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Introduction:

Death of a prisoner
I looked up as the commander walked out of his office. Amanda shifted to follow my look, “something up?”

The commander headed towards us and I nodded, “I think we just got picked for something.”

He stopped in front of my desk and tossed a data stick, “grab your things. A prisoner died in custody on Gable. They need a officer to head the investigation.”

I glanced at Amanda, “our custody or the constables?”

He turned away, “the constables.”

I stood and Dragon leaped from her perch while Cynthia flew to Amanda. We went up to our quarters to grab a ready bag and then headed to dispersing. Marshal Taylor was at dispersing cursing and glanced at me, “the dispersing comp went off line.”

I shook my head, “they need to replace it. It hasn’t worked right since it was hacked.”

I turned to the wall monitor and pulled up ships leaving the system. Amanda touched the screen, “this liner.”

I nodded and glanced at Taylor talking on his comm before turning to leave, “I’ll get the tickets at the port.”

Amanda glanced at me as we walked to the lift, “out of your own pocket?”

I shrugged as I hit the ground floor button, “I’ll put in for reimbursement.”

She kept looking as we walked out and across the lobby and I sighed, “its money from the school. I haven’t been using it but since I found out Samantha is alive...”

Amanda nodded, “I understand.”

She grinned, “so when are we taking a vacation so I can meet her?”

I smiled, “you just want to lay out on the beach and get a tan. I saw you peeking at the holo vid she sent.”

She laughed as she walked around to get in our vehicle, “true.”

I sat back as Dragon climbed down into my lap and Cynthia joined her. I caressed both as we lifted and headed towards the starport. We left the vehicle in the secure parking area and walked in. I headed to the kiosk and shook my head at the out of order sign before starting for a counter with a long line of people.

I stopped to one side, “I need two tickets on the liner going to Gable.”

The woman barely glanced up, “get in line.”

I set my badge on the scan plate and her terminal froze. She looked at me with wide eyes and I smiled, “I need two tickets on the liner to Gable, now.”

She nodded as the man she had been helping shifted away. I lifted my badge and her terminal came alive. She looked something up and frowned before looking at me, “all they have is a first class suite.”

I pushed my comp towards her and she used a comp remote and blinked before printing the tickets. I accepted them and she blushed, “do marshals really make that much?”

I glanced at her before turning, “no.”

I handed Amanda the tickets as we started walking towards the gates. She didn’t say anything until I heard her stomach growl. I shook my head and turned in at one of the food lounges, “we have time and I better feed you before Cynthia bites me.”

Amanda grinned as she dropped her bag on a stool and sat on another, “that was when she was just a baby.”

I sat beside her and let Dragon jump to the bag as I ordered. I glanced at Amanda as we ate, “it won’t be long before I am reassigned.”

She looked at me, “because Michaels got promoted to lieutenant?”

I nodded, “you’re a sergeant and need to be partnered with a deputy.”

She sighed and nodded before going back to eating. She grinned and looked at me after we were done and leaving, “we could file for spousal assignment.”

I looked at her and smiled, “you would still have to have another partner.”

She nodded and was silent all the way to the gate where we gave our tickets to an attendant who directed us to a comfortable lounge and told us it would be another couple of hours. Amanda sat and held Cynthia on her lap before looking at me, “but we would still be together when I wasn’t on assignment.”

I caressed Dragon as she played with my fingers, “you are more trouble than you are worth.”

Amanda grinned, “I know.”

I nodded, “I’ll file the request when we return.”

I looked at her, “but when we take vacation and go see my sister you get to tell her.”

She laughed and bumped my shoulder before relaxing. First class in a liner is luxury with crew asking if they could help every time they saw us. Gable is a lovely planet with rolling green hills and shallow blue oceans. We walked out of the port and took the slide walk towards the parking area.

Dragon and Cynthia both leaped into the air to fly as soon as we were outside. After checking our vehicle they flew down and through the door Amanda held for them. I sat back, “the central constable detention building.”

She nodded as she sat in the driver’s seat and lifted the vehicle. It wasn’t long before we dropped into traffic and I frowned at the newies in front of the building. We grabbed our bags when we got out and Dragon clung to my shoulder. I started for the main doors and one of several constables moved to intercept us.

I showed him my badge and nodded to the newies, “move them.”

He looked back, “they refuse to leave.”

I stopped and turned to walk towards the crowd of newies. They shifted as if they realized I was someone. I stopped and looked back and forth, “move these vehicles out of the restricted zone and break this up.”

One went to shove something towards me and I shifted to the side as I pulled my pistol. They backed up quickly and I put my weapon away, “move the vehicles and break this up. There is a media room for you to wait in.”

I turned and took a step when one shouted, “who do you work for!”

I sighed and stopped before turning, “I am a marshal and work for the emperor and here on his orders. Now break this up and go to the media room before I have your companies fined and your license revoked.”

I turned again and joined Amanda by the door. She grinned and touched the alarm plate as we walked in, “want to bet they blow that up and change what you said?”

I smiled as we crossed to the main desk, “that would be a serious mistake.”

I nodded to the desk sergeant, “we need to speak with the constable in charge ,the detention center commander and the on duty doctor that pronounced Ser Davis.”

He looked at us and smiled, “marshals?”

I nodded and he turned to use a comm. I looked back and didn’t see the newies moving and sighed, “also have the riot squad detain those newies. Have the vehicles removed and destroyed and schedule an appointment with a system judge.”

He looked at me and then out the door before grinning, “Yes sir!”

He barked orders to the other constables in the lobby and they headed towards the door. Amanda grinned and we turned as an officer in plain constable uniform walked out of a lift. He crossed to us and nodded, “marshals?”

I looked him over and gestured to Amanda, “this is deputy sergeant Swift and I am deputy lieutenant Morpheus.”

He blinked and then turned to the lift, “everyone is waiting.”

When we walked into the large conference room two men stood. One I knew was the doctor and from the suit the other was the detention center commander. I looked at the constable as he walked around to join them and smiled, “I like the uniform constable commander.”

He smiled and gestured to the seats. I set my bag in an empty seat and sat while Amanda walked around and touched a device to the window, “laser bugged.”

I shook my head, “scrambled it but I want the ID.”

She nodded and I looked at the constable, “start with Ser Davis’s arrest. What was he charged with?”

I went through each detail, all the way to his death and the cause which was death by strangulation. I sighed, “what did the detention vids show?”

The detention center commander shifted uncomfortably, “they were hacked.”

I looked at the constable commander, “did you have a comp tech examine it and did he identify the hacker?”

He nodded, “but we haven’t found him.”

I gestured to Amanda who had been watching, “give her the name.”

I looked at the detention center commander again, “I want to speak with every guard, the monitoring tech and janitor that was logged in.”

He nodded and I stood, “get them here as soon as you can and put them in court nine.”

They looked at me and I sighed, “it is an empty arraignment court with a truth scan pillar correct?”

They nodded and I looked at Amanda, “go find the hacker and use whatever you need.”

She smiled as she turned and headed towards the door, “the company that was bugging the room was solar news inc.”

I looked at the constable, “constable commander please brief the media in the media room.”

He nodded as he stood and I followed Amanda out but when I walked out on the main floor the desk sergeant waved to a courtroom, “the judge is waiting in courtroom four.”

I nodded and changed direction and walked into the court filled with newies. I went straight to the pillar and placed my badge on it. The judge glanced at my file, “deputy.”

I looked at the newies, “these reporters ignored a legal order to disperse and move vehicles out of a restricted zone. They were informed that I was here under orders from the emperor. They were informed twice to go to the media room to be briefed and ignored it. Pursuant to Imperial law and under reporting of news and reporter conduct that these reporter have violated. I am asking the court to revoke their license and fine their companies one hundred thousand credits.”

The judge frowned as she pulled up another holo and finally nodded, “so ordered.”

The newies shouted and yelled before a chem mist covered them and they shut up. I smiled and looked at the judge, “in addition Solar News Inc attempted to bug my briefing with the constable commander, the detention center commander and the pronouncing doctor in an active murder case. Their laser tag was identified by deputy sergeant marshal Amanda Swift.”

The judge growled, “I fine Solar New Inc one million credits for the use of an illegal listening device and put them on notice.”

I nodded and turned to the door before walking out. I crossed to the desk sergeant, “I will be in court room nine. When I send anyone out they are cleared to return to full duty.”

He grinned, “that is quick.”

I nodded, “the longer this lingers the more it will stink.”

I walked down to the courtroom and glanced at the doorplate. I placed my badge on the plate, “authorize all entry but restrict exit unless I or another marshal authorize it.”

The plate beeped and I opened the door and walked in and down to the pillar. I put my badge on the pillar and a haze appeared where the judge would normally be, “star comm open access to the Imperial Judge office.”

“Copy Deputy.”

A moment later a young woman appeared, “how may I assist you marshal?”

I smiled, “I am investigating the death of a prisoner. I wish to record testimony using the court truth scanner.”

She nodded and looked to one side, “one moment.”

She spoke again but I didn’t hear anything. She finally nodded and looked at me, “Judge Milton has granted your request.”

The holo vanished and I turned to wait. Dragon grumbled and I smiled, “Amanda has your daughter, she does not need you mothering her.”

Men began coming in and I pointed to seats before gesturing one forward. I nodded to the pillar, “put your hand on the pillar.”

He frowned but did as I told him. The questions were simple, “did you kill Ser Davis? Do you know who did? Tell me what you were doing at his time of death.”

I cleared all the guards before Amanda shoved a man through the door. I turned to look at the others and gestured to a janitor. He stood, “I want a mediator.”

I smiled, “let the others go Amanda we have the killer.”

The man paled and looked around for a way out. Dragon leaped into the air to fly towards him as Amanda turned to authorize the others leaving. He suddenly rushed towards her and Dragon struck, landing between his shoulders and bitting. He stiffened as he fell and I moved towards him and waited until everyone was out except Amanda, the hacker and me.

I knelt and used a popper to bring the man out of stasis before pulling him up and after me to the pillar. I slammed his hand on the pillar, “when you killed the prisoner in custody you lost the right to a mediator.”

I held his hand in place as he glared, “I won’t answer.”

I smiled, “court recorder, this is a hostile witness.”

“Agreed.”

He stiffened and his eyes widened, “you are recording this?”

I looked at the white faced hacker, “killing a prisoner in custody is serious. Now did you murder Ser Davis?”

The janitor struggled not to speak as his body was surrounded by the blue glow of the pillar, “yes!”

I looked at him, “was it personal or were you paid?”

He glared, “paid.”

I nodded, “who paid you?”

He looked around, “he will kill me.”

I waited and he shuddered as the glow brightened, “Paul Hunter Steele, the candidate for the imperial seat!”

I looked at him, “Why?”

He glared, “Ser Davis knew the corps owned him.”

I thought and looked at the empty judges bench, “were you paid in person? How do you know Steele was the one to pay you?”

He shuddered before blurting, “it was in person in his fancy office.”

I let his hand go before turning him and securing his hands. I pushed him towards Amanda, “he goes with us.”

She nodded as she shoved the hacker to me, “Mr Edelson.”

I turned him and removed the restraints she had used. He looked at me smugly, “the pillar won’t work on me.”

I smiled, “let me guess you hacked the courtroom data net.”

I set his hand on the pillar, “I have news for you. When a courtroom is empty the normal comlink is shut down and inaccessible.”

I looked at him, “did you hack the detention center and shut down the vids?”

He gritted his teeth as the glow surrounded him and then snarled, “yes!”

I nodded, “who paid you?”

He glanced back at the other man, “he did.”

I glanced at the empty bench, “let the record show he has indicated the murderer of Ser Davis.”

I pulled his hand off the pillar and twisted it behind him, “you are under arrest for comp hacking of a imperial data net and conspiring in the death of Ser Davis.”

I pulled him after me and placed my badge at the door plate, “place this court room back inactive and lock the recordings under Marshal security.”

I followed Amanda as she left with Cynthia on her prisoner’s shoulder. Dragon caressed my cheek as I went around Amanda and led her out and to our vehicle. The newies were gone as we put the two men in and I sat while she went around to drive. She landed on the roof of the marshal building.

I led the way as she pushed the two men with Dragon and Cynthia on their shoulders. I frowned at the empty feel, there should have been several marshals here. I stripped each man and shoved him into a separate cells before looking at Amanda. I headed for the lift and went down to the marshal offices.

The desks were clear and it to had an empty feel. I sat and brought a comp online, “list the marshals on station or on mission.”

“All marshals have been reassigned.”

I looked at Amanda and she shook her head. I turned and made a star comm and waited until a dark holo appeared, “I am busy Morpheus.”

I smiled, “My apologies commissioner. The man that killed Ser Davis while in custody has named a man that is a candidate for the imperial seat as the one to pay him.”

The holo cleared and I saw commissioner Drake with several men, “which one and do you think he was telling the truth?”

I shrugged, “his name is Paul Hunter Steele and the man was under truth scan in court.”

He turned to look at the others before shaking his head and looking at me, “take him and formally charge him.”

He hesitated, “and after you have him in custody tell the damn press so they will stop thinking we are covering something up.”

I smiled, “I will schedule the media room as soon as we have him.”

The holo shut off and I stood, “want to bet we end up here?”

Amanda grinned, “no.”

I set the auto defenses and headed towards the roof, “lets try the government center.”

We set down in front and I got out and waited before starting for the door with Amanda at my side. I touched my badge to the door plate and nodded to the two commandoes before heading across the large lobby. I stopped at the large building comp board and input Paul Hunter Steele in the locator box.

The comp screen blinked and then displayed a floor plan to a office with the floor number flashing. We used the lift and Amanda began humming and I smiled as Dragon and Cynthia started to join her. As we walked out of the lift and headed down a hall two commandoes were escorting a man towards us.

I smiled, “isn’t it our lucky day.”

Amanda chuckled as I gestured to the commandoes and showed them my badge, “step away soldiers.”

They stopped and looked at us as I looked at Steele, “Paul Hunter Steele, you are under arrest for the murder of Ser Davis while he was in custody.”

He looked around and pushed one of the commandoes, “protect me!”

I glanced at the solders, “move or go to prison.”

Those were magic words, they turned and stepped to the side as Amanda stalked after Steele while he backed up, “you can’t I’m going to be...”

He screamed as Cynthia landed on his shoulder and hissed. Amanda turned him and slammed him into the wall as she secured his hands behind his back. I waited until she finished a search and nodded to the commandoes, “thank you for your assistance. Contact your commander to notify him Steele will no longer need a imperial council protective detail.”

I led the way back to the lift as Steele whined and complained that we couldn’t do this. Everyone in the lobby turned to watch as we crossed to the front doors and left. Again we landed on the roof pad of the marshals building and went down to strip our prisoner and shove him into an empty cell.

Amanda grinned as she pet Cynthia and headed towards the lounge area, “you get to brief the media.”
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