“Yes, GPC Patel. Do you have the water sample?” Sky takes the proffered flask.
“Sir...the streets are very quiet, much more than usual. Those who are awake seem, uh, drained? Like they have no energy.” The young probationary constable looks rather exhausted himself.
“Did you get a good day’s sleep before work, Patel?” Sky asks.
“Ah, sir, I never do...I still haven’t gotten used to being on the night watch.” He smiles, embarrassed.
“No worries, Patel. You’ll adjust. Just...try not to drink the water.” Sky dismisses the probe and heads for the basement.
“Professor Syron?” he inquires from the doorway.
“Ah, Inspector, you have the water.” The forensics technician takes the flask and immediately starts pouring small amounts of it into different glass containers, the shapes and names of which mystify Sky.
“I am sorry to have you working so late, Syron,” Sky says.
Without looking up, the scientist says, “Hm? Late? Is it late? No matter. You have brought me an interesting problem. Thank you.” And with that he appears to forget the inspector’s existence. Sky hangs around watching him for a few minutes, then drifts back upstairs, to find Corporal Kaur looking for him.
“Corporal! You look exhausted.” Indeed, she looks drawn and pale.
“Sorry, sir,” she replies.
“Um, that’s not really something you need to apologize about, Kaur.”
“Sorry, sir. I, uh...” She yawns. “Oh, I’m sorry! It’s barely past midnight and I’m already yawning.”
“It’s that water, Corporal. Just try not to drink it.”
“How are we going to get by without drinking water, sir? Oh, can we boil it to get rid of this...taint?”
“Not sure yet. If you must drink, boil it first. Make tea with it...that’ll help wake you up.”
Sky looks at the clock and thinks about Alma and Gwydion. They should’ve been back by now. “Corporal, do you know the way to the Oracle’s temple?”
She yawns again. “Sorry....sure, I know.”
“Very well...I may ask you to run over there and check the place out a little later.”
“Sure...sir. I’ll just rest at my desk until then...”
Sky watches her head nodding. “Corporal,” he says gently, “go have a lie-down. I think there are some rooms above the bar you could nap in.”
Aliyah suddenly sits straight up, blushing. “N-No sir! I’m awake! Totally awake!”
“Are you all right?”
“Absolutely fine, sir!”