the black uniforms of security guards he jumped down off the bar and faced one of the Spiral-eyed in front of Peggy.

The Spiral-eyed gang swung wide in a coordinated attack, telegraphing their moves and making it easy for Bruce, Peggy and Rain to dodge.  Algernon scrambled to his feet and cried in his wavering tenor,

“Help, help!  Junkies are attacking!” and blended back into the crowd away from fight.

Peggy’s scream roared out again straight into the face of the guy with the broken bottle.  Something behind his eyes recoiled at her attack and the Spiral-eyed physically did the same.  Now free of his encumbrance, Bruce found a barstool and made good use of it as an improvised weapon.  He swung it around him and landed a heavy blow on one of the women attacking. She crumpled to the ground unconscious and instantly Bruce felt guilty.

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” He said but had little time to contemplate his actions as another attack swung through.

“We don’t have to fight, you have something controlling you right now.”  Rain used enthrall on the other Spiral-eyed woman. She stopped in her tracks.  Frozen, not like Peggy had, but as if two wills battled for control for her body.  Another swiped at Peggy who dodged and pushed them across a table behind her. The landed heavily on their heads and moved no more .  That left only one now on Bruce.

Algernon looked down at his phone again seeing Dona Ilsa study her surroundings.  She was alone. The group had to go.

“Will Robinson!” He shouted to be heard above the crowd, the brawl and the music before starting to slip away undetected by the security and out the door himself.  Instantly the group responded. Peggy ran, bashing past a bouncer trying to apprehend her and was only moments behind Algernon into the night.  

“I’m sorry, I have another appointment.” Rain finished his enthral and quickly looked to Bruce, “You got this?”

“Yes, the rest of you have to go, hurry!” Bruce responded pinned down as the bouncers encircled him. With a drop and roll, Rain scooted under the marque wall and was away. 

Now Bruce was left behind restrained by bouncers who mobbed him and the last Spiral-eyed. As soon as he realised the bouncers had arrived, Bruce gave up the fight.

“I am so happy you guys turned up, I don’t know what they’re problem is, but they just started attacking me and my friends.”  He said to the two bouncers restraining him.

“Yeah, okay we’ll take you outside first. Clear out before we turn the others loose.”  The bouncer replied as they frog-marched Bruce out of the tent. He didn’t need telling twice as he could just see the others run across town to the gem store.

As they ran Algernon watched the video feed.  He saw Dona Ilsa walk to the door and hit the trap.  It worked perfectly and Dona Ilsa was whipped up into the air by her ankles.  As she swung back and forward in front of the door she dropped the mug sized device and it hit the ground.  A flash of bright light blew out the cameras for a moment, and when they returned the noose hung empty.

Seconds later the group were through the door, the rope still swung, taunting them.  Rain fell to the ground in front of the trap defeated. They all stood around looking at the empty room.  She had come early, knew that they had destroyed that side of her spiral dust empire and had escaped. It was the worst possible conclusion to all their planning. 

“I’ll report this in.”  Bruce finally said and pulled out his phone. “Did you say something about one mind controlling those guys?”

Rain nodded, an image of total defeat, “Yeah, there was one mind controlling their movements.”

“Nakarand was controlling them.” Algernon added getting everyone’s attention.

“Well at least Dona Ilsa didn’t seem to be in control.”  Rain gestured to the space she had only just moments before occupied.  

Silently they stood numb and bruised as Bruce let Katherine know all that was going on.

“No, we don’t know anything about a Nakarand.” She said to Bruce’s question about the entity behind the fight. “Look, you guys have been running for weeks now, an upset like this was bound to occur sooner or later.  Tidy up things there, have a few days rest and we’ll see you back here in a week, okay.”

“Yeah, “ Answered Bruce wearily, “The Spiral-eyed attack really sorted us out. Okay, I’ll let them know,”

When Bruce hung up Algernon was circling the pile of blue-grey rocks. A circular chunk was cleanly taken out of the side nearest the trap and door.  Rain was on the ground making small piles out of a set of car keys and the contents of an unknown wallet.

“What are you two doing?”  Bruce asked the boys. Algernon showed him a set of calculations in his notebook, Rain held up a driver’s license.  

“Just trying to work out how many doses  this amount of rock would provide. If they’re getting it weekly which now seems to be the case, then there could only be dozens in each city addicted to the stuff.”

“Hardly a take over, so what’s the point?.”  Bruce took the license from Rain to see it was from Washington state one, for an address in Seattle.

“That is the licence of the guy that first attacked me, “  Rain pointed out, “I took the opportunity to relieve him of it during the fight.”

“Do you think Dona Ilsa is controlled like one of these guys?” Peggy asked taking the licence from Bruce and studying it for a moment before handing it back to Rain.

“If this was a regular drug syndicate you would suggest no, but she’d make sure that people like Lydia were, to keep them loyal. Lydia didn’t have the Spiral eyes.”

Peggy reached out for The Strange allowing the evidence to go out and return with possible solution.  Is there a grand design to all this? All she got back was a headache. It was very late now, they had had a very long and disappointing day and she needed her bed.

Though Peggy was ready to crash both Algernon and Rain were still scratching for clues.  Algernon was examining pieces of rock, to determine its origins. He could not detect if the rock was organic in make up there in the basement but the shape, cylindrical with a pinched of tapered end,  suggested that it had been extruded showing it had gone through some processing. What? He couldn’t say. 

Rain was also scratching around on the ground busy with something, but when he stood, all he had in his hands were the wallet and keys from Seattle.  

Bruce rubbed his eyes and muscles in his arms and back protested the action.

“Okay, back to the hotel for a rest and we’ll talk all this out in the morning.”

Published by Miztres

I'd just like to say a few words... nee phtang! fribble

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