Reno, Nevada, USA, Earth: 6th March 2099:
“A gen-yu-iyne locked room mystery!” Carter announced.
“Pretty much!” agreed Chang. “Cameras show no one leaving all night. Keycard log confirms it.”
“Cameras and records can be hacked…”
“True, but we also have views from independent cameras out on the street. Need to be very thorough to remember to hack those too. Besides, the door is visible from reception and the desk guy would have seen anyone entering or leaving. He is sure that he would have noticed if the two girls had come out. Real lookers!”
Marcon the Master Illusionist lay dead on the king-size bed. He had been tied to the bed and smothered with a pillow, so suicide seemed unlikely, even for someone of his talents.
Carter sighed. “Anything missing?”
“Yeah. He had a list of valuables logged with his insurance company. He had an expensive watch and some good jewellery. Those are gone, as are a number of other items that could be easily pawned. No cash found in the room either.”
“You said 'girls'?”
“Also listed as valuables. A pair of matched female bioroids, 'Mia' and 'Pia'. They were his assistants. Blonde, attractive, what you would expect. They went into the room with him last night, were not here when the body was discovered.”
“Yup. Lots of illusions use identical twins. Magicians often buy matched bioroids.”
“Hmmm. Anything else interesting about them?”
“Umm…double-jointed…extra flexibility…extended breath-holding ability…can dislocate joints…ouch! Designed as contortionists. They need those for some other tricks.”
Carter began to grin. “I know it is a cliché, but for once I think someone actually did escape via the ventilation duct!”