In our last episode, Lt. Colonel Candice Dare failed to show up for work on Monday morning. The last person she was seen with, Winslow Owens – an investigator for Recalcitrant Laboratories – was found dead. The Army’s Criminal Investigative Division’s investigator, Colonel Ed Parker, suspects that Dare shot Owens and went into hiding. Meanwhile… Candice Dare seems to have woken up in a cage somewhere.
General Dan Fitzhugh glanced again at his US Army issue stainless steel Hamilton wrist watch with impatience. It was now 0825. Warrant Office Will Hutton stood beside him.
“They did say 0830, General,” Hutton reminded him.
“Those bastards are probably going to make us wait until 1000 hours, Will. It’s part of the game they play,” Fitzhugh grumbled.
“Colonel Parker seems like he wants to do this by the book, General. I don’t think he’ll play games with us.”
“He is already playing games, Will. He all but accused Dare of shooting that bean counter. I think he wants to blame her and close the case as fast as he can.”
“I’m sure he does, General. We’ll have to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Fitzhugh glanced at Hutton, and nodded. “Thanks, Will. We owe Dare that much.”
Three cars screeched around the corner and dash up Colonel’s row. They stopped in front of Dare’s house at exactly 0829. Colonel Parker jumped out the passenger door of the lead vehicle and approached Fitzhugh. The rest of the cars emptied. The men circled close to Parker.
“Listen, Parker. I’m only doing this because I believe Dare is innocent. I need to find here and make sure she’s safe.”
“General,” Parker replied. “I’m only interested in what happened. If she is innocent, I will use the fullest extent to find her.”
“I will hold you to that, Colonel.”
Parker turned to his men and gave instructions on what to look for, and how to handle any evidence. Fitzhugh asked the Colonel to not let the place be trashed. Dare just moved a couple of months ago. When Fitzhugh was satisfied he nodded to Hutton. Hutton handed the keys to Parker.
“Care to show me around, General?” Parker asked. The three men lead the way.
The house was, as Fitzhugh expected, neat as a pin. Colonels most often are assigned small three bedroom quarters. The front door opens to a living room, comfortably arranged with a sofa and several chairs. Off to one side is a small office. The dinning room is placed behind the living room area, with a small enclosed kitchen. The bedrooms were upstairs.
General Fitzhugh led Parker to Dare’s office. Her bills were filed neatly, no extravagant expense were obvious. Parker assigned two men to search her finances and bank statements.
“Is that necessary, Colonel?” Fitzhugh sighed.
“Just making sure she wasn’t being blackmailed or selling secrets to the Soviets, General. Let us rule those things out and we can go to the next step.”
Before Fitzhugh could protest, Hutton stepped in. “Does she have an office upstairs, sir.”
Parker chuckled, “Warrant Officer, I sure know why he keeps you around.”
Fitzhugh glared at Hutton and silently agreed with Parker. The three men head up the stairs, with three team members in tow. The balance searched the kitchens for dangerous weapons, such as knives and cleavers.
The first room was Dare’s bedroom. Fitzhugh hesitated before he crossed the threshold. One of Parker’s men pushed past him. “Be easy, son,” Fitzhugh muttered.
“You can check out room when he’s done, General,“ Parker said. “Winslow is a trained professional and he’s the only one I trust to do a clean search.”
“A ‘clean’ search, Colonel?”
“He will make the room like it was just now. No one will know, I guarantee it.”
Fitzhugh only nodded. They headed down the hallway; Fitzhugh opened the door to the next room. The “trophy” room.
The rear wall supported a large locked glass enclosed case, obviously custom built. The case featured over fifty lugers, each with a little label explaining where and when it came from. Mounted in the center of the case was a Croix de Guerre, with a certificate issued by Charles de Gaulle himself
One gun holder was conspicuously empty. The small brass plaque read, “Colonel Eric Weisen April 17, 1942. Orleans.” A handwritten note was pinned in the silhouette design, “Missing, possibly destroyed, February 12, 1952, Frenchman Flat, Nevada.”
“She had that gun in Nevada,” Fitzhugh said. “I didn’t see it again after the explosion.”
“What explosion was that, General?” Parker asked.
“We were nuked, Colonel. Dare saved my life.”
Parker looked around. “Does anyone see a key? We’ll have to test all these guns to rule them out as the murder weapon.”
“They should be on that ring, Colonel,” Hutton said.
Parker looked at the key ring he was given earlier and tried the smallest key, it fit. Parker instructed his men to carefully wrap the guns and take them back to the Provost Marshall’s headquarters. He assured Fitzhugh that the pistols will be well-cleaned after testing.
“Don’t bother,” Fitzhugh replied. “I know will clean them again, anyway.”
Parker noticed a small safe under a table in the room. He looked at Hutton.
Hutton nodded and knelt down and unlocked it. He pulled out a box and handed it to Parker.
Parker opened it. It was full of firing pins.
“Lieutenant,” Parker called to the man pulling the guns off the wall. “Does that weapon have a firing pin?”
The lieutenant pulled back the action and looked, “No sir.”
“I guess we’ll need to take this, too.”
The search wrapped up and all the men went downstairs. Colonel Parker locked the door and handed the keys to Hutton.
“What now?” Fitzhugh asked.
“We’ll test the guns and see if any of these were used to kill Owens.”
“What are you going to do to find Dare?”
“I’ll put out a missing persons alert, maybe an AWOL advisory and see if something comes up. If you hear from her, let me know ASAP.” Parker turned to go and stopped. “General, we will find her. Let me make sure she is not a suspect, though.”
Candice Dare jumped when the air cooling system kicked in. She hadn’t realized that she lost consciousness again. That drug must have been stronger than I thought, she thought.
She made sure no one was around. She examined her surroundings again. She remembered realizing she was being held in a cage. She must have passed out after that.
She sat up, not caring if she were seen. She noticed a stainless steel sink, and a stainless steel toilet attached to the wall. On the far wall, about a foot off the floor was a bed.
There was someone in it.
She saw the lumps, but no movement. She thought it wouldn’t be wise to stand, so she crawled on her hands and knees to the bed. She pulled back the cover.
A woman of about 25 or 30 years old stared, glassy-eyed at the ceiling. Dare placed her hand on her neck. It was cold; there was no pulse. She pulled back the covers further. She also wore an orange jumpsuit.