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Aaron wanted to surprise all the
colonists with a commemorative gift. He
found a gold watch at an antique store that was perfect for the task. He brought it to the facility and made 25
copies using the builder so there would be one for every colonist. Aaron then took all 26 watches to Sadie’s
The store was like most jewelry stores. Inside were cases and cases of diamonds. Obvious surveillance cameras were placed about the store. In many cases stores would have two sets of cameras. One set would be so small that it would take a trained eye to find them. The other set, which was often a remnant from the past, was left as a scare tactic for thieves.
The store was empty when Aaron arrived. He had all the watches stored in little boxes that had held ornaments from the previous year’s Christmas tree decorations. The boxes were all neatly packed into a bag. An Asian woman was sitting in a chair behind one of the cases, reading a book of poetry. She wore a simple sleeveless silver dress. She had piercing green eyes that stared into Aaron. She said in perfect English, “May I help you?”
“Yes, I saw on your website that you can do engravings. I need some watches engraved.”
“It depends on the watch. Can I see them?”
He pulled out one of the watches. They were beautiful 14 karat gold. The outside had a simple design of curved lines. The watches flipped open from the side. The hands were thin spikes of gold. There were no numbers, only small golden dots to mark the hour locations.
He pointed, “Can you inscribe here, on the inside?”
She smiled, “Yes, that’ll be no problem. What would you like me to write?”
He gave her a list of the names and told her to write the date under the names. The list only showed the first name and he purposely had Jared and Michelle’s names separated by other names so they would not be noticed.
As she finished each one, he checked it and then repackaged it. It took her about an hour to finish. When she finished he paid for the work, complimented her on a job well done, and left.
A few minutes after Aaron was gone a CTF agent came in and approached the counter where the woman was still seated. He said to her, “What did that person do while he was in here?”
“Umm . . . he just needed some watches engraved.”
“What kind of watches?”
“I don’t see how that’s any of your business.”
“I’m a CTF agent, that’s how.” He took out his badge to prove himself. “Now tell me what I need to know.”
“OK. They were gold pocket watches. They were expensive, too. I’m positive they were 14 karat gold.”
The agent lifted his eyebrows. “Gold you say?” By this time, while it was still a secret, any agent working on the investigation knew the importance of the Midas Machine.
“What did he have you engrave?”
“Some names and the date”
He probed, “How many names?”
“As many as there were watches, 26”
“26? He had 26 gold watches?”
“Yes. You know the odd thing; they all seemed to be exactly the same. They were fairly old but in almost perfect condition, yet they all had a little dent on the side. They all had the exact same time too, down to the second hand.”
“You think that was from how they were stored or manufactured?”
“Could be, but I doubt a company would manufacture that many defective products. Maybe that’s why he had so many though. In perfect condition, they would easily go for $70,000. Maybe he got a discount because of the dent. It seems rather unlikely they got those dents from how they were stored.”
“Do you remember any of the names?”
“A few,” she thought about it, “Sarah, Tara, Zoe, Carmen, Elizabeth, Jada . . . . Hmmm . . . Marvin. I can’t think of any others. I like the name Jada. It’s so pleasant, don’t you think?”
He ignored her and asked, “Carmen?”
“Yes, there was definitely a Carmen.”
“Carmen Lefèvre,” he asked with a pathetic pronunciation.
“I don’t know. It was only first names. Or at least it was only one name per watch.”
“Were the names Jared or Michelle in the list?”
“Yes, yes, they were.”
“How about Aaron?”
“Yes, that name was there too.”
“Can I see the video?” He referred to the cameras.
“Of course, this way.” She led him to a back room. There was a computer that had a display showing four alternating views of the store. He replayed the digital recording. Her body was between the only camera that would have been able to capture the names and the watches. He played through all 26, but she blocked every single one. He e-mailed a copy of the recording to headquarters and then said politely, “Thank you for your time. What is your name . . . in case we need a witness or have further questions?”
“If you think of any more of the names, or anything else, please give me a call.” He handed her a card then left.
Back at CTF headquarters, the agent relayed the news directly to George. George played the video but could see no more useful information. George tried to put together what few pieces of the puzzle he had. Aaron had 26 expensive gold watches that he engraved with 26 names. The names included his name, his wife’s name, the Miller’s names, and even Carmen’s name. Then he had a thought: if Carmen was on the list, what about Aaron’s children? He called the jewelry store. A woman answered the phone saying, “Hello, this is Sadie’s Jewelry.”
“May I speak to Xue Huáng?”
“Speaking,” replied the voice over the phone.
“Hello, this is George Peterson from CTF. I had another question regarding the watches. Were Kara and Keith names on the list?”
With phone records, e-mail records, and
more questions, he eventually found all 26 first and last names. He then found out that all of them except the Hunt family, the Coleman family, and possibly Carmen
and the Millers had left the country.
They had all left by planes heading to
Therefore, from what he knew, everybody
was leaving and the watches seemed like further proof they had a Midas
machine. Perhaps they had all been cheap
watches that were turned to gold and the process caused them to dent. Maybe they even built the watches with the
gold. On the other hand, Aaron could
easily afford that many watches. Maybe
he bought them as . . . going away gifts.
Were they going to
George called assistant director Krinshaw. Krinshaw finally answered by simply asking, “Well?”
“We have some proof now. Aaron Hunt went to a jewelry store and had 26
gold watches engraved with names. The
names were of some families including the Millers and his own family. All of the other families left the country
this week on flights to
“This is bad, Peterson. You had better pray that we find the Millers and those machines. A third of our gold has yet to be sold off. Get some teams ready to go in the morning. I’ll have the paperwork ready by then.”
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford