Helena Frye tells Kurt what she knows about the Third Power's portal. Her investigations have been hampered by discouragement from her superiors, so now she's asking Kurt to help her look into the Academy thefts and their connection with the portal's construction.
"I've seen lot of places lately that have been rapidly abandoned and destroyed. Or maybe it's the other way around. I don't suppose you know anything about Silburn-Griggs, do you?"
I yawned. I wish I could say that this was an audacious piece of subterfuge on my part, but I was genuineley tired. Even next-gen ceretin can only keep sleep away for so long.
"Somewhere out west, isn't it?" I said.
"Yes, it is," replied Helena. She paused for a moment, probably wondering whether to pursue that line of conversation. I spoke up before she thought too hard.
"So what do you know about the portal?"
"Let me get one thing straight, McAllister. This is more sensitive than anything you've dreamt of before, so I am counting on you to not pass this on. I am also counting on you to help me in return."
"Fine," I said impatiently.
"After the blackout, my team worked with the Defence Forces to figure out what happened. You guys figured it out first, but we managed to go one step further and pinpoint the origin of the blackout. Guess what? It was the same location that our physicist Dervent said a radiation burst was detected from."
"Somewhere outside of the city. When we got there, the entire facility was abandoned. The people running it... the Third Power... had obviously known we were going to come soon, so they had to leave everything behind. With the whole place being underground, they could be anywhere. We haven't explored it fully yet, but I don't think either of us will be surprised if it turns out to be connected to the catacombs. Those clean rooms aren't much of a secret any more, huh?"
I snorted. "Do you have any good news for me? I'm a little sick of having them run circles around us all the time."
"I think there's a reason for that, but I'll get to it later. Yes, there is some good news. When we found the portal - we didn't quite believe it was a portal, at first - it was badly damaged. In fact, completely inoperable. Dervent's team is crawling all over it, and while they still haven't figured out quite how it works or what it's capable of, they're pretty confident that it only worked for one minute, at most, before burning out. That means that the Third Power didn't send over too much stuff to Earth. Judging by their setup, I don't think they expected things to go that way."
"Tell Dervent to check the portal controller. It might have-"
"She's already done that. All wiped. But there is some more unpleasant information. The parts that comprise the portal, they're almost all from the Academy. It took us some digging up to figure that out, but it's true. And while I wish I could blame all of this on the respectable Academicians" - she pronounced the word with an audible sneer - " I am encountering some equally unpleasant politics from my superiors."
"They don't want you to investigate."
"Something tells me this isn't the first time you've heard this story."
"Not quite this story, but one very much like it. So, there's a cover-up. It's not just the Third Power building this portal on their own, they have help from people in both of our bases, and they're stopping the investigations," I said
"Exactly. And I want to know who. The portal might have impressed you and a lot of other people, but I'm more impressed - and terrified - by the way that the Third Power and their friends have been able to funnel resources from the Academy and sidetrack government investigations."
"I'll look into the Academy. I already have some leads, although it's going to be difficult with what's going on in the CRT."
"He's a good guy. I think. But I don't know who he takes his orders from. It's not just Sente, but I think you guessed that. Look, I want you to find out more about those parts - where they came from, where they were going, and whether there are any more of them. It's too much of a coincidence that they just happened to be available at the Academy, and in the right quantities." She paused again, as if listening to something. "I have to go - I think my key is being monitored and even this voice call could be detected. We'll talk later. I expect you to help me with this, Mr. McAllister."
I shook my head. One of these days I'm going to have hang up before her.