It had been a strange night, filled with strange dreams. Dreams of a shadowy figure moving in my backyard, eating away in small fiery puffs at some dirty gray smog. What a bizarre dream I though, getting ready to see the Tabulator to get some new proposals out. It's then that I saw them through my window. Two loose raincoats dancing around my yard. In the longer one, a lanky man wearing unkempt hair and a dark suit. In the other, a smart dress on a woman with hair a tad too red under this morning's sun, her eyes strikingly pretty even at this distance. They disappeared from the window, making their way to the main door. Three loud knocks came from it. Wondering where on flat Acka I'd seen these two before, I hobbled over to entrance, my left foot not yet tucked in properly into its suction cup shoe. Before opening the door, I looked at my feet, making sure I wasn't about to float out of those wretched shoes. I had already gotten a taste of space flight when my house had broken free and I wasn't about to try it again any time soon. Is it about my old house I wondered? Did it crash somewhere? Do any damage? Traced back to me by the trinket I'd left in it? I opened the door, half dreading this new house to break loose as I did so. And half hoping it would. "Mr Hobbes?" enquired the young woman, flipping out a badge I didn't quite make out, trying as I was to glance at her partner's at the same time. "Yes. How may I help you?" "My name is Scold, this is Mold. Can we come in and ask you a few questions?" I immediately remembered who they were. He was taller than I expected. "Certainly, I was just about to get breakfast," the man looked at me in a blank way , "can I get you something?" I waved them into the house. "Nothing, thank you" she answered politely. I turned with a similarly querying look to the man, but he was too busy psychoanalyzing the decor of the hall to hear my question or see me. I motioned them into my study, heading to the kitchen myself and quickly grabbing a cup of coffee. Returning, I realized that every chair was overflowing with documents from a long night of work. Half written proposals, records of the dismal state of my finances, a few processing chips used as paper weights; all lay strewn about the room. Mumbling an apology, I brushed two chairs naked and then took the one behind my desk. Mold's feet had dug up a familiar looking tome of considerable age and he dropped it gently onto the desk. "So that's where it went" I blushed, recognizing the Codex of Kra. "I've had to move recently" I said, trying to explain the mess away as some sort of side effect. I stood up with the book, putting it on a dangerously unstable shelf. "No need for apologies Mr Hobbes, I'm used to seeing paper caverns. The only danger would be my partner deciding to establish a secondary residence here," she grinned, "He always needs more room for his files." Mold grinned back at her. "So what can I do for you?" I enquired, wondering if I should mention I had a storage room I could lend them. "You know of a certain snowgod?" "The player, we already know about the abominable yeti" added Mold, who had warmed a little from his previously blank expression. "Certainly, pretty well known around these parts. Has anything happened to him?" "Not to him, but last night Rule 1309 was abducted" answered Mold. "Not abducted Mold, just missing for a short period of time" Scold countered. I frantically tried to remember what rule that was. Ah yes, snowgod's gravity rule. I felt guilty at the slight pang of relief I had in my stomach. Mold and Scold continued to argue. "Scold, you did a biopsy yourself on the rule, the results you found were consistent with those of rules that have spend time in space." "Acka is known for its tornados. It could have been swept away." "There were no tornados reported last night. Besides, it wouldn't be dropped back in the exact same spot." "What about the people who were seen wondering around? There is no assigned Financier in charge of supervising the Treasury. Anyone could have walked in and taken the rule. There is no evidence of supernatural forces at work here." "How do you explain the fact that there was a black mark under the title?" "Just a mark Mold. What do you expect was under it? 'Kidnapped by aliens at Apr 07 1997, 01:21 EDT'? Come on Mold, we need facts not theories!" Mold shrugged. I took the opportunity to join their conversation. "This reminds me of an event that took place a few weeks back." They both turned towards me. Mold spoke, providing more info that I could have, all with astonishing speed. "That's right, the construction by members of the Acka government of special Missile Defense Systems. That was all hushed up." Mold's bland look was gone, replaced by the wild gaze of a puppy that had been promised a bone. "There was collection for funds and some players though it would be a good idea to donate some Ackadollars" I added thoughtlessly. Scold moved her eyes from Mold to myself and back to him. "That was to prepare for the construction of a bunker for the next tornado. There is no evidence of a sophisticated government conspiracy. What makes you think a government who can't even get papers published on time is capable of constructing an elaborate missile defense system, let alone maintain a long standing conspiracy of silence to hide it?" "No Scold, the evidence is there. All we need to do is track it down. We are close, I can feel it." She sighed softly, rolling her deeper than ever eyes, head tilted to one side ever so casually. As they faced off each other, I could not help but think they made a great couple. But then the moment was gone and Scold continued with a question for me. "Do you know of any reasons, any persons who would want to damage that rule?" she asked. "You mean besides me? After all, as Ackaphysicist, that affects me directly. And it's no secret I've had a hard time explaining some of the effects of that rule." "Is that a confession Mr Hobbes?" "Not at all. It was a great rule! Still is. I'm sure we can fix it, whatever happened to it." "Lab says experiments may have been performed on it. It is now a shadow of itself, relegating all authority it once commanded to other rules" explained Mold. I must have looked grim as he described the vegetative state of that once proud rule. How could anyone do such a thing to a helpless rule I screamed inside myself. "As a doctor, I can assure you that some of Acka's best rule doctors are looking at the problem. It'll be cured in no time" said Scold, darting a comforting smile across the distance that separated us. "Calvin..." she continued. "Hobbes. Call me Hobbes. I even made my evil twins call me Hobbes." "Hobbes," she acknowledged, "you are not our prime suspect. My partner already has his own theories and we checked, you weren't out last night." "On the other hand, if the lack of RFC for proposal was a paranormal activity..." chuckled Mold knowingly. "Yes, I've been told that's one of my bigger problems" I accepted. After a pause, I tried to answer their last question. "I can't think of anyone that would see this rule as one vital enough to inflict so much damage on it. Perhaps if you had said R101, 102 or 211, perhaps something in the early 400s to make a political statement. Now those would cripple Acka." Or R1118 which I authored to create you, I thought silently in painful distress. "What if this was just a rehearsal? A test before a larger attack? After all, they failed the first time." Mold was evidently thinking at 200 miles an hour, something I gathered he did quite well. "Mold..." Scold groaned. "Just think Scold. One rule here, one rule there. Then before you know it, you can't amend proposals, win cycles, appeal rulings. You know as well as I do that there are forces at work which would love to see chaos here." "That is true," I agreed, "for a while now, Acka has attracted a lot of attention from the outside Nomics. Taking down Ackanomic might just be the greatest publicity stunt they could achieve!" Scold was obviously annoyed at being in the same room as the two most paranoid people in the land. She spoke softly, trying to calm us down. "It isn't in their interest. Why would they take down a government they can control, as you seem to imply Mold?" "I'm not sure this isn't the work of different factions. Perhaps that would explain the fact that no missiles where used last night." "There was a recent presidential election and snowgod was elect..." I stopped short and probably turned pale white. "You are not implying that snowgod would purposely allow his own rule to be sacrificed? That doesn't make sense!" "Unless he is trying to gain their confidence Mr Hobbes. If you had to choose which rule to save, which to sacrifice, which would you pick?" The dark tone of his voice made me shudder. It all fit into place. The presidential election. The lack of retaliation for the abduction. The little publicity at the sinister event that took place. The low profile of the rule. The back room dealing at then end of the election -- what was promised? The suddenly warming of relations between the Senate and the President. The snail's pace in appointing a Financier as supervising authority of the Treasury where the rules are kept, when candidates had come forward. I could not believe it. I would not believe it. "This is why we came to you Mr Hobbes. You may be acka's favorite when it comes to being put on hit lists, but you do have some connections inside the corridors of power. Do you know of anything that might be pertinent to this investigation?" Mold was more like a bloodhound now, while Scold winced at the impetuous leaps of his imagination. She needed facts. And frankly so did I. "Mold. Let's slow down a second here. There is no evidence that there are any aliens involved." Hers was the voice of reason. "This is all circumstantial evidence. Coincidences. We could stand here and talk all day, but we are no closer to the truth. We need evidence. We need to find the truth." I suddenly saw someone passing by in front of the house. It looked like something out of a dream. Nightmare I corrected myself. Of last night's nightmare to be precise. But the shadow passed before I had time to focus on it. Mold and Scold turned to see what had caught my attention but saw nothing. Mold's eyes scrutinized my face, trying to read my mind, it felt like. I didn't think I could hold my composure for much longer. If there was a conspiracy out there, with the power to cripple rules then their presence endangered those rules I had created. They all flashed before my eyes. I could never choose between them if asked. I knew that much. I would rather go down fighting. "Mold..." I begun, "Mold, I will make enquires. Where can I reach you?" He handed me a piece of paper. He had retreated somewhat and even though he again wore his blank stare, I could guess he had become suspicious. He need not be, I would do everything in my power to help them. But they could never know. Because if they did, something inside me knew that their enemies would kill two birds with one stone, removing all trace of their existence and harming one of my rules at the same time. And I could bear neither loss. I walked them back to the door. "Sorry I could not be of more help," I said in a voice that tried to be normal. They looked at me then Mold, face cast in stone, and Scold, unconvinced of everything, walked out. Closing the door, I stood behind it, one breath left in me. Through the door, I heard their footsteps move away. Then stop. A crumpling of clothing as someone crouched. A sniff. "This will be another dead end Scold" said Mold's voice. I stood still, waiting for their voices and footsteps to leave my front yard. And my mind. When it was silent at last, I opened the door and looked around on the ground. And then I saw the dreaded things. Cigarette stubs.
I can't believe it. I just can't believe it. How dare CnH lead Mold and Scold to believe that I, 3 time president of Ackanomic, have anything to do at all with the aliens. I mean really, aliens? Hah. Sure they exist, I mean, they abducted the rules didn't they? But to think that I, i mean me, you know snowgod, the good guy, the president and registrar and ambassador and all that good stuff, would have anything, anything at all, a single tiny sliver of a thing even, to do with the alien abduction.... HA! I am sneering at CnH and his silly report. Were I a scientist I would write a report condeming it, but sigh, my scientist days are over. Still, there is no doubt in my mind, or more accurately there weould be no doubt were i a scientist, that CnH's report no only violates the laws of science, but is in fact a talking claw, but a claw is a claw and no one has ever sen a talking claw, no even that guy who has his hand inside the puppet head. snowgod
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