Her name was Gertrude Windef. It was an assumed name. It was necessary, or so she thought. She was a headhunter. She found people to join the cause. Her job was necessary. She was the best in the business, any business. She was necessary.

The building she worked in was only a small part of the cause. It, like her, was deceiving in nature. As the recruiting director, she wasn't directly effecting the cause, but the people she hired probably would.

She picked up her morning paper, an unnecessary, or so she thought, habit she guiltily harbored, and read, with surprise:

Council of Youth (CoY) threatens Mayor

She scanned the rest of the arcticle before calling El Baño, the head of the organization.

If she had been listening hard, she would have heard the click of an old fashioned analog camera. If she had looked very hard she would have seen the oddball photographer. But, she didn't. She just returned to her computer screen and got back to work.

On the other hand, I, Tom Ionel was just getting finished. I was dressed in a sharp fedora, trenchcoat, and stood out here in the '90s (2090's to be exact), like a thumbtack in a barrel of monkeys. I pulled out a pack of Coacs, cigaretted made from caffeitine, a hybrid of nicotine and caffeine, all the strengths, none of the weaknesses, and it wouldn't kill you. I used my Zot brand circuit based heating device, lit it, and took a drag.

Finishing the cigarette, I hopped into my car; a nice Millenium Skimmer design, the Ennium Feop. The Feop was the nicest peice of junk on the market, and my 2087 model was no where near death. My motor crackled to life, and I headed into the friendly skies.

My home was in the middle of nowhere on purpose. First, I was born, and I grew up in Clanham, Illinois. Second, the PI college was here, and third, the city was very supportive of its PIs and many famous ones hung their hats in this town as well.

My home and office was a small apartment/dorm that I had lived in since college. My PI job was enough to pay the rent (with the added help of Clanham's privatized Social Security's PI benefits). My room-mate, John Nitedorp, was a great help on my cases, as well as my financial and business partner. John was the more normal "Spider" Investigator (SI), while I enjoyed the hands-on PI work.

I set my camera, a Protac 500 (one of the last analog cameras to be made way back in the 50's) down on the table and began to unload the film. The camera, and its processor (which sadly was digital), was very expensive, and given to me as a gift from my Great-Uncle Tom, which he said had been his previously. When I was finished I booted up my laptop (a 3 second process), and began processing the roll I had just shot.

John watched quietly from across the room, not bothering me, knowing full well how I hate being disrupted. When I was finished he asked, "How was San Francisco?"

"As corrupted as ever," I replied.

He scanned through the photos and inquired into how the CoY was doing. You seem CoY was a personal project of ours. I flashed hime that last shot I took and he smiled. He leaned over towards the lone window, "How was my sis doing?"

"She's got a lot going for her," and we left it at that.

Just then a skimmer, a Mill Levez '97 to be exact, arrived. First, let me explain something about the Mill Levezes. These cars are mostly "for show only" because they fall apart as soon as the 6 month warranty expires, or after the first 300,000 miles, whichever took the longest. The cars were expensive, only rich people had one sitting in a garage, and only the rich of the rich had enough cash to use them as disposable cars. The car seemed under its 6 month warranty.

Out of the car walked this dame, you know, the kind found in a Bogart ROM. I involuntarily checked my sneakers. Yep, we still had color: my skeakers' stripe was still Cobalt blue, and I my (fanless) office was a far cry from Bogart.

I opened the door for her, and offered her a seat. We both sat down, "Let me introduce myself," she began, "my names is Emma de Secours. My father, the wealthy Dr. Phillip de Secours, was kidnapped last night. I was referred to you by a mutual friend, Nik Tomson."

I chuckled to myself quietly at teh mention of Chief of Police, Nik Tomson. Nik's police still ran the Clanham donut shop as they had since the late 1900's. In addition to great Donuts and Cappucinos, Nik also proferred sine great leads over the years of Student Internship.

"What can you tell me about your father?" It was the first question in the PI handbook.

"He was a very bright neurosurgeon," as she talked John was already working, "and he loved his job. He inherited the family wealth, but the job was his life, and he never let money come before duty."

"Any Enemies?"

She almost teared up, "No, everyone loved my father."

"Where was he last seen?"

She shrugged, "Dunno, he was at work at the time."

That settled it, I had enough leads. I sent her home and promised to call if I had any more questions, or if I find hime. She gave me my $100 retainer which is required by the Union of Private Investigators (UPI), and not a penny more, and then left. I headed to the Manhattan Institute of Neurotechnology.

The efficient nurse at the front desk was able to point me to Dr. Phillip's office while answering the phone, typing up forms, and drinking a glass of water at the same time without breaking a sweat. She knew I was a PI without me even having to pull out my union card. Efficient.

Dr. Phillip's office was also very efficient. That was bad. I searched all the normal places; wastebasket, drawers, cabinets, shredder pile, fax machine, but came up with nothing. Then I noticed that below the In box and Out box was a Doc.s to be Trashed box. Wow, this was gonna be easier than I thought, maybe the union should make everyone have a box like that.

I spent about an hour riffling through the papers. Most were bills and notes from coworkers. I only found one interesting letter and its reply, and it seemed that teh doctor was having an affair:

Dearest Charlotte,

How are you my coy dear? My work is almost finished, and I long for you. Hugs and kisses, Phillip.


You have not been delivering the goods to me. I'm through with you. i expect my payment soon. Sincerely, Charlotte.

Interesting, but nonetheless irrelevant most likely, but still, I had an odd pervision to keep it. Maybe "Charlotte" kidnapped the Doctor.

I spent some time inquiring with other members of staff. I didn't find much; Dr. Phillip was out on a scheduled vacation and was purported to be in Key West. A quick call to the apartment he was in, according to my tracer, forwarded to a Vid-MAil box. Checks into the phone number revealed it to be a public vid-mail system. Since the vacation could be legit, I left a message.

This was going nowhere, so I went back to the office. John was at the door when I got there.

"You'll never guess what I learned," John was bubbling over, "the illustrious Doctor has a 15% stake in Ythuo Corp. Not only that, but he is also listed in Ythuo's payroll."

The plot gets thicker! "What does Ythuo do?"

"From what I've been able to figure: Nothing."