Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Friday, March 18, 2005

I did something kind of stupid.

I went out to check if Claudia Calhoun was really alive or not before telling Greyghost. And I never do stuff like that. Honestly, I can't imagine what I was thinking.

Anyway, that's what I did. I went down to the neighborhood Greyghost's informant told me about, and started looking around. And I really was trying to be nonchalant and inconspicuous about it. Apparently I'm not much of a pro, though; I had just made a move toward walking around to the back of the building in question when a guy with perfect hair and a jean jacket put the arm on me.

I resisted until I felt the suggestion of a gun in my side, and then went along with him. He hustled me down the block to an unusually unmemorable idling car, and we got in the back. I realized they must have noticed me a few minutes before in order to set this up. The driver put the car into gear and we pulled away.

"Give me your wallet," Jean Jacket said, displaying the gun a little.

"I don't want to give you my wallet," I said.

"And I don't want to shoot you," he said. "But one or the other's gonna happen."

I passed over my wallet. He flipped through the ID.

"Dennis Relser," he said. "Okay, Dennis, what brings you to this part of town?"

"I'm a very stupid man," I said. "That's the only explanation I can come up with." The driver laughed.

"Don't screw around," he said. "You're poking into something classified and dangerous, and you're going to tell me why right now."

The problem was, if I told this guy anything, it'd be terrible for Greyghost's security setup. It might even blow his secret identity. On the other hand I didn't want to die to protect that. "I'm sorry," I said. "I really can't tell you anything. Is there any way we can rig this so I keep my mouth shut and you don't shoot me?"

He tossed my wallet back in my lap. "I don't know. But it's not looking good." He called to the driver. "Desmond had better see this guy." The driver nodded, and turned left.

We drove out to this industrial park and parked in front of a building with no logos on it. They led me inside and shoved me into a room just off the lobby. It was much nicer than our office building, which is getting a little run down. This place was all shiny. Jean Jacket and I waited there for five minutes, until the driver returned with the guy from the picture. The guy who had been wearing the hexagon pin and arguing with Claudia Calhoun.

"Makes perfect sense," I said before they could say anything. "Are you Desmond?"

All three of them froze. "You know me?" he asked.

"I didn't know your name, but Captain Coiffure here mentioned a Desmond in the car on the way over. I've seen a picture of you, though," I said.

They surrounded me. "What picture?"

"You and the Girl Reporter in a restaurant, arguing over some piece of paper."

Desmond and Jean Jacket exchanged glances. "Where did you get that picture?"

"I don't know where it came from," I said, which was true enough. "It wasn't that interesting a picture anyway. This is great, though. I didn't think we had anything to talk about, but we do."

Desmond gestured toward the table in the middle of the room. We sat down. "Your name's Relser?" he said.

"At the moment," I told him, hoping to be able to fake them out. Hey, couldn't hurt.

"Whose interests do you represent?"

"Interests? Uhh... I don't know. Other than mine, I mean. Could you guys give me a second? I'm starting to figure some things out here and I may be able to shorten this conversation." Either these guys knew Claudia Calhoun was alive, and were protecting her, or they were keeping her prisoner. Either way they were involved in faking her death. Why, though? Something to do with Greyghost? With Nefario? Couldn't be Greyghost; if it was, chances are I would have known something about it.

So let's say it's something with Nefario. Fine. So who are these guys?

Well, Greyghost went to Washington investigating the hexagon/star symbol, which suggests government. And Nefario's a cosmopolitan kind of guy, which suggests government intelligence. Were these guys CIA?

Jean Jacket shoved me. "We didn't bring you in here so you could daydream. Talk."

"I'm just trying to decide if you guys are CIA or not. I don't think so, though. I think you're some kind of corporation who does subcontracting to U.S. government intelligence. If you were CIA you'd already have the top of my skull sawed off and my thoughts and ideas would all be lying on this table in alphabetical order. But you guys haven't exactly done this kind of thing before."

"Go on," Desmond said.

"I went down to that neighborhood looking for proof that Claudia Calhoun was still alive. It looks like I got a bonus, 'cause now not only do I know she's alive, I know you guys helped fake her death in the first place."

"Why do you suspect Miss Calhoun is alive?" Desmond said.

"I'd answer that, but you wouldn't find it interesting," I said. "Anyway, that's not the point. The point is, what's this all about, and what happens next?"

That's when the explosion hit. And it's when I really started to figure things out.

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