Conspiracy, Part III
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Investigations

Foundation Command-05, Moscow, USSR
Friday, 23 December 1988, 0730 hours local time


Lighting a cigarette, Harper sat in his temporary office in the Foundation's regional headquarters for the Soviet Union. Nearly three times the size of his Washington office, complete with a view overlooking Dzerzhinsky Square, Harper decided he could get used to the palatial treatment the Foundation afforded Level 5 personnel. Picking up his secure telephone, he called Muir back in Washington. Since it was almost midnight in the American capital, Harper dialed his colleague's home secure telephone line. After the two units had synced, he heard a slightly groggy voice say, "Muir."

"Troy, it's Tim," Harper said. "I hope I didn't wake you."

"I was still up reading," Muir reassured Harper. "What's going on?"

Harper explained, "I talked to Dr. Pushkin. Looks like the Trinidad artifacts did get bought up by MC&D. From the sounds of it, he witnessed the exchange himself."

"Uhuh," Muir grunted. "I've put out feelers to my old contacts at the GOC. I'm expecting to get their file in the morning."

"I hope you didn't have to part with any crown jewels," Harper remarked dryly.

"Nah, this was in exchange for services already rendered," Muir replied. "Didn't even have to cash in all my chips."

"Well, Troy, I'm going to sleep on the couch in the office here. Call me when you have the file," Harper said. He read off the phone and fax numbers. Muir confirmed them, then hung up.


Foundation Command-02, Washington, D.C.
Friday, 23 December 1988, 0710 hours local time


Troy Muir had just started the office coffee maker when Monica walked in carrying a manila envelope. "Mr. Muir, the front desk reported this was dropped off for you this morning by an Agent Granger of the Global Occult Coalition," she said, handing it to him. "It cleared the standard security screen: just a file."

"Thanks, Monica," Muir said, opening the file. Inside were three sheets of paper.

Troy,

Merry Christmas.

- Harry

Muir examined the file's contents carefully. "Monica, please fax these to this number," he instructed, picking up his secure telephone unit and dialing.

"Harper," said the voice on the other end of the line.

"Tim, it's Troy. Monica's faxing you some documents," Muir said.

There was a pause on the other end of the line. "I have them," Harper said. "Interesting. Do we have anything on this 'C' person?"

"I'm not familiar with him. Or her," Muir said. "It'll take us a while to go digging through the archives."

"Alright," Harper replied. "Any new leads?"

Monica raised her eyebrows, and Muir hit the speaker button. "I've put you on speaker, Tim. Monica's here with me."

"Mr. Harper, our agents embedded in the British police have finished their initial report," Monica explained. "We had them check the explosive signature against the exploding coins. It was a ninety-three percent match, though the margin of error was about eight percent because of the age of the coins' baseline comparison."

"Alright," Harper said. "Nice to confirm what we already know. Continue."

Monica nodded, even though Harper couldn't see her. "After you left for Moscow yesterday, I started trying to piece together who had access to the information that was leaked. We have no way of knowing for certain, because all the evidence was destroyed, and Director McDonnell only filed a preliminary paper report. He spoke to O5-5 personally, but -5 was also killed in the bombing. Given the nature of the information found as per the Director's initial report, at least one conspirator had Level 4 clearance or higher, but without specific SCP designations, I can't really rule anyone out. I looked at the Foundation's security clearance database, and there are at least fifteen hundred El Fours (that I had clearance to know about). And I don't have clearance to know exactly how many El Fives there are."

"Even I don't know that, Monica," Harper said. "I suppose I have access now that I am one; I can look it up. I don't think it's more than a few dozen. The O5 Council, some but not all of the Directors for various sub-agencies, a few roving personnel like myself, not that many."

Muir spoke up, "Tim, if we don't know what they had, we can't dig too much into this without it becoming a witch hunt." All three knew that such a witch hunt could do as much or more damage as the apparent conspiracy itself, and none of them wanted to be the Foundation's Angleton.

"Let's focus on what we do know," Harper said. "McDonnell's report said something about the Overseers' schedules for the week. Focus on looking into their staff and security. We don't need another dead Overseer. In the meantime, I'll keep following the trail of the one object we do know the conspirators have." He disconnected the call.

Muir and Monica set to work. They had to place the lives, habits, contacts, actions, schedules, and finances of over a hundred Foundation personnel under the microscope. Their task was all the much harder since they had no idea what, exactly, they were trying to find. With any luck, they'd know it when they saw it. With any good luck, that is. With bad luck, the conspirators would be able to do whatever they had planned next without interruption.


Foundation Command-05, Moscow, USSR
Friday, 23 December 1988, 1545 hours local time


After finishing his call with Muir and Monica, Harper reread the files again. He decided to report what he had so far to O5-7. Leaving his palatial temporary office, he strode down the hall to the Level 5 Office Reception and Security desk. Showing his credentials to the secretary, he said in Russian, "Please arrange for a secure teleconference with O5-7."

"Yes, Comrade Investigator," the secretary replied. "She should be free in fifteen minutes. You are welcome to use the conference room; nobody is in there for another two hours." The secretary gestured to an open door.

"Thank you, Comrade," Harper smiled. He entered the conference room and shut the door behind him.

Just as the hour was chiming on the bells of St. Basil's Cathedral, the phone rang. Harper picked up the handset. "Harper," he said in English.

A voice on the other end of the line said, "Please hold for O5-7."

A moment later, Seven's voice said, "Mr. Harper, I take it you are making progress out there in Moscow?"

"Yes, ma'am," Harper replied. "We've traced the source of the explosion to—"

"The exploding coins?" Seven said. "I heard. Those have been nothing but trouble for the Foundation. I said it when I first became an Overseer, I still say it now."

"Yes, ma'am. According to information from the Global Occult Coalition, the coins are in the possession of someone they know only as 'C'," Harper explained. "This 'C' person apparently bought them off of Marshall, Carter, & Dark back in seventy-one."

"C?" asked Seven. "Interesting. First, a question though, Mr. Harper. What did you promise the GOC in exchange for the information?"

"Nothing," said Harper. "Muir got it from one of his contacts as payment for an old favor."

"Hmm," Seven said. "Alright. Be careful with the GOC, Mr. Harper."

"Yes, ma'am, of course," Harper replied. "I figured they were better to interact with than Marshall, Carter and Dark, however."

"True, the Club is not known for its cooperation," Seven said. "So, what do you know about this 'C'?"

"Not much," admitted Harper. "The GOC file on C is essentially empty. Believed to be fairly wealthy, thought to own at least nine anomalous items, MC&D club member, probably American or British, signs with unidentifiable green ink. That's all we know so far. I have Muir and Ms. Daniel looking into the archives to see what might be there."

"You can tell them to stop. There is nothing in the archives on this 'C'," Seven stated definitively. "I've read all the files we have on every known MC&D club member. There is no file on any 'C' person."

"Alright, I'll let them know," Harper said. "They're also looking at the personnel with access to the O5's schedules and security arrangements, since Director McDonnell's report mentioned the possibility of a threat against the Council."

"Very good," Seven said. "Depending on the outcome of this investigation, Mr. Harper, you might be on the short list for being the counterintelligence director yourself. I've not spoken to the other Overseers yet, but I've followed your work for some time now, and I like what I see."

Harper could think of nothing to say, so he said nothing.

"Mr. Harper, I believe I may have a lead for you," Seven said. "Go to London. Speak to Sir James Mycroft. He is a mathematics professor at Cambridge. He is also something of an information broker about both the mundane and the paranormal - he is known to have supplied information to all of the various big players, including MC&D. I suspect he may know, or know of, this 'C' person."

"I will do that," Harper affirmed.

"Keep me informed," Seven said, disconnecting the call.

Harper quickly called Muir to pass along the information. Then, he left the conference room. "Comrade, I need a seat on the next flight to London, as well as an English copy of the Foundation's file on a person of interest," he said to the secretary in Russian.

"Of course, Comrade," said the secretary. "Do you have a reference number or name for the file?"

"Yes," Harper said. "Sir James Mycroft."


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