- Author: Freddi MacNaughton
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Daisy Wong, Space Marshal:
The Case of the Runaway Concubine
COPYRIGHT© 2012 by Freddi MacNaughton
Publishedby Soapbox Rising Press
Coverillustration copyright © Tomasz Tulik | Dreamstime.com
EbookEdition, License Notes
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Thank you forrespecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work offiction. Any similarity to actual persons, events, or locations is purelycoincidental.
Daisy Wong, Space Marshal:
The Case of the Runaway Concubine
by Freddi MacNaughton
Lt. Daisy Wong, space marshal, despised Los Angeles, Mars.
She despised it this time around just as much as she had thelast time work had forced her onto the Red Planet. Her boss, CaptainSpaulding, had arranged a favor for the political higher-ups, and so here shewas, on Mars, doing the work.
Daisy hated doing favors for the higher-ups. However, inthis particular instance, Daisy had to admit that she would have agreed to takeon the case, anyway . . . even without Spaulding'sso-called request that she do so. The favor involved a member of Daisy'sfamily, and family is family, especially when it's part and parcel of some ofthe most powerful criminal tongs in the Sol system. Besides, Mars was only onegrubby little planet and Los Angeles, Mars, was only one grubby not-so-littledomed city.
Meanwhile, Daisy's partner, Officer Muffy Chatterjee, was inthe throes of open glee, had been since their shuttle had dropped into Marsorbit. All the way through customs, her delight had not slackened. All theway through the spaceport to the waiting line of taxis, her grin had notfaded. And now, on their ride into town from the spaceport, she was excitedlywatching the passing scenery—red and gray and grubby and plasticized and dirtythough it was. She was also keeping up a stream of dirt-side—that is,Earth-side—accented chatter.
Muffy's hometown was in the northern part of India, Earth,and at the moment, she sounded as though she would have felt more at home in asari than in her uniform. Newbies. You had to love 'em.
Daisy listened to Muffy's stream of consciousness and triednot to think about the pet-shop humidity, the stench of spilled food risingfrom the taxi's floor mats, and the inescapable Martian grit. It had alreadyworked down in between her collar and her neck, where like sandpaper it abradedher skin.
The environmental systems inside Mars's domed cities weresupposed to keep the grit at bay, but they didn't. Of course. Nothing everworked quite the way it was supposed to. Once she and Muffy returned to Diligence,the LaGrange colony they called home, Daisy would have to send her uniforms to thecleaners at least twice before they'd be really clean.
Above all, Daisy tried not to think about amounted to hermaternal uncle's summons, delivered through the higher-ups to Captain Spaulding,who had delivered it to her. It was all very unofficial, all very designed tohave her unofficially assigned to a hush-hush case for which no files wouldever exist. The multiple ironies of the situation had escaped no one, least ofall Daisy.
Muffy quit chattering the moment their taxi pulled up infront of the Celestial Cybernetics and Robotics building. It was a tall, buff-colored,pagoda-shaped structure.
Daisy paid the tab and asked the driver to wait. The extra cashshe handed him ensured that he might.
Muffy's mood descended from quiet to wary during theirelevator ride up to the offices of the Celestial Fraternal Benevolent andProtective Association. The Association was an unabashed criminal tong and thesole owner of the Celestial Cybernetics and Robotics Corporation, one of itsnumerous fronts. Like a Hindu god, the Association had many faces and morearms. Daisy's uncle, Zhaohui "Snakeskin" Wong, was the man incharge.
Muffy watched the floor numbers light up in succession. Herlips moved slightly as she counted off the floors. She reminded Daisy of acondemned criminal counting the steps to the execution chamber.
Daisy wished she'd knock it off.
Muffy said, "Please be telling me again why it is weare finding ourselves here?"
Muffy was just back from well-deserved vacation—a trip hometo India, Earth—and her accent was stronger than ever. It was so strong that Daisywondered whether or not her partner wasn't imitating her pre-space-dwellingself.
"You know as much as I do," Daisy said. "Somebody'sgone missing."
"Snakeskin was asking for you, was he not? And yet, weare not here, not officially. It is most puzzling."
"Yeah, but look on the bright side," Daisy said. "We get to spend a few days on Mars, the garden spot of the solar system."
The elevator slowed, stopped, and the doors opened.
Jimmy Fingers, Snakeskin's right-hand man, was standing inthe lobby to perform the meet-and-greet. His smile was real, as real as thecameras and the blasters that Daisy knew her uncle's security people had concealedin the ceiling.
"How was your trip out from Diligence?"Jimmy Fingers asked.
"Long," Daisy said.
Jimmy fingers held out his hands, palms turned up. "Hand 'em over," he said pleasantly. "You have your rules; we haveours."
Daisy and Muffy handed over their side arms.
"And the backups," Jimmy said.
"Paranoid," Daisy said, half-teasing, half-serious.
"Alive," Jimmy Fingers said, flat-out serious.
Daisy and Muffy pulled their low-capacity shooters fromtheir ankle holsters and handed those over, too.
Jimmy Fingers checked the safeties on all four weapons andtucked them into his waistband.
"You know, Daiz, you ought to move out of thatglorified soup can you live in," Jimmy Fingers said. He led them out ofthe elevator lobby and into the offices proper. "I mean, Lagrangecolonies are fine, if you like that sort of thing, but there's nothing like areal planet under your feet."
And real grit down the back of your neck, Daisythought. Aloud, she said, "Real is good."
Doors opened and doors closed. Glass doors. Metal doors. Peoplelooked. People looked away. Cameras tracked.
A wood-paneled door opened, and they entered Snakeskin'soffice.
It was a large room. Books and antiques lined the walls,and the air smelled of incense and gunpowder tea.
Snakeskin Wong was at his desk, bathed in the warmth of