Chapter 11

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Hor was at his desk in CSF HQ, he checked on the query he submitted to the pattern recognition system. There were no matches yet. His query targeted what the coroner's lab found in Larissa Sying's body. Either the injection puncture, adhesive agent, or the strange PL interfering substance. The system was hard at work, analyzing. Hor intentionally didn't limit the query, so it didn't miss anything. The wait was starting to get to him.

He was about to leave for a meeting when two young civilians walked up to him. "Detective Fackel?" The girl asked tentatively. She was very pretty, her long hair in an elaborate braid. Too thin for his taste; too young, of course. His PL showed him a small orange circle above their heads, marking them as guests rather than authorized personnel. Hor got up from his chair. "Yeah, what do you need?" He asked a little more coarsely than intended as he walked toward the elevators. "Detective, my name is Fai, and this is Toby, we're friends of Dall's, eh, I mean Wendall Sying," she said hurriedly, trying to keep up with him. Toby trailed a step behind them.

"I can't share information from an on-going investigation. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have work to do," he said. That made her slow down. Good, he thought, hoping he had managed to dissuade her from following him. Something about the worried look on her face caused him to second guess his assumptions. "He's gone, detective," she said loudly, causing a few heads to turn and look at her disapprovingly. Hor sighed and walked back.

"What do you mean gone?" he asked her while escorting her closer to the open space near the elevators. The sparkling cream-colored floor projected floor guidance for those unfamiliar with the office layout. "I'm not sure," she said desperately. "We looked everywhere, he's not at home, and not in school. He doesn't answer his Link, and no one knows where he could have gone. It's like he vanished."
"When was the last time you saw him?" Hor asked. "It must have been at his mother's funeral three days ago. He wanted some space, so I went back to school, but I got worried when there was no sign of him for more than two days." She looked at her friend. "Yeah, me too, the funeral - that's when I saw him last."

Very strange. Hor looked at the young girl's wet eyes and figured she was more than just a friend. "Listen, I promise I will look into this. I'm sure he will turn up soon. Probably blowing off steam somewhere. Maybe on the beach or even on one of those Solar Tourers. He likes being in space, right?" Fai was shaking her head the whole time he spoke. "You don't think so?"
"No, it's not like him. He wouldn't just disappear like this," she said firmly. "I understand what you're saying, but people sometimes do irrational things after experiencing a tragedy. I've seen this happen many times," he said, trying to sound reassuring,

"I will look into this, I promise. We will find Wendall. I will update you as soon as I have something. In the meantime, fill in a missing person report. You can do that two floors below or just Fabric it." He didn't think there were many of those filed. Losing a person on a floating space-can was difficult even if that can was as big as a Cloud. Kidnapping was also a very rare criminal activity. Hor saw the two youngsters to the elevator. They looked gloomy and haggard.

After the two were gone, Hor hopped into an elevator on his way to the meeting. It was on the other side of Akoya, so he took a Flume instead of walking. It was the middle of the day, so the streets and trains weren't busy. Reaching his station on the eastern side, he took an escalator pad to the top level and then walked a few minutes through the quiet streets until he reached a large building complex. There were several tall buildings in the complex. One was even worthy of the dome-scraper qualifier. The rest were smaller and shorter, surrounding the bigger ones with neatly hedged pathways between them.

His meeting was with Walter Ganerg. Walter was as close as Hor had to a good friend. They met years ago when Hor was still working for the Tech Crimes division. Walter was the prime suspect in a case Hor investigated. He very quickly decided the system pointed to the wrong man. In the end, it turned out that Walter's assistant was the real culprit who tried to frame his boss for his crime. Ever since then, the two men stayed in touch. Not constant, but they did meet for drinks or coffee every once in a while. When they met, it was like no time had passed.

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