"What have you been able to get back from the tapes?"

The man on the other end of the cellular connection still sounded calm and completely focused, even after what he knew to be over fifty straight hours of non-stop activity. He knew because it had been almost fifty hours for him, as well. But he was damn sure that he didn't sound one tenth as together as Calvin still did. Fifty hours of no sleep. Not nearly enough food. And no drugs (in Calvin's case, anyway). Certainly not true , this last, for himself. He would have crashed hours ago if not for a little chemical assistance. He'd pay for it with a hard crash when the time came, but that wasn't going to happen until Calvin got what he wanted.

"I've got...um...I've got all the audio. But some of it's pretty choppy. The event wiped all the media that were still on the premises. We're good from about 16, 17 minutes before the event 'cause the audio and video sent their last burst then. About 17 minutes before the event."

"You said that twice."

"I know, I'm about the drop. Nothing that was sent off-site was effected."

"Well, it's nice to know the son of a bitch wasn't able to do that as well." British irony or just being an asshole; he had a hard time telling with Calvin sometimes. "How choppy," Calvin said.

"Some of it's pretty bad to the ear, but the software's got it all. I think."

"So you've got a transcript, then?"

"I will have in...oh...about...," he consulted a display on one of several laptops that nearly surrounded him, "...three minutes."

"What about the video? How many of the 17 minutes can you get?"

"I'm almost 100% certain that I've gotten everything back I'm going to get. And that's not much. A couple seconds here and there. I've got one or two slightly longer segments, but nothing interesting is happening."

"What are they?"

"Ummm. One is about 30 seconds of the primary camera that was on Aubrey in the cell. That would have been about 4 or 5 minutes prior to Vic going in there with him. But that doesn't show anything more than what I already have about two-days-worth of footage of. Just him tied to a chair under so much light it almost completely blows out the camera and with that godawful white noise turned up to about 12."

"So what else is there?" Calvin asked?

"I've got about a minute right when she walks into the cell. That's about 11 minutes before the event. Shows her shutting off the noise and turning off the lights. She juices him up again..."

"For all the good that did."

"Yeah, well, live and learn." He really hoped Calvin wouldn't call him on that one. Usually, Cal enjoyed a smart-assed remark at least as much as the next guy, but he'd seen Calvin loose all semblance of a sense of humor a couple other times when things had gotten dicey. This, though, was the first time things had gotten dicey in this particular way. It was probably the Sand talking. He would have to try really hard to keep that in check. For whatever reason, Cal didn't say anything about the crack, so he just went on, "and then she pulls up the other chair they had in the room and sits down on it ass-backward to have her little chat."

Calvin was silent for a good clip longer than he would ever usually be, then he said, "Right. Send me what you have, the transcript and any video you can get into a format that will play on my phone. Queue them up in order, and annotate them as necessary."

"No problem."

"Has there been anything that looks REMOTELY like interest in any of this?"

"You mean other than the routine investigation into the disappearance several days ago of some punk that everyone who knew him thought was a drug dealer? No, nothin'. The local cops have that and they don't appear to be bending over backward to crack it."

"Right. Let me know immediately if anyone even glances our way on this."

"Of course."

"Have you got tools that can monitor that well enough?"

"Yeah, of course. You know that most of that's automated."

"Good, then grab some sleep as soon as you send me the files."

He wasn't sure he was going to ask, then he just did it anyway, "Is she alright?"

"I think so. She says she's starting to be able to see shapes a bit, and a couple other colors. Not much, but better than yesterday. Cromwell says that there is no physical damage that he can find, so he's at a loss. If she's not a lot better in the next 10 hours I'm taking her to Zurich. As soon as James has everything tidied up we're going to head out. I'll call you when we're on the road."

<>

file 1 - transcript of conversation
room mic - observation
james stewart; victoria hanover

(first clear image from any onsite footage prior to the event is of James pouring some coffee from one of their thermos bottles. all my notes are in parens and words in ALL CAPS are based on spoken emphasis.)

JAMES: You want some of this?

VICTORIA: No.(pause)You saw something right? That flash of blue when he turned back at me?

JAMES: I told you I did. I've told you about 20 times.

VICTORIA: Yeah, but every time you say it it seems like you believe it a little less.

JAMES: Well, you know how it is. Things like that, your mind tries hard to forget.

VICTORIA: Mine doesn't.

JAMES: Yeah, so I've noticed. But sure, I think I saw something. And I KNOW what I saw on the other tape. The one from London.(nods toward Aubrey on the primary screen) Like I said, that one brought up a ball of pure blue light and blinded that other dude with it. (sips from his coffee) Then he shot him.

VICTORIA: Yeah, I wonder about that. Why do you think Calvin never showed me that video?

JAMES: You didn't need to see it. You've got your own little video right here...(taps his temple) Girl in a swing? Strange guy? Green light? Running 24 x 7 since you were 10 years old. Truth is, I never quite believed that hotel room video until he brought you in. Figured it was all just Hollywood smoke & mirrors. Just tryin' to scare me into joining up. Playing on my principals.

VICTORIA: So why did you then? Join up?

JAMES: You know why. I had the same long talk with the boss you did. Told me about these guys. Said I was a good one to help. Gave me a REALLY big pile of cash, a lot more than uncle was payin'. Wouldn't take much more than that, would it. Bad guys are bad guys, far as I'm concerned. Then you came on board and told me what happened when you were a kid. And there was just somethin' about YOU. How much you believed. Anyway, now it looks like at least some of this stuff is real. He sure as hell is. (Under his breath) Satanic bastard.

VICTORIA: I'm going to go talk to him.

JAMES: (starts to get up) OK. Hold on a sec, let me get my gear.

VICTORIA: No. You stay here and watch. I want to try talking to him alone. You go back in there and you're just going to piss him off again.

JAMES: Why d'ya think he'll talk to you?

VICTORIA: I don't know. Just a feeling.

JAMES: Suit yourself. But take a derm and juice him up again. You do NOT want him to be able to think straight.

VICTORIA: Well, if he can't think straight, how can he answer my questions?

JAMES: Don't mess with this Vic, this isn't tarot cards and tea leaves, dear. This is the real thing. He's the real thing. Keep him good and drugged up. We've got all the time in the world for questions. He'll answer them all sooner or later.

VICTORIA: (takes a sheet of derms from the table, slips it under her watchband and checks her gear as she walks to the door of the holding cell) If it looks like things are getting out of hand in there...just stay put. OK?

JAMES: Yeah, sure; but watch yourself.


file 2 - transcript of conversation
cammic_1 - inter_cell
victoria hanover; aubrey beech

AUBREY: (more lucid than I would have thought) Where's your boyfriend?

VICTORIA: He went out for more donuts.

AUBREY: (weak smile) You guys gonna kill me?

VICTORIA: Don't know. I don't make that call.

AUBREY: What about Elijah in there? He make that call?

VICTORIA: Nope, we're just the hired help.

AUBREY: This have to do with London? That guy I dropped, he had friends or something? Man, that was like 4 or 5 years ago. You guys take your own sweet time...

VICTORIA: I wouldn't know about that.

AUBREY: Don't know much about much, do ya?

VICTORIA: Guess not. What about that guy in London?

AUBREY: What about him? He changed the deal at the last minute. He was going to ice me and take the money. I did him first. Happens all the time.

VICTORIA: Happens all the time when it's drugs in the briefcase. Not so common when it's a stupid looking piece of glass. Why didn't you just shoot him, then? Why the theatrics?

AUBREY: See, you DO know about it.

VICTORIA: I've heard something about it. But I still don't believe it.

AUBREY: Yeah, guess you're right.

VICTORIA: I don't believe it because no one can throw that much light around, and control it, and swarm it around some guy's head.

AUBREY: Don't get out much do you. I could do that before I got the glass from that guy.

VICTORIA: The guy you killed?

AUBREY: Yeah, the guy who was gonna kill me.

VICTORIA: So what was the glass for? I thought you guys didn't use props.

AUBREY: Props? Good one. (pause; looks at Vic, appears to be deciding whether to go on) Don't know. Can't explain it. Just works. It's like a football player who doesn't play well if he's not wearing his lucky shirt. Absolutely no basis in reality, but that doesn't mean it's not true. (looks down, strains weakly at the cable ties) Do I NEED my hands to focus? Probably not. But can I do it without them? (stares hard at Vic, long stare) I guess not. With the glass I could do some very interesting stuff. Found out some things might be possible that I always heard weren't.

VICTORIA: Like what?

AUBREY: Like...why the hell would I tell you?

VICTORIA: I don't know. Because you think I might believe you. Because you don't have much to loose at this point. Because you know that sooner or later you're going to talk about it anyway.

AUBREY: Yeah. Well. Like maybe with the right focus you could open a door, a really big rift. Then close it up behind someone. Poof. They're gone. Can't think straight. What's in that stuff you're giving me?

VICTORIA: Don't know exactly; something to amp your brain up so you can't concentrate, and something to slow your motor functions down. Makes it hard to focus on thoughts.

AUBREY: Well. That'd do it. Good idea.

VICTORIA: So that's it. You expect me to believe that there is nothing to this but your mind...

AUBREY: ...Not mind. Will.

VICTORIA: OK, your WILL to make it happen and the IDEA that you need your hands to help you focu...

AUBREY: (cuts her off again) First off, no one gives a damn what YOU believe. (laughs for no reason) But if you don't BELIEVE, you can't do it. The big three. Gotta KNOW about it, gotta BELIEVE it, then you gotta DO it. That's what Marcus said anyway. Guess I believed him. (laughs again).

VICTORIA: Who's Marcus?

AUBREY: Guy that turned me on to all this. Don't bother asking, he's dead.

VICTORIA: You kill him too?

AUBREY: No, he got too ambitious. Flamed out. Tried to do too much.

VICTORIA: Pissed someone off?

AUBREY: Nah, just pissed off the BALANCE. (pause) It's all about balance, right? Even the hacks get that part straight. You against the magic. Bitch is you have no idea how much weight is on the other side of the scale. One day you try to do something, maybe just a stupid little trick and POOF, it takes you.

VICTORIA: Takes you where?

AUBREY: Just a figure of speech. No, you just croak.

VICTORIA: Why?

AUBREY: Million dollar question, isn't it? You answer that one and all these guys...(looks up at her)
...all US guys running around offin' each other over knowledge and little shards of glass and Gryphons' teeth...well we just come talk to you instead. And you tell us how to cheat. The. Balance. And we all live happily ever after.

VICTORIA: So you do too much and you die?

AUBREY: That's what the man said. Then he did too much. Then he died. Just like any other drug.

VICTORIA: But you don't know how much is too much.

AUBREY: Quick study, aren't you.

VICTORIA: (leans in) Why blue?

AUBREY: Beats me.

VICTORIA: Why not purple? Or green?

AUBREY: No reason. Met a guy who could do green once. Big guy, old. I can't do it, though. Only blue.

VICTORIA: Like a shaman and his totem? The color picks you?

AUBREY: Don't know. Really. It's just the only thing I can see clearly enough to make it happen.

VICTORIA: Who was the guy who could do green.

AUBREY: Some homeless guy. Marcus knew him. In Toledo. We took a trip up there once so Marcus could talk to him about something. We found him, but he was incoherent. While Marcus was trying to get some sense out of him he starts drawing little pictures in green light right in the middle of this alley downtown. Priceless. Marcus finally just gave him 20 bucks and we left.

VICTORIA: How long ago was that.

AUBREY: I don't know; six, seven years ago.

VICTORIA: (thinks for a moment then scoots in closer still) Why you, Aubrey?

AUBREY: Wrong place, wrong time, I guess. Met a guy in a bar one night. Marcus. Showed me the ropes.

VICTORIA: Why you and not me? Why can't everyone do this?

AUBREY: Like I said you got to know about it. Got to be able to visualize all that BLUE LIGHT just on the other side of...right there. But almost no one knows about that. Can't give it a shape in their head. (nods to the door) Out there it's just tarot cards and tea leaves and all that crap. Nothing to that stuff.

VICTORIA: Well I know about it, and I believe because I've seen it.

AUBREY: But you can't do it?

VICTORIA: (hesitation) No.

AUBREY: Guess you're just weak.(grins)

(Here, Vic leans in really fast and slaps him hard across the face. Almost knocks him over. He seems to shake it off pretty fast, though.)

AUBREY: I know guys who have been in this for 40, 50 years. Heavy guys. Know a lot about a lot. And all they can do is call up little sparks that flash and die. (pause) It all comes down to will. How much can you MAKE happen with nothing but your DESIRE to make it happen. (pause) But I guess you can trick yourself. That's what the "props" are. The robes or the cards. The initiations, whatever - just different kinds of crutches. Things to help you get your mind around it. None of them DO jack, but you got to make yourself forget that part. Make yourself BELIEVE that the prop matters. (looks straight at her) It's a weird game, isn't it?

VICTORIA: Yeah. But you don't really believe that do you? About the props?

AUBREY: Oh yes. I do. Completely. That's why I've been trying so hard to make myself believe in some other focus.

VICTORIA: Oh yeah, like what?

AUBREY: (looks around the room) I don't know. Anything really. That light. (he looks over at one of the shop lights, then turns his gaze back directly to Vic) You.

[This part blows out fast because of what happens, but I was able to get enough back to actually see a tiny pixel of blue light start to grow in the space between them. Vic obviously saw it and realized that something was up, because she reacts immediately; pushing back from her chair and drawing her SIG at the same time. Barely a third of a second before she got the first shot off, but even then the light or whatever it was had blown out all video and audio in the facility. So, no video of what happened, and she couldn't see anything but blue at that point. But as you know James was in there less than 2 seconds later and Aubrey, along with the light, was gone. The only physical evidence was one shell casing on the floor and a bullet hole in the back of the chair. Since there was no blood or any other tissue on the chair, I agree that he was gone just before she got the shot off.

I'm gonna grab a couple hours sleep now. Call if you need something.]