It was the next morning, and the police had come up with nothing. Nothing, that is, except for the news reporters. They made Captain Banks absolutely sick.
"...According to police reports, an unmarked van took Amanda by force, injuring one Inspector Harlowe, a member of the London police department who had hoped to have her brought to England to pay for crimes committed there..."
"Turn it off!" barked Banks, glumly drinking some coffee. Banks, Harlowe, and Pierson were there. Jim was elsewhere.
It seemed strange to Sandberg that these three would be here in the same room at this point in time. Maybe Harlowe, Banks, and Jim, but not these three. Harlowe had also recovered admirably to the point where nobody would have known that he was severely wounded only twelve hours before. Not even Jim could have pulled that off, but none of the others seemed to notice or care.
It didn't occur to Sandberg that he was the only one full of energy and enthusiasm. "What do we do now?"
The normal reaction of anyone around Sandberg would be to bite his head off, but strangely enough, everyone was quietly restrained. Inspector Harlowe was sad, oddly enough. "We do nothing. It's up to Amanda or her captor."
He looked puzzled. "Come on! There's got to be something we can do!"
Banks shook his head. "Not this time. They covered their tracks completely. If you know where to go next, please tell me."
"In that case... I'll leave you to your work."
Nobody seemed to miss Sandberg's passing.
Pierson spoke up then. "How much do you know about Sandberg?"
Banks smiled ruefully, "How much do you want to know?"
He laughed, "I see." His expression became thoughtful. "I'm beginning to wonder how much he's suspecting about us. Did you notice how much he was staring at the good Inspector?"
The Captain chuckled a bit, "You should see how much he stares at Jim! If it weren't for the fact I knew he was a ladies' man..." his voice trailed off. "You know, he was staring at him the same way he stares at Jim." He looked at Harlowe. "Trust me... this kid has enough imagination to believe in the most unlikely stuff. If he's looking at your 'flesh wound' in the wrong way, he might just start suspecting too much. I think you'd better pretend to check in to a hospital."
Harlowe protested, "Wouldn't that make matters worse? Why enter a hospital if I haven't been hurt seriously?"
Pierson headed off that line of discussion. "The Inspector is right. I think the best thing to do is behave as if we don't suspect any of Sandberg's speculations." He smiled craftily, "If he begins to ask the wrong questions, send him my way."
"Better a lawyer than an honest man..." Banks muttered.
"...your point is...?" Pierson raised his eyebrow.
* * *
Sandberg paced back and forth. It seemed to him that something wasn't fitting. Two things, actually. It was the whole 'Amanda' episode to begin with and the reaction of Banks, Harlowe, and Pierson after her kidnapping. Jim was the only one who seemed to be his usual self. Unfortunately, that involved griping at a doctor in the emergency room, insisting that he was all right. In an hour or two, he might be back at work, but Banks ordered that Jim go in for evaluation, and any necessary treatment.
Sandberg was back at the University, in his office. Since he couldn't concentrate at the station, or do anything useful, he figured that the best thing he could do was use his own connections to get some information. To start with, he decided that he would use the Internet to see if there was anything he could find on Pierson and Harlowe, the two people that he didn't know.
Searching through Alta Vista for both web and Usenet entries, he came up blank in regards to both Harlowe and Pierson, unless one counted Pierson's commentaries on beer, history, and literature. Strange. Nothing had to do with law, even though Pierson was a lawyer. He bookmarked a few lively discussions about Trappist ale -- those were interesting, but he didn't have time for them at the moment.
A few moments later, he had an idea. A little bit after that, he was chatting with a friend of his in the UK. A former girlfriend who was now an assistant professor at Cambridge, specializing in conspiracy theories.
"Angela? It's Blair. How's it going?" His smile was confident.
"Blair? You f------ bastard! You promised you'd call me!" Angela was definitely not happy. "I'd bet you're calling me because you need a favor, don't you?"
Sandberg's face fell. "As a matter of fact, I need a really big favor. The type of thing that even if you really did owe me a favor, I wouldn't remind you of it. In fact, I'd say I owe you one and mean it.
The pause was almost deafening. "You're in pretty deep, aren't you?"
"Not me. I'm just surrounded by some people I don't know, and someone I thought I knew pretty well. Someone's life might also be on the line."
The pause was longer this time. "What do you need?"
"Whatever you can pull up on four people: Captain Simon Banks of the Cascade P.D.; Adam Pierson, a lawyer; Inspector Martin Harlowe of the London P.D.; and Amanda, last name unknown, a burglar of high-profile items."
Her voice sounded strange. "I can tell you this much already. If Adam Pierson is involved, you're so deep in something that you want to climb out of very fast. You're already in past your head, and I can see your arm sinking fast."
"Is Adam that dangerous?"
Angela laughed, "No! He'd be more in danger of being hurt by a fly than hurting one. But he's been surrounded by trouble for the last few years. It's the trouble that you want to avoid."
"I hate to tell you this, but he came to the trouble. It was Amanda who showed up first..." He began to tell her everything, even the confidential information. He did have a few moments of hesitation, but he knew that the risk would be worth it. Plus, Angela was risking her neck.
Angela sighed, "What am I going to do with you...?"
Normally, he would have made a joke, but he could tell that she wasn't in a joking mood. "I don't know, but somebody might come out in one piece if you can get me the information that I need."
"Ok, but I'm going to take it out of your hide when this is done."
* * *
Amanda groggily opened her eyes. Reality was not in service at the moment, and all she knew is that she felt exhausted. Relaxed and slightly pleasant, but also exhausted. She closed her eyes again, but opened them up again when she realized that a very warm body was snuggled next to her.
Turning her head, she saw that Marisa had her arm wrapped tightly around her waist, and her face was burrowed into her armpit. The next thing that Amanda realized was that she was bound to the bed with chains attached to both her ankles and her wrists.
Not wanting to wake Marisa, Amanda tried to slip out of the cuffs, but found that they were fastened quite well. She would have to do much more than dislocate a few joints to get out of this. Marisa, she discovered, was not quite asleep. Just very relaxed and content. "How do you like your restraints? I got them from an S&M shop in San Francisco, especially made for the dominatrix who doesn't like her escape-artist slave from running away."
"What do you want?"
"I want you," whispered Marisa, "to get... pierced!" She smiled wickedly. "In fact, I'm doing it myself. Then I'm going to brand you!" She pointed in the corner, where an iron stove had a few cast iron brands poking out of the door.
It was cold now, but in a few hours, Amanda could definitely imagine those irons glowing red-hot.
The door opened, and a man who resembled a skeleton entered. He wore a butcher's coat and carried a tray of tools. A few rings and items designed to pierce skin. But these tools were medieval torture instruments.
"Why are you doing this?" screamed Amanda as she saw a wicked-looking augur-like tool raised in the air.
"Hush!" whispered Marisa in her ear. "It's only a little pain. It's going to get much worse."
* * *
Adam felt his belt vibrate. It was his silent pager, and looking down at it, he saw that it was Joe, calling from the bar. "Pardon me a moment," he excused himself. "Urgent long distance call."
A few moments later, he heard Joe's voice. "Adam. I got some information from you, and it's more than a barrel-full."
"Do you have an e-mail account?"
"I'm sending it by e-mail, it's too much to talk about over the phone."
This sounded strange. Usually Joe liked to make people hang on the phone, listening to long stories.
It didn't take much effort to get a terminal without someone staring over his shoulder. A few minutes later, he reached his account, piggy-backed through several chains of UNIX telnet shells.
He had mail from others, but Joe's letter was the latest. It read:
"Here is the information that we have pulled concerning Inspector Martin Harlowe:
"Name: Martin Harlowe (a.k.a. Martin Scarborough and Jack
Birthdate: March 12, 1827
Birthplace: London, England
"A native of England who enrolled in the army at age 16, where he
was shipped to India. His first death was in the service of his
Queen during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. He was quickly found by
his mentor, another Englishman who had died at Waterloo (cf.
Richard Sharpe). Displaying stereotypical English stoicism, he
quickly adapted to his new condition and remained an upstanding
English citizen, making sure that each time he had to renew his
identity, he would do so honestly working his way through the
ranks, be it military or civilian service.
"In 1887, he left India to travel the world. In 1902, he arrived
in Switzerland, where he met a very special woman. This woman is
nameless, for this relationship was most likely an extramarital
affair on the woman's part, in a location where such behavior was
not permitted. Though her identity was not known for certain, it
was most certain that he did have a strong relationship with her.
"He left for England the next year when a headhunting immortal,
the Kurgan, challenged him. By appearances, Harlowe was the
perfect bureaucrat, but his Watcher was amazed to find that a man
who joins the army of the English Empire at age 16 and dies a
much older man (for the times) does so for a very good reason.
The two were evenly matched, and the fight was a draw. Why
Harlowe did not pursue the fight is not known, but his Watcher
speculated that he did so for a deliberate and perfectly logical
"The Kurgan pursued him, but did not find him, for Harlowe had
perfectly hidden himself within the bureaucracy of London. The
Kurgan, it seemed, was a good hunter of only those who lived
outside the system, such as Connor MacLeod.
"In London, his Watcher found that not only had Harlowe become a
respected policeman, but had found another lady-friend, and they
had engaged to marry. This friend was an immortal, but the day
before their wedding, she was killed by an immortal. The identity
of this immortal remains unknown, but it was most definitely an
immortal slaying because the Watcher observed the Quickening.
That Watcher, feeling guilt at being delayed by an attempted
mugging, resigned his post and joined a monastic order in Norway
(far from his native land of Italy).
"Harlowe entered a depressive phase for the next few decades,
burying himself so deep in work that he might as well have never
existed. It was not until 1973 that he would leave his exile. He
met a mortal woman, a master clock maker from Geneva. She
discovered his immortality because he had saved her from
potential death at the cost of his own. She stayed with him, and he
discovered that he had come back to life. For three years, they
kept contact, and without even knowing it, they realized that
they each had become used to each others presence. He proposed to
her, and she accepted.
"She was kidnapped in 1976, a day before the wedding ceremony was
to be performed. The woman or her body had not ever been found.
What is known is that Amanda pickpocketed Harlowe on a whim,
immediately after a high-profile robbery. Harlowe had deduced
that she was the thief, and has made it his life's mission to
bring her to justice, because the item is of some immense, but
Adam sucked in some air. This explained some aspects of Harlowe's personality. He read on.
"Name: Marisa van Ness
Birthplace: Unk., Holland
"Marisa was most likely low-born, as she had no mortal records.
What we know of her stems from her statements as an immortal,
spoken within the ears of Watchers. Her life as a mortal can be
summed as follows: she was a young woman when the Dutch revolted
against the Spanish in 1568, and died that year.
"Comte d'Egmont was executed June 4, 1568, even though he had
refused to join William of Orange in a plan to overthrow Philip
II of Spain, and it was an event which is said to have haunted
Marisa ever since then. Every June 4, she goes to an obscure
church in Amsterdam and prays silently to herself. She always
leaves in tears, which suggests that even after several
centuries, there was something about d'Egmont's death that
disturbs her. Was he a friend? A lover? Nobody knew.
"What is known is that through the centuries, she has cursed
several names: Ferdinand Alvarez de Toledo (the Duke of Alba) and
his lover, Amanda. The Duke of Alba died as a mortal, the manner
of his death unnoticed by the Watchers, and is unremarkable
enough that details of his death are not commonly available.
Ironic, considering that he brought death to so many.
"The Amanda, who was his lover, was a very immortal Amanda. Her
relationship with the Duke was unknown, but it is speculated that
they were partners in some venture. What it was, no Watcher
knows. Neither do the historians."
Adam sighed. It seemed that Amanda had the capacity to make enemies.
* * * *
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