Chapter XXIX


Frank had me rescind the two messages to his Editor.  The timing had changed.  He had me resend new time encrypted emails with a thirty day window.  It had been almost two weeks since Frank had submitted an article to the paper.  He knew that soon his editor would get pissed and haul him into his office in New York.  To placate him he sent a message that Princess Marianne was on her way to New York and suggested they have some reporters hanging around the airport to follow her antics.  She was always a person of interest to the media.  Several tabloids had already printed articles that she was pregnant or having an affair with some movie star.  I realized that would help the Princess make sure her plan would be well publicized.  While the Princess was enjoying buying $400,000 dresses and $30,000 shoes to wear at the latest Fortune 500 chic restaurant Frank and I stayed with the Monsignor.  The hotel did not have room service so I made frequent shopping trips to Waitrose.  Frank was nervous and had all kinds of cravings for desserts and junk food.  I would try and tempt him with a healthy salad, but he would not touch them.  He averaged about a bottle a day of Jack Daniels.  I’m not sure the Monsignor appreciated sharing his room with a rugged journalist like Frank.  In fact, the next day the Monsignor disappeared for the entire day.

He came back late at night with his own GAIC.  While dogs often get excited when they see another dog, it is not the same with robots.  While we are programmed to immediately communicate our identification data we don’t exchange any personal data.  My business is only Frank’s business and the same would go for any other GAIC.  The Monsignor undressed quietly and crawled next to Frank in the small double bed.  He fell immediately asleep so I guessed he must have had a busy day.

The next morning at eight the Monsignor’s GAIC woke the Monsignor up.  The Monsignor, in turn, woke Frank up.  Frank’s response was just to groan, “Why so early? Do we have to go to Mass or what?”

The Monsignor got the bathroom first.  He was out and dressed in less than 15 minutes.  He told Frank to go shower and without any groans this time he did.  Frank was not as fast as the Monsignor and so he was not dressed until 22 minutes had passed.  Once he had adjusted his tie he turned to the Monsignor and asked if he had a plan of action.

“I’ve been working on it.  As you see I brought my own tin can.  I had him flown up from the Vatican.  He is a security robot that I borrowed from the Swiss Guard.  He has clearance to use defensive force and also a few surveillance upgrades that your JAIC unit would find useful considering your line of investigative reporting.  I figured we might need him,” the Monsignor said in a deadpan manner.

“Good, if we have to break into Lutts’s evil lair we might need him,” Frank said looking at the empty bottle of Jack Daniels.

“It may not come to that, but you never know.  I thought we could go to Edinburgh early and case out the Larson joint.  I asked some of my friends in government and got some intelligence on Dr. Amy Larson.”

“Who did you ask?  MI6?  No, I don’t want to know before breakfast” Frank said with a hint of sarcasm. 

The Monsignor smiled, but went on with his intelligence report, “Her mother lives in one of those assisted living homes.  She was a research assistant and was basically blinded when some equipment blew up.  Our girl has a flat about a mile away in a posh part of New Town.  I thought we would go have a look at it.  My guess is she has access to Lutts’s computers and my Robocop might help us out there.”

“Monsignor, I’m shocked, shocked.  This all sounds illegal.”

“I know, I know.  Enough with the sarcasm.”

“I can’t imagine how many Hail Marys you are going to have to say.”

“If I can stop the world-wide death of religion I imagine Mary will owe me a few Hails.”

“Don’t count your chicks before their cracked, Monsignor” Frank said chuckling to himself.

“Anyway, I have borrowed a car from a Catholic Church near here so we don’t have to parade in front of all those security cameras that Lutts’s people probably are scanning to find you.”

“Once we get out of Central London we can stop at a small abbey on the way for breakfast.  Can’t fight a Holy War on an empty stomach.”

With that banter finished we grabbed our coats and small hoard of clothes and took the stairs down to the back of the hotel where the Monsignor had left the car.  It was a small black minivan with tinted windows.  I guess it doubled as both transportation and for funeral services.  It only took a minute for the vehicle to be ready to take us to Ealing Abbey in West London.  As breakfast was at six in the morning and long past, we were taken to the Abbot’s private dining room.  The Right Reverend Randall Smithe was the Abbot and he drank tea and entertained us with light conversation while the Monsignor and Frank enjoyed a traditional English breakfast.  The Monsignor was the only one who responded to the Abbot’s comments.  I could tell by the lightweight conversation that the Abbot was clueless as to the real work that the Monsignor did for the Church.  Frank was as quiet as a clam.  Being surrounded by all the trappings of a medieval institution based on superstition was not Frank’s idea of life. 

Once the humans had sated their hunger we piled back into the church minivan and headed towards Edinburgh.  The car only stopped once to fill itself at a fueling station.  It took just over seven hours to bring us to St. Mary’s RC Cathedral.  The Bishop of Edinburgh gave us a light supper and rooms.  It was at supper that we met Mr. Antonio, or Tony as he preferred.  The Monsignor did not provide a last name and we sensed Tony did not want it known.

It was only when we got into our rooms that we found out that Tony’s expertise was electronics.  He had a big black suitcase filled with electronic equipment that was curious to say the least.  The Monsignor said that Larson was scheduled to fly into Edinburgh in two days.  What he wanted to try and do was break into her flat and see if they could hack into her computer.  It would be Tony’s job to get us in and let him do the hacking.  The rest of us would search her flat and see if she was careless enough to leave any papers or notes around that might also help us.  It was all like some James Bond movie.  The Monsignor had night vision glasses for the humans.  His GAIC and I would not need them as our vision cams were perfectly capable of seeing in pitch dark.  Once the plans were laid out the humans took a nap until two in the morning.  When they woke they changed into black pants and shirts.  The Monsignor even had dark clothes for his GAIC and myself.  They all had synced their earbuds so they could talk to each other quietly without having to raise their voices no matter where they were in Larson’s two story flat. 

At 2:40 we got in the black minivan and drove to Dr. Larson’s flat in New Town.  It was a cloudy night and so only the street lights gave off any illumination.  With the street lights being in the style of the early 20th Century they were not very bright.  We were able to park in the back where Dr. Larson would normally park.  We all stayed in the car while Tony did his thing.  It took him less than five minutes to disarm the security system.  He said it was just a standard commercial grade system.  Something you would find in many homes or businesses with small security needs.  He told us to wait in the kitchen which was the first room we entered from the back door until he swept the flat for any other security systems.  He said it was very common to have more than one layer of security and surveillance.  Tony said the commercial system was just to keep the local thieves out.  Sure enough in the hall there was a motion infrared camera that he had to blind.  He found similar devices in her study and her bedroom. 

“Okay, you guys, it’s clean.  Remember, don’t turn on no lights. Capire?” Tony said into everyone’s earbud.  After that he went into the office and looked at the good doctor’s computer.  It was a nice setup.  Three large monitors.  It was a Dell machine, but one that was only available to governments.  I heard Tony mumble to himself, “The lady's got class.”  That was the last we heard from him for a while.  The rest of us had split up into two teams.  We figured that with the bedroom and the study being monitored that if there were any papers that could be of interest they would be there.  The Monsignor and his GAIC were in the bedroom.  Almost right away they found a tablet and took it down to the study for Tony to look at.  Frank and I were going through the drawers of her desk, which was difficult as we did not want to get in Tony’s way.  Frank was very careful.  He pulled out each drawer one at a time and brought it over to a sofa and check it out carefully.  He even looked under the drawer and inspected it to see if there might be a false bottom to the drawer.  It was my job to put the items back in the place they were.  Frank relied on my photographic memory to do that.  He knew he could easily make a silly mistake that would leave a big fat clue for Dr. Larson to realize someone has been in her candy jar.  By the time we were ready for the file cabinet good old Tony said, “Bingo.”

The Monsignor came down even though he was not finished searching her bedroom.  He knew that the best stuff would be in her computer. 

“What do you have, Tony? the Monsignor asked as he looked at the three flat screens.

“I’m not in Lutts's computers, that will come later if I can do that.  But in the meantime I checked her temporary memory.  We were lucky in that she did not turn off her computer.  It was only asleep.  Thanks to your file on her and one of my little black boxes I was able to figure out her password.”

Frank asked, “What was it?  Frankenstein?”

Tony smiled, “As a matter of fact it was rather prosaic, Amy4Terrance.  She might as well have used 1234.  Anyway, let me show you what I found and you tell me if it is anything you were looking for.”

On the middle screen there started to come up photos and various diagrams, pdf documents, and blocks of text that had been copied in order to be pasted into something like an email or document. 

“Hold it”, Frank said when a diagram of something geometric came up, “What do you make of that Jack?”

I studied it and then ran a visual search on the Internet. “Sir, it looks like some kind of distorted buckyball.  You can tell by the scale -  it is measured in nanos.  It is mostly of carbon, but there is a very odd flaw on the end made up of some kind of protein fragment.  I don’t have enough information to say anything beyond that.”

“Well, our robots can show that to some of my people and maybe they will have an idea, but that may be your nano-capsule you told me about, Frank” the Monsignor whispered.

Next came up a photo of one of the labs in Finland.  Frank asked me if that looked like one of the labs we saw on the tour last week.  I had to tell him no. I commented that, “It looks more like a factory set up, sir.  Look at those machines on the right.  There must be fifty of them and they are all the same.  They look similar to DNA assemblers, but much bigger.”

A paragraph came up next.  This was something that must have been copied and then pasted.  It read:

Per beta test 5355 for nano-vector solubility of blood/brain area the results were on the low side of only 3% bridging the barrier.  This is too close to a negative result considering the population variability that we have found in our subject organism.  Further tests must be made to determine if shape can increase percentage.  It is my opinion no less than 75% of a given nano-vectors type must pass the blood/brain barrier.  When I get back on Monday we can go over possible nano-vectors.

The Monsignor asked out loud to everyone “What is a nano-vector?”

“I think it is what we may be calling a nano-capsule.  Damn, bits and pieces.  This is all tantalizing, but we still don’t have a damn smoking gun” Frank said impatiently.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will this investigation be done in an hour” the Monsignor said.

The next two dozen memory items offered no information.  Finally, a very long PDF of a scientific paper on cellular communication and fractal algorithm came up by some Ph.D. at Oxford.  Frank and the Monsignor read the abstract and then just scrolled the rest so GAIC and I could scan it into our memory.  Neither Frank or the Monsignor made any comment on the paper as it was mostly Greek to them.  Another 40 memory items were viewed and they all seemed irrelevant.  Then a fantastic clue came up.  It looked to be a deleted email.  It was short, but telling.  It read:

Old Jerusalem is new.  Perfect penetration.  Job well done, Dr. Larson.  TL

“I don’t think TL stands for ‘the lord’, Monsignor.  In my biz this is what I would call a smoking gun” Frank said with a broad smile on his face.

“We’ve seen enough.  Let’s get back to our searching her home.  Tony, keep bringing up whatever you can from her memory and make a copy of it.  Call us if you get into Lutts’s computer.

The Monsignor went back up into the bedroom and Frank and I worked on the file cabinet.  After about an hour I could tell both Frank and the Monsignor were getting tired.  It wasn’t long before just GAIC and I were finishing the work of looking for evidence.  By now both GAIC and I had a pretty good idea what our humans wanted to find.  In fact, we probably understood better than they did.  In the end there was nothing of value as far as papers.  GAIC was able to do a scan of both rooms and was able to determine there were no secret compartments or a hidden safe.  That was the stuff of Hollywood movies.  Dr. Larson was obviously a modern girl and did all her work on her computer. 

The only papers of hers that had any distant merit were the sixteen bound research papers she had written and published from high school and on.  I made of list of them so Frank could look at them if he decided to try and read them.  It would probably be a waste of time for him as he would not be able to understand half the vocabulary nor any of the mathematics.  One thing fascinating is she never once had a dedication page. 

Tony had moved onto getting into her email and documents.  From those we found a number of communiqués that referred to either the religion killing project and the depression project.  In one email both were referenced.  In all, Tony had found several smoking guns.  One thing I found interesting is how impersonal and academic were all her emails that she sent to either Lutts or to other scientists at Lutts’s laboratories. 

“Master, now that we are done have you taken a look at the Doctor’s house from a human perspective?”

“What do you mean, Jack?” Frank responded with a puzzling look.

“What I mean is there are no personal photographs anywhere.  No artwork.  Nothing decorative.”

Frank looked around again and this time with eyes of someone who was trying to discern the personality of a person by looking at their home.  You can tell a lot about a person.  What kind of books they have or lack of books.  What they hang on their walls.  The color and style of their furniture.  How neat everything is.  What kind of music they listen to.

“Come to think of it, Jack, I don’t recall seeing any porn on her computer” Frank said with a twinkle in his eye.

We were hanging around Tony since our physical search was completed.  He had been busy removing the cover of the computer tower and attaching a whole bunch of cables from a little electronic box he had brought in his case.  I could only guess it was some kind of machine to get the security protocols needed to get into Lutts’s computer system.

“Okay, everybody. I’m going to attempt to go in.  From what I have gathered it is a three set system.  First is to enter a username and password, next is facial recognition.  For that I have tapped her camera memory and found a buffered video of Dr. Larson.  The last is an audio password recognition.  I have found a memory file with her voice saying unrelated words.  I hoping that is her audio password.  If they have changed it we won’t get in.  By the way this little box will bypass the camera and microphone and use the video and sound I found in memory” Tony explained to his attentive audience.

He picked up an iPad and fussed with it.  All of a sudden on the middle monitor was the logo of the Lutts’s pharmaceutical business.  Below the logo was a spot for username and password.  Tony on her keyboard typed it in.  Next it showed a notice to make sure your camera and microphone were operational and a ‘Continue’ button.  Tony clicked on the ‘Continue’ button and then clicked on his iPad.  We saw Dr. Larson’s face flash on the left screen and on the middle screen it flashed “Hello Dr. Larson.  Please repeat the following words orally.”  On the right screen the word “Protein” showed. All of a sudden Tony said, “Fucking shit!” and all the screens went blank.

“What happened, Tony?” asked the Monsignor.

“We can’t get in.  The verbal passwords are really a test to voice match her voice.  Damnit.  Unless you have a supercomputer in your pocket so you can generate both her face and voice in realtime to say the words they generate you can’t get in.  Every time you try and log in they will generate a new list of words to say.  They have one fucking good system.  We need to go.  Most likely they won’t investigate a failed log in as there are a million things that could halt it, but just in case.”

By the time he explained all this he had removed his equipment and closed up the computer.  We then all headed towards the car.  I made one last check to make sure everything was where Dr. Larson left it.  Twenty minutes later we were back at the church.

Only when we were safe at St. Mary’s did we review what we found.  The Monsignor started the conversation with this question, “Do you have enough evidence to convince your editor, Frank?”

“Yes, plenty, but publishing it will not stop it,” Frank said with a sour look.

“Why not?  We know he doesn’t have enough nano-vectors to do the job.”

“I wish we had his timetable,” the Monsignor mused.

“The only one who might be able to find that out is Marianne.  Anyway, I have decided to approach this Dr. Larson when she shows up at the airport and see if I can convince her to give me an interview on her role in creating this new cure for depression.  I’m going to guess that Lutts won’t tell her I beat the shit out of him.  I wonder what his face looks like today?  He is either going to have to wear a lot of makeup or wait a week for his face to heal.”

“You may be right about the delay.  He always likes to be the showman when he wants to make a splash.  Let’s get some sleep now.  Tony, can you give me a copy of all the data you got off her computer?”

Tony handed a small memory device and said, “Thanks for the job, padre.  It was fun.  I’m going to leave you guys and go catch a plane back to Chicago.”

“Tell your boss the Church appreciates his unofficial help.  God will bless you both,” the Monsignor said sincerely. 

Frank had to stop from rolling his eyes.  I’m sure he thought Tony’s boss probably went by the title of ‘Godfather’. 


Chapter XXX



















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