Saturday, July 24, 2010, around 10:00 PM and throughout the following four days
Realizing that it is late in the evening, Gidget decides to put an end to the day’s research. She calls Paul, and meets with him and some of his friends at Denny’s. She informs Paul of some of her findings, and the group hangs out for a bit before Gidget returns to her hotel to sleep. She makes certain to tell Paul good bye, though, as she suspects she will leave the following day.
Gidget awakens, and after emailing Dr. Morgan to ask if she has any classes on Monday, decides to leave for Pittsburgh in the afternoon. She calls Paul to let him know, and then she checks out of her hotel and starts driving to Pittsuburgh around 3 PM.
Gidget arrives in Pittsburgh around 10 PM. She checks her email to find that Dr. Morgan is covering a physics class on Monday morning, and so should have a lecture. Gidget notes the room and time, and then finds a quiet residential area in which to park her car and sleep for the night.
The next day, Monday morning, Gidget awakens and makes her way to the Carnegie Mellon campus. She makes her way to the lecture hall and takes a seat in the back of the room — though she notices that Dr. Morgan definitely saw her enter, and had some sort of flash of recognition. Otherwise, the lecture proceeds normally for a summer lecture on introductory college physics. Once finished, Gidget leaves the hall and wanders around campus, seeing the sights. She finally finds a quiet coffee shop to read and check her email and maybe even eat something before wandering around some more, and finding a place to park her car and sleep for the night.
The next morning Gidget awakens and makes her way back to the campus so that she can attend Dr. Morgan’s office hours. After waiting about forty-five minutes for an exasperated graduate student to finish her conference, Gidget walks to the open door and knocks. Dr. Morgan looks up, and looks at Gidget with an expression that betrays some level of recognition. Gidget explains that she is an adopted daughter of Dr. Robert Frye, and that she is interested in anything Dr. Morgan can tell her about her father. Over the course of the conversation, Dr. Morgan explains that Dr. Frye was a brilliant man, and never anything less than kind to everyone. Dr. Morgan and Dr. Frye worked together on some robotic components for the automotive industry, and also worked on some prosthetic limb projects for the military. She also talks some about Dr. Gutermuth and Dr. Kimura, but it is nothing that Gidget does not already know.
Gidget steers the conversation toward some of his other projects, trying to learn about her own development. Dr. Morgan becomes noticeably more unnerved at this time, and is obviously hiding something. Dr. Morgan eventually reveals that Dr. Frye’s android project was revealed as a hoax because people indicated that his designs were impractical, and because they met the actress playing his robot. Dr. Morgan apparently met the robot, but doesn’t offer an answer either way — she says the actress idea makes the most sense, and that the robot was probably too lifelike to be an actual robot. When Gidget asks what the robot looked like, Dr. Morgan uncomfortably answers that it looked like Gidget.
Realizing that there is still something unsaid, Gidget presses further regarding events. After Dr. Morgan grows distant for a time and seems distracted, she suggests that apart from a filing error, the only likely reason as to why a patent would disappear would be government interference, probably to prevent anyone else from accessing the technology. Finally, after continued questioning, she breaks down, indicating that she retrieved Dr. Frye’s notes after his disappearance and sold them. Gidget asks about the disappearance, and Dr. Morgan explains that there was a funeral, but she doesn’t know any more — Dr. Frye’s sons would probably know more, and since Gidget says they don’t know anything, Dr. Morgan says that nobody knows. It isn’t much longer before Gidget’s questioning causes Dr. Morgan to excuse herself, and run out of the room crying. Gidget, still stunned, picks up the phone and calls her brother, Dan. She asks about her father’s death, and he says that he simply died in a lab accident, like they told her. She asks if there was a body, and he merely replies that he died, and there was a funeral, and is there a point to this line of questioning? Not wanting to bother him further, she lets him go and Dan hangs up.
Gidget then finds a piece of paper to write a note. After being interrupted by a graduate student looking for Dr. Morgan, she simply indicates that there are no hard feelings about selling stuff, and that people sometimes do irrational things in tough situations. She leaves the note somewhere she expects Dr. Morgan to find it, and then leaves the building.
Once outside, she finds a place to sit and calls Dr. Zirpoli. She indicates that she has found some things — her tone prompts Dr. Zirpoli to ask if she is all right — and she will likely be in New York in the not-too-distant future, and asks if he will be available. Indicates that he will, and after some deliberating, she says she will likely be in New York City the following evening. Is that all right? Dr. Zirpoli agrees, and says she is invited for dinner. He also explains that his wife encourages Gidget to bring something to eat, or inform her of something she would like to eat. Gidget doesn’t have access to a kitchen, nor does she have any preferences, and Dr. Zirpoli says that is fine.
After wishing her well and finishing the conversation, she calls Paul and informs him that it seems likely that the government hid her patent for their own purposes. Additionally, Dr. Frye is confirmed as missing rather than killed. Finally — what do people bring to dinner when they are asked to bring something? Paul finally suggests bread, dessert, or a beverage, probably wine. She thanks him and the two hang up.
Gidget then spends some time on campus, waiting for Dr. Morgan to leave the building, largely just to make certain she is all right. Eventually, a group of people come out of the engineering building, huddled around Dr. Morgan. Dr. Morgan definitely notices Gidget and stares at her. Once the crowd leaves her sight, Gidget leaves the campus.
Gidget primarily spends the rest of the day reading and wandering around Pittsburgh. As she checks her email toward evening, she finds an email from a nonsensical address (firstname.lastname@example.org) with no body and a subject line reading, “He knows.” She wonders about this, and tries to send an email, but it immediately pings back with message from MAILER-DAEMON about a delivery failure. Gidget then finds yet another place to park her car and sleep for the night.
The next day, Gidget awakens and undergoes a few preparations for her trip to New York City. She gets gas a couple of times, buys white wine at a grocery store, and otherwise has an uneventful trip until she pulls off by the side of the road at the Holland Tunnel to call Dr. Zirpoli. He says he will be there in about a half-hour and help her navigate to his house.
About twenty minutes later, Dr. Zirpoli parks next to her car in his late-model hybrid. Gidget notices a few occult glyphs hidden on his car. Dr. Zirpoli steps out wearing a dress shirt, slacks, and a sweater vest. He apologizes for not describing his address, but explains that his secrecy is for security purposes. He then invites her to follow.
Gidget is astute enough to notice that he navigates New York City traffic surprisingly well. He hits green lights and avoids congestion. It could be coincidence, or it could be something else.
They arrive at a nice, Victorian-style house in a residential neighborhood in southeastern Queens. Dr. Zirpoli pulls into the driveway and Gidget parks on the street. They enter into his home and Gidget has a little time to take in the sights of the home before a woman enters. She is tall and willowy, with long, wavy, grey hair. She wears spectacles and is wearing a patchwork peasant skirt and a sort of baggy blouse. She is introduced as Dalia Zirpoli, Ebenezer Zirpoli’s wife who is also a doctor and a mage, like Ebenezer. She presents her wine as pleasantries are exchanged, and then joins Dalia in the kitchen at her invitation. While preparing dinner — which is, at some point, determined to be lobster as the meal takes shape — they discuss things. Ebenezer explains that Gidget is in a mild amount of danger by being at his house, because there are some wizardly factions in the city that want him dead — magely politics and all that. He assures her that she is likely in no danger, but it is something she should know. Gidget then explains all she has learned since she last spoke to Ebenezer , telling him about her meeting with Dr. Morgan as well as her meeting with the mysterious “M” in Terra Lake. When Ebenezer asks, Gidget says she feels “M” is somehow connected to Project: REGINA. Ebenezer mentions that he hasn’t been able to find a lot of information, but he can say that Project: REGINA no longer exists. Strangely, all he could find suggests that Project: REGINA spans about the length of her old patent, 1986-2006, and that it disbanded in 2009, around the time Dr. Steiner got in his car accident. Dr. Kimura was institutionalized in 2006. All of these may be coincidences, but it is still interesting information.
After some discussion over dinner, Gidget, Dalia, and Ebenezer decide that the West Coast seems like the most logical destination. Since Dr. Gutermuth and Dr. Kimura are out West, and since her brother Dan might know something about her father’s disappearance, that appears to be where her current leads are headed. Gidget agrees that this is sound. As the evening wears on, Gidget says that the others probably want to get to bed. They offer her the guest bedroom, and she accepts; she retrieves her bag from her car and Dalia shows her to the guest room. They then bid her good night and tell her they will see her in the morning.