A Question of Identity was the first story in the Bernice Summerfield anthology The Dead Men Diaries. It was written by Caroline Symcox.

Summary Edit

Benny, newly settled as the Braxiatel Collection's staff archaeologist, is trying very very hard to put her adventuring days behind her and be a "Serious Academic". She has put in some long hours of studying, but Irving Braxiatel thinks she needs a break. He wants her to attend a dinner the next night, which members of the Delvian Academy will attend. She will need a new dress.

Benny attempts to find a dress that is both becoming and conservative, but has no luck. She then finds a gorgeous, blue (expensive) dress, and can't resist buying it.

At the dinner, Benny is ready to work and, drinking only mineral water, asks Braxiatel which guests she should chat up. He sends her to Professor Hayes, who is familiar with her work. He criticises one of her books and walks away. After dinner, Benny, having had several glasses of white wine, approaches another guest. He is Erich Fromm, from the Delvian Academy. Benny, slightly drunk, talks on and on about the academy's work on Traxis Four and their attempts to connect Traxis Four with Traxis Six. She herself is working on a book from Traxis Six, and mentions that she has taken the book to her work station. She doesn't notice that Fromm has been growing more and more nervous during the conversation. He abruptly leaves.

Embarrassed, Benny leaves the party but is accosted by Guy Chisholm, an archaeology student who considers Benny his inspiration. She tries to convince him that she is no longer the Benny he's heard stories about. As they continue their conversation, they trip over an unconscious guard. Guy wants to investigate and drags Benny to the library. She tries to argue that they should go for security, and that she's no longer the old Benny and is happy the way she is...but then she realises she isn't happy. She sends Guy for security and heads for the library.

Meanwhile, in another area of the Collection, a group of men have broken into a room and are searching the boxes for something. The leader criticises Mason for not knowing which box is theirs, but they are suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Braxiatel and several armed guards. Smugly, Braxiatel heads for the correct box, only to find it empty. He realises it must have been Benny.

In the library, Benny sees that the intruder is taking the book from her work station. She tackles him, and when he fights back, her dress tears. Enraged, she punches him, knocking him unconscious. As Braxiatel arrives, she realises that the intruder was Fromm.

Later Braxiatel explains to Benny that he heard the Comparative Religion Society had been stealing the artefacts from Traxis Six, so he set a trap for them.

Benny heads back to the dinner party and locates Professor Hayes. She insults him and leaves. On the way out, she sees Guy, who has just been released from security, and snogs him.

Characters Edit

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Continuity Edit

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