Chapter 11, by Mike Bartman and Dr. Wendy Gunther

For some reason Akiyama had gotten very tense. Refused to say why, but insisted that we had to go back to his hotel room immediately. I was tired and he's not exactly my usual, but I figured what the hell, I'd solved my case, so I was due a bit of R&R. I'd been in San Antonio long enough already to know I could do worse. Always liked the athletic type anyway. More stamina, less fainting after only a few hours of foreplay.

Things didn't go quite like I'd figured though. Jun's room was occupied by several other people. All wearing those funny white suits. This didn't look good and I suddenly wished I'd been able to pack my .45 into the sun dress rather than leaving it in the locker at the airport. "Hey, I don't go for that stuff! Not my thing, you know? Not that kind of girl..." I even spotted a naked chicken lurking under a corner table, looking furtive. I started to slide unobtrusively back toward the door.

He looked confused, "I don't understa....OH! I'm sorry, you got the wrong idea completely! I wasn't...I mean I didn't, we're here for the computer! Not, well, anything else..." He stammered off into a red-faced look so precious that I didn't have the heart to make him suffer for disappointing and scaring me at the same time me like this.

"The computer?" I asked, raising an eyebrow in a way I'd learned from watching the original Star Trek shows...not something I tend to let people know about much, but there you have it. "You've got a computer here?"

"Yes, we need to find out what's going on, and the computer is the best and fastest way to do that." He headed for the other room, signalling one of the other occupants of the room to follow. Big bearded guy, same white suit-thing as the rest, but with a plain white belt where many of the others had black...have to ask about that sometime. I gave up thoughts of escape and followed. Hey, curiosity control's never been my strong suit. Why I decided to get into the P.I. racket. Might as well get paid for it.

Jun and the other guy both seemed to know their way around a keyboard. In seconds they had the thing up, and connected to the internet. What followed wasn't easy to track...plenty of jargon about "gateways", "clusters", "hacks", "fuzzballs", "soda machines"...or was that "pop servers"? Anyway, I just watched in amazement and it wasn't long before some very interesting stuff started to appear on the screen. Stuff you aren't supposed to be able to get to from a hotel room in San Antonio...

Nature called, so I left them to it and went to the powder room. When I came out Jun was reading a sheet of paper the printer had just spit out. The other guy, Mike, Jun called him, kept working at the keyboard. Jun looked a bit pale. Like he'd just read his own obituary or something. "What is it?" I asked. He just pulled the paper from the printer and handed it to me. It was one of those things you aren't supposed to be able to get from a hotel room:

- = * * * = -

Date: (crossed out by censors)

Autopsy Number: (ditto)

The decedent is a white female Jane Doe, estimated age 16 to 20, well developed, poorly nourished, fully clothed in a white cotton double weave judo gi from Tanaka Tiger Store, without bra or underwear. Footgear is absent.

Eyes: Blue; prominent red veins without frank petechiae Hair: Light brown to blond

External examination: Significant for multiple ecchymoses of varying ages over both forearms, an irregular bruise of the left hip, a partly detached left great toenail, and a multichromatic professional tattoo of the left shoulder which has been altered to attempt to disguise the original. The current depiction is of a flaming bowling ball (sic). The original appears to have been a short word beginning with the letter "K".

Autopsy findings: Examination of the brain, neck structures, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract including pancreas and liver, reticuloendothelial system, genitourinary system, and musculature is unrevealing. There is a transverse process fracture of L-4 on the left which is healing, not far from the bruising seen externally. Pregnancy is absent.

An interesting finding, initially presumed to be a tattoo, is a legend written in laundry marker just inside the vaginal orifice. It says in part "...van Was Here". (The legend was partly destroyed through organ removal before discovery.)

Blood alcohol, preliminary findings: positive.

Preliminary differential diagnosis: The cause of death could be a drug and alcohol overdose, or perhaps a traumatic asphyxia from chest compression. However, at this point, our best guess is that death was due to withdrawal of a mysterious force which is poorly described by Science.

(Signed) Wendy M. Gunther, MD Assistant Medical Examiner, Shelby County, Tennessee Note: Visiting San Francisco and couldn't resist doing a few autopsies just for fun -- thanks guys!

- = * * * = -

I looked up. "What's this mean? This is the autopsy report on Uke, right?" Jun nodded silently, still looking stricken. "I take it she was someone you knew?" Another nod. I knew I was going to regret this next bit, but like I said, curiosity control isn't my strong suit, and besides, Jun was a likable guy and he did look to be pretty messed up over this, so I jumped ahead with both feet. "Would you like me to help you find whoever did it?"

The look on his face as his eyes came up to meet mine was like the sun rising over the Pacific...on a day hosting the Mother of all Typhoons that is. I was suddenly glad I'd just volunteered as an ally as he said in a voice like the crack of doom, "You bet I would..."


How did we get here again?
It's 4:55, I might as well keep reading...

This whole thing is too weird for me...I'm outta here