The answer to his query was straightforeward. Vera, born to a servant, trained to be a chef, sold to Vladimir Vinogradov and exported to Siberia Max. Katarina, born to a servant, trained to be a lady's maid, sold to Vladimir Vinogradov and exported to Siberia Max. Vadik Solovsky, third son of Lord Ivan Solovsky, MD. Not Presented, Executive Plate, Trained Medic, sold to a clinic no longer in business, sold to Vladimir Vinogradov and exported to Siberia Max.
Son of a doctor. Trained medic.
"I'll be damned." He picked up his phone and called Forty-one. "You free? I'm headed for Vinogradov House to have a chat with a killer."
"I'm on the way."
Most of the people he wanted to talk to were in the Grand Hall. Axel for sure. And some very handy additions he hadn't planned on. The red robed Inquisitor was speaking as he let himself in.
I wonder where the doormen are?
". . . I assure you that they will be well taken care of and that they had nothing to do with Lord Vladimir Vinogradov's treason."
About time they said that word out loud!
Lady Veronika rung her hands. "I want to see Nikoli . . . please?"
"In a few weeks." The Inquisitor gave the ladies a small polite bow starting to turn away.
Vlad eyed him thoughtfully. He would be even better. "If I may bother you for a moment, Inquisitor . . . If someone was under a very hard compulsion, placed by Lord Vladimir, could you break it?"
"Most likely. Lord Axel could as well."
Vlad gave Axel an appoligetic nod. "Actually since Lord Axel is still a suspect . . ."
The Inquisitor snickered, "the Boss" had a coughing fit. Axel sighed.
"I need to talk to Mr. Solovsky, and I'm not at all sure that he can talk to me."
They all eyed him.
"If that's the case," the Boss said, "he may be able to tell us more than I had realized, about Lord Vladimir's plans."
Axel looked over his shoulder, "Lenni? Ask Mr. Solovsky to come to the . . . large dining room."
Vlad crossed the hall and walked in. Eyed the big armchair at the head of the table. "I think I'll be a bit tactful and use the other end of the table."
Mr. Solovsky, pale and dignified, looked distressed, as he touched a shattered hole in the frame of the doorway.
Vlad pulled out a chair. "Sit down, Mr. Solovsky. We have just a few questions for you."
"That wouldn't be proper, sir . . ." Nervous, uncertain. Glancing at the Inquisitor and looking . . . hopeful?
"Sit. This isn't a dinner party." He glanced at Axel and pointed out the door.
Forty-one was completely straightfaced as he stepped behind Mr. Solovsky.
Some clearing of throats across the table as Axel sniffed and walked out.
Mr. Solovsky sank down into the chair.
"So you assisted Lord Vladimir in his business dealings?"
"As an Executive Secretary, I dealt only with paperwork as assigned by His Lordship."
Stiff and formal, no uncertainty.
"Did you serve in any capacity other than Executive Secretary."
"I understand your farther is a doctor."
The man sat up taller. "Father is a brilliant brain surgeon!" He slumped a little. "I wish I had had the courage to face the Challenge . . . but Father and I talked it over, and we both agreed this would be the better path for me."
"You had Medic training, worked for a clinic. What happened?"
"The Chief Physician . . . occassionally used some of the drugs on hand for personal use, and sold some . . . the clinic was seized by the government, the stafff sold." His eyes flicked around the room. "I had never imagined anything so awful."
"As Lord Vladimir?" Vlad watched the emotions drain from the man's face.
"Senior Mentalist Councilman Lord Vladimir Vinogradov is a fine gentleman, and I am proud to serve him." A flat, rote statement.
The Inquisitor smiled, in a very not-nice manner, and rose to walk around the table. "Turn and look at me!"
Mr. Solovsky started shivering as he turned in his chair.
The Inquisitor placed his fingertips on the man's temples. "Did Lord Vladimir betray Siberia Max?"
"Senior Mentalist Councilman Lord Vladimir Vinogradov is . . . a fine . . . and I . . ." He ground to a halt and he and the Inquisitor stared at each other for a long hard minute.
Then Mr. Solovsky slumped, tears running down his cheeks. "Th-thank you! I, when I found it . . . he . . . I tried to tell people, but . . . it never worked. I feared there was no way around it. Then I realized that there were no inhibitions on medical techniques."
He turned and looked at Vlad. "I killed him. It was the only thing I could do to stop him . . . but it didn't work . . . not right way . . . then he collapsed . . . and Lord Axel was accused of murdering him . . . and I couldn't, I couldn't . . ."
The Inquisitor had stepped back, but as the man sagged, he jumped forward to catch him.
Vlad jumped to check his pulse, breathing . . . "I think he just fainted."
In fact he was already recovering, eyes blinking.
Vlad stepped back, stepped to the doorway, and was not a bit surprised to find both Axel and Nastasya leaning on the wall, listening. "C'mon in."
Axel grinned. "Solovsky. I never even . . . well, I'm not the detective."
A snicker from the Boss. "Certainly not in any conventional sense. So, we'll leave him to you two to get details."
Vlad eyed them. "But is this murder, or the legal killing of a man actively preparing an action that has killed five, and would have killed hundreds, if not thousands of people, if it had been successful."
Axel nodded. "If we had not been actively looking for an attack, we would have been in a great deal of trouble."
The Inquisitor actually grinned at that. "An excellent point. I will consult with my legal staff, and send you an official document to present to a inquest."
Axel helped Mr. Solovsky to his feet. "You look like a man who needs a good meal and a long night's sleep. Tomorrow we'll deal with the fallout."
"I'm so sorry, sir." Mr. Solovsky staggered, leaning on Axel's shoulder, then straightened in horror. "I know I'll most likely be arrested and executed . . . but even if they don't . . . you can't have me here."
Vlad looked around at Forty-one. "Keep an eye on our . . . suspect. While I report in and find out what crime, if any, has been committed."
As he headed for the front, he caught Lord Axel's voice.
"You're right. It wouldn't do to have you around Andre and Nikoli. However, I have this research project all set up and ready to go . . . and things keep coming up and I haven't even gotten it started. A Exec with medical training, some brain specialization? You are exactly the man I need to run the experimental station . . ."