- STEELE BEING HUMAN
- 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
- "Yes, hopefully her suggestion on checking out the effect
will bear fruit." Laura muses out loud.
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
- "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
- "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
- 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
- "Don't you think we should try to find better cover
behind the tree?" Laura asks Remington, somewhat out of
- "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
- 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
you shoot at two people who want to help make life better here.
?" 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
- "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
- "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
- "Man said easy to
blame the military. Shooting
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
- "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
- "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
- "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
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
- "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
- "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
- "It was our pleasure to be at you assistance. Please
pass on our thanks to Katie and Ms. Krebs." Mr. Van Kasteren
- 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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