Where was I? Oh yes, back in Hong Kong.
We spent the next few days following up on the information we had and unwinding a little. The alternative was to launch a four-man, blind assault on Area 51 and we’re not that crazy. Well. Most of us aren’t. Dimitri is nuts enough for Kellog’s entire range of breakfast cereals.
… I seem to be drinking toilet water. I know you have American friends, but you need to train them not to drink bourbon, then you’ll have room for more of the good stuff. If you’re out of scotch, crack open something from your Russian collection, and not the bootleg meths you bought as a joke.
So. Nuts. We picked up a few tidbits about the late, but not so great, Adolf and put out a few hints of our own that suggested we might like a proper conversation. As you might expect it went something along the lines of Nina expression a desire for some straight talking, followed Lupus declaring that was a straight talking kind of guy before exchanging weasily words with us and leaving before the drinks turned up. About all we did discover was that he was “just obeying orders”, which isn’t something you really want to be claiming with a name like his, that he was ordered to watch the four of us and that he was also part of the program … claiming to be part of phases 3 (like Dimitri), 4 (Nina), 6 (the exploded clones) and 9 (whatever the hell that is).
Meanwhile Tommy was having troubles from his past rear their ugly heads. That is his business, so you can ask him if you want to know the details. I’ll just say that a bit of computer work from me landed the man in my debt, his escapades allowed me to discover just how crazy Luchenko really is — crazy enough to think that claymore mines make a great border for a combat arena — and that his demonstration of his personal combat skills made me six grand richer and very glad that he’s on my side.
Going back to the Cookbook and related eugenics mess, we decided that, slim thought the possibility might be, the lack of information we had about phase 5 might mean there is a generation running around that is younger then Nina and Anna’s generation but older than the 6 year old bodies from the lab. It took a bit of work to set up, but I put together a quiet, cloud based system that would run image recognition based on photos of the subjects at various ages (taken from Nina’s albums) against various databases ranging from the simple (crawlers with semi-random search terms hitting image search engines, Flickr, Tumblr and so on) to the private (airport security, various identity registration agencies across the world (passports, driving licenses, etc). No hits on that yet.
Then we went off of a little tour to the west. First stop Russia.
After Tommy’s personal business, we had a body to drop off, then we went to see Comrade Dimitri’s adoptive family. They had been relative senior in the government back in the day, and when they started pondering the possibility of adoption, they were directed to a particular orphanage by one Robert Pinket … and American defector. Not the first person I would have expected to be giving that sort of advice.
Since the orphanage was also home to at least one other known subject of the program, we paid them a visit, but found nothing interesting in the paperwork. Either no incriminating records were kept, or there was a good quality cover up after the fact.
And so to England.
It is, I assume, clear to you that with all these revelations about our pasts and the connections between them, we were planning to confront our families about them? Good.
England, or more precisely Nottingham. I was a bit disappointed in my mother, if you want a nice, big, quiet property then look to Cornwall or Devon, not Nottingham.
We parked up on a backroad behind the property and I tromped across the fields, hat down low, playing the lost hiker. I might have been gone for 18 months, but I wouldn’t put it past Keely to have someone watching the place in case I dropped in.
I rang the bell, for some reason Mother had gone with a pull style one. I wasn’t very comfortable, the weather was an improvement over Hong Kong, but dropping in unannounced 18 months after you attend your Father’s empty-casket funeral and then drop off the face of the Earth is always going to be awkward.
The door opened and I was greeted with “Hello Marcus, James Phoenix said you might drop by”.
That answered a couple of my questions “How do you deal with a mother going into shock?” “You don’t need to” and “Did Dad ever mention someone called James Phoenix?” “I know him well”, but opened up a book of new ones.
I think I need another glass of the vodka now.