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Bookworm was in her office at the headquarters, still staring at the key, when movement outside caught her eye. She saw Canergak looking around, evidently looking for someone–most likely her. She sighed, set the key down on her desk, picked up an envelope, and stepped outside. “Ahh, Mr. Canergak,” she said. “Just the man I wanted to see, actually.” She handed over the envelope–the one Tepic had given her a few days ago.
Canergak looked inside and drew out the note. “What is this?”
“This is from Tepic–part of his payment. He pawned his jacket–that’s the note from the pawnbroker.”
“Are you saying he actually sold his clothing in this weather?”
Bookworm nodded, the slightest of smirks on her face. She hoped Canergak was already starting to second-guess his stance on Tepic. If he was, though, he didn’t show it as he impassively handed the note back to her. “Take the note back for the future. I have no need of it now.” Bookworm nodded.
“I actually have questions for you,” the asylum administrator continued. “I am… distressed, I must admit. Lisa and I performed an experiment today, overseen by Professor Vartanian.”
Bookworm frowned. “You didn’t wait for Dr. Lionheart?”
“I sent several messengers to her. She did not respond. They were told she was… indisposed. So I asked Professor Vartanian to proceed in her place. Or, rather, he asked me before I could send for you.”
“I see,” she replied, not at all happy about this loophole he’d found in his agreement. She didn’t know much about Professor Vartanian, but he hadn’t seemed very sympathetic during his confrontation with Lisa earlier in the month.
“Lisa revealed things I did not know about Dr. Martel,” continued Canergak.
“That he intended to kill her.”
“Did he? Somehow, I’m not surprised…” Bookworm had decided that she wanted, at least for now, to try to hide from Canergak how much she knew now about Lisa’s background.
“I am now quite convinced that she sees something of Dr. Martel in myself, something I hope that Professor Rance will be able to change her mind about eventually.” Bookworm nodded at this revelation from Canergak, though she thought, ‘I’ll bet that goes all the way back to Rasend…’ “As it is,” he continued, “I have ceased experiments until the Professor evaluates her mind and deems her fit and competent again. The previous decision was lacking in several facts for a true judgement.”
Bookworm’s eyes narrowed at the ‘competent’ part, though she contented herself with saying, “Well, I am glad that she will have… time to adjust.”
“It could be that his decision will be she needs psychiatric assistance.”
“Well, we shall see. She was always a good girl when I assisted at the asylum after… Cortman.”
Canergak leaned in closely, which unnerved her a bit. “About Dr. Martel–his notes. Were they ever recovered?”
Bookworm fought to keep her expression calm, even as her heart sank. ‘Good Lord–his notebooks! Why didn’t I think of them before?’ Dr. Martel had been fond of redundancy when it came to his notes, repeating formulae, procedures, and other important points from notebook to notebook. Bookworm had speculated he’d done that so that, if he found he needed to vacate in a hurry, he would only need to take a few–or even just one–with him, instead of all of them. What that meant, though, was that anyone who read these notebooks, even though the one about Lisa was absent, would still be able to replicate the experiment. To let them get into Canergak’s hands…
“His notes? We did take charge of them. But I must admit, I haven’t looked at or for them in years.” An out-and-out lie, actually, as she’d consulted them again when Beryl had first started dropping hints that he knew something about Dr. Martel’s death.
“Ah, good!” the man exclaimed. “Then his work survives. What must be done to ensure it is shared with the universities and libraries? It is undoubtedly no longer needed as evidence.”
Bookworm was startled at that request. Disseminate, rather than keep it himself? Still, in some ways, that would be worse, Bookworm knew, especially for Lisa. “Well, the legal issue of who owns them would have to be determined,” she said, trying to stall him.
“The *world* owns them,” he countered. “Or it should.”
“Yes, well, the law doesn’t necessarily mesh with that viewpoint. I’ll have to consult Captain Kuroe… and possibly some others.”
“It seems a relatively simple thing, though.” He leaned forward even more. “Why waste the knowledge gained and which could be lost? It is something that must be shared. People died for it to be shared.”
Bookworm rubbed her face. “Yes, I do understand your… passion. But at this point, I do need to consult to see how we can proceed. I doubt it will take very long.”
“Every one of Dr. Martel’s specimens died for this knowledge. If his knowledge is lost, they all died for nothing. It *must* be shared.”
“I will be sure to make your point known to Captain Kuroe,” she replied, nearly wincing away from his intensity.
“I will make it myself. Perhaps a generous donation will speed things along.”
“Perhaps…” she said dryly. She had no illusions about what Canergak meant… and wouldn’t be surprised if Captain Kuroe agreed.
“I will prepare something, in that case. Good night, Lieutenant. I will be seeing you again soon.” With that, he left the building. Bookworm, hurrying past a few militia members who had just come in the back door, immediately headed down to the cellar, where most of the notes, files, and evidence collected by the Militia ended up.
She opened up lamp after lamp, shedding light over the crates that took up most of the floor space down there. The crates containing the notebooks and equipment from Dr. Martel’s lab, being older than most of the collection, were well in the back. She went straight to the box with the notebooks, unscrewed the lid, opened it up, and took them out, stacking them on the floor. Looking at the stack with compressed lips, she shook her head. Far too many for her to smuggle out at once, but she certainly couldn’t leave them in the crate. She looked around, trying to find inspiration. Finally, she wrapped the notebooks up in a large tarp and hid them inside the cockpit of Mr. Marvin’s monocipede, which was mouldering in a corner. Then she took some equipment from a random crate and put it in the empty one, screwing the lid back down. This would, she hoped, look like a simple mix-up.
As she neared the stairs, skirts swishing about her legs, she spied some lengths of rope off to the side, and an idea popped into her head. She grabbed two pieces and hurried back to the corner, digging around in the tarp. She pulled out the two notebooks that had been written just before Dr. Martel’s success with Lisa, and covered the others again. Then she sat down on a nearby crate, hiked up her skirts, and tied a notebook to each thigh, pulling the ropes as tight as she could handle. Standing up, she brushed her skirts down and took a few tentative steps. The books felt secure, and she rather thought that, so long as she didn’t walk too fast, she should be able to make it home without losing them. So with careful steps, she climbed up the stairs and through the chatting militia members, giving them a cheerful wave as she headed home.