"That son of a bitch, he knew. There is no way that he didn't know" thought Phinneus.
He was furious. It had been several days since Button had died and the papers were only increasing their shock articles. They were pasting his image all over the front pages. The Ticking Clock had a particularly moving piece on his philanthropic nature and how his one joy in life was to be with his children. They also said that the police were launching a full investigation to find the people responsible for his death.
This was all a lie. You cannot trust the newspapers. The truth is, Charles Button was a hard, cold man. He had never donated more than a simo, even to a beggar on the street. As for spending time with is children, that would have been difficult since he did not have any, but most people did not know much about his life. Those that did were more than willing to go along with the lie for their own agendas. The police were not conducting the investigation. The military had been called in and grounded all private airships. They were being thoroughly searched for any involvement. They were also extensively questioning citizens. Taking them to a makeshift prison in the Argenstrath Medical Facility seemingly at random. People were vanishing at an alarming rate.
The death of one of the technocratic leaders was quite a big deal. Though he would eventually be replaced, the Council would have to find someone who shared their vision, which was easier said than done. This also gave them the opportunity to tighten their grip on the city. A temporary law had been instituted stating that groups of more than four men could not publicly meet. Ships entering or leaving port were having a difficult time. Fortunately for Phinneus, there were very few that knew his ship could fly. As such the Northstar was not likely to be boarded and searched. The airships in his fleet on the other hand, were being searched. They were not involved with the incident, and the captains could be trusted, but there was no telling what their crews would say.
Phinneus hired a car to take him to Astam Junction. He needed to talk with Lucas. He knew that it was he that hired Leo and his crew to deal with Button. It was a decision that should not have been made without other members of the Order present. He walked up the steps and into the lobby of Lucas' office.
"Is Mr. Buford in his office?" Phinneus asked the receptionist.
"Yes, but he is not to be disturbed," replied the young woman.
Phinneus did not care whether or not he wanted to be disturbed and so he walked past the front desk and towards the office.
"You cannot go back there!" shouted the receptionist.
Phinneus stormed up to the door and motioned to open it. It was locked. He took a step back, and kicked the door in. Wood splintered across the room. He entered to find Lucas hiding behind one of his bookshelves. When he saw that it was Phinneus, he let out a sigh of relief.
"Phin, am I glad it's you."
"Who were you expecting? The Army? The Technocratic Bodyguard?"
"I don't know what you mean."
"Sure you don't. If I had known who was on that ship, I would have refused to help. But you knew that."
"Yes, I did."
"Then you knew who he was from the beginning?"
"No. I'd heard a rumor a while back, but you know how those are. It was only after I'd hired the Caelum Navis that one of my informants confirmed it."
"And you didn't think to call it off. We were not ready to take this on. We don't have enough resources to fight an entire military and all of the misinformation. You should have consulted with the rest of us."
"You see, hindsight i-"
"No. You knew exactly what you were doing. Now we do not know who they will get to take his place. He could be even worse. Not to mention that my ship, crew, rest of the fleet, and myself are in danger while you sit here in your office playing with your dolls."
Just then, the sound of a street car screeching to a stop and two men running into the building. Lucas once again hid and Phinneus got ready to fight his way out.
Fortunately, it was two of his crewman.
"Sir. We just received word that the Northstar is to be boarded and searched. Boric sent us over straight away to retrieve you."
"What! Damn! Let's go." Shouted Phinneus. He turned around briefly and said "Lucas, you had better hope that nothing comes of this."
With that the three of them stormed off, got in the car and sped away as fast as they could.
When Phinneus arrived at his ship, men were already trying to get aboard. Boric was deep in an argument with their lieutenant and did not hear him approach.
"What is this all about? I thought that you were only searching airships." asked Phinneus.
"Are Captain Cromwell?" Asked the man arguing with Boric.
"Yes, and who are you?"
"I am Lieutenant Wallace. You are requested to give us access to your ship for inspection."
"For what reason?"
"A ship matching this description was seen in the area when Mr Button was brutally murdered."
"And you think that I had something to do with it."
"That is why we are here. Please step aside and let us on board."
"Boric, step aside. Let them on, we have nothing to hide."
Boric nodded and got out of the way. He was not pleased with the situation. To be fair, neither was Phinneus, but there was nothing that could be done.
The soldiers very quickly went through the ship, but Phinneus made it to his quarters first and was able to hide some of his documents just before Wallace entered.
"What exactly is it that you do Captain?"
"I would have thought a government official would know. I am a merchant. I sell water and a variety of commodities from Paorr. Occasionally, I take on passengers travelling across the ocean."
"Lieutenant. We are unable to gain access to the lower deck." said a soldier who had just entered the room.
"Do you have an explanation, Captain?"
"Yes, a strong wind last week pushed us against a outcrop and flooded the lower deck. We are in port to repair it."
Phinneus was nervous. There was nothing wrong with the lower deck, other than it contained an engine that would raise more questions and lead to its own investigation. They arrived at the ladder to go down and Phinneus stooped to unlock the door. He took his time, hoping that they would be called away.
"What is taking so long?"
"Nothing. It's open." he said as he was opening the door.
Wallace stared down the hole.
"Very well. Nothing has been found. The port is still in lockdown, so you are unable to leave, but your ship is clear. Soldiers, disembark!. Good day, Captain. Take care of your ship."
With that, the soldiers who had been on the ship left.
Phinneus was confused. He looked down the hole and saw that it was filled with water.
"I overheard what you said to Wallace. I opened the vents and flooded the deck."
Phinneus turned around. Boric was standing behind him, smirking.
"Thank you, Boric. You saved all of us. Though, it is going to be a while before we can fly again. Get some of the men to pump the water out."
Phinneus walked back to his quarters and laid down. He lost himself in thoughts of what was going to have to change. The Order was going to have to step up its game. It isn't going to be easy, or safe. For the time being, they were going to have to lay low, and wait, and watch.