[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 10
“Sheriff Justice, this is Counselor Pitrine from Galactic Central Point Central Office. We will convene in two days to discuss your request to continue pursuit beyond your system’s sphere of influence.”
“Two days! Two days. Are you serious? I can’t sit here and wait two days while the criminal flees. Do you realize how far away he’ll be in two days?”
“Sheriff Justice, this is not our problem. If you had apprehended the suspect prior to his leaving your system or planned for this contingency then perhaps…”
B.T. Justice cut him off. “How do you plan for someone to come in and take a load of tonindrium?”
“Again, that is not our problem. Your system is the provider of this product and it is your own local law that prevents people from taking without proper approval. Inter-galactic laws do not prevent independent shipments from being transferred.”
“They should!” The sheriff nearly bit through his cigar as he ground his teeth.
“You can forward the name of the individual and the name of the suspect’s ship to GCP Central Office. We will review the person’s record and add his name to your system’s wanted list. That’s the best I can do right now. As for your request to continu pursuit beyond your own system’s boundaries, that will have to wait for two days.”
Justice slammed his meaty fist down on the console controls and the visual display turned off. “Junior!”
“Yes, daddy sir?”
“I swear I’m going to pound you the next time you call me that.”
“Junior, I need a hamburger.”
“I’ll get right on that.”
This was intolerable. Twice now he had the SS Acid Rat within his grasp and twice they had escaped. Sensors had indicated that it stopped about four light years out and made a course change as well as a serial number change. Not only had the crew broken the law by taking an unauthorized shipment of tonindrium off the planet, the ship’s computer had now broken the law by changing the ship’s serial number. Aiding and abetting. He wanted to be there personally when they wiped that computer’s memory banks.
The crew was silent. His outburst must have been overheard, not that it was much of a concern. His crew needed to be on their toes and they were always on their toes when his dander was up.
“What’s their latest course?”
A junior office turned in his chair. “Sir, they are currently headed toward Galactic Central Point. I think they’re heading for the capital.”
“You think?” B.T. Justice clasped his hands behind his back. “Did I tell you to think, boy?”
“If I wanted you to think I would have told you to think. Perhaps you think you can take this hat off my head and do my job.” The Sheriff cocked the hat back on his head and leaned down to look the younger office in the eye.
“Sir, no sir.”
“I’m the one that does the thinking here. Is that clear?”
“This is my ship and if anyone is going to do any thinking on this it’ll be me. If I want your opinion I’ll give it to you.”
Junior ran up holding a plate with a hamburger on it. “Here’s your hamburger, dad…sir.”
“It’s a hamburger.”
“Junior, come here.”
B.T Justice dragged Justice Junior across the bridge by the ear. Pulling the young man’s head close, he asked through clenched teeth, “Did I say I was hungry?”
“Did I say bring me something to eat?”
“You said to bring you a hamburger.”
“If I wanted something to eat, I would have said bring me something to eat. Since when have I ever said I wanted a hamburger.”
“Son, when I say bring me a hamburger, I mean bring me a drink. Preferably as strong as possible.”
“Why would you say you want a hamburger?”
“Do you think I want the entire crew to know that I want a drink? Do you think I want them to see me as having a moment of weakness? Do you think I’d ask for a drink in front of the crew?”
“You just told us all not to think.”
“Boy if your momma wasn’t dead I’d clobber you. It’s my own fault you grew up so stupid. Now go get me a hamburger.”
Junior looked down at the plate with the hamburger and his eyes widened.
Why couldn’t he have brought that drink the first time? Now I’m going to need something for this headache.
“Sir, we’re still in the Kuiper belt. Did GCP Central Office give you permission to continue pursuit?”
They hadn’t had they. But they didn’t say specifically that he had to stay put. Not in those specific terms. And if he got out there now and was able to capture the criminals then he could return them to his system before actually pronouncing them under arrest. No one had to know. It could work. It had to work. He couldn’t go back to the planet embarrassed for having the largest shipment of tonindrium leave the planet on an unauthorized vessel.
“Follow their course.”
“Did I tell you to think about it or to punch in their last know coordinates and follow them?”
“Yes sir. Setting controls now.”
“Here’s you hamburger.” Junior said hamburger in a coughing sound as he handed the drink to Sheriff Justice. He took the drink and downed it in one swallow and handed the glass back to Junior.
“I need another. This one’s empty. And hurry, we’re about to make the jump to hyperspace.”
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