The body of Daniel Baldwin was promptly brought in to the town of Brandon. And so it was that Julia was performing an autopsy on him before the morning was through. The hope being that she would uncover some obscure piece of trace evidence that would lead them towards the correct path again. In the meantime, Murdoch had been speaking to Ms. Wexler, also trying to uncover some piece of information that could be of use to them.
"Do you have any idea where your husband would go off to when he was working for the Black Hand?"
"A little. I know it must have been a local affair since he would come home every night."
"And where do you live?"
"In Thunder Bay."
That was a fair distance away but hardly insurmountable. If Murdoch took a train, it would take no more than half a day to get back there. But with nothing else to go on, he wasn't about to hop on the next one. So he patiently waited while Julia conducted her own investigation, spending the time teaching Ben about trains, or twains as he called them. He was a very astute pupil and before long, they had run out of things to cover.
"You're very good with him, you know," said Ms. Wexler after the impromptu lecture. "You remind me a bit of my husband. I-"
Her voice caught and she looked away, pretending to be occupied with her book again. Murdoch decided it best to leave her alone then and went to check on how Julia was faring.
"What have you?"
"He was shot at close range with a shotgun," she said, shaking the bullet fragments in a little glass dish.
"Yes, I can see that," he said, grimacing at the amount of damage to his forehead. It was fortunate he hadn't been shot just a little lower down, for if he had, they would have never been able to identify him and the case would have been dead in the water.
"There were no signs of a struggle," she said.
"So he wasn't expecting this. Sounds about right. Anything else?"
"There was also this," she said, holding up something with her tweezers. "I found it wedged within one of his boot soles."
Murdoch took it from her and held it under a magnifying glass in order to examine it better. "If I'm not much mistaken, this is concrete."
She nodded and said, "Yes, I came to the same conclusion as well."
He looked at her quizzically, "But why does it have a blue sheen to it?"
"This particular blend had a rather unique additive."
"Oh? And what would that be?"
He raised his eyebrows at that. "Isn't that made during a volcanic eruption?"
"Why am I not surprised you knew that?" she said smiling. Murdoch began frowning and Julia said, "What's the matter, William? Why do you look so puzzled?"
"Well, Julia, for one thing, this was on Daniel's boot. What good does this concrete do us in determining where the Black Hand are currently situated?"
"Maybe the concrete was dislodged from the killer's own footwear and Daniel stepped on it before he died?"
"Hmm, I suppose that is a possibility. Say you are correct. There's still another issue with this clue." She waited for him to continue. "There are no volcanoes anywhere near Thunder Bay."
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"That's where Ms. Wexler hails from and where the Black Hand is most assuredly operating out of."
"Maybe they had the Scoria shipped in from somewhere else?"
"But why, Julia? Why not simply use materials in the area?"
"Maybe they liked the way it looked? It is very pretty. And from what I can recall from our previous encounter with the Black Hand, they were always very stylish."
"No, I don't think that's it. The colour was of no importance to them. I think they wanted it for it's scientific properties. It can withstand extreme pressure and heat and makes an incredibly good insulator."
"This certainly makes you wonder what they've built."
"Yes, it certainly does, Julia." There was a short pause. "Thank you for your help."
"My pleasure, William."
Another brief pause. "I doubt we are going to discover anything else of use so I should probably go make travel arrangements." He saw the look she gave him. "I'd prefer if you didn't come with me. This is going to be very dangerous."
"I thought you'd say something like that. Take some constables with you then. And do be careful," she said concerned, taking his hand.
"Of course," he said squeezing it.
After sending a telegram to Jasper informing him that he would definitely not be attending his wedding, Murdoch watched as his wife, Ms. Wexler and her son waved to him from the platform. He returned the gesture, swallowing a lump in his throat, hoping he would be seeing them all again. Murdoch and his fill in constables (dressed in plain clothes) discussed what they would do once they arrived at their destination. Once the details had been worked out, there was little else to do and he found himself pacing back and forth, anxiously awaiting whatever was going to happen.
It was dark once more by the time they got out of the train and took a carriage down to the bay. The constabulary there was mostly shut down for the night but there were a few poor souls left on duty. Murdoch approached the desk clerk and asked for use to a phone, flashing his badge as he did so. The man of course let him through and Murdoch placed his first call, one of many.
He wanted to determine if there had in fact been any shipments of Scoria made to this area in the last several months. If this was the case, perhaps he could unearth the Black Hand's lair? Murdoch had to wake up a few people but in the end he reached a satisfying conclusion. A large shipment of Scoria had been unloaded down by the docks about three months ago. Unfortunately, no one seemed to know where it had gone to from there.
Murdoch and his entourage talked to everyone they could down there until they found someone with some useful information. He seemed to recall a train of wagons stealing off into the night about the time they were referring to. He had been interested enough in this that he had followed it as far as the edge of the town's limits. After that he had given up and headed back to duty.
Murdoch grabbed an available man from the constabulary there to act as their guide and together they took carriages up North. They searched for hours but even with the aid of multiple lanterns, couldn't find any sort of building or encampment that could possibly be housing the Black Hand. They headed back after this failed attempt and Murdoch crashed on one of the local constables couches for the rest of the night.
In the morning, the search began anew and they travelled much further away than the previous time. Eventually they came to a complex of sorts, it was quite massive and had a large wooden gate barring the entrance. Murdoch assumed that it was a fort that was out of commission. The question was whether or not this was the Black Hand's lair. He couldn't very well go up and ring the doorbell. So Murdoch scanned the area with a pair of binoculars from a safe distance back, the other members of the constabulary standing by, awaiting further orders.
Nothing happened for several minutes and Murdoch began to suspect that this wasn't the place they wanted. Right then though, a guard appeared on the upper walkway with a rifle in hand. Murdoch knew that he wasn't a member of the Canadian military because his clothing was not correct. He was dressed in a fashionable suit. Murdoch followed his progression around the part of the outer perimeter that he could view from his stationary position. No other people made their presence known and the guard eventually came around again to where Murdoch could see him. It seemed that he made his rounds every five minutes or so, which would be just enough time for them to travel to the fort before being spotted. Of course, once they got there, what were they going to do?
They couldn't get in through the front entrance, and there didn't appear to be any other way inside. Murdoch had not come prepared to lay siege.
"I think we should just go," said a nervous sounding constable.
"You're such a coward Perkins!" exclaimed another man. "I say we take the place by force!"
"How exactly would we do that!" whined Perkins.
"I don't know!" yelled the other man. "But I'm sure we can figure something out!"
"Quiet both of you!" commanded a third man. "Can't you see the detective is trying to think?"
In fact he was, deep in concentration, accessing that special place in his mind that would allow him to see things from a different perspective and solve whatever obstacle he was currently wrestling with. Unlike previous times, this semi-meditative state of mind was not helping him come to a solution.
There was no choice but to head right up to the gate and try to get in that way, however futile it might be. When he informed them of his intentions, Perkins balked at the idea.
"I of course do not expect everyone to attempt this with me," said Murdoch. "It will likely be a fruitless mission and possibly dangerous. Whoever wishes to remain behind may do so."
Any that had been thinking of remaining behind no longer seemed to want to do so. Perhaps they feared their peers ridicule would be worse than anything that might befall them in the coming minutes. And so it was that the entire entourage headed towards the fort.
"State your name and business," called the guard authoritatively when he came around the bend and spotted them.
"I am detective William Murdoch and I would like an audience with whoever is in charge."
The man stared at him passively and made no move to comply.
"Is that so? Funny then that you have so many men with you for a simple conversation."
Murdoch didn't respond.
"Do you have a search warrant?" he asked.
"Do you have a right to be here?" countered Murdoch. "This is military property and you are clearly not associated with them."
The man smirked and said, "Oh you got me, detective. I guess I have no choice but to open the gate now."
Again he didn't lift a finger. Instead he began lazing against his rifle in apparent boredom. Finally he said something else.
"I'll tell you what, detective. I'll go speak with my superiors and if they agree to a meeting with you, I'll let you through."
"That sounds fair to me," said Murdoch.
The guard nodded and vanished from sight, he must have gone down a nearby set of stairs. Murdoch and his team patiently waited for ten minutes before the guard next appeared.
"I'm surprised. They've agreed to see you. But only you, detective. The rest of your men must leave the premises before I'm allowed to raise the gate."
There were murmurs of outrage at that statement but Murdoch calmed them down.
"If this is the only way we're getting in there, then so be it. This is too important to turn back now."
They grumbled as they turned their carriages around and left the vicinity. Then the gate began to rise and Murdoch awaited his fate with baited breath. He also began fervently praying that everything would be all right.