A Jump To Conclusions No. 8

One Port Authority Plaza’s stairwells were for emergency use only, for entirely understandable reasons of security. A short elevator ride brought us to the seventieth floor, one of several spread through the building dedicated to conference and interview rooms. The floorplan was not nearly so open as 72’s. As we left the elevator, a bored-looking uniform hiding a crossword behind his desk checked our credentials. Before waving us through, he handed Amber the evidence bag holding the murder weapon. I caught a glimpse of it; the box on the label marked ‘Processed’ was ticked.

“Fast work,” I said.

Amber shrugged, and led the way through the labyrinthine hallways, which I am still incapable of navigating on my own. We came to a door with a brass ‘7113’ upon it. Amber had her hand on the knob before she said, “Did you get his name?” I shook my head. She coughed. “Nor me. Nothing for it.”

We went in. Two chairs faced our subject’s across a table; the room finished the stereotype with a one-way mirror reflecting the scene edge-on. It did play against expectations with the carpet and the potted plant in the corner, but the overall effect reminded me of some cartoonish archvillain offering an olive branch which turns out to explode.

I took a seat, and Amber remained on her feet. “I’m Inspector-Lieutenant Brighton, and this is my colleague Doctor Hill. I’m afraid we missed your name on the way down. It’s been rather a hectic night.”

“If the news is to be believed, it most certainly is.” I watched the man while he spoke. He was just taller than me, which is to say just taller than average, dark-haired and brown-eyed, and youthful. He had a genial face. “Geoffrey Tyson. I understand you have an antique for me to have a look at?”

Amber took the revolver from the evidence bag, then set the bag on the table and the revolver on top of it. “Please don’t touch,” she said.

Tyson leaned forward over the gun. “Yes, I’m familiar with this type. It’s a Twigg and Sons Model Nine, chambered in .42 Long.”

“Pardon?” Amber said.

“Ten and a half millimeters,” translated Tyson. “Archaic measurements. They were in use in Hinterland until the Brenner gates went up. This particular model was designed by John Twigg himself in 660 or so, and was produced for nearly five hundred years, Hinterland’s development of successful caseless ammunition in the early 700s notwithstanding. These,” he said, framing the revolver with outstretched hands, “have a reputation for absolute dependability. It took a very long time for the Hinterlanders to trust more modern weapons in the same way.”

“Are they rare?” asked Amber hopefully.

“Quite the opposite. Total production ran to the high tens or low hundreds of millions, and they’ve proven remarkably resistant to deterioration.”

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