OPTICA #10

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Everyone was assumedly asking the same question in silence. “Right, so, tellies. I’m not sure why they’re there.” Cordovan glanced at Aliza, and soon most of the room was looking at her.

While it wasn’t her job, Aliza was generally acknowledged as Major Crimes’ specialist on the locals. The light-based communication of the tellies was extremely complex and only a small handful of HEARTH and LUX linguists had managed to get a handle on it. Aliza’s eye implants were a major boon for translation, making her the only person they had handy who could understand their language.

“Huh… no clue. But I think I can translate their conversation, if you rewind.” Aliza watched, her mechanical eyes unblinking. “The one in the front, ahead, is telling the others to hurry because they’re too slow. He’s not comfortable staying here, surrounded by so many aliens. The ones behind are… more casual, I think. That one is asking why he’s in such a hurry, and that one is saying he’s hungry and he hopes that SPRING’ll feed them before kicking them out. The third is silent except to agree with his fellows.”

“Any idea why the leader is in such a hurry to leave?” Sepia asked.

“He seems nervous about something. Whatever it is, he’s not saying.”

“Nobody seems perturbed,” said Hunter, flatly as always. “Must be there a lot. Involved in SPRING_ToMind’s work.”

That made sense. “So case closed then,” said Cinnabar. “Either witches or tellies blew the base… probably the latter.”

Jonquil shook her head. “We can’t be that hasty. There’s no reason to believe-”

“That’s the most obvious answer though,” Cinnabar interrupted, eager to one-up Jonquil. “If tellies were patrolling the base, they’d understand the security and layout well enough to plant the bombs.”

“Makes sense,” said Sepia. “At the very least, I want to know why SPRING_ToMind was using tellies for their work. We’re gonna focus the investigation on them for now- will give the witches and others a look later.”

Sepia then handed out marching orders for the various duos. Cinnabar and Oxford were to gather more information on SPRING_ToMind, particularly on any prior arrests or other scandals relating to their employees. Hunter and Cordovan were to try to match the bomb locations to the footage and see if they could compile a suspect list. Almost everyone else was assigned to something involving the telegaeics.

One by one, the other inspectors filed out of the room. Aliza blew Cordovan a kiss as he walked out of and he pantomimed catching it and putting it in his pocket. Sepia saved Jonquil and Aliza for last. “You two are also gonna look into the tellies,” she said. “See what you can shake up about rebellion and dissidence on their side of town.”

“Senior Inspector, I’m against this,” Jonquil said sharply. “The simple presence of telegaeics in the base is peculiar, but I hardly think it’s suspicious.”

“I dunno Jonny, that one telly was acting mighty weird,” Aliza said. “It might be good to at least question him.”

“And besides, we’re not flush with leads. It’s gonna be a lot of work before we start seeing progress.” Sepia took a long draught from her mug. “This is important work, hear?”

“Yes ma’am.” Jonquil still had reservations, but she couldn’t think of a convincing counterargument. With a salute, she turned to leave.

Aliza followed her out. “What’s the problem?” she asked.

“Nothing. I just think we should be searching for evidence, not harassing the locals because a few of them were spotted at the crime scene. Do you think we’ll even be able to find the ones that were at the base?”

“Probably not, but I’m sure we can dredge something up.” Aliza smiled. “This is kinda exciting, isn’t it?”

“It isn’t. It’s an atrocity. Dozens are dead.”

“Sure- but c’mon Jonny, you can’t tell me you aren’t at least a little into it. Big mystery. Bomb goes kaboom. Aliza and her deadpan sidekick save the day with her amazing investigative prowess.”

“I’m the deadpan hero,” said Jonquil. You’re the comic relief sidekick.”

“See? Told ya you were into it!”

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