The New Boss
Keiq fought her facial muscles to avoid frowning at the Head of Internal Security.
Which is a poor name for the group that investigates internal issues. Security leaks, sure, but 90% of what I deal with is corruption and abuse of power charges.
Senior Investigator Alli Neartuone Tamatave Madagascar, formerly with the Criminal Investigation Subdirectorate, had been appointed head of the IS division last year, by Subdirector Ydle, himself a new appointee, said to be a crony of President Afgu.
And Director Ajki, back in control again, was trying to give these people a fair chance to prove that they are competent.
"Senior Analyst Icka Withione Tall Trees is no longer with IR. He's none of our business, anymore." She was pretty sure she'd kept her voice calm and reasonable.
"He saved a known traitor of the Empire. You know damn well he couldn't have walked out of that battle inside Government House unless he was one of them. And you will prove it."
Ah. I see. Trying to prove his own loyalty by pulling down other people. And no doubt thinking the larger the better. Or is it the other way around? Could he actually think Ice is a small target, easily brought down?
"If he is guilty. I will not set up a Warrior of the One."
A snort of disbelief. "A Native! I don't care what he claims, that Native is not a Warrior."
Oh. Prejudiced. That makes it awkward.
"He doesn't appear to have much Tree in his genetics. If you have seen my report from two years ago when he was investigated, he's a 216 with the priest gene. There was some speculation that he'd been handed off to some Tree to keep him from being taken by the One." Keiq shrugged. "I believe he was just lucky in his genetics, but in any case, he trains regularly with the Black Horse Guard and . . ." Keiq stopped when he slapped his hand on the table.
"And nothing! You. Will. Take. Him. Down."
"I will investigate him honestly and thoroughly. Again." You asshole. And if you tell me to manufacture evidence . . .
Keiq stalked out and headed down the aisle to her own office.
Not quite bad enough for me to send a complaint upwards . . . where Ydle would no doubt kill it. And going over the subdirector's head and straight to Ajki would be . . . undiplomatic.
Keiq threw herself into her chair and spun it around to scowl out the window. I hate politics, and office politics are even more. But . . . I guess I'll just investigate Ice all over, again.
She started grinning. "So it's not all bad."
She spun back to her desk and dug up her old file on Ice. It'll be interesting to see how it reads, now that I know so much more about him.
Enough to ask some different questions, this round.
She started grinning suddenly. Including his background. I want to find out where that Priest gene came from.
She grabbed her briefcase and and headed for the elevator.
I'll start with XR records of everyone who's ever been to Comet Fall. If not his father, a grandfather. The Priest gene is rare enough that I ought to be able to at least narrow it down to a few possibles.
And stepped into the elevator . . . double take, no, the tall blond man was not Ice . . .
"Hey, Keiq! Long time no see." A toothy hungry grin.
She blinked. "Ixku?" Oh One! What did I do to deserve this? "I thought you were XR?"
"Transferred last month. Trying my hand at police work."
This idiot? And by the suit, an investigator, not a street cop.
"Well, good luck at it."
He loomed. "So I'll see you regularly."
"No. Ixku . . . I trust you remember how we parted ways at the school?"
"Let's not go there again."
"Why not." He reached and grabbed her wrist. "You don't look like you're carrying, this time."
She flashed back to that sick realization on being in the grasp of a man larger and stronger than she was . . . she shoved the emotions down, and looked at his hand, half above her sleeve and making skin contact.
And here I thought that particular lesson was something I'd never need!
She pulled power from the man, collecting it like a vampire. Twisted loose from his grip.
He blinked and staggered back. "What was that?"
She frowned at him. "Your standard asshole behavior. Pity you didn't outgrow it. You . . . don't look very good. Are you sick?"
"I think you'd better go to the clinic." As the doors opened on the ground floor, she reached back and punched the button for fourteen. Walked away, trying not to grin. Laughing a bit inside at the thought that she'd ever thought that man attractive.
I can't believe I ever saw him when I looked at Ice. Yeah, right the hair's spot on, they're both about 193 cems, with good shoulders. And Ice does the High Oner body language, accent, and the weaponized drawl . . . superbly.
But I'm quite sure I'll never have to shoot Ice.
In fact I can't imagine Ice even thinking of dragging me into the bushes . . .
She was still grinning when she got back to her office with the detailed DNA of every person who'd ever been to Comet Fall.
I'll do a quick search for the Priest gene, and see what comes up.
Other than every Priest ever assigned there.
A perfunctory knock on her door. "Officer involved shooting, two dead, at the wrong address. It's going to be messy."
"Nah, this sounds like someone trying to get promoted with a flashy raid."
"Shit, let's go." She hit the comp's power button and headed for the door.
Ice can wait.