Lords of Being
Chapter 28: Dognapping
We left Longhorn’s ranch in Colorado after Mabel received a call from the Tim, the manager of her kennel, that her prized Rhodesian Ridgeback Roper was missing. This is an excellent opportunity to test all the modifications that have been made to the plane, and to give Captain Barron and Catalyst some live training.
After an uneventful flight via Halifax and Reykjavik, we arrive late in the evening at the airport in Barchester, the county town in Barsetshire, roughly west-north-west of London. Glass (now calling himself Simon) has spent the trip over working on changing his appearance so he won’t be confused with the Si over in Silicon Valley. Though the sidewalks of Barchester have been long rolled up, Mabel had told Tim when we expected to arrive and asked him to meeting us. He’s waiting at the terminal, looking unhappy and despairing, though Hookie’s antics do manage to force a smile out of him. “Oh Mabel, I’m so sorry. We’ve looked everywhere.”
Mabel reassures him, “I know it’s not your fault. I’m here now. We’ll do what we can.”
On the drive to the house, Tim gives Mabel a report on all the places they’ve looked. In addition, “Lydia Merton has twigged that something is wrong. She saw people hunting around and cornered one of the staff and forced her to say what she was looking for. She’s expressed her sympathy and is also looking for Roper.” Lydia is on a lot of the same county committees as Mabel, and an old friend. She’s tiresomely observant, and it’s been a game for Mabel to give her nothing to observe.
We arrive at the house in Totleigh in half an hour. Mabel assures Tim that she can settle her guests into their rooms by herself and sends him home to get some rest. Tim apologies profusely yet again as she walks him to his car.
Mabel shows Neville and Barron to their rooms, and asks the others to make sure that the curtains are drawn since there will be six staffers arriving in the morning to care for the hounds.
After everyone is unpacked, she asks Glass and Hellgrammite to comb the internet for reports of large dogs and other large tawny animals in the surrounding area, and then takes Hookie outside to see if they can track Roper. Hookie’s a good tracker, and Mabel’s no slouch in this area either. However, Roper’s scent is all over the yard, making it impossible to pick up out any one trail.
Since that didn’t work they start walking the boundary of the property. As they walk along the fence by the side of the road, Mabel picks up an odd smell which is out of place. Its anesthetic; a kind used in a tranquilizer dart. There’s also a naggingly familiar person’s scent, but she can’t quite place it.
She reports her find to Glass, who comes to the site. Fortunately it’s near the kennel which has windows facing the road. He asks Mabel to turn on the outside lights and retrocogs using the reflections in the window nearest where the scent is strongest. He rolls back to the most recent image of a large brown dog, which is of Roper falling down. Rolling back a little further, he can see Roper come over to bark at a white car that’s stopped nearby. A gun muzzle pokes out of the car window, and then Roper staggers and falls over. Someone gets out of the car. Glass finds an angle that clearly shows the figure. It’s Cadmus Clisk. He then manages to zoom in on the car’s license plate.
Glass zooms the retrocog back out to watch Clisk climb over the four foot fence, grab Roper and heft him back over the fence. It would have been funny to watch Clisk’s efforts to lift 120 pounds of floppy, unconscious dog over the fence if it wasn’t such a nasty crime. Clisk doesn’t look like such a Lord of Order after he gets Roper into the back of the car, though he does meticulously go back to police his brass (pick up his empty hypo cartridges). By the time he is done, Clisk is covered with grass stains and dog slobber. Glass rolls the image back, and then records the entire sequence with his phone. He mails the sequence to Hellgrammite and Mabel.
Clisk lives in London, the most security-camera-monitored city in the world. Hellgrammite hacks into the CCTV system and has it search for the white car. The last image he can find of it is 48 hours old, as the car was leaving London. There’s no record of the return trip.
Hellgrammite and Glass then scour the net for signs of Clisk. Hellgrammite is sure that Clisk has been doing business in London recently, so he must have gone back in another car. Glass is sure he’s using his computer in his apartment. Right now.
Glass offers to go early and scout, but we need to plan our approach. Mabel pulls back from her impulse to confront him NOW. Glass notes that Clisk clearly did this to provoke her, and if we confront him before he’s ready, we have an edge. But it’s only a small advantage. Mabel is leaning towards using his actions to convince others to our side instead of playing his game. Clisk has clearly crossed a line by kidnapping Roper.
Glass proposes that while Mabel attempts to solicit sympathy from the Courtiers, he and the other Knights will try to sneak up on Clisk. Since they’re not Courtiers, Clisk is less likely to detect them.
Glass, Neon and Catalyst ready themselves to go. Neon has his Swiss army laser. Catalyst has his Bag of Useful Things™. Glass has his usual set of stuff; the phone, laser gun, and stopwatch. He asks Catalyst to put his specs in the bag and has added a glass rail gun that he had Hellgrammite pull together.
Neon and Catalyst attune to atoms in Glass’ laser. Pop. Glass is on the Lloyd’s Building roof. The others follow moments later. He can see Clisk’s building from here. Glass raises the rail gun to his shoulder, attunes to the glass bullet in the gun, aims, and shoots the glass bullet through one of the windows in Clisk’s apartment. Bang – Glass is in Clisk’s apartment, followed by the other two Knights. They find themselves in an extremely neat apartment. Other than the glass all over the floor, there isn’t a speck of dust out of place. All of the books are lined up precisely with the shelf edge, and all the papers on the desk are neatly stacked. There’s no bed in the apartment. Neither is Clisk or Roper.
They do find Clisk’s computer. Glass hacks into it and finds that Clisk is routing something through it, which is probably what confused him and Hellgrammite. Glass adds some circuitry to the processor that will tap into whatever it is that Clisk is doing and report back to him. Before they leave, Glass fixes Clisk’s window, so it’s not immediately obvious that they’ve been there.
Once the Knights have left on their mission, Mabel forwards the video of Clisk kidnapping Roper to Ragnison and calls him. Ragnison publishes “The Newsletter” which circulates to all the Courtiers on Earth. Well most. It’s hard to get copies to Essais who’s manifest as an amethyst crystal and spends most of his time in the metamorphic strata. The ones who spend a lot of time as dolphins or dingos aren’t avid readers either.
When Ragnison answers, Mabel relates the tale of how she was informed that one of her favorite dogs was missing and returned home to find that he was kidnapped. She explains how they detected where the deed was done, and that they’d managed to record the crime, and that she’s forwarded a copy of the video to Ragnison. He watches the video and is disgusted that Clisk has stooped to stealing her dog and agrees to spread word of the depths to which Clisk has gone.
Having dealt with that, she asks what else he’s heard of. The two pages are still in his basement. They’ve healed, but he’s not sure what to with them. He’s been keeping them drugged, since he can’t kill them. Conscious, they could simply de-manifest and escape that way. Physically dead, they could come back with new manifestations after an unpredictable time. Also, there’s no news about Hanuman. That’s not necessarily good news.
Last Updated: Dec 11, 2009
©2009 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved