Friendly Fires

Monday, May 29, 2000

Joe was going over in his mind what he had discovered. He wasn't entirely sure, but the residue from the man matched the fires started in three of the Friendship Fires. But what was he looking for?

Did he start the fires? And why was he killed? Whoever did kill him was strong, exceptionally so. The breaks were clinically even.

He turned into the alley, and parked the Blazer. Deciding to go in the back way, to avoid the most amount of people, not really feeling like being sociable this morning. Two men in coveralls were closing the back of a repair van. They were both fit looking.

Time seemed to slow as Joe's mind categorized the two. The first, who was moving towards the driver's door, was about 5'9, 160 lbs, Caucasian with black hair and close chopped beard. The name on the back was 'Louis air conditioning.' Joe nodded. His eyes fell on the man's shoes. Black Oxfords gleamed up at him. The second guy was wearing sunglasses, and as Joe opened the back door he noticed a slight bulge under the man's arm, an earring in his left ear, and a tattoo of a spider web that covered the web of his left hand.

Time sped back up as the two climbed into the van.

Across town…

Zoe was at Terry's desk, sorting through papers. It was the middle of the afternoon, and the squad room was a mad house - as usual. Everyone rushing around like ants in an anthill. What was she doing at Terry's desk?

People were hustling back and forth, occasionally yelling out to each other to be heard over the general din. Surprisingly she heard a noise behind her and she whipped around. It was Terry, and he was still dressed in the outfit he wore to the gala.

"Sorry to keep you waiting. I wanted you to take a look at this report." Terry put the file folder in his hand (where did that come from?) on the desk and turned the chair Zoe was in back to facing the desk. "Tell me what you think?" His voice as soft and deep as he whispered in her ear, his breath deliciously warm on her skin.

Zoe opened the file folder and saw an inch thick stack of paper, printed in small tight lettering. It was the preliminary report for the bombing at the Blackburn/Mclintock residence. She started to read it, but the words made no sense. The letters began to move on the page, rearranging themselves into new words. Every sentence was the same, on every line, on every page. "Zoe wants Terry."

She spun the chair around and surged to her feet. Terry was standing there watching her. "So, what's your conclusion?" He reached out and touched her. Suddenly, their clothes disappeared and Terry pulled her into his arms. "The report needs a bit more work, I think." He brought his mouth down on top of Zoe's and began to kiss her thoroughly, his tongue plundering her mouth. One of his hands ran down her back to cup her ass while the other cupped her breast, his fingers teasing her nipple.

"Hi Terry, Hi Zoe." Bod Farlew said, walking past them as if nothing were happening. Terry's hands continued to explore Zoe's body, teasing and pleasing everywhere. One of his hands slipped between her legs and caressed her, his thumb finding her clit and a finger rubbing against the entrance to her channel.

Their co-workers continued to walk by them, chatting away, saying hello. Terry's Lieutenant came up to them. "When you're done, I need the results of that report on my desk." Terry's response was to lift Zoe onto the edge of the desk and position himself between her legs.

His mouth left Zoe's and began to blaze a path along her jaw and down her neck, nipping gently as his hands began to explore the sensitive insides of her thighs. The tips of his fingers brushed the lips of her sex again and again.

Zoe panted. "Mmmm, Terry, I…I want you."

She ran her soft hands across his powerful, arching shoulders. Then, slowly she moved up Terry's neck to his head where her fingers played with his short, blonde hair. Gripping his hair, she began to gently push his head further and further down…

Monday, May 29, 2000, noonish

Zoe Davies tried to ignore the shaking and go back to her dream but found it impossible. She cracked an eye open. Terry smiled down at her.

"Time to get up, sleepy head." He began to walk out and called over his shoulder, "We have a lead on that foam stuff."

Zoe groaned. She still had only one eye open. "Foam stuff? Argh, that dreaded arson case again…"

Accepting reality, she jumped up and shook off her sluggishness. She gathered her things and ran after Terry. "Can we grab a quick bite to eat on the way? I'm famished!"

An hour later they pulled into the parking lot of the Scott Industries building. The egg like appearance of the twin towers, as they squatted in the shallows of Alberni Cove, made them the most unique feature in New London. Flashing their badges, the pair was quickly ushered into a small office.

A young man, in his late teens, sat in front of a computer screen. His fingers flashed every once in while. He paused to push his glasses up and then spun his wheelchair around to consult another screen. An older gentleman, with greying hair and mustache stood off to one side.

"Sir. The police are here," the older gentleman commented gently, his English accent very apparent.

The young man looked up, startled, "The police?" He looked around appearing slightly confused. Then his eyes lit up. "Of course. So sorry. My mind was wandering. I'm Dr. Jonathan Scott III." The young man held out his hand.

"Hello, Dr. Scott. This is Lt. Terry Gear, and I'm Dr. Zoe Davis."

"Why don't you tell us what you know about this foam stuff, Doctor," Lieutenant Gear suggested.

The young man rubbed his hands together, eagerness lighting his eyes. "Well, you see…"

"Excuse me sir, perhaps we should wait for everyone before beginning the explanations."

"Everyone, Telle?"

"Yes sir, Ms. Mclintock is on her way, even as we speak."

Zoe turned to give Terry a reassuring smile. "How convenient, hmm?"

Monday, May 29 – across town

Sara awoke slowly, disorientated. The events of the night before flooded her mind. Frantically she looked for Josh. He was sitting in a chair watching her. His eyes were shadowed and the knuckles on his hands bruised.

"Are you okay, love?" Sara's voice was hesitant, concerned for him. He doesn't look good at all. Lord, I hope everything's all right.

He closed his eyes, "Beth said that you were okay, but I…" His voice was soft and he had trouble looking at her.

"I'm fine, Josh," Sara answered. "What happened last night was not your fault, and I don't blame you. And you shouldn't blame yourself." She got out of bed and walked over to where he was sitting, then knelt in front of him. "Neither of us could have known." She swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. "How are you?" Sara held out her hands to him.

"I've been better," he gave a shaky laugh, and took her hands watching as she kissed them. "You?"

"Ditto," Sara said with a soft smile, then she worried her bottom lip between her teeth. "Can I have a good morning hug?"

"I… you still want me to touch you? After… God, Sara…"

Sara looked at Josh in surprise. "Josh, you didn't do anything wrong last night. If anything it was my fault, because I was too enthusiastic and took things too far and too quickly for our first time doing it that way. It was not your fault. I love you." She ran her fingers through her hair, pushing the loose strands off her face. "You didn't make me do anything I didn't want to do. You did not force me. You did not coerce me in any way. I am not afraid of you. What happened in the gazebo, when I… freaked out like that. It was a fluke. An accident. Neither of uscould have foreseen it was going to happen." Sara took a deep breath.

"I wanted to make love to you last night. Both times." Her head cocked slightly to the side, and the love she felt for Josh was evident on her face. "You're the only man I want, Josh. Something like what happened isn't going to change that. You did not force me. I did exactly what I wanted to do, and with you." With a sob he slid off the chair and pulled her close, murmuring her name over and over again.

"I love you, Joshua Blackburn. Nothing is ever going to change that," she whispered to him. Sara cradled him in her arms, rocking back and forth, murmuring soothing words and endearments. She placed loving kisses on the top of his head and his temples, running her hand comfortingly over his hair.

Later, he finally pulled himself together and wiped their tears away. "I guess we should get something to eat and then contact our shadow, the police will be wondering what happened to us."

"Let them wonder," Sara said recklessly, placing a gentle kiss on Josh's lips, then she sighed. "We need to thank Father Raymond and Beth too, for helping and putting up with us." She caressed Josh's cheek lightly. And I hope Father Raymond is able to forgive me for not being able to help him last night. Sara rose up onto her knees and then to her feet to go get the bottoms of the sweat pants. She was glad her back was turned to Josh so he couldn't see the grimace of pain that crossed her face when she moved.


Sara sighed and began hunting for the cell phone that was ringing. She finally found it and slumped face first onto the hotel bed. They had come back to the hotel and straight into a dressing down from Lt. Gear. Josh had then gone to work. Leaving Sara with nothing to do. She had been unable to help him with the pictures as Sam still had the negatives.

"Sara," came Sam's voice over the phone, "I think I've found that pattern. Can you pick me up at the castle?"

"And I've found out who makes the foam. I'll be there in 40 minutes." Sara quickly changed into clothes of her own and headed out, taking with her bag and everything she had on the story.

40 minutes later, Kogawa Castle

Sara pulled into the parking lot. Sam was sitting on one of the stalls, looking a lot better then when Sara had seen her last. A small Japanese woman in ceremonial robes was standing meekly of to the side. She seemed familiar to Sara.

Sam walked up and opened the door. The woman got into the back.

"How are you feeling this afternoon, Samantha-san?" Sara asked, sneaking another look at the woman in the back seat.

"Better," Sam answered. Sara suddenly remembered where she had seen the woman, at the Gala. Father O'Mallory had introduced them.

"It is good to see you again, Kinuko-san," Sara said.

There was sudden tension in the car. What's this about? Sara thought. Did I say something I shouldn't have? She sent Sam a questioning glance. What did I do wrong?

Oh, no! This could be very bad… Samantha-san doesn't know what I am… but neither does Sara. Calm yourself, girl. "Good afternoon, Ms. Mclintock." The breach has already been committed; better to respond politely than not at all.

Sam sighed, "Sara, you just insulted me, and my house. Kinuko is a servant, as such you should address me first if you wish to talk to her." Then Sam grinned. "It's hard to keep everything straight. I take no offense. Kinuko, you will treat Sara-san as if she speaks with my voice." There, that should cover anymore mistakes. I hope.

Sara blushed a bright red, mortified at her error despite Sam's words. "I tend to forget that the master/servant relationship still exists. Grandfather Ito-chan and Mai-chan are always lamenting my lack of memory on this topic."

"Yes," Sam nodded, "it is a little hard to remember. Especially since the degrees to which it is taken nowadays differ so greatly. Fugikaki-sama was impressed by what little knowledge you had. And praised Ito-san for his work in trying to teach a gaijin the way of civilization."

That's what Ito always says to me, that a girl such as I ought to be civilized. I'm glad that it has worked to both our benefits.

"Now, I was thinking about dates and it occurred to me that the connection might be there," Sam grinned and opened the laptop. Punching in a few keystrokes, she turned the face towards Sara.

Sara scanned the information, not sure what Sam was talking about--and then it practically jumped out at her. The centers were being torched in the order of founding. Not by year but by day. The next one was scheduled for tonight.

"Why would someone be using this pattern? What's the significance of it?" Sara sat back and thought. The day the centers opened. Why? Is there something significant about these dates? She paused. The day Colours was vandalized. Was the day number the same as the day it opened? Sara thought back, and tried to figure out if the pattern applied to the native businesses as well. Yes. The gallery had opened on that day. She wasn't sure about the others, but wouldn't want to bet against it.

"That I don't know. But once we get the info Lightning Bill zoned for us, it might make some more sense. Now tell me about the foam."

"It's an unusual compound. It's being considered for use in outer space, as it forms a practically unbreakable seal when exposed to air. It also breaks down completely when exposed to high heat, so as to be virtually undetectable. Easily reproducible if you know the process and have lots of zinc and clay on hand. I was the second reporter to talk to Allison about it. Seems a Native was asking questions about Scott Industries projects, and asked about this one. Allison couldn't remember the guy's name."

"I had Allison check to see if all of the substance was accounted for. Turns out there was some missing. Not quite enough to coat a loonie, but definitely enough to be able to reverse engineer it. He's checking into who had access to it."

"You know, Colours was vandalized on the same day number as the date it opened, and I'm pretty sure we'd find the same thing with the other galleries."

"Interesting. A native reporter on technologies. Not from New London. I am beginning to wonder if it really was the Doorman, or someone who wanted us out of the way and was using his MO. The Doorman was in operation last year, he wouldn't have this stuff. So a pattern in more ways then one. But why… what is the significance? I am beginning to think that some natives are behind this. So sort of Native ritual significance?"

"Why do you say that about the foam, Sam? From what I understood, the foam could have been around for a while, and they did do testing on it with regards to its use with bombs, but disregarded it as useless for that purpose because it broke down under high heat. The foam is not high on the development list for Scott Industries, otherwise they wouldn't have shown it to me, let alone discussed its properties."

"But if samples only went missing recently…"

"They don't know that. They've never thought to check until I asked them."

"You would think a company like Scott would have better security."

"True, but then again scientists are not often known for their knowledge of security. It could be an inside job too. Allison is getting me a list of recent employee layoffs, firings and quittings."

"Helpful, isn't he?"

"I was thinking that natives might be involved as well." Sara gave a thoughtful sigh. "There might be some ritualistic link to it. I wonder if there might be a pattern to the locations as well." She paused for a moment. Who do I know who might be able to tell us if there is a significance to the pattern?

Sara ran through her mental list of possible information sources. There were three possibles and Josh might be able to suggest more. Debbie RainCloud, Jordon Fleetsbane, and Sara Whitequil at the university.

"Let's give a call to Sara Whitequil. I've talked to her before about native myth and ritual while getting info for some of Josh's exhibits. She may be able to help us." Sara shifted in her seat, then winced at the pain. I have to remember to get ointment for that.

Sara could see Sam's eyebrow raise but she said nothing.

Kinuko coughed gently. Samantha turned to her, "Yes, Kinuko?"

"Perhaps I can help? Samantha-sama, I have some knowledge of chemistry and explosives; perhaps I can see something, some application or modification you would not. The galleries were not bombed; they were burned. The distinction is significant." She spoke in Japanese, not trusting her English for this purpose.

"How so, Kinuko? Why is that fact significant?" Sam asked, her voice even.

Sara waited for the two other women to finish their conversation, wishing yet again she were able to speak the language.

"A bomb requires entirely different materials than a burning. This foam--when it breaks down, is the reaction exothermic? If I had access to such a material, and wished to destroy a gallery's contents, I would use it to seal the building, except for air-holes at the bottom, and a vent at the top, to create a blast furnace effect. There would be great heat inside - hot enough even to melt soft metals. I would start the fire conventionally; there are many accelerants that would be suitable. Lay a wick into the building, light it, let the wick ignite the accelerant, the accelerant lights the wood, carpet or other flammable flooring or wall paneling, and from there, the blast furnace effect keeps the rest of the building burning. When it becomes hot enough, the foam breaks down. The seals are broken, and the fire dies down to normal."

Sam blinked and looked at Sara. She quickly paraphrased Kinuko's observation.

"Let's look at this scenario then. The fires were set in a way that no one would be hurt, no extra damage, just the Centers. The fire department was also called. So this leads to the point that the Centers are being destroyed for a purpose. Maybe a statement or maybe something a little more obvious if we only knew what we were looking at."

"I'll pick the info up from Lightning; Sara, you take Kinuko with you back to Scott Labs. Lets get all the info from them we can. Just drop me off at home."

Sara nodded, then put the car in gear.

An hour later, after dropping Sam off at her home in St. George, Sara called Allison.

"Good afternoon, Scott Industries, how may we help you?"

"Dr. Allison, please."

There was a slight pause. "One moment please, may I ask who is calling?"

"Sara Mclintock. I had an interview with him yesterday and I need to verify some information with him."

A new voice comes on the line, male with an English accent. "Ms. Mclintock, my name is Creighton Telle. We would be most pleased if you would join us here as soon as possible, we have many questions for you."

"May I ask what this would be regarding? I had made arrangements to see Dr. Allison, and I was bringing an associate," Sara asked, curious. Telle, do I know that name?

"I would prefer not to discuss it on the telephone."

"Okay," Sara replied. "I'll be at the Scott Industries offices in 30 minutes."

I wonder what this is all about? Have I opened up a hornet's nest?

"Looks like the Scotts themselves want to talk to me about the foam," Sara said to Kinuko.

Kinuko hesitated. It might not be proper for her to speak to this woman; that was her mistress' place, was it not? Yet she had assigned her to Sara, by implication as an aide and advisor, and Sara had already spoken to her, so, yes, it was proper. The pause had been very brief, and she had kept her face utterly impassive. "They are its inventors?" Why would they want to talk to her directly? Better not to ask; she would know soon enough.

"Yes, they are. The foam is being considered for use in the space program due to the incredibly strong seal it forms when exposed to air. We were able to get a sample of it from my apartment." Sara looked over at Kinuko. "Someone tried to blow up my apartment and the foam was used to create seals around the doors to trap both us and the gas."

"Then it was not a true attempt to kill you. The foam cannot seal against explosion, and burning uses oxygen very quickly, suffocating you. It was a warning; a true death-strike would have killed you."

"That may be true, but we were trapped inside the apartment, and if there had been an explosion, we certainly would have been killed. I have a darkroom, and as you know, all of the chemicals are highly flammable."

Sara changed lanes to pass a slow car ahead of her. "When we get to Scott Industries, I was wondering if you'd be able to talk to Allison or whichever scientist they have available about that foam. All I know of chemistry is from high school, and I think we need a more detailed explanation of what that foam can do."

"I will learn what I can; my… conversational English is poor, but my technical English is excellent." She smiled gently. And perhaps the scientists will try to impress the ignorant Japanese girl with their learning, and let slip more than they intend.

"Thanks," Sara said. "It'll be good to have someone other than one of their scientists explain that stuff to me." A lopsided grin covered her face. "The Scott labs look rather impressive. State of the art, though I'm not sure I'd trust the security if someone was able to steal some of that foam."

"Security only helps against burglars. It will not help against a ninja. Do not judge them too harshly."

Sara looks at Kinuko in surprise. "What makes you think it was a ninja? I figure it was an inside job, and my judgement comes from the fact they didn't seem to be keeping a running tab on how much of the foam was there. They didn't even realize there was any unaccounted for until I asked."

"How to say in English? One who makes himself seem a part of a company or a household, then spies on them, or robs them. In Nihon go, such a one is called 'ninja.' What do you call them?"

"They're called spies, or moles. There may be other names used by the corporations, but those are the everyday ones." Sara paused for a moment. "I would like to ask you something, and if the question is inappropriate and insulting, I apologize in advance. What function do you serve within Sam's household?"

"I was a gift to the head of her house; he put me in her charge. She has not yet assigned me any specific duties."

Sara gave a wry smile. "Leaving you in Limbo. It must be difficult, having a job but not knowing what exactly you're supposed to be doing." She looked in the rear view mirror, suddenly feeling paranoid. All this talk about spies and ninjas got her thinking about what had been happening the last few days. Sara certainly hadn't been looking to see if she was being tailed as she went anywhere.

Sara hadn't been watching for tails, but Kinuko had. "We are not followed, I think. It is a servant's task to be ever observant without seeming to be observant, yes?"

"Yes," Sara grinned. "And to know when to reveal and not to reveal what they have learned. So, how are you liking New London? Have you been able to see much of it?"

"I have seen only Edo and my previous lord's holdings here, and a little more when he had me travel with him. He enjoyed my company." Let her make of that what she would.

"Perhaps if you have the opportunity you can see the rest of the city. It may not be as elegant as any Japanese city, but it does have its good points." Sara turned her attention back to the road as traffic had begun to slow.

A half hour later Sara and Kinuko were ushered into a office. The five occupants looked up.Sara recognized Lt. Gear and Dr. Davis; she also recognized Dr. Jonathan Scott III from his pictures. A young man of about 18 or 19, he turned his wheelchair towards a tall man dressed in a black suit, with greying hair.

"Which one is Ms. Mclintock, Telle?" There was humor in his voice. He then turned to the two young women. "Welcome to Scott Industries. I'm Doctor Scott, this is Mr. Telle, Lt. Gear and Doctor Davis. Shall we begin?"

"ADF343 is a substance that my people have been working on for the last half year. This is what it looks like in its inert form." Doctor Scott held up a small stoppered vial containing a white, sluggish liquid. "It's oily to the touch, and when exposed to air, within a minute hardens to a foam-like substance that acts as a sealant. It can withstand up to 4 tons of pressure. As you have seen, it has vast applications in demolitions. The few tests we made in that area allow the person setting the explosive to make contained explosions. What we really hope for is an application for space."

He adjusted his glasses, "However, the real reason we are here is because some of it seems to have left the building. Can someone give me the measurements of the space it was used in. Because the amount that is missing would be enough to do a very small one-room dollhouse."

Sara fought back a smile. He's got a talent for stating the obvious. "The foam was used to seal the edges of a standard-sized door. Dr. Allison assured me that the sample taken was more than enough to be able to reverse engineer it."

"Yes. It is possible. But you would need several things--a lab good enough to do it in, a really good chemist, and time. For something as complex as the makeup of this substance it would take me a month to reverse engineer it. Then you would have to manufacture more of it."

"Doctor Scott?"

"Yes, H.O.M.E.R?"

"I have located where the sample of ADF343 left the premises."

"Show us, please."

On one of the screens a security video played. In it a man walked to a desk and sign a register, holding a vial up to security man at the desk. The time frame was May 18, 9:34 pm, 2000.

Dr. Scott steepled his hands and frowned at the picture. "And this is the only incident?"

"Yes, Doctor Scott. Dr. Feldmen returned the vial the next morning as per proceedures. However, the vial was empty. I am sorry, Doctor, but my programming does not cover this continency."

"Don't worry about it, H.O.M.E.R. I'll fix that."

At that moment the doors open and Dr. Feldmen was escorted in. The security guard let him go and moved off to one side. In silence Dr. Scott showed him the video.

"That's impossible sir, I was home sick that day. I even called in."

"I am sorry, Doctor Feldmen," the computer's soft voice chimed in, "but my records show no such call ethier on the 17th or the 18th of May, 2000."

"Phil," Doctor Scott sighed, "what did you do with contents of the vial?"

"I am telling you, sir, I wasn't here that day…"

"Can anyone corroborate that, doctor?" Lt. Gear put in.

"Ah, no. I live alone. Can someone tell me what is going on?"

"Doctor Scott," Terry turned to him, "could someone pretending to be…"

Doctor Scott shook his head, "No. My security procedures include a full cellular scan, it differentiates even between twins."

"Perhaps Doctor Feldman has been under some sort of mental influence," Dr. Davis suggested, watching Feldman for any subtle body language.

"I don't suppose your security procedures can check to see if the person is being mind-controlled or otherwise influenced?" Sara asked, ignoring any incredulous looks she might receive. "Someone who knows how detailed your security system could certainly come up with a way to get around it. No system is perfect. His call could have been intercepted before it reached here. Check the phone records to see if there's any outgoing calls from Dr. Feldman's home number to here."

Everyone in the room looked at the two women as they spoke almost simultaneously. Surprisingly, the only incredulous look came from Dr. Feldmen himself.

Dr. Scott frowned. "No. No, it can't."

"Be that as it may," Lt. Gear spoke up, "we still have to go on the evidence. Dr. Phil Feldmen, you are under arrest. The charge is industrial espionage. Dr. Scott, we'll need that tape. May I use your phone?"

Kinuko whispered to Sara, "Perhaps there is kyohaku involved? I am sorry, but I do not know the English."

"Blackmail," Sara whispered back. "No, I don't think so. You'd expect that when the police confronted Feldman that he'd say he was forced to do it."

"Don't you also need proof that he sold or gave the sample of the foam to someone for that charge to stick? And shouldn't you find some way to determine if he was mind controlled before you ruin the man's reputation with a wrap sheet," Sara stated more than asked. "I know someone very dependable and completely trustworthy who might be able to help us find out, or knows someone who might."

"Ms. Mclintock, you do your job and I'll do mine," Lt. Gear answered. He then called the station, talking in a low voice with his back turned.

Sara held her tongue. She was already in Gear's bad books for showing up at that murder scene.

"After he's in custody, I'd like to do some additional questioning in private," Zoe whispered to Terry after he had finished with the phone. "If he's hiding something, I think I should be able to pick up on it."

"He's all yours Doc, " Terry whispered back. He turned to the others, before he could speak, his beeper went off. Giving a small smile he turned back to the phone. A few minutes later…

"If your security will hold Dr. Feldmen, Doctor Scott, until a unit arrives, I would be most appreciative. If you will all excuse us. Dr. Davis?"

Sara and Kinuko looked at each other and then back to Doctor Scott as the two officers left.

"I swear, Doctor Scott, that I was not here that day. I was feeling pretty bad, must have been something I ate, right after I talked to that native reporter…"

"Native reporter?" Sara repeated. "Dr. Scott, Dr. Allison told me that a native reporter had talked to him about several projects Scott Industries was working on, and the foam was definitely one of them. He can't remember the name of the man, nor the newspaper or magazine he worked for."

"Hmmm. H.O.M.E.R. could you find a log entry for all reporters this month and bring up a picture of each please."

"Of course, Doctor."

A few seconds later images began to appear with names under them. 6 reporters to SI in the last month. Sara recognized all but one. He was native, his hair tied back in the warrior lock of the Sioux. He stood about 5'10 and held himself with pride. His hair was black, his clothes respectable and unremarkable. His eye color was unable to be read from the picture angle.

The name under the image read "Paulus Red Feather."

"He's the only reporter I don't recognize. Is there a record of who he said he was working for," Sara asked as she quickly sorted through all the native names she knew, trying to see if she might remember anything.

Doctor Scott grinned like a child at Christmas. "I can do you one better. H.O.M.E.R., replay the reporter Paulus Red Feather's entire visit, please."

The screen came to life. The man stepped out of a small non-descript Volvo. H.O.M.E.R. zoomed in on the license plate and issued a copy. Paulus Red Feather removed his sunglasses and looked the building over, a small smile playing over his lips. It caused a shudder to run through the watching crowd. His eyes were large, of a very dark color, almost black, and his expression was chilling.

He entered the building and the man from outside might not have been. His face was open, an easy smile on his face, he even walked differently. Not the stalking grace of a fighter, but that of someone raised in a middle class environment with no need to have fought for anything.

He talked briefly to the guard, announcing himself and his appointment to see Dr. Allison. They watched as the guard took him through the same routine that Sara had been subjected to. His interview with Allison was almost the same word for word. Except the man inquired after several other projects as well.

Then he left. As the guard and Red Feather were getting on the elevator, Dr. Feldmen walked out of a room and the reporter moved quickly towards him. The guard grabbed his arm and a brief argument ensued. Feldmen finally interrupted and gave the reporter a brief interview.

Only Sara's trained photogenic eye caught it. Something about Red Feather's eyes. The video continued with the elevator trip to the ground floor and Red Feather's leaving. A large predatory smile crossed his face as he paused in the doorway of his vehicle and looked once more at SI.

"Doctor, the car is registered to a Calvin Henson and was reported stolen a day before its arrival in our parking lot."

"Thank you, H.O.M.E.R."

"Dr. Scott, can you have H.O.M.E.R. replay the section of video from the time Red Feather approached Feldmen to when he enters the elevator. Play it really slow. Is it possible to zoom in and enhance the picture of Feather's face? I thought I saw something." Sara leaned forward and rested her elbows on the table, focusing her attention closely on the screen.

H.O.M.E.R replayed the requested peice of video almost frame by frame, enlarging Red Feather's face. As Feldmen and Red Feather shook hands, Red Feather's eyes grew slightly larger, and turned compleletly black. Then for the briefest of seconds, turned the blue of Feldmen's. Sara asked H.O.M.E.R to freeze the frame. There was no need to point it out to the others. Feldmen fainted dead away.

"Fascinating," Scott murmered, steepling his hands, a far off look coming into his eyes.

"To say the least, sir," Telle put in.

"Well, this certainly brings the phrase 'reasonable doubt' to my mind. What we just saw indicates that some sort of ability was being used, whether mutant or meta. This means one of two things," Sara said, sitting back in her chair. "Either this Red Feather person planted a mental link to enable him to control Feldmen at a later time, or he was able to make an exact duplicate - down to the DNA print - of Feldmen."

"Dr. Scott, the DNA scans you do, are they restricted solely to persons entering secured areas, and can they detect the presence of a mutant or meta?"

Sara had to repeat herself several times before Doctor Scott focused back on her. "What? Yes most assurdly. My work with Dr. Jackson has helped us isolate DNA strands that indicate a genetic mutation. However, I do not discrimiate. H.O.M.E.R's programing prevents even casual inquires from myself on whether a person has a mutation. I have no need to know, just as I have no need to know their religious or sexual orientation."

Sara gave a mental sigh of relief, her face calm. At least that secret is safe. I was worried.

He blinked self consiously and cleared his throught, blushing a little. "Umm, yes, sorry. I am afraid that Dr. Jackson's enthusism for mutant rights has affected me. We would have to go to the core, and I would have to interface directly with H.O.M.E.R."

Throughout these proceedings, Kinuko has been the quiet, demure, invisible Japanese serving woman, saying nothing and observing everything with the eye of a ninja - a professional spy.

Another mark in your favour, Dr. Scott. Sara smiled. "That's all right, Dr. Scott. I am a supporter of Dr. Jackson myself. But as to whether or not the man is a mutant or a meta, it really makes no difference. What is important that we figure what he did and what he's planning on doing next."

"Good point. I am afraid that I am not to up the abilities of metas. But I do know one man who would be. If you would like to wait for a few minutes I'll get what we need from H.O.M.E.R."

"No problem, Dr. Scott."

As Dr. Scott left, Sara turned to Kinuko. "So, what do you think about what we've seen?"

Again the young ninja was in a quandary; how mush could she say without risking her cover? Sara didn't know about her training; Samantha might or might not. And there was the worry about H.O.M.E.R.'s scans; if examined, they might show the machines within her. "I think that Red Feather is a very dangerous man. He is a very good fighter and a very, very good actor. He also has special powers of an unknown sort. This makes him far more dangerous than a normal - mole? He must be found quickly, or he will leave the city and escape. I do not think he stole the foam for himself; he was hired by another. If he is caught and questioned, he will talk. He is only a red devil barbarian; he has no honour."

Sara restrained a smile. And I am just a white devil barbarian who is in a state of limbo because of my association with Grandfather Ito. "I agree. He must be found quickly, and the poilce do not have the resources or manpower to do it. I do now some people who might be able to at least point us in the right direction."

Sara asked H.O.M.E.R if there was a phone she could use and called the main precinct, looking for Lt. Hammer, only to be told he was at a news conference about Jumping Jack Flash, the PRIMUS agent that would be helping New London. As she hung up, Mr. Telle enetered the room.

"If you ladies would be so kind as to come with me?" he asked with a slight bow. Mr. Telle led them to a limousine. Opening the door he ushered them in and then climbed in the front seat.

Doctor Scott was sitting across from them, a keyboard across his lap, busily typing.

"So, where are we going," Sara asked, looking at the interior of the limo.

The limo was of the typical varety, leather seats, small fridge, phone. The only difference was that this one had a computer instead of a tv. It was Mr. Telle who answered.

"We are going to visit Doctor Jackson."

Dr. Scott continued to work on the keyboard, apparently obvilous to the conversation.

He really gets caught up in his work, Sara thought to herself. Telle must have the patience of a saint. Then again, so does Josh when to comes to me and my work. I wonder how he's doing.

An hour later, the limo pulled up to house set on three lots, surrounded by a high fence in the back. A jeep was just leaving as the limo pulled up. Mr. Telle got out of the car and opened the door.

"Sir, we are here."

Mr. Telle repeated himself twice more, his tone of voice never changing.

"What? Oh yes. Of course, the whole Red Feather thing." Dr. Scott eased himself into the wheelchair that was waiting for him and wheeled himself up to the front door, which was standing open.

A young black man, about 5'11, wearing a lab coat that did little to hide his well toned body, was leaning against the door frame. His face lit up in a warm smile.

"Jon, nice to see you again. Mr. Telle." He turned to the ladies and kissed both their hands as Sara introduced herself and Kinuko. "Please come in. You just missed my wife, can I get you anything? Or shall we get right down to business?"

"Nothing for me, thank you, Dr. Jackson. Kinuko?" Sara looked at the oriental woman.

"I don't think we have much time. For all we know Red Feather may have already flown the coop, if you'll pardon the pun," Sara said.

"We'll run this sample through and see what we can see then. If someone would fill me in?"

Dr. Jackson listened without interruption as Sara filled him in on the case. She started with the gallery and went right through to the current day. Kinuko listened with interest.

"Well," Dr. Jackson replied thoughtfully. He walked over to a separate PC and punched in a password. After scanning a file he nodded to himself.

"Both of you have turned to modern science for answers. What about a Transmuter?"

"Transmuter… Well, that would explain how he could replicate the foam so quickly and easily. If he's powerful enough, I suppose he could do an entire body, down to the DNA sequences?" Sara thought for a moment. "May I use your phone, Dr. Jackson? I need to call someone, and well, I don't exactly have my cell phone anymore."

"No," Dr. Jackson laughed, "I guess I shouldn't expect people to know my terms. For what you are thinking you would need a doppleganger, and the DNA sequence on Mr. Redfeather is all wrong for that. I was thinking about your foam problem. When I was down in the states last year, I heard some rumors about a person who could taste a substance and then reproduce it by absorbing the required material -- a Transmuter."

"No, Mr. Redfeather's mutant…" Dr. Jackson was bent over the large microscope/computer. It resembled nothing more a ViewMaster, without the place to put the paper circle.

"A third generation genetic mutation," he muttered excitedly. "Go ahead, use the phone."

From the desk she could still hear Dr. Jackson mumbling, "Mostly centered in the cerebral… Hmmm. I have never seen this particular signature before. Let's see what the other one can tell us."

"Carr. Speak," Sam's voice came over the line.

"It's Sara. I've got an update on the foam and who nabbed it from SI. Have you spoken to your contact yet?" Sara asked, making sure not to mention Bill's name.

"Yes. What's the update?"

"The native reporter who spoke to Allison turns out to be a Paulus Redfeather. We watched video of his entire visit to the building. He's definitely either a mutant or meta. When he was leaving Allison's lab, he came across Dr. Feldmen. They talked briefly, and while they were talking, Redfeather's eyes changed. For a very brief moment, they became the exact same colour as Feldmen's. Gear's arrested Feldmen for industrial espionage, as he's seen on tape as leaving SI with a vial containing a small sample of the foam, and returning with an empty vial."

"The security system has a DNA scan for people entering secure areas, so it would have had to have been Feldmen who got the sample. He has no memory of it - said he called in sick, but there's no record of it. Dr. Jackson says that there are people called Transmuters, who can take a sample of a substance and reproduce it with ease. That would explain how the bomber was able to get the volume he needed," Sara said. "Hang on a sec." She looks over at Dr. Jackson.

"Dr. Jackson, is Redfeather a Transmuter, or does his signature indicate he might be a mentalist, perhaps with mind control?"

At that second, "Holy…"

Dr. Jackson spun around in his chair and started working furiously on a keyboard. From where she was standing, Kinuko could see the words NLPD on the top.

"Here's the thing. I checked Dr. Feldmen when he picked up the sample. If Redfeather had duplicated him, then his genetic signature would have shown up through Feldmen's body. Feldmen registers as completely normal. Until you look at the brain scan. That has Redfeather's signature all over it. And I mean all over it."

Dr. Jackson turned back to his audience. "With the mind control that I have done tests on, the signature of the mutant is located in only one part of the victim's mind, and you usually have to be looking for it. This," he shook his head, "My educated guess is that Red Feather transfered his whole mind, or at least a large substanial part, to Feldmen. He had complete control."

"I just sent an Extreme Dangerous Meta alert to the police, especially Hammer and SCU. No eye contact. Can you imagine Red Feather getting ahold of one of them?"

Kinuko hadn't followed all of the exchange, but she had managed to piece together enough to understand that this "Red Feather" could take people over somehow - perhaps even move his spirit from person to person. Obscene! And if he could take a policeman that way… He would have to die as soon as he talked.

"Then that definitely clears Feldmen. Did you hear that, Sam?" Sara asked.

"Yes. And I think," Sam paused and then continued softly, "we just figured out how they got into the places that were vandalized without setting off any alarms or there being any signs of forced entry."

"What was your contact able to come up with?" Sara was concerned at what had just been discovered abut Red Feather, and all the implications. The thought of the damage Red Feather could cause was frightening.

"Not much. The security company is in a panic, this is very negative publicity for them. However, all the Centers have been insured pretty heavily. I'll see what I can find out about Red Feat… Hold on."

Sara could hear Sam talking in the background, and then, "Get this." Sara could almost see Sam's grin, and as she listened, her own flashed into existence. "In 1992 Paulus Redfeather offically changed his name to Paul Martin."