After the rod attack and communications breakdown, Grand Cayman was in chaos. Sister Maria had taken steps to get statements from the eyewitnesses, and secure them in hard copy. Iggy was with Subarashii on the island, but before he returned to the Pattern team he received an airmailed letter from Japan. It was Iwahara-san, who had left a note apologizing for his betrayal, and indicating that the group’s rewards had been lost. Iggy took this note to the Pattern team, and it was immediately clear the reward in question was the group’s dubs. An unannounced escort to the airport was about to reinforce this view.
James Hoffmann had secreted off to Grand Cayman after discovering security footage from one of his clients, Empire Pharmaceuticals. It was of the Pattern team being decanted in clone form in Boston. He also discovered that he had also been cloned, using a dub from back during his Ravenlocke days. While he went over potential tactical options, Sister Maria butted in. “Why don’t we just talk to them? My clone should be as reasonable as I am.” Sister Maria called the Cardinal of Boston, only to discover that the Cardinal was in a meeting with…her. After the initial confusion, the Cardinal agreed to get the team out through the airport and figure out what the hell was going on.
The meeting produced more questions than answers. The clones had been told Chimera and Subarashii had begun fighting, but there was no evidence to this fact. At the same time, what the time saw in the Caymans regarding NFE was suspicious no matter whose story you believed. After some discussion, a plan was formed: the clones would go to space where TAP tracking was less well-enforced and no police group would try to de-fork them, and the originals would stay on the ground. Thanks to Sister Maria’s connections with Mr. Shen of Golden Promise, the necessary arrangements could be made for space travel. The ground plan? Australia to find info on NFE, Japan to find info on what happened to Iwahara-san and their dubs.
There was one loose end. No one had made contact with their boss, Rich Truehart. Sister Maria called Rich, who confirmed he had met Hoffmann and they were going to Chicago. Hoffmann, of course, was still in Boston. Rich had been kidnapped by Hoffmann’s clone. Dummy got a car squared away and the group left immediately, Hoffmann Prime in tow.
The drive through the Great Lakes Union was uneventful. Glimmer distracted the border guard with her unique skills; she also had the only set of valid paperwork, which gave her a lot more to work with. Once in the city, Sister Maria called Leonard to run a trace on Hoffmann. He had apparently checked into the front desk at Nortec Tower, the corporate HQ of Ravenlocke’s parent company, and then checked out a little later. Hoffmann Prime speculated that he would have headed to Club Vortex after work, so off the team went.
Glimmer worked her magic again to get Hoffman Clone outside, where Hayate ambushed him with shock gloves. There it became clear: even if Hoffmann was a corporate, he was originally a Ravenlocke operative. The clone shot Hayate in the chest, choke-slammed Glimmer to the ground and took Iggy’s monowire whip without so much as wincing. The only cure to Hoffmann was Hoffmann, who shot his clone in the chest with a borrowed assault rifle.
After getting everyone stabilized, Sister Maria interrogated Hoffmann’s clone. He was able to give a room number and other details about where Truehart was being kept, but he didn’t know much. Still, they had Hoffmann Prime’s biometrics, and knew they had to free Rich from Nortec Tower…