Chapter 2

The City University of New York Office of Internal Affairs was cold this morning. The calendar above Sascha Greene's desk would lead one to believe that summer raged on, but the brisk morning air left no doubt that late September was a better guess.

"Sascha, the top feed is ready," called a voice near the window. The Office of Internal Affairs, despite the lofty title, was a cramped, stuffy office that contained five desks, eighteen computers and other office machines, and could comfortably fit three bodies, provided that the bodies were reasonably proportioned and were not given to clumsiness. Sascha sat facing the north wall, preferring not to be distracted by the constant movement of his colleagues. Jill, the office technology specialist, sat near the windows where she could keep a watchful eye on the myriad devices that kept the room warm. Sean, the interdepartmental liason (the External Internal Affairs Spokesman, Sascha called him), worked at a stand-up desk that was mounted on the west wall between the two oak doors. The remainder of the 600 square foot space was a labyrinth of machines, cables clamped to the floor with black duct tape, stacks of official university records, and the occasional abandoned coffee mug. The abundance of machines meant that one window stayed propped open year-around.

"Got it," Sascha said. He stretched his shoulders and called up the day's list of business items that had been assembled by the administrative assistants on the floor above. Amazing that these lists ever get out the door, he thought. Sascha knew that despite the polished look of the top feed, it was the result of hours of messy negotiations, hearsay, and petty politics. If the students only knew what they were paying for}.

The top feed was a document that laid out, in gory and often career-damaging detail, each instance of academic dishonesty, professional misconduct, inter-departmental dispute, and plenty of other violations of laws or university policies. The name of each involved party, whether accuser or accused, was listed in bold print alongside a description of the incident and various recommendations that the faculty senate or (in severe cases) the board of directors had made for resolving the issue at hand. A copy was emailed to the president of the university, the ombudsman, the vice president of Internal Affairs (Sascha's superior), and the chief of university police. Several delicate, high-profile cases had been exposed when details from the top feed had made their way into local newspapers, placing the university in an awkward situation.

Scanning through the list, Sascha spotted a familiar name. He took a drink from his coffee mug, taking a moment to process the news. He absently poked the rubber Gumby figure sitting next to his monitor, making it jiggle.

"Jill, did you see that Winter is on the list again?" he said, his eyes still on the computer screen.

"Hadn't noticed. What's the claim?" Jill asked.

"Espionage and destruction of university property," Sasched said, his voice laced with disbelief.

Sascha heard the steady rhythm of Jill's typing stop abruptly. He turned to face her. "This isn't his first time on the feed, but it sounds like it could be his last. And I'd bet my left nut that he's innocent."

Jill ignored the comment. "I'll admit that espionage is over the top, even for this group of suits. Winter's first time was inconclusive, though, and you have to admit that it was fishy."

"Fishy or not, the guy has a good moral compass. He's innocent."

The rhythmic typing resumed, and Sascha turned back to his computer. He scrawled a note on his legal pad, downed the last of his coffee, and left the office.