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#27: Feud

An awkward silence settled between the small group of MDOPFGIASA officers, the tension nearly as thick as the still swirling fog. Ms. Temble's question hung unanswered in the air.

“Come. We need to round up a few of these scoundrels when they go to dismantle the bomb acting our orders.” Vincent replaced his unfashionable eyewear and turned to lead the way.

John Smyth was the first to follow, his face unreadable though he checked his sidearm briefly.

“But you saw him—my brother, yes?” Temble pressed the matter again, the light pitter patter of her shoes hurrying along through the thick curtain of fog, keeping time with Wexley's own swift footfalls. The rest of the group followed more carefully behind, having neither fanciful eyewear or the anxious pull of familial concern to lead them onward.

“We had words. And then he slipped away into the fog.” Vincent's answer was measured, though he took care to make it casual, letting the bitter note of failure slip through. It was true enough. And besides, he didn't quite know for certain what had happened to the man. Jane's brother might be well and whole after his fall from St. Paul's. After all, the Learned Teacher had undergone his sudden downward path of his own volition.

Vincent was rewarded by the lady's slight smile. It was amazing what he could see when his goggles were working. He'd have to have a word to Giles. Perhaps QUIP could make use of a few pairs.

“Thank you. It was Mr. Smyth who helped me to pull it all together, you know. And how did you figure it-?”

“That it was your brother behind all of this recent madness?” Vincent waved a hand, as if anyone besides him might see it through the thick yellow fog, “Simple though complex. Giles brought me your telegram—admittedly, your comment on Arabic cryptography, while a logical conclusion, threw me for a loop. It was only a mistake on my part that led me to partially decipher the messages going through the gas lights. Namely, I was a bit tired one night and forgot the code wouldn't be basic English. You can imagine my surprise-”

“Oh but it wasn't in English.” Temble interrupted.

“Certain words, you'll note, don't have very good mollycoddle equivalents. 'Teapot,' for example, tends to stick out when placed amongst near-nonsense words. It took your Mr. Smyth to set me right.” Vincent allowed himself a quick glance behind, “Personally I think he meant to drag me out on this dark night.”

As if on cue, Mr. Smyth loomed out of the darkness from behind, “I can take it from here.” He had his sidearm out and cocked. “Wait here for the rest.”

“Take these,” Vincent removed his goggles and held them outward, looking thin and pale without the device to keep his courage up.

“No need.” Smyth gently pushed them back, eyes still on the dark entrance, impatience dotting his features. “Tell them to catch me up but to stay out of the way.”

“We want them alive, you know,” Vincent's voice echoed behind the Mr. Smyth as the officer's thin form disappeared into the dark tunnels beneath Parliament.

“Some of them . . .” Jane's voice sounded low and angry at Vincent's side. Following her gaze, Vincent could barely make out a slumped form at the edge of the gutter. Another body, another officer down.