Theft Case Notes

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The search for the Receda Cube on Earth



Jan. 16, 267: Initial impression is it looks like an inside job, but the who and why not so obvious. Then again, who wouldn't want the thing? No demand for ransom made yet. Too many leads to follow up on, too much evidence, but not enough to tell a solid story. Note: cross-check Fran Mendling for the usual big debts, big dreams. Was she in on it? She died, but it could be a cold bunch. Maybe they didn't want to leave any witnesses. Maybe she was changing her terms at the last minute. Anyway, I can't ask her about it now. Bringing in tech forensics team to work with Henrik. Eoin is giving me carte blanche to pursue this case as I see fit. Such a vote of confidence! If I crack this thing, as high-profile as it is, it'll make my career for sure.

Jan. 17, 267: How did these guys get onto campus, anyway? No gatehouse record of anyone on campus and later heading to the museum. Speculate: use of an old catacombs entry to escape detection by Gatehouse perimeter system? All working keyless to prevent activation of internal security or even just record-keeping. Of course, all of the security systems were tampered with, as well. Makes the guest list bloody useless, doesn't it?

Jan. 18, 267: Those guys in forensics are finally earning their keep. We've had a major breakthrough. That invitation has writing on it in UV ink. It says:

Electric splash
BB, 21 to 24
4: C, V, K, Q
20, V to 24

A little cryptic, but I can make a few guesses about it. Electric splash - that would be a diversionary tactic. Could that be the art on display? Note: question Aiko Entrescore about her role and take those pieces of sculpture into custody immediately. The rest of it makes me think of playing cards, or chess moves, but I'm sure that's not it. I'll have to stew on this one.

Jan. 20, 267: I need a stiff drink. Or about ten of them. Just got done talking to the Cube specialists on campus. Find the Cube, find the thief, right? Well, they say they should be able to trace the Cube's location to anyplace in the world, unless it's blanketed by several metres of lead or something. Anyway, they've come forward to tell me they've been trying to get a signal on the Cube for days, and as far as they can tell, it just doesn't exist anymore. I'm having Maggie pull records for every metals dealer in town to see if anybody has sold enough material to construct a Cube shelter in the past four, five years. This could have been a long time in planning.

Jan. 21, 267: On Earth? They have got to be kidding me. Earth. The Cube is on EARTH. What am I supposed to do with this? How do you catch a perp in another dimension? Much less retrieve the stolen goods. Earth. I guess that explains why Maggie hasn't found any strange lead purchases over the past few years, eh? So much for that bright idea. Maybe the thieves were from Earth? Check in with Academy's Earthology department to see how likely this is.

Jan. 22, 267: Got an appointment with Ruth Coralhouse today. They say she's the best Earthologist around. Retired. Anyway, she sat with me for a couple of hours filling in as much as she could about the state of Earth tech and culture. I want to pull my hair out, it looks like another dead end, because she said the two bedrock facts about Earth are 1. They don't know we even exist, and 2. There's no way to transfer objects between worlds, anyhow. She said there's a not-so-top-secret project that's theoretically worked out a method to open a permanent data link, but nobody's been willing to give them a go-ahead. Maybe that's our crook, then, physicists who want an excuse to build their pet project. Doesn't explain how they'd get the thing to Earth, though.

Feb. 17, 267: Reviewing the speculation from the Academy fellows until my eyes cross. What a nasty, backbiting bunch. I feel sorry for my squad, now, having to question and cross-check all of this garbage. Seems the Master wanted to do some potentially-damaging study on the Cube, cue accusations here. Could he have spirited it away to Earth? At any rate, I've got my lead into his office keeping an eye on things. Wouldn't do to pull him in for questioning. Yet.

Mar. 8, 267: Camden tells me his sources in the crackpot-religious world have been getting awfully excited lately. He says there's an awful lot of celebration over a criminal act in certain quarters. He's promised to keep his team's ears to the ground, see if anything new turns up. It certainly broadens the list of those-motivated, doesn't it?

Mar 27, 267: Cube cube cube cube cube cube cube. All of this fuss over a chunk of metal. I hate my job sometimes.

Apr. 10, 267: Electric splash, electric splash. If it wasn't Entrescore's work, what was it?

Apr. 11, 267: The ball's program says there were fireworks that night over the Great Lawn. Looking at my map, this means everyone would be conveniently facing away from the Museum at the crucial moment, right around when Mendling got the zap. Note: Find out who ran the fireworks and how public the schedule was ahead of time.

Apr. 14, 267: Reviewed the statements of Kurt McAllister, Anna Heath, Sanjean Adamek, all involved in the fireworks one way or another. Not one interesting thing from any of them, and apparently the fireworks are a bit of a tradition so anyone could know about it. They've been running for at least a decade. The team could have known there would be fireworks ahead of time and cued off based on when they began.

May 20, 267: Keep looking at the invitation. BB 21 to 24, could that be the Buttered Bridge? Maybe the route -- bridge to Gatehouse 21 to Gatehouse 24, and on into the Museum. This meshes with which systems were disabled. Maybe points to an entry to the Academy grounds through the Mazy rather than catacombs. The 4 could be a team of 4, which is what it's looking like we saw. A hardware guy, software guy, team lead, and the heavy for security.

June 2, 267: Tech forensics gave me a final report on the security systems and how they were tampered with on ball night. They said it took them a long time to unravel because - surprise! - it looks like it wasn't all done by the same people. Security and double-security? They say it was an awful lot of extra work to bring down all three security systems, and completely unnecessary. In all three cases, they say it was a damn fine piece of work, elegant and pretty close to undetectable. Only a few people in the city could have come up with it. They said that if we didn't have cause to go looking very, very hard, nobody would ever have noticed. I've got a meeting with the Academy security chief next week to go over the report and offer assistance in locking their security down for good.

June 19, 267: Sharon reported to me today she's found every security expert or tech prodigy who has ever enjoyed a hot reputation. Anyone who might have been capable of this, which isn't many. Every one has a solid alibi, including that crucial 20 minutes.

Aug. 10, 267: I just can't cut any breaks, can I? Brought up the paper this morning and I see a detailed blueprint of how the Cube was stolen. Looks like a reporter got her grubby hands on some 266 security paper. I think it's painfully clear that the guys who did this must have had their hands on this paper. Double, triple-checking the authors, and I'll be having a long talk with Tanner to see why he didn't bring this to my attention earlier.

Aug. 22, 267: So much information, so little progress. I've scoured so many lists and logs and reports and depositions, it all blurs together after a while. Let's take a look at this all over again: the Cube was stolen. Why would someone steal the Cube? Money? No ransom was ever demanded. Nothing ever showed up on the usual black markets. If it was a specific collector, no evidence of a detection-proof display being built. Why else would someone take the Cube? Prestige, power? To keep someone else from having it? religious fervor? Checking into the major or extremist religious groups, but no solid evidence. Of course, no motivation would explain how the thing wound up on Earth.

Sep. 14, 267: Camden says he's getting a nibble from the Recon compound, someone who says they know all about the Cube. His fish is shy, though, so it could be a long effort to reel him in.

Oct. 2, 267: Bothering Camden every day, every day he says 'tomorrow, tomorrow.' I'm starting to think his fish is playing him.

Oct. 27, 267: Camden's source is fringe of the fringe, and he says the Reconstructionists did it. This isn't where any of my evidence so far leads, but you can't turn down any fresh information this far out. Even if it's probably wrong.

Oct. 28, 267: I reported to Eoin today, and he rushed me into a Council meeting to report my findings in person. We're bringing in the entire elder council for that Cubehead cult tonight. The whole thing stinks of haste and politics.

Dec. 2, 267: This lack of progress is murdering me. I don't know what the story is with these Cubeheads, but they say they know everything and aren't going to tell us. They sit in their cells with these creepy serene smiles and say that the story isn't done yet. How can we convince them to talk?


Jan. 4, 268: I can't believe we've had these Recons for so many months. We keep bringing them in front of the judge and saying "Tell us everything or admit you're lying," and they keep sticking to the same tired story. They know what happened, they know who did it, they're glad it happened, but they aren't going to tell us anything. So the judge keeps holding them in contempt and obstruction of justice and they go right back to their cells. Do they think it's some kind of game? I'm thinking, though, that they really aren't behind it, even though they claim to know everything. So now where do I look.

Feb. 19, 268: Been talking to my pal Pietro. He says he's heard some things through the good old criminal grapevine. Rumours that some 'ancient secret organisation' called the Third Power are waking up, and that maybe they had a little something to do with the Cube. Sounds like a conspiracy theorist's wet dream. Every petty crook in Perplex City wants to say they had a hand in stealing the Cube, these days.

Apr. 6, 268: The judge finally decided to let the Recons go. We could keep them forever on obstruction but it doesn't do any good, and maybe if they're freed we can keep and eye on them and see if they make any surprise moves.

Apr. 26, 268: Bernardo Holyoke, Five of Cups owner, murdered yesterday. Looks like a bar patron from the night before, security system was never activated. Or maybe the wife, Jessica. Seems like she's long gone, but maybe she paid him one last visit. Tomas looking for Jessica for me now, shouldn't take but a couple of days unless she's skipped town.

May 2, 268: Kiteway's big plan for getting the people of Earth to give us the Cube back was announced today. Puzzle cards? Honestly, is the man even trying? I might have to take a harder look at him again. He did have access to that 266 report, and he could have hired a team to do the actual work for him.

May 8, 268: Pietro says he's got a new informant to check out, and gave me some precise instructions for checking out the bar. Says I'll find a cache of stolen goods.

May 10, 268: Looks like Pietro's source is right about that hidden tech. Shook down the Five of Cups and found an EM baffler, just like he said. The gear this guy has in his bar is so cutting-edge, I've having trouble even identifying what all of the pieces are. Pietro says he'll help me out with it. Definitely from the Academy, it's all properly tagged and everything.

May 11, 268: Pietro's still holding out on that source of his, but he says the whole thing is "bigger than it looks." I've trusted him before and it's paid off, so I guess I'll trust him a little further. He's never let me down before. At any rate, I guess I'll keep an eye on what he's up to.

May 17, 268: Pietro went to have a little visit with the Recons today. I could have sworn they were a bunch of crackpots. Camden says he has a source on the inside, there, so he'll do some checking around for any clues on the Five of Cups business. Though we've finally put two and two together based on the goods Holyoke had stashed away, looks like he was the infamous Quercus who's been dealing in tech goods the last few years. Clever bastard. Now I'm wondering if he squelched a deal and got what was naturally coming to him.

May 24, 268: The money trail strikes gold! Found the wife. 'Kostka.' In with the Recons! Of course, after that mess earlier in the year, the Council thinks it's too politically risky to snatch her from them for questioning. I wish politics never got in the way of justice. I'll have to find a way to lure her out for questioning.

June 14, 268: Taking Entrescore into custody today. Finally tied together her opportunity and motive, apparently she's a Recon herself and has kept it under very, very tight wraps. Her Cubehead inclinations plus those sculptures - Gant never did say he was sure they were harmless. And she on the Cube recovery project. The Master blew the whistle himself, said he had a reliable source on Earth. Now, how would someone on Earth know anything about it? Hmm...

June 20, 268: Entrescore out today, insufficient evidence to hold her. So much for that bright idea. Where to go next.

June 21, 268: Damn, damn, damn. Somebody got Pietro. He's in the hospital. I wonder if it was someone in business with Quercus, protecting himself? Pietro should have known better than to try to handle anyone that dangerous on his own.

June 27, 268: Pietro is gone. And a good man, too. Still, he knew more than he was letting on, I'm sure of it. I've got to get my hands on his notes, to see if I can get some justice for him and for the city.

June 28, 268: Went to say goodbye to Pietro today. In this business, there's so little trust. It's hard to get really close to people. I'm not saying I ever got close to Pietro, that would be a lie. But I got a good sense of him, and the world was so much better with him still in it.

July 28, 268: Eoin told me he's got some confidential information on the hot goods from the Academy. Won't tell me his source, but he says it looks like someone from inside is diverting gear. That must be how our guy Holyoke got the goods, but where is it going now.

Aug. 2, 268: Looked through Pietro's files. A lot of it is encrypted like it's national defence secrets, but he left enough of his chicken scratch on paper for me to get just a tantalising taste. Third Power? V? Damn, damn, I wish like anything he'd trusted me. I'm merging my Five of Cups notes in with the Cube case, since it looks like the two are related.

Aug. 10 268: Publicly closed the Holyoke murder case. It'd captured the public's interest, so closing it unsolved was the best thing to keep inquiring minds from endangering the larger investigation. It's clear that Holyoke was part of the Cube squad. The Q. And it seems like Pietro was talking to the K. So now... who is K? I'm afraid whoever she is, she's in terrible danger. Pietro was very careful, but there's got to be a way to tie it together, for me and for them. Looking into key records and other activity. Why did I have to give him all of those talks on keeping himself safe from prying ears.

Sep. 23, 268: Well, it looks like our K is dead. We were so close, too, we'd had it narrowed down to just a handful of suspects in Ascendancy Point, based on Pietro's records. That makes two of the four, and the other two aren't exactly beating my door down to testify. Had a long talk with the wife, Sylvia, and how he ever tolerated such a mess as her I'll never know. She gave an account of her discovering K - said that a group on Earth had been trying to set up a meeting. I think the V who did her is the same one from the invitation. Anyway, here's the key bit. She said K told her 'we never held it.' It's starting to come together for me - could it be that the Third Power was trying to steal the Cube, but someone else got there first? That would explain so much. Even if the Third Power don't have the Cube, they may be the only witnesses I've got to figure out who does have it. I've got to find a way to get closer to these people. How do I get in.

Sep. 21, 268: Had a long talk with Camden today. I asked him to tell me more about the 'Third Power' and he didn't just give me the same funny look he usually does, like I've asked if they knew the name of the giant that eats the sun every night. He looked... scared. Then he looked both ways down the hall and pulled me into his office. "Helena," he hissed, "don't say those words too loud." Turns out this Third Power is top on his agenda lately, ever since he heard those rumours last year. He isn't completely sure how they recruit, but he thinks it couldn't hurt to hang around with the Recons for a while. Says he has a guy, Locus Donovan, already in that way, for the past few months, and a couple more in very deep cover still trying. Everything keeps coming back to those Cubeheads. Looks like I'm going to have to polish up my deliriously religious act and see if I can get myself recruited, or at least got a good firsthand look.

Sept. 24, 268: Good news, Camden says it sounds like Eleanor Tracey's being recruited to work for "a higher power..

Sep. 28, 268: I've been accepted into the Recon compound. There was no hiding from the high-level guys, they screened me, but I made up some hogwash about repenting for my pursuit of them and wanting to make a fresh start. I imagine they don't trust me. Winning them over will take time. I just hope I'm not balancing on the wrong wheel. Until then, just call me 'Sister Yael..

Oct. 10, 268: Hard to get away to journal, tech forbidden and they wanted me to live in the compound as an acolyte to detox. Letting me keep my day job, though on a personal leave of absence right now, because my connections 'might prove beneficial to the faith.' No leads yet. No sign of Donovan or Tracey anywhere in the compound, either. Where could they have gone.

Oct. 17, 268: It's kind of pleasant here, actually. Milking cows, pulling weeds. It's evident that the rank-and-file Cubehead knows nothing, but I have yet to crack the inner sanctum. There's one odd duck here, though, Brother Fallow. Nobody's said it outright, but you can tell the people running the show don't entirely approve of him. There's some respect, but it's holding the door for him with a frown on their face, that kind of thing. And he calls me 'Helena Frye' instead of 'Sister Yael..

Oct. 24, 268: Brother Fallow approached me today and asked if I could do a small favour for the faith. An act of compliance. Told me to go back to police HQ. They wanted me to pull the police files on Sente Kiteway, of all people. There's not much there that isn't a matter of public record, so of course I did it. We'll see where it gets me. I think they know I'm a double agent - I've made my police background no secret, if nothing else it distracts from the other plants here. But we're playing the but-does-she-know-that-he-knows-that-she-knows-that-he-knows-she-knows game. So they know I'm with the police, and they're wondering if I'm sincere in intention, and even if I'm not they're wondering if they can get anything good out of me, or feed me bad information. And maybe they're wondering if they can turn me to their side, too. It's a tightrope, and no net waiting for me.

Oct. 25, 268: Now it's Aiko Entrescore, Inari Ekeba and Sanjean Adamek. Curious.

Oct. 27, 268: All the City Councillors. Hope this is getting me someplace.

Oct. 30, 268: I'm IN. They haven't spelled it out for me yet, but Brother Fallow has said that a woman of my skills and training is wasted in the fields. 'You are a soldier,' he said, 'and the Cube needs you to fight in a secret war, Helena Frye.' Since then I've been removed to another location for combat training. Not sure where I am, not sure how often I can check in.

Nov. 25, 268: The others here talk about a man called V. It can't be coincidence.


Jan. 1, 269. Well, I've been sent back to the real world. I've been inducted into the Third Power, but aside from a lot of philosophic indoctrination about rightful heirs of the Cube and the true power of faith, I haven't learned very much more. Evidence of trafficking in stolen goods, rumours of a big project coming to fruition later this year, but not much more than that. Just small fry. Then Fallow came to me a few days ago and told me that the Third Power wants me to go back to work. I'm to lead a raid on the old Gillit Road subway station, to cement my reputation in the force as someone who is making progress as a double agent - but not too much progress. A little theater, I'm to stage-manage it very carefully, for the benefit of the people on my team. I just know they have someone - maybe a bunch of someones - keeping an eye on me here, to make sure of which side I'm on. I'm being tested.

Jan. 10, 269: Snowfall today. Now we watch to see which rabbit jumps the highest.

Jan. 18, 269: The raid on Gillit Road was yesterday. What a disaster. Three of my team were hurt, and who do I find there but a member of the Academy's Cube Retrieval Team? Damn that Kurt McAllister, he could easily have spoiled the whole thing for me. He may have already, I don't know. Now I'm scrambling like mad to convince the police that I haven't in fact joined with the Third Power, but not too hard in case I convince my minders, as well, whoever they might be. Camden keeps giving me these long, soulful looks and citing the literature on brainwashing techniques. Was this the test? Is McAllister trying to suss me out to see if I'm staying loyal? I've taken McAllister into custody, and he knows an awful lot for somebody who claims not to know anything. Knows about the Third Power, for starters. I've got him trying to prove to me he's telling the truth about this secret message with my name on it. I just don't know how to play this, and I can't afford to blow it now.

Jan. 19, 269: I don't know how or why, but the Sentinel is killing me. A little too accurate. I don't know who the leak is, but I'd bet anything it was one of my minders. They're playing me, I know it, but I just don't see the game, yet. How can I prove myself.

Feb. 8, 269: Heard a report on McAllister today. Apparently he's working away like a good beaver. At least one of us is making progress.

Feb 15, 269: McAllister came through for me today. I think. He delivered an audio recording of K's death, among other things. So our V is a sound engineer? At any rate, I still think McA isn't giving me his whole story. I'm not sure where he's lying to me, but I know it's somewhere. I wonder if he's covering up for the Master.

Mar. 2, 269: I've tracked down Fallow and told him I can't abide the double-agent bit. Thought it was a safe gamble, now that I have Donovan and Tracey in with them now, too, and nobody knows they're mine. Told him I feel like somebody is playing with my mind, and I really just want to quit the force and focus on the true cause. He smiled and told me that I've been a good little girl, but not good enough, and that I'd get my special treat when the time was right. What an ass.

Mar. 15, 269: Horrid night last night. Crime wave to end all crime waves, but it all evaporated like fog the instant we sent anyone out to check. I've been giving it a good, hard think, and it looks like some sort of diversionary tactic, but what was our attention being diverted from.

Mar. 18, 269: Kostka's back, Holyoke's wife. She's got a wild hair about knowing who stole the Cube. She's got the basics of it, too, but the specifics are all mixed up. She must have overheard a little too much of a Third Power conversation and leapt to all of the wrong conclusions. Still, she knows just enough to be a danger to herself, so I guess she's scored herself a police babysitter for the foreseeable future.

Apr. 27, 269: No news, no progress, no leads, no hope. Fallow isn't returning my calls anymore. I'm still not nailing them for the black market traffic, though, just in case. It wouldn't do me much good, anyway. I can't connect them to the Cube, I don't know what they're building, I don't know what they're planning, and I don't know who it was that snatched the Cube from under their noses. It's been over two years since the thing vanished, and I feel like every two steps forward are taking me another three back.

May 22, 269: Tracey checked in today with a quick burst. Seems there's been an emergency of some kind at the old Silburn-Griggs mines out west. She says: "I was a part of a clean-up team. We carefully removed all of the equipment hidden deep in the mine, packed it all onto vans going who-knows-where, reviewed the security tapes. Some looser tongues than usual, and they said that some girl has been keeping tabs on McAllister for us - I mean for them - and when she packed up, he chased her down like a bloodhound. And killed her. I saw the body, we left it at the bottom of the mine and then set charges to flood the place." Looks like McAllister has had his hands in a lot of nasty things. Doesn't seem in character for him. Wonder if I can use it for leverage? Probably not. The whole scenario sounds ridiculous, and it's just thirdhand gossip at this point. Could the mines be where our stolen goods were headed? And where was everything moved?

Jun. 23, 269: I finally found a free week to check out Tracey's report. I'm headed for the Silburn-Griggs mines with a team of divers. McAllister has been trying to raise me for days, but I think it might be better for everyone if I'm unreachable. For now.

Jun. 28, 269: Turns out that Tracey was right, the place is entirely flooded. It's cold enough in the mines that a body would be well-preserved, but we can't find anything. The rest of the place is picked over and bare.

Jun. 29 269: I tagged McAllister today by key. I'll try to get him next week. We have some talking to do, I think. The Third Power were careful in cleaning this out, but not careful enough. I found a scrap of a memo locked in a desk, and it looks like something big is being planned, but too much of the paper dissolved to see what. I'm also seeing references to "Viendenbourg." But the big thing, the massive thing, is something I gave up on looking for months ago. Off on a side-shaft, there's a hidden room, heavily trapped and lined with - wait for it - several metres of lead. Looks like this is where our guys were going to be taking the Cube.

Aug. 10, 269: Donovan sent a burst last night. Short, whispery. He says no evidence, but word is something massive is going down in the next few days.

Aug. 12, 269: When he said something big he wasn't joking. Wasn't hard to trace the surge to its source. There's a big, empty industrial complex on the western edge of the city. It was filled to the brim with stolen high-tech gear, all blackened into being nearly unrecognisable. The whole place is coated with smoke and ash. I think I'm going to have to pull in some new specialists to make sense of it all. At least now we now what they've been building.

Aug. 13, 269: They sent people to Earth, for sure. There's a sour mood around here, suddenly. Does this mean they've found the Cube and went to fetch it back? Is it too late to stop them?

Aug. 18, 269: Eoin put me before the Council again today. Suddenly the Third Power is a big deal and I'm their expert. This isn't going to be a good thing for me, I think.

Aug. 21, 269: I'm pulling my hair out trying to figure out where to go with this portal business. Eoin told me, with a lot of meaningful glances and weighted emphasis, that I shouldn't go looking in the Academy for answers. I'm sure that's where it all is, but what can I do if Eoin's clipped my wings? Anyway, I have an idea for an in at the Academy, I'll be looking into it over the next few days.

Aug. 22, 269: Donovan checked in again. He said that there really was a portal, and the Third Power pushed some people through to Earth. So much is coming together, now. The stolen goods - the Academy must have been working on a portal, too. Donovan said something went wrong, though, and the machine must have been sabotaged, because it only worked for a few seconds before bursting into flames. Says he's deathly afraid of what his personal radiation dose from it is. Anyway, the brothers in the Power are muttering to each other about how they were set up, how the parts they were sent were sabotaged. If so, good show to whoever did it.

Aug. 23, 269: Met with McAllister and laid down some truths. He might not be entirely with the good guys, but I can at least trust by now that he isn't in league with the Third Power. Looks like it's a deal. Too bad he's a scholar, the force could use more people with his resourcefulness and initiative.

Oct. 31, 269: Stupid politicians and their stupid games. I've been told to cool my heels on the Third Power for a while, because it brings up too many frightening images for the voting public. How am I supposed to keep them from frightening the voting public if I can't keep them from carrying out their nasty little plans.

Nov. 10, 269: I haven't had a check-in from Tracey in eons, not since the mines. I don't want to pull her emergency flag just yet, but I'm getting pretty worried. Where could she be?


Jan. 1, 270: I got double-teamed by a pair of jokers from the Academy today - Garnet Reed and dear old Henrik Tanner. Seems they've been noticing an unusual amount of noise in the carrier wave of the Earth data link - the link that isn't supposed to be carrying any data, remember - and after what seems like a ridiculous amount of effort over what is essentially static, they found it wasn't noise at all. Looks like the Third Power have been keeping tabs on their Earth team right under our noses. They think they've plugged the leak, but they also want to see the link reopened. Reed seems miserable. He says that they felt like they were making good progress on Earth until the link shutdown. Now, though, it really seems like the Power is going to beat us to it. I had to tell them it wasn't my department, but good luck to them.

Jan. 5, 270: Looks like Reed and Tanner went to the press. Good for them.

Jan. 11, 270: Well. I guess we've found the Cube thief. Kind of. Or the thief found us? At any rate - Reed and Tanner cornered me at my office the one time I've been there in weeks. They said they've received mail that there's a curious web site sitting in a sort of bubble on the other end of the data link, updated from here but utterly invisible to us. A fine piece of technical engineering, from the sound of it. Anyway, apparently Reed received email from an Earth person telling him the Third Power is now transmitting data via that bubble, and since they can't figure out how or where this Library of Babel is being altered, they can't stomp on the signal. Which means that the bad guys currently have an edge up on us. I wish I could get my hands on the meat of this Babel thing, though.

Jan. 12, 270: Went before the City Council today. We had a long, unhappy talk about the Third Power and the Cube and the greater security of the city, the data link, and everything else good and noble. Told them as bluntly as I knew how that shutting the link down was a mistake. The bad guys aren't fussed about such trifling matters as disobeying executive orders, are they? As is evidenced by what our beloved secret society has been up to.

Jan. 19, 270: A drop from Donovan today, through one of our emergency routes. He says his group is very excited, like they're on the edge of a big victory. They think they know how to get the Cube, now, and are going to be moving fast. He's also told me to tap into the old underground data net called RelayNet. I thought that thing had been shut down and powerless for 80 years. I don't know how we can patch in without alerting them, but I've got Harrison working at it.

Jan. 20, 270: I had another of those pointed discussions with my favourite puzzle scribe. Seems like the Master's daughter has been kidnapped. He says. By the Third Power. He says. Because they think she was the one who took the Cube? Well, there's the rub - they were there, so they'd have a better idea than anyone, yes? He says they found a piece of legit Earth material in the Kiteway residence during that break-in this week. Again the finger pointing to the Master himself. McAllister says he can help me to nail the Third Power for keeps if I help him. And I think - I believe him, too. It's time to bring this thing to an end.

Jan. 22. 270: McAllister sent me the text of these new Third Power messages he talked about. Everything adds up the way he explained it, so I decided to buy what he's selling. Brought the kid on board. It can't hurt to keep a closer eye on him, if nothing else.

Jan. 25, 270: I'm surprised by how quickly McAllister delivers results. We're working on a plan, now, and it looks like we'll give the Third Power a bayonet to the gut sometime on Tuesday night. Here's hoping McAllister does better in the hot seat than he did at Gillit.

Jan. 31, 270: Being shot hurts. A lot. Who knew? And who knew a mob of volunteer Earthlings could be so helpful in a pinch? McAllister's been holding out on me all this time. As soon as they let me walk out of here, I have a lot of questions to ask a lot of people.