Part 4
by Chris
See Author's notes in Part 1

Day 8 - Steele Tying Knots
Steele biting the bullet
[Day 8, early morning, GMT + 2 hrs, day 7, evening, GMT - 8 hrs]
After an early breakfast consisting of coffee, bread and some preserved fruit, eaten together with Mike and Aster, they decide to check their e-mail. Finding a quiet spot just outside the camp, on a tree trunk in the shade of a tree, they download two e-mails to their laptop confirming their suspicions about something being different in the samples.
"OK. Now it's confirmed that the grain in Switzerland and here are different genetically and that the two shipments here differ as well. And we know that the grain in Switzerland has a relatively high content of calcium, while the second grain from here has a very high content of silicon, as a result of the soil. But we don't know if and why those differences make the people sick." Laura concludes.
"Or who's the culprit." Remington continues. "We can be proud of Katie though. It seems like she is helping out nicely on this case. Interesting suggestion she made to Dr. Ng Kheng."
"Yes, hopefully her suggestion on checking out the effect will bear fruit." Laura muses out loud.
"Agree…I guess there's not much more for us to find out here. Since somebody is upset about our poking around, maybe we will yet be attacked. Hopefully the culprit, assuming there's one, is so eager to cover up his or her doings that he or she will reveal him or herself." Remington says with a certain excitement, as if he wants something to happen to them.
Laura gives him a somewhat startled look in return. To take her mind off what Remington just implied, Laura then suggests, "Let's call Mildred to hear if she's come up with any more leads. Let's use the phone with the camera and use the laptop as a screen. I want to see her cheerful face, 'full size'."
Remington dials the number and after saying hello, Remington asks Mildred to turn on the camera.
Shortly thereafter Mildred's face appears on the screen of the laptop.
"Guess what!" Mildred says eagerly.
"Knowing that you can find anything if it is necessary, I do NOT dare to guess." Remington says.
"I finally came up with a connection!" Mildred exclaims.
"You did?!" Laura almost yells.
"Keep your shirt on honey. What I found out is that our 'friend' Dr. Lindt has a long term friend who happens to work within the UN purchasing organization." Mildred explains.
"And?" Remington says in a subtle effort to make Mildred reveal the rest.
"His name's Stefano Adriani and he's in charge of purchasing food products. Dr. Lindt and he used to have some kind of venture company together, by the looks of it." Mildred continues.
Just as she has finished that sentence, Remington sees something move in the corner of his eye, where nothing had been to see previously, making him look in that direction. He then sees that somebody is lying on the ground, pointing a rifle in their direction. Without a word he throws himself to the ground, taking Laura with him, the sudden action and the laptop hitting her in her stomach, making her quite shocked, causing her to deliver a fearful "What in…?"
As they hit the ground the first bullet hits the tree behind them. On the ground, Remington first says to Laura "Icy calm." And then he says in the phone, "Sorry Mildred. We're being shot at. Have to call you back." He turns the phone off, leaving Mildred's face frozen stiff on the laptop screen.
"Don't you think we should try to find better cover behind the tree?" Laura asks Remington, somewhat out of breath.
"Very much my own thinking dear." Remington responds.
As they try to crawl behind the tree, another bullet hits it just above their heads. Laura and Remington try to make themselves even smaller by really pressing themselves to the ground as they crawl. Remington says to Laura, his heart pounding, "It's seems like this person has a license to kill!"
Just as they are able to sneak behind the tree to hide a third bullet hits the tree, causing them to curl up even more. At the same time they hear that there is a lot of activity going on in the camp, obviously people there are reacting to the firing. Peaking out from behind the tree, Remington and Laura notice that some men from the camp are chasing their attackers, which now can be seen are two, and dressed in military uniforms. One of the chasers pulls out a pistol and manages to hit one of the attackers in the leg, stopping him. The other attacker gets into in a vehicle that is parked only a short distance away and drives off.
Remington and Laura get out from their hiding place and run up to the crowd which has gathered around their attacker, who's evidently being bullied by the crowd.
"Stop it!" Laura yells as she gets up to the crowd, using her arms to get through.
Remington follows in her footsteps.
Mike gets there as well and he is very upset, almost yelling and vividly pointing to the man on the ground "You are no 'Amicus humani generis' [friend of the human race]!" He commands the attacker, "Who are you? And why do you shoot at our visitors?".
No response.
Somebody whispers a name in the crowd, a name Mike catches. "Ah, so you're Birhanu Girma. And you live in the camp…and you shoot at two people who want to help make life better here. Are you…?" Mike does not finish the sentence, he just points to his head, making a motion with his hand.
Realizing that he has nothing to lose being honest, Birhanu tells them, "Man comes to camp yesterday. Ask if somebody wants to go to the USA for free. I told him I do. I have my family there."
"That's true. In LA and DC there are quite a few Ethiopian ex-pats." Laura comments to Remington in a low voice.
"Could not say no. He pay good money…But, not kill, only scare you." Birhanu continues, looking firmly at Remington and Laura.
"You did a good job there, that I can assure you." Remington says in a low voice looking at Laura. He then demands, "And who's this man that hired you to make us bite the dust?"
"He wear nice dress. Speak English with accent. Dark hair. My.." Birhanu finishes, his hand showing that the man was his height. "Seem to know some people in camp. Not mention his name." Birhanu finishes with a grimace, evidently hurting from the wound in his leg, which is bleeding quite profusely.
"Get Dr. Dalton. A wound like that shouldn't bleed as much." Mike tells a woman in the crowd. She runs off.
There is a whisper of the name "Adriani" in the crowd that Mike, Remington and Laura all hear but they decide not to comment on it.
"Why are you wearing a military uniform?" Remington asks instead.
"Man said easy to…blame the military. Shooting near camp…happened before." Birhanu explains further, grinning, now also grabbing his right shoulder.
Dr. Dalton arrives and starts examining his new patient. "A typical new case of the blood clotting disorder. You don't notice anything until you do or are subject to something out of the ordinary, like the blow from a butt of a rifle to your shoulder." He finishes with irony in his voice, looking up at Remington and Laura.
They look at each other, somewhat surprised at the almost cynical tone. Then Laura remembers, putting her hand on Remington's chest, "Remington, we'd better relieve Mildred of her agony. To let her know we're all right."
Steele given a send-off
[Day 8, mid-morning, GMT + 2 hrs, day 7, evening, GMT - 8 hrs]
Dr. Roger Dalton has stabilized Birhanu's bleeding and has prepared him for air-transport to Addis Ababa. With Birhanu now secured on a stretcher inside the plane, Roger and the Steeles discuss a few remaining matters outside the mid-size prop-plane.
"Yes, Mr. Girma will be taken to a hospital in Addis Ababa where he will undergo surgery and as soon as he has recovered the police will put him in a prison hospital until he's well enough to be put in regular custody. There he'll stay until the trial can be conducted." Roger explains.
"Good. And it's no problem for us to join in on this transportation?" Remington asks.
"Oh no, you're certainly welcome. Especially with Mike having to stay here a little longer to fix a few things. Otherwise, you'd have to drive back all the way by yourselves." Roger says in a way that lets them know that he thinks they wouldn't enjoy such a trip.
"No, that would take too long time. It's beautiful in the mountains but we DO need to get back home." Laura says. "There's little else we can do here. We've found out all there is to find out. Now we just have to figure out why that Mr. Adriani hires somebody to fire at us, scaring half our wits out." She continues, shrugging at the events earlier this morning.
"Even though Mike had people look for Mr. Adriani right after the shooting, he was nowhere to find. Seems like he left sometime late last night already…Just for your peace of mind, Mike wanted you to know that he has contacted the authorities. All border controls are alerted. If he tries to leave the country by road, train or air, he'll be caught I'm sure. I don't think he'll start off wandering through the desert or the mountains." Roger says to assure the Steeles. "Well, you'd better get in. Have a nice flight and thank you!" He continues and shakes hands with Remington and Laura.
They nod in response and get in the plane.
Steele facing a culprit
[Day 8, early afternoon, GMT + 2 hrs, early morning, GMT - 8 hrs]

Remington and Laura get out of a taxi outside Addis Ababa airport, and head towards the entrance to departures. Before they enter the building, a young airport police officer stops them, asking "Mr. and Mrs. Steele?".
Surprised, both of them just nod in response.
"Please, come with me. The chief wants to talk to you." The police officer says, motioning with his arm the direction of where the chief is.
After a walk through the departure hall, they come to the office of the airport police. They enter and are immediately shown to the chief's office. In the office, besides the chief and another police officer, is the man Remington recognizes from Dese and the camp.
As they enter, the police officer accompanying the Steeles, briefly says, "Mr. and Mrs. Steele, Sir." And he leaves.
"Welcome. I won't keep you long but I just wanted to give you an opportunity to meet the person who allegedly is the one who bought the services of Mr. Girma and the yet unknown accomplice. This gentleman was taken into our care only an hour ago when he tried to leave the country." The police chief says in a very formal way of speech, something that surprises the Steeles.
"How very kind of you." Laura comments, trying to choose a way of speech that matches the chiefs.
"Do you mind us asking him a few questions?"
"Certainly not, Mam. Please. I will remain in the room though. For your own safety. You are aware of that we will charge him with attempted murder on your lives." The chief responds, almost giving off a slight smile.
The Steeles exchange a look stating that they know the exact reason, that the chief does not want to miss out on any pertinent information, or any information at all for that matter.
"You're Mr. Adriani then." Remington semi-asks.
The handcuffed man just nods.
"Why on earth do you want to stop us from asking questions at the camp near Tendaho? We were merely being human." Remington continues, with slight frustration in his voice.
"Simply had to, or I'd be exposed." Mr. Adriani begins explaining, knowing that there are no holdbacks, now aware of the charges he will be facing.
"Exposed to or for what?" Laura queries.
"Embezzlement. A few years ago, I started a venture…" Mr. Adriani begins.
"company together with Dr. Lindt." Remington fills in.
"You know that?" Mr. Adriani asks with surprise.
"There's little about you that we don't know, but we don't know WHY you did what you did." Laura says, a somewhat sly grin on her face.
"Well, I embezzled some of the company's funds for private use and Dr. Lindt found out. But since laying charges on me would damage his reputation, he told me that I'd one day have to pay him back." The room falls silent for a short while, then Mr. Adiani reveals further, "It started off quite innocently. At least it sounded like that at the time. I just had to make sure that some of the wheat seed purchased by my organization was from BioNovus, but that it couldn't be traced to that company. Since I could control things, it wasn't a big problem."
"So those bags with the different barcode label are actually from BioNovus?" Remington asks.
Mr Adriani nods, causing Remington and Laura to exchange a look of 'One link established!'. Raising his eyebrows, Mr. Adriani continues, "Now when I've visited the camp and heard what the MPH staff thinks is the cause of that misery…Had I known what I know today, I'd refused, whatever the consequences." His voice almost falling silent at the end.
"Hmmm, we haven't yet confirmed that but much is…" Laura thinks out loud.
"So you never questioned that there could be some ill will behind it all?" Remington interrupts, causing Laura to give him a frown, then realizing that she was revealing, not asking, turning straight-faced again.
"No, never. Dr. Lindt just said that he needed an already open channel to market a fantastic new product, that would do wonders under harsh conditions." Mr. Adriani says shaking his head, as if regretting ever getting involved.
"It certainly did wonders, but not the kind that you'd ever want to hear about." Laura comments dryly, Remington taken by her imitation of his way of expressing himself.
Day 9 - Steele No Longer at UNEASE
[Day 9, noon, GMT - 8 hrs]
Back at the office, the Steeles conduct a videoconference transmitted via the Internet with Van Kasteren's office.
"Dr. Lindt was apprehended only a few hours ago as he tried to leave Switzerland, leaving for some less scrupulous nation." A satisfied Mr. Van Kasteren reveals.
"Good, very good news." Remington says with certain excitement.
"He didn't have kind words to say when he was apprehended, I can assure that." Mr. Van Kasteren continues.
"From the few minutes I've had the pleasure of being in his presence, I can very well see him devour himself into vivid linguistic unpleasantness." Remington says in his occasional verbal over-indulgence.
His choice of words is greeted with an unusual smile from Mr. Van Kasteren. Laura looks at Remington, her eyes revealing that she truly enjoyed Remington's little 'escapade'.
Remington then continues in normal speech, "It seems like our Ethiopian adventure paid off. Hadn't we gone there maybe we'd never been able to shake out the culprit."
"Can't agree more with you on that conclusion." Mr. Van Kasteren says briefly.
"And you, Dr. Ng Kheng, any news?" Laura says, eager to find out the scientific part of their case.
"That daughter of yours, Katie, you need to continue encourage her inquisitive mind. Her idea to test the grain on those bacteria producing K-vitamin was right on the spot. Of the two samples that obviously stemmed from BioNovus, due to the difference in metabolism, one type of grain affected cattle and the other humans. That it got these different properties was due to the difference in soil content, which you suggested early on. Now looking in hindsight, it seems almost too simple to be true." Dr. Ng Kheng finishes, slightly embarrassed.
"If we all could live our lives by simply finding the answer by looking in the rear view mirror, it would be just too simplistic, wouldn't it?" Laura consoles her, causing Dr. Ng Kheng to shrug her shoulders, as if realizing how true Laura's comment is.
"Mission is then completed, Mr. and Mrs. Steele. Very well done. You handled this discreetly and professionally." Mr. Van Kasteren continues.
"Thank you for your trust in us, and for your excellent cooperation. Mr. Petrov has genuinely been of help. This case truly has been an experience in many ways." Laura commends in return.
"It was our pleasure to be at you assistance. Please pass on our thanks to Katie and Ms. Krebs." Mr. Van Kasteren rounds off.
They say goodbye and the screen blackens.
"As Mike probably would have said 'vincit omnia veritas'(truth conquers all things), and wouldn't he be right though". Laura says, hugging Remington, relieved that their mission is completed. "Let's go home."
"Yes, indeed, my dear", Remington says as he puts his arm around Laura's shoulders and they start walking towards the office doors. After a second or so Remington continues very proudly (showing that he knows some Latin as well) "Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit". When Laura looks completely appalled at him he translates, grinning widely "Perhaps this too will be a pleasure to look back on one day." Laura cannot help giving Remington a kiss, then both start laughing as they exit the office, heading home.


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