[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 19
The lights were dimmed and the music was soft. A bath was just what B.T. Justice needed and he was the only one on the ship allowed to take one. It was all just a matter of time before the SS Acid Rat and its captain arrived. He would have them trapped in a tractor beam before they knew what hit them. It was such a perfect set up.
“Sheriff Justice, sir,” a voice on the con interrupted.
Perfect timing, wasn’t it. He hadn’t even been able to light the cigar he’d been chewing. What was it with this crew? Couldn’t they understand an order not to be disturbed.
“What is it? This had better be important. I left orders not to be disturbed.”
“Sir, it’s important. Should I put the message on the viewer?”
“Message? Message from whom?”
“Sir, it’s GCP Central Office. They have been trying to reach you. I told them you were indisposed. I don’t think they’re too happy.”
“Didn’t you tell them we were silent running?”
“I think you should listen to the message, sir.”
“Put it through.”
A panel on the wall slide aside and a viewer sprung to life with color before Counselor Pitrine appeared on the screen. Justice had never seen the man before and was disappointed to see that he looked as much the weasel he’d suspected he would. He even held his hands up to his chest while his twitchy nose wiggled with every syllable.
“Sheriff Justice, we have been attempting to contact you for several hours now. Your crew keeps telling us you are not available and that you are running a silent patrol around your system. We need to inform you that your request was discussed because of the charges you made against the SS Acid Rat. It appears that this ship has been tracked before and is wanted in over forty systems for an abundance of crimes. You are therefore relieved of any pressure to pursue the ship. The council will convene again tomorrow and we will take steps to apprehend the ship and its crew. You are to take no action-.”
Did he just say take no action. Justice leapt out of the bathtub.
“No action! No action! I’m not letting them get away and get lost in your system.”
“…and we would appreciate your staying out of the way so the Galactic Patrol can apprehend them. If you have any other information regarding the ship and its crew, you are ordered to forward it immediately to the GCP Central Office for processing.”
“I’ll do nothing of the sort! You’ll let them get away. They’re mine and I’ll deal with them in my own way. I can’t believe this.” Sheriff Justice grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his waist. With water still dripping off his body, he opened the door to his room and shouted. “Junior! Hamburger! And get the GCP Central Office on the con.”
He pulled the cigar from his mouth and threw it on the ground. It felt good to smash it with his heel. How dare they usurp his authority? Well, maybe it wasn’t usurping, but they were not letting him finish what he’d started. They were preventing him from bringing down this scumbag.
Where was Junior?
B.T. Justice stomped back and forth across the room. He thought about putting on clothes and toyed with the idea once or twice. He’d left soapy foot prints on the carpet and it was probably a good idea to wear clothes when speaking with that weasel Pitrine. Oh did he have words for that one.
“Where should I put this?” Junior asked as he entered the room. Justice had just dropped his towel.
“Get in here and close the door. Put that on the table. Did you get them on the con?”
“Yes, sir. They’re on hold now. You should put something on. I don’t think they’ll want to talk to you in your all together.”
“Don’t talk like an idiot, Junior. I’m getting dressed in my evening robes. I was supposed to be sleeping after all.”
The robes were blue and gold just like his ship. It made him proud to wear the colors. He just had to make Pitrine see and feel that pride so there would be no doubt that he was the man to take up the chase.
“Put it through.”
The screen turned on. Pitrine looked sleepy.
“Sheriff Justice, can I help you? It’s quite late here?”
“It’s early here. I just heard your message. I must disagree most strenuously. I feel I am the perfect man to take up this chase.”
“What is this regarding again?”
Imbecile. “It’s about allowing me to pursue the SS Acid Rat out of my solar system. I’ve found their home port and would like to …”
“Absolutely not. Should you get in the way, you could cause more trouble and the suspect could escape.”
“But if we hid in their home port system, we could…”
“No. That’s not the way we do things. This is why you were not allowed to continue pursuit. We have a system in place and it works quite well.”
“So well that they’re wanted on over forty systems.”
“Yours is not a position to dispute the way in which the Galactic Patrol does business. Yours is to hand over any information you feel would be pertinent to capturing them, alive. Should you not do so, you will be in violation of agenda…”
Pitrine kept talking, but none of it was what Justice wanted to hear. He’d been denied. Halted in his tracks before the chase really began. Even if he were to capture them, he’d have to turn them over to the Galactic Patrol. He’d lost. He’d lost the first chase in his new ship.
But wait. Had he really lost? They didn’t know he was outside his system and if the SS Acid Rat came through his system…
“What if they come through my system again? They’re now wanted there. Could I apprehend them there?”
Counselor Pitrine looked confused as his speech was cut off. “Of course you could. We can do nothing if they are caught breaking a law in your system. As long as you understand that when they are done serving the term in your system’s prisons they must be released to the Galactic Patrol to answer to crimes committed in other systems.”
“Most assuredly. I will maintain my vigil and notify the GCP Central Office of anything I discover.”
Pitrine narrowed his eyes. Justice switched the viewer off, dropped his robe to the floor, and strode back to the bathtub.
“Junior, bring me my drink and a fresh cigar. And let me know the moment the SS Acid Rat or any other ship for that matter, enters this system.”
He was going to have his prize. He was going to go home with the SS Acid Rat in his custody or not at all. They were his. Oh yes they were.
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