PROJECT: HINTERLAND
Case 3: Southern Lights

Item 1: Southward

It was a beautiful summer morning in Toronto. Birds sang, leaves drifted back and forth in light breezes, and the sky was a cloudless blue-violet.

The pleasant, cheery day was a cruel contrast to Declan's mood. According to Kir, Canaveral had mentioned Toronto. When he hadn't found anything in St. Catharines, Declan had begun searching Toronto for any sign of her. He'd been searching for days, reading every graffito he could find, scouring every dusty alley for an impression of a high-heeled shoe.

"Where are you?" he whispered to the air. "Canaveral, if you're alive, give me some sign. A breadcrumb. Something."

He stood just looking around for a long minute, frowning, trying to think what he was missing.
His phone chirruped.

He answered. "Yeah?"

"Good morning, Coffey. Have you made any progress since your last report?"

"No. There's no sign of Canaveral."

"You're still convinced the woman Detective Lebedev reportedly met with was your former partner?"

"I can't think of any reason for him to lie. Or how he would know about her to lie about seeing her."

The Director nodded. "I wouldn't normally approve so much time spent on an investigation with so little to go on."

"I understand. I appreciate the latitude you're giving me on this project. But if my former partner is alive, we have to find her."

"I agree. But in the meantime, the world keeps turning."

He caught her tone. "I have a new assignment?"

"You've been requested for an urgent search and rescue operation. In Antarctica."

"Antarctica?"

"A scientist disappeared in a cave in Palmer Land two days ago. At her team's urging, the Antarctican government is requesting international assistance."

"A cave?" Declan hated caves. He always had, but especially after his time in the other Earth.

"How soon can you leave?"

A life was at stake; he could put aside his own fears. "Tonight. But I have a request."

"What?"

"A team."


As soon as Jade got to work, she was summoned to Captain Norgren's office.

"Good morning, Detective Marquez," he began, looking irritated but not at her.

"Sir?"

"Can Lebedev wrap up the Sullivan case on his own?"

"Of course," Jade replied, insulted on Kir's behalf. "Why?"

"You've been...requested for another assignment."

"What assignment?"

"A missing person case. In Antarctica," he stated.

"Antarctica?" she repeated incredulously.

"Antarctica."

"Why?" Then it occurred to her. "Coffey."

"The director of the CIA called me herself, directly, to request you for this case."

"Why the hell me?"

"I don't know."

Jade took a long breath through her teeth. "I don't suppose I can say 'no'."

"Of course you can. You don't work for Central. You have no legal obligation to help in their investigations unless it involves our jurisdiction."

But if she did refuse, Central might revoke her and Kir's inter-agency authorization, losing valuable access to their resources and databases. And if their department didn't cooperate with a request from the Central Investigation Authority, they could make things difficult for them in the future.

"When do I leave?" she asked grudgingly.

"Tonight. Dress warm, it's winter down there."