Tepic reacted to the spectacle of Miss Hienrichs so
devastated, struggling to answer Eloise’s questions, and showed alarm as he
asked how she was doing. It was explained to him that Bookworm couldn’t hear
him, and he was assured that she was really only bashed and bruised, and would
likely recover fully, though it was too early to speculate on the recovery of
her hearing. Satisfied with this, Tepic turned to Eloise and mentioned a few
more details about the man in Blue.
Eloise asked if she might speak with him outside, to leave
Miss Hienrichs some peace to relax and focus on recovery–really wanting to minimize leakage with an uninvolved witness in the room. He agreed and Eloise
gave Dr Viper an awkward smile as she and Tepic headed toward the stairs.
On the main floor, Tepic was startled emerging from the
stairwell by a large presence and gasped in shock. Eloise asked him if he was
alright and the large man spoke and handed her a bouquet of carnations.
All at once, Eloise sneezed, Tepic whispered, “It’s the Big
Man!” and the large fellow said stiffly, “For the lady.”
Thinking quickly, Eloise mentioned a new policy regarding introducing
plant material into the hospital, and as the Big Man left through the side
door, Eloise hurriedly sped to the front door, Tepic close behind. Immediately
dumping the carnations into the canal, she cautioned Tepic to stay back.
They both wondered what that fellow might be doing
delivering flowers here. Dr. Viper appeared, concerned about the commotion, and
they both asked him if that man had been there before. Evidently, he had been
bringing flowers to all the victims of the bombings.
This alarmed Tepic, and once Eloise had him calmed a bit,
satisfying him that Dr Viper agreed to curtail flower deliveries, at least for
now, she ran him through the usual questions, and got some different answers.
As a fox, Tepic relied on his sense of scent as strongly as
the other witnesses counted on their sight. He had recognized early the signs
of the Man in Blue’s mechanization, and had further detected familiar scents
among the subservient throng with him. She carefully asked him to recall
whether he had noticed a very tall, very white, long-haired albino man with
strange eyes hiding in the background, certain that if Chase had been there,
Tepic was the one who would have noticed him. As it turned out, absolutely not.
As Eloise sighed relief, finally certain that Chase was not
part of this madness, Tepic began to relate many more interesting details. He
felt something very odd in the behaviour of all the supporting crew, almost as
though none of them wished to participate. The Man in Blue was constantly
admonishing them for pointing out variations in their methods from what they
had originally been instructed to do. The Man in Blue would have no
insubordination, beyond his own.
The Big Man’s flower deliveries seemed to have a different meaning,
in this light. She suddenly regretted tossing them in the canal, though
she was in fact allergic.
It was difficult for Eloise to celebrate the fact that Tepic’s
sense of her led him to trust her, or the idea that Chase was no part of this,
when she realized that ‘PJ’ was likely not who she thought he/she was, nor did
she have any idea who this Man in Blue could be. If this was his first big
operation, that would explain a lot. A lot indeed.
As details emerged about their manner of ingress/egress, the
reason for making it obvious that appearing to sail in from the south was a
ruse aimed at those investigating, possibly at her in particular became less
murky. They knew that the general public would think they were from out of
town, yet anyone sorting the clues with any training would see that they were local,
or at least locally based. Considering how sternly they had targeted them, those
in charge apparently had little experience dealing with New Babbage urchins,
who would almost certainly have sorted this out for themselves.
Once everyone had calmed down, and Dr Viper excused himself
to tend to his patients, Kasa arrived, in much better physical form than before.
The three ran over the details again, digging up a few more interesting bits,
and Eloise began to piece things together, as blind as she was without any
current contacts in the field outside New Babbage. It was beginning to seem
like she may have to approach the Militia with what she had and come clean with
them about her past. Miss Hienrichs already knew something of it, after all.
Kasa mentioned that Leon had seen quite a bit, and would be
very useful to talk to. Tepic excused himself to wisely go back into hiding and
both Kasa and Eloise advised him to keep his wits and stay safe.
Kasa had to return to work duties, and Eloise was left to
ponder a great many things. She would need to seek out Leon; she had to know
who these scoundrels were—the Man in Blue, and above all ‘PJ.’