Production No. BPP-610
edited by: Toni Rae and Shirin
MEET THE CAST
Wednesday, Early Morning
Jim's Truck, the streets of Cascade
"So, Jim, any chance of us getting New Year's Eve off this year?" Detective Blair Sandburg asked his partner.
"Sandburg, we were off last year. Surely you haven't forgotten. Or maybe you did, given the condition you were in after Angela's party." Blair's partner, Detective Jim Ellison grinned as he drove through the streets of Cascade.
Blair stared at Jim. "What are you talking about? I was fine. I remember that we were on call and once it looked like we weren't going to work, I went to the New Year's Eve. Angela's party was very nice and she even offered to drive me. But I didn't get there until a few minutes before midnight."
"You came home wearing a Baby-New-Year's outfit. Complete with diapers. Are you still claiming to have been sober and wearing that outfit?" Jim chuckled at the memory of Blair removing his long coat to reveal the outlandish costume that he wore over his dress slacks and flannel shirt.
He turned the blue and white Ford truck into the parking garage of the building that housed the Cascade Police Department. "Still, we had the rest of the week off, once it was decided the world wasn't coming to an end."
The two men got out of the parked truck and made their way to the elevators. Blair appeared to be quiet, but Jim could hear the soft muttering of "there was nothing wrong with my costume, it was New Year's after all," as he ushered the young man into the waiting elevator.
Jim continued. "We won't be the only ones working. I've heard that there's a technology conference going on over the weekend that will have extra patrol officers out. It's not as big a deal as the end-of-the-world panic, but it's big for Cascade."
"Oh yeah, the 2001 Technology Conference, I read about that in the paper. Whose bright idea was that?" Blair asked as the elevator stopped on the fifth floor and several uniformed officers entered. They nodded greetings to the two detectives before continuing their own conversation.
"What idea?" Jim asked.
"Having a convention over the holidays." Blair answered. "Who would have thought that the attendance would be so high? Especially since it hasn't been a big deal until now. We didn't hear about it until the first of the week."
The elevator stopped with a muted ding and the two detectives stepped out on the seventh floor. They nodded to the uniform officers as the men exited with them and walked away down the hallway. Despite the early hour, there was a lot of activity as other members of the police department went about their duties.
Jim led his partner through the doors to the office that housed Major Crime. He followed Blair to their desks and it wasn't until they were seated that he answered Blair's question.
"Evidently someone thought that having a conference on emerging technologies at the start of 2001 would be a creative way of celebrating the New Year." Jim watched as his computer started, then turned his attention to sorting a stack of files that required his or Blair's attention. "Personally, I'd be just as happy with a bowl of popcorn and watching 2001: A Space Odyssey."
Blair stared at the older detective. "You like 2001?" he asked, the disbelief clear in his voice.
Jim shrugged. "It's not one of my favorite movies, but if a person wanted to quietly celebrate the start of the year 2001, that would be one way to do it."
"Well, if we were going to be home, I'd suggest a viewing party." Blair said, frowning as his share of the files grew the more Jim sorted them. "But since we have to work." His voice trailed off. "Although, I have heard it's being re-released next year to commemorate the year. Maybe we could have a viewing party."
Blair stood up and stretched. "You want some coffee? I think I'll head to the break room for a cup of tea."
"Sure, thanks Chief." Jim nodded and handed his cup over to his partner. "Did you finish the report on the Miller bust last night?"
"Finished and awaiting signatures. All you need to do is print it and sign it." Blair gestured towards the stack of files in front of Jim. "The file for it is in there somewhere."
Blair smiled, bowing to his partner. "I live to serve," he intoned solemnly.
Jim snickered as the young man straightened to see the stern face of their captain watching him.
"Uhh. Hi Simon. I mean Captain!" Blair stammered.
"Good morning, gentlemen." Simon Banks' voice rang out catching everyone's attention. The other detectives in the room turned to watch as Banks stared at his best Detective team. "Is this a new form of greeting?" He asked. "It's not necessary that you bow when I enter the room."
"Jim was just thanking me for doing his paperwork again." Blair grinned, watching his partner's face go red. "I was recognizing his gratitude."
Simon sighed, the expression on his face clearly saying that he didn't really want to know anymore past that. "When the appreciation society is done, I'd like to see the two of you in my office."
"Yes, Sir." Both Jim and Blair answered, striving to sound as official as they could.
With another sigh, Simon walked to his office, glancing around the bullpen before entering his office. Blair shot a grin at his partner as he headed for the break room.
Fifteen minutes later, the two detectives were sitting at the conference table in Banks' office. The Captain handed them each files and started speaking while they looked over the contents.
"Before we get to the files, how is your case load looking these days?" Simon asked.
Jim spoke up first. We're waiting for forensics to give us the results of evidence from Ray Tillman's apartment. That will confirm what we already know, that he killed his neighbors. The report on the Miller case, that we wrapped up last night is done and ready for signatures."
"The Rothchild case is moving along. We should be hearing from our contact in a day or so to set up another drop. It may still be a month or so before we're ready to move on it." Blair added.
"Good!" Simon said. "Sounds like you can handle another assignment."
Jim and Blair glanced at each other before looking back to their Captain. "I guess that means you have something for us?" Jim asked.
Simon pointed to the folders. "Gentlemen, you've been assigned to assist with the security detail for the upcoming 2001 Technology Expo."
"What?" "Why us?" Came the objections from the two detectives.
"A company called Tech-Pros is the major sponsor of the Expo. The President and CEO of Tech-Pros is Charles Alderman. He's from Cascade and a close friend of the mayor." Simon explained settling back in his chair.
"Let me guess." Jim sighed. "The mayor called Commissioner Matthews."
"Give the man a cigar." Simon said without humor. "The Commissioner called me this morning wanting me to assign the specialized team of Ellison-Sandburg to the security detail."
Blair sat back quietly, his eyes closed. "This is to be considered part of the compensation for getting me hired, isn't it?"
"Don't worry about it, Chief." Jim assured his partner. "We've certainly pulled worse details before."
"Rhonda's collected available info on the Expo, to get you started." Simon continued, pointing to the files on the table. "Their head of Security is Richard Smallwood. He'll be waiting to meet with you this morning. Basically we'd like you to go over what they have in place and see what needs to be done to beef up the security. Mr. Alderman is suddenly concerned that the security isn't adequate enough for his conference."
At his detective's resigned looks, Simon added. "Look, I know how you feel, it's not my idea of a way to spend the weekend, but it's just come up at the last minute. Until the Commissioner called me, the most attention it was getting was some extra uniforms near the convention center. Now Major Crime is involved. I'm not happy about it either."
Blair grinned, "That's okay Simon. On the bright side, maybe I can find some new software or a larger disk drive for my computer. Better yet, maybe we can find a computer for Jim."
"Get your jacket, Chief." Jim stood up and gave his partner an amused look. "We're taking a trip to the Cascade Convention Center and let's not plan a shopping trip just yet."
"Cause we just had Christmas, Darwin." Jim reminded him as they left their captain's office and exited the Bullpen. "You're still playing with your presents and don't need more toys."
Cascade Convention Center
The Cascade convention center was busy with close to a hundred vendors setting up their booths and elaborate display areas. Looking at the mass chaos it was hard to believe that in twenty-four hours the center would be open to thousands of convention attendees.
In a control room that overlooked the entire exhibit hall, Blair Sandburg stood beside his partner as they watched the frenzy below, listening as Jim voiced his doubts that everything would be ready. He and Jim had spent the past hour meeting with Richard Smallwood and the two of them had pointed out several holes in the security plans.
"When does the convention start? And when does the exhibit hall open?" Blair asked. His question was directed to the head of security.
"The exhibit room opens at 8am on Thursday. But the convention actually starts Wednesday night. Several people are scheduled to make presentations and speeches." Smallwood answered, referring to a notebook he carried with him.
Jim nodded, watching the activities before turning away from the window to face the security director. "Who is expected on Wednesday night? I'd like to go over the plans again for getting the guests here and to the stage safely."
"Of course." Smallwood smiled. "We appreciate the Cascade PD's assistance. The conference grew much faster than the organizers had anticipated, once several of the vendors announced new products to be unveiled over the weekend."
"New products?" Jim asked, glancing at Blair. "This is the first we've heard of any new products."
"Tech-Pros is going to announce their newest chip, the Tech-Pro 2001 Chip. No one knows the exact details about it, other than it's more powerful than anything else on the market and capable of running more than just a computer." Smallwood explained.
"That explains why Mr. Alderman wanted the extra look at security." Blair said.
"Which brings me back to my previous question, about the speakers for opening night?" Jim reminded them. "Then we'd like to take a look around on our own to see what we can spot. There are a couple of things I'd like a closer look at."
"Yes, Sir. Let's go back to my office and go over the details." Smallwood led them out of the control room and down the hall.
Two hours later Jim and Blair were roaming the exhibition hall and checking out several potential security problems they had spotted from the observation room.
Jim waved his hand towards the back wall where several doors were open and unguarded, allowing easy access to and from the loading dock area. "One of the first things they should be doing is keeping someone assigned to those loading bay doors. Anyone could walk through and never be noticed. Especially if they were carrying a box."
Suddenly the tall detective stopped and Blair had taken several steps forward before he realized his partner was no longer beside him.
"Jim?" He asked, alarmed at the stiff posture and air of concentration that had settled over the Sentinel. Stepping back to Jim's side and laying a hand on Jim's back, Blair spoke softly, "What is it? What did you find?"
"Huh? Nothing?" Blair stared at his partner. "What are you talking about? Are your senses acting up again? Let's go back up to the control room where it's quieter. Jim!" Blair called out surprised, as he watched his partner backtrack their steps, carefully studying the vendors, the boxes and the general area of the room.
Jim stopped beside Blair and spoke again. "Nothing. Definitely nothing."
"Then what was that all about?" Blair asked, confused by his Sentinel's behavior and seeming reluctance to tell his Guide what he'd found.
"Nothing. As in no noise, or rather no background noise," Jim spoke low. "It's like something is blocking the sound."
"You think it's a white noise generator?" Blair's eyes widened in surprise.
The Sentinel nodded. "Walking past those last couple of displays is like walking through a bubble. I could hear you, or a particularly loud noise if I was listening for it, but nothing past that without really trying."
Taking another look around the room, Jim led the way to a quiet corner where several tables had been set up as a rest area. While Blair diverted to get them a couple of bottles of water, Jim picked a table that provided an unobstructed view of the room and sat down to wait for Blair. A few minutes later, Blair dropped into a chair, careful not to block his Sentinel's view.
"Okay, Jim. What is going on with you?" Blair demanded, his voice soft with concern.
Jim sighed, allowing himself to relax slightly while keeping a close eye on the exhibit hall. "Someone, probably one of the venders, has a white noise generator. One big enough to create an area similar to a bubble." He paused to take a long drink from the water bottle. "As we walked down the side aisle I realized it was quieter, really quiet compared to the rest of the room. There was a total lack of background noise and it startled me."
"Startled you? What do you mean it startled you?" Blair asked, his concern growing. He knew from long experience that Jim didn't startle easily. "You've used white noise filters before and we've experimented with the effect of generators on your senses."
"Sure, but I was either expecting the results or wasn't using my hearing. Just now I had the dials up on my hearing, listening for anything strange or out of place. When the sudden lack of noise hit, I wasn't expecting it."
Blair nodded his understanding. "So where do you think the source is? I don't know much about these kind of trade shows and have no idea if it's common for a vendor to use a white noise generator."
"I can't pinpoint the source exactly, other than it's in here, towards that back wall. It could be one of the larger exhibitors is using it to block out the background noise for their presentations. Less distraction for anyone trying to pay attention." Jim reasoned, but his voice held a note of doubt that his partner clearly heard.
"But you want to keep a closer eye on things, right?" Blair said, voicing his partner's concern.
Jim took another swallow of water before nodding. "Yes. I want to keep an eye out for it. At least until we know who has it and why."
Their conversation was interrupted by the soft tones of Jim's cell phone. He pulled the phone from his jacket pocket, glancing at the caller id display. "Simon." He mouthed to Blair as he lifted the phone to answer it.
As Jim talked with Simon Banks, Blair watched the barely organized chaos as people prepared for the upcoming conference and the thousands of people expected to attend. The security they had seen so far was adequate, but both detectives had found potential problems. The security director, Richard Smallwood, was good but they all feared his staff wasn't big enough or experienced enough to handle the anticipated crowd.
"Sure thing, Captain. We'll be there as soon as possible." Jim's voice brought Blair's attention back to the senior detective. He waited until Jim ended the call and replaced the phone in his jacket pocket. Taking a last swallow of water he stood, motioning Blair to follow.
"Come on, Chief. We need to leave. Simon wanted to know how things are going here and there's been a lead on the Tillman case." Jim led the way through the maze of display construction and boxes.
"The Tillman case? So does that mean the forensic results came in?" Blair asked. "They corroborated with what you already knew, right?"
"Exactly. Ray Tillman's fingerprints were all over the place. The hair we found on the sofa matches his. We've got him." Jim said, sounding pleased with the results he was relaying to Blair. "Simon wants us there when he's picked up."
"Mr. Ellison, we're needed." Blair quoted as he climbed into the truck and watched his partner walk around to the driver's side.
Jim rolled his eyes. "I knew it. I knew getting you the set of Avenger videotapes would end up being a bad idea. "
"Oh yeah, like you haven't been enjoying them as well." Blair laughed. "Don't think I haven't noticed you sneaking looks at Emma Peel, especially when she's in leather. Speaking of which, you forgot to put up the last tape you were watching the other night. I found it in the VCR."
Jim opened his mouth to argue then simply shook his head in defeat. "Busted!" he sighed as Blair's laughter followed them out of the building.