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Friends in High Places - Part 4

The walls of the Municipal Jail in Oshkosh on Regina were painted in a standard institutional shade of light green. The light reflected from the walls gave all persons and physical objects in the jail a greenish tinge in appearance.

"There is no spoon." Said Dana Wolfsburg.

Nothing happened.

"There's no knives or forks either." Said the assistant gunner, who very obviously failed to get the flat-film reference.

The four members of the landing party were in the men's holding tank at the Municipal Jail. Even though her gender on the Imperial identification card was listed as female, Dana was stuck in the men's tank because the local police gene-scanner persisted in identifying her as a male human. This would merely be annoying if the four crew members from the Chauchat were alone in the men's holding tank.

Nursing a variety of non-lethal blunt-force injuries at the other end of the holding tank were the surviving male members of the local Orthodox Bargerite congregation. Three of them had been dumb enough to actually shoot at the Imperial Marines who were called in to deal with the armed altercation between the Bargerites and the crew of the Chauchat. The Marines promptly and permanently removed the three trigger happy Bargerites from the human gene pool.

The door of the men's holding tank opened. Four Marines in full battle dress and wielding stun-staffs walked in and formed a line between the Bargerites and the landing party. Following the Marines into the room was the Captain of the former Imperial Navy Ship Chauchat.

"Before you leave this joint," said Dennis Sterling to his crew, "I want all of you to know that I, really and truly, DO NOT enjoy asking for favors from Imperial officials."

Dennis paused for dramatic effect.

"Do all of you understand?"

They did. The assistant gunner spoke up.

"Are we taking your ex-wife with us?"

Dennis glared at the subordinate, before he could give voice to an answer to the damned question there came a noise from across the cell. One of the Bargerites stood up and voiced with obscene embellishment his claim to Helen, the former wife of the Captain. With clenched fists the thug attempted to charge at the Captain. Before the Marines could act, Dennis drew his pistol and placed an 11.4 mm round through the thug's forehead.

Captain Sterling glared at the remaining Bargerites.

"Anyone else want to try me?"

Doc continued to stare at the Tarot deck sitting on the floor before her.

What was the point of having a Tarot deck if she wasn't going to use it? The feeling of impending doom wasn't about to go away by itself. At least do a three card spread.

Doc picked up the deck and started to shuffle it.

Ditzie was waiting at the front desk of the local jail, she was sitting on a black ballistic cloth duffle bag. Standing next to her was a Vargr in a black trench coat with black sunglasses.

Dennis introduced the Vargr to the rest of his crew.

"This is Daevagh, he was a Lieutenant Commander in the Imperial Navy, and he will be our navigator on the coming voyage."

The other crew members were worried, what voyage?

Ditzie stood and spoke up.

"We're going to the Vargr Extents!"

Even though the Captain wasn't present, Doc decided to use his as the Querent, the person for whom the divination was being performed. A reasonable choice since the fate of all souls aboard the Chauchat was bound up to his.

The first card Doc drew was the Page of Swords, not much of a surprise there, the Captain was a former naval intelligence officer.

Dennis had other unfinished business to attend to, he stepped into the women's holding cell. Loosely bunched at one end of the cell were the female companions of the Orthodox Bargerites, they were either unconscious or too badly injured to move. Sitting on a bench at the other end of the cell was his former wife, Helen.

Dennis raised an eyebrow in a Spock-like manner, there was once a time when he would have wondered how Helen ended up with the Angels of Hell. He spoke to her.

"It appears Madame, that you were not subjected to a proper strip search."

Helen stood up and slowly walked over to him. In height she only came up to his nose.

"Do you want to do a proper strip search now?" She cooed.

"Madame," he answered, "if it were entirely up to me I would leave you here with your friends." He gestured to the pile of beat-up Barger-babes on the other side of the cell.

"But," he continued, "I've been directed by the Imperial authorities to remove you from this planet."

Helen's facial expression changed from sweet and seductive to a focused frown.

"So," Dennis concluded, "let us not make this situation any more unpleasant than it has to be."

The second card that Doc drew from the deck was The Fool, reversed. The card normally depicted a young man and his dog embarking on a journey of discovery. Reversed, the card meant that the journey would be fraught with hazards.

The police sergeant at the front desk was being difficult. He was refusing to return the weapons seized from the landing party. The pistols would have been easy enough to replace, but replacing the customized Advanced Combat Rifles would have taken time that Dennis and his crew could ill afford to waste.

"Sergeant," Dennis again pulled out and unfolded a sheet of official Imperial Stationary from his pocket, "what part of this warrant did you not understand?"

The desk sergeant originally seemed happy to see Captain Sterling walk in through the front door of the jail, until the Captain pulled out a Ducal Warrant and a squad of Marines.

"Do I have to read it to you again?"

Doc drew the third card from the deck.

It was The Tower.

"Oh, shit..."

The Lone Sniper woke up with the taste of mud and plastic in his mouth. He felt like he was immersed in warm water.

The last thing that he remembered was his falling from a radio and navigational light tower at a landing field on the planet Regina. Fortunately, he fell flat forward into the pool of muddy water adjacent to the concrete base of the tower. Unfortunately, the water at the point of impact was only fifteen centimeters deep.

The Lone Sniper opened his eyes. He was secured by straps and surgical tape in an Imperial standard regeneration tank in a hospital somewhere on Regina.

This wouldn't be so bad if he was unconscious.

Except of course for the fact that patients in the regen tank aren't supposed to be wide awake.

The Lone Sniper couldn't even scream this time.

Previous: Part 3 Next: Part 5