The group went for a second breakfast and discussed what to do next; T-Bone suggested that a rich man like Kensington-Smythe would probably have others to do his dirty work. He suddenly realised that he was starting to think of Ember in the past tense, even though he knew she wasn’t dead… He decided to go and investigate Kensington-Smythe’s house, while Darius attempted to run a forensic accountancy investigation on the man’s money.
Darius found that Kensington-Smythe’s finances seemed above board, however were suspiciously lacking in any form of investigation. He dug deeper and found that some of the senior execs and shareholders had had some tax issues, but they’d all been dealt with. When he gained access to the details of Kensington-Smythe’s accounts, they were very similar to his company’s; above board, but still somewhat suspicious. He was also a major donor to the Labour party.
T-Bone went to Pimlico via an Oxfam having bought some clothes, and then persuaded one of the local homeless to swap clothes so he could get an “authentic” homeless look and smell. He settled down in nearby parkland and watched Kensington-Smythe’s house. He saw the usual callers at the house; the postman, parcel deliveries, a grocery van. It soon became clear that the vans were directed to a different entrance. T-Bone staggered to his feet, and moved in a gentle circuit around the house to try to get a view of this additional entry point. He noticed a man, just inside the open door of the house watching everything carefully. T-Bone decided he needed a better vantage point, and looked at the row of houses behind, quickly finding a likely looking drain pipe before shimmying up it to the roof of the building, stopping briefly to have an awkward conversation with a little girl who asked a lot of annoying questions and was leaning out of a window. He told her he was looking for his pony on the roof. Once she agreed to let him continue his journey, he made his way to the roof and along the adjoining buildings to get a better angle on the target house, spotting that a large amount of food was being delivered; clearly some sort of social gathering would be taking place soon.
Ronnie decided to backtrack Ember’s path and called her Newspaper (the West and Central Standard), and after some gentle persuasion was connected her Editor, Andrew Paisley. He was somewhat shocked by Ember’s disappearance, and readily agreed to meet Ronnie later that day. Ronnie spent a few minutes altering his appearance, before heading to the newspaper offices. The editor was clearly flustered, and worried about the implications of a missing member of staff, and called the “IT engineer”, Carl, into his office. Ronnie suggested that Aiden check the documentation that Ember had left in the office, with the help of Mr Paisley, and then followed him to the cupboard that served as the computer room. After a brief conversation Ronnie, instructed by Darius over the dragon net, set up the server to accept remote connections. Darius connected and searched the server and found some interesting documentation, including a file listing four dates, all Saturday nights, four weeks apart; three had passed, and the fourth was tomorrow. Interestingly, the file was only a week old.
Aiden checked through the paperwork, and after she’d come to terms with Ember’s scatterbrained working methodology recognised certain patterns and having delved a bit deeper discovered a clipping from a social page from a rival newspaper reviewing a personal party held for, and by London’s social elite. Interestingly the date of the party matched the first date in the file that Darius had found. It quickly emerged that Kensington-Smythe held these parties on a monthly basis, and this jogged a memory with Darius, and he remembered that Ember’s assignment had been as a waitress.
Ronnie got talking to Carl, trying to find whether anything unusual at the office had happened recently, but other than a new cleaner he couldn’t think of anything. Ronnie asked Darius to check employee records and payroll thinking that the new cleaner may have links with one of Kensington’s companies, but it seemed that she was exactly as she seemed. Darius did find from the security footage and logs that another person was using the time when the cleaner was in the office and the alarms were off, to gain entry. As he was searching, Darius also spotted a tripwire in the computer system, set to be triggered in case someone began to search the system. It was clear that someone was watching the newspaper.
Sitting on the rooftop watching the target house, T-Bone found his exertions of the previous thirty-six hours catching up with him, and despite fighting the fatigue, fell asleep.
Ronnie decided to stay at the newspaper offices at the time when the cleaner was in, but as he had a couple of hours to kill, took the opportunity for a few minutes sleep, Darius moved from his office, and set himself up outside the office in case the unknown intruder attempted to run. Aiden left, and tracked down the exclusive caterers that catered for Kensington-Smythe’s parties; once she’d fended off the attempts to persuade her to throw a graduation party for herself she got to business. She attempted to persuade the owner of the company that she wanted to see how her business worked as she was so impressed by previous parties that they had catered, and asked if she could work for her for a while; the woman agreed to give her a trial, and if it went well, Aiden could accompany her to the function the next night. Suddenly, Aiden found herself having to work!
Ronnie woke, prior to the cleaner arriving, and set himself up watching the security screens. Darius saw the strange man arriving, snapped a couple of photos and warned Ronnie over the dragon net. The stranger connected to the server, and Darius was able to track what he was doing, and saw that the man was searching through Ember’s files. Darius was also able to search the stranger’s computer, and found it completely impersonal; nothing on the machine suggested that it was used for anything other than for hacking. He did, however decide that he wanted the computer!
As Ronnie made his way from his hiding place Darius was able to detect that the stranger was deleting files from the server. Ronnie walked silently behind him and challenged the man. He froze in shock, and then attempted to run. Ronnie restrained him, and then guided him out of the office. The man, confronted by both Ronnie, and the waiting Darius noticeably deflated, and then protested that he’d done everything that had been asked of him. Ronnie suggested that once they got back to the “interview room” they would see whether that was enough.
T-Bone woke, to see the little girl who had spoken to him on the way up the drain pipe standing over him. Suddenly T-Bone regretted telling her earlier that he was searching for his pony on the roof, as she looked at him accusingly telling him she couldn’t find it. He managed to steer the conversation towards the party that was going to be held at Kensington-Smythe’s house; she was excited by the pretty dresses, but still disappointed that there was no pony. Exasperated, T-Bone looked at the small toy unicorn she was holding, and drew on the power of the dragon within him and created a ball of energy that surround her toy; it glowed and the unicorn floated into the air in front of her. She got very excited, but eventually agreed to return to her room, but only with T-Bone’s help. He guided her to the fire escape of her house, and ushered her safely inside, before extracting himself from the roof, and moving off to join the group at Ronnie’s safe house.
Darius sat at a table and searched through the laptop, the stranger was sitting on a chair, looking very nervous as tramp like T-Bone arrived, watching my little pony on You Tube on his mobile phone. Aiden, who had taken herself off to a quiet corner and was having a discussion over the phone with the party planners. Ronnie was sitting on another chair staring at the stranger, and not helping him maintain his equilibrium. The stranger nervously spoke;
“You’re not with them, are you?”
Ronnie smiled. “No. I’m something worse.”