It’s 3.00am by the time the party members wake up and then get back into the AGC. Max drives back onto the highway and slowly sets off in the direction of the border with Lorton. As soon as he is sure that there is no other traffic around and no habitation, he puts on his goggles and kills all of the lights on the vehicle, setting the Chamele-On paint job to matte black. He then banks the AGC sharply pulling it off the road, crossing the empty countryside of the borderlands.
Max has come on a long way since he first took the controls of the air/raft back on Tarsus over a year ago. He carefully follows the contours of the land, skimming over streams as they wind their way between the low hills as he slowly but surely makes his way towards Lorton City. It takes a little under an hour before they see the bright lights of the city before them and Grim helps Max to find a location to bring the vehicle down, settling on a small copse of trees that Max just manages to squeeze the vehicle into. Max sets the Chamele-On paint job to camo and then everyone gets out, helping Grim to hide the vehicle still further by leaning some branches against it to try and soften the vehicle’s sharp lines.
Grim stands back to admire his handiwork. Not his best job, but it should do.
The party members then make their way on foot towards the suburbs and, after an hour of walking, they find themselves entering the deserted streets of District 3, a lower middle class suburb. They reach a bus stop and have to wait half an hour for the first bus of the day to come through at 6.00am. They take the bus to downtown, stop off for some quick breakfast and then head for the nearest car rental office, where Max picks up an anonymous looking minivan which everyone piles into.
They start off by heading back to Mrs. Powell’s house. Max draws up a couple of blocks away while Grim and Arvor go ahead on foot to check that the place is not under surveillance. Once they are sure that the coast is clear, they call back to Max and he brings up the minivan.
Mrs. Powell answers the door, interrupting her giving the kids their breakfast. She is pleased to see them. Taeva puts her finger to her lips as she quickly checks the area for bugs. The place seems to be clear though and so they can talk. Naturally Mrs. Powell wants to know what has happened to Elliott. The party members are a little cagey in their response, just telling her that he is alive but out of the system. Mrs. Powell is relieved that he’s still alive, but is sad that he is so far away. They ask her for the name of Elliott’s friend from the warehouse and she tells him that his name is Arran Kitzler and she also gives them the location of FJ Sai Storage. They thank her for her help and reassure her that they are doing all they can to clear Elliott’s name so that he will be able to return to her and then head off for FJ Sai.
Fearing that if they try and question Kitzler en masse he might clam up, they decide that Grim will be the one to interview him. He is unused to casually interrogating a suspect however, and asks for some advice. Will comes up with a plan that involves Grim wearing an audio transponder able to pick up the voices of the other team members. Grim is easily shown to Kitzler – an average working Joe much like Elliott himself. As soon as Grim starts asking questions about the Powell Incident, Kitzler gets nervous. It’s fairly obvious that he really doesn’t want to talk about it – he’s very nervous.
Arvor – “Tell him you are an undercover cop and will arrest him if he doesn’t confess!”
Taeva – “What!?!? No, bad tactic. Tell him you are from the drug cartel and can give protection from the cops!”
Jie – “Punch him! Punch him!”
Will – “Dang it Jie, give me the micro phone…Grim, use a bribe let’s say 100 credits. Maybe 200.”
Arvor – “No, use the cop angle. …Taeva ! Quit pulling my hair!…Owww”
Taeva – “Grim, listen to me, say you are from the Drug Car…”
Jie – “Punch him! Punch him!”
Max – “Grab his ass and try to hump him, Dock workers like that kin o stuff!”
Grim tries a number of tactics, then takes out an earpiece and shoves it in his pocket. He still isn’t able to get much in the way of new information from Elliot’s pal. He confirms the story that the party members received via Elliott’s sister and learn that Kitzler gave a full witness statement which would have confirmed that Elliott never had a knife but he was never called as a witness for the defence.
Grim tries to obtain more information, but Kitzler just gets more and more nervous. Realizing that he’s got as much information as he’s going to get, he reports back to the others.
Not quite sure what to do next, Arvor suggests returning to the scene of the crime to see if there are any new clues there. After all it is only a couple of blocks away. Approaching the area carefully, they see that the guards are now gone, although the ‘Police Line – Do Not Cross’ tape still covers the doorways.
Arvor looks around. His eyes alight on a couple of security cameras on the building opposite – they are small and well-hidden, which is how they managed to miss them during their night raid on the warehouse where the cams were obscured by the darkness.
The party members discuss how to get hold of the footage. Impatient so as not to lose any more time, Arvor takes the direct approach – just entering the building and asking for them. A little sweet-talking and showing her the credentials that they received from Round are enough for Arvor to get full access to the footage from the cams. The boss of the company has no problem in Arvor taking a copy of all of the footage, so he transfers a copy to his handcomp for further investigation. He thanks the receptionist for all her help and takes her number to meet afterwards, which she agrees to. Max is impressed with Arvor’s suavity.
It’s lunchtime and so Max drives the party members to KwikBite where they eat while looking through the footage. Going back to the evening of the murder, they firstly see Round entering the warehouse alone, looking around furtively as he enters. Some five minutes later, they see Round coming out of a side door around the corner. At exactly the same time they see Powell and Kitzler, presumably alerted by Lazarczuk’s dying screams entering the warehouse through the front door.
A couple of minutes later, Round reappears on-screen, this time accompanied by what would appear to be two plain-clothes cops. They enter the warehouse through the front door. A couple of minutes they reappear with Powell cuffed. They wait outside the warehouse for a couple of minutes while one of the plain clothes cops takes a statement from Kitzler. Then a police cruiser arrives which they bundle Elliott into. Rounder and one of the plain clothes cops gets in the cruiser which heads off, leaving the other cop to finish taking Kitzler’s statement and to organize the uniformed cops in securing the area.
They fast forward to the next evening. They see one of the plain clothes cops entering the building carrying a briefcase. He carefully unseals the door and disappears inside. It is an hour before he exits, again looks around carefully before resealing the scene and disappearing into the night.
During the next day – in daylight now – a truck marked Lorton Logistics Partners arrives accompanied by a police cruiser. The LLP crew load the truck with sacks of flour under the watchful eye of the cops. Once the truck is loaded, the truck leaves, but the cops remain guarding the property. They fast forward through several weeks of footage, but see nothing else out of the ordinary happening – the cops remain guarding the warehouse.
Their rabbit burgers now finished along with the tapes, the party members spend much of the rest of the afternoon discussing their options. They decide to put a watch on Round’s place. Max drives Jie over to take over the first shift at 18.00, but not before giving Arvor some totally unnecessary advice to Arvor as to what to do on his ‘date’ with the receptionist from the building opposite.
The rest of the party members decide that they might as well take rooms to the Hyatt Regency where Autumn is being held under house arrest. While the others check in, Taeva manages to find out from the foyer that Autumn is staying in an Executive Suite on the 16th floor of the 20-storey tower. Taeva casually heads up there and sees that there are two uniformed beat cops guarding the door, both of them looking pretty bored.
Arvor’s date with the receptionist of the warehouse goes pretty well and she is suitably impressed with Arvor’s tales of life as an undercover cop on the Lorton City beat. He is pretty confident that she’s not going to be telling any other cops about the fact that he took a copy of the footage.
Max picks up Arvor from the meeting at 20.00 and brings him to the Hyatt Regency, spending the whole journey admonishing him for not ‘givin’ ‘er a bloody good seein’ to when she was obviously gaggin’ for it.’
Just before midnight, Jie calls in to say that she is ready to be relieved from surveillance duty. She informs the other that Round came home around 21.00 but was not acting suspiciously. His lights are now off and it looks like he is in bed. Max takes Will over to District 1 where Round’s house is located and brings Jie back to get some rest.