Chapter 56 of Silent Vector

Chapter 56, in which team Temple tries to make chicken salad out of . . .



Since the operation for the moment has become a straight-forward police investigation, Nick has handed over the reins to the best cop on the team, Lieutenant Escobar. The downpour stopped during the early morning allowing the team to gather on the still damp veranda as they finish their morning coffee.

“Sergeant Guzman and I will work the suppliers. Building materials, hardware, generators, etc. Dr. Hall, I think you should work the science side of the operation. Where would he get what he needs to conduct his work? What does he need? What quantities does he need? Who might supply those materials? What assistance would he need in setting up the lab? Cast as broad a net initially as possible. Pharmacies, hospitals, personnel being recruited for the new college, government agencies, any place that might include a scientist with a need for, and access to materials.”

“Got it,” is Pete’s confident response.

“Nick, head over to the professor’s house. If it looks like he’s still there, stake it out and follow him if he leaves. We might get lucky, but I think it’s a safe bet that he’s already headed to the lab for the duration. If it looks like he’s checked out, head over to Government House and see if you can’t get us some help on the transportation side. It’s going to take some tedious document review. We’re looking at shipping traffic, customs logs, quarantine logs, anything unusual that our professor may have had to custom order and ship. Who got that order? Where did they deliver it? When?”

“I’ll take care of it.”

“Dalila and Kyle, see what you can find out from the local labor force. Concentrate on day laborers. If St. Thomas is anything like San Juan, there will be informal pick-up spots in town, places where men congregate hoping to get a day’s work. Find out where those places are. Talk to the men. See if any of them worked for Schnelling, helped him with the lab, or have heard rumors of other groups of workers being used on the lab. We’re a couple of years behind, but it’s still worth looking into.

“Okay, that should get us started. We’ll meet back here this evening to see what we have, what’s worth following up on, and what we can eliminate. Questions?”

Lieutenant Escobar grabs his coffee mug and takes a gulp. Nick is the first to speak up.

“Nice work, Raoul. It looks pretty straight forward. I just want to add that we should try to keep this as low key as possible for the moment. If you run into any resistance, if anyone gets their hackles up, back off. We don’t want to spook the professor if we can help it.”

Kyle can’t help ribbing Nick, so he asks, “If I read you right, you’re saying don’t blow anyone to bits on a beach?”

Nick smiles as he responds. “Yeah, I think that’s a good rule of thumb. But, if push comes to shove, do what you have to do. That’s it, then. Back here by six this evening.”