"All right, Jon....you insisted, so here I am, but I have a pile of work waiting, so I can't give you more than about five minutes." Rachel Torres looked her irritation.
"Look, I'm sorry, Rachel, but you've been putting me off for months, now." Jon sat in her office, a folder crammed with papers clutched in his lap.
"I haven't been putting you off, Jon, I simply don't have anything to tell you."
Without comment, Jon stood, put his folder on the edge of her desk, opened the rings, began pulling out papers and photos, laying them on top of the mound of papers already occupying the surface.
Her eyes opened wide when he pointed out the two photos of the Norman families, told her about his discoveries in Salamanca.
Then he sat down again, and launched into a recitation of his discussions with Dr. Goldsmith and Kip Cantorum.
The clock on the wall had ticked well past twenty minutes by the time he had finished.
The detective sat staring at the paperwork, picked up a photo, perused it, an enigmatic look on her face, laid it back down, stared out the window, frowning.
Jon waited impatiently, staring at her, trying to read her thoughts without success.
At last she sighed, turned back to him. "Jon, I told you before not to go after Crey."
He nodded, solemnly. "Yes, I know that. And you told me that you would drop my case if I did."
"That was no idle threat, Jon."
"I understand." He paused, straightened his shoulders, plunged on with determination. "If you drop my case, I'll understand, you did warn me." He swallowed. "But, Rachel....I can't stop. You have to understand this. I can't run away from the truth any longer. I have to find out. I have to know what happened to me, who did this, and why. If that means that I have to do it alone, that is what I will do. I can't turn my back on this any longer."
He sat quietly, suddenly at peace, waited for her reaction.
"I see," was all she said.
He studied her face, suddenly guessed. "You know something, don't you, Rachel? Something you've been keeping from me." He watched her carefully. "It's about Crey, isn't it?"
She sighed again, covered her mouth with a hand, turned back toward the window.
"You understand," he continued softly, "it doesn't make any difference any more. I'm going after Crey, whether you want me to or not. I have to. I have to find out if there is any connection between me and the Paragon Protectors, and there's no way to investigate them without approaching Crey." He paused. "There's really no reason for you *not* to tell me."
The detective closed her eyes. Jon waited quietly.
At last she turned around to the desk, pushed some papers around, pulled out a file he recognized as his own. She laid it on top of the mound, opened it, began leafing through the sheets, pulled a stapled stack out, stared at it for a moment, handed it to Jon. Then she walked out of the office, pulling the door closed behind her as she went.
Jon watched her, then turned to the sheaf in his hand.
He made out that it was some sort of lab report. He tried reading it from the beginning, but wound up lost in a sea of technical jargon and police terminology. After reading the first paragraph three times, he gave up and began scanning the report, looking for anything he *could* make head-or-tails of.
In the midst of the report, he suddenly realized that what he was holding was a lab report on the tiny scrap of metal that he had gotten from the butcher in Steel Canyon.
He sat forward in the chair, leaned over the paper as he searched it for meaning.
He hardly noticed when Rachel Torres walked back into the office, a cup of coffee in one hand, an open soft drink in the other, which she set on the edge of the desk in front of Jon, settling into her chair and sipping her coffee, her eyes glued to Jon's face.
On the last page, the word "Crey" lept out at him. He read that particular sentence over and over, then began rereading the sentences before and after it.
At last he dropped the report to his lap, sat staring off into space.
Rachel leaned over the desk, tapped the top of the soft drink can.
"No, thanks....." he mumbled, his attention elsewhere.
He blinked, turned to look at her.
"You understand that under normal circumstances, I couldn't let anyone read that report. I'm only giving you special curtesy because you're a registered Hero."
"Yeah, I got that....." He paused, blinked, then, "....thanks...." belatedly.
"Do you understand the report?"
He dragged his attention back into the room, focused on the detective's face. "I'm not sure. Maybe. It's an analysis of that metal piece I brought you."
"And there was something about blood typing, but I'm not sure what the conclusion was on that."
"There were small scratches in the surface, too small to see with the naked eye, but they managed to scrape a bit of blood out of them. The blood matches your DNA, Jon."
He sat bolt upright. "Then...."
"Yes....there is a connection between you and that scrap of metal. We don't know what the connection is, but at least you had some contact with it, physically, the night you were in the alley."
"And the bit about Crey? There was something about a serial number, wasn't there?"
She sighed. "The scratches were actually a partial serial number that had been manufactured into the part, at the microscopic level. There isn't enough to identify the actual part it was broken off from, but yes, what's left of the serial number matches a line of parts manufactured and sold by Crey Industries."
Copyright terraforming.com, November 26, 2012