Suspect in hand
Braz and Tess have a run in
Braz watched Esa studying the body, feeling personally useless.
"Got a witness, m'lord," Taff intruded, grinning, and led him over to where an officer was listening to a burly man giving the officer an earful and waving his arms around.
"An off worlder, I tell you! A damn Vrellish stationer. No respect for her betters! I told her, I'm Fractional. You upspeak me! Vrellish or not! A Sev's a Sev! I've got Sev blood."
"A stationer?" Braz said, surprised. "From Red Reach?"
"Yes, m'lord!" the man who claimed Fractional status said, bobbing a nod in Braz's direction but primarily expressing his deference through his grammar. "Ignorant as they come. 'What's a Fractional?' she asks me. So I tell her. And she says, 'Hah, for all I know I've more Sevolite in me than you do!' She couldn't prove it, of course! Said her kind didn't bother about genotyping. Wasn't even wearing any braid a person could recognize. Just a symbol of her station or some such triffle."
Braz raised a palm to stem the flow of words. "A rude woman," he concluded. "Was she a murderer?"
"I saw her talking with that one," he said, jerking his head in the direction of the body. "I think they were both of them stationers. Jabbering away in a dialect I barely understood. But it got heated. The older one left my place -- I manage the Sojourner, there -- " he pointed to a pub bathed in the light of a street lamp. "The younger one went after her. I followed. By the time I found them the young one was standing over the dead one, a rod in her hand. Not a sword, mind you! A rod. Like a palace errant." He snorted. "She's no throne vassal. She's a Vrellish thug! She should be clubbed to death for packing a rod UnderGelion!"
"Still mad I peer-spoke you, merchant," a bold voice announced the arrival of a brash young woman dressed in canvas-beige overalls and packing a power rod at her hip. Not a sword.
Braz whirled around to confront her as the bar tender cried, "It's her! That's her!"
"Did you kill the woman over there?" Braz asked, bluntly.
"Self-defense!" the woman shot back. "I'm Jess, of the Jatforce on Station Bartrop. Here on business. That woman was my best lead. I didn't want her dead, to be sure!"
"You admit it!" Braz exclaimed. He'd always heard the Vrellish were bold and frank. But this seemed too good to be true. "And you are carrying a power sidearm. You used it on your victim, too, I judge."
"I'm within my rights," she said. "I'm Jatforce. And it's not a projectile weapon. Or a sword. It's legal on Bartrop."
"Not here!" the bartender shouted, shouldering his way forward.
"Keep him away form me!" Jess demanded. "He thinks he's better than me because he's got a few percentages of Sevolite blood. Like every stationer on Bartrop doesn't! He's nuts!" "You are under arrest!" Braz told her.
"What!" she exclaimed, clearly shocked. "I thought the Monatese were Vrellish! That's why I came over. To get your help!"
"Arrest her!" Braz ordered his followers.
The woman drew her rod and snapped it on. An electric crackle gave them pause.
Seeing the weapon raised against him made Braz angry.
"Lower your rod," Braz warned, his hand reaching, instinctively, for the hilt of his dueling sword. "Whether you are fractional or not, I am a nobleborn. You couldn't settle this by Sword Law if you had one. And you have no right to carry a control rod UnderGelion."
The woman also looked angry. She powered down and lowered her control rod, but she looked game keep arguing until Taff pushed forward and declared, "Let's go to the Justice Ministry and have it out there!" He turned to Braz. "She won't escape us, m'lord, but why get into it, here, if she'll come along on her own." Next he turned to the stationer, addressing her as if she were a Fractional, as she seemed to have claimed. "And you'll have better access to diplomacy from there, if there's diplomacy to be had."
Silence greeted the proposal.
Braz was measuring the length of her control rod verses the length of his dueling sword, and planning to go for wounding her in the arm if there was trouble, when Jesse relaxed and said. "Ok. Let's go."
This scene is part of a larger project being developed on the blog, with working title Death in the Underdocks.