I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped. But I enjoyed my too short break and that’s what matters right?
Lord Duffy had to wait until chapter 6 to get a back story (and a motivation) but I think I make it worth it.
This week seemed to stretch on forever. Monday, when everything was right in the world, seemed like months ago. Now it was only Wednesday and it seemed like his whole world was crumbling around him. Lord Duffy knew that was an exaggeration, but he also knew that if he didn’t get this under control and remove the influence of Miles and the Voices of the Right soon, then his world very well might crumble around him.
Over the past two days, he only managed to get maybe six hours of sleep. He slept in his office, on one of the couches. Luckily he didn’t have a family at home who would miss him whenever he had to sleep in his office (which happened more times than he could care to count.) Whenever he did managed to get home all that was waiting for him was a stack of take out menus and leftovers that were spoiling in the refrigerator. Long ago he had the Computer Department link his home computer to the Government Personnel Network. Even if he did leave his office he never left his work.
Lord Duffy woke up early on Wednesday morning and looked at the clock. Six AM. Too early to call in Respected Malone and Alvis, though he did have an urge to call them in anyways. He needed to talk to Malone and everyone else who went out to the forests yesterday. He quickly folded up his sheets and stuck them in his closet. When he looked in the mirror in his private bathroom, he could tell he looked awful. He ran some water over his face, but that didn’t do much. He really needed some coffee and breakfast. (A change of clothes would help too.) He shuffled upstairs to the employee cafeteria on the second floor. They were open as early as 5 am and stayed open as late as 11 pm on most days to accommodate everyone’s different work schedules. Then there were the people like Lord Duffy who practically lived in their offices.
There was a time, just over twenty years ago, when Lord Duffy was not nearly as married to his job as he was now. He was just a simple Investigative Agent, young and enthusiastic. He even had a wife and a baby daughter. When he did manage to escape his work, it was wonderful just to spend time with his two favorite women. Although he missed her first word, he had seen his daughter’s first steps. Then he got a call from the university where his wife worked. There had been an explosion in the building where the daycare center was located. His wife had just dropped her off when the building partially collapsed from the force. Both his wife and daughter were pronounced dead on the scene. He didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. He walked around the next few days like a zombie and was dimly aware of sitting through their wake and funeral.
When he came back to work three weeks later, he asked his boss if he could be put on the case. His boss was unwilling to put him on but Duffy managed to persuade him. A group called the Voices of the Right led by a Miles Barris was claiming responsibility. Duffy vowed that he would capture and punish them. Over the years he climbed the ranks until he became the Head Judge and in charge of almost everyone. He only reported to the Leader in the Capital. Not a day went by without Lord Duffy thinking of his wife and daughter and vowing revenge. He almost had it on Monday night when he watched Barris and the others Exiled. No one, not even Alvis knew how angry he really was when he learned that Barris and his compatriots could still see each other. They were still dangerous, even if they were invisible.
“Good Morning my Lord!” one of the workers greeted him with a too eager voice for six in the morning.
“Mornin'” he managed. “A cup of -”
“Strong coffee, black, and a plain bagel right?”
Lord Duffy nodded. He came here far too often.
He took his breakfast and coffee back downstairs to his office. While he let the coffee take effect, he started to go over everybody’s reports from yesterday. No one saw anything that gave an indication whether the Voices of the Right members were there, though Malone did write he encountered Andrew Entschied sitting at an old picnic table in a barbecue pit that hadn’t be used in years. It was so far off the beaten path that Lord Duffy thought it was unusual but Malone couldn’t see anything even with his analyzer. He needed to talk to everybody. But he decided it could wait until after he took a hot shower and changed his clothes at home.
Patrick came into Lord Duffy’s office a few minutes late. He was nervous that he had done something wrong. He discovered Alvis and Respected Malone sitting on one of the couches but no Lord Duffy. “He said to meet us here at 830,” Alvis said, answering Patrick’s look of puzzlement. He looked at the big clock over the mantle and discovered it was only 825. He sat down next to Malone.
“Did either of you two discover anything yesterday?”
“No.” Malone said. Alvis shook his head.
“Me either. So what’s this about then?”
Both men shrugged their shoulders and the three of them sat in near amiable silence until Lord Duffy came through the door.
“Morning, my Lord.” they said as they rose.
“Morning. Please sit down.” Lord Duffy pulled one of his arm chairs next to the couch and put his folder and coffee mug on the coffee table. “Can I get you coffee or tea?”
“No, thanks, my Lord. I already had my one cup for today,” Mr. Entischied said. Both Alvis and Malone got up and poured themselves some coffee.
“Well, I wanted to go over what everyone found yesterday, or rather what you didn’t find.” Lord Duffy opened the file. “Entschied, you said there wasn’t any unusual activity in your forest?”
“That is correct Lord Duffy. No one reported seeing anything, even while using their Analyzers.”
“Did your team encounter Murdoch at all?”
“No, sir. I checked the logs. He didn’t log out of the office until 6 Tuesday evening and then headed straight home. You can ask him today yourself.”
“That won’t be necessary. I knew he wasn’t involved from his interview. Respected Malone, any sign in your forest?”
“No, my Lord.” Malone glanced at Mr. Entschied before continuing, “However I did stumble upon Andrew Entschied in an old barbecue clearing. He didn’t know who I was.”
“What was he doing there?” Lord Duffy leaned forward, interested.
“He said he had come out there to think a little before heading home because school was pretty intense. Although why he was all the way off the path and not on some bench or something, I don’t know.”
Lord Duffy looked at Mr. Entschied. “My Lord, I didn’t not leave this office until late last night because I was working on this investigation. Andrew didn’t say anything about it this morning. Although he said…” Patrick didn’t want to tell Lord Duffy that Andrew had mentioned dreaming about the Exiler this morning. He believed his son when he said it was just a dream. Andrew couldn’t have known what the Exiler was.
Patrick was silent, until Lord Duffy’s glare forced him to tell the truth. “I walked into the kitchen this morning and heard Andrew say he had dreamed about the Exiler.”
“What! How does he know?”
“I know not, my Lord.”
Lord Duffy scratched his chin while he thought. “I would like to talk to your son Entschied. Where is he now?”
Patrick glanced at the clock. “You’d find him at s-school, my Lord.”
There was a knock on the door. “Enter,” Lord Duffy barked. The door opened and some one from the Computer department came in. “Forgive me for interrupting your meeting, but I thought you would want to see this. We received a hit on restricted information yesterday. It came from the school and we tracked it down to a boy named Andrew Entschied.”
Lord Duffy glared at Patrick. “I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation, m-my Lord!” No matter what was going on, Patrick had to believe in his son’s innocence.
“Alvis, have my car prepared. I will talk to Andrew myself. And tell someone from the Media Department, I require an agent.” He turned to Mr. Entschied. “You, meanwhile, will continue working with Respected Malone here. Under no circumstances are you to contact your son. Do I make myself clear?”
Patrick couldn’t look Lord Duffy in his eye. “Yes my Lord.” Malone walked Patrick to their office to continue working on the investigation.
Alvis and Lord Duffy left his office and headed to the school.