Luck of the Dragon: Jacks Over Kings© 2014 by Walter D. Reimer
(Songmark and characters courtesy of Simon Barber. Thanks!)
(Inspector Stagg and Sergeant Brush courtesy of E.O. Costello. Thanks!)
Shin looked up from her flying to see Rick craning his head into the cockpit. “Yeah?”
“I know you want to get your dad to hospital and all, but people might ask questions if they see us getting off.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Shin said ruefully.
“Well, you can’t think of everything,” the fox said
Don’t let my Tutors hear you say that. “Any suggestions?”
Rick pointed to the southeast. “Drop down, low and slow, and we’ll get out there.”
The red panda grinned. It was something she and the rest of Red Dorm had been trained to do. “All right. We’ll drop down to about twenty feet and slow down as close to stall speed as we can. That okay?”
“It’ll do,” Galloway said with a grin. He and his squad had had a very worthwhile night, with nothing to show for it other than assorted bruises, scrapes and depleted ammunition stores.
Oh, and a nice fat wad of money each.
He looked forward to a long hot shower and a bed, though.
And a promised date with a certain Irish setter.
"Chort," Brigit swore in Irish-accented Russian as she angled the plane in for a landing. "Will ye take a look at this."
The red panda leaned into the cockpit as the plane descended, and suppressed a curse. She had closed the door after the last of the Rain Islanders had jumped out, and had been looking at her father.
Hei was still breathing, but there were things that didn’t please her at all.
Like the dried blood in his right ear.
The tower had given them a direct route to the hospital, making sure that all traffic was cleared out of the way. And she knew that they would react predictably to the plane's likely origin.
But not quite like this reception.
The seaplane terminal’s crash boat was out, as was a fast patrol boat from Moon Island. Nearly an entire squad of Constabulary, armed, were mingled with the waiting doctors and nurses on the dock.
Three KV-9 seaplane fighters completed the welcoming committee.
"They don't look happy to see us," she remarked.
"'Tis th' company ye keep," Brigit said with a strained grin, and she chuckled.
"Well, we have to get my father to the hospital, and I really didn't want to throw those guns out," Shin grumbled as Liberty and the Irish setter set the plane down on the water, slowed and began taxiing to the dock, "so I expect we'll have some explaining to do."
“This is the Constabulary!” the sergeant on duty announced through a megaphone as soon as the plane’s engines stopped. “Come out with your paws up.”
In response a cockpit window opened and a small swatch of stained white cloth fluttered. “Look,” a young woman’s voice said in Chinese-accented English, “do you want this guy to die, or what? We’ll come out unarmed, but we need to get my father to a doctor.”
Father, eh? The feline thought, raising a brow as he thought it over. “Come on out, then – slowly.”
The door in the side of the plane opened, followed by the grimy banded tailfur of a blood-spattered young red panda femme. Assisting her in bringing a limp form from the aircraft and onto the dock was a canine woman with gray and russet highlights in her fur. Finally an Irish setter came out of the plane, favoring her right leg, which had a bloody bandage wrapped around it at the thigh.
Orderlies brushed past the constables and hurriedly lifted the unconscious man onto a stretcher. As they started to carry him off, Shin began to follow only to be stopped by the sergeant’s upraised paw. “Not you, Miss. You and your friends have some questions to answer.”
Shin briefly weighed the benefits of breaking the constable’s arm.
“What do you need to know?” she asked, putting the suggestion out of her head for the moment.
“You can start by telling me what he’s poisoned with,” said a tall, middle-aged skunk wearing a doctor’s long white coat. He blinked at the sergeant through pince-nez glasses and added, “Sorry, Sergeant, but these questions are vital.”
The feline nodded. Chief Sapper had assured him that the Detective Bureau would be arriving about the same time the plane did.
He hoped that they’d arrive, and soon. The three young women, one of whom was already being helped into a wheelchair, looked perfectly capable of beating all six of his men despite appearing unarmed, injured and bone-tired.
“Well, young lady?” the skunk asked.
“Who are you?”
“James Meffit,” the skunk replied patiently, studying the younger femme. He’d seen the look in the young woman’s eyes too many times on the Western Front. “I’ll be treating your father – as soon as you tell me what he’s poisoned with.”
The red panda gulped. “Cyanide,” she said, “small amounts, mixed with sandalwood incense.”
“I see. How long was he exposed to it?”
“About one, maybe two hours.”
Meffit nodded. “Thank you, Miss. Had you waited another hour or so, I’d be talking to you as the medical examiner.” He turned and ran with surprising speed after the stretcher party.
Shin looked up at the feline sergeant. “I suppose you’ll have to search us now?”
“We already cleared the other two, Sarge,” one constable offered. “That just leaves her.”
Shin raised her arms and allowed them to pat her down. Her trench knife, bloodstained, was taken from her, and she was facing the plane as the rest of the weapons were being offloaded and inventoried.
Thus she was able to see the long, horned shadow as it fell across her.
“Good morning, Inspector Stagg,” she said quietly.
She turned around to face him. Liberty was glowering at the sight of the buck, and Sergeant Brush was glaring at both of them.
“Good morning, Mrs. Wo, Miss Morgenstern,” the whitetail said in his characteristically soft, dry voice. “I take it that something has happened to your father?”
“It’s a bit of a long story, and we’ve had a very long night.”
“Looks like yez gave some people a hard time, hanh?” Brush asked, eyeing the pile of guns.
“I want them all inventoried and stored,” the red panda said. “They belong to all three of us.”
“Three?” Stagg’s brows furrowed slightly. “Did – has someone – “
“No,” Liberty growled. “Tatiana stayed here.”
“Thank you, Miss Morgenstern. So, Miss Mulvaney - ?”
“She’s in the hospital. Being treated,” Shin said.
“Then I think we should adjourn to the hospital, and find out what has happened in Fort Bob. Mrs. Wo, after you?” and he stepped out of her way.
Shin looked at Liberty, who shrugged. They both headed for the hospital building, aware of the sets of eyes on them, and the two detectives behind them.