Translator: Dess Editor: Efydatia
Fenkes had gone to Alcatraz?
Kieran thought about it after the dark-skinned man stated his reason for visiting.
It was just a speculation though. He did not just assume so.
"What happened?" Kieran asked.
"Some of the independent members of the group that got out sent a message three days ago. They said that they wanted to negotiate with Dr. Fenkes to eradicate the dispute within the organization. Most of us thought it was a trap, but Dr. Fenkes saw it as an opportunity to make peace, so…" The dark-skinned man laughed bitterly.
"So he accepted?" Kieran asked.
"Yes. Dr. Fenkes left the headquarters three days ago, and we haven’t heard from him ever since," the man said with a nod.
"So how did you discover this place?" Kieran asked with a suspicious expression.
1st Black Street was not a secret location, but neither was it a place any common John Doe could just wander into.
Besides, based on Kieran’s limited understanding of Dr. Fenkes, he did not seem like someone who would actively get involved with other people’s problems.
"Dr. Fenkes told me about it. He said that if he did not make it back, he hoped that you could take care of the rest of the suffering innocents. He didn’t want you to try to save him… Still, we hope that Dr. Fenkes will be able to come back," the man explained.
Then he suddenly made a sound of surprise, as if he had remembered something.
"Oh, right! I am Boller. It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir 2567!" he introduced himself shyly.
"Nice to meet you, too. Could you hold on for a moment?" Kieran said.
"So you’ve agreed to come with me?"
When Boller saw Kieran nod, he happily went to the foyer with Ferad.
"Don’t agree so recklessly. This is just what he’s saying. It could be a trap! I suggest you contact Dr. Fenkes yourself!" Simones warned Kieran.
"That’s why I asked him to hold on," Kieran replied with a smile.
Before he had parted ways with the doctor, Fenkes had left a contact number in case of an emergency, but that number could no longer be reached.
After three tries, it was still unreachable.
Kieran frowned again before calling a different number.
"Yes, this is Schmidt. How I can help you?" Schmidt’s voice came from the other side of the line.
Even through the phone, Kieran could tell that Schmidt’s office was busy.
He thought about the new recruits his director had assigned to him, but decided to avoid the subject and get straight to the point.
"I’ve gotten into some trouble… I wanted to ask whether there have been any strange incidents during the past three days," Kieran said.
He believed that even though Fenkes had set off for a peaceful negotiation, if something happened that put his life in danger, he would not go down without a fight.
Kieran was unsure of Fenkes’ strength at the moment, but it would surely cause quite a commotion if the doctor needed to defend himself.
Any unusual commotion in the city would definitely have caught the attention of Special Task Force Leader Schmidt.
"Nope, the past three days have been the peaceful break this city deserved. Although I would prefer to be busier… Goddamnit! You nimbwit! That’s hot coffee! YOU CAN’T WATER PLANTS WITH IT!" Schmidt interrupted his own words with a loud shout. He sounded angry and helpless.
"Thanks, Schmidt. If you can’t fire them, I suggest you give them some independent space!" Kieran said before hanging up the phone.
No unusual commotion?
Fenkes’ phone was unreachable though. Had Fenkes gotten himself killed right after the meeting? Had the killer covered everything up?
Or was Boller lying?
The gears in Kieran’s brain turned hard as he thought about the situation. After a while, he waved at Simones and headed to the foyer.
He was ready to discover the truth.
Kieran wished that Nikorei was with him. She could have known the cause and effect of the matter with a simple "look".
He would not have even needed to take this risk to find out what was going on. It was a pity Nikorei’s phone had also been unreachable ever since she’d left.
Simones waved back at Kieran and let him be. His warning had been the best help he could offer.
He believed that Kieran was a vigilant person, so he would know what to do.
Following Boller’s directions, Kieran drove the car a block away from the city central.
It was where the Hatch Heresy headquarters were.
Kieran felt like he had entered a different world the moment he set foot on that street.
The houses there were old, there were no big supermarkets or malls in sight, and there were few people in the area, even though it was still afternoon.
There were a few small convenience stores here and there, but visitors were few and far between.
Even so, the cashiers behind the counters at the convenience stores had guns on them. The shape of the guns was obvious at their waist lines.
From start to end, Kieran saw only one patrol car pass by the block, and it did not even enter the street. It just made a few rounds by the street entrance and left quickly.
The vile stench that filled the air was intolerable.
Anyone who picked it up held their breath instinctively.
The smell seeped through the car and made Kieran frown.
"Poverty and bad security."
That was the impression Kieran had gotten as soon as he’d entered the street.
He did not feel surprised though. He thought it made sense.
‘The malefic environment created by poverty is a good place for a religion to grow.’
That was not Kieran’s thought.
He had read it in a book named "Saint Rock Religion" back in Nikorei’s study. The author had been the same one who had written "West Coast Paranormal Incident Collection (Pre-Er990)". It was Weister Rei.
"Saint Rock Religion" introduced the origins of that religion, as well as its expansion and destruction.
There were also some author’s notes inside the book.
That particular phrase had been mentioned in the author’s notes and had made quite an impact on Kieran’s memory.
The situation on that street made the meaning of that phrase even clearer.
"Go straight and turn right. The second house you will see is our headquarters!"
Boller pointed at a two-storey building with mottled white paint.
The fence around the building had been shortened by half, so a car could drive directly over it.
The grass there had not been taken care of for a long time. There were all sorts of tire tracks and footprints on it. It seemed like people used it as a car park.
"Come with me, Sir 2567," Boller said as he got out of the car and headed towards the building.
Kieran followed him, naturally becoming more vigilant in that strange environment.
If this was a trap, this would be the best chance for Boller to strike.
However, nothing happened as Boller opened the door and Kieran went inside. No ambush or accident.
He even saw the poor innocent people who were suffering from magic repulsion.
There were five people inside the headquarters, all of them school-age teenagers. They were all sitting there as if they were mentally retarded, staring blankly at nothing. From time to time, they would mumble unfamiliar words.
Except for the fact that they were not afraid of strangers, their condition looked exactly like Louver’s.
It was the after-effect of magic repulsion.
"Their clothes are clean and they are neatly dressed. It seems like Fenkes has taken good care of them," Kieran thought silently after taking a quick look.
"We need to take them back to my place," Kieran told Boller.
"Well, it was what Dr. Fenkes wished as well, but considering he is not around…"
Boller did not object to Kieran’s suggestion, but he was still worried about Fenkes.
"Don’t worry, I promise that after they are settled in, I will try my best to find Fenkes," Kieran said.
He was not just comforting the man. He really wanted to locate Fenkes as well.
Before the truth had been revealed, Kieran had still maintained some doubts about the new heresy leader.
Witnessing the scene before him only increased his doubts though.
"If everything before me is an act, Fenkes will surely appear or leave behind some obvious traces! But why would he do that? Just to get back to Alcatraz? Dark Star is on the island. Even if he made it there, he would not be able to do anything!"
The question remained unsolved as Kieran and Boller took the teenagers back to the place beside 1st Black Street.
Although Kieran was Nikorei’s assistant, without her approval, he dared not allow any strangers to stay in the house.
It was not because of their relationship, but because of his manners.
Kieran had easily gained access to 2nd Black Street with his funds in the dungeon world, and even hired a couple of nannies to take care of the teenagers.
After settling Boller and co. there, Kieran’s efforts to find Fenkes proved futile.
Fenkes had not appeared, nor had he left any traces behind.
Kieran could not find any further clues, not even at the place where they had both promised to meet up.
After a whole week of futile efforts, Kieran ended up at a dead end.
"Were my speculations wrong?"
He could not help but doubt his own speculations.