<== ==>

“You find anything else?” Cinnabar asked Mint. “Anything useful?”

Mint scowled and opened her mouth to say something nasty, but Jonquil interceded. “Thank you for the prompt and thorough work, Inspector. Please keep us posted.”

“…Sure.” Mint was mollified by Jonquil’s courtesy. “Wish I could help more, but you know these neo_SMOKE cats, they act like children. Most of them are high off their gourds when they enter these ‘secure’ chatrooms so they ramble nonstop.” Mint made a flippant gesture. “I’ll keep looking. See if I can get anything from higher up on the underworld food chain.”

She turned to leave and Jonquil watched her go. Mint, who had no friends and was generally disliked, insulted everyone who tried to talk to her except Jonquil. Why was that?

Ah yes. Jonquil too had no friends and was generally disliked. They were much alike, plus or minus 14 inches of height.

“Great. Diakon, Aliza, you’re up to the plate.” Sepia sipped her coffee.

Seeing the hostile or disinterested faces of her fellows, Jonquil sighed and passed her notes to her partner. “Alrighty everyone, let’s talk about the weapons.” Aliza glanced down, reading Jonquil’s work. “We all know it was a rabbit bomb by now. What Jonny and I found was that there were… four in total.”

She pulled up the map Jonquil prepared with the four bombs labeled. “First floor bathroom, second story right side maintenance closet, second story left side coat room, and third story stairwell. The first story bomb was larger than the other three, judging by the casing, and they were planted with a lot of care. The three upper story bombs did serious damage to the foundation of the building, so when the one on the first story went off a few seconds later, it caused the entire building to cave in on itself.” Aliza paused. “Multiple bombs also suggests the possibility of multiple culprits.”

“Let’s say one for now for simplicity’s sake,” said Sepia, wiping some coffee off her lip. “So the bomber knew her shit. Good to know. What else?”

Jonquil figured she could get away with a brief comment. “If the bomber only cared about leveling the building, she would have taken out the levee upriver,” she said. “That would have destroyed the building in a deluge. This seems a more difficult and delicate way to only mostly destroy the building and only mostly kill the people inside.”

“She might not have thought of it,” said Cinnabar.

“She knows her shit,” Jonquil replied. “She thought of it.”

The other DI’s face contorted in fury. “Maybe she was new to Ttlatic, then.”

“She knew the workings of SPRING_ToMind well.”

SPRING corporations all look the same, dumbass.”

“Well, why use a rabbit bomb then?” Jonquil shot back. “A neutronic fusion bomb is cheaper and would kill everyone inside just as dead. So would a memetic viral agent. A Neighbors totem imbued with furious ancestral spirits, same story. The bomber’s intentions were not to simply kill everyone inside.”

“What were they then?” Cinnabar asked, crossing her arms. Jonquil opened her mouth to reply, but Cinnabar interrupted her. “We don’t want your patented speculations and hunches, witch. We want the facts. Do you know?”

“I don’t,” Jonquil admitted.

“It’s still a hell of a lot more than we knew before. Nice work ladies, take your seats.” Sepia peered around, then called on Cordovan and his partner Hunter.

Hunter was a big-hipped and laconic woman. She was nice enough, but silent to the point of creepiness. Jonquil didn’t hold it against her, though- she was only so quiet because of the Arcane Suppressor strapped to her forehead. The metal circlet prevented Hunter from using her magical ability- it also prevented her from feeling almost any emotion. She had described it before to Jonquil as “profound numbness, like I’m always encased in someone else’s body.”

Hunter could never take off the Suppressor except to sleep or bathe- it was on a time lock. Sepia could also remove it, assuming Hunter could get ahold of her. All witches in OPTICA had to wear Suppressors unless they submitted themselves to a monthly screening to prove that both they and their ability were not dangerous.

Jonquil hated those fucking screenings- but they were a small price to pay so she could avoid wearing one of those horrid things.

<== ==>

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