IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

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IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

So. Sitrep.

PANDERA is the main world in the new colonies. It's the financial centre and controls the majority of the business in the sector. It used to have Cabbary Space Station in orbit but, following that stations destruction, operates a smaller landside operation with the distant Talvary Communal Station acting as the interchange hub. One of its main exports is Coffee It has two continents with most of the larger cities in the temperate north.

Law enforcement is served by the usual range of Police and Sheriff teams. There is also a Federal IOC team based in the capital with a colony wide remit to investigate crimes that affect inter-colony affairs and multi-planetary trade between the Raitchian, Mican, Canine, Celican, Lappinean and other races in the Unified Security Council (U.S.C.)

Following Henry Postlethwaite taking command of overall Council resources on the distant Talvery Communal Space Station, FELDAR JONES has been the senior agent in charge on Pandera. The Human/Feline Cross is even tempered with all over Ginger fur. He has Human facial features and, provided he shaves his face all over two to three times a day, can pass for Human. His fingers are claw free unless he wants them. Mostly he runs the office these days.

ADRIETTE BERAN (mid 30's) is the field team leader. A black fur Raitchian with a memory for numbers, she came out to the new colonies because, even in the federal system, the Rats are considered less trustworthy than many others, partially due to the cunning of their richest business types and a reputation for fraud. She's a straight laced one standing about 5'10. Spent some years on the street. Has quite a memory for numbers.

CORP DAVIDSTOWE(late 30's) is her partner. A former Mican soldier who joined IOC after helping prevent the assassination of the Colonial president. White Fur, standing about 5'5 and wears a knife rig underneath his jacket.

PATCHA KARL Young (mid 20's). Stroppy. Wolf female. Extreme athlete. Extreme hunter. Extremely unlikely to appreciate anyone getting away from her. Razor sharp eyesight and hearing. Carries a gun. Doesn't like using it as she considers herself deadlier than it.

MIKKEL RHEW (Mid 30's) The new guy. Former fighter pilot and Commander in the U.S.C. Military wing on Captain Postain's Battleship 'Rodomont'. The Polar Celican (Fox) fell in love with a Doe Rabbit called Jasmine and, following marriage and her becoming pregnant, decided he couldn't keep to life on the ship. He came to the realisation after several attacks on the ship and in the presence of Patcha Karl, who promptly recommended he try the IOC job on Pandera. Despite her recommendation, he got the job.

-------------------------------------------------------

ONE


Adriette Beran stepped into the convenience store and looked around to see what she wanted. Her tail twitched. This wasn’t where she’d planned to shop but the supermarket she usually frequented was closed today. She’d asked and, apparently, some young nits had pranked the store, releasing a swarm of Canisian Insects that the Health Department was having to exterminate before they infested people. The rather irritated deputy manager reckoned this would cost them tens of thousands in lost revenue and dumped produce. He’d only told her that after she’d flashed her IOC identification but he’d gone a little quiet after a Sergeant from the Pandera City Police Department had wandered over and asked what an IOC agent was doing there when it was a local crime. He’d just about accepted her reasoning that she was just passing and sent the Raitchian on her way. It wasn’t as though she was about to offer the IOC services to run facial identification on the pranksters, was it? It was just… Tonight she’d been looking forward to cooking. She’d been practising so she didn’t ruin every single dish and was getting quite good at Kristik, a Raitchian dish. Good enough that she’d invited her work partner, Corp Davidstow, around for dinner tonight and now she didn’t have most of the ingredients. So she’d called in here. It was her only hope, a shop that might be large enough to cover the ingredients that was anywhere near her way home.


The store was well lit, with the air conditioning fighting the summer heat effectively, which could explain the dozen or so people in the store, milling around the aisles and making comments about biscuits and cakes. She avoided them and started collecting items on her menu, finding herself side by side with a young Raitchian female by the meat section. She glanced at the thin girl as she picked up some meat that had appeared n her list at a third more than the supermarket had priced it. “Put it back,” she said quietly.

The girl looked around but ignored the request.

“What you just took,” Adriette mentioned sweetly, letting her badge show for a second. “Put it back, eh?”

“I, er, was just feeling it,” the girl bluffed, taking a packet of meat out from her jacket pocket and putting it back on the shelf.

“If you’d have ‘just felt it’ much longer the store security would have joined in,” Adriette told her. “Feline in the human lips teeshirt. Been watching you.” She checked out another packet of meat. This girl reminded her of herself somewhat. “You noticed him, yeah?”

“Uh, yeah?” She smiled a gap toothed smile to sell her bluff but a few other items joined the returned meat on the shelf. “How’d you get into the Police?”

“If you haven’t a record,” Adriette advised, “they’ll all give you the chance. Even if you do have a low level record, you can still get in…” She paused.


Someone out front of the store had called out and it wasn’t in the normal sort of ‘Hey, Gary’ way. No. This one was the ‘help me’ kind of call. “Keep an eye on my stuff,” Adriette ordered clearly, leaving the basket before running towards the door.


Outside a Canid female was fighting to keep a hold of her bag as two on a scooter tried to take it from her. She was losing, largely due to the knife the helmeted passenger was trying to cut the strap with. She had to wait a second for the automatic door to open far enough. The guard was right on her heels and the driver had seen them. Beran drew her first weapon, an extendable baton and swiped, cracking it across the helmet visor, cobwebbing the safety glass. He – or she – swiped with the knife but Beran blocked it with the baton before smacking it across the protected throat. The driver was looking to make off now, putting his foot down. Adriette kept the baton across the throat and took a grip on the other end to complete the loop, pulling her target off the back of the bike as it thrust away from her. The target elbowed her in the chest to make her drop the baton but that may have been accidental as they fell to the floor. By the time the stars had cleared, the security guard had his hands on the target with a second providing back up to overpower the squirming figure as Adriette, standing unsteadily, pulled the helmet free. “Think you’re… nicked, pal,” Adriette told the Celican. She swallowed. “You picked a bad day.” She looked at the guards. “I’ll follow you in,” she said, wondering how far the girl had gotten with her shopping.


“You think I want a fed chasing me,” the girl replied, having stayed exactly where she’d said she would. “I’m not daft.”

“Figures not,” Adriette replied. “I think I’m here for a bit. Cops and everything. Making statements. So, let’s sort this out. What reward are you after?”

The girl made a good attempt at pretending she was totally innocent and it had never occurred to her to ask for anything. Some others might have believed it. “Um, well…” She picked up some of the items she’d put back.

“You OK to hang around,” Adriette said, beginning to figure that, if the reward was stuff this minor, there was a reason for it. “After all, if I’m buying your provisions and all..?”

“Sarah,” the girl said, offering a hand with overlong claws.

“Adriette.” She took the hand.


Two hours passed before the pair were able to get back to shopping, during which Adriette had called Corp to advise on the situation, taken her comm back from Sarah, filled in the initial forms with a look to doing the full forms the next day, taken her comm back from a chuckling Sarah again and worked to fill her basket at twice the price for half the stuff before loading up the car. “Better drop you off,” she told Sarah. Then she thought for a second. The girl had a particularly pungent scent now they were out of the air conditioning. “Unless you want to use my spare room for a night?”

Sarah looked at her curiously. “Spend the night with a cop? You nuts?”

“Nope,” Adriette replied. “But I AM offering a safe place.”

The girl looked unsure. Slightly shifty. She side eyed Adriette. “No tricks?”

“Nope.”

“ONE night,” she insisted.


An hour later, Sarah was flat out asleep in the guest bed, after having showered, defleaed and eaten several slices of a pizza and drinking some of Adriette’s fruit juices. Adriette had put her clothes in the wash so she’d been able to see how undernourished the girl had been during food. And now she was running DNA scans on the glass of fruit juice.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This is such a nice start so far! Can't wait to see where you take this Welshy!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

TWO

The morning came and Adriette decided not to wait for her house guest to wake as Sarah – if that was her name – was currently face down on the mattress, drooling when she twitched her tail in the air. She was almost out of the door when the naked girl stepped from the room with as bad a case of bed fur as Adriette had seen in years. The girl yawned.

“Haven’t got time to chuck you out,” Adriette opined, before tossing her something that she caught at the second attempt.

“Wassis?”

“It’s a key. Door system automatically turns on when I leave, as does the security. Everything important or valuable here’s tagged so I can trace it if it ‘vanishes’…”

Sarah’s eyes flashed. “You sayin’ I’m gonna nick stuff?” She looked annoyed. “I figured you trusted me a bit but…”

Adriette held a hand up. “I think you have a lot to benefit by staying here, Sarah. But I have to lay things out for you. I’m telling you all the security and cameras are on in case. The only thing definite is that, if you’re not here this evening? I change the locks tomorrow. Understood?”

Despite her misgivings, Sarah half saluted loyally. “Understood, Ma’am.”

“Don’t call me ma’am,” Adriette admonished, picking a breakfast bar from her bag and tossing it at the younger Rat. “And don’t eat me out of house and home!”

“I promise nuttin’!” Sarah poked her tongue out.

“Want me to see if I can get a day off?”

“I’ll spend a day in a cops’ house but I ain’t spending a day with a cop!”


Adriette kept a curious eye on the security cameras as her car drove automatically on the pre-programmed route from her home to IOC command, auto adapting to avoid a traffic jam on the 43 . She watched the girl explore and explore the unsecured parts of the computer. So she could read and type, Adriette reasoned. She watched the girl skim through her underwear drawer and made a mental note to get a lock for that drawer as Sarah lifted out a set of underwear and examined the size of it. She hadn’t gotten dressed by the time Adriette arrived at the office and parked up next to Henry’s car. Feldar’s vehicle was over in the control section and Mikkel Rhew’s sedan car was near the exit as he was the last agent into the group. There was no sign of Patcha Karl’s vehicle as the Wolven agent didn’t have one and no-one wanted her to drive anyway; not with her temper. She’d got to the door when Karl pulled herself to a stop and radiated heat all around her as she panted. “Mornin’, boss,” the Wolven panted. “Much new on today?”

“Wouldn’t know, Patcha,” Adriette replied, “I just got here.”

Patcha looked blank for a second and Adriette knew she was thinking of small talk. The younger agent was working on being friendlier and they’d told her to keep practicing. So she was. On them. “How… How did the date with Corp go last night?”

“It wasn’t a date,” Adriette protested as they walked the corridors to the main room. “And it didn’t happen. I got caught up in a small scale…” She stopped as they entered the main room.

Up on the main television was a large screen image of the action from last night as Adriette brawled with the bike set on a coloured, flickering, screen. It had been taken by a security camera attached to the corner of the store and did very little to flatter the Raitchian as she face palmed in reality. “Figure the police wouldn’t tell us,” Karl asked, a wicked smile on her face as the other agents present cheered along with the office workers.

“How many laps of the base did you do,” Adriette asked Karl, “so you could surprise me?”

“Three.”


“I hear it’s going viral,” Corp stated, matter-of-factly, as he perched on her desk a few moments later.

She pointed a pen at him. “You,” she said simply, putting as much hostility into the word as she could. “This was you. I told you about it and you got the recording from Pandera City PD, didn’t you?”

Corp put a hand to his chest in innocence and Adriette wished he wouldn’t. The Mican wore a knife rig under his jacket and she was always worried about misfire. “Me,” he protested before relenting. “Well, OK, I was going to but PD sent it over before I had the chance. They appreciated the help. I could give you a few tips on close quarters if you like?”

“Bog off, Corp,” she replied, tightly smiling. “The day I take lessons from you…”

“..Is tomorrow,” Mikkel Rhew said, slapping down his morning newspadd on the desk. The Polar Celican stepped around his desk as Corp gestured towards him with a ‘see, he gets it’ pose. “After all, he is a prize fighter.”

“He’s a prize something,” Adriette agreed. “Have they had any luck tracking down the other mugger?”

“Well,” Corp told her, stretching slightly, “they only had the CCTV, the number plate and the captured mugger’s desire to get a reduced sentence to go on. Being less than totally incompetent, they actually managed to grab the guy in less than two hours. It was amazing,” he added lightly, “it’s almost like they’re professional Police.”


Feldar Jones, section head, poked his crossbred face from his office. “I don’t pay you overtime for captures on your own time, Adriette,” he said directly. “Nice capture though. Need a word before you get down to the open cases.”


She stepped into his office and looked past the picture of Feldar’s ward Molly on the desk to where the computer was stationed. The steam from a cup of recently dispensed tea curled away from the top of his mug. She stood opposite the desk as the Feline/Human cross steepled his fingers in front of his face from his seated position. “City PD want to thank you for your actions last night,” he started. “Not to say they don’t have a few questions. But that’ll all be sorted with your statement to them. What I’m more interested in is this,” he added, bringing up the footage but scrolling it on to later, when she’d left with Sarah. “I presume this is the girl you ran gene tests on later last night?”

“Yes,” Adriette said, swallowing. She’d hoped to be able to check the results before… “I just got concerned about the girl is all. She looked like she was living rough and she seemed honest so…”

“So you co-opted a federal database for a personal issue…”

“And I apologise for it, sir…”

“...and got a hit.”

“I’ll never do it ag… Wait,” she said, looking confused. “What?” She leaned in closer.

“Yes,” Feldar said, putting his feet to the floor. “Sarah Delmundor. Age fifteen. Five years ago, her parents were killed in a vehicular explosion. Up until last night, she was believed to be in the car with them. It’s in the ‘inactive’ section because the local Police in Shapperton closed the book. Almost as soon as they opened it. So,” he finished, “I hope you have her some place safe?”
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Really liking where this is starting to go! Keep up the good work here!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Three.

Corp sat back in Adriette’s car. Normally he would have tried on insisting on driving but, as they were going to her home, he figured that it would be politic to let her drive, especially at the slightly unsafe velocity she was currently using, which meant the autodrive function was disabled. Some five minutes behind them, Rhew was driving Patcha and Corp fancied he didn’t fancy being in that car, where micro expressions and furious concentration would be filling the air without conversation. There wasn’t that much talk here, of course, as Corp watched the security video. “She’s clocking where all the cameras are,” he advised, “but she’s doing it in a curious way. She’s acting as though she’s still hunted. She’s… furtive. All her movements are cautious and investigative.”

Adriette didn’t look away from the road. “She’s checking me out, you mean?”

“I do indeed. According to your fridge you need to buy more milk, by the way. She’s been through your drawers and made a couple of attempts on your safe…”

“She’s what?” Adriette’s grip tightened on the wheel. “Cheek. I wonder what she’s looking f… More milk? Really? I only bought that six pinter two days ago! How much can she drink? I’ll bet she didn’t use a glass!” She tapped her comm. “Beran to Rhew.”

<”Rhew here, Adriette.”>

“When you get to Fortescue Road, take the third turning. My garden’s the fourth one along on the left side. If she runs, she’ll go that way.”

<”We’ll have her if she does, boss,”> Karl groused from Rhew’s passenger seat.

“Unharmed please, Patcha,” Corp ordered in a light voice. “We want to talk to her at the moment and that’s all.”

<”Understood,”> she replied.

<”You’ll need to slow down,”> Mikkel advised. <”Don’t want cops to pick you up. And you’re about five minutes ahead of us.”>

Almost reluctantly, Adriette took her foot off the pedal to stop herself getting ticketed.

“Still surprised that you have a garden,” Corp told her after she turned the comm off. “I don’t have a garden.”

“What would YOU do with a garden? She spared him a glance. “Pruning? Has she tried to leave?”

Corp scrolled through the feed. “She’s checked out the doors but no. She’s not tried them yet.”

“She’s out of time to try,” Adriette burned.


“I’m back to pick up something,” Adriette called with false jollity as she opened the front door and Corp slipped in behind her.

The face appeared in the doorway to the dining room after the music was turned off. “You need back up to pick something up,” Sarah asked, eyeing Corp curiously as the door closed behind him.

“Oh, I’m just staying out here,” Corp bluffed, waving a hand.

The girl gave a simple hint of a laugh, then looked towards the back door. “I trusted you, Adriette,” she accused.

Adriette stepped forward cautiously, holding a hand out. “I… I know,” she said. “And we’re not looking to arrest you or anything but we need to talk to you, Sarah. No need to run.”

“I don’t want to talk,” she called sharply. “No-one wants to listen either! I thought I could trust you!” She cringed visibly, drawing herself down to her knees and putting her arms over her head.

“You can,” Adriette replied, moving forward quicker now, to take hold of the girl from behind in a hug style grapple. She pulled Sarah up and over to the sofa and set the scared girl down onto it. She shushed her gently, stroking her neck with a free hand until she calmed down. “I’m sorry,” she continued. “I was thinking you were in trouble and it was something I could help with so I ran some scans on you…”

“I – snurf – never meant to… to do it!”

“Meant to do what, Sarah,” Adriette queried.

“It… it’s my f...fault they died,” she said quietly, “If I… hadn’t turned the… turned the computer on in the...car…”

Corp appeared with three teas that were barely smudged by splashes of milk. “Someone’s finished it,” he said with a weak smile.

“S...sorry,” Sarah told them as Corp sat in the chair nearest the door. “G...guarding the escape… sir?”

“Only if you intend on trying,” he said, trying to reassure her. “What do you mean about turning the computer on?”

“I…” She swallowed. “I wanted to...to check my messages be...before we got h...home so I made them turn the computer on and… The.. the…” She broke up again.

“It’s OK, Sarah,” Adriette said, putting in a proper hug.


Patcha leaned towards Mikkel as the pair listened to Adriette’s comm from behind the garden wall. “It seems unlikely that would have set any device off,” she confided.

The Polar hmmed. “Correlation and causation,” he told her. “But someone’s lying, that’s for sure. She needs to ask how Sarah got listed as dead when, if our ears can be believed, she isn’t.”

Patcha sniffed. “Wouldn’t be the first imposter we’ve found.”

“Cynic.”

“Wolf.”


Even though the comm was on transmit only, Adriette had the feeling she needed to ask that question too. “Sarah,” she asked. “We need to get you to a safe place.” She smiled gently as she wiped away one of the girls tears. “I don’t think you had anything to do with it, sweetie. I think you just did something at the same time as something else happened is all.”

“But…” She snurfed again. “th...that’s what the… policeman said.”

Now Adriette frowned. “What policeman?”
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Now they have to figure out if the policeman is really a policeman or not. I like how everything is going!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Four


Feldar Jones stopped by the snack machine on his way down and ordered a healthy eating bar to go with the soft drinks from the other machine. They had replication machines, of course, but the last time they’d had a vote on the matter, the results had come down overwhelmingly on keeping the machines as replicated foods had a basic uniformity about them that made them somewhat lacking against the brand names. Feldar knew what they meant. Replicated Jaffa Cakes didn’t quite taste right. Speaking of which… He ordered a couple of vending packs of those too. He was, typically, the only one who ate them but he always hoped…


He stopped as Doctor Malberry stepped out of the detention room and adjusted his stethoscope before putting the small device away. “What’s the prognosis, Doc,” he asked the Mican.

“That you’re one ‘Doc’ closer to a colonoscopy,” the medic replied testily. He sighed. “She’s physically fit, if a little undernourished – a situation I see you’re keen to resolve. Several broken bones that have healed over the years. General neglect evident in a couple of missing teeth and broken nails. A couple of which are missing. She’s hostile and suspicious which is, probably, only to be expected. She’s got a fear of Police but also some respect for them…”

“Yeah,” Feldar remarked, “Adriette’s got a way like that. How’s about..?”

“She’s been on the streets five years,” Malberry interrupted. “I didn’t exactly probe – verbally or physically – but I’d imagine that happened more than once. Best I can tell you for now, Feldar.”

The cross nodded. “Thanks, Doc...tor. All knowledge is useful.”

Malberry shook his head. “Still looks weird when you smile,” she opined before shuffling off.

“What’s wrong with my smile,” Feldar asked the empty corridor before trying the door.


He could feel the hostility in the room, even though there was only one person in there with him. She’d not made an attempt to leave but clearly bore him no love. “How long am I to remain here,” she spat. “I don’t have anything to… to..” He watched her nose wrinkle and her eyes stare as her mouth opened slightly to reveal the jagged, splintery, teeth of a Raitchian who’d recently eaten and the missing teeth of one who had been hit a few times. Here it came. “What ARE you,” she asked as the door closed behind him.

Feldar put the goods on the table and gestured to the other chair. “Sit down and I’ll tell you all of it,” he offered, taking the seat opposite. She looked from the locked door to the table to the wall she knew recording equipment was behind to Feldar to the chair and calculated things. Then she sat down and began stuffing her face with the stuff from the vending machines. “I’m Feldar Jones,” he said. “Senior Agent. As for what I am? I’m a fifty fifty. Mum’s Human, Dad’s Feline. So I have all over ginger fur, human facial features and eyes and not much of a tail.”

“And no clawths,” Sarah said, accidentally spitting bits of grain over the table.

“Not unless I want them,” he admitted before straightening up. “The reason you’re in this room, Sarah,” he continued, “is because I needed to speak with you and set your mind at rest.”

She peered at him carefully. “Wh’t makes you th’nk it’snot,” she demanded.

“Experience. Now, you told Adriette that a Police Officer indicated you were to blame? Can you tell me a bit more about that?”

She swallowed and looked worried. Confused. Wondering if she should talk. She sighed. “I told Adriette, the thing blew the front of the car but I was in the back. The first there was a uniformed Officer. I think. I… I was in shock and, um, confused and…” She looked bewildered.

“That’s OK,” Feldar told her gently. “Only tell me what you want, Sarah.” He already knew something was up. The police report had indicated a twenty minute gap between the report of the explosion and the first enforcement response on scene. If what she was saying was true, there was an omission in the files. That never augured good.

“The… The Officer told me to… to run and gave me money,” Sarah sniffed.

So, Feldar thought, possibly not a bad guy. “Can you tell me anything about the Officer,” he asked, spreading his hands wide. “Sex…”

“No fanks,” Sarah interrupted drily.

“… size,” Feldar continued. “Species?”

Sarah paused, part way through her first pull on the drink. “Celic’n,” she burped. “Male.”

“Gives us something to go on,” Feldar remarked. “My turn. Adriette and her team is on their way down to Shapperton now. Y’see,” he added, seeing Sarah begin to look alarmed, “we want to know a few things about that attack.” He put up a hand. “We don’t believe it was anything to do with you, Sarah. Your folks were quite a successful businesstypes in the area it seems. They owned a couple of local factories utilising the local coffee crops in one and farming machinery loans in the other. They made a pretty packet along with one or two enemies. And that’s what I’ve got from just the last hour of research. More than Shepperton got in the three days before they officially declared it an ‘electrical accident’.”

Sarah leaned forward, her eyes now angry. “You think someone in the police did something?”

Feldar sat back and had a Jaffa cake. “You’re a Raitchian,” he said, “why do people automatically assume they can’t trust you and look at you strangely?”

She slammed a fist onto the table. “Because they don’t know me!” She scowled. “Because I don’t have…” She gestured with her hands curled into claws. “I don’t have rich parents! I never get to bathe! Because some OTHER Raitchian conned them and…”

Feldar pointed a finger. “That’s the one, Sarah,” he admitted. “Because others did it and they look like you, you get tainted. There are many, many, good police. As you know. But people publicise the bad ones so, over time, everyone gets tainted with the line.”

Sarah worked out what had just been said. “So,” she said ponderously, “you’re saying… yes?”

Feldar half laughed. “I suppose I am. In the long way. As for the ‘why am I here’ question?” Feldar sighed. “I’m afraid we screwed up last night.”

Sarah frowned. “How,” she growled.

“The gene scan. When we ran it we got the match to the closed case. But Shapperton Police may have been notified by the system that we ran the search…”

“So anyone there who thought I was dead now might know otherwise. Am I in danger?”
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

If you have to ask if you are in danger, then most likely you probably are in it. Looking forward to the next installment.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Five

Adriette tracked the vehicle into the colonial town some three hundred miles south of Pandera City and started looking for parking signs. Corp pulled up the plans on his padd and she allowed him to direct her to a supermarket’s car park where they took stock as Rhew pulled up besides them. Adriette stretched and flexed her back. “I hate long drives,” she told them as Karl stalked out of the passenger side of Rhew’s vehicle.

“They’d need to build an airport for us to use a shuttle, boss,” the Wolf snarked. She looked around, assessing the locals, many of whom probably hadn’t seen a Wolven before, judging from how they were staring at her. “What’s the plan, boss?”

“Poke around the town,” Adriette told them. “Act like tourists…”

“...in suits,” Rhew chipped in.

“...in suits,” she agreed. “Look out for things like who’s the big employer, who has the money, local history… for example local crimes and deaths going back five years or so…”

“So, Corp guessed, “gather local information before we go to the Police station?”

“Something like that,” Adriette admitted. “The Police Officer who gave Sarah the… interesting advice may well still be on the force and we need to try and sound out some of the information before we go to them.”

“When people ask – and they will – we’re journalists working on a story about unsolved crimes.”

“Or investigating defects in the vehicles back then,” Karl asked.

Adriette nodded that that was quite a good idea and started off towards the supermarket. Corp trotted to keep up as the others headed towards the fuel station before continuing into town.

“Why are we headed in here,” Corp asked as they stepped under the air conditioning unit.

“Parking validation,” Adriette bluffed. “And I can ask someone where the best local information centre is.”

Corp picked up a basket.


Karl grumbled as Mikkel Rhew eased their car into another parking lot. “What are we doing here,” she demanded.

“Work,” Mikkel replied. “I asked for the church when I paid for the fuel.” He nodded to the steel and concrete edifice in front of them. “The Delmundor’s church,” he announce. “They’re buried here and the priest has been in charge for a decade.”

“So he knows them?”

“She,” said a voice from behind them. The pair turned to see a Mican female in a leathereen jacket and jeans who carried an infectiously wide smile and glittering eyes in the brightness of day. “The Rodentine Church accepts all and allows all to represent it’s views on the street, Mr..?”

“Rhew,” Mikkel replied. “Of the Rhew and Karl investigation services. We’re, uh, representing several families in a legal action against the Vacinna Motor Company? There have been several incidents of malfunctions in their vehicles, going back…” He glanced to Patcha.

“About six years,” she added after getting the prompt. “So we were looking into…”

The Reverend sighed and indicated for them to follow her.


They walked around the side of the steel building, towards the small graveyard behind it and she led them to a trio of stones near the shade of a tree. The first names on each were different. Tomaz, Sarah, Kitin. The surname stayed the same. So did the dates of death. “It was a tragedy, that night,” the Reverend intoned. “The parents had done so much for the community over the years. And little Sarah…” She took a beat and shook her head. Mikkel, recently a father, knew he wanted to tell her that Sarah was still alive but he also knew that information was dangerous.

“They did so much,” he prompted gently.

“Oh,” she sniffed as Karl watched those watching them and going about their business in this area that wasn’t quite near the town. “They were one of the big Coffee plantation owners.” A waning smile. “This area’s famous for it, you know? They employed hundreds on their estate, working in the picking, processing and packing plants. It’s a shame there.”

“Why so?”

“The new owners carried out automation. Laid off half the staff in one go. But… I don’t get what that has to do with your investigations? Surely you’d be more interested in the car itself?”

“Hmm,” Mikkel agreed tersely. “Problem is that there’s not much of a report in the files about the car except that it was destroyed in an explosion. Doesn’t even tell me where the explosion originated so that we can locate the defect.”

Another sigh. “The damage was nearly all to the front of the car,” she stated, clasping her hands together in front of her. “Although there must have been damage to the back as well. Poor Sarah.” Her eyes were tearing up now, although it might have had something to do with the wind coming in from the lake a mile or so away that was used for the local irrigation. “Totally disfigured. Her Uncle ordered a closed casket.”

Karl’s ears pricked up. “Her Uncle?”


Corp stepped out of the local Post Office and information centre with a handful of leaflets and a physical newspaper that had been auto printed for them on the machine inside and glanced over at Adriette. “We could have gotten all this from the net, you know?”

“I know,” the Raitchian agreed, swishing past him in a prideful walk and almost knocking some of them out of his hands. “But we did learn some things, didn’t we?”

“Yeah,” Corp agreed, “half of these ‘attractions’ are temporarily closed.”

Adriette turned to him as they got back in the car and he put the pile on the back seat. “Local attractions,” she said, “closed in the summer months? Area’s in recession. Must be. And there’s several closed shops.” She tapped the paper. “See that? ‘New interest in area may bring jobs to the area, which has been hit by the body blow closures of much of the local milling factories over recent years,’” she read.

“Still say we could have got that off the local net,” Corp grumped.

“Hmm, but I bet the local network gets the latest news out fast,” Adriette responded. “And we’re the news…”
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Not really a good thing to be on the news. Gonna be interesting to see the response people are gonna have.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

And the tea lady enters the game...

Six

Sarah sat in the break room and contemplated stealing the yoghurt from in the fridge. There was something strange about it and she couldn’t read the writing on it. She didn’t have the automatic translation implanted like everyone else here had – and she wasn’t quite sure how that translated text anyhow – but she’d learned enough Celican, Feline and Mican to know it wasn’t any of theirs. That left Human, Lappinean and Wolven from what she’d seen around here. The milk was probably safer so she took a carton from the door and chugged half of it. Cold and, well, milky. It’d do. She’d tasted worse. A lot worse.

She was stuck here, playing nice with cops. The Jones guy had told her she was free to roam but not outside and the armoury was secured with a guard. The receptionist was also a guard, stopping her from walking out the front door. It was a cell. Just one that was shaped and sized like a building.

“I’ll ‘ave to replace that, I s’ppose,” a crackly old voice said Sarah glanced around, nearly spilling the last of the liquid from the bottle, and glared at the old tabby who was just stepping into the room, wheeling in a large tray. She waved a hand. “Aw, calm yerself,” the older female chuckled, “I’s just th’ tea lady. Were told we ‘ad a visitor,” she continued, replacing the milk in the fridge. “Name’s Sonia,” she finished, closing the door.

Sarah watched the old Feline with concern and distrust chewing at her lower lip. “Sarah,” she said. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, sweet-’eart,”

“Why are you doing that horrible accent?”

Sonia laughed. “I told Jones it wasn’t needed,” she professed, “but he thought it’d make it easier to trust me.”

There looked to be a fury building behind Sarah’s eyes. “Makes it less likely I’d trust HIM,” she snapped as the eldster tossed her a gnawstick from her snack tray. “Hate liars. This flavoured?”

“Bakkaberry. It’s not my favourite.”

Sarah gnawed a piece. “Not anyone’s favourite,” she guessed, scowling at the over flavoured taste.

Sonia pointed towards her. “That’s probably why I have so many left. But it’s good for your teeth.” She took a seat opposite. “I’m told you’ve been on the streets a while.”

Sarah tried to fix her with a stare. “He sent you to question me,” she asked tightly.

“No,” Sonia told her honestly. She leaned forward. “He’s gone to get someone MUCH more qualified for that trick, kid. I’m just here to sort out things. Now, do you want to help an old, old, lady with her rounds and possibly get more milk and gnawsticks whilst you meet people or do you want to stay here and vegetate?”

She pushed her old bones off the seat with exaggeration and pushed the trolley with deliberate slowness until Sarah decided to join her. “Reckon they’ll buy me new shoes,” she asked.


“So,” Adriette summed up as the group sat in a cafe in the high street, “we’ve got a few things found out, haven’t we?”

Karl watched the street for movement. For her the absence of movement was as conspicuous as movement itself and, for a town centre in the early evening, this place didn’t have enough of it. There didn’t seem to be enough using the shops or going home from offices and…

“They’re all out of town these days,” the server said, guessing what Karl was thinking about. The Celican finished. He stopped cleaning the plate and put the towel over his shoulder. “Been the same for the last few years. The Delmundor’s – who I’m guessing you’ve been talking about – used to encourage their people to buy local. But now it doesn’t work that way.”

“What way does it work,” Adriette asked curiously.

“Less people, less money,” he confided. “People are having to travel further to work so it’s easier to spend their money there, not here. We’re all paying the price for Drayven Delmundor’s greed.”

“That’s the guy currently in charge, right?”

“You buying more than coffee?”

“You making more than sandwiches,” Karl replied playfully.


Five minutes passed before the Celican flipped the sign to ‘closed’ and sat with the group to provide the local information Adriette had banked on. He told how Drayven had sold half of the business to one of the conglomerates and cashed in big time, closing down most of the operation here. Well, the non robot side anyhow. “Tomaz would never have permitted it,” he finished, shaking his head.

“You knew him personally,” Corp queried, hearing the familiarity.

“No, not really. But it felt as though the whole town did. This is something about their deaths, I take it?”

“We’re just…”

“Not saying anything about that one way or another?” The Celican grinned as Karl started the dinner he’d made. “A lot of people say nothing about that. Especially Kenyan Deeks.”

“Who he,” Patcha said, mid chew.

Adriette picked a Kidney bean off her arm.

“A former Officer of this parish. Got given the can for allegedly making stuff up about the incident and throwing blame, without proof, at certain high ranking local personalities.”

“Hmm,” Adriette muttered, “sounds like someone to speak to about our… queries.”

“Right,” the server said, definitely not slipping a card with an address on it over to Adriette. “And you must have found that on the floor somewhere. If anyone asks. Now, enough questions about town. You need to go deal with the local bluecoats.”

“Hmm,” Karl asked, confused.

“He means the local law enforcers,” Rhew commented.

“Hmm. This place used to be popular enough that I could run a franchise in the Police station,” the server remarked. “Had to close that due to cutbacks.” He stood up. “Mine. Not theirs. The Police service here hasn’t had to let anyone go these last few years.” He headed out back to deal with the rest of the washing up.

Adriette leaned over the table. “And I bet we’d not have learned any of that from the local po…” The group went alert at a sound. “Was that a shot,” she asked.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

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Seven

The sound of dropping plates was washed out by the sound of feet screeching their chairs back on the tiled floor and heading back to the kitchen area, with Karl vaulting the counter to get there first. The kitchen was notably warmer than the rest of the cafe, despite the fact that nothing was currently cooking. The dishwasher was rumbling away dully but the agents weren’t looking at that. They were looking at the open door where the Celican server had been going to toss out the rubbish. They were also looking at the Celican himself as he lay on the floor, clutching his upper right chest and struggling to breathe. Adriette moved into action. “Corp,” she called, “get me that medical kit from the wall! Mikkel, secure the front! Patcha…” She saw the Wolf turn to her, eager for the instruction. “...GO!”


Patcha \Karl practically exploded from the doorway into the alley outside. Her sharp vision couldn’t make out any shooter in the alleyway but she could make out the angle from where the shot had come from. She raced down the way behind the fur salon and the convenience store, towards the main road and the closed cinema beyond. She wasn’t that interested in the shows that weren’t playing but there was a legal need for a fire escape that she intended to use. She changed her mind as she heard feet from the parking lot and she vaulted the small wall between her and it. She sniffed a flash of Raitchian scent as a car pulled away from her. She pushed her leg muscles up a gear and closed the gap as quickly as possible, only for the car to slam itself into reverse and try to run her down. She jumped effortlessly onto the rear of the vehicle, bounded onto it’s top and, unable to stop herself, somersaulted off towards the front, landing facing the vehicle as it swivelled around and sped for the exit. By the time Patcha had drawn her firearm, it was away and out of sight. She recited the plate number to herself and recorded it on her comm in case she forgot it later. Then she sped up the fire escape to check out the shooting position.


There wasn’t much up here, even to her eye and ear. No dust disturbed due to the wind and rain. No wrappers. No used charges. It suggested an energy weapon but, from what she recalled of the Celican’s wound, it was a tight beam weapon. Two hundred yards from here to impact zone, she estimated, ‘lining up’ the shot theatrically as the wind began to move the dust and her headfur again. This was someone professional, she reckoned. Or near professional anyhow. She looked around to see if there was any sort of camera around that might have seen something. Nothing. Lots of nothing. Just the scent of Raitchian that was splitting and dissipating in the wind. The only thing making her doubt the professional nature was the fact the target was still alive.


He was still alive as the paramedics arrived on the scene and Rhew gestured them into the cafe and out to the rear section where Adriette had been applying first aid. “Long range shot,” Adriette told them. “Energy bolt, through and through. I’m suspecting it’s punctured a lung as he’s having trouble breathing.”

“We’ll take it from here,” the paramedic instructed as a Police vehicle came to a halt outside.

“We’ll explain it to them,” Corp grumbled, getting his badge ready for the inevitable display, especially as there was blood on his hands and Adriette was practically up to her elbows in it.

Patcha re-entered the building by the back door. “They got away,” she said, stopping by the door and sounding annoyingly fresh and in breath. “Got their plate though.” She sniffed around Mikkel Rhew as he stood by the opposite wall.

“Yes,” Rhew told her, “I AM standing in front of a hole in the wall, Patcha. Making sure no-one else interferes with it.”


Corp moved forward to intercept the incoming Officers and held his badge up. “IOC,” he announced as the two Micans kept their weapons raised. “Scene’s secure but we’d rather locals took point.” He put the badge away as the two incomers lowered their weapons. They still looked uncertain, particularly when they saw Agent Karl crouched next to the ovens. “She’s one of ours,” Corp added.

“I… we know,” one of the officers swallowed. “The… the Wolf Agent’s quite, uh, well known.” He approached despite his evident concern as Karl watched his every move. “Not, uh, that you others aren’t sort of, um, known too… Does she have to keep staring at me?”

“Lose the staring contest,” Corp advised as Rhew advised Karl to stop terrifying the local.

“It’s an instinctive thing,” she stated. “He’s armed and I don’t know him.”

“Like Frikk is it instinctual,” Mikkel chuckled drily. “You’re intimidating them to acknowledge you’re superior. We both know you are so stop it, Patcha?”

“I won anyhow,” she grumbled as the officer looked away. Corp took his time filling him in on the situation as known and Karl growled at the thought of having to fill in reports at the little Police station.

“Keep it absolutely to the point,” Adriette whispered to the tense Wolven agent. “We’re just here dotting I’s and crossing t’s on the car thing. I’ll decide if I tell them more on that. Classified information saves us all.” She moved across to Rhew. “Whilst Patcha and I deal with the Police station, you need to take our credit card and get us cheap rooms for the night.” She handed him a card. “Contact us when it’s done so we know where to come, eh?” She turned to watch the server being taken out on a stretcher to the ambulance. “One afternoon in town,” she told herself, “and someone gets shot in front of us. Co-incidence or something we’ve done?”


“That’s what I want to know, agent,” said a strong male voice from the alleyway. An almost physically imposing Mican, in a jacket that seemed to barely contain his arm muscles, stepped in. He wore a nine pointed star on his lapel, an icon that represented Pandera’s loyalty to the eight main races of the Council (Celican, Raitchian, Canine, Mican, Lappinean, Feline, Human, Equinna) and the Osirans who had been one of the founders and were now returning. “I’m Sheriff Whitby and I want to know what the grik you’re doing in my town.”

Adriette stepped forward. “I’d offer a hand but…”

He sniffed. “Wash up,” he instructed, “then come with me.”

“I’m the team leader,” Adriette announced. “Agent Karl pursued the shooter. We’ll make statements and I’ll tell you what I can but I need Agents Rhew and Davidstow to sort out a hotel for the night.”

Whitby pointed to Corp. “He’s got blood on him. He comes with us. You only need one ESCORTED agent to sort out accommodation. Brampton, escort the agent to the local hotels and let him choose a place for their overnight stay.”

And that, Adriette thought, is a definitive time frame from the local Sheriff…


Rhew, for his part, wondered how he was going to slip his escort and see Kenyan Deeks; the name on the card Adriette had slipped him.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

These are some very nice additions to the story! Make sure you continue to make them this good! :D :mrgreen:
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

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Eight

Adriette followed Sheriff Whitby back to the station with Corp in the passenger seat and a ball of anger in the back. She knew Karl was angry with herself rather than anyone else after failing to actually sight the shooter in the chase and she also knew it would be pointless to try and tell her that she did well to get the licence. The Wolf had, in her own mind, failed in the hunt. That burned. “Nice vehicles,” Adriette commented, looking at the top of the range police vehicles in the parking lot.

“Almost put ours to shame,” Corp agreed tersely. “And it’s only three years old.”

“Town’s crumbling,” Patcha growled. “Cops are profiting. It stinks.”

Adriette had to nod. She hoped that Patcha could keep her temper inside the place. IOC vs local Police didn’t make for good news headlines, in either net or hard print form. Adriette freed herself from her seatbelt, reminded Karl not to kill anyone and stepped out into the evening air. She sucked in a breath and followed him in, with most of her team following her.


Mikkel Rhew for his part, stepped in to the reception area of the third hotel Brampton had directed him to and figured it was about the right price simply from the plastic wood décor panelling that told of it being a cheap franchise hotel. As Brampton watched, he sidled up to the counter and the Canine on duty looked up and fixed him with her fake smile. “Yes, sir,” she enthused, “and how can I help you today?”

Mikkel faked chewed a piece of gum he didn’t have in his mouth to even the fraud on both sides. “I need two double bed rooms for…” He quieted his voice so Brampton couldn’t quite hear from across the lobby. “...at least…” He brought his volume back up to normal. “...one night? Or, if you tell me it’s cheaper, four singles for the same time?”

Her smile broadened slightly as she thought of the extra income. “Oh, look,” she said, tapping away on the computer, “we don’t quite have enough doubles so it’s four singles.”

Mikkel was thankful for that. On the occasions Karl slept, she snored. Loudly.

“That’s… seventy credits a night for each room.” She glanced over at the uniformed officer and lowered her own voice. “For however long they’re needed. Discounted rate for IOC.”

“But…” Rhew handed over the approved credit chit. “I never said..?”

“I read the news,” she replied. “Many don’t but how many Polar Celicans you think are on the planet?” She drew in a gasp. “Is the Wolf with you? My sister would love her autograph!”

Rhew grinned wryly. “This is why they never let us go undercover,” he inferred, shaking his head.


Brampton straightened up after leaning against the wall when Mikkel walked over towards him. “This place,” he said, slightly surprised by the transaction he’d just witnessed.

“It’s in our budget,” Mikkel replied. “Plus it’s only for a night.”

Now Brampton shook his head. “Like heck,” he replied. “If it were just for a night you’d have taken the place nearest the highway. The Chief’s gonna be annoyed when he finds out, you know?”

Rhew fixed him with a curious look. “You don’t seem like you would be?”

“I been on the service seven years, fella,” the Mican grumbled,” I know when my opinion’s not wanted and when not to talk of things. And when not to tell the boss that I’m going around anywhere like, say… Kerstik Crescent?” He smirked slightly as Rhew recalled the address on the card Beran had slipped him. Former Detective Deeks lived on that street. “Grek and Deeks were friends back in the day,” he explained. “Figures he’d give you the address. I’ll need to direct you and, uh, stop Kenyan from totally ignoring you. Leave your comms in your room – with mine, OK?”


Beran saw the money in this place as she sat in an interview room, on the wrong side of the table to normal, with a cup of coffee that matched that in the better Pandera City restaurants. It spoke to quality. It spoke to money. “Coffee’s better than most,” she complimented as Whitby came in to the office with a small padd.

He tossed the padd onto the table and sat opposite, in the ‘command’ chair, to face her. “We get a deal from a local supplier,” he noted. “Now, what are IOC doing in my town?”

“Oh, several things,” Adriette confided. “Most of which is nosing around a certain automobile explosion that occurred here about five years ago.”

“Yes,” Whitby remarked derisively, “I’ve heard about the ‘compiling reports on vehicle defects nonsense you’ve been telling about town. I’m ALSO aware of the search you did last night. Maybe not you but certainly the IOC. I want to know why you’re investigating a dead child five years after she was killed.”

Right, Beran thought, so he knows about that. Right. Time for an edited version of the truth. “One of our recent cases brought up something unexpected,” she told him. “A few days ago we dealt with a crime scene out in the Wekla Estates region of Pandera City. Lots of signs of violence, a couple of captured bad guys – mostly uncommunicative due to being put into induced comas – and one anomaly. We found a couple of gene prints on the scene that we couldn’t identify.” She gestured expansively. “It wasn’t on any active database so we did what comes naturally after that. We checked older cases, both solved and cold and the gene print came up as a match for Sarah Delmundor.”

The Chief leaned forward. “And you’re certain of this,” he asked, his face betraying a little annoyance but nothing else. “Your system couldn’t have made a mistake?”

“Well,” Adriette admitted, “it HAS happened but that’s usually a fault in the recording system of the organisation that entered the information in the first place so we consider it practical to check things out.” She sighed. “Unfortunately, I’d say we may have stumbled into something, hey? Unless people shoot each other regularly?”

“This is NOT a laughing matter, Agent,” Whitby growled. “You did things undercover, without liaising with my department and you’re already leaving people in the hospital! Probably in the morgue if you keep doing things the way you started. I don’t want you here.”

“Well, that’s just dandy,” Beran replied with equanimity. “It’s also tough, ‘Chief’. We’re here until we finish. However long it’s going to take. So YOU need to get used to that. Now, shall we get to the recorded statement regarding what happened in the cafe? Who knows? We might even manage to remember we’re working on the same side.”


Feldar examined the events Beran had forwarded to him before they’d gone to the cafe and came to something of a decision. He’d brought Molly, his Mican ward, in to distract Sarah an hour ago and the girls were just about playing on the games console Karl didn’t know everyone knew she had as Agent Paulsenby from accounts arrived at his office. “You sent for me, sir,” the Raitchian asked.

“Absolutely,” Feldar replied. He passed the file across. “I want to know who’’s financing the Shapperton Police Department. Go in quietly. Don’t tip them off.”

“Um, OK, sir. Is, uh, this official?”

“Not remotely. It can be if e need it to be but then I’ll need to explain things to a judge and I don’t want to do that.”

“Uh, right, sir,” Paulsenby said uncertainly, before leaving whilst wishing he’d gone home a half hour early.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This is such a really great chapter you posted! Nice work!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

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Nine

Mikkel Rhew drew his car up next to the target address and pulled himself out of the car as his ‘escort’ did the same from the other side. “No lights on,” Rhew remarked. “Does that mean he’s not in?”

“Not really,” Brampton replied, lightly fluffing his jacket lapels, “Deeks got blinded in service a decade or so back. Fortunately for him he came from money so he got cybernetics installed.” He stepped forward, ahead of Rhew. “and a bit of an attitude. But he knows me.” He continued on, up the steps to the front door with Rhew in tow. Rhew couldn’t help but admire the well laid out garden he walked through before getting to the wood panelled porch. He knocked on the door and Rhew appreciated the echo of flesh and bone on hardwood that passed his ears. It sounded solid and a total far cry from the dull dong of a metal door. “Kenyan,” the Mican Officer called, “open up. It’s Daved. I need to talk to you about Grek!”

Nothing, came the stern reply. No sound or movement from inside and Mikkel found the hackles rising on his neck as he glanced around at the scene. All low lying bungalows and trees. A little piece of idealism in the suburbs. A place that had avoided the downturn of the last few years by being less than exclusive before the downturn even began but he sensed the people here were proud of what they had so kept it as best they could. Pride in the community, he reckoned, was still worth something.


But, right now, he was feeling a little exposed. More than a little, even. He chose to take a peek through the windows and looked in on an unkempt room, with pizza boxes and litter strewn across the room by someone who didn’t really care. There was, just about, signs of a replication system in the kitchen that hadn’t been maintained but the thing which mostly struck him was the fact that, this close to the window, he could see the hole in one of the panes. “Brampton,” he hissed, “boot it! Someone’s taken a shot!”

The Mican nodded and put his size sevens to good use against the wood as Rhew tried to work out where the shot came from. He couldn’t quite be precise. He needed to know where had been hit in the kitchen. The door fractured but held and it took a second attempt to crack the door open properly. “Shapperton Police,” he called as the door flew open. “Anyone present announce yourself!”


Weapons drawn, Brampton and Rhew entered the dark interior and Rhew flicked the light switch. No response. He looked up quickly. No bulb. No need for it he supposed. It stated that this Deeks didn’t care much about the comfort of others these days. He supposed he got that. “Let’s check the back entrance,” he hissed to Brampton. “He might had gone out that way.”

“Or he might be bleeding out in here,” Brampton hissed back, his fears for his former colleague evident.

He reached for the house comm but Rhew reached across to stop him. “Let’s not make this official just yet, eh? And he wasn’t hurt by the shot.”

“How can you..? Oh, yeah, Celican.”

“We do have the nose for it,” Rhew agreed, letting Brampton lead him into the kitchen. where the door stayed defiantly closed against them. Mikkel stopped in the middle of the room. “What species is Deeks,” he asked.

“A Mainland Celican,” Brampton advised. “Might have some Afgar in his genes.”

“Right…” Mikkel mused, before drawing all the scents into his chest through his nose. If the one time Detective was in the house, he’d find him. He followed the trail to one of the bedrooms and the far wall, away from the display cabinet and the bed with a handful of stuffed animals on it. Obviously it was a cubs’ room. “He went out this way,” Mikkel said, standing next to the wall.

“I hate to point it out,” Brampton said, “but there isn’t a window or a door there.”

“No,” Mikkel agreed, putting his weapon away, “but I rather suspect there’s a panic room around about this spot. Put your weapon away.” He held up his identification. “IOC, Mr Deeks,” he announced, showing the identification around the room to see if the hidden camera picked it out.

“And you know me, Kenyan,” Brampton added.


A voice came from one of the figurines on the sideboard. <”I know you still work for that I love you Whitby,”> the voice said. <”Throw your weapon under the bed, Daved. Now.”> At a gesture from Rhew, the Mican conceded his weapon. <”As for you, Agent, show your identification to the big stuffed creature on the bed.”>

Now that he knew about it, Mikkel could see the camera eye in the toy and he held his badge out in front of it. <”Hmm,”> the voice grumbled. <”I suppose you must be Agent Rhew.”> he conceded.

“How many other Polars are on Pandera,” Mikkel replied as the wall slid open.


Mikkel could see why Brampton could have thought there was a hint of Afgar about this Celican. His fur was considerably longer than normal, at least what he could see of it, and it had become something of an unkempt mess towards the back of his head. He stepped up carefully, so as not to jar his artificial leg that was obviously an old model, even when he’d gotten it. His muscles were still fairly well defined, despite the fact he hadn’t been working out quite so much these last few years. “Someone took a shot at me about half an hour back,” he stated, his voice still carrying authority and humour. “As I’m not half the Celican I used to be, I chose to take cover and see who came to get me.” He sniffed and offered a hand. “I wasn’t quite expecting IOC, mind you. What’s the trouble,” he asked as Rhew shook the hand. Deeks gestured to his safe room. “Enter,” he instructed. “Daved; leave the gun.”


The pair entered the room and the door shut behind them again. It was only a small room, this one. Compact. “It’s a typical thing,” Deeks admitted. “After the eyes needed replacing and this place was built, there wasn’t the money to replace my leg properly.” He sniffed. “Somehow Police insurance didn’t cover it.”

“We’re not all corrupt,” Brampton insisted. “Some of us still care.”

“I see no arrests to prove that, Daved. No-one cares.” He sat down again, his artificial leg protesting squeakily.

“We care enough to be asking questions,” Rhew admitted.

“Questions that may have brought violence to town,” Brampton reminded him. Grek’s already been shot.”

Deeks started forward but Rhew put up a hand. “He’s alive and doing well, from what I heard on the way over. Sniper got his lung but my team leader’s a field medic. She kept him going enough for the parameds to get to the scene. It’s him who gave us your name.”

“So THAT’S why someone’s shooting at me,” Deeks growled. “Because of YOU? What questions would you be asking?”

“Questions about an explosion five years ago. Supposed to have wiped out the Delmundor family?”

Deeks spat into a bucket. “Why would you want to know about that now?”

Rhew sighed. “Because,” he told the former Detective, “we have Sarah Delmundor in our base. Alive, sort of well and saying a Celican told her to run that night.” He cocked his head slightly. “Wasn’t you, by any chance, was it?”
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Really nice job that you have done with this story! Keep it up!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Ten

“Come on, Agent Karl,” Adriette said, walking past the break room and seeing it was empty apart from her Wolven colleague rooting through the fridge to see if there was anything edible in it. “Stop stealing the nice Deputies food.” She kept going as she heard the door slam shut and the Wolven stalked to her side.

“Nothing in there worth my time,” she complained.

“Never mind, Patcha,” Adriette told her as they entered the main room, where Corp was holding court with a gaggle of officers, telling tales of his former service to those who were listening. “I bought a refrigerated unit at the supermarket this afternoon and there’s a few Wolven items in there.”

“You are the best boss,” Karl grumbled.

“Aren’t I, though?”

“Coulda told me earlier. Yo, Corp! You coming!?”

Corp slipped off the edge of the table and bid his momentary colleagues goodbye before completing the trinity on the way out the door. “Did exercises with some of those over the years,” he advised.

“What you do when off duty’s nothing to do with me,” Karl opined, keeping a tight grin on her scowling face.

“No, that’s not..” Corp stopped for a moment. “Was that a joke, Agent Beran?”

“It DID sound like it,” Adriette agreed, taking appraisal of her subordinates face. “Good working, Agent Karl. There’s some hope for you, it seems.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Patcha grunted. “Where’s the food?”

Adriette opened up the trunk and the cold store.


A half hour later, the trio pulled up outside the hotel where Mikkel Rhew was waiting by his own car for them. Next to him, Officer Brampton was busy telling his chief that Mikkel hadn’t left the hotel in the last two hour. He’d made sure of that and watched the agent work on the vehicle investigations in the room.

Rhew watched the group get out of their car. “Patcha, you might want to clean your muzzle up a bit?”

Karl took the handkerchief Corp offered her, sniffed the knife oil on it and decided to use the tissue Adriette had offered instead. She handed the now stained soft paper back and Adriette reluctantly put the wadded and drooled item into a pocket.

“It’s a good job I warned you,” Mikkel warned, raising Karl’s hackles. She had a feeling…

Mikkel gestured for them to enter.


As soon as they hit the lobby, Karl heard an audible gasp. “It’s really her,” a voice shrieked, followed by the sight of a bouncy Collian Canine with an autograph book somehow appearing within a few feet of her and almost dancing around her.

“Slow down,” Karl snapped. The girl looked mortified and Adriette poked Patcha in the back. “I mean,” she continued, “how can I talk to you if I can’t keep track of you?”

“Your rooms are 13 and 14,” Mikkel told Adriette and Corp. “We’ll see you there shortly.” He nodded to the Wolven agent, whose scowl was being peculiarly ineffective on the girl, who’d seen it a thousand times on vids and padds. “I better stay here so Karl doesn’t get mauled.”


“So, what did you… find out,” Adriette asked Mikkel as he entered her small room. She only paused when she realised he’d entered with Karl and Brampton. “Should you be here,” she asked, pointing to the Officer.

“He seems to be on our side,” Rhew remarked, sitting himself down on the bed as Karl examined a little pouch containing a tea bag.

“You can have it, Patcha,” Adriette conceded, letting the agent fill up the one cup travel kettle with sink water. “Again, what did you find out?”

“Deeks is paranoid and has reason to be,” Mikkel remarked, before filling her in on the events of earlier. “He told me that he was the one told Sarah to run that night. He said it was a hard fought battle between the Delmundor brothers in the months before the deaths. Drayven Delmundor was using all sorts of tactics – most of them approaching the borderline of unlawful – to take control but Tomaz was stifling him in each…” He paused as the kettle whistled to a boil and clicked off. “...attempt,” he finished. “One of his ways was to have it written into law that his line inherited the business.”

“Meaning that Sarah would have inherited the business after the bomb,” Adriette mused. Her eyes narrowed. “For as long as she lived, anyway.”

“That’s exactly what Deeks thought at the time. The sheriff had just moved in and, on looking into the new leader of Delmundor Coffee, he discovered they’d gone to University together at Pandera Tech. It, of course, became much harder to investigate after Whitby had control of the town and Deeks started having some very close calls on duty. He was blinded and lost a leg, for example. Eventually he got the message…”

Brampton stepped forward as Karl pulled the teabag out on the string and let it circulate just above the surface of the water in the cup. “It’s very easy to stay silent,” he admitted sadly. “When your job depends on it and so does your life..?”

Corp waved a hand. “A lie I’ve heard too often, Deputy. There’s always options. State Police, the President. Us. We’re not exclusive to U.S.C. Military personnel. Anything that involves potential intercolony troubles? That’s part of our purview as well.”

“No need for recriminations, Corp,” Mikkel stated as Karl found a small pot of UHT Milk stuff and poured it into her drink. “He’s standing with us now. Someone took a shot at Deeks before we arrived. Sniper again. But, as his cybernetics don’t need the lights on, their aim was off.”

Karl sniffed her tea and scowled before drinking. “The question is, what do we do now?”

“We get food,” Adriette said, reminding Mikkel to give her credit chit back. “We have a good…” She slapped the firm bed. “...fair night’s sleep then hit up Drayven Delmundor first thing.”

“Not quite first thing,” Mikkel ruminated. “First thing we do is try to stay away from windows.”
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Staying away from the windows is probably a really practical idea at this point. Best not to make yourself a target.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Eleven

Sarah examined the front door of the IOC building from the inside as the night rolled on and sighed as she saw herself just an internal door from freedom. But, with the desk officer controlling the ins and outs, it was five yards and thirty miles at the same time. She’d not been ‘locked’ inside at night for years and, although she quite appreciated not being in the rain that was skittering off the concrete in the car park, she couldn’t help thinking of the others she knew who were out tonight. Huddled under boxes and in doorways if they weren’t able to get into any interior spaces. She remembered running from guards with sausages and cheeses filched from under their noses and she’d never been caught, nor left any evidence behind her. And then she’d met an agent who’d not seemed like a cop. Who’d taken her home rather than taken her in. Who’d taken her kind deed of not stealing her stuff and turned it into more. Now she wanted to hear from Beran. She wanted to know the female was OK, at least.

She turned to the guard on the reception desk. “Sure you can’t just open the door,” she implored. She’d gotten bored since the tea lady had taken Molly back home and wanted entertainment.

“Sorry, ma’am, more than my job’s worth,” the feline replied.

Sarah grunted a laugh. “Oh, you’re a jobsworth, all right. And, if you call me, ma’am once more I’m gonna thump you.”

He sat forward slightly. “Through the glass, Sarah,” he asked with a smile.

She leaned on her side of the partition. “See, I knew you could remember my name. Isn’t this false imprisonment or something? Keeping me here against my will?”

“I heard somewhere that you were considered dead,” the agent replied. “Can’t imprison a dead person?”

Sarah cocked her head. “What’s a coffin if not a small prison cell?”

The receptionist grimaced. “Let’s change the subject, yeah?

She shrugged. “Yeah. Bit creepy. So… Any credits for the machines?”

“Go see Agent Jones. He’s the station commander. He gets more money than we do. When you do? The machine does a great Kalla stew.” He sat back. “If you’re buying. I can’t leave this desk.”

Sarah scowled slightly, even though she understood the humour. She took herself off the desk and said ‘see ya later, Kenton’ before heading for the elevators.


The clock read midnight ten when she entered the main office area. There were still one or two people here but they weren’t actually in this office so she strode through. She patted the bobblehead of a Rottian Captain she didn’t know on Rhew’s desk before she skipped up the few stairs to Feldar’s office and looked in on him.

Feldar was there, in his chair but not paying attention to anything going on around him as he was fast asleep, his head lolling backwards in what looked like a most uncomfortable fashion and his arms draped down by his sides. A half eaten energy bar that had obviously failed to achieve its’ purpose lay on the table. With a chuckle, the girl swept in and snatched up the half a bar, eating it as she stepped back out and finishing it, throwing the wrapper over her shoulder into Corp’s area before knocking on the frame. “You always pull an all nighter,” she asked as Feldar jerked awake.

“Uh, wha’? Who?” He shook his head. “Uh, yeah.” He checked his tea. It was cold. “I sometimes do when the team’s out in the field. I, uh, used to be a field agent. Helps make me feel I’m still in the field…”

“Stop saying field,” Sarah protested. “It just reminds me I’m trapped in here and can’t run in them!”

Feldar swung himself around in the chair. “Did you do much field running?”

Sarah sauntered in and sat down in the chair opposite him as he wondered where his bar had gone. “There’s lots of fields between home and here,” she confided. “Some of them even had people in them. Some I ran from, some offered help and food. I trusted one or two but learned to be on my guard at all times.” Her snort of laughter rumpled her shirt’s shoulders. “Guess that’s slipped in recent months, eh? But I got here, to the big city, and fell in to a few street gangs.” She flicked away imaginary dirt from her arm. “I didn’t get along with them but it was safe for a bit. Then I found them doing a few things I, er, didn’t approve of so I left and dobbed them in to the cops on the way out.” She smiled a gappy smile. “Still got morals, me.”

Feldar nodded. “I’m not sure why you’re telling me this,” he remarked.

“It’s after midnight, I’m awake and I’m bored,” Sarah replied. “I want food and you’ve got the money.”

“So you’re gaming the system,” Feldar advised, standing up and stretching. “And I suppose I need coffee anyhow.”

“Yay,” Sarah said, spinning herself around in the chair like a ten year old. She stopped the spin and accidentally marked his desk with her chipped claws as she stood up. Her stomach rumbled.

“Oh, come on,” Feldar complained as he heard the sound. “With how much you’ve eaten today, how can you still be hungry?”

“Training.” She stepped around Feldar, giving him a good look at the shabbiness of her clothes. “That and I run a lot.”

“Speaking of,” Feldar mooted, “I think we need to stop somewhere first.”


He took her down to the stores and entered with her. They walked the shelves of food cans and clipboards and Sarah wondered who still used those things when padds were available but it wasn’t important right now. She wondered where he was leading her until he stopped by the clothing section. It was all gym clothes here, tops and bottoms, and she watched as he selected a black t-shirt with IOC written on it in large, yellow, letters and silver coloured shoulder tabs and black tracksuit bottoms. “For me,” she asked rhetorically. “No shoes?”

“We’ve got none of those in stock,” Feldar told her. “There was an error in the system got us all the gym clothes when we don’t actually have a full gym. It was easier to store them than return it and whoa!”

Sarah paused with her tattered and scuffed trousers around her ankles. “What? Not like I’ve got anything different down there, do I?”

“No, but it’s customary to tell people to turn around first.”

“Huh.” She continued with the clothes change, irrespective of whether Feldar turned around or not. As it happened he did. So he took a small kit bag from the shelf and put her discarded clothes in it. “You can look now,” she told him. He looked back carefully, to make sure she wasn’t tricking him. Even though he’d chosen her size, it still looked big on her. “To food!”

“What do you plan to have?”

“I’m told the Kalla stew is good enough to order TWO bowls!”

Feldar rolled his eyes as he led the way out, kit bag over a shoulder. “Kenton’s done me again, yeah?”
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

One of the most strong chapters here so far! Good work!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Twelve

Morning pulled itself up at the kerbside of the hotel and the team got ready for their morning duties with what passed for breakfast in a hotel approaching the skids due to the local downturn. Adriette had tried to have their pot of coffee be one from Delmundor but she’d been told, in no really uncertain terms, that few locals were buying that stuff recently. Partly because they couldn’t afford it and partly because there was a local decision made to embargo the product, which told Adriette why she’d not been able to get any of it at the supermarket yesterday. The Raitchian thought she’d seen some on the shelves of her supermarket back in the city but hadn’t picked any up. It was more expensive than her usual brand for one reason. And it wasn’t her usual for another. Now, though, she wanted to know what it said about the company on the side of the packet. Or box. Or tin. Or even instant jar. She had a feeling it wouldn’t be the same as on the local boards she’d wandered last night and getting the other side was always intriguing. She also wanted to head to the main plantation and look around but there was nothing they could do about that. Nothing led there yet so there was no chance of getting a warrant. The only way in there would be if Drayven was at work when they got to his house and, from what she’d heard, he was rarely there. So the team got into their vehicles and headed for the nearest fuel station to charge and pump for the short journey. Well, relatively short journey anyhow.


Karl looked out of the car window as the coffee plants sped by as far as her sharp eyes could see. She looked forward and saw the road going through yet more plants, looking like corn rows at this speed and utterly boring. She reached for the radio to see if she could find entertainment.

“It’s set to local news,” Mikkel warned her. “That means local stations.”

She pulled her hand back. “Did you KNOW that girl was going to be there last night,” she demanded.

“Yes. And I didn’t tell you because otherwise you’d have evaded her.” He glanced towards her before returning his attention to the road ahead. “We get few chances to inspire people directly, Patcha. That girl’s a fan of yours. You gave her a positive memory of meeting you. It might inspire her to take a career in law enforcement in future years.”

Despite knowing he was telling the truth, Patcha denied it, leaning against the window. “You overestimate my importance.”

“Yeah, right. Want the window down?”

“No.”


In Adriette’s lead agent car, Corp was silent. So was Adriette. They didn’t have good memories of areas like this, having practically suffocated in a coffee containment chamber some years ago. Even though both could still drink the stuff, it was hard to look at massed amounts of it and they were travelling through mile after mile of it. Automated picker machines travelled between the plants, systematically extracting the beans and returning them to an automated collection unit that would take them to an automated processing plant to be sorted by machines and delivered to automated trucks after processing… “I prefer the old way,” Corp said eventually.

“Yup,” Adriette replied, having been thinking roughly the same thing for the last five miles. “You’re a people person.” She turned up a side road towards a small mansion in the distance. The gate threatened to stop them but Adriette showed her card and the chip in the gate spoke to the chip in the card, recognised and stored the IOC ident embedded in it and engaged the law override to open. “Drayven Delmundor,” she told Corp, who hit the commlink button on the car so Patcha and Mikkel could listen in. “Executive Officer of Delmundor Coffee Incorporated. Following a deal with Kholen Beverages he owns forty-eight percent of the company with Kholen owning the same. An agent in Pandera city holds four percent so two out of three have to agree. A check and balance. Drayven’s forty-five and driven by money. He had barely a million from funds before the takeover and was recently valued at thirty-nine million credits.”

<”Barely,”> Patcha’s voice snorted derisively through the speaker.

“Yeah. His wife, Salinka, is known as something of a socialite who’s had the work done to prove it. She has a private shuttle registered in her name. Caramel coloured fur and slender. Not known for being nice to those she meets who aren’t in her social circle. Which means the locals all hate her. The son – Bryan - is tolerated because he’s made impressions in the local school, where he insists on going. He’s on the sports team, which only receives minimal funding from daddy’s company and it’s thought that that’s because he knows the team’s never going to win anything anyway.”

“Lovely guy,” Corp grumped. “Makes me want to arrest him before I’ve even seen him.”

“You still got your knife rig on,” Adriette asked.

“Yes. Ceramic blades so they’ll pass metal detectors. Not weapons detectors, though.”

“Good job you’re here professionally and not visiting a nightclub then, isn’t it?”


The cars pulled up outside the main door. Off to the left, they could see the parked shuttle and expensive cars, along with a cheaper vehicle that Adriette guessed was Bryan’s. The boy was probably learning to drive, despite the fact the family must have a chauffeur or two around the place. The manicured lawn and cultivated bushes shaped into various designs spoke to many things that Adriette considered fake and facile so she ignored them and pushed on up the steps to the main door to pull on the bell rope. Something ‘donged’ inside the house and the group assembled before the door opened to reveal a Tall, Brownfur Satin Rat in a butler’s suit and gloves. His straight whiskers twitched at the sight in front of him. “Yes,” he said imperiously.

Adriette again showed her identification. “IOC to speak with Drayven Delmundor,”

He didn’t move his head, just tilted his eyes down to read the details. “Of course. May one enquire as to the reason for the meeting?”

“It’s in line with an ongoing investigation,” Corp said simply. “That’s all we need to tell you. Now, show us in?”

“Of course, sir.”


He escorted them into a hall bedecked with paintings and gold gilded frames and warm painted walls and showed them into a side room. “If you will wait in here, I shall tell the master you are in attendance. He stepped away and closed the door. Adriette took up a position on the leather sofa, next to Corp. Mikkel stepped around the room before finding his way to one of the armchairs opposite the sofa. Karl crouched on the over plush carpet.


And then Drayven Delmundor entered the room.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This was a very interesting chapter that you put up! Can't wait for the continuance!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Sometimes I like to give Karl a straight line...

Thirteen

The Raitchian stepped around his drawing room, making sure he was the centre of attention in the needlessly flamboyant way he moved to his desk. He adjusted the comm on his wrist that said he was substantially richer than the others in the room, with their off the peg suits and chain store shoes. He made no sound on the carpet before he pulled the chair back and took up his seat. “I’ve never had a visit from IOC before,” he told them with charm and politeness that immediately had Beran considering he was putting it on far too thick. He was confident. In charge. “And how can I assist you?” He glanced to Karl, crouching on the floor. “Would you like a chair,” he asked.

“I’m not allowed on the furniture,” Karl grumped.

“R...right,” Drayven replied, the look of control slipping for a few seconds at the reply.

“I’m senior Agent Beran,” Adriette announced, “These are Agents Davidstow, Rhew and Karl. We’ve come here today because we need to find out more about the deaths of Tomaz, Kitin and Sarah Delmundor five years ago. Some concerns have come up,” she finished. She was going to let Corp and Mikkel take the lead in asking questions as she joined Patcha in analysing Drayven’s responses. Normally she’d leave it to the hyper observant Wolven but, with Raitchians, she could still be fooled. Adriette wouldn’t be.

“What sort of concerns,” Drayven asked.

“What can you tell us about the accident,” Mikkel contributed. “The police file on the incident is somewhat thin.”

“My brother was on his way back from an evening out at the Opera, I believe,” Drayven said, reminiscing and, Adriette noted, fighting to stop himself from smirking. “There was a short in the electric system and the engine blew. It was most distressing.”

“I’m sure,” Corp put in, “and I’m sorry for your loss. But I understand they were also something of a competitor to you, sir?”

He smiled genially and adjusted his position so he could activate the table top replication machine. “Glass of water,” he stated. “Cold.” A sizeable glass of water appeared on the table top and he took a sip from it. “Am I being accused of something,” he enquired with humour.

“I’m not aware of any accusation,” Corp replied with equal lightness. “We’re just looking for all the information we can get to help us with a current case.”

“Ah,” he replied, steepling his fingers in front of his muzzle. “Making a case against the company involved, I suppose.”

“It… may come to that,” Mikkel demurred, trying not to look at the fine art hanging on the wall whilst he talked with this liar. He couldn’t see things on the desk from this angle so he was allowing his sight to go over the Raitchian’s shoulder to the window and the people outside. Gardeners and other labourers doing their work. A handful of them were giving him concerns. They held themselves like soldiers. Tense, eyes glancing around, hands ready to grip weapons. Several of that handful glanced towards one of the others, a Raitchian Greyfur. And she kept looking towards the room they were currently in. An undercover security team.

“Well,” Drayven replied, “There’s really not that much to tell. The explosion started in the engine, you see, so there wasn’t much of the car left to prove anything, one way or the other. It was a distressing time so we decided not to press it after the vehicle manufacturers ran checks to make sure it never happened again. We even helped out with those checks. The one silver lining to the event is that the tragic incident may have, eventually, saved lives.”

“What might seem an insensitive question,” Mikkel asked, “but why was Sarah’s a closed casket at the funeral?”

Drayven ground his teeth tightly, enough to chip one of them slightly. “You’re right about it being offensive, Mister Rhew.” He looked him in the eye as he got out a small device to see to his teeth. “Do you have young relatives?”

Rhew nodded as Drayven set to work, the small cutter smoothing the incisors. “I have a daughter,” he admitted.

“Then I hope you never have to see her in a mangled state.”

Rhew wanted to punch him. He stiffened, ready to attack, but held himself down as he reasoned it was a normal thing for a bereaved type to say. It was also something said to test the limits of control and he wouldn’t act on it yet. One day, perhaps… “And you’re sure it was for that reason,” he said with near lip splitting tightness.

“What other reason do you need,” Drayven asked. “I’m getting a little fed up of this runaround, Agents…”

“When investigating another case,” Corp interrupted, “we came across something that links to this investigation directly, sir. But, strictly speaking, it’s something of an impossibility. So we’re investigating the background to try and make sense of it all.”

Adriette felt the butterflies in her stomach. She knew the moment was coming. The answer was, shortly, to be given. She watched.

“What sort of ‘something’,” Drayven asked.

“Clearing up a crime scene that I can’t go into,” Corp advised, “we came across an anomaly. We scanned for prints – pad prints and gene prints – to ascertain who’d been in the location prior to the events and we found a set of geneprints that we couldn’t match, even after running them through the active systems.”

“I’d heard that can happen…”

“Quite so. So then an agent had a daft idea and ran them through the inactive systems. Closed cases and investigations opened on the colonies in the last fifty to one hundred years.” The Mican shrugged. “Sounds mad, I know. But sometimes something that helps comes up. Like an ancestral match.” His tone took on a touch more gravity. “This time, though, for the first time in history, it recorded an EXACT match. Sarah Delmundor. If she died five years ago, how are we finding her at a crime scene?”

Adriette watched his face change to one of studied surprise. Worry flicked across his brow as he drew in a breath. It caught in his chest as though he was shocked. His hand juddered towards the glass of water and it shook as he picked it up whilst his other hand remained still on the table. The water splashed up his nose as he took a second sip of water. His tone, she noted, was given extra ‘flavour’ by being wet somehow. “Are… are you sure?”

“We ran it twice,” Corp asserted. “That system isn’t often wrong. So, you can see, we need to know the truth, Mr Delmundor.”

He half grinned tightly. “Well,” he started, “the truth is… buried with her parents, Agents. To the best of my knowledge, we buried Sarah with them five years ago. IF you are able to present more evidence than one geneprint that she lives, then I will aid you in your investigations. Until then, I have NO interest in speaking with you further. I’ll have Carzon show you out. Good day.” With that, he stood and strode from the room in a calm, calculating, way that had Adriette know he wanted to run. She waved for the others to stay quiet.


They got back in their vehicles after checking for devices or tags and started off. When they were outside the gates, they connected the comms again. “He knew,” Adriette said bitterly. “Either for one night or five years, he’s known Sarah was alive.”
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Well we can see that Adriette is very ticked off over these turn of events. I wonder exactly what action she is gonna take now? Great chapter!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

FOURTEEN


Feldar hung up the comm after Adriette finished updating him – and, by extension, Sarah – and sighed. “I’m sorry,” he stated, “that can’t have been easy for you to hear.”

“What,” she sniffed, having only heard the last minute or so as she’d walked by, “that my uncle probably wanted me dead, wants me dead and now knows I’m alive so he can try to kill me again? Now WHY should that be something hard for me to hear,” she retorted, her voice rising in pitch and anger with almost every word. “The fact that you lot think he’s the one who killed my parents and you’re probably right?” She coughed slightly and Feldar could see the veneer was breaking. “The fact that I thought, one day, I could go to him and tell him how sorry I w...was..?”

Feeling the prompt in his chest, Feldar stepped up, around the desk and took the girl in a hug for a few seconds.

She thrust him off. “’Ere, gerroff,” she protested. “jus’ because I’m a bit ‘motional, don’t mean I’m wanting’ all hands, like!” Her watery smile belied her words. “If’n I want summat like that, I’ll ask the tealady, not the fed!”

Feldar tapped his teeth. “I like how you’ve gone all ‘street tough’ there, Sarah.”

“Well, I’s tough,” she sniffed, eyes glittering with tears and humour as she poked him in the chest with a claw. “Don’chu forget it right?”

He held up his hands. “Right, right. You helping out Sonia again today?”

Composure regained, Sarah leaned on the doorframe. “Suppose so.” She shrugged. “She pays me in brews.”

Feldar, who’d been heading back to his desk, twisted his neck around to look at her. “I hope you’re talking Tea there.”

She sniffed a slightly snotty laugh and was about to wipe her nose on her arm when Feldar handed her some tissue. “Does she have booze on the trolley?”

“I hope not.” Feeling like a yo-yo, Feldar crossed back to the doorway and called out for the old Feline, who was just heading back from the locker room to where she kept her urn. “Sonia, don’t forget your apprentice!” He put both hands on Sarah’s shoulders and began pushing the laughing girl towards the old lady. “I have things to do. Chop, chop, Sarah. Off you go!”


After she’d gone, Feldar took his own chance to leave his office and headed for finance. None of the eight agents in the office were what he would call ‘field’ agents but they were specialised in financial lawfare and, in the financial heart of the new colonies, they were pivotal. Feldar headed in to where Paulsenby was working whilst enjoying a breakfast sandwich. “Have you found out any of the things I asked you to look into, Paulsenby,” Feldar asked the Raitchian, who coughed up part of his Salami in seeded batch bread sandwich as he’d not heard Feldar approach behind him. “Sorry,” Feldar lied, “I forget I have the grace of a cat.”

“I’ll bet,” the Raitchian complained before turning around. “I’ve only done a surface search,” he explained, “as too deep a dive will alert Whitby and the other people involved but his campaign contributions are a matter of public record and one of the main contributors to Whitby’s electoral campaign was Taklaw Holdings, a company based on Caldera. They’re a shell company for a shell company for… Well, long story short, it traces back to Kholen beverages, a wholly owned subsidiary of Raicarra industries…”

“And the holders of forty-eight percent of Delmundor Coffee stock,” Feldar finished.

“Sometimes I hate my own people,” Paulsenby admitted.

“Some of the finest, most honourable, people I know are Raitchian,” Feldar replied. “How much did they donate?”

“Um,” Paulsenby turned back to his computer and tapped at keys to bring up a spreadsheet on the screen. Figures sped by as the agent showed off how hard he’d worked. “According to this, they donated, um… three hundred thousand credits to the campaign as part of their ‘community outreach’ payments to boost small police departments. Taklaw holdings, I mean, not Kholen or Raicarra. Since then, Taklaw have donated several items – including cash – to the department there whilst other Police departments in similar strife have had their requests for funding either turned down or reduced greatly. They might have flagged it if they’d known. Which they didn’t.”

“Allegedly.”

“Hmmm, you know the world of high finance, heh? Ninety percent of business is legal and above board. The other ten percent is hidden under the water. Like a reverse Iceberg. That sounds stupid.” A couple of button pushes brought up a face. “This is the registered Chief Officer of Taklaw holdings.” A picture of a Canine Border Collian appeared on the screen. “Rendall Chet. Thirty-nine. A young go-getter. Rose up through the ranks at speed, according to the broker I woke to check things at oh four hundred – he thinks I’m a potential investor, by the way.”

“And are you?”

Paulsenby looked surprised and put a hand to his mouth to cover his ‘shock’. “I have little to play with on my wage, sir. Anyhow, it’s not as important as the other thing about Mister Chet.”

“Which is?”

“He owns four percent of Delmundor Coffee.”

Feldar moved across to the shoulder of his subordinate. “Well, that’s interesting. It might also be useful.” he tapped his fingernails on the table. “Do you have anything on him, by any chance?”

“Just a few suspicions, sir. Most of which are in a file owned by someone else I know…”

“The journalist?”

Paulsenby’s shoulders slumped. “You know? I was trying to keep it secret, even from her – at least, what I do for a job – and I swear I’ve never…”

“We know you haven’t. Corp spotted you with her a few months ago and logged it. If there was to be a breach, we’d know exactly where it came from. There hasn’t been so much as a squeak – no offence – so you’re more or less trusted. And, face it, if a top reporter hits on you, she already knows what you do. She may be playing games with you.”

Paulsenby mumbled something.

“I want to meet her,” Feldar mentioned. “It’s time to start building a plan ‘b’.”
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Harry Johnathan »

You're actually really good at combining genres, in this case detective fiction, comedy and sci-fi. And I really like Sarah as a character.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I like all of his characters but there is one that is a very particular favorite of mine.

Anyway really great work on this chapter once again!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Fifteen

“He’s definitely protected,” Corp insinuated as the two vehicles slipped back towards the town in the mid morning sunshine. “No bodyguards in the room with him but that entire gardening unit were trained killers and the butler carried himself as a professional…”

<”And he had a weapon tucked into his belt,”> Mikkel contributed from the other car.

“Oh, you clocked the ceramic knife, did you,” Corp continued. “Quite brave to have it hidden there. Shows his decorum that it never knocked him out of stride.” Adriette turned left, towards the outlying village of Saltburn.

<”The whole place needed knocking out of their stride,”> Karl grumped.

“Which you did quite well,” Corp told her. He could hear the grim chuckle over the airwaves as Adriette took a left towards the centre of the village. “OK,” he asked, “why are we going this way?”

“I want to do a proper check for bugs and trackers,” the Raitchian lead agent professed. “The sign said there’s a service station down here. That means parking spaces and, hopefully, even an automotive service centre.” She took a right and glanced to the rear viewer. She frowned slightly and Corp glanced at the viewer himself. A vehicle other than theirs turned at the same junction and Corp kept his own counsel, with a tight smile to Adriette to indicate he’d seen it too.


The village was a little run down, much like the rest of the area. The garage was a ramshackle stone building with a bare wooden door that the agents parked in front of and Adriette stepped out to see if anyone was in. She came across a grimy Mican in dungarees and a denim cap leaning on the desk in the office. “You the engineer,” she asked stridently.

“Figure so, ma’am,” he replied.

“Cut the cornpoke,” she responded, showing her ID. “I have a little work for you. I want our cars looked over fully. I’m suspicious someone may have planted a monitoring device somewhere.”

The mechanic almost fell off his chair at sight of the badge but pulled himself up as though he’d intended all that. He ‘dusted off’ his hands on his dungarees and hoped he’d put his boots on. “Um,” he said, “why?”

“Because you have the vehicle lift for one thing. This is just a check up, by the way. Any faults you find – that aren’t bugging devices – you can list and our central garage will carry them out. An HONEST report might well see more work coming your way.” Whilst he was heading out, Adriette used her comm to make sure the engineer WAS the engineer and that his qualifications, as exemplarized by the certificates on the wall – were genuine. It linked to the computer in the car and ran the checks, giving him the white tick before they got outside, where Corp reported to her that the mystery car had gone past a few minutes ago.

“It’s not gone far, though,” Karl grumbled as the Mican opened up the main door. “Heard it by the church.”

“What..? Oh, yeah.” Adriette looked over at the village and saw the tower over the top of the nearest building. “Old school,” she added appreciatively.

“It’ll take about an hour,” the Mican engineer told Adriette as Mikkel took something from his glove compartment, spilling candy wrappers onto the passenger seat.. “Half hour for full check of each car. Deactivate all computers in there that you don’t want me to suspect, would you? Mean time, you can always visit the village shop, parcel delivery site and cafe for the time.”

“It any good,” Karl checked.

“I like it,” he replied, “but they’re the only place around and my wife runs it.”


An hour later,three of the group returned to the vehicles, Adriette having chosen to enact sympathy on the proprietors and carrying a bag of their overpriced local Chutneys and a bag of Delmundor Coffee she’d found on a bottom shelf, stuffed to the back where the owner had forgotten about it. Apparently they’d not known of the embargo until a townie came by a few months ago. Adriette wasn’t sure she believed them. In fact she was sure they were lying. And she didn’t much care.

“You paid too much for that stuff,” Corp told her as the car came down off the lift.

The engineer handed her a small device. “Found it hidden inside the front bumper,” he revealed. “Well hidden.”

“Thanks,”

“No problem. How’d you find the cafe?”

“We looked under a shop and there it was,” Karl commented, not reflecting too harshly on the pretty much totally Mican menu she’d just endured. The tea hadn’t been too bad. Better than the imported Coffee label she’d seen there anyway. “Had worse.”

“That’s a compliment, coming from her,” Adriette translated as she glimpsed Rhew walking up the street, his hands in his pockets. “What’s the damage, financials wise?”

“A hundred creds for the work I’ve done. If your guys are any good, they should redo your suspension when you get back to the big city and the power distribution system’s about a thousand miles from the scrapheap. THAT one,” he added, indicating Rhew’s vehicle, “is in much better condition, even if it has more wrappers in the footwell.”

“I’ve told her to pick up after herself,” Rhew admitted, stopping next to the group.

“My side of the car, my rules,” Karl muttered.

“You need to change your lubricant though,” the mechanic advised, before taking Adriette’s comm address to send the report and bill to.


“They still following us,” Adriette asked after they’d got back on the road and started heading back for the town.

“Of course,” Corp replied. They’d noticed their ‘third’ start up shortly after they’d passed by the cafe, where the rather obvious canine and Mican had been having brunch and trying hard to look innocent. Adriette had taken their pictures but, as the computer link had been down, had needed to transmit them to base. They’d get the results back soon, he reckoned. But, as for now…

“How far out are we,” he asked Adriette.

“About twenty from the town. Five from the village.” She shrugged and the car shook slightly, to Corp’s worriment. “About time, I suppose. Rhew?”

<”Yup?”>

“Press the button.”


Behind them, the car stopped. It stopped cold and immediately as Rhew activated the small device he’d secreted on the car at the church. A small EMP device that killed all electrical systems within five yards, including engines and comms.


The IOC headed into the distance as the frustrated occupants smacked the wheel of their car and found the doors didn’t work.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Yeah not being able to open the doors might be an inconvenience. Maybe they wll have to bust out the windows. Lovely chapter!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

And, sometimes, things hit a pivot point...

Sixteen

Adriette pulled into the hospital car park and alighted with a small bouquet of flowers she’d bought from a small fuel station on the way into town. They were on day three of seven, she reckoned, almost beginning to wilt in the weather and overwatered bucket. Corp stepped out from his side and locked the door as Adriette led the way to the front desk and asked for Grek. The receptionist reluctantly looked up the details and told the agent – for, once again, Adriette had needed to flash her badge to get any traction – where to head to find the patient.


It looked like a hospital that had barely seen any investment in recent years, investment lacking in its infrastructure. There wasn’t anything like the shine that Pandera City Infirmary had but, then, she hadn’t exactly been expecting it. Medicines were paid for on a social case by local government but the maintenance often depended on finance from local high ranking business enterprises and, whereas in Pandera City, dozens of companies put money in to be seen to be doing something, out here there would only be one or two. And one of them was, seemingly, in cutback mode. So the Doctors looked harrassed and overworked and the patients looked as though the nurses hadn’t been in to see them for at leasthalf an hour because there were half as many of them as needed too.


Adriette and Corp stopped outside the room with the guard outside and exchanged a line of dialogue each. The guard permitted them entry and, Adriette reckoned, told Whitby they were there as soon as the door closed. “You have a vae for these,” she asked the Celican, holding up the flowers.

He laughed and winced. “fuel stop flowers from a Fed,” he told them, pulling out a cheap glass… something from the side drawer. “Water in the sink,” he said redundantly. “What’s the reason for this pleasure,” he asked, shifting himself up into a more seated position.

“We wondered if anyone might want to kill you,” Corp asked, taking the visitor’s chair.

The cook and café owner laughed briefly again. “No-one recently,” he admitted, feeling the bandages around his chest. “Hurts like my teeth in a Callamole’s flesh,” he admitted. “If I ever had any thoughts about meat substitutes, they’ve doubled now.”

“Your Lappinean customers would appreciate that, I suppose. OK,” Adriette continued, “you know the town and the people. If you were going to hire a sniper to shoot someone you feared would talk about something like this..?”

“Who would I choose? Ow.” Grek finished, wincing as Adriette put the ‘vase’ on the side unit. “Don’t suppose you brought me any food? Stuff here’s cheap and worse than mine.”

Corp demurred. “That’s the budget.” He shifted around in the chair. “So, thoughts?”

Grek lowered his voice. “Sergeant Malla is the local Police Sharpshooter. Former militia.” He shifted uncomfortably. “NOT someone to talk about in, er, current company,” he added quietly, inclining his head towards the door. “Protege time, you understand?”

Corp grunted. As soon as Grek had said the name, he’d made the connection to the well trained Mican from regimental days. Not the same regiment but much the same news letters. His record in competitions spoke for itself.

“Best hunter,” Grek coughed, bringing his volume back up to normal, “is Solva Greyle. Local Canine wildlife assassinator. You’ll find him up on Sodor street, near the rail station.”

“Shapperton still has a rail station?”

“No, we still have the building and the street though. Any local news?”

Now Corp laughed a short, bitter, laugh. “You think you being shot isn’t news? Well, there’s the fact that someone put a hole in retired Detective Deek’s window. They missed, by the way,” he added as he saw the look of concern in Grek’s eye. “I get the feeling that missing was intended.”

“I’d have preferred if they’d actually missed me,” Grek replied, scowling at the flash of pain. “What else going on?”

“What do you think of Brian Delmundor,” Corp asked as Adriette looked out towards the deputy outside. He looked away at her first glance. The Raitchian took out a small detector and waved it around the room as Grek pretended to think about an answer.


The moment passed and Grek answered the question, pulling his knees up in the bed. That didn’t hurt as much as I – ow – thought it would. I’ll be back on my feet in a few days, they say. Brian?” Grek took a breath. “He’s a bit of an odd kid but he’s better than the rest of his family. Tries to join in, despite the locals hating his folks. Often isn’t allowed but, um, he never holds it against them. Also works as an assistant in the library. Yes,” he said, cutting off Corp’s enquiry, “we STILL have one of those. Mostly digital.”

Adriette peeked out of the window at the car park and noted the Police vehicle pulling in by the front entrance. It was why she’d parked between two vehicles for cover. Of course, she still made a note to check for trackers afterwards. She watched as Chief Whitby extricated himself from the vehicle and started for the front door. “Company’s coming,” she advised.

Grek shuffled. “I’m guessing it’s not company you appreciate?” He winced again and gave himself a shot of pain killer. “I hate this stuff,” he groused. “But it does make me feel sparkly. So, what’s the strangest way you’ve almost died?”

“What,” Adriette started.

“I, uh, almost got locked in my own cold store once,” Grek confessed. “If Monikka hadn’t come in early to work, I’d have been a Celicansicle.”

Corp fingered the drip feed. “What’s IN this thing? One of my first cases I almost suffocated in a coffee storage tank.”

“Ohh,” Grek admitted happily, “that probably brings back some bad memories around here, what with all the Coffee.”

“I still drink it.”

“He just never calls it full bodied,” Adriette chipped in, having worked out she wasn’t going to have to confess…


The door opened and Whitby stepped in. “A word, Agent Beran,” he said, making it a statement rather than a question. He indicated the corridor. She followed him out and the door closed before he wheeled around on her. “I told you I wanted you people out of town,” he reminded her, “after one night.”

She stared him straight in the eye. “And I told you I don’t give a stuff what you want. We’re here until WE decide to leave, ‘chief’.”

“And what were you asking my victim about? It’s not connected to the car investigation. Or any that I know of in your files. Why are you lying to me, Agent?”

Adriette thought about punching him but held her fist in check. “We’re just here visiting Mr Grek, Chief, shooting the breeze with someone we know. I’m not going to ask if you have any concerns about that but I don’t care. There IS something I’d ask about, though?”

Now Whitby looked like he wanted to punch her. His hand opened and closed twice. “What question,” he demanded tightly.

“If Mr Grek’s not suspected of anything,” she asked, removing the deactivated listening devices she’d found, “why is he under your surveillance?”

Whitby looked at the devices in confusion. “But… these aren’t ours,” he said as the two devices jiggled in his hand.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Wonder who those devices belong to then if its not theirs. I'm sure we will find out who owns them soon enough!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Seventeen

Adriette regarded the Police chief curiously. She was wondering if she could believe him on his denial. There was something in his eye that spoke of telling the truth but there was something about his departmental bank account that spoke to him making it all up as he went along. On a fifty-fifty, she decided to follow the rule of proof. She had none linking to him so he got a chance. “If not you,” she told him, “then we need to look into who.”

“You trust me?”

“No. But you’re in the game for now.” She flicked her gaze to him for a second. “Who said games only had two sides?” She let him lead the way to the nearest nurses station and watched as he used some of his authority for a change, rather than playing on hers. She looked over his shoulder as the nurse pulled up the work logs of who’d been in the Celicans room since he’d been brought in last night. “Nurse Collans,” the attendant said, checking door access and the flickering camera feed. “Nurse Ayles… Doctor Zorin…”

“I don’t think much of the CCTV,” Adriette opined.

“We don’t have the budget of other departments,” the attendant replied, deliberately stopping himself from looking at Whitby.

His hand tensed on the attendant’s chair. “I don’t stop people sponsoring you,” he claimed. “I just use the cash they give me.”

“And rely on us underpaid peons to patch your guys up when they’re desperate…”

“Can we attend to this right now,” Adriette insisted, tapping the screen, where a Mican female in coveralls was going into the room with cleaning implements. “Who’s this?”

“That..,” the attendant said, peering, “is… One of the cleaning crew.” Unable to see the figure clearly, he checked the logs. “Um… Maria Outhwaite, according to the log. She’s new. One of the team that preps the room for each new occupant.”

“Perfect person to talk to,” Whitby put in. “She here today?”

The attendant made checks. “Third floor. Dayle ward. Last hour of her first Twenty four hour shift.” Another resisted glance. “Lack of staff due to cuts. New staff sleep in the hospital crash pads.”

Whitby prepared to give an angry glance but Adriette took his arm. “Later! Now we check on them.”


A dash through doors and up stairs brought them to Dayle ward and the station there. Adriette slapped her badge down on the desk. “Maria Outhwaite,” she gasped, putting it away again. “Where?”

“I’ll have to check. She’s new and…” This new attendant checked the departmental records… “currently in room three.”

“No, she isn’t,” one of the other nurses put in. “I was just in there and she wasn’t. That other new girl was.”

Adriette rolled her eyes. “You check the crash pads,” she told Whitby. “Room three. Where?” She followed the pointing finger and quickly found herself in front of a room with three patients in it, lying in their beds with beeping machines as a cleaner wiped the floor. “Sorry,” she stated as she kept her hand on the door frame to stop herself slipping on the floor. “I’m looking for Maria Outhwaite?”

“Ah,” the cleaner cackled politely, “I think I just saw her down in the canteen?”

“Thanks,” Adriette replied, flinching as though to leave. “Oh, according to the station computer, she’s in this room so, shall we..?”

She stepped back as the cleaner tried to clean her clock with a soaped up mop, The item spun, almost foaming her face before she grasped its long, plastic, handle and pulled it sharply towards her, pulling the cleaner off balance as the patients began to look bemused and confused. Adriette tried to put her elbow into the back of the Mican’s head but she twisted aside as she let go of the mop and Beran barely clipped her ear with the motion. The foamed mop slipped from both grips and clattered into the hallway as the ‘cleaner’ put a punch into Adriette’s ribs. The agent gasped as air was driven out but brought her arms down on her attackers shoulders, sending her down at an angle to the floor. As Adriette started to get her breath back the mystery Mican cmpleted her twist past the Raitchian and rolled the downward blow to spin upright to Adriette’s left. She took a weapon from a nearby trolley and Adriette barely avoided the flash of the laser scalpel as it burned a hole in the wall next to her head on its’ maximum setting. Adriette crashed the trolley into her, knocking her back, and letting Adriette take on a more active stance, swinging a right into the ‘cleaners’ teeth. It rattled her bones as the front teeth broke and the side ones loosened, a trickle of blood being knocked loose from the gum as Adriette’s knuckles skinned slightly. She felt the power of the scalpel burn into her side as she gripped the female around the back of the head and propelled it harshly towards the nearest wall. It cracked through the plasterboard as the scalpel dropped, its power core giving out a few seconds after Adriette would have preferred. It clattered to the floor as the attacker thrust the trolley back at Adriette and ran as the agent extricated herself by pushing it out of the way.


She’d gone around the corner and ducked into one of the rooms, grabbing a specimen bowl as she went into another room. She hurled it ahead of her, aiming for the window that shattered as the metal impacted it. Cheap glass, Adriette would assume later. Right now she was just in time to see the Mican throw herself through the window onto the roof a floor down. Adriette jumped herself, landing hard on the roof and rolling to dissipate the impact. She brought up her weapon and fired wild, coming within half a meter of her target as it grasped the escape ladder and slid down to the ground. By the time a slightly limping Adriette had made it to the edge of the roof, the target was heading off on a cycle. Adriette locked onto the plate with her comm’s photo function and snapped it before wincing her way back across the roof to the window as Whitby appeared above her.

“Found Ogilvie out cold in the crash pads,” he told her.

“Good to know it’s not a heartless killer. Any blood on that glass? Ow.”

“Yes. It’s not yours?”

“No, I didn’t bleed much on it. Might be hers. Bag it and run it?” For trusts sake, she phrased it more as a question than an order. She’d check on the roof too.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

This was a really nice addition to the story! Good work Welshy!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Cliff-hanger....

Eighteen


“You sure you’re alright, boss,” Karl fussed as Corp checked to make sure the medical treatment was holding. Adriette was sat on her bed again, with Corp having headed to the local pharmacist to get a first aid kit comprising bandages, plasters, tape and a few other odds and sods. They had one in the back of the car but he preferred to leave that one intact for emergencies. Once you snapped the seal, everything had a lower expiration date. And they’d have to answer to accounting. As a soldier, he hated those credit crusaders. To his inexpert eye, it looked like the local doctor knew their stuff.

“I’m fine, Patcha,” Adriette stated playfully, flicking Corp’s nose so he stopped examining her body quite so closely. “I just need to avoid laughing for a day or so.”

“Perfect target for Karl’s jokes then,” Mikkel put in. “Any reading on who did it yet?”

“Give it a moment,” Adriette complained, pressing keys on her main computer system. It had a hyperfast link to the IOC main computer and an access point for scientific analysis and uploading comms. Right now, the sealed section was checking over blood traces Adriette had found on the rooftop. After the encounter, Beran had been checked over and treated by one of the underpaid and overworked Doctors who probably hoped they might get investment from IOC if they gave good treatment. She shrugged, leaving the rest of the team wondering why, as she supposed she could talk to Jones about it. Their medical finances were running at a slight surplus right now, with less agents needing treatment. Never mind. “It’s working.” She noted that Mikkel had his vehicle’s key on him, in the slightly too tight fitting shorts the Pole dweller was wearing against the temperature. He was ready to take the lead in hunting down this Mican or, rather, holding the leash on Agent Karl to make sure she didn’t tear the suspect apart without getting questions asked.


A moment passed before the computer dinked. An identity card and biography popped up on screen. “Julia Sweek,” Adriette told them. “twenty-nine. From Ravistak on the southern continent and here on a work visa. According to this, she works for Pakrius Investigations, a small operation operating out of Sowerton.”

“Where’s that,” Karl asked.

“An hour south,” Mikkel remarked, using a claw tip to clean his teeth.

“You haven’t eaten yet,” Karl told him, stalking off for a Coffee from the sachets. It didn’t taste that good but it tended to fuel her temper. “She ex-military?”

“It doesn’t say so,” Adriette remarked. “But you’ve noted that too, eh? Corp knows half the Police Force from service, the Gardeners were all military…”

“The style of car that tried to follow us is the style used by Militia Intelligence,” Corp added, making Adriette twist towards him.

“And when,” she demanded, “were you going to share that?”

Corp took a breath. “It means nothing. The type of vehicle used by Military Intelligence is top secret and, like anything top secret, most mercenaries and high ranking mob types know it before the rank and file. Then they get some for themselves as quality is already assured.”

“How?”

“Because Intelligence uses them. Best sign of quality at a budget, that.”

“You still should have told me, Corp. Mikkel, want to go check out her address?”


Karl finished her travel mug of Coffee and put the mug back in the holder as Rhew pulled up close to a caravan on a trailer park. It looked even cheaper than town around here as they got out of the car and locked it. Their target was registered as having a city runner type car and a bike but there wasn’t any sign of either around here as Mikkel received the warrant on his padd. An undernourished boy apologised as his hoop clattered into Rhew. He apologised to Karl as he couldn’t take his eyes off her. She had him entranced. Rhew accepted the apology anyhow and played hoopla, looping the circle over the boy before approaching the target caravan.

“Get back to your Caravan,” Karl growled, knowing this wasn’t a good place for a child right now. She pointed. “RUN!” He ran and Karl snorted. Better scared than dead, she supposed. She joined Rhew up by the door.

“No pressure trigger under the mat,” The Celican advised. “Reckon the lock’s primed to explode if we override?”

Patcha shrugged. “Paranoia’ not your friend until it is.” So saying, she swung herself off the veranda section and pulled herself under the permanently stationary vehicle. She pulled herself back out and shook off some of the dirt and mud now staining her jacket as though she didn’t much care. She probably didn’t. “I’m just gonna get summat from the car,” she commented as Mikkel took a pointing device from his pocket.

“Coward,” he jibed as he attached his badge and warrant notification to the end of the stick and stood as far away from the code lock as he could. The device beeped and the door unlocked without exploding and the door opened slightly.


Inside, Rhew found nothing out of the ordinary. Everything was squared away, nothing extraneous left out. No dishes left in the sink, no canned goods on the kitchen counter. Carefully opening each closet and cupboard, Mikkel got more of a view of this female and her life. Nothing was out of place. A cupboard contained a gun safe capable of holding a pistol but nothing more than that and where was Karl?


Karl was running. The Mican ahead of her was running as well but, with the injury to her leg, she wasn’t as fast as the Wolven agent without the motorbike she’d used earlier so she spun to launch a knife towards the incoming threat. It sliced Karl’s left ear but didn’t stop the agent barrelling into the target shoulder first, knocking her off her feet with sheer power. Sweek rolled backwards, up to her feet and fell over again, landing on her rear. She kicked out at Karl’s muzzle, connecting with something of a crunch before Karl grasped the leg and twisted the unwounded limb sharply to the left, drawing a cry of pain from the Mican. Karl’s free hand grasped the Mican by the chest and, using her strength, lifted her above her head and slammed her down on the other side to end the fight. She picked her up again and thrust her against the nearest van, shaking it. “Talk,” she said, blood dripping from her mouth.

“You don’t want me to do that, Agent Karl,” the Mican said, using one hand to try and dislodge the Wolf’s grip. “And I don’t want to either.” Her other hand came out of her pocket with a device and her caravan exploded.
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Well that is gonna cause a big problem. Nothing can be done with an exploded caravan! XD Nice work!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

Nineteen

There was no smell. Her nose was full of dust that had erupted from the ground and the caravan and it was blotting out all the other smells in the world as her eyes widened. Sound was out as her ears rang with every bell and emergency siren in her head going off as her lips drew back in a snarl and her claws broke the skin of her target. Her eyes narrowed as her brain worked through the word she was silently yelling into her comm. The figure in front of her, pinioned to the wall by her hand, had stopped smiling now. She’d smiled as she’d pressed the button and Karl was quite happy to kill her for that, considering who’d just…


A smudged and dirty Polar Celican, bleeding from the ears, appeared to one side of her, making his way into her line of sight whilst out of range to avoid… accidents. She looked sharply from him to the target and back again. He was signing that she should release the Mican. She didn’t get the idea but he was, pretty much, her senior, even though he’d only gotten the job because of her recommendation and she could understand the gestures. She relented, lowering the creature to her feet and forcing her claws back out of the chest. Mikkel stepped towards the captive and punched her hard in the face, knocking her to the ground. Karl approved. He picked her up and threw her against the caravan wall face first so Karl could attach the restraints. They sloped back towards the action, where stunned locals were already doing their best to put out the remaining flames with buckets and hoses to stop the danger spreading to their homes. Rhew wasn’t much surprised. It meant there was probably pretty much no chance of any evidence being found now. Karl decided to pitch in, helping move debris in the two surrounding caravans to make sure everyone there was safe as Rhew took the female back to the managers office.


“I’ve never envied Jones his lack of hearing before,” Rhew complained to Whitby as the powerful Mican sat opposite him in the office some ten minutes down the line. His head was still banging out a percussive symphony in his skull and he knew the Feline/Human cross would be much nearer recovery by now..

“I’ve never really envied IOC their systems until now,” Whitby replied, taking up the seat. “Identifying Sweek like that. A full thirty minutes before state Police responded.”

Rhew looked at him, head cocked. “What,” he asked. Whitby repeated the bit about envying IOC their computers slowly and clearly. Mikkel nodded and slotted a fact about Whitby away for later use. He was pretty sure he knew what it was but his mind was still foggy. A paramedic had checked him over for serious wounds and peered into his ears but, other than a comment about cleaning his ears that Rhew had only just about heard over the sirens, he’d been given a clean bill of health. He’d turned Sweek over to Whitby and his people when they’d arrived as he’d had no way to hold her and no reason not to transfer her to a Chief who wanted words about bugging hospitals and blowing up caravan parks as much as he did. Now he was doing his best to tell how he’d acted on the warrant and begun looking around her ‘house’, only to notice Agent Karl wasn’t around and he’d gone to look for her. He’d been about twenty yards away when the world had kaleidoscoped into darkness. When he’d found Karl they’d carried out the arrest.

“When you arrived,” Whitby wrote, “Karl and Sweek were still fighting and you punched the subject to enable you to restrain her without further damage to yourself.”

Rhew still felt dizzy and sick. Whitby had said it all clearly but it didn’t concur with what he recalled. “No, no,” he said, waving a hand unsteadily. “She was…”

“NOT subdued before you hit her,” Whitby affirmed. “He took Rhews’ head in his hands, releasing the recording device he was using. “Either she was subdued and you assaulted her or she wasn’t so you got in a legitimate punch. Second is better. No investigation into it, you get me?”

Rhew stewed it over in his head and nodded slowly. It did SEEM to make sense…

“I wonder what her story is…”

Karl stepped in with a child attached to her. She’d found it in a small closet in one of the wrecked caravans and it didn’t want to let her go. Mikkel wondered how hard he’d been concussed as Karl had Whitby help lever it off.


<”Adriette,”> Feldar said over the vidlink, <”I send you down there to do a little research on a mystery kid...”>

“I know, Adriette replied, sitting in the lotus position on her bed with a cup of tea steaming neatly next to her. “We’re here two days and there’s a sniper shooting people and blowing stuff up.” She’d already told him Rhew and Karl were fine, which he appreciated, but he wasn’t so appreciative of the progress made. “We seem to be making headway in having people think we know more than we do but we’re not having too much luck in gaining any actual evidence.”

<”Hm,”> Feldar allowed, dunking and eating a cookie on screen before continuing, <”I might be able to stir up a few mini hurricanes in that regards this afternoon. I have an appointment with the person who holds the four percent stake. I’m going to take someone with me.”>

Adriette looked sharply at the image of her boss. “Feldar,” she spat, “you can’t! Putting her in public like that exposes her to danger!” She raised her hands to the ceiling. “You can’t be so dumb!”

<”Beg pardon, Agent,”> Feldar queried, his tone telling that he’d heard exactly what she’d said. <”She’ll be perfectly safe with myself and Henry, understood?”>

She swallowed and, shakily, replied. “Un...understood, sir.” At least she hoped she did.

<”Good. Speak to you tonight.”> He hung up.

“Corp,” Adriette said, calling to her partner, who’d been in the corner of the room.

“Yes?”

She smiled and wiggled her legs. “Help?”

“Stuck again?” He stepped forward to help her out.


Mikkel grumbled as he sat in Adriette’s chair an hour later and she fussed over him like he was a cub. A surly cub. Whitby had said Adriette – and he’d used her first name – could sit in on the Sweek interview and could he relay the offer? He’d done that and Adriette was about to head down to the station but, first, she’d asked him if he’d noted anything in the caravan. He’d told her about how squared away things were in the Caravan and how he’d guessed the explosives were stored in the gun safe as it was the only open section not checked by him or Karl and, sooner or later, the bells would stop ringing. His brain caught up with something. “Oh, yeah,” he added, “something I noted.”

“What?”

“When deafened, I figured Patcha might be too? So I switched to military hand signals? A practical sign language. It’s often done. Whitby didn’t know it. He just went the ‘clear and slow’ speech method. Lucky I can read Mican.”

Adriette shrugged before putting her jacket on and flexing her legs slightly. “So he’s not military. So what?”

Mikkel sighed slightly. “Probably nothing,” he concurred, “but, with all the retired military we’ve met around town and the Delmundor place, I thought it interesting.”
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

I really like how you built this chapter up! Your work is impeccable!
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Welsh Halfwit »

And note how the Sheriff no longer seems the bad guy of the piece?
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Re: IOC PANDERA:- The Sarah situation

Post by Amazee Dayzee »

Which means if he does get shot at some point I can't sing the Bob Marley song without feeling guilty about it.
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