[Don’t miss the Music treat at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]
XANTHIPPE – Wednesday Mid-morning
Xylitol, xerostomia, x-rays, xerosis? I’m confused by the medical jargon. Wiley’s unconscious, and his skin is yellow and dry. Xanthic xerosis?
“Doctor, without the medical jargon, how is our colleague?”
He glances at his watch. It’s an hour since we brought Wiley into the A&E at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor – and another squad car took Vivian, restrained, to Porthmadog.
“He is unconscious but breathing. All his vital signs are acceptable. The x-rays show nothing is fractured. I cannot detect the supposed toxin – yet. There are more tests I need to run.”
I try to breathe steadily. Hope Wiley’s okay. He has to be.
“So, his pallor? His skin. What’s that from?” asks Kama.
“Xerosis or abnormal dryness can occur in the eyes – xerophthalmia – on the skin – xeroderma – and in the mouth – xerostomia. Of these, he exhibits the latter two. So, we will test for asialism, ichthyosis and other causes. Also-“
“Keep us updated via our PCSO,” I say, smiling as the same female officer who helped before.
Protection for one of our own? In a coma? But not with a gaff. An unknown toxin? Is that what’s in the canisters? A biological or chemical weapon?
Shivers set off my tattoos.
A for Abnormal and Avenger. B for Breathing and Biological. C for Coma and Chemical. D for Dryness and Death. V for Victim and Vigilante. I for Intent and Identify.
Vivian or Pia? We need answers.
WEDNESDAY – Midday
“ Njörðr Hämnaren is moored at Liverpool Marina?”
Uthyr answers on speakerphone in Ffion’s office.
“Yes, within a short walk of the city. But we are ready to stop them unloading.”
“If the canisters are biological or chemical hazards,” says Ffion. “The Swedes can release them from the boat – into the air or the harbour. I’ve alerted NaCTSO, but we need more evidence.”
The National Counter Terrorism Security Office will rely on us to keep them informed so they can co-ordinate the appropriate units. But we are acting on suspicions. My gut feelings.
“Has your rogue officer said anything helpful?” asks Uthyr.
“She’s evasive and shrewd. Playing with us. But she’ll talk.”
“I pray it’s in time to stop whatever the Swedes have schemed.”
“It will be, Uthyr. You know my dynamic-duo and rate them suitable for your unit.”
I wonder who leaked that. Have they discussed our future?
Ffion rings off and motions for us to follow to an interview suite – our only one with a two-way mirror. CPS approved.
“Suggested questions? I’ve tried the vigilante angle and DC Utkin wanting to dispense her own justice.”
Utkin. Xander. That triggered her reactions.
“Ask what drove her brother Xander to commit arson. And what divine law guides her.”
Ffion motions to the viewing room as she steps into the main interview suite along with the police sergeant who was inside guarding the door.
Vivian is sitting with the defence lawyer she has requested. Ffion switches the recorder on.
The lawyer plays his hand. “My client will only answer questions that relate to her arrest.”
“The attempted murder of two officers. The canisters on the yacht. Why she’s put another officer in hospital. So – everything.”
“Circumstantial associations,” says Vivian. “Evidence massaged by two officers that resent me and my colleagues.”
“Officers that arrested your brother Xander for arson. Valid? Or tampered evidence?”
Vivian stares hard at the mirror. Eyes burning into ours. Accusing.
” I know this room and that ridiculous mirror. They’re listening – your pet officers who arrested him. Yes, he deserved to be put away for his crimes. But they drove him over the edge.”
Ffion opens a file. Xander’s case?
“By ‘they’ you mean his ex-wife Dinah Quinlan and her partner Aerona Ogilvy? What did they do to pervert the law?”
Vivienne hesitates. Her lawyer shakes his head, then whispers to her. Does he suspect what she might admit? Vivian glares at him, at Ffion, at us. Anger triggered.
“The Lord’s Law. 1 Corinthians 6:9 – ‘Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men’. This is a Christian country and I respect that.”
“So, your fellow officers become legitimate targets – even if they attend chapel like Sparkle. Or Wiley Yates who is as heterosexual as you.”
Vivian shakes her head. “He agrees with your dike pets and does nothing to correct their delusion. Unlike my friends. Their belief is firm.”
Ffion pauses and flicks through the file. Page by page. Vivian shuffles and sweats.
“Who is next? Me, another Christian who believes in her officers? This vendetta won’t end with two or three dead colleagues. What’s in the canisters, DC Utkin? Or are you as immoral as your brother? A criminal and not one of my officers?”
Fists on the table, Vivian shakes her head.
“And if I help, what do I get? I only did this to correct what our system failed to do – protect people. Without the police presence, vigilantes are dangerous. I can stop that. With me involved, they will help us.”
“Help us do what? Do we need the containers? Do we want them?”
“Xanthippe, they called me – confrontational. The Swedes thought I wasn’t to be trusted. I challenged their aims too much. But I know the best way to deal with misfits not them. This was my chance.”
“Now I’m offering you the chance to stop this – earn respect.”
My mobile rings. The PCSO at the hospital.
“DS Yates is recovering. The doctor says there was no venom. Just a heavy sleeping draught. When he is well enough to talk, I’ll get Wiley to call.”
A bluff. Vivian is the fraud spinning a yarn.
R for Respect and Revenge. Y for Yacht and Yarn. A for Abnormal and Avenge. D for Death and Duplicity.
YARD. A railway goods yard?
I message Ffion. “Wiley okay. Say he died. Not her intention. So will break her.”
Ffion sits back, shakes her head and cries.
“Wiley. Why him? Didn’t he love you enough?”
Vivian claws her head, body shuddering.
Another red herring.
C for Casualties and Cons. K for Kisses and Kudos. O for Opportunists and Objectives.
DOCKYARD. My tattoos convulse me.
Knees buckling. Mind churning letters and clues.
Kama’s arms around me. “Cariad. Not again?”
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“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride