The Beige Folder

Series Archive » North Star » Chapter 1 » The Beige Folder

January, 2004

Airline flight crashes into the Red Sea. 148 killed.

Last week on January 3rd, 2004, Flight 604 of Flash Airlines crashed into the Red Sea shortly after takeoff. All attendees of the flight, including 135 passengers and 13 crew members, died in the accident.

Flight 604 is the deadliest air disaster in Egyptian history, and the deadliest overall disaster of the 737 model. Investigation is currently underway to discover the source of the accident, but so far no one has been able to reach a solid conclusion.

Cornwall frowned as he read the minor story in the international section.

Usually the Foundation provided an explanation for the event in their coverup stories. Not giving one here was sloppy, and might cause some people to look in places they shouldn't.

Oh well. Cornwall thought as he folded the newspaper and tucked it under his arm. Not my problem to worry about.

He felt himself lift slightly as the elevator slowed to a stop. The silver doors opened a second later, revealing a long hallway that lead out into a more open lobby area. Between the elevator and the lobby was a security checkpoint, behind which two lines of various Foundation staff had gathered.

Three metal detectors and scanners were in the middle of the hallway, each one manned by a guard wearing a white dress shirt, black tie, and baseball cap with the words 'security' sewn on in white. The two detectors on the left were the ones the lines had form behind, whereas the right one remained completely empty. Mainly because the letters 'VIP' were inscribed on the gate in front of it.

Cornwall stepped out of the elevator and made his way to the one on the right.

The guard who had been sitting behind the VIP gate stood as he saw Cornwall approach.

"This is the VIP line, sir."

"I know." Cornwall said, pulling his ID from his pocket and flashing it at the guard. "Detective Cornwall, Law's Left Hand."

The guard squinted as he looked at the card. Grabbing it, he more thoroughly examined the ID. After a couple of seconds, he stepped behind a desk beside the gate and looked intently on something on its surface.

"We don't have you scheduled, Detective." He said, looking up. "What's your business here?"

"I'm here to meet with my Commander."

The guard sighed as his face turned from confusion to unfortunate realization.

"That explains it." He said, giving Cornwall his ID back.

The gate swung open as the guard pressed something behind the desk. Cornwall walked through and stopped just short of the metal detector.

"You'll need to leave your service weapon here."

"Of course." Cornwall said as he placed the newspaper on a small silver table next to him. Then, he reached into his jacket and pulled out a small revolver, laying it down on top of the paper.

"Please step through the metal detector."

Cornwall did. As expected, nothing went off.

"You're all good." The guard said. "Your things will be here when you get back."

Cornwall nodded his thanks and continued into the lobby area.

It was a massive room, with polished white and black marble tiles making up its entire floor. In the center of the room was a fountain, square in its build. Large staircases ran up along each side of the room, leading to an open second story. Doors leading to offices and hallways leading to more sections of the second floor were visible from the ground.

Scattered throughout both floors were dozens of Foundation employees. Some were researchers tiredly walking toward their office. Some were Committee members speaking in small groups. Some were guards, leniently yet thoroughly observing the room. There even seemed to be a group of juniors in the middle of a tour from one of the site assistants.

Cornwall eyed across all of them before turning and making his way to yet another set of elevators. Where he needed to go was a bit higher than either of the two floors visible. As he walked, his eyes fell on a series of silver letters proudly hanging on the wall.

Site-37: Home of the Ethics Committee

Parker stood with his hands behind his back, gazing down at the street below. Hundreds of pedestrians were walking along the sidewalk, completely ignorant of the significance the building they were passing.

Snow was softly falling from the sky, light enough that it didn't effect visibility. Still, Parker's view of the people were blurred as flakes landed on the window, melting upon impact and streaking the plane with water.

How lucky everyone down there was, to not be apart of this hell called the anomalous world. Not that Parker wished to be ignorant of the anomalous, but the less who know of its horrors, the better.

"Henry." An elderly feminine voice said from the landline speaker on his desk. "Detective Cornwall is here to see you."

Parker grabbed the cigar from his lips and exhaled a puff of thick smoke. Turning, he sat down in the fabric-plastic hybrid chair and placed the stick on an ashtray.

"Send him in." He said, pressing a button on the phone.

A stream of smoke still billowed from the end of the cigar. Parker waved his hand over it in an attempt to dissipate the white puff. Hopefully, the air filters built into the ventilation would make the smell less apparent; Cornwall hated the smell of Parker's cigars.

Speaking of which, the large oak doors at the end of the room quickly opened as Cornwall stepped inside.

"Hello He-" He buried his mouth in his elbow as he coughed. "Henry."

"Nathan, my boy!" Parker smiled, standing. "Please, come sit down."

Cornwall made his way over to one of the chairs identical to Parker's and sat. The Commander did the same.

"I take it you had a good New Year."

"Oh, it was the usual." He said, resting his foot on his knee. "Kids wanted to stay up to see the ball drop. Heather was in bed and asleep by 9, so I had to be the one to stay up with them."

Parker chuckled upon hearing this.

"When's your next leave?"

"April. I have Easter off."

"Good…" Parker nodded. "Good…"

The two of them sat there in silence. It was unusual for Parker to leave the air so empty, but he wasn't quite his normal self right now.

Cornwall seemed to have picked up on this, as he cleared his throat and broke the awkward silence not long after.

"For as much as I love talking about my civilian life, something tells me you called me here for something a bit more pressing."

Parker felt his smile drop.

"Unfortunately…" He began. "I've recently received information that… will probably keep me up for a few nights."

Cornwall furrowed his brow and straightened forward, suddenly very attentive.

"We've dealt with a lot of ethical violations in the past, Nathan. We're no strangers to how cruel people can get. But this… this is much worse than any of the other things I've seen, at least in my opinion."

"What is it you found?" Cornwall asked.

Parker didn't respond immediately. For the first second after Cornwall spoke, he just sat there and stared at him. Then, he opened a filing cabinet attached to the desk and pulled out a beige folder. He tossed it onto the table, not saying a word.

Cornwall opened the folder and began reading it. His face kept a neutral expression, a result of him spending years as a detective, but Parker could see the horror in his eyes.

"The use of children in experimentation?" He said flatly.

"Experimentation that lead to a… grizzly… death."

Cornwall nodded. "682 isn't known for killing cleanly." He looked up at the Commander. "For as horrific as this is, why are you showing me this? From the looks of it, the researcher had gone rogue and proceeded without authorization. It's a violation, sure, but he's already been dealt with. What else is there to do?"

Again Parker's response wasn't instant. He stood and quietly walked over to the window, looking down at the people below. The blissfully ignorant people.

"There's too much that doesn't add up." He finally said. "How did he get two kids into the heavy containment section of the Foundation's most secure site? Surely he would have been stopped by GenSec or one of the hundreds of other researchers working there. It's almost as if there was someone who held the door open for him."

"You think this was an inside job?"

"I don't know… but if it was then I'm forced to ask a bigger question: where did he get those kids?"

It took a moment for Cornwall to get what Parker was hinting at, but the sound of the chair creaking as the Detective shift uncomfortably in his seat suggested he had caught on.

"You suspect they were Class-D?"

Parker sighed with internal conflict.

"I pray not. But it would be a violation of the highest degree if a group of researchers are slipping children into their Class-D pool." Parker turned, looking Cornwall dead in the eye. "A violation I want you to investigate."

Cornwall nodded as he grabbed the folder and stood. "I'll get onto this immediately."

And with that, the Detective turned and hurried out of the room. A click and thud echoed around the office as the heavy oak door closed shut.

Always in a hurry. Parker thought as he made his way back to his desk. Usually he didn't care for such speediness, but in this case…

The Commander grabbed the cigar from the ashtray. Putting it in his mouth, he pulled a lighter from his pocket and relit the end. White smoke puffed from between his lips as he exhaled. Reaching up, he removed the cigar and leaned back in his chair.

If anyone could expose corruption, it was Cornwall.

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