Chapter 4: INVESTIGATION
The following morning, Brad walked into Quinn’s bedroom.
“Ready?” Brad asked.
Nothing. No blob poking out of the jar or anything.
Brad stepped forward, “Quinn,” he called, “You coming?
Again, there was no response.
Brad knelt beside the jar.
A vase just outside in the living room began to slowly morph.
“Look I shouldn’t be mad about last night…” Brad started.
The vase had morphed into Quinn. Hearing everything Brad was saying, he quietly crept up to the doorway and let Brad continue on.
“It’s just that these courting rituals take time,” Brad said, “What came up doesn’t happen often and I was thinking with the wrong head. Hell, even I wasn’t expecting it. I know you just wanted to experience what a date is like since you don’t do those. I shouldn’t have called you all those names. You’re none of those and I’m very sorry for getting mad.”
Quinn actually found it amusing.
“Quinn?” Brad said, leaning closer to the jar.
“Apology accepted.” Quinn said.
Brad quickly looked over, almost in disbelief, and just asked, “Ready?”
At the CC, the men entered with Kimberly. She started everything up as usual.
“It’s about that time,” Kimberly said, “You have the tracer?”
Brad phased his suit on and held his hand up, “Right here,” he said, “Waiting.”
“Great,” Kimberly said, “Let me do…this.”
One of the monitors turned into an interface for Brad to stick his hand in, “Inserting program.” he said, holding up his other hand and phasing out a 3D map of the building. His hand in the interface began to glow sporadically in parts as it rapidly exchanged information.
The signal appeared again, as predicted.
“There it is.” Kimberly said.
“Running tracer.” Brad said.
Quinn watched as the map in Brad’s hand began forming a path to follow. It went up for several floors and made a line to follow before coming to a stop.
“I think it’s done.” Quinn said.
“It is,” Brad confirmed, “Now we just have to follow it.”
Kimberly stood, “Let me come along,” she said, “I can open doors for you.”
The trio walked down a hall, passing several people by. Brad kept the map in his HUD (Head-Up Display) on his visor.
“Next left,” Brad said, “Then the elevator up to the top floor.”
“So, Quinn, any feelings at all?” Kimberly asked.
“About?” Quinn replied.
“Anything,” Kimberly said, “Do you or don’t you have them?”
“Some basic ones,” Quinn answered, “I can feel amusement at a joke or pain if shot with energy weapons but, though I can care for people, things like love are alien to me. Maybe it’s too deep of an emotion for me.”
“Haven’t you ever gotten mad?” Kimberly asked.
Quinn chuckled, “It takes quite a lot to even annoy me.”
“Good luck doing that.” Brad said.
They all waited as a few people exited before entering the elevator. Kimberly entered their destination.
While moving up, Brad and Quinn stood on either side of Kimberly.
Quinn looked over at Brad. He couldn’t actually see Brad’s face with the suit on.
Brad simply kept looking forward as he examined the map.
Quinn looked forward and made a sound as if he were clearing his throat, “On the topic of emotions,” he smiled, “Brad, I noticed you yourself seemed annoyed. How was the date?”
Brad and Kimberly looked over.
“It was fine,” Kimberly said, “I look forward to our next one.”
It wasn’t Kimberly’s answer Quinn was wanting to hear. It was Brad’s reaction that he again found amusing. He only wished he could see his friend’s face.
With Kimberly not looking or even noticing, Brad pointed a finger and made a be silent, neck being sliced and hanging man gesture, “It was fine, fine,” he answered, “Just had a little trouble with the rental on the way home. Radio wouldn’t shut up. You could say I’m glad it didn’t blow up on my spot.”
It was then Kimberly faced Brad with a smile.
“I look forward to this weekend too” he said.
The elevator reached its destination and slid the doors open.
“You should come with us next time,” Kimberly said, exiting he elevator with the guys, “I can bring a friend. We’ll double date.”
Again, behind Kimberly and without her noticing, Brad was now looking at Quinn obviously and relentlessly shaking his head.
Quinn got the message, “No thanks,” he answered, “I don’t want to impose and as I explained to Brad before – My kind doesn’t date. I simply don’t believe in it.”
Kimberly’s face cringed, “Bummer!” she said.
“Down this hall,” Brad said, “Then, second right and it’s the last door at the very end.”
“Did you see the chief?” Quinn asked.
“Yup,” Brad said, “While you went and got the cruzer. I gave him our progress report.”
“What happened,” Quinn smiled, “Did he ask you anything?”
Brad grew visibly irritated, though with his helmet on, no one could tell.
“It was alright,” Brad answered, “He asked about how my date was.”
Brad, put on the spot, couldn’t flat-out deny anything knowing his friend could just find out the truth later. He now knew it was Quinn who’d said something because he never told his chief about his date. He didn’t know it but, Quinn was only trying to help by getting Brad to further say good things in front of Kimberly.
“Hmm,” Quinn said, “What did you say?”
“The date went well.” Brad said. It wasn’t a lie but, he purposely left out the details.
Quinn was suddenly and genuinely perplexed. Carter had emailed him a message that Brad had actually said, “I think I’m in love. That girl is wonderful. Maybe there’s a future with her.” Quinn was under the impression Kimberly would like that and decide to be with Brad forever.
Carter had said it was ok only if there was no conflict of interest.
Brad was afraid to creep Kimberly out.
The truth was that hearing it wouldn’t have affected Kimberly either way. She’d like it in a cute way then just move on at her own pace. That’s what she’d show but, secretly she’d be very happy.
Quinn rolled his eyes and thought, ‘I give up. What else can I do? There’s no helping this species.’
Kimberly opened the door to the office.
The office had a more traditional setup. There was a window behind a desk, the desk already had its monitor up and beside that was a few stacks of paper. Directly behind the desk was an empty swivel chair.
“Are you sure this is the place?” Quinn asked.
“Sure,” Brad answered, “Must have just missed whoever it was.”
Kimberly sat and checked the monitor, “Nothings here, it must have been wiped. It looks like regular accounting information.”
Brad studied the monitor while Quinn looked out of the window.
“It’s alright,” Kimberly said, “Central, whose office is this?”
“Damane Kutter,” Central answered.
Just then, the door slid open and a man carrying a bag and papers walked in.
“Welcome Mr. Kutter.” Central said.
The trio looked at Kutter. He was an odd-looking man with his glasses and big spiky hair. He looked especially odd in his dress suit.
“It can’t be that easy.” Quinn said.
Brad slowly approached, getting ready to give chase, “Nothing ever is.” he said.
“Can I help you guys?” Kutter asked.
“Where did you just come from?” Quinn asked.
“Wait,” Kimberly said as she stood and moved around the desk, “Central, where has Mr. Kutter been?”
“Mr. Kutter leaves the building every day at the same time for lunch,” Central said, “Exactly where, I don’t have that information. He is gone for ten to fifteen minutes.”
“Hand over that bag,” Brad said.
Kutter casually gave his bag up. Brad took it carefully and slowly looked in.
“Well?” Quinn asked.
“Food,” Brad answered, “Just food.”
Brad handed the bag back.
“One of our computer engineers can cover his tracks like this,” Kimberly said, “The problem is we have over fifty of them.”
“We couldn’t possibly question every single one of them by this time tomorrow.”
“I know,” Brad said as he thought, “If he sees one of us here he can say he’s a janitor or just not come in.”
Quinn crossed his arms and smiled, “If he sees us.”