Worth and WORDwork had come back from the library and were talking with the Manmad in the Agency's library. The Manmad was saying to Worth, "The young officer then politely listened to everything I had to say and left without saying much. I thought he was acting a little odd, myself! I worry about him, Rich. You know how I worry. Look at the time, gotta go!"
"Seize you 'round." WORDwork said and the Manmad muttered mildy and dimly, something about a recipe for a can of homemade Super.
"Nice fellow." Worth expressed and, "Now, about the book, the story. How does it end? How does it begin?"
"My dear fellow," said Sherlock Holmes as we sat on either side of the fire in his lodgings at Baker Street, "life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generation, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable."
WORDwork gave Worth a case of the WORDs and he had his adventure in the wink of an eye. "Thanks. Where and when did you first see it?"
"That's TOP SECRET and it COST PETER his life. Peter was a STREET COP and his TOES CREPT when he walked the beat with his PET ESCORT but he had a SCEPTER TO help CREEP TOTS out. With me so far? The WAR RIDERS killed Peter after he found the book in a DRAWER yesterday morning. You 'earing me, as the Thin Man might say or should we DRAW you a picture?" and WORDwork, Peter, his escort, the tots and the War Riders along with one Thin Man all looked expectantly at Detective Worth.
"I got it. Third library today." and bid farewell and on up he went to the Fortune Floors.
THE METAL MORGUE
Alex was looking down at a Faceless Robot. He reviewed the Autopsychic's log of internal contents. Precision Fission Decision Engine, Plistac plastic tubing, Golden Gears and Silver Springs. There were Wires of One and Switches of Zero. A fiber optical course with a circus of circuits, conduits, and canduits! A couple of qubits. A few crumbs. And Sherlock Holmes.
Alex wondered about those little bits of bread but aside from that and the book, there still wasn't much to go on. He hoped he'd have better luck in the robot's office.
The elevator whirled down to the Forgotten Floor and stopped with a cling! Alex stepped out into a small waiting area no bigger than where he just was. Enough to fit a small chair and a door off to the side. The door was made of burnt redwood with a window of frozen glass. It was also locked. Using a trick the Captain showed him, the Corporal pulled out his LAWhistle and chirped the appropriate key. He opened the door and surveyed his surroundings. It was an office. Office desk, office chair. Is that a filing cabinet? Affirmative.
Alex picked up a framed photograph of a Faceless Robot and Reward taken long ago, around the time of the Quick War and discovered, to his surprise, that they were both smiling. Someone, or thing, had marked the robot's faceless area with cartoon happiness. A clear act of vandalism and illegal under the Clear Vandalism Act. How did the AutoCOPS miss this?
The report was prepared and double checked, triple checked, and even not checked and sent out over the Choir. They had an AutoJOB to do.
THE BASEMENT TOWER
The robot lived with the Landlords. Alex took the elevator past the Flooded Floors, then an escalator over the Hall of Mazes, then stairs through the Unfinished Room and finally arrived at the robot's apartment. The door, made of heavy lead, was unlocked and easily opened and he surveyed his surroundings. It was an office. Office desk, office chair. No filing cabinet. That was a nice personal touch but the desk was askew and the chair knocked down as if a struggle had taken place. The records showed nothing as the AutoCOPS failed to sweep the area for evidence. Alex was going to give an earful to that AutoBOSS.
THE DAY BEFORE
The chair knocked back as a Faceless Robot stood up, stunned. It had a face. It was a Robot once more. "HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE" it clink'd and clank'd.
"Anything is possible these days." a mysterious voice whisped.
TO BE CONTINUED