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In which we finally learn Hans' secrets, and wish that we hadn't. Weirdly enough, things are looking up.



May 2, 1987

I'm writing this entry on some loose-leaf Chandler had lying around. I've stopped shaking, which seems to me to be a good sign. Two shots of very good Scotch helped, I think. Lucky is working on the rest of the bottle, which makes her drunker than me but not by that much yet. I know that in a half hour I'll have a headache, and a half hour after that, I hope, I'll be able to think again. She's sitting in the corner chair singing "Auld Lang Syne" in a lovely contralto I would never have expected from her, adopting a Scottish brogue for the occasion. I'm not sure where Chandler's gotten to.
    I doubt I'll ever understand what happened tonight, which only makes me angrier. How could he do this? I'd been counting on him, was starting to like the man.
    From the beginning. Once again, perhaps writing it out will help me make sense of the way things have just fallen apart.
    Hans, as I still thought his name was, slept a restless night in a curtained-off bed at the emergency room. I paced between catnaps and pretended I couldn't see the stares the staff directed at me or hear what they were whispering. Explanations would do no good; I held my anger inside.
    I had called Scott as soon as we got there and I had been assured by a tight-lipped staffer that there was nothing seriously wrong. "There was a fight, I still have no idea what happened or what it means."
    "What sort of a fight? Where? When?" he wanted to know.
    "Where, at Promethean's parents house, who I don't know but his parents are missing. When, earlier today. He's still unconscious and has not explained what is going on."
    "Oh." He seemed to consider that.
    "I got there too late for anything but the finale."
    "So what happened, you showed up and took him to the hospital?"
    "Basically. I showed up, the guy he was fighting blew up the gas main and disappeared, and then the ambulance showed up," I elaborated. He muttered something about public property. "The local witnesses are not pleased with the appearance that we were involved with this," I agreed.
    "So the ambulance showed up and you went with him to the hospital."
    "Yes. What did you find at the scene of the crime, whatever sort of crime it was?"
    "Felix Javelin murdered one of the guards, took his uniform, and escaped."
    "Oh, boy." I leaned on the wall and rubbed my temples. "Any idea where he went?"
    "Great. I assume Winters is on it?"
    "Yes, she is."
    "Well. Why would he break out of jail now?" I wondered aloud.
    "Not sure. What are your plans?"
    "Wait until Promethean wakes up, find out what the hell is going on and why his parents have been kidnapped. I think that's an important priority. So I'd like to find out what happened. Are you going to stay on the Javelin thing?"
    "Yeah, I'll see what I can find."
    "See if we can figure out where he would go. I take it they've got Berault watched?"
    I sighed. My head ached.
    "Do you have anything with Travis' fingerprints?" Scott asked suddenly.
    "Travis' fingerprints? I don't think so."
    "Oh. Oh, well. Just a thought."
    "I was just wondering if we could manage to convince somebody to run the prints for us and see how many hits we get back."
    Ah, yes. Scott thought Travis was a clone, too. "Something for later, I think. Talk to you soon."

[Perspective switch: Scott, then Lucky]

    Eventually Hans returned to full consciousness. We had privacy, at least; no one was willing to get anywhere near us. I sat by the bed.
    "I'd like to know what just happened," I said gently.
    "Where are my parents?"
    "I don't know. Before you passed out you said something about them being gone."
    "Did Marcus get away?"
    "The other one, did he get away?"
    The curtain rattled back. "Oh, good. You're awake. We need this bed," the orderly snapped.
    I clenched my teeth for an instant, forced a tight smile. "We'll be right out." He left; Promethean climbed out of bed. "What happened, who were you fighting?"
    "I would... prefer to tell everyone at once."
    He paused and patted the pocket of his uniform, pulled out a folded piece of paper with an puzzled expression and read it before sinking to his knees, tears streaming from his eyes.
    This in the middle of the emegency room, dozens of curious and hostile eyes on us.
    "Hans? What is it?" I touched his shoulder gingerly. He didn't move. I took the note from his limp hand.
    Don't try and get involved. We have your parents. Just stay away. This is no longer any concern to you. If we need anything else, we'll be in touch. P.S. Mind Lazer asks that the playactor stay out of this one.
    Mind Lazer was a vaguely familiar name. European variant. I had no idea who "the playactor" might be.
    "I have to find them," Hans sobbed.
    "Okay, we will, let's get out of here." I took his arm and guided him through the crowded room. He looked as if he'd been kicked in the head. Back to the office, I decided. With luck at least one of the others would be there and we could work out a plan for dealing with this suddenly escalated situation.
    Stephanie opened the door.
    "Oh, hi, it's you again."
    "Hi. Scott here?" I asked.
    "He's over at the computer with Mr. Cat."
    "Why don't you sit down, take a minute, I'm going to call Lucky," I told Hans, pulling out the phone.
    "I cannot stay long, I must find my parents."
    "We want to help you." Lucky stepped in the door as I was in mid-dial. "Never mind. Glad you're here."
    "Black, no sugar, right?" Stephanie appeared with a mug for her.
    "Hans' parents have been kidnapped."
    "Great. I'm being followed," she tossed back.
    "Even better."
    "Anybody mind if I smoke?"
    Muse coughed delicately. She put the pack away.
    Scott flowed over. "I checked out that address in Poughkeepsie."

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson