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Introduction:

Protecting a Judge
I glanced up as the tiny dragon zipped by me and landed on the stand behind me. I smiled and sat back, “Welcome back Cambra.”

She grinned, “Samantha is fantastic.”

I glanced back at Dragon with her daughter and smiled, “How did the prisoner like her?”

Cambra snorted, “I think she likes threatening people. As soon as Edwards saw her, he stopped moving.”

I grinned and stood up, “Did they have any problems with the execution?”

She snorted again as she turned to walk with me, “The sedative you gave me kept him quiet.”

She nodded to the commander’s office, “How’s the new commander?”

I grinned, “He has been ignoring me. You can ask one of the others, they seem to think he’s a hard ass.”

Cambra grinned, “Good for him.”

“Morpheus!”

I glanced at Cambra, “You had to mention him.”

She grinned as she walked towards her desk and I headed towards the new commander’s office. He looked up when I just walked in and frowned. I ignored it and walked to the desk and sat in one of his seats, “You called?”

He nodded and sat back, “Someone thinks highly of you. Sector Commander Jessop and the quadrant commander both requested you.”

I nodded but didn’t show anything. He leaned forward, “Someone has cracked the Imperial justice data banks. Sector Commander Jessop has requested you for a protection detail. Why he hasn’t assigned one of his own, I don’t know.”

I shrugged, “Who needs protecting?”

He sighed and slid a data chip across the desk, “Judge Harriet.”

I glanced from the chip to him and he smiled slightly, “Rings a bell?”

I looked at him, “You’ve read my file.”

He sat back, “I have.”

I waited and he gestured, “Your badge.”

I pulled it and tossed it to him. I was curious to see what he was going to do. He pulled the badge from the case and turned to push it into a slot in the wall behind his desk. There was a flash and he was pulling it out and replacing it in the case. I caught it and glanced at it, “Sergeant?”

He smiled, “You’ve made an impression with the Emperor.”

I put the badge back on my belt, “I only did my job.”

He laughed as he stood, “The Emperor said maybe he’ll send you a bottle of brandy.”

I snorted and stood, “I won’t hold my breath he owes me several.”

I picked up the data chip and turned to head for the door. I should have known everyone would be waiting. I sighed at the loud cheer as I stepped out of the office and started to catch the egg that was thrown. Dragon dropped from the ceiling and everyone laughed as she caught the egg in her front claws and soared away.

I shook my head at Edwards, “You never learn.”

He grinned as he reached up to the tiny dragon on his shoulder, “Sampson will protect me.”

I headed towards my desk, “Who’s going to protect him from you.”

Everyone laughed again and turned to head back to their desks. I gestured to Dragon as she landed on her stand, “Time to go Dragon, we finally got a mission.”

She leaped from her stand and grabbed my shoulder before moving onto it. I put a couple of files away and bent to grab my bag beside the desk. I used the lift and dropped down to Dispersing. I walked in and smiled at the tall young marshal at the window, “Your back Michaels.”

He glanced back and grinned, “Just got in.”

A tiny head shyly peeked around his neck. She was almost completely hidden in his long hair as she hugged his neck. I smiled as I walked passed him to the other window, “How did Georgia do?”

He grinned as he stepped back from the window, “She was great. She put two in stasis before they even knew I wasn’t alone and then she forced the prisoner to walk along beside me as timidly as a lamb.”

I laughed, “I’m glad it worked out.”

Marshal Michaels had been a surprise, he had arrived just as Dragon was pushing her three babies away to be bonded. I half expected, well, hoped Cambra would bond with one. Edwards had been a surprise to everyone and Michaels, well, Dragon had searched the room after her daughter screamed at everyone and forced him to come close enough for her daughter to leap into his arms.

I pulled a form in front of me and quickly filled it out before pushing it to the android. The android barely looked at it, “I’m sorry Marshal Morpheus, there is no transportation going out.”

I looked at it carefully and noticed Michaels as he stopped and turned towards me, “Give me the ship departure list.”

The android turned and pushed a slip of plastic across. I glanced at it, “There is three cargo ships that can transfer me at the sector nexus and a luxury liner headed to the planet I need.”

I looked at the android, “Book me on the liner.”

It shifted, “The liner exceeds our Dispersing quota. I’m sorry Marshal Morpheus there is no transportation going out.”

I glanced at Dragon and she slipped off my shoulder as I reached for the payout comp. I placed my badge on the comp, “Deduct the fare from my account.”

The android seemed to vibrate, “I’m sorry Marshal Morpheus there is no transportation going out.”

It froze suddenly and Dragon poked her head around its neck before scrambling around. I reached through the window to punch a few buttons and a packet spit out the slot. I touched the building communicator, “This is Marshal Morpheous. I’m in Dispersing, the android has been hacked. I need a tech here to do a full spectrum system check.”

“I’m on my way Marshal.”

I turned and bent to grab my bag and grinned, “This is not a good way to start a mission.”

Michaels grinned, “I’ll wait for the tech. You know you make them nervous.”

I smiled as I nodded, “See you when I get back.”

I glanced at the departure data as the lift whisked me down to the lobby. I nodded to the guards on my way past and walked out the doors. I hesitated and stepped in front of the man trying to enter, “Excuse me, I was looking for another hostel, this one seems to be full.”

The golem hesitated, “This is the office for the Imperial Marshals.”

I frowned as Dragon slipped down my back, “no, this is the Imperial House. A first class hostel which is booked up, would you know where another is?”

It frowned and tilted its head before freezing. Dragon dropped off it as I turned to the doors and opened them. I looked at the two guards, “Notify hazardous disposal, we have another golem. This time tell them that if they destroy it before they vacuum it, I will do bad things to them.”

They looked at each other and nodded as they headed towards the door. Dragon swarmed back up onto my shoulder as I walked towards my vehicle. When I walked into the starport I knew I was going to have a long wait and headed for the VIP sleeper rooms.

The single almost unheard beep made my eyes snap open and my weapon come around. The locked door opened quietly and an old lady smiled at me. I fired before her half hidden hand could come out of the bag she was holding. I was up off the bed and moving before the body even started to fall.

Dragon’s scream of rage was more than enough to draw attention. I knelt beside the body as I continued to scan around us. I finally holstered my weapon as several guards began to get closer. I was careful searching the body and the bag. I ignored the weapons and guards pointing them as I finally straightened with the compact silenced pistol.

I slipped it into the small of my back and stood. I nodded to the guard supervisor, “The body is to be considered a level one threat to your men and the port. You need triple dense gloves and body bag. Use the industrial incinerator to burn the body and make sure everyone that comes within a dozen paces is masked.”

He jerked and stared at the old woman’s body, “Who was she?”

I glanced at the body, “He, was a very skill assassin.”

I pulled my comm, “Marshal Godson.”

A moment later the commander voice came on, “Morpheus, we are still dealing with the golem and the android.”

I glanced around, “We have another worry. One of the older student’s from my school just popped in.”

There was a long pause, “what did they say?”

I smiled, “I killed him. He was sent to kill me.”

Again there was a pause, “Have you notified the port guards on how to handle the body? You know what happened at the school.”

I looked at the supervisor, “I told them. I need a starcomm to Sector Commander Jesop. Tell him the school may be back and to take all precautions.”

“I’ll make sure he gets it.”

I shut the comm off and returned to the room. I collected my bag and Dragon before heading through the port. I set the bag beside me as I sat next to the boarding gate. After slipping the silenced pistol into my bag I put Dragon in my lap. I caressed and reassured her as I leaned back and scanned the area.

It was several hours before the attendant came to open the gate and by then there was a small crowd waiting. I knew that if the school was after me they would have someone on the liner but probably not on the shuttle. I also knew something they didn’t, the shuttles for this class of liner were new and had military grade anti missile defenses.

When we boarded I flashed my badge and sat in the very front next to the door. I watched each and every person board. We were barely off the ground before red lights started flashing and the acceleration was tripled and then tripled again, pinning everyone in their seats. I knew what it meant and tried to relax.

The defenses must have worked because we weren’t hit and broke free of the planet. The shuttle took a little longer to dock with the liner and there were a lot more crew waiting to help passengers. I ignored them as Dragon sat calmly on my shoulder and I collected my bag and started into the ship.

The large burly crewman that moved in front of me backed away quickly when I pulled my weapon and touched my badge. He swallowed as he looked from the pistol to Dragon and finally into my face, “There was an incident…”

I shook my head as I strode past him, “Of course there was.”

There were a few people that might have been from the school lounging around but they didn’t come close. I dropped my bag off in my suite and headed towards the jump rooms. I made sure to sit in a back corner and watched each person as they came in. After we jumped I was up and moving, carrying Dragon against my chest.

I moved to the ship’s lounge and pulled out a few sealed bottles of water. I walked back to my suite and pulled my weapon and stood to the side as I opened the door. The silent shot that came through the door wasn’t unexpected. I tossed the bottles of water through and again the weapon fired.

I nudged Dragon onto my shoulder and pulled a small disk from behind my belt. I knelt and slid it through before standing as I counted. The image of me crouching appeared before I spun around the door. The assassin’s weapon fired into the holograph and I fired into the small women rapidly.

I walked to her and looked down at the hole between her eyes and the three close holes in the center of her chest. I knelt to check her and stripped everything that could be lethal. I carefully checked the tells on my bag and pulled out the detector before beginning a sweep of the suite.

I shut down the bugs and disabled the poison gas. I also found a couple of nasty surprises the assassin had already left. I called the captain using my badge to declare an emergency. I explained about the assassin and how she was to be handled during disposal. The crewmen that came were wearing evac suits which was good.

I helped put the assassin into the hard plastic body pod and let them leave. Dragon had been clinging to the wall above the door the whole time the crewmen were there. I caught her as she dropped free and let her begin her own check of the suite. I spent most of my time in the suite. The few times I came out, I left tells that would let me know if anyone tried to enter.

When we came out of jump, I had my bag with me in the jump room and stood to head for the first shuttle down. Normal procedure was to go last but I didn’t wait and strode through the ship to the shuttle bay. I had to wait for the crew to get there and begin prepping the shuttle. I told the senior crewman I would be using the first seat inside the hatch.

I stood watching the shuttle while they checked and boarded the other passengers. The ride down was smooth and I stood as the shuttle was locked to the boarding tube. Dragon hissed angrily at one woman that stood to crowd closer and she jumped back, “What the hell is that!”

I turned to look at her and smiled as I reached up to touch Dragon, “That is a dragon. She is my partner and right now she is doing sentry duty.”

The woman glanced down at my belt and saw the badge. She grinned, “You’re a Marshal with a dragon for a partner?”

I nodded and she laughed, “What will the emperor think of next.”

I turned and moved towards the opening door. As soon as possible I slipped into the back ways of the port and came out by a rental stall. I had a taxi take me across the city and got out in front of the marshals building. As soon as I walked through the door I touched my badge to the ID plate before the alarm could sound.

I took the lift up to the offices and stepped out to walk across the large room as everyone went quiet. I set my bag on a chair outside the commander’s office before just walking in. Jessop looked up and opened his mouth before grinning and standing, “Morpheus!”

I grinned as Dragon launched herself across the room towards him, “You look older Simon.”

He caught Dragon and stroked her head and back, “Don’t we all.”

I crossed and reached out to clasp his hand, “At least you are still alive.”

He frowned and let Dragon climb to his shoulder as he sat, “I have two marshals that aren’t.”

He gestured to the chair and I sat as he began telling me about the judge he wanted me to protect. When he finished I stood and Dragon leaped into the air. I headed towards the door and glanced back as Dragon landed and clung to my shoulder, “Have you found the school?”

Simon shook his head, “We narrowed it to this sector.”

I nodded, “Let me know when you find it.”

I walked out and grabbed my bag as I crossed the room. A female marshal followed me to the lift and turned to face me as it dropped, “What makes you so special?”

I glanced at her as Dragon shifted, “I was raised in the assassin’s school on Hades.”

She jerked, “I thought everyone was killed.”

I smiled as I stepped off the lift on the lower floor, “A dozen people from the school survived.”

She followed me as I walked down the vacant hall towards the two marshals standing beside a door. I glanced at her, “The others were off planet on missions.”

She frowned, “Killing people you mean.”

I nodded, “Yes.”

I stopped in front of the marshals, “Anyone come in beside the judge?”

They shook their heads and I stepped forward to touch my badge to the door screen. The door opened and I looked at the marshal that had followed me, “Ask Simon… Commander Jessop, if you really want to know more.”

She grinned with the two marshals, “Simon?”

I shrugged, “After it was over I lived with him for a short time.”

I walked into the judge’s apartments and the door closed behind me. The old judge looked up when I walked in and frowned, “I don’t know you.”

I sat in a comfortable chair across from her and let Dragon leap into the air. I looked at her, “My name is Morpheus, Deputy Marshal Morpheus.”

She smiled, “Simon’s boy.”

I smiled, “In a way. He requested me from my commander to protect you.”

She sat back as Dragon landed on the couch back and walked closer, “How do I know…”

I laughed, “If I had wanted you dead your honor, you would already be dead. Dragon will accompany you everywhere. She is a bio synth and is linked to me.”

The judge looked at Dragon and reached out to scratch her under the jaw, “Dragon? You couldn’t name it something nice.”

I grinned as I stood, “Dragon is a good name.”

I began a carefully examination of the apartment and returned to find Dragon curled up in her lap as she read something from a screen reader, “Tell Dragon when you need to go anywhere.”

She glanced at me and nodded as I turned to walk towards the door. For the next two hours I combed every floor in the building. I returned to Simon’s office and knocked before I poked my head in, “Do you have anyone trained to work with explosives?”

He turned from talking to a middle aged man, “A few, why?”

I held up the three small but extremely powerful bombs I had found and disarmed, “Because I would like irregular sweeps on the floors below and above the judge’s chambers.”

Simon came to his feet, “Are those live?”

I smiled, “Simon.”

He shrugged, “Sorry.”

He pressed his intercom, “Smith, Atckins and Beck, come to my office.”

Simon looked at me, “How did they get them in?”

I shook my head, “I think they have a compromised badge.”

His eyes narrowed and I blinked as I got an image from Dragon. I turned and started running ignoring everyone and everything. I hit the emergency override in the lift to make it drop three times as fast as normal. The two marshals guarding the judge’s door looked at me running towards them and one spun to open the door.

I barely slowed as I came through the door drawing my weapon. The judge was crouched behind the couch. Dragon was on a man’s back biting into the back of his neck. She didn’t stop as I approached and I holstered my pistol and waved the other marshals back, “He’s an assassin.”

The judge almost whispered, “That’s Jorge, my clerk.”

I didn’t look at her as I slowly walked around the man, “Your clerk is probably dead. This man is wearing a skin mask.”

I pulled out a small needle and slipped it into a vein in the man’s neck. Dragon released the man and dropped to the floor. The man slowly stirred which should have been impossible with all the stasis drugs Dragon had injected into him. His eyes shifted and met mine and I shook my head, “The build is a little thicker and the eyes are different but you are Domino.”

His eyes narrowed, “You betrayed us.”

I shook my head, “They betrayed me. They locked me away and tortured my sister before killing her.”

He blinked, “Samantha? But… why?”

I shrugged, “I doesn’t matter anymore. Samantha wanted me out of the school.”

He swallowed, “She betrayed us.”

I snorted, “She tried to get me away to protect me, just as she always did.”

He closed his eyes, “kill me Morpheus.”

I looked at the judge, “Do you know of any warrants or wants for a man named Domino?”

She shook her head and did something on her bracelet, “There isn’t anything, but if he…”

I held up my hand, “Did you kill the clerk?”

Domino shook his head, “You know I never took a life that wasn’t paid for.”

I smiled, “People change.”

I looked at the judge and then back at him, “Do you want out?”

He looked at me closely, “They would kill me.”

I shrugged, “They would try, just as they have tried killing me. You never liked killing. Give me the new schools location and I will get you out.”

He smiled, “What would I do? All I know is how to kill.”

I laughed, “Would you believe I even have the perfect job for you?”

Domino grinned, “Who do I kill?”

I shook my head, “How would someone kill this Judge? What would you do to prevent it?”

He looked at her and frowned, “Bodyguard?”

I waited and he smiled, “Protection Security, yeah I could do that.”

He looked at the Judge, “The people close to her are always targets and the easiest way in. Poison would be next, the food processor or a gas in the building vents. Bombs above or below if the assassin is an amateur. Her court AI system would also be a good way to get to her. The interface is easy to tamper with if done in one of the courtrooms.”

I was smiling as the judge stared open mouthed, “So? Do you want out?”

He looked at me for a minute, “They really tortured and killed Samantha?”

I nodded and he sighed, “Get someone to take notes.”

I looked at the judge and she nodded before turning to make a call. I carefully stripped him of weapons and then sat him in a chair as six marshals came in including Simon. A deputy took notes as Domino talked and when he stopped Simon nodded to me, “and what do you want done with him?”

I smiled as the judge stirred, “We don’t have him for any assassinations. The only thing we could charge him with is assault, illegal use of court ID and trespassing. We always have requests for protection, I think we should use him.”

Simon smiled and looked at the judge, “Olivia?”

She sighed, “As much as it pains me, I agree.”

Simon looked at Domino and glanced to me, “Let him go. I’ll take him upstairs to fill out some paperwork.”

I moved to stand in front of Domino, “If you betray my trust there will be nowhere to hide.”

He smiled, “For Samantha.”

I touched his neck with a tiny self injecting ampule and stepped back. He shuddered and turned to nod to Simon who led him out with a deputy. I glanced at the judge as she bent and picked Dragon up. I smiled as I collected all the weapons, “I need to go check a few things.”

She hugged Dragon, “Of course.”

I left and went down to the main level before heading into the inner bowels of the building. My badge opened all the doors until I was in the computer core. I sat at an access station and began running checks and putting safeguards in place. I was there for three weeks until Simon received word the contract had been removed.

The young female deputy was with me the whole time. Her name was Amanda Swift and I think Simon was playing match maker. There was a whole battalion of commandoes that surrounded the new Assassin school. I walked in alone with a weapon in each hand. When I came out it was with a dozen children, the assassins and masters were all dead.
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