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Saturday, December 5

No Pain, No Gain: Part 1 – The Ecotopian, Again

SAMSON, CA -- Agents Archive, Hammer, and Jim-Bean sat at the desks of the Ecotopian. The staff eyed them warily, but the hostile atmosphere of the office had changed since they last visited.

The office was staffed mostly by young people working phones, but there were also people writing reports and analyzing soil and water samples. There were posters up everywhere announcing the Festival of the Earth that was happening next weekend.

"Noelle Rand was our photographer. She quit the Ecotopian's staff and Full Wilderness completely a few weeks ago," said Fiona in her Scottish accent, incongruent with her Asian appearance. She was half-Chinese. "That's when I got the email."

She handed a print out of the email to Hammer. He scanned its contents. "So she left to join a women's environmental group…"

"The Sisterhood of New Potential," said Fiona. "Which is why I called you. She was suffering odd lapses in her memory and strange attacks of extreme fear. She disappeared shortly after I received that email."

"Why us?" asked Jim-Bean curiously. "I didn't think you were particularly fond of…our operation."

Fiona frowned. "The Sisterhood of New Potential has been recruiting several women from here," she said. "I had a fight with Cynthia Dexter about it."

"You spoke with her face to face?" asked Archive, curiosity piqued.

Fiona nodded. "She's either a religious nut, a scam artist, or both. She was always talking about her great goddess."

"We'll check it out," said Hammer. "And maybe afterwards I can brief you over dinner."

Fiona cocked her head, eyeing Hammer. "Maybe. Let's see what you find first." She handed Hammer an address. "This is Noelle's address. The police haven't paid much attention to the case, but I bet you can find out more."

"We have our methods," said Hammer cryptically. He tucked the note into a pocket and turned to go,

"Agent Hammer?"

Hammer spun on his heel, a little too quickly. "Yes?" he asked hopefully.

She pointed a finger at the printed email, still in Hammer's hand. "Don't forget to recycle that printout," she said with a sly smile. more


posted by Michael Tresca at 12:37 PM

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