Saturday, February 09, 2008

In the Dark, Part Seven: Badgering the Witness

Councilman Mario snarled. "For the last time, I had nothing to do with this - any of this. I don't know about the thugs at Oxy and Ring, I don't know about the gunmen or the bomb-thrower or anything. I did not forge that god-damned coin. And I have no more time for an interfering pawn of the Tyrant. Out!"

I had a feeling that there was nothing more I was going to get out of him. I'd headed to his mansion just after I left the hospital, on the hunch that Mario, Councilman in charge of the area where the bomb had been planted, had answers to give me. If nothing else, he certainly owed some explanation for its presence in the part of the city it was his responsibility to steward. But he wasn't, and here, in the center of his power, I hadn't the will to press him. I rose.

Furious, he gestured for a servant to open the great gold doors at the entrance of his sanctum. I took the hint and bowed out through them. Councilman Mario had one last thing to say, though. Spitting as he spoke, he told me, "And of all insults, you'd suspect me to blow up the city. I've more than anyone else to gain from keeping it intact - as you'd know if you paid any attention, I've got a lot of money coming in, dependent on this city staying intact." He slammed the doors.

I spent a moment in thought. Then I noticed something: there was no-one around. Infuriated beyond reason, Mario had sent me out without calling for his guards. Everyone outside the room thought that I was still meeting with him.

There was an opportunity here. It was a little dangerous, to go wandering around a Councilman's palace without permission. But I wasn't paid to stand around and look pretty, and the matter of the bomb, I thought, outweighed most minor qualms.

The Councilman's palace was sprawling, in a city ever pressed for space. The dozens of servants, guards, and functionaries passing through its halls, much more cramped once I left the Councilman's immediate presence, paid me little heed. I found it easy to make my way to my two quickly decided destinations. The first was the office of Mario's chief sheriff, his right hand. My suspicions were first aroused by the absence of the secretary from his outer office. Proceeding inside, I found the security officer equally absent. There was blood on the wall. His desk was locked; I picked it. Inside was more of the forged gold.

Interesting. Looked like he was in on the bomb plot, too. And from the blood, it seemed he'd been found out.

Before I left the palace, there was one more place I wanted to go. It would require either guile or firepower to get in. I pocketed the chief sheriff's badge, left on his desk, and confirmed that my flechette gun was still safely concealed in my coat. I was ready either way.

(too tired to finish post)
(will be continued)