Equal Under the Law

Prompt: the esthetic of lostness

“So,” Keenan said, looking at Joram, Aidan and Thom, “that’s where things stand. We know that Lord Haffley killed Cass.”

“But he won’t say who else on either council is part of the splinter movement,” Aidan said, nodding. “It’s not like we can take all the republicans out of public office. They were duly elected, after all.”

“The same is true of the other members of the High Court,” Joram said, shaking his head. “Without any sort of proof showing that a person was involved, our hands are tied.”

Keenan nodded. “We’ll just have to be careful,” he said. “We’ll watch out for laws that might infringe on the rights of citizens who are from other ethnic backgrounds. We’ll keep an eye out for instances when they’re being unfairly excluded.”

“We caught the guy,” Thom said, sounding upset. “So, why does it seem like we’ve lost?”

“Because,” Keenan said, “the fight goes on.” He smiled faintly and said, “But that was just one battle. We haven’t won the war yet, but we’ve made a good start.”

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Unraveling

Prompt: where people go

“Lord Haffley,” Thom said, as the noble slipped into the church sanctuary. Why was it that people felt the need to go back to the scene of their crime? He stepped out of hiding at the same time that Aidan did.

“You’re under arrest,” Aidan said. “The charges are the attempted murder of Ezra Pemberton and the murder of Cassidy Reinsch.”

Haffley looked horrified. “You,” he breathed. “Why did they send you to take me in? I wanted Amon!”

Thom frowned and looked at Noreen. “What?” he said.

“Amon is ethnically Shynian,” Syusuke said. He shook his head and looked over at the noble. “You’ll just have to settle for these two, my lord. Really, it doesn’t matter. They’ll send you off to South Cape Prison, same as he would.”

That seemed to bring Haffley up short. “You’ve got no proof,” he said.

“On the contrary,” Thom said, “we have all the proof we need and a witness. Pemberton recognized your voice.” However, they might never have caught him, if he hadn’t returned to the scene of the crime.

Strange Ideas

Prompt: Off the beaten path I reign

“They called you?” Aidan said, his brows were furrowed. “They didn’t actually say they were going to kill you, though.”

“I was with the Underground for ten years, sir,” Ezra said, shaking his head. “That’s long enough to be able to read between the lines. The caller disguised their voice and said I should stay out of things that weren’t my concern. There was an implied threat.”

“Why threaten you?” Thom asked. “Why not someone who’s actually part of the investigation? They obviously aren’t worried about the Agency coming after them for threatening one of us.”

“They might not realize that I’m an agent,” Ezra said, shaking his head. “We are trying to keep that particular fact under wraps, after all.”

“That’s a little far a field, though,” Aidan said, frowning.

Ezra grinned. “Sir,” he said, “far a field is where I live – so many things I’m involved with outside the norm, I practically rule there.”

A Working Holiday

Prompt: home is where we are not

“So, the judges all headed home for the holiday,” Aidan said. He looked at the members of his team and then at Thom. “I’m sorry we couldn’t do the same, however, this matter must be decided with all haste.”

Thom nodded. “We all understand that,” he said, his voice soft. As much as he would have liked to be with his wife and son on this day, they had a murder to solve. “Have we learned anything of use?”

“The killer was waiting for Judge Reinsch,” Steve said. There was such certainty in his tone that both Thom and Aidan looked at him sharply.

However, Syusuke nodded. “He’s right,” he said, sounding perfectly sane. He looked at Thom with bright eyes. “Think about it for a moment: Judge Reinsch took the same trail through that park at the same time everyday. It’s very likely that the killer watched her and learned her routine. He struck when she would least expect it.”

“So,” Eric said, “that discounts the theory that she was the victim of a random attack.” His brows furrowed. “She was intentionally attacked – something made her a target. What?”

“That she was a member of the High Court?” Aidan asked. “Does that mean the other judges are in danger?”

Noreen shook her head. “Not necessarily,” she said. “All the other judges… she and Judge Norse were the only members of the original High Court left.”

“And then, there was one,” Syusuke said in a low, creepy voice. For a moment, the others simply stared at him. He blinked and shook his head. Returning to his normal tone, he said, “Sorry… um… right! One died of old age and the other two retired.”

“Why did they retire?” Kyle said, his brows furrowing slightly.

Thom frowned. “What’s that got to do with the case?” he asked, shaking his head.

Aidan looked thoughtful. “Maybe nothing, but we won’t know unless we check it out,” he said. He looked at Eric and said, “The press asked Ezra about why the High Court was… homogeneous. It didn’t used to be.”

“That… in an interesting thought,” Eric said. He nodded. “We’ll start working that angle – see where it takes us.”

“We’ll keep working the forensics,” Thom said, nodding. His brows furrowed and he said, “Is Ezra checking into the background?”

“Probably,” Aidan said, nodding. “I’ll make sure he knows it might be connected with Judge Reinsch’s murder.”

Going It Alone

Prompt: he who travels fastest goes alone

Mariah frowned slightly. Where were the others? It didn’t surprise her when Aidan was late. He was seldom punctual now that he and Shinichi were on separate teams. However, that left Steve and the others on the missing list.

Sighing explosively, she spun away and headed to the crime scene. The Ameria Forensics Team had already gone over the place. However, she needed to see the place for herself. She wasn’t looking at it as a forensics expert. She was looking at it as an Enforcer. If she wanted to take someone out and she wanted to do it there, what was the best way?

She had just rounded the corner of the path when she heard rustling in the bushes. Reacting without a thought, she grabbed the person she saw and threw him to the ground. It wasn’t until she had him subdued that she stopped and sighed in frustration. “Steve,” she growled.

“Hey, Mariah,” he breathed, releasing a nervous giggle. “I… wanted to see the crime scene. I figured I’d meet you all here.”

“Mariah,” Eric said, his voice soft. “Did you want to get off my… husband?”

Mariah growled and got up, yanking the smaller man to his feet. “You should have warned me that you’d be out here! I could have killed you!”

Steve sighed. Brushing himself off, he said, “Yeah, well, that’s probably why Aidan wanted us to meet up at the office.” He looked over at Eric and smiled, then looked back at Mariah. “I needed to see the place at the time the crime took place – see it how the victim did.”

“And I needed to see it how the killer did,” Mariah replied. She sighed and shook her head. “Let’s get to work.”

“I’ll call Aidan and tell him where we are,” Eric volunteered.

Regrets

Prompt: life is short and the world is wide

“You and Cassidy Reinsch were together on the morning of her death?” Aidan said, his voice soft. He was seated at a table in what they called a conference room, across from Eishi Sakamoto.

Eishi nodded. He sniffled softly and fussed with the soft cotton handkerchief that was twisted between his fingers.

Aidan sighed softly. “I know this is difficult, your honor,” he said, “but we’re trying to establish a timeline. The more we know about what led up to her death, the more likely we are to catch the person responsible.”

“I know,” Eishi said, his voice cracking. He shrugged and shook his head. “I just… we thought we had all this time and – and now she’s gone?”

“I’m afraid that’s… not uncommon, sir,” he said, his voice soft. He chewed his lip for a moment and then plowed ahead with the questions he needed answered. He felt horrible – like he was kicking a wounded puppy – but they needed as much information as possible. Somewhere in the great wide world, there lurked a killer and it was his job to find out who it was and why they’d targeted Judge Reinsch in the first place.

Watch her scream

Keenan’s brows furrowed as he watched the scene. He looked at Bertram. “Have you ever seen anything like this?” he asked over the noise.

Bertram shook his head. “Unbelievable,” he said, finally giving in and covering his ears.

Rory scowled and looked at the other two. “What got her started?” he asked. His question earned a growl from the woman in question. It also got him a vase thrown at him.

“What the…” Trenton breathed, as he entered. His brows drew together over his eyes and he waved at the woman. “Did you say something that finally pushed her over the edge, Keenan?”

“I didn’t mean to,” Keenan said, as the Royal Voice continued to rage.

There’s a bathroom on the right

“I need to wash my face,” Nicco said.

Nodding, Rory said, “Kitchen’s through there.” He pointed through an open doorway. When Nicco frown and blinked at him, he tilted his head to one side.

Keenan made a sound like something crashing and said, “The language barrier just fell between you.” He looked at Nicco and pointed down a side corridor. “Down there and to the right,” he added.

The elf nodded and spun away, mumbling to himself.

Rory blinked at Keenan. “He has to wash his face in… the lavatory?”

“Elvish euphemisms can me very confusing,” Keenan said, nodding. “They ‘wash their face’ the way some women might ‘powder their nose’.”

Bertram chuckled softly and said, “He’s in there wondering why on earth you’d do that in the kitchen.”

“Yeah,” Rory said, finally understanding the reason for the confusion. “Yeah, no,” he said. he rubbed his brow and sighed. “If he’d said he needed to wash his hands…”

“Yeah, but that’s a Shynian euphemism,” Keenan pointed out.

My angel is a xenophobe

Keenan came into the room, smiling. “Here he is,” he said, showing his youngest child to the gathered group of team leaders. The moment Ian saw them, he began crying.

Bertram stifled a laugh. “Is he shy?” he said.

Sighing, Keenan nodded. “Looks like.” He turned Ian around. “Hey, Angel,” he said. “Did seeing all those strange people scare you?”

Ian hiccupped and nodded. The others couldn’t help but laugh. Keenan only shook his head and hugged his son.

I’m a bee, I’m a guy, I’m a bee, I’m a guy

Keenan was trying to focus on his paperwork, for a change. He would have thought that Bertram would have chased the others out of the room. After all, didn’t the man always say he needed to get his paperwork done in a timely manner.

“What is that humming?” Trenton said, his brows furrowing. He rubbed his ear and looked at Bertram and Rory. “Can you hear it?”

“It… sounds like a bee,” Rory said. His eyes widened and he looked over at Keenan. “But, it would have to be huge to make a hum like that!”

“It’s not a bee,” Keenan snapped, turning back to his work. “It’s Brook.”

“A man is humming like that?” Bertram said, sounding confused. “How?”

Keenan sighed and set his pen aside. “With his wings, Bertram,” he said. His voice was soft. Anyone who knew him should have known he was nearing the end of his patience.

“So… is he a bee or a guy?” Trenton asked, his brows furrowing together as he tried to figure out the seeming puzzle. “I mean, if he’s got buzzy wings…”

“He’s a sprite!” Keenan pushed away from his desk and stood. Hefting the fireplace poker, he waved it at them. “Get out and let me work.” They retreated to the sitting room and Keenan dropped back down into his chair.

After a moment, he said, “You can stay, Brook.” The low humming resumed and Keenan sighed in pleasure as he turned back to his work.

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