Once Hal was safely ensconced back in the United States, Dave decided it was time to find out exactly what was going on. There was one and only one way to do it: he had to visit someone at the source.

Hal didn't seem to know anyone who knew his father. No family friends, no idea of exactly where his father had worked. His father had always worked long hours, and he'd had little contact with his son. The only person Hal really seemed to know was the wicked step-mother.

So that's whose door he was standing outside of now. She'd been remarkably easy to find: a quick look in the London phone book gave Dave an address. He had to admit it was nice to not have to search the entire city.

The house was rather nicer than he'd thought it would be. In the heart of London, this place must be worth a veritable fortune. He knocked on the door and smiled at the pretty girl who answered. "I'm looking for Julie Emmerich?"

"I'm she. And you are...?" Dave paused for a moment to look at her. She had long black hair, pulled back out of her blue eyes. Her eyes looked sharp in her delicate face. She looked a bit like Emma, only a little more age and a little less softness.

"Davis. Jeffrey Davis. I'm trying to get some information about the late Mr. Arthur Emmerich. There's a possibility that he might have inherited some money before he died."

"Oh? Why don't you come in, Mr. Davis? I'll make some tea."

Dave smiled. "Well, it's not tea time, but I suppose we can make an exception." The two of them entered and she led him to a rather spacious kitchen, where she put a kettle on an electric burner.

"So what is it you need to know about him?"

"Well, we'll start with some of the basics." Dave pulled out a few pieces of paper to jot down notes. "What year did you meet him, Mrs. Emmerich, and where were you both at the time?"

"Ah, well... it's a bit strange. A bit improper, really, but... well, we truly did fall in love. He was lying on my couch, you see." Dave's eyes narrowed in confusion. "No, no, I don't mean it like that. I was a psychiatrist. He came in to see me. It was 1992, just after the Gulf War."

"Then your husband was a soldier?"

"Oh... no, of course not. My husband was a scientist. It's just that it was an important time in everyone's life. I was living in America then."

"I see. So what was your husband doing before that time?"

Julie paused and thought for a moment. "He was never very specific. He did a lot of traveling. I think it was some sort of missionary work."

"A religious man?"

"No..." Julie smiled. "He was working with various groups to make a better world."

Dave jotted a few things down and acted like he was correlating some data while Julie put the cup of tea on the table. "Do you take lemon?"

"Yes, thank you." He squeezed the lemon into his tea and took a sip. "Did you ever meet his former wife?"

"His... Oh, no, he wasn't married before me."

Dave's head snapped up at that, so he covered it by looking back down and rifling through his 'notes.' "Is this not the same Arthur Emmerich who had a son named Hal?"

"Yes, he had a son. But he wasn't married. Hal was adopted."

Adopted? The pictures showed a man who looked identical to Hal. The disembodied voice on the computer had sounded exactly like Hal's voice. "Ah, that makes sense. We didn't have a mother on file."

Julie nodded. "Are there any more questions?"

"A few more. I understand your husband drowned. Why was that?"

She paused and smiled sadly. "Someone he cared for died, and he felt that it was his fault. Apparently, he couldn't live without this person."

"Oh, I'm sorry." Another strange remark. Dave put it into his memory as being out of place, then decided to pursue other avenues. "Do you have a picture of him?"

"You need that for this?"

"Well, unless you have old hair you've kept around... it's a substantial sum, and we want to be absolutely sure of the line of inheritance."

An excited and greedy glint swam into her eyes at his words. "What kind of sum are we talking about?" she asked a little too casually.

Dave shrugged. "I think it's something around twenty million pounds."

Her breathing turned shallow while a big, plastic smile fell onto her face. "I might have something. Just wait here for a moment."

Dave nodded with a small smile that disappeared as the woman left the room. To his mind, the woman was a small, shallow little girl. The way she spoke of Hal and his father, it was clear that she didn't think much of either one. And a psychiatrist marrying her patient? Wasn't that a terrible breach of ethics? And then, for that same psychiatrist, who would have known in detail how to exploit a young, lonely boy and who would have known the kind of damage she could do to him...

She came down the stairs in a clamor and arrived in the kitchen obviously trying to appear less than excited. "I found a picture and an old lock of hair I was keeping. I hope it will help you."

Dave smiled and glanced at the picture. Snake glued the smile in place and put the photo safely away in his pocket, suddenly even more angry with the woman. "I'm sure it will, Mrs. Emmerich."

She led him to the door and waved goodbye with a pleased look on her face before shutting the door.

Snake growled. Who knew how much she knew and was covering up? She'd lied and he was going to get to the bottom of it.

The photograph was of the same man he'd seen before. This photograph was of an aged version of Hal.

"If Dave were here," mused Hal, "I probably wouldn't be..."

Of course, that was the upside of Dave deciding to disappear. Hal got to go on what could be liberally termed a mission. On the downside, he was doing it alone. Hal was of the opinion that the good outweighed the bad. He had an M9 in one hand and a Pocket PC in the other. Life didn't get much better than this.

The big neon sign above the building proclaimed this to be Deeler Tech, and while it would have seemed innocuous to most, Hal knew that there were over 50 guards in the building's basement levels. If he didn't have his light bending suit, parts obtained at considerable cost, Hal might even have been a little bit nervous at the idea of going in by himself.

"Okay," said Hal. "I can do this! Just get down to the lower levels of the building, connect to their computers, hack the databases and find out what they did with the uranium after they got it from-" He stopped and took a deep breath. He had to say it! "From Dad and Big Boss."

Normally, Hal would have hacked in from outside but this company was more than just paranoid: Deeler Tech had physically disconnected all their data holding computers from outside lines. It was an ingenious setup, really. At random times of the day, the internal database computers would have robots operate to connect with the external data entry computers and gather up everything that had been done for the day. From what Hal had been able to see, the random time was determined by a random seed weekly that had something to do with the number of people who reported themselves sick in the corporation on each day, as well as the ones who were on vacation. That information itself went into the internal databases before being deleted. Just to find out a random seed, Hal would have to collect information from the external databases for a year, and that would only get him a minute of time with the internal hard drives.

That's why there was really no choice but to go on this mission. And it would make a great excuse if Snake found out. The last mission he'd gone on... well, if Emma hadn't... died... Snake would probably never have forgiven him.

"Enough stalling, Otacon, it's time to go in. And I should probably stop talking to myself now, too," he said as an afterthought. Hal turned on the camo suit and walked in the front door.

He walked past the receptionist and pressed the button to get the elevator to come. When he got in though, he was slightly surprised to see that there were no floors accessible below the first basement. He knew from the building plans that there were at least three levels below ground.

Hal pushed the button to go to the first basement floor. There should be some stairs around here... had to be... There was already a guard here, about to check out the elevator. He looked around as the door opened.

"Damned elevator. Have to call for someone to fix it..." Hal stepped off and the elevator doors closed behind him. "Control," said the guard into his walkie-talkie, "Elevator 2 just came and opened up for no reason. We're gonna need a techie..."

Hal ignored the man and walked around until he got to a fire exit. He looked in through the tiny window, but didn't see any stairs leading down. Three more sets of emergency stairs later, and Hal was more than ready to give up.

He sat down in a little alcove and sighed. "If I fail this mission, Snake will laugh at me! I just can't fail it..."

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