Nothing else happened so he checked the weather forecast, then grabbed a rain coat and headed for the office.
Where the Chief of Police was trying to calm down a three sided yelling match in the elevator lobby.
Two sided. The third man, Axel's "Boss" had his arms crossed and was staring daggers at the unknown man in the suit.
". . . give me the zivvy!"
The man in the uniform snarled. "We need it to maintain civilization!"
The Boss's stare was getting colder.
"If you would all please calm down . . .
All three had flunkies hovering, not quite ready to grab their respective superiors and haul them away.
Vlad detoured way around the confrontation, and found some other detectives. "So . . . they're fighting over the last scraps of zivvy?"
Detective Devin nodded. "Or at least the last scraps the Cybernetic Center had. The fat guy's the Director of the Cybernetics Center, Dr. Jenner. The Fast Reaction Teams raided the Center this morning and removed every crumb of zivvy they had. They claim they have the right. That's the Director of Imperial Intelligence, Rasputin, keeping his mouth shut. Colonel Lehr, there, wants all of it that the Research Center has Up Top. Nobody's saying quite what triggered the raid in the first place."
Vlad bit his lip. "According to the Stuttgart Agent I spent much too much time with yesterday, they snatched a top Imperial agent off the street and sent him straight to surgery and got him chipped. He has escaped the Center, killing the Chief Surgeon on the way out."
That got a low whistle from Devine, and uneasy looks from the rest.
"Exactly. No arrangment, no trial. And if that's the way they're going to procede, I'd just as soon there was no zivvy available at all."
"Do you know who they chipped?"
Vlad was opening his mouth when the Doctor threw himself bodily at the Director of Intel. Whose rather thin Exec stepped forward to block a man who was probably triple his weight and was flattened. But did serve to trip the Doc, as Rasputin sidestepped, turned and twisted the Colonel's arm upward.
Lehr had a pistol in his hand and half the cops in the room leapt . . . the gun flew across the room as the Colonel was flattened as the top layer of the cake with a frosting of cops.
Director Rasputin stood back as the cops stood up, then grabbed the Colonel, hauled him up and slammed him into the wall.
"I realize, as a soldier, that you cannot simply pick up and leave against orders. So I suspect that means we're going to have to kill every single one of you. I'm tempted to start right now, but I'm going to leave you one chance to talk to your superiors and presuade them that this is a really bad World to try to take."
He gave the officer a really nasty looking smile. "You personally? You're a dead man walking. Because. You. Chipped. Igor."
Two of the Doctor's following helped him up and Rasputin stooped to help his Exec up. "Thank you, Mr. Mateev. You've got good reflexes. Let's go find a real doctor to take a look at that wrist. And perhaps your ribs."
He turned his back on the room and walked out, shooing the Exec out ahead of him.
A young Stuttgart officer had retrieved the gun and looked like he was contemplating using it.
"Don't." the colonel snarled. "He's got shields up."
The Chief of Police cleared his throat noisily. "Quite apart from it being illegal. All of you go away. Colonel . . . you're getting a warning this time. Do not ever draw a gun in my building again."
He turned to the fat man. "Dr. Jenner. We will be investigating two serious crimes in your Center. Since you are here, why don't we go talk to the Chief Detective?"
"What's to talk about? How can you not find an addled murderer? The first twenty-four hours are past, the wires are getting into his brain now, you should be able to find and him and control him."
"Indeed. If he weren't a trained soldier and agent. Who's trial and conviction totally escaped my notice. In fact, judging by the security recordings at the store where he was ambushed, he must have been taken straight from the store to the Cybernetics Center, stunned. They didn't even bother with a show trial.
"So let's just go have a little chat about this." The Chief's head turned at a movement of the Colonel's. "You, why are you still here?"
The colonel glowered, but turned and stalked out, junior officers at his heels.
Vlad exchanged glances with the other detectives. "Surely there's something we can investigate away from here."
Devin looked after the departing soldiers. "They chipped Igor?"
"Yeah . . . why?"
Vlad chewed that over. "If they want to either keep the status quo, or even start a small empire of their own, we must have been an irresistable temptation, once brought to their attention."
"How'd they know we still have zivvy?"
"Those two Stutties we rescued, they were here long enough to have heard the Governor's address, ordering a stop to chipping, until june, when we'd really find out if shipments were dependable. So they know we have a six month supply on hand. Just for our small population . . . but are they actually out of zivvy? I wonder if Stuttgart has enough zivvy to replace portalmakers as they age and die."
Devin nodded. "And if the old Empire's really gone, there's a chance they can figure out how to manufacture their own.
Zhabin winced. "And to tide them over, here's a world with a supply of zivvy, three portals, and a research center. And no army. Just some fast response teams, cops . . . and Igor."
"And they took him out immediately."