Tin Man/Medical Investigation: Alchemy

Part Twenty-Three
Prompt: Basket

Glitch finally found DG in the largest suite that she had refused when it was offered to her. She and Jack Connor were examining a pile of coins to the amusement of Jeb Cain and Raw.

"Seriously, Kansas, a buffalo?" She held the coin up to her face. "Because that is the first thing you think of when someone says Kansas."

"Could be worse," Jack said. "Like New Hampshire. They put their Old Man of the Mountain on theirs, then rock slide. The face slid right off the mountain."

"I hate to interrupt a good time," Glitch said. "But we have to go over this paperwork before we meet with the Council again, DG."

"There's always paperwork," she grumbled, handing the coin back to Jack.

Jeb stood up from the armchair. "Since I'd rather miss that, I'm sure Jack would too. Do you want to go riding?"

"Riding what? Horses? I've never rode a horse before."

"It won't be a bad thing to learn then."

DG called after them. "Be careful, we don't have permission from his father to crack his skull open." Then she turned back to Glitch. "Okay, let's relocate to the library."

Raw followed him and DG down to the library along with DG's guards, and Cain met them in the first floor hall. "I got the reports on the assault on the Longcoat camp."

"Add it to the pile," Glitch answered cheerfully when it was clear DG wasn't going to say anything. "Or does Jeb need to sign off on it first?"

"He already did." Cain shook his head. "Damned if I know when he did."

He started to shut the library doors when his Slipper doppelganger and the young woman who was not an alchemist stopped him. "Is Miss Gale in here?"

"What is it, Dr. Connor?" They slipped into the library and shut the door. DG gestured with her hand and the walls took on a golden hue. "Sound barrier spell. Sorry, but your expression reminded me of talking security with Cain and he doesn't like being overheard."

Connor glanced at Cain. "Fair enough. Frank and Eva found the source of the virus in Neverdale."

"We started in the rooms of a trader people remember arriving before everyone got sick. We thought maybe he was sick and passed it along since he was one of the first ones to die." Eva took a deep breath and continued. "We found a rack of test tubes, four of them, with one missing."

"They all had the virus in them."

DG's mouth dropped open as she stared at Connor. "Popsicle has been mangling the Stand references since this started, and you're telling me he's was right? Somebody made a Captain Trips super-flu?"

"We have no way of knowing if it's a natural disease or genetically modified, but it was deliberately released on Neverdale."

"Let me get this straight." Cain moved closer to the table. "This trader committed murder with this virus that is making people sick? And killed himself with the same thing?"

"It's possible he was acting under orders and not told what was going to happen." Connor shrugged. "Or maybe he was told to handle the virus a certain way to not get sick and he didn't."

"Well, it's not the Longcoats," Glitch said. "They have the inclination to see us all dead at their feet and probably would have stolen it if the witch's alchemists had been working on a project like this, but they don't have the brains to distill illness into a vial."

Connor's lips twitched. "Natalie said the same thing, more or less."

"Clumsy way to assassinate a Queen." Cain plopped his papers on top of the pile Glitch set down on the table.

"That would have to be a side benefit," DG said quietly. "Mother wasn't scheduled to travel to Neverdale; she came after people were dying so rapidly. So if it's another kingdom resorting to bioterrorism, why did they pick Neverdale? Why didn't they hit Central City and affect the most people at once?"

"A test?" Glitch shrugged. "On the surface it looks like they put all their test tubes in one basket, or suitcase in this instance, but what if they didn't?"

Connor nodded. "Unless there's some strategic significance to Neverdale you haven't shared."

"It was a vacation town before the witch's coup," Cain said. "And we haven't given it any military significance after the Battle of the Eclipse. So it probably was a test." DG made a distressed noise that broke Cain's concentration as he looked at her. Raw scooted his chair closer to her and patted her arm. Cain looked back at Eva. "Did you find anything that could identify who this trader was working for?"

"The name he signed in with was Ned Barterman," Eva said. "Frank searched his stuff pretty thoroughly, so you'll have to ask him."

"What do we do now?" DG asked.

"We're still trying to find a treatment for the patients," Connor answered. "Is there any medical literature Eva can search through here or do we have to send off for it?"

Glitch left the table to scan the shelves. "I think Baron Colfer bought books based on the color of the bindings. And it looks like Cain's paranoid frame of mind has served us well again."

"I only suggested we keep Queen Galinda's death quiet so the Longcoats wouldn't take the opportunity to attack. I didn't expect the Council to actually agree with me."

Glitch grinned despite of the news. The Council hadn't stood a chance when Wyatt Cain had made up his mind that the news would put DG in danger. He pulled out a vaguely familiar title. "Here's a biological encyclopedia, so this must be the scientific shelves." He passed it over to Eva, who looked over the shelves, before rejoining the table. "We should relocate."

DG's blue eyes flashed as she opened her mouth.

"To another room in the manor." Glitch added before she could rant about not going to Central City. "So Miss Rossi can work."

She stood up. "Okay, and I know Cain's going to want me in a room with no other windows and doors, but it has to be bigger than a closet if I don't get a window."

"We'll find something suitable." Glitch assured her as she pulled down the sound barrier spell and they picked up their paperwork.

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