Just A Diversion?

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You accompany Rand back to the university. The crowd has thinned considerably where the riot used to be, and other than a mess on the grassy bowl there's little to suggest that it even happened. Some of the students have already gone back to their retro rave in one of the neighboring buildings.

Just down the tree-lined oval from the riot's location, though, there's new trouble. Several police officers are in front of another building, involved in frenzied discussion with a number of civilians--college administrators, it turns out. While Rand slides past the police tape and goes into the building to see what's going on, you decide instead to stay outside. The scientist you spoke to earlier is standing on the fringes of the crowd again, watching events curiously.

"So, you want to tell me what you're observing now?" you ask.

The woman smiles and puts out a hand, introducing herself as Susan Novak. She says, "There was a break-in. Equipment was stolen. Crystals, lasers, computer components. A lot of it fairly rare and very expensive."

"Your lab?"

"No, one on the floor below me. I'm in physics, too, but I'm mostly biophysics. My colleague's lab is primarily mechanical work--specifically crystals and high-powered lasers."

"So I suppose you're thinking the riot was a diversion? That someone set it up, using a complex mix of hired goons and an emotion-influencing distraction to keep it going, all so they could break in and steal some needed equipment?"

"Sounds like good logic to me." Susan laughs. "You ever think of becoming a scientist?"

You think for a moment about your secret hideout and all the equipment heaped inside, the super-polymer coating you put on your armor, the weapons research and training, and all the time spent trying to figure out the properties of a talisman that defies all the accepted rules of physics ... with a straight face you shrug and say, "Oh, I dabble a little."

Before you leave Susan extends an invitation to visit her any time you like.