Journey to New Europa
Chapter 33, Examining the Body
Salimar and Dafnord set out late on a warm summer evening to the morgue containing Maj. Murchison's body, Salimar morphed as a (male) doctor. They represent themselves as medical examiners sent by the Murchison family, with faked letter and coroner's form to suit, here to look at the body and verify identity. The guard defers to the doctor on duty, who is not the usual doctor for that shift. This worked to our advantage, because said doctor is due to be on shift tomorrow morning, and, all things considered, did not want to send our two fake doctors through any more red tape while Murchison's remains ripened, just so he would have to put up with the same procedure later, only smellier.
Accordingly, and carefully avoiding whatever was on shelf #13, they brought Murchison's body to the operating theater. There, Salimar cast a sleep on the good doctor, then, wielding Kate's macro-metal knife with more vigor than made Dafnord comfortable, removed the body's brain, liver, a kidney, half a lung, stomach, and bits of intestine, put them in bags packed in ice, woke up the doctor, and left. (Sample dialog -- Salimar: "Does the autodoc need this?" Dafnord: "I don't know. I only went into autodocs to get better, not find out how I died.")
Back at the hotel, Dafnord did not trust Salimar alone with the specimens and the autodoc, and stood guard on the autodoc until the others came back from their peregrinations, the specimens meanwhile reposing on a bed of ice in the bathtub. This despite the fact that he made a brief contact with Tom, telepathically, to tell the group they were back (and not to look in the bathtub), and that Robbie had set up the autodoc with a nice, easy-to-use purple button reading "Analyze."
Salimar asks for, and is willingly given, some privacy with the brain-on-ice and is able to read the brain's last memories, but unfortunately these amount to little more than "Aack! I've been poisoned!"
Then the party returned with the disguised Mr. Hall, then the police came by, as detailed in the last log.
When we finally do run the specimens through the autodoc for analysis, we learn Murchison died of an obscure and subtle alkaloid poison suitable for such an occasion. Salimar tells the autodoc to dispose of the specimens.
Next morning, we meet with Dragomilov for one of our little summit conferences that seem to dot this adventure. The party includes a very quiet Katrina, who seems to be recognized by Dragomilov. Now that we look at them, there does seem to be some ethnic affinity.
We are invited into a dining room that we recognize from the Stoutworthy memory audit. Dragomilov has received and read The Report; in fact, it was this that prompted his warning message / invitation to us. Backed up by the telepathy net, Tom leads the discussion with Dragomilov, following our strategy of disarming candor.
We assure him that we are not going to blow his cover or interfere with the operation of his organization. That seems to put things on a slightly more genial footing. We explain the circumstances of our presence in this world -- which he seems to know something about already -- and ask if he has any idea what these "current troubles" are that the Druids summoned us about.
He has no idea of any particular new troubles. The world's trouble in general, according to him, is the decline of morality and the failure of action on the part of men of principle. He's very big on principles; it may warm things a bit more when Tom tells him that the "geas" the Druids have us under may amount to no more than moral blackmail.
Dragomilov knows of the World Crime League, though he doubts that it calls itself that. We make him a gift of the names of Prof. James Moriarty and Mr. Sherlock Holmes and their roles in relation to that League, which we gather Dragomilov regards as a manifestation of the moral decay he mentioned.
Dragomilov doesn't seem very interested that his Assassination Bureau may have been used as a tool in the recent wizardly squabbles. He notes that the Druids are one of the three sorcerous orders that claim to serve a higher power -- the other two being the Order of St. Boniface and the Theosophists -- and suggests that the true enemy the Druids may be facing (using us) is a rival "higher power" in the shape of the Theosophical mahatmas, which are, he points out, the beings in this world that have done us the most damage.
When Salimar asks how we may best coexist peacefully, Dragomilov only asks that we do not actively interfere with him and his. He also offers the somewhat oracular advice that we should follow our own principles, not those of others.
We have lunch and leave, all on reasonably cordial terms, but with the feeling that Dragomilov may be able to overhear our telepathy, knows even more than we suspect, and the certainty that he is not going to be swayed from his course, whatever that is. We decide to confront the Druids again as soon as possible.
Robbie asks Tom to tap his clairvoyance tracers, to rummage up a little more of Col. Moran's encrypted text for him to work on. Tom complies.
A couple of hours later, we are due to meet with Holmes. He has been busy discovering things about the Assassination Bureau. Principally, that it and the World Crime League are rivals. He is not in the least impressed with Dragomilov's talk of principles, pointing out that, at bottom, the Bureau kills for money. Kate reflects that, so far as we know, every request put to them through the "Mesopotamia" ad has resulted in a death -- which hardly looks discriminating on Dragomilov's part.
Holmes strategizes: It would be best if he could egg on the conflict between the two crime cartels, with the World Crime League destroying the Assassination Bureau. This is best because the League is more centralized. After it has done the messy job of destroying the Bureau, Holmes could then destroy the League by striking down the "spider at the center of the web," Prof. Moriarty.
We are prophetically inclined to believe he could bring this off.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.