This is the first main story outing for my Global Defense series. The GD stories fit into the same timeline as my Hermes stories although the two are not directly related. Jack Bowman is Artimus Bowman's Great Grandfather.
Cases come and go. When you've been in this job long enough most of them start to blur together into one big mess of history sat somewhere in your mind slowly fading as time passes. Only a few actually leave an impression on you. They are the ones that remain clear in your mind for the rest of your life. Often it's because of some horrific thing that you've seen during the course of that particular investigation.
For that reason I can still remember my first murder case back when I was a cop in Delphi. That was almost twelve years ago now but I still remember the sight of that body strewn across the floor of his apartment, the hole in his chest stained dark with blood. He had been shot by his distraught wife after she discovered he was having an affair. If I think back hard enough I could probably describe every single item in that room and how it looked on that day.
I joined the Global Defense Department thinking I had seen everything already with the Police. Boy was I wrong! It was with the G.D.D. that I discovered the world of intercolonial crime rings, people trafficking and terrorism. It was a whole new game and I learned it fast. I don't like to say I've become cold to such things but the truth is it doesn't bother me anymore as much as it used to. These days it's rare for me to be confronted by something that sticks in my memory after the case is over. I said before that the things you remember are usually the sights you see in this job but occasionally you remember ones because of something else. Usually you don't appreciate it at the time of the case and it's only much later that you truly appreciate the enormity of the events that you find yourself involved in.
It was exactly like that one Saturday morning when I came down to breakfast. I had no idea what the events of that Saturday and the corresponding days would mean in the grander scheme of things as I lived them but they were probably some of the most important of my life and indeed the people of the Twelve Colonies.
If only I knew then what I know now.
It had been a year since the so-called Battle of Atlas Arena when the S.T.O. attempt to blow up the stadium was thwarted by Cylons of the Caprican Marines. Since then the terrorist group had pretty much fizzled down to nothing. Once we had identified Clarice Willow as the head of the Caprican cell it was only a matter of time before we found the evidence we needed to take out the whole contingent including, much to our embarrassment, Director Singh who had been feeding the S.T.O. information directly from within the G.D.D. Unfortunately Clarice Willow herself had managed to elude us so far.
The news channels no longer had regular features on the S.T.O. and instead had moved on to covering the integration of the Cylon artificial race into Caprican society, a goal made all the more easy by the battle at Atlas Arena. There were those who believed that the whole thing was a marketing ploy by Daniel Graystone to sell Cylons and repair the damage his daughter's involvement with the S.T.O. had done to his company. I admit that there was a time when I believed it but since then I've been made aware of more and more classified information regarding the whole affair and I know better.
When I walked into the kitchen that Saturday morning I found my wife Emma and my thirteen year old son Archie were already sitting down to breakfast. At the height of the S.T.O. threat it was seldom that I got a Saturday off. Now that they were mostly a memory as far as Caprica was concerned things had returned pretty much to normal. Things between me and Emma weren't so stressed by my being called into work all the time and it meant there was more time for us as a family and no amount of cubits could ever replace that.
"Morning all," I greeted as I took my seat at the kitchen table and lifted up the newspaper that Emma had folded in half having finished with it herself.
"What have you got planned today?" Emma asked us sitting in her grey business suit as she blew on her hot coffee that she always had before heading out to work; she was the manageress of a nearby hotel.
Before I could speak, Archie quickly interrupted and said, "Me and John are going to play Pyramid down at the leisure centre."
"On a Saturday!" I said. "You'll be lucky to get a court free."
"It's ok," said Archie. "John's dad has got one reserved for us."
"Really," I said in disbelief. "Is it John's birthday or something?"
"No," said Archie firmly.
Emma turned from Archie to look at me as she explained, "John's father has been promoted at work. I was talking to Sylvie about it the other week."
"Oh yeah? What does he do now to give Daniel Graystone more money than he's already got?"
"He's been made a supervisor down at the Cylon plant," she answered.
"Well, good for him," I said truthfully.
"Oh my Gods!" yelled Archie suddenly.
"Hey what have I told you about that?" said Emma unhappy about the way our son spoke of the Gods, she had always been a more devout believer in them than I.
"Look!" said Archie pointing at the small television set that sat on the counter behind me.
I turned around to see what he was referring to. The news was on and beside the anchorwoman was a picture of Baxter Sarno, a leading entertainment figure on Caprican television and one who was known for his controversy. In bold letters under the screen the title of the story that had interrupted the regular viewing read; BAXTER SARNO FOUND DEAD IN DRESSING ROOM.
Stunned by the news I reached over and turned up the volume to listen to what the woman had to say, the sound cutting in halfway through her sentence.
"…that he was suffering from a cardiac condition but that has yet to be determined as the cause of death. Unfortunately we cannot say anymore until the Police have completed their enquiries. Once more, Baxter Sarno has been found dead in his dressing room at the television studio his show was produced at here in Caprica City. The cause of death has yet to be ascertained and the Police are investigating."
In a technological society such as the one on Caprica we often hear about celebrities whom we've never met suddenly dieing. It's one of those more unusual aspects of such societies that we thus have an emotional response to the news of their death even though we never meet them in person.
For me it was one of indifference. This news, although surprising, did not incur pity from me or sadness. I hated the man. I thought he was vulgar and disrespectful and although I wouldn't have wished death upon him I wasn't sorry that I would never have to hear his voice again.
We sat and watched the news for the next half hour while we finished our breakfast. No further news became available to us other than Sarno was dead and so the news team resorted to showing clips of some of his most well known interviews including the most notorious one, that with Amanda and Daniel Graystone almost a year ago.
Emma finished her breakfast and left for work. A short while after that John and his father arrived to pick up Archie and I was left on my own. I knew I should have used the time to do some of the things around the house I had promised I would get on with when I had a day off but I lacked the enthusiasm to get started and was instead distracted by a documentary on the First Tauron Uprising. Documentaries like this were being played almost every single day since the events portrayed in them had a lot to do with what was happening on Tauron then during the Second Uprising.
It was half way through the documentary that my phone buzzed indicated that it had received a text message. I scrambled inside my denim trousers and dragged it out before clicking OPEN and I read the message on the screen.
Even though there was a question mark at the end of the message I knew that it wasn't really an option to say no. Therefore I dragged myself to my feet, put on my shoes and reached for my car keys. I knew where Deputy Director Jordan Duram liked to meet for coffee and so I started driving to Caprica City Park.
Jordan, Emma and I went back years all the way to High School. Where once we were fierce friends it was Emma who unintentionally came between me and Jordan. We had both fallen for her and for a time during our senior year she was with him. I accepted it and thought it would be left there but Jordan soon became jealous whenever I spent anytime with her as friends without him. In the end she couldn't take it anymore and left him. Blaming me, Jordan cut himself away from the two of us and in doing so drew me and Emma closer.
Jordan married since then and had his own son but they separated just before I joined the G.D.D. While the old hostility seems to have been buried things are still tense between me and him. It's like neither of us knows how to behave around one another. That said I do believe he trusts me since he often calls me into his office for an opinion. I would liked to have called him a friend again but I don't think either of us were ready to make that leap.
I found Jordan sitting on his usual bench with two cups of coffee resting in a polystyrene tray. Resting up against the bench beside him was a steel walking stick that he carried everywhere with him. He had to have the stick with him ever since he was shot by an S.T.O. sniper in the run up to the incident at Atlas Arena. Since then he had returned to the G.D.D. and had been selected to replace Singh at the Caprica City branch.
As I walked towards him he removed the two cups before placing them down on the bench and then tossing the tray away into the bin beside the bench.
"Jack," said Jordan in greeting as he handed me cup.
"Jordan," I replied in acknowledgement as I took the coffee he offered me. "Thank you."
"Black with two sugars?" he asked.
"You know well enough by now," I replied as I sat down beside him and tested the coffee by sipping it carefully not to burn my mouth.
"Nice day don't you think so?"
"Not for Baxter Sarno," I said stifling a somewhat callous laugh.
"I see you've watched the news today," said Jordan plainly.
"Certainly have; heart attack is what they're saying."
"Well that's what they thought until an hour ago," said Jordan before taking a sip of his coffee.
"It seems the Cap City Police coroner had his coffee today too. During the post mortem he found traces of Scorpian Lilly. Ever heard of it?"
"No," I replied honestly assuming it was some kind of lesser known narcotic.
"It's a plant that grows in the Demeter Jungle on Scorpia. It seems if you mix it up a certain way you can turn it into a poison that's almost untraceable. The poison itself works by inducing coronary distress. In Sarno it probably would have gone unnoticed too if the coroner hadn't spent time with the Intercolonial Aid Service providing inoculations to Scorpians to fight Red Fever."
"So somebody knocked him off?"
"Seems that way although if you read the toxicology report you'd wonder why whoever did it didn't just wait for him to do it himself. He had enough stuff in his system to open his own Pharmaceutical Company."
"Is this why you bought me a coffee?" I asked putting my investigative skills to use to figure out why he had called me on a Saturday.
"Officially," he began, "this is still a local Police affair."
"Come on, Jordan," I chortled. "You didn't drag me out here to treat me to coffee. Get to it!"
"Alright," he said before taking another drink to moisten his throat. "Sarno made a lot of enemies in his time. He liked to make a joke out of everything from the Community Tax to the S.T.O. and he pissed off a lot of people in the process. He hurt a lot of them too in particular, Clarice Willow."
I was taking a drink of my coffee as he said those words and I almost choked on it as I laughed at his suggestion that Clarice Willow was somehow involved in this whole affair.
"Clarice Willow! You think Clarice Willow is involved in this somehow?"
"It's an outside chance, I'll admit that much," said Jordan who clearly didn't find the notion as funny as I did. "This was clearly a professional assassination. Whoever did it had knowledge of rare poisons and the resources with which to obtain it and utilize it. It sounds S.T.O. to me."
"Well if you want to go down the organized road there are others to consider as well," I said. "The Hal'a'Tha for instance. We've had plenty of evidence to suggest that the Hal'a'tha is supporting the uprising on Tauron and Sarno liked to make a joke out of that too. You know how those guys are about honor. Then there are these new ones from Canceron who have been sticking their noses in; the Basileus. They have been making advances on Scorpia and Leonis and we know they're in the drug trafficking game. If Sarno was doped up to the eyeballs he might have been getting his stuff from them."
"Those are some good theories," said Jordan to my surprise, it was not often he paid anyone a compliment and I knew there was a catch. "That's why I want you to look into it for me. Keep it low key for the time being, we don't want the Cap City Police to think we're treading on their toes just yet."
Jordan finished the last of his coffee and threw it into the bin before reaching for his walking stick to help him stand up.
"Would this be optional?" I asked making a joke.
"No!" was the firm answer from my boss as he limped away using the walking stick to keep him upright.
Little did I know that I had just been set on a path towards something that would affect billions. I expected to just make a few enquiries, find out that Sarno was killed by a drug baron and be done with it. If only it was that simple.