A Bouquet of Pinks

Prompt: brush the summer by

They had a festival for each season. In winter, they celebrated the birth of the Savior. In spring, they celebrated his resurrection. In the autumn, they celebrated the bountiful world that God had given them.

Each of those festivals meant that the young people were given gifts of some sort. In the winter, they got toys to play with. In the spring, they got sweets to enjoy. In the autumn, they got pretty, new clothing.

The summer festival was different. It was more solemn. They remembered the loved ones who’d died. They laid flowers on their graves and said prayers. It wasn’t a fun holiday. It was a sad one. Morgan didn’t like the summer festival. She wished it would come and go quickly each year.

“Morgan,” a soft voice said.

She glanced over her shoulder at her older brother. Sighing, she gathered the flowers that she’d tied together with ribbon. “Let’s go then,” she said, hurrying past him. “We want to get there and back before it gets dark.”

Aidan nodded. “Pinks,” he said, falling into step beside her. “They were Mom’s favorites.”

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.”

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.”

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.

gloomy anthropoid apes

“Geez,” Keenan said, as he stepped into the room. Everyone looked as if they’d just been told they were in for a month of rain showers. “Why’s everyone looking so depressed?” he asked.

“Director told us he wants to make some changes,” Bertram said. Grimacing, he added, “Again.” He shook his head and heaved a sigh.

“We are quite dreading what those changes will be,” Chrislyn said. He lifted one shoulder slightly. “His decisions have, so far, worked out quite well. However, they have been large adjustments that required flexibility on our parts.”

“No one likes change,” Keenan said, dropping onto a stool. Then he smiled and waved at the bartender. “No sense fretting and worrying over it. Let’s get our drink on and relax. His changes can’t go into effect until Monday, anyway.”

“It’s Sunday, Keenan,” Aidan said, smirking.

“Yeah?” Keenan said, blinking. Aidan nodded and Keenan laughed. “Thought today was Saturday.”

What brought us to this

Bertram grimaced as he watched Aidan try to calm Shinichi down. This latest shuffling of the teams had been almost entirely the director’s idea. Some of the shifting had occurred with one goal in mind: breaking couples apart.

“Coming to the Beta team is meant to be a promotion,” he said, his voice soft.

Shinichi hiccupped and rubbed his eyes. “I did not ask for a promotion! I did not want a promotion,” he said. He looked at Aidan and shook his head. “I wanted to be with you!”

Aidan sighed and looked into his eyes. “Now,” he said, “you can. We don’t have to hide our feelings anymore. This is a good thing.”

Sniffling, Shinichi said, “Then why does it feel like we’re being punished?”

“Because,” Keenan grumbled, rolling his eyes. “The director’s a twit.” A broad smirk split his features and he added, “I can say that now, because now I’m his boss!”