Master PC – Mind Magi
Part Two – A Day Of Questions
Chapter Thirteen – Conspiracy Theory
After paying for our food, Whisper got us back to the hotel within ten minutes.
Having parked in the parking garage, neither of us saw the mass of police cars out front. I wanted to bypass any spectacle going on. When we entered the lobby, the hotel staff had apparently put lookouts for my entrance. One young man immediately approached. He looked like he was a mix of curious, anxious and scared.
“Mr. Setton. The… uh… the detective is in here.” He turned and led us to the rooms where I had talked to the FBI agents not very long ago.
There were two detectives and three uniformed police in the room. One of the detectives and two of the uniforms left after I was escorted in. Whisper waited outside the room.
The detective that remained was a couple of inches shorter than me. His hair and eyes were dark, and I could tell he was sharp. He didn’t look more than thirty five, but I could have been wrong. He had on a suit but lacked the cliché trench coat. The officer was a woman. Why I was surprised, I didn’t know. She looked sturdy in her uniform, with the wide, heavy utility belt and gun at her side. Her medium brown hair was pulled back in a severe bun that left her face completely open. She wore no makeup, which I didn’t think it was allowed when she was in uniform anyway. There just wasn’t anything attractive about her except her eyes. They were bright green and momentarily reminded me of Erin’s.
The detective approached me. “Mr. Setton, I’m Detective Arneson and this is Officer Jones.”
The detective’s name caught me off guard, because it was the same as the Lady of House Issacs. I was expecting to deal with completely normal humans for this. If he was a Mind Magi, my alibi could be shot full of holes.
The detective shook my hand and a gold mark appeared at the corner of his mouth. It was a small vertical line, just like what Dr. Holzer’s looked like before I shared my ability to heal with him. The detective would know if I was lying.
I did my best to relax. “The hotel staff called. I understand something happened in my room?”
“Yes, we’re not entirely sure what happened. All we know is one of the hotel staff went up to do her rounds of cleaning and found the door of your room not only wide open, but partially broken off of its hinges.”
I listened patiently. As long as he didn’t ask too many questions, I would be okay.
“The staff sent up their normal security people because the cleaning lady refused to go in. They, in turn, called us.”
I nodded, remaining relatively calm. I started to ask what he had found but stopped myself. It would be better to let him ask me questions and go from there. The less I said, the less they would have to hold against me.
“When we arrived, we didn’t find anything wrong, but we’re going over the entire suite and looking for prints. Did you have anything of value in your room?”
I shook my head. “Just my laptop, but I sent that with an associate of mine when she left for the airport.”
The detective stared at me. “I see. Okay then. Well, we’re going to need to take your prints. For purposes of elimination only, of course.”
“Of course,” I mimicked smiling nervously.
Officer Jones set an ink pad and a sheet of paper on the table. I went over to her and let her take my prints. I knew no one else had them and I had never been in trouble with the law, so there was no problem cooperating.
She handed me a paper towel and I started wiping off the excess ink. The detective said, “The hotel has provided us with a copy of your cell phone number. As soon as we have gone through the room and collected all of the information we need from there, we will contact you to let you know where you can pick up your stuff.”
I wasn’t too surprised by that.
“Thank you Mr. Setton,” said the detective as he and the officer left.
Whisper came in looking collected. I wasn’t sure if she was masking her real emotions or not, but I wasn’t going to stay around long enough for anyone else to notice. I led the way back out to the lobby and went straight for the parking garage. Whisper followed me in silence.
We got to her car and I stopped. Both of us were finally breathing again.
“That went better than expected, but he didn’t mention the men or the woman,” I said. Then I looked Whisper in the eyes. “Did you know they wouldn’t find anything?”
She shook her head. “If I knew who it was that attacked you, I might have been able to figure it out.”
“Yeah, but he made it sound like they were gone when he arrived.”
Whisper nodded, somewhat enthusiastically. “Even better. It was a break in while you were out. Now there’s nothing at all to worry about.”
“Yes there is. Those guys are still out there. I was hoping the police would have them in custody. I’m also curious what was done with the woman’s body…”
I looked up and was glad we were whispering because I saw the detective come out of the hotel. He looked around, spotted us and began walking our way.
Whisper noticed where was looking and turned. She waited with me for the detective.
“I’m glad you haven’t left yet Mr. Setton. I have one more question to ask, but uh… can we talk privately?”
The detective glanced at Whisper. I wasn’t sure what he wanted, but his glance told me it was a Mind Magi issue.
“I’ll be right back,” I said to Whisper and went with the Detective.
She went around and got into her car, giving us more privacy.
The detective did a slight bow of the head. “Lord Setton,” he said even more quietly, “I have to apologize for what happened earlier.”
“Apologize? For what?” I asked without acknowledging his bow.
“The fact that someone broke into your room.”
I wanted to laugh in relief but I kept myself in check. I must have looked un-phased by his apology because he said quickly. “I know you have important things to be tending to but I thought you should know: there seems to be something happening. Something involving the other House Leaders.”
He stood there staring at me. Finally I asked, “Why are you telling me this?”
“Normally the other House Leaders leave the city once the meeting is over. Some might stay for a meal, but otherwise they return to their own areas. Today though, none of them have left.”
“That’s no reason for a conspiracy.”
“I know, it looks like just a coincidence, but I also know that my niece, Lady Arneson’s daughter, went missing just last night. I feel there is a connection between that and this sudden need for the House Leaders to all stay in town.”
That got my attention. “What about the other House Leaders? Have you had a chance to look into any such instances with their families?”
“No, unfortunately I don’t have any contacts in all of the other houses. I can try to find out. I thought you might not be involved since you were only made a House Lord this morning. As such, you would be the only safe one for me to talk to.”
I nodded, “I understand. Have you brought this up with Lady Arneson?”
“I’ve tried calling her, but she’s not answering her phone.”
“Somehow I doubt it would be any outside forces,” I was going to take a chance with the detective and tell him the truth about my room. It might shed more light on what was going on. “To be honest, I was in my room when it was broken into. Even before that, I was attacked.”
He looked at me, apparently weighing how to handle the news. Then he asked, “Do you know who attacked you?”
“Laura Stephens, a Mind Magi, but she wasn’t bound to any House. Her mark was gray.”
He nodded, “And the break in?”
“Two Dragons. One was Russ Fairbanks of House Augustus and the other was Roy Jordan of House Vaughan.”
The detective looked puzzled. “Dragons aren’t supposed to go after House Lords. At least not with force. One or Two might escort them somewhere, but that is usually at the request of that House Lord or Lady.”
“Roy broke the door down. I never invited them in or asked them to escort me anywhere.”
“Well, by the time we arrived, they were gone.”
“Because Laura was dead before the other two arrived.” I noted the increase of his scrutiny and quickly added. “I don’t know how. I put her to sleep but she started having problems breathing. Someone kept me from helping her by blocking me.”
“If she wasn’t bound to a House, how would another Mind Magi affect her like that?” he asked. I was sure the question was rhetorical.
“I’m only a few months into this stuff, but aren’t there Mind Magi who can affect others at a great distance, even without being bound to them?”
“Not to my knowledge. We usually have to have line of sight or direct contact to affect others we’re not bound to.”
“But that’s not to say it’s not possible, right?”
“I guess it could be.”
“What I don’t get is if the same person sent her as well as the Dragons, why kill her after she failed but not the Dragons?” I asked.
“Killing the Dragons might have been noticeable compared to killing a Mind Magi who isn’t bound to a House.”
“But why send her? For that matter, how could anyone have known that she didn’t accomplish whatever she was out to do?”
The Detective shrugged. “Chalk it up to one of the issues we have to resolve. It probably all goes hand in hand, so finding out one will solve the other.”
“Do you think one or more of the other House Leaders may be behind this or someone completely outside of the Mind Magi?” Of course I was thinking of someone using Master PC, but didn’t say that.
“If it isn’t a House Leader, then the Leaders could handle it. It has to be one or more of the House Leaders.”
“Then do your normal snooping. Find out everything you can about the other House Leaders. I’ll do the same. Michael has contacts all over the place. He should be able to fill in any gaps; at least I hope he can.”
“Good,” said the detective holding out his hand to shake. I took it and he finished, “I’m glad we can work together on this. I am worried about my niece and sister.”
I nodded. “I don’t see any reason why the Houses shouldn’t work together. We’re all a part of the same society.”
“That would be your young mind thinking ideal thoughts,” he said smiling. “Still, it’s good to hear.”
I nodded again and we parted.
After getting in her car, I told Whisper everything the detective and I discussed. While I told her, she got her backpack and pulled out her laptop. She booted up, looking up at me to let me know she was still listening and then held up her hand. “According to this…” She looked up and then out into the garage. I looked around too not sure what she was looking for. She closed her laptop and pulled a small case out of her backpack.
“What? What did your computer say?”
“I can’t say at the moment. You’ll probably figure it out soon enough though.” And with that she got out of the car. I got out too and followed her.
“What are you looking for?”
She held up her hand for silence but continued down the line of cars. She stopped behind one and started taking off the rear license plate. I looked at the car; it was another silver Toyota Camry. I understood what she was doing, but not why. She said I would probably figure it out, but I doubted she meant the changing of plates. When she was finished, we got back into her car and left the “W”.
“Now what’s this that I might figure out anyway?”
“What about her?”
“She’s Lord Lasarge’s daughter?”
“Yeah, but she broke out of prison.”
“What if she didn’t? What if she wasn’t helped to escape, but taken hostage?”
“Where are we going?”
“Losing a tail, hang on.”
“A tail?” I didn’t look; I knew what she meant and didn’t want to give away the fact that we knew we were being followed.
“Two corners, that’s all I need…” she said more to herself than me.
She turned one corner after another. I glanced out of the passenger mirror a few times and was pretty sure the dark blue sedan behind us was our ‘tail’.
She pulled into another parking garage and slowed down, crawling through the rows of cars. Finally, she pulled back out onto the street and began again.
About half an hour later she said, “I think I’ve lost them, but we need a different car.”
She pulled into another parking garage and parked at the back of it. “Grab your stuff. We’ll leave it hear and report it stolen.” She pulled out a piece of cloth and handed it to me. “Here, wipe everything you’ve touched. If you have any doubts, wipe it anyway. Don’t forget the seat controls.”
I shrugged and followed her instructions.
Then we left the car and went to the hotel across the street. I wasn’t sure I could have gotten back to the “W” even if I wanted too; she had made that many turns and cut through so many parking garages.
“We’ll check in here and hope that whoever is after us doesn’t know anything about Jennifer.”