A Jump To Conclusions No. 5

“Very well,” Amber said. She had been taking a look around. “Sam, does something about the place strike you as odd?”

Dutifully, I took in the living area. Something was indeed odd, but it was a moment before I could put my finger on it. It wasn’t something present, but something missing: no pictures of family, no notes or reminders, no debris in the kitchen. Even in my apartment, one could find a few hard-copy books and a reading tablet or two, but this one showed no signs of inhabitance by anyone except the Confederacy’s most boring bachelor. I said as much.

Amber said, “That was my thought. Corporate, perhaps?”

It was not unheard of for companies with major offworld concerns to maintain housings for their offworld contacts. “A possibility,” I agreed.

She nodded, and I waited while she proceeded to poke around. I could see nothing that would give me any greater insight into the victim or the killer; it was, then, a relief when Amber decided it was time to move to the station.


That name hardly did it credit. One Port Authority Plaza housed Station Upside, and it easily surpassed my building in height, coming to some hundred and ten stories. That was enough for it to rise over its immediate neighbors, though it was dwarfed in turn by the domescrapers uptown. It housed five digits’ worth of the Port Authority’s finest, both investigators and police, plus detention cells, several morgues, a motor pool, and, because some stereotypes have a greater basis in fact than others, some of the finest pastry carts in the city. There was a Two Port Authority Place, and Amber had worked there before her promotion, but Violent Crimes for Central District was a headline assignment, and so rather than Number Two’s cozy surrounds, we made for Number One’s imposing onyx facade.

Inside, it lost some of its harshness. Violent Crimes was the smallest of Central District’s major divisions, occupying the seventy-first through seventy-third floors. Amber’s Investigative Unit called 72 home. Stepping from the elevator, I could see all the way to the floor-to-ceiling exterior windows (tinted dark, of course; the architect could hardly have his building looking like anything but a single block of obsidian). Left and right along the building core were conference rooms and offices. More of them were placed in little clusters at each corner of the floor. The rest of the space was open, and the desks, lightboards, tables, and partitions that filled it were uniformly wheeled. The theft and retaking of chairs and partitions had some time ago ceased to be an office tradition; it was now something approaching an official sport.

Amber’s Investigative Unit 6 owned enough chairs to populate all eight desks, with a few left over around the table by the three lightboards. Partitions which reached halfway to the high ceiling shut it off almost entirely from the rest of the floor. The lightboards showed details of a few other cases. Baker and Carpenter cleared them, and Amber checked her desk comm for messages. I left my things at the table and went to fetch coffee.

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