Log Title: Delivery

Characters: Major Bludd, Tomax and Xamot (@emitted by Lifeline)

Location: Cobra Base - Somalia

Date: 20 July 2007

TP: Vanderpool TP

Summary: Bludd delivers Vanderpool to the Twins and learns a curious detail about him.

Cobra Base - Somalia

A more permanent Cobra base, this place has barracks, meeting areas, and most importantly, air conditioning.

The very cushy Extensive Enterprises jet flies back to the Somalia base, touching down after a lengthy yet extremely comfortable flight. Bludd is offered all the comforts he could possibly want. As for Vanderpool...his remains are zipped into a body bag, and are currently inside the cargo hold.

Major Bludd takes advantage of the hospitality offered him on the jet. During the flight he ponders Vanderpool's true identity ... where does he know him from? (I shouldn't've leaned on him so hard,) he thinks. (Then again, he did have a gun.) At least he's completed his task, and can expect to have a healthy deposit placed in his Swiss bank account.

Once the plane arrives at the gate, Tomax and Xamot come on board, accompanied by a Medi-Viper woman who's suited up in scrubs -- probably for the potentially hazardous task of examining Vanderpool's decaying remains.

"Congratulations..." Tomax says cheerfully,

"On a job well done!" Xamot adds to that thought. Perhaps they wouldn't be quite as prematurely congratulatory with another hired hitman, but with Bludd, they know who they're dealing with and they know he has a proven track record, so they're confident that Vanderpool is, in fact, DOA. The Medi-Viper just has to establish the claim. They send her to the cargo hold, then they have a seat near Bludd.

"We hear it's been quite the ordeal," Tomax comments.

"It hasn't been a cakewalk, I'll say that much," Bludd chuckles. "But the job's done. That's what's important, eh?"

"Indeed it is, and you'll be compensated well for your efforts," Xamot states, glancing back at his brother briefly before turning back to Bludd. "Did you happen to get any information from him as to the whereabouts of the embezzled funds?"

Bludd sighs. "I tried," he says with a frown. "All he'd say about it was that money isn't for squirreling away, it's for spending. Then he got wise on me, and nothing else he had to say was at all helpful."

The brothers look at one another. They don't seem disappointed, but the matter is obviously a thorn in their side. "I see," Tomax says with a frown. "We strongly suspect that he *does* have a private fund somewhere, under a pseudonym. We'll just need to research the matter further, perhaps get a team of Techno-Vipers to hack investment fund records."

The Medi-Viper emerges from the cargo hold, and returns to the cabin, carrying a small device. Even though Vanderpool's only been dead a short time, it doesn't take long for that aroma of decay to set in, and the Medi-Viper has it on her. Not sickeningly strong, but certainly noticable.

"Were you able to confirm the deceased's identity?" Xamot asks her.

The Medi-Viper removes her mask, revealing a young woman of Chinese descent. "I have, the remains are a definite match to the DNA on record," she says, looking down at the device in her hand. Despite her certainty, however, there's a certain confusion in her features.

"Excellent!" the Twins crow cheerfully.

The Medi-Viper looks as if she wants to say something, but the Twins and their jubilation in the moment make her back away uncertainly.

Bludd grins, happy to hear the results of the test but also momentarily caught up in the Twins' exultations. Something in the Medi-Viper's expression troubles him, though. There was the matter of the mysterious familiarity of Vanderpool's appearance...

"What's the matter?" he asks the young woman, his eye narrowing to cover the sense of trepidation beginning to creep up his spine.

"Oh, it's...nothing bad, sir," The Medi-Viper promises Bludd. "I'm just a little bit confused by one of the DNA Analyzer's results, that's all. The one that *matters*, in this case, is that the original sample and the one from the deceased are an absolute match beyond a doubt. The Analyzer also returns other results. This one may be in error, because it doesn't make much says that there's a partial match in the database already."

"Which means...?" Tomax asks, frowning slightly.

"Which means we have someone already in the ranks with this DNA pattern -- or at the very least, a partial match," explains the Medi-Viper. "But it's probably just a computer error. The chances of that being possible by chance alone are very improbable."

Bludd blinks. "A partial DNA match of someone in Cobra's ranks? What exactly does that mean? Assuming, for the moment, it isn't an error of some kind." That niggling feeling is getting stronger, and he doesn't like it.

"If it was an *exact* match, it would mean he has a clone in the ranks. But since it's only a 50% match, it's suggesting he might have a blood relative in the ranks. A son or a daughter," The Medi-Viper says. Xamot hmphs. "Ridiculous," he says pompously. "It's certainly an error."

Now he's *got* to find out who Vanderpool really was. If the man had a child in Cobra's ranks and word got out that Bludd had murdered him -- well, he wasn't afraid of attempts on his life. There were quite a few nations that would love to have him in custody. Some would be happy to have just his head. But he didn't need any more trouble in the ranks; he didn't need to have to watch his back all the time. But there didn't seem to be a way to get the information without tipping off the Twins, and they'd be happy to have some blackmail dirt on him. On anybody.

He sits quietly stewing to himself, trying to decide on a course of action. (Why can't anything ever be simple?)

Fortunately for Bludd, the Twins seem to be in agreement, at least for the moment, that the idea that Vanderpool's offspring was in Cobra was the stupidest idea they had heard all day. What mattered to them is that the bastard was DEAD -- once and for all! This prattle about DNA was idle chatter, they didn't want to hear it.

"You're dismissed," Tomax tells the Medi-Viper, waving his hand as if waving away a bothersome fly at a picnic. "Thank you for your assistance."

The Medi-Viper glances back at Bludd, then nods to the Twins. "Thank you, sirs," she says, and departs down the exit ramp.

"The deposit will be placed into your account, effective as of tomorrow's business date," Tomax tells Bludd, once the Medi-Viper leaves.

Bludd nods stiffly, his mind still working. (God, how I hate a mystery.)

"It's been a pleasure doing business with you, as always," Xamot tells Bludd. "If there's nothing else, we have a chartered jet ready on the next runway for you to take to whichever destination you please. You've certainly earned your reward."

"Yes, feel free to travel someplace more hospitable than Somalia," Tomax adds dryly.

Bludd smiles automatically in response to Tomax's comment, rising slowly to his feet. The enigma of Vanderpool's identity was stressing him out unnecessarily. The job was over, he was getting paid, and that should be that. He sticks his hands in his jacket pockets and his fingers bump into his cellphone. He should call Pennington to let her know the good news. After all, he wouldn't have been so successful without her help.

He shakes himself inwardly and finds his inner control. "Anytime, lads," he says, smiling at the two men. "Thanks for yer hospitality." He turns and walks toward the plane's exit door, his fingers closing around his cellphone as he withdraws it from his pocket. (It'll be good to see Pennington again,) he thinks with a grin. He pictures her face in his mind: her brilliant blue eyes, her straw-blonde hair ...

(Pennington.) The phone falls out of his suddenly nerveless fingers, landing on the floor with a soft thud. (Couldn't be!) He stares blankly, the two faces held up for comparison in his mind. (Could it?)

It wasn't entirely out of the question that Bludd's assumption could be the case. Pennington was born in Ireland, but adopted by a family in the United States. Vanderpool's transitory lifestyle over the years harbored the possibility that there were a number of bastard children sired by him in many countries. Perhaps in those early years in the 1980's when he was busy pulling off embezzlement schemes in the UK, he met an Irish was within the realm of possibility.

And she had the same lean build as Vanderpool, those same blue eyes...

It was compelling evidence, to be sure.

He had to know. He stoops to pick up his phone and turns back to regard the Twins. "Er, lads," he calls, somewhat hesitantly, "can I ask a favour from ya?"

"Certainly, Major, what is it?" Tomax asks curiously, turning toward him.

"That weird DNA thing," he says off-handedly, "can you, er, have yer medical staff check it out? I know it's probably nothing, just a mistake, like ya said, but, well, I'm curious to know." Xamot glances over toward his twin briefly, then looks back to Bludd. "We could arrange it," he states. "It is very likely an error, but we will have Medical confirm it through a recheck analysis."

Bludd bobs his head in affirmation. "Great, that's great, thanks." He waves a hand, puts on an abashed smile that's not entirely false. "Curiousity killed the cat, they say, eh?" He turns to debark from the plane again. "Thanks, lads," he calls over his shoulder.

Once off the jet, he allows himself a moment to fret and berate himself. What if Vanderpool *was* Pennington's father? What would the Twins do with that knowledge? Surely they didn't have their ears to the ground in Colombia ... now he was definitely wandering around in his logic. It had been a long week, a difficult job, but now it was over and he could head home. (Idiot,) he thinks savagely. (You and your damned curiousity. Just pray nothing comes of it.)

He heads for the second plane. The sooner he got out of here, the better.

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