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P.S.I. - Paranormal Security Institution
Jim B.

Episode 1: The Order of the Green Cap
Part V


P.S.I Headquarters
10:34 A.M.


Jasmine slowly coasted her van into the base’s garage, braking after it had fully left the tunnel. She took a brief glance around to make sure the area was empty, then pulled into the center and performed a quick three-point turnaround, easing back into her parking spot so that the front of the vehicle faced the tunnel. She and Kevin got out as the wall segment began to lower over the opening. “Something I’ve got to know,” she asked her partner as they headed for the door, “when you changed your figure, your clothes remained intact. How the heck did you do that?”

“How’d I do it?” he responded with a sly grin. “Quite well, if you want my opinion.”

“Ha ha. No, seriously.”

“My wardrobe is made from fibers derived from a plant that’s native to Velax. They’re able to contour to the body and stretch or contract if needed. For a race of metamorphs, that comes in quite handy.”

She nodded and returned the pleasant smile. She was pleased that they’d been able to smooth things over. Now that they were getting along, their missions together would be at least a little more pleasant. Exiting the garage, the duo walked down the hallway, with Jasmine leading Kevin to the main lab. After taking a few turns they reached their destination. Standing outside the lab door were David, Danielle and Felicia. The young vampire was holding a glass filled with a red liquid, which he raised up to greet his friends.

“Hey, you finally made it back,” he called out. “What kept you?”

“We had to clear up a bit of red tape,” Jasmine answered. “But we did manage to retrieve Eckley’s flash drive and some fake flesh from our robotic attacker.”

“Maybe it’ll match up with the ‘skin’ from the one we dealt with. We also managed to get its head and an arm,” he filled Kevin in.

“Which should provide a wealth of information once it’s been properly analyzed,” Felicia cut in. “I’ll have my techs access the files on the drive and the laptop you brought me while I compare the flesh samples from the two robots.”

Kevin retrieved the flash drive and the specimen vials from his pocket and handed them over to the feline alien. “Have fun playing with your new toys.”

“Thanks, I certainly will,” she purred. “I’ll contact you when I’ve gathered the results.” She waved farewell and headed into the lab.

Once Felicia had left, Jasmine decided to ask about the missing member. “Where’s Rebecca?”

“I’m afraid she was a trifle worn out after our skirmish at the hotel,” Danielle said. “She’s currently taking a nap in the medical ward to regain her strength. I managed to rejuvenate myself with a brief visit to my garden, and David’s has his own methods of healing, as you see.” She moved her head to hint at the glass David held.

Kevin got a closer look at the glass. He saw the viscous crimson liquid floating within, a few drops staining David’s lips. As the young man lifted it up to take another sip, Kevin got a good view of his fangs and recoiled in disgust. “Aw man... that is sick!”

David waited to swallow the gulp he’d taken. “What?” he exhaled, wiping his lips. Then he looked down at his beverage. “Oh, this?” He chuckled a bit. “No worries, man. It’s just steer’s blood. Tastes kind of like a liquid tenderloin.”

Kevin’s face began to grow pale. “But… but… you’re drinking it!”

“I’m a vampire. It’s the only way I can take in nutrients. Besides, you must’ve seen a lot of blood over in Iraq.”

He had, but he’d never seen anyone slurping it down. He tried to look away from the nauseating sight, but was drawn to it. Then he noticed something that kicked his gag reflex into overdrive. “… There are chunks in it, dude.”

“Yeah. I crumbled up a little blue cheese in it. It enhances the beefy flavor for a very pleasant repast.” That was all Kevin could handle. Weakly gasping, he covered his mouth and rushed past his colleagues, desperately looking for a trash can or bathroom. David rolled his eyes in disbelief. “Jeez… you think he’d be more tolerant of different lifestyles.”

“Some people need time to get accustomed,” Jasmine laughed. “While we’re on the topic of refreshing treats…”

“Ah, right. The candy. Here you go, my dear.” David produced the Toblerone and passed it to Jasmine. “So how did you know this brand would be at the hotel?”

“Toblerones are popular fare at a number of tourist sites,” she said as she peeled back the wrapper. “Practically every hotel and duty-free shop sells them, so it was a safe guess that they’d be in stock at the Hampton.” The bald telepath took a bite out of her snack. “Plus, I helped investigate a haunting there last year and they had them in the mini-bars then.”

“Clever,” Danielle said with a smirk. “But I doubt being correct in your assumption justifies taking the chocolate without reimbursing the hotel. We’re not supposed to resort to theft, you know.”

"Don't worry; I'll mail them a check to cover it. If I recall, last time I was there they each cost $2.25. That's genuine theft.

“Yes, and I’m sure any jury would sympathize with you. By the way, I’m afraid we needed to use our ‘special’ gifts during our investigation, so there is a risk we were recorded.

“Gotcha. I’ll let my dad know about it.”

“Splendid. Oh, there was one other piece of evidence we recovered at the hotel. A copy of the book Mr. Eckley was supposed to sign today. Perhaps he was killed to keep him from revealing something he’d exposed in his writings.”  

“That’s a good theory. But the book’s already been in print for a while now. Why wasn’t he killed before it got published?” Jasmine scratched at her scalp as she attempted to work out the puzzle. “It could’ve been a murder of opportunity. Whoever wanted Eckley dead waited until he came to America.”

“Perhaps they were afraid Eckley would come after them and ruin their plans,” the faerie picked up on her friend’s train of thought. “Decided to get to him before he could interfere with them.”

“Guess he crossed someone who was more paranoid than him,” she commented. “But you’re right; there may be some clue in the book. Where is it? I’ll see what I can find.”

“I left it in my room,” David said in a slightly worried tone. “But are you seriously going to read that thing? I tried to go through some of it and my brain was ready to eat itself after the first ten pages. It is the most atrocious work of literature I have ever come across in my life. You know that collection of Vogon poetry that was confiscated a couple of months back? This drivel is just as painful to read. It’s full of long ramblings that go nowhere, Eckley moves on to other tangents mid-sentence, he mangles his metaphors…”

Jasmine wasn’t fazed by his warnings. She knew that as a writer he had very high literary standards, and often exaggerated how atrocious some works were. At least she hoped he was exaggerating. “Well, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it. But I’m sure I’ll survive. Let’s go get it.”

“You’re far more courageous than I am,” the young vampire said with a hint of awe. “All right, come with me and I’ll show you where I stashed it.”

Danielle waved farewell to the two as they made off for David’s quarters. Turning a corner they happened to pass by Constantine. The P.S.I. chief was walking in the other direction, pouring over a clipboard that held a few document pages. He looked up from his paperwork to nod at his daughter. “Hey Jaz, Dave. Good to see you back. How’d your field work go?”

Jasmine stopped so that she could speak with her father. “Go on, I’ll catch up with you in a few minutes,” she told David. The vampire nodded and went on his way, leaving father and daughter by themselves. She turned to Constantine with an inquisitive glance. “We had a few rough spots, but managed to gather some key pieces of evidence. I ran into Mike Richardson at the station; he’s made it to captain and he says hello. He’s probably going to contact the financial department soon, get some cash to help keep the situation quiet.”

Pendragon nodded. “Not a problem. We have more than enough funds to spare some…” his train of thought was thrown off by the odd look on his daughter’s face. “Is something troubling you?”

“Was there any particular reason you assigned me to work with Kevin?”

“Of course,” he nervously chuckled. “You’ve already spent a great deal of time with Danielle and David. I felt it best if you were paired with one of the new recruits to get better acquainted with them.”

She wasn’t buying it. “Come on, Dad, you’ll have to do better than that.” She folded her arms in annoyance

Constantine held in a proud laugh. She was getting better at seeing through his obfuscation, and evidently his excuses were becoming easier to dissect. “All right, you caught me. During Kevin’s training I was able to pick up a lot about him. He’s a very determined, dedicated, ambitious man, though a little headstrong. He could be quite stubborn and frequently wanted to take the lead, prove that he could handle a position of command. Do those traits remind you of anyone?” Jasmine blushed, slightly embarrassed.   

“There’s no reason to feel ashamed for possessing a strong work ethic. Overzealousness, though, can be a hindrance. I thought that pairing you with Kevin would help temper that trait in both of you.

Jasmine closed her eyes and let out a quiet “heh.” He knew her far too well. “Well,” she said, impressed by her father’s skillful subterfuge, “you’ll be pleased to know that it worked, for me and for Kevin.” She leaned in and gave her father a deep hug. “Sorry I can’t stay longer, but I need to help Dave.” She went back on her path, pausing briefly to look back at her departing dad. “Oh, we’ll need someone to hack into the security system at the Hampton and the police station to wipe their camera footage from this morning.”

“I’ll have the techs get right on it.” He made the “OK” symbol with his hand as he went off. Jasmine nodded and continued on her own way.

************************************************************************

First Church of the Sacred Heart
Kensington, Philadelphia
12:19 P.M


He looked like a British royal guardsman. True, he wasn’t dressed like one: full-length coats, baseball caps and sunglasses definitely weren’t the approved wardrobe for the Queen’s guard. But his manner was reminiscent of one. The hulking figure had been standing outside the front doors of the church for untold hours, completely motionless. He addressed no one who passed by, remained mute when questioned or insulted by gawkers, didn’t even shiver in spite of the freezing temperature.

The figure just stood there, waiting for one of its masters to come. It stirred briefly as it heard the sound of a car slowly coming down the street. Raising its head, it noticed the snazzy silver Jaguar rolling up in front of the chapel, pulling into a parking spot behind a blue Acura. The driver stepped out of the car, a beanpole of a man in a thick grey suit with a bad comb-over and narrow glasses perched over his pointy nose, giving him the appearance of a bird of prey. Grabbing a thick briefcase from the driver’s seat, he closed the door and stepped onto the sidewalk, walking up the stone stairs.

As the well-dressed man approached the doors, the sentry raised its head to address the visitor once he was a few inches near him. “Present identification,” it said in a metallic tone. The newcomer muttered with slight indignation and held out his right hand, extending his index finger to display his glimmering ring. The android’s visual scanners ran across the bauble, searching for patterns that had been programmed into its memory. The clear emerald carving in a beret-like shape triggered a successful recognition. “Proceed.”

The man nodded at the robot before he entered the cold stone church. He briskly trotted up the aisle towards the altar, passing by the rows of dust-covered pews. During his march he briefly contemplated how ironic the scenario was; here in this so-called holy site, a grand plan was underway that the people of this world would consider most ‘unholy.’ He didn’t have much time to ponder, though, as he made a right at the altar towards the confessional booths. Aside the booth was a dark mahogany door. The man turned the knob and opened it to reveal a set of stairs descending into a dimly-lit cellar.

He slowly made his way to the bottom, heading down a dank concrete corridor. The bird-faced man passed by a few thick steel doors on both sides of him until he came to the end of the wide passageway. Standing there before another metal door was a small handful of smartly-dressed men and women. Every one of them had a carrying case of some type, a vacant yet slightly menacing stare in their eyes, and a silver ring on one of their fingers. One of them stepped forward to greet the newcomer. He was a few years younger than the guy in the grey suit, with short-cropped auburn hair, sunglasses, a bushy goatee, and was dressed in a cream Armani.

The two nodded once they were face to face. “Why have so few come?” the bird-faced man asked as he pushed his glasses up on his nose.

“Delayed by various factors,” the man in the Armani suit responded. “Some will be here within hours. Others may be detained for a day or two. But all have heard the call, and all will be here to carry out their duties.”

“Are we prepared to move on to the next phase?” He sounded rather uncertain. “Speeding up the timetable increases the possibility of exposure. It could ruin all we have worked for.”

“The threat is already too great,” a middle-aged brunette businesswoman stated. “Destroying Eckley was not enough of a deterrent; clearly he had followers ready to carry on in his place. We must make haste if we are to initiate the distribution before other meddlers attempt to stop us.”

He was about to voice another concern, but before he could speak, the voice boomed inside his head. Do not question my decisions. He knew the deep, rugged call of his master, and knew to obey.

Yes, yes my Master. I apologize for doubting your judgment. His mental response was very nervous; if he had displeased his master, what fate awaited him?

Now is not the time for hesitation. Get to your task. The dispersal must commence immediately. All shall become one under the Mycotus.

Of course, Master. All shall become one under the Mycotus.. He nodded solemnly, a sign his cohorts acknowledged as the end of a telepathic conversation with their commander. The bird-faced man set his briefcase on the ground and opened it, revealing a pair of long glass cylindrical containers. He tucked them under his arm and unscrewed the lids with his free hand. The others complied, retrieving identical cylinders from their satchels. Only the goateed man did not follow along; he had already gathered what he needed earlier. Instead, he opened the door for his comrades and allowed them to enter. They marched into the room in single file, each ready to receive their bounty and carry out their master’s will.

************************************************************************

Felicia looked on with rapt attention as the “pseudo-flesh” as she dubbed it began to break down in her solvent bath. She truly hoped that once it could be properly analyzed, it would yield a break in the investigation. Her dissection of the android had provided some intriguing revelations, but since she only had the head and one appendage the results were limited. From what she could gather, the humanoid robot was powered by electric actuators, allowed for nearly-human movement and articulation. The effector at the end of its arm had the shape and degrees of freedom a human hand, and was capable of delivering more than 1200 pounds per square inch of pressure; effective in construction, she contemplated, and in murder. Additionally, its outer layer was made of a uniquely flexible silicon-titanium alloy that acted as an artificial muscular sheath, making it incredibly durable. No wonder it required a laser cutter to dissect it.

Most surprising was how the machine was equipped to interact with the world. Its proprioceptive and exteroceptive sensors were regulated by an AI system that was rudimentary yet allowed for heightened visual recognition, speech, an adaptable memory, human interaction, and the capability to perform complex tasks and make basic logical decisions. Rather primitive compared to the technology she was accustomed to… but far more advanced than any current Earth-based robotics, she couldn’t help but ponder. Maybe Eckley wasn’t as much of a loon as he was perceived to be. After all, she and the new recruit Stevens were living proof that extraterrestrials were here on Earth, so his claims were correct in a sense. Then again, anyone could say that and be correct without having any evidence to back them up; it would just be a lucky guess.

While the robot autopsy was illuminating, it ultimately led nowhere. Every component had its serial numbers and any other identifying features eradicated. Whoever built these things took a lot of precautions to avoid being found out. Hopefully this synthetic skin would be more cooperative. So she kept her focus on it, watching as the strips gradually dissolved, shutting out the world around her. In this state of induced obliviousness she failed to hear one of the lab techs approaching from behind. “Miss Felicia,” the young man meekly called out, worried that he was disturbing her. The cat-like woman didn’t respond, she continued to stare at the solvent tank on the table before her, her tail waving back and forth with a perfect metronome rhythm. Warily, he moved closer. “Miss Felicia?” Still no reply. The tech cautiously crept up behind her and tapped her shoulder.

Felicia let out a surprised yowl and leapt a few inches off the ground. When her feet touched the floor again she quickly darted her head back and forth until she saw the young man standing behind her. “Vince… don’t do that!” she loudly scolded him as she tried to regain her composure.

“Sor… sorry Miss,” the tech stammered. “I needed to get your attention and you weren’t answering me.”

The feline scientist started to calm down, her hackles lowering. “Oh. I apologize. Sometimes when I’m engrossed in my research I tend to tune things out. What can I do for you?”

“We just finished our scan of Eckley’s computer and flash drive. Most of it was just groundless conspiracy claptrap along with a few rough drafts of chapters from his books. There were some interesting files on his hard drive, though, plus a few critical messages in his e-mail account.” Vince handed his superior a manila folder holding a few sheets of paper. “Thought you might want to look at them.”

“Thank you,” Felicia nodded. “I’ll examine it when I’m finished with the chemical analysis. And again, sorry for snapping at you.” Vince nodded in reply and went back to his work station. Once he had left, she put the folder near a computer terminal mounted on the table and returned her attention to the skin sample. A satisfied smile crept across her lips when she saw it had completely dissolved. “Now we’ll see exactly what you’re made of,” she muttered.

Felicia reached for a probe attached to the computer and lowered it into the solution. Once it was immersed in the liquid, a small window that read INITIATING ANALYSIS with a progress bar below the text popped onto the monitor. The screen soon filled up with molecular diagrams and a list of chemical components. After a few minutes the pop-up flickered and changed its text; ANALYSIS COMPLETED. Felicia checked the results of the breakdown: the “skin” was a polyvinyl polymer with pthalate-based plasticizers bound to it and dyed to match a standard Caucasian skin tone.

The cat-woman was quite intrigued. “Whoever designed this was certainly striving for realism. Let’s see what other applications this fake flesh has.” She moved the mouse and clicked on an icon to scan through a massive database of chemical compounds. With luck, the polymer would be in there, and finding what it was used for would provide another piece to the puzzle. Another progress bar appeared, rapidly flashing marks running through the length until it stopped and declared ONE RESULT FOUND. Felicia clicked on it to bring up the finding, and was very surprised by what it revealed. “My word…”

************************************************************************

Elsewhere, Jasmine was engaged in her own research. Kicking back at a booth in the P.S.I. commissary she paged through Eckley’s book while enjoying a tuna salad sandwich. She swallowed her latest bite and went back to reading, silently laughing at the absurdity of the late author’s works.

“Must be a good read,” a familiar voice said. Jasmine looked up to see Rebecca sliding in to the seat across from her, setting down a full plate and a glass of soda. “Care for one of my crab cakes?”

“Nah, I’m good, but thanks,” the telepath politely waved off the gesture. “How are you feeling?”

“Better now that I’ve had a little rest and nourishment. When I push my powers to their limits I can burn out quickly. That’s why I don’t like to try big transformations or teleport large distances. I’m all but beat after one huge push.”

“I can sympathize. I hit the wall if I exert too much of my psychic powers.” She cracked a smile and sighed. “Why is it always we sisters who get the most pain for working so hard?”

Rebecca returned the smile and devoured one of her fried crab treats. “It’s one of the great mysteries of life. So, what have you found from reading that.”

“A fascinating wealth of information that’s been hidden from the masses,” Jasmine said with obviously sarcastic fascination. “Did you know that Wernher von Braun developed the V rockets as part of Hitler’s defense against orbiting alien crafts? When the reptilians learned of the Fuehrer’s plan, they ordered their human servants Roosevelt and Churchill to declare war on the Germany. Most of the arsenal was destroyed, but miraculously a number of Third Reich technicians escaped to the U.S. to aid the American invasion resistance. It was their genius that led to the missile which brought down the scout ship over Roswell. And the public at large doesn’t know about it because they keep it out of the history books so we’ll be blind to the truth.”

The young witch was amazed that her friend was able to rattle off all that nonsense while keeping a straight face. She was ready to crack up. “Well… it’s pretty obvious he made good use of the nose candy we found when he was writing that.” She shook her head in disbelief. “Who the hell would buy into that load of crap?”

“People who are confused, suspicious, who are willing to believe in anything that makes them think they’re more aware for ‘seeing’ what normal people don’t. I mean, really, everyone knows that Roswell was an emergency landing.” She put the book down and flipped through a few pages to better illustrate it for her friend. “Eckley had a clever system, though. He referred to things that some people are confused about or frightened of, sided with them to make them feel like they have an ally, then worked their fears into his theories to draw them into his way of thinking. Look at this.” Jasmine pointed out a passage in the book. “According to his ‘research’, vaccines contain a mutagenic compound that, when injected, makes people more susceptible to mental disabilities and therefore unable to resist when the invasion begins. Genetically modified crops release muscle-atrophying enzymes when consumed to weaken us so we can’t fight back. And, apparently, fluoridation of the water supply is a monstrously conceived and dangerous Zionist plot to deplete our ‘precious bodily fluids.’”

“He certainly knew how to profit from people’s ignorance,” Rebecca bitterly remarked. “Good thing he never decided to run for office.”

“Yeah, the U.K. would be screwed if he had made Prime Minister. Check this out.” The bald woman flipped ahead further in the book. “He made a list of every business and organization which, according to his ‘research’, is run by reptilian aliens or their servants. This goes on for a couple dozen pages to list every member and employee. He got all the usual suspects the conspiracy nuts love: Freemasons, Bilderberg Group, Skull and Bones, the Vatican, United Nations, AIPAC, the Rothschilds and other agents of the ‘New World Order’. The only one he was even remotely close on was the Church of Scientology.”

The witch nearly spat out her crab cake when she heard this. “Really?” She tilted her head and blinked a few times in utter disbelief. “Scientologists are aliens?”

“Just the founder. L. Ron Hubbard, at least that’s the name he used on this planet, was an intergalactic performance artist, When he came to Earth he developed a new performance piece; he’d create the most insane, illogical, downright stupid religious doctrine in the universe and see who would be gullible or naïve enough to buy into it.” She gave a wry grin. “It worked better than he expected, but got out of hand too quickly. The money and praise he was earning inflated his ego and drove him to keep the ‘church’ going, eventually ballooning into the multi-billion dollar scam it is today.”

Rebecca sat back in her booth, and after a few moments of processing this startling revelation she said, “That actually makes sense,” before taking a sip from her soda. Jasmine resumed her meal as well, but the two stopped eating when they saw Danielle approaching.

“I stopped by the lab to see how Felicia’s work was progressing,” she said. “She finished her analysis and wants us to come so she can present her findings.”

“Cool,” Jasmine said. “We’ll be right there as soon as we finish our lunch.”

“Right. I’ll let her know.” The faerie scratched her chin. “Perhaps I should get something to snack on as well. Maybe just a piece of fruit before I inform the others.” Danielle went off to grab her light lunch, leaving the other girls to polish off their meals.

************************************************************************

Minutes later, the five agents had assembled in Felicia’s lab. Standing amidst rows of computer monitors and incredibly complex analytical equipment (a significant amount of which had developed by the alien scientist based on technology from her home world), they listened intently to learn of their chief scientist’s findings.

The feline genius stood before the quintet with a serious expression. “First, I want to thank all of you for your stellar work in the field,” she said. “Your investigations yielded a number of crucial clues that could bring Eckley’s killer to justice and uncover the motive for his murder.” She coughed into her paw. “Sorry… think I might have a hairball,” she muttered between gasps. Kevin’s face puckered in revulsion when he heard this – he had no idea he’d be putting up with so many disgusting events when he joined.

“First let’s discuss the androids. While analysis of their components failed to reveal any leads, the sum of their parts provides a troubling scenario. The construct of these mechanical men is far ahead of any current robotics technology on Earth. This raises two possibilities: either our killer is a robotics genius, or their development was guided by a race from a world that has achieved such advancements.” This theory left the agents a little stunned. More and more it was looking like Eckley’s crackpot theories had somehow revealed some hidden truth that a hostile entity would kill for in order to keep it quiet. “Thankfully, the breakdown of the robots’ coating was far more substantial. I was able to match its composition to a known chemical compound.”

“So what was it?” Kevin asked.

“It’s a polyvinyl polymer with bound ester plasticizers. What’s significant is not the molecular makeup, but what it’s used for.” She brushed her hair past her ear. “The compound is patented by PulmaCare.”

Danielle appeared to be confused. “PulmaCare? I’m sorry, I don’t believe I’ve heard of it.”

“It’s a company that manufactures respiratory medical products,” Jasmine said. “Inhalers, ventilators, that kind of stuff.”

“Correct,” Felicia commented. “They use this polymer as a coating for their inhalers. Supposedly its enhanced durability and flexibility allow patients with arthritis or weak muscles to grip them better.” She got a contemplative look in her eyes. “Apparently, someone found an alternative use for it.”

“Things still don’t add up, though,” David interjected. “How would a med supply company be connected with a lousy author?”

“That still eludes me. But there’s more to link the two.” She showed them the folder that Vince had given her earlier. “Printouts from Eckley’s personal writings and e-mail account.” She flipped it open and looked down at the papers. “A month before he came to America to promote his book he posted a lecture schedule on his personal website. Soon after this, he got involved in harsh correspondence with a number of people who were pressuring him to cancel his speeches. They offered him a large sum of money, but he refused, saying that it was more important to reveal the truth and ‘personally bring them down.’ The last response he got from this unknown source was on December 27th. It was a threat; ‘We will not allow you to damage all that we have worked to achieve. Rest assured that if you fail to heed our warnings, we shall strike first and you will not cause us any further problems.’ After that, communications between them ended. I did a little searching and found that the mail he received had the PulmaCare domain name.”

“If he was threatened with violence, why didn’t he report it?” Kevin asked.

“The answer to that was in his personal journal. He kept a daily log saved on his word program. Most of it was nothing but inane ramblings, but some of his entries revealed the motive to his madness. Eckley thought that the police were part of the conspiracy, so he refused to go to them for help out of fear that they would do him in themselves. Pity he didn’t… Jasmine, what are you doing?”

Jasmine looked up from Eckley’s book. “Hmm. Oh, sorry Felicia. I wasn’t ignoring you, but when you mentioned PulmaCare it made me think of something I saw in the book.” She opened the tome to the section that she’d shown Rebecca earlier, the list of all the alleged extraterrestrial organizations. “The CEO is mentioned in here.” She pointed to a particular line. “Yeah, right here. Ken Hoffman, CEO of PulmaCare Respiratory Technologies. He’s mentioned as a member of some group called ‘The Order of the Green Cap.’ What’s that?”

“Let me look it up,” Felicia said as she moved over to one of the computers. The feline female accessed the internet, entered her query, and was soon presented with an answer. “Here we go. The Order of the Green Cap. A fraternal order founded in Italy in the mid-sixteenth century. It was formed by a group of merchants and scholars skilled in the emerging sciences of the Renaissance period who felt that by joining together, they could better apply their wisdom towards the advancement of European civilization. They received their name from the green silk caps each member wore to symbolize their positions as intellectual craftsmen.”

Danielle scoffed loudly after hearing this. “Well that’s utter rubbish. I traveled through Europe a number of times during that era, and I never once heard of such a group. Furthermore, not one of the cliques that existed during that time ever distinguished themselves from outside groups through colored headwear. That’s just absurd.”

“Well, this secret society certainly took secrecy to an extreme level,” Felicia commented. “There’s no record of its official establishment or of any actions undertaken by the group: nothing political, social, artistic, economic; no evidence at all that it ever existed. All it says was that the group was disbanded sometime in the seventeenth century and remained inactive until two years ago, when it was initiated again by…” she smirked, “what do you know, Kenneth Hoffman.” Five pairs of eyes widened upon hearing this. “According to this article, Hoffman was inspired by the group’s noble goal and convinced a number of powerful men and women in the business world to join him, united, as he says, in using their resources and knowledge to better improve lives throughout the world.”

“Let me guess,” Jasmine said, “Hoffman was the one who told the press about the history of the group and they just took his word for it?” Felicia nodded knowingly. “Thought so. Says a lot about the state of investigative journalism today. Let’s get a look at this guy.”
Felicia turned the computer monitor towards the agents so they could see the article. Included with the text was a picture of Ken Hoffman, a man in his late 30s with brown hair, a goatee, and dressed in a fine pastel suit.

“I did some research on PulmaCare earlier,” Felicia said, “and it turns out their central office is located here in Philly. And according to the article, so is the lodge for the Green Caps. Hoffman purchased a church in Kensington that had been closed down for more than a decade to reconvert it.”

Determined looks crossed all the agents’ faces. “Lady Luck is being very kind to us,” David remarked. “Let’s go have a little chat with Mister Hoffman and see if he can explain how killing a crackpot author fits in with the philanthropic goals of a fictional order. How do we get to the company headquarters?”

“Wait a minute,” Kevin interjected. “We’re looking for answers, not asthma meds. That lodge probably has all the clues we need to crack this case.”

“I have to agree with Kev,” Jasmine said, “as strange a phenomenon as that may be. Hoffman’s business ties into the Green Caps, and Eckley seemed to be focusing on their organization rather than the individual businesses of its members. Plus, given how subtle his actions have been so far to keep from arousing suspicion, I doubt that he’d keep anything incriminating at his company.”

David put his hand under his chin and contemplated the theory. “Good point. The meeting lodge would be a better place to start. Sound good to you, ladies?” Rebecca and Danielle gave signs of approval. “Then we’re all in agreement. Let’s get going.”

Felicia clicked her mouse and walked over to the printer near her computer. “Here’s the address.” She grabbed the sheet that came out handed it to Kevin. “Be careful, guys. You don’t know what you’ll be going up against.”

“Don’t worry, Felicia,” Rebecca optimistically said, “we were able to take care of their freaky robots. We should be able to handle anything else they try with us.” The witch and alien gave each other playful grins before Rebecca went off with her teammates. “Oh, before we go,” she addressed the two male team members, “don’t you guys wanna get something to eat? I didn’t see you in the cafeteria.”

“Nah, I’m good,” David answered. “Had a little liquid refreshment earlier, so that’ll keep me going for a while.” He nodded at Kevin. “What about you, man? Grab a bite before the road?”

Kevin remembered seeing his friend partaking of his ‘liquid refreshment’ from earlier and became queasy. “No thanks… I don’t have much of an appetite today.” His teammates couldn’t help but laugh at his predicament.

************************************************************************

"Have you finished refueling?... Excellent. I should be there in about half an hour. Be ready to take off as soon as I arrive.” The bird-faced man closed his cell phone as he drove under the bridge. One of the perks of having a personal corporate jet was that he could bypass intrusive airport security. He briefly eyed the suitcase resting on the passenger’s seat floor, the containers he’d brought with him now filled to the brim with his master’s bounty and waiting to be dispersed. In a few short hours, he thought to himself, he would play his role in the master’s grand machination, and help usher this planet into a new era…

************************************************************************

(To Be Continued...)
Part 5 is finally up. This was going to be a greater installment, but I'm still finishing that part up, and if I were to post it all together it would definitely be too long. So I apologize for there being more talk than action in this section. Don't worry, I will make up for it.

In Part 6, the truth behind the Order of the Green Cap is finally revealed. And the organization has dire plans for our world...

- Two of my characters were inspired by the classic Doctor Who series: Felicia possesses some of the traits of the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee, [link]), while Constantine's shares some qualities of the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker, [link]) and the Seventh (Sylvester McCoy, [link])

- Vogon poetry is very painful stuff. Read it at your own risk. [link]

- "Vogons venerate Vonnegut vignettes." Try saying that 5 times fast.

- The "fluoridation" line is a shout-out to one of the greatest American comedy movies: [link]

- Yeah, I made fun of Scientology. Go on, sue me! I'm not scared of you! ([link])
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:iconatlantagirl:
Atlantagirl Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Please take my llama! XD Vamp Lick Emote Ever Since Edward Cullen... Vamps Harlem Shake Emoticon Harlem Shake :) (Smile) :D (Big Grin) ;) (Wink) =P (Razz) Wink/Razz Clap I am a dummy! Love Meow :3 La la la la Nod Giggle Hug :happybounce: Huggle! Mindblowing So happy Tard Jig happy hug 
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:iconslayerterrabrei:
SlayerTerraBrei Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2009
watch it, scientologists sue people for just using the name! >.>.....<.<.....eep!

oh gods, i couldnt stop laughing with the stuff the vampire put in his drink! mind if i do a slight spin on that in one of my stories?

(btw- i love strawberries! mango's as well.)
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:iconpharmmajor:
pharmmajor Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2009
I don't see how they can sue anyway. Isn't parody protected under the first amendment? Ah well, as long as the Scientologists (and the conspiracy theorists, and the anti-vaccine crowd, and the creationists...) keep acting crazy, I will continue to poke fun at them.

Thanks, glad you liked the bit. I wanted to throw in a little vampire humor but give it an original twist. I'm really trying to avoid cliches in my work, so I always look for a new approach. And sure, you can use the idea in one of your stories. If you want, you can take some of the characters from PSI as well.

Yeah, strawberries and mangoes rock. Do you like raspberries or blackberries?
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:iconatlantagirl:
Atlantagirl Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist

Please continue poking fun at them XD

I have atheist god-parents, a Catholic mom, an Anglican dad, & some Buddist, Muslim, & Jewish friends that love making fun of their stupid s***!

 

& I love all berries :D

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:iconslayerterrabrei:
SlayerTerraBrei Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2009
good to hear you wount lay off on the crazies.

ah, thank you for the permissions, but im not sure how i would include anyone from the story for right now. but i will be posting up a few more of my shorts that include vamps and stuff, so the same goes for you, if you feel as though any of my characters fit in some way into your story, go ahead and use them

oooo, all berries are good
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