"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" -- Albert Einstein

104 - 1123.

Randall Shelzie, still with Abercrombie. Randall: "Do we know where Prof. Tuesla is?" Abercrombie: "No, but we can find out." Randall: "And we know why Potter was in Tuesla's office?" Abercrombie: "No." Randall: "Maybe he's Tuesla's teaching assistant." At this point it dawns on Randall that Potter's office looked more than just messy, it looked tossed (judging from the askew pictures on the walls). Randall: "I think we should go back to his office." Abercrombie: "What if he's not there?" Randall: "What if he's not there?" Ah. The return to Jacob's office yields no Jacob, and the pictures have been straightened. Aha! It had been tossed. At least as far as Randall's concerned.

Steve is in his doctor's office, not getting lectured any more, since - why bother? Steve: "But what other patient gives you the opportunity to practice your needlework?" Doctor: "A few, but they're mercs." Steve is charged extra for filming his medical visit.

In Regina Trauma, Kiffin is told she will be released the next day, and what flavor of Jell-O would she like for breakfast? Red, of course. Kiffin calls the Jasmine Club to tell them she will be released tomorrow. Mr. Sykes will be informed when he gets done with the contractors. Everyone at the club is glad Kiffin is all right.

Abercrombie: "So, what are we looking for, exactly?" Randall: "We're not looking for anything." Abercrombie: "We're just pawing through his office in case we find a file labeled 'Terrorist Activities'?" Randall: "I don't know, we can try putting an 'X' on the window in masking tape and see what happens... Or we can try to find this Tuesla person." Abercrombie: "We can check with campus security." The campus security guy is so bored he'll talk to anyone, but he doesn't know where Tuesla is, since it's not their job to keep track of all the professors, and besides, it's night time, and no one is going to be in the Admin building. Randall is directed to a copy of the catalog, and he looks to see if the professor has night classes tonight. He doesn't. Randall: "Well, I'm done for the night. I'll see you tomorrow." Abercrombie: "Fine." He leaves. Randall goes to Club Zambezi for dinner and tribal drumming. Then it's home to examine the photos he's taken of Lapointe's dorm room, but he realizes he doesn't have photos of an average dorm room to check it against. He'll have to fix that tomorrow.

Jacob has decided he should start carrying his revolver on his person. Things are getting a bit too interesting here lately. The gun won't help him if someone decides to blow him up, but he figures they'll have to be pretty far down on the list if they're blowing up teaching assistants. Jacob goes out to dinner at UbiFoods.

Steve tidies up his place, and then works on his video editing for his program. He wants to be able to make enough money to travel to other worlds and annoy - study their venomous creatures. Afterwards he decides to kick back and relax, and drink a gin and tonic. A lot of gin and tonics, really. A while later he realizes some inconsiderate bugger has left a really bright light on outside. The way things have been going he takes one of his favorite, gnarled wood walking sticks with him to check it out. He goes outside, looks around, and across the tarmac is a truck with a lot of lights shining on a nearby warehouse, almost like a film crew, and a bunch of guys in jumpsuits. Steve, being curious and pathologically fearless, takes his camera and goes to look. He runs into a Naval operation, and upon telling them he lives "over there", is directed to the sergeant. Sergeant: "Hello." Steve introduces himself as a zoologist from the university, and indicates that he lives "over there." Or at least that's where he's staying for now. Sergeant: "Zoologist, huh? So do they really have snakes dangling from the trees on this planet?" Steve: "Oh yes!! The deadly Regina Mambas!" Steve goes off for a while, then asks if the Sergeant wants "to see one?" Sergeant: "Why! Are there any around here?" He looks down nervously. Steve: "Come on over, and I'll buy you a cold one." The sergeant goes over to Steve's place, is given a beer, and then Steve takes the mamba out of it's cage to show the sergeant. Steve's never seen a man juggle an open can of beer before. Sergeant: "I know where I've seen you before! You're that guy on tri-dee!" Yup, it's the deranged man. Sergeant: "Could you put that thing away? I'm sure you know what you're doing, but I wouldn't want it to bite you, or get loose and get into the beer." Steve puts the snake away and replaces the dropped beer. Steve: "You're the first visitor I've had since those rude buggers landed out there and trashed my place." It's all connected in Steve's mind. The sergeant asks a lot of questions, and gets the same story Steve gave the police. He gets out his copy of the videotape he gave the police. Sergeant: "Could I get a copy?" Steve: "Sure. I have all the necessary equipment here." A tape is duped off and handed over. Sergeant: "This should do nicely. I think we can enhance the image of the ship here." Steve: "So what are you doing?" Sergeant: "We're investigating the Naval bombing." Steve: "What Naval bombing?" No animals were involved, therefore it's not really important. The sergeant gives Steve the run down on what happened. Steve is appalled, and thinks these barbarians should be punished, and he tells the story of a primitive culture and how they staked out a poacher over an ant hill... The sergeant finishes his large beer and leaves. Steve takes his anti-inflammatories, does a bit of reading on terrorists, then goes to bed.

105 - 1123.

Morning comes, Jell-O does not arrive for Kiffin. It's a different meal entirely, and when she points this out, it's taken away and not replaced with any kind of Jell-O at all. The paperwork is brought for her to sign; no balance owing thanks to medical coverage. The charge nurse tells Kiffin she can take a shower and get dressed, but she should ring for help if she feels dizzy. The nice people from the Club have sent loose clothing. The syntheflesh is a bit odd-looking, but it doesn't hurt. After the shower and dressing, Kiffin is told her car is waiting. She goes outside where she's met by the driver of the limo. Driver: "Miss Brevette." The driver holds open the door and lets her into the limo. Mr. Black is inside, and Kiffin is, as always, pleased to see him. (She's probably the only person on UpPort who could say that.) Black: "Kiffin. I'm so sorry to hear about your accident. Or on purpose, actually, since it was a car bomb. I'm glad to see you're doing better." Kiffin: "Much better, thank you. George is the one who was badly injured; I hope he'll be all right." Black: "I'm sure he will be. You know they can regrow almost anything on Rhylanor." Kiffin: "I'm sure they can." Black: "Kiffin, I have a favor to ask of you. I know you just got out of the hospital, but I thought that for your own sense of closure, and to help me out, you could do something for me." Kiffin: "Of course, if I can." Black: "I need someone I know is completely reliable to act as a conduit for information for another person with technical expertise, but whom I neither know well nor trust. I realize that this involves a terrorist organization, and people who wouldn't hesitate to take lives, but I want you to know that I would never put you in any danger." Kiffin: "I know. I'll do anything I can to help." She's not sure why he's involved with all this, but that doesn't really matter to her. Black: "First I need to pass on a message before I'm forced to turn over certain information I have to the Navy. I think I can stretch it out. One of the security tapes from the docks is in the possession of Mr. Scalese, the president of the union. The person I want you to work with is named Randall Shelzie, and I want him to pick up the tape and check it out." Kiffin: "When did you want me to speak with him?" Black: "This morning. If you're feeling up to it?" Kiffin: "I'm actually feeling fine. I am a bit hungry though. There was a problem with breakfast." Black: "Well, then we should get you some breakfast." Off to Clairidges for a proper breakfast. Black: "When you meet with Shelzie, also give him this list. <he hands it to Kiffin> It lists the potential witnesses to the crimes, people who have had contact with the suspects. Some of them have already been spoken to by the police." The list has five names on it, including Steve Corwin and Jacob Potter.

Meanwhile, Randall has paged Abercrombie, who calls back. Randall wants to meet with Abercrombie, right away. Abercrombie will see him in 45 minutes. After his shower. They meet at the university, and go to Student Housing. Randall: "I'd like to get a dorm room." Clerk: "It's the middle of the term. Don't you have a dorm room? Don't tell me - your roommate kicked you out." Randall: "Right." He's given a form to fill out, and he cheats, copying the student ID number off the paperwork of a nearby student. After paying the damage deposit and first month's rent ($600 Creds), he gets the receipt, etc. and goes to meet Abercrombie, who's sipping his coffee. Abercrombie: "Are we going to the Administration office?" Randall: "No, already been there." They go to the dorm in question, wake up the RA, and are shown into the room. RA: "Are you going to take the room as a single, or do you have a roommate?" Randall: "Uh, I'll have a roommate." RA: "When will he be arriving?" Randall: "I don't know. I don't have a roommate yet." RA: "Right." He leaves them, off to his shower. Randall takes many pictures, but this dorm room isn't exactly the same as the other one, so it's back to Lapointe's. They go into the dorm room, and Randall starts taking measurements, in spite of the sleeping roommate. The roommate rouses enough to complain and throw a shoe, but then he goes back to sleep.

Randall eventually realizes that Lapointe's dorm room is the mirror image of the one he rented. Hmmm. The dorm room next door should be a match, if the pattern is the same in this dorm. Randall knocks on the door. Randall: "Campus Security." Student: "You don't look like Campus Security. Campus Security wears uniforms." Randall: "You're right. I'm a reporter." Student: "A reporter who lies." Randall: "Don't we all?" He pays the kid $20 credits to let him measure the room. It's exactly the same. Randall: "Do you have a roommate?" Kid: "Yeah..." Randall: "Well, there's an opening in the other building, and if you hear about anyone who's looking for a roommate, give him this." He hands over the card for the other room, and he leaves with Abercrombie.

To Doctor P. Tuesla's office, where they knock on the door. A grey-haired man answers the door - Tuesla. Randall: "I understand you held this conference last Fourday." He shows Tuesla the flyer. Tuesla: "Yes?" Turns out it's like a student discussion group rather than a lecture, and Tuesla merely reserves the room and facilitates. Randall: "And what were you discussing?" Tuesla: "We have discussions on the cultural interactions that are peculiar to this region." Randall: "Is there anything in particular you discussed at the last meeting?" Tuesla: "There was a rather spirited discussion of Zhodani social engineering versus the laissez-faire social anarchy of the Imperium." Randall: "Do you happen to remember who was involved in this discussion?" The professor gets this strange look on his face, gets out of his chair, and closes the door. Tuesla: "What is it precisely you would like to know? Speaking your mind is not against the law on Regina. Yet." Randall: "Marino Lapointe." Tuesla: "What about him?" Randall: "Was he part of the argument?" Tuesla: "Yes. Why do you want to know about Marino?" Randall: "He was apprehended for inappropriate behaviors." Tuesla: "What would constitute inappropriate behaviors on Regina?" Randall: "Car bombs." Tuesla: "He said nothing that would indicate his intent to become involved in random violence. In fact, he was arguing in favor of a more orderly society than we have now." Randall: "Against whom was he arguing?" Tuesla: "I don't think that is germane if you're merely investigating Marino's connection with a crime. Or do you suspect everyone he argued with? Surely if someone was arguing against his opinion they would be unlikely to assist him in his activities." Randall: "Or they could have had their own reasons for appearing to hold an opposing opinion." Tuesla: "Good grief. The person he was arguing with was Michelle Gibson. He and Michelle frequently argued. In fact, he and Michelle argued at most of our meetings. I think that the only reason they came to the meetings is that they both had the hots for each other but were too shy to do anything about it." Randall: "Have you heard of an historical figure, a Zhodani named Wilbur?" Tuesla: "Yes." Randall: "Why would people calling themselves Wilbur, or rather, followers of his methods, call your office to claim responsibility for car bombings?" Tuesla: "I have no idea what you're talking about. I have no knowledge of any group known as Wilbur, nor of any car bombs, and unless you've been tapping all the lines into the university, I don't know how you would know about this call." Randall: "I'm sorry, I can't tell you that." Tuesla: "Shouldn't you be doing some thing to catch the people who actually set off the car bombs?" Randall: "Or whoever gave them the money." The professor is late for his class, and has had about enough of Randall and the silent Abercrombie, so he picks up his slides, and locks the office door after Randall and Abercrombie leave. Randall wants to check the professor's office, but later. Abercrombie: "Maybe you could get a stipend from the university for all the office cleaning." Randall: "I want to find out what the professor is up to. Where he's going and who he meets. Don't you have street people to do that sort of thing? Field agents?" Abercrombie: "That would be us. Why should we watch him? He's obviously not going to associate with Marino, since Marino isn't going to associate with anything that doesn't come through a straw." Randall: "And who's fault is that? I don't know, I'm just trying to shake some trees. I don't have much to go on. We've got Ine Givar terrorists blowing up cars and a Navy ship, a professor who's office is called by the terrorists and who is one of the professors of the one suspect in custody. Have there been any other developments since last night? Any new evidence?" Abercrombie: "I wouldn't know. I haven't been to the office yet today. Someone called me at home first thing in the morning and told me to meet them at the university. At any rate, Tuesla didn't seem to be guilty or shocked when you mentioned the phone call, but he did seem a bit upset when you asked about the meeting." Randall suggests Abercrombie check in at the office, and see about any security tapes from the university, and then meet him for brunch at the Bread & Bean. Not a lot of cameras at the university - Abercrombie doesn't expect much luck there, but he'll check it out.

At Clairidges, where Mr. Black never has a problem getting a good table. Kiffin: "Am I supposed to call this Mr. Shelzie?" Black: "You could call at his residence first, but we can always call Mr. Abercrombie, since he's keeping tabs on Shelzie. I can arrange a vehicle if you need to go on planet, but I think you'll be at least mostly on UpPort." After breakfast, Black takes Kiffin to Regina Security, and introduces her to Mr. Abercrombie (another nice man, but younger). Abercrombie will take her to Shelzie as soon as he finishes downloading some information onto a data crystal.

Jacob is unhappily mired in the juvenile prattling of the freshmen students. The worst one is at the university on a soccer scholarship and would have been flunked, but late one night Jacob woke up with the realization that he was teaching a core class, and the moron would just be back next term. Suddenly the D- seemed like a good idea. Jacob contacts the worst batch of students to offer them tutoring. He does have some good students, although sometimes he wonders if the university has recently ordered a new book to be plagiarized. He has got to get into a research position! This teaching gig was available, but it's not the mentally stimulating work Jacob expected. In his few free minutes, he reads the book on Wilbur, checking out dates for any correlation to the dates of the bombings, but nothing matches. The only thing he can think of that relates to the Zhodani and Regina is the fact that Regina was the site of the final negotiations. Oh, and there were those other incidents involving the Zhodani and the Sengi (all the chopping, etc.). No corresponding dates though.

Abercrombie: "Instead of chasing all these people down individually, we could send out a few men and have everyone brought in to the office. The location lends a certain weight to the questions." Good idea!