Solved the Crime, but...

by Edward May

May 12, 115PA - 0320 hours

      "Damn it's hot out tonight," Toruthey muttered to himself as he looked over the scene, his Elvish mind momentarily drifting. "I was a member of the Lazlo Guard, I'm used to the cold in the winter and the chill of moisture in the air even during the summer months. This dry heat in Desert Star just doesn't seem natural, after five years here I should be better adapted to this ... Better than having the Coalition at my doorstep every day I suppose though," he thought to himself. As he stood lost in thought, his assistant Sergeant Paige Welleness was looking at him strangely. "Captain? Did you say something?"

      The question of his attractive human assistant startled him out of his thoughts, "Huh? Oh ... nothing. Let's go over the details again, shall we?" Sergeant Welleness furrowed her brow and nodded, "Yes sir. There are no apparent signs of a break in, the key card slot on the back door indicates an authorized entry at 0122 hours, yet no key cards are apparently missing. As for what is missing, the jewelry in the window case was left alone, as was most of the stuff in the display case around the perimeter of the entry room. Only about a half dozen pieces, necklaces from the looks of the empty display platforms, are missing from the case over there, plus the safe behind the counter is empty. From the scratches on the lock it looks like they picked the lock in the case, and they somehow cracked the dial code on the safe. No prints, no witnesses, and the solitary camera above the back entrance has a 15 minute dead air period, according to the disk back at the station." Captain Toruthey nodded and wiped the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief, as he added as an afterthought; "Was the breaker for the camera shut off in the back?" "No sir, the camera is hard wired into the city power grid, and there are no signs of tampering with the wiring." "Good work, Paige," Toruthey responded. Smiling at his assistant he marvelled at how intelligent his young assistant was and how beautiful, his mind quickly added. She was a petite little thing, short cropped blonde hair, ice blue eyes, pert little nose, and full lips. She was hardly what one would expect in the N.O.M.A.D. Military, and more like something one would encounter displaying fashion in Lazlo, yet time and time again she proved her value to the city guard. If they solved this one, he promised himself he'd take the chance and ask the Sergeant out for a drink.

      "Begging your' pardon sir, but I'd consider it good work only if I could figure out how they pulled this off," Paige shifted uncomfortably under his smiling gaze. Sure he was nice enough to her, and never sent her to do menial tasks, nor forced her to do the bulk of paperwork - but she sensed that his interest in her was going a bit beyond the professional level. True enough he was tall, had a nice tan, luxuriously dark hair, and had gorgeous green eyes - not to mention a build to die for, but he was an officer. If she started seeing an officer, regardless of her accomplishments people would assume she succeeded only because of who she was joining in bed. That was the last thing she wanted or needed for that matter. "Actually Paige, I think you may very well have figured out exactly how this was done and through that, possibly who," Toruthey replied cryptically - his smile turning to a mischievous smirk.

      Paige was confused, "I don't understand .... sir?" Toruthey reminded himself silently that while Paige was attractive and intelligent she lacked one crucial ingredient to being a good civil defense detective - experience. "During my time working with the Lazlo Guard, Sergeant, I became aware of a certain schooling of magic that specialized in thievery. While they use conventional spells and teachings, it is the application with which they use them that make them unique. Toruthey smiled at his young assistant as it began to sink in. "We have to call in Psi-Mag assistance on this one, don't we, sir?" The Sergeant spoke exactly what Toruthey was thinking - the use of magic would still be fresh in the room and could easily be picked up. "Yes indeed, Paige, call them in."

May 12, 115PA - 0510 hours

      "It's conclusive evidence that there were five of them. A mage, a professional safe cracker, and three more - likely hired guns. Some minute metal shavings were found in the lock on the display case. One of the guys from Psi-Mag managed to get a mental image from them of this crew in a beautiful indoor pool, living it up. We have our guys checking the blueprints of homes throughout Desert Star to see if they can get a positive ID on the location as we speak." Captain Toruthey looked at his beautiful assistant, after scanning over the scene of the jewelry heist one last time. "Great news, Paige. We should have these yahoos in custody within the hour." "Yes sir! I'm looking forward to it, that and a good nights rest afterwards!" The young sergeant was smiling, quite pleased with her work. Even if she didn't put it together on her own - she at least played a part in bringing them in - this is what the good guys were meant to do, catch the bad guys. "Just a good night's rest, eh Paige? How about after this you and I go out and catch a bite to eat and some coffee?" The Captain's offer caught Paige completely off guard, she'd suspected his interests, but never thought he would be so bold as to ask her out at a crime scene! The Psi-Mag guys were still poking and prodding around, and forensics specialists were still sweeping the corners looking for tell tale traces of hair or skin samples. A couple of their coleagues had even stopped at overhearing this offer to watch with some interest. "Ummm ... yes ... sure ... that would be nice ... sir!" Paige's voice faltered on her several times as she replied, ending on an abnormally squeeky note at the end. Her face flushed bright red as a result. As an afterthought she added, "Let's see how this turns out first though, okay ... sir?" "Sure thing!" Toruthey replied with a smirk. A private standing by the door, dressed in N.O.M.A.D. armor reached up and pushed the transmit button at the side of his hemlet and replied to an unheard radio message that arrived a moment before. "Captain, Sergeant - our guys at the station have ID'd the pool indicated by the Psi-Mag guys. It's located at 22 Blood Walk, Star City." "Thanks Private! Let's move Sergeant!" This was the part that Captain Toruthey lived for - the hunt!

May 12, 115PA - 0540 hours

      "Sir, N.O.M.A.D. operatives have managed to identify four of the six inside. Neighbors have indicated that they have been here about a week, but that they have not seen the owner of the residence in almost a week and a half. Weapons registered are a couple of Wilks 457s, an assortment of energy pistols, and a mix of heavy and medium body armor for each. The mage you suspected, after checking the visitor's records, is right on the mark. His name is Veen-ai Usagi. His entrance papers indicate that he is a Ley Line Walker from some obscure school of magic in Dweomer. Checking the hot sheets at the paymasters office, his face checks out as Suga Meetil - a fugitive wanted in two of the Coalition States on charges of theft, assault, robbery, and possession of contraband," PFC Jesomy Vils updated Captain Toruthey quietly, even while N.O.M.A.D. units moved into position to storm the band's hideout. Sergeant Welleness whistled at the list of heavy duty equipment this group apparently carries, "With all due respect, Captain, I think we should request power armor support on this one." "I was thinking the same thing, Paige. PFC, call down to the station and have a half dozen Nemesis P.A. Specialists come down here and put themselves in position to support our guys. I want one at either end of the road there and there, one positioned to support our guys at the front entrance and the rear, and another pair near the garages." "Yes sir," the PFC replied, and quickly began relaying the orders. Meanwhile Toruthey looked at Welleness and nodded, "Let's get suited up, this could get ugly." "Yes sir," was all she replied - even as her mind lingered over the idea that at the end of this she was going to have to figure a way out of the date with the Captain.

      A few minutes later everything was in position, and the Captain gave the order to move. Unfortunately things did get ugly. Somehow the criminals inside had received warning of the impending police action and were ready. As the front and back doors were kicked in, an explosive device activated - killing a half dozen N.O.M.A.D. personnel in the process, PFC Vills was one of those to go down at the back door. Suddenly a man in body armor burst out the front window of the home and fired his Wilks 457 at the squad cars that had pulled up out front at the same time as the men kicked in the doors. One of the Nemesis suits a few feet from his location turned towards him and fired a twin shell rapid fire burst of cannon shells at him in response, but he was already moving. The shells flew by him and struck an adjacent high class home with pillars in the front blasting out a main support and bringing down a quarter of the structure. Sgt Welleness and Captain Toruthey threw themselves on the ground behind the squad car that brought them up the road, their armor clattering on the ground as they did. "Shit!" the Sergeant yelled out! "They caught on, I knew it wouldn't be this easy! Damn it!" The Captain replied, as much to the armored woman next to him as it was just in general.

      Another man in armor soon followed the first out the window, firing a close range three shot pulse into the power armor that was now pursuing the escaping men. The damage which would have nearly killed a man in body armor, barely scorched the armor of the Nemesis suit. Men in N.O.M.A.D. armor were now firing at the running men, but they just continued to bob and weave as they ran. The two suits standing in front of the garage joined into the action. The first suit, firing his RFFC at the leading man, managed to connect with the side of the man's torso. His armor was little protection against the twin 20 mm armor piercing cannon shells. The supersonic shells ripped through the thief's armor, sprayed his innards and blood over a 30 foot area, and left his upper body laying six feet from his lower body. The man following behind him was stunned by the carnage of seeing his compatriot in crime killed before his eyes. His hesitation saved his life however, as the second Nemesis by the garage fired a volley of micro-rockets at him. The rockets passed a mere three feet in front of him, streaked across the road and slammed into a home across the street, exploding after passing through the exterior wall and striking the refrigerator in the kitchen.

      Just then a Big Boss ATV slammed into the garage door and drove over both men in power armor, and continued down the street. A man in the open gun turret fired a Wilks 457 at the power armor out front of the building, missing. Sergeant Welleness jumped up from her position behind the squad car and began running after the lone man on foot, firing her HLP-4A at him as she went. "Sergeant! Get out of there! Your' armor won't stand up to those 457s at these ranges for long," Toruthey yelled. When it was apparent she wasn't listening, he reluctantly followed. Meanwhile, the three suits of power armor at the front began chasing the Big Boss ATV, joined by the Nemesis at the end of the road. In the inner city they had little chance to escape the heavily armored and equally fast suits of power armor, yet the instinct to escape overtook the criminals and they were going to try anyway.

      Sergeant Welleness yelled at the man forty feet in front of her, "Drop your' weapon and get down on the ground, asshole!" His response was not what she had hoped, he turned and fired a spray of laser fire in her direction. Only by quickly ducking out of the way did she evade the deadly laser beams. Captain Toruthey running after was not so lucky, he received a laser blast to the front of his thigh. His N.O.M.A.D. armor held up, thankfully, but the top of his thigh felt as though someone had spilled boiling hot coffee over it. "Ah! Damn it," he screamed as instinct caused him to drop to the ground and pull the armor plate up from his leg slightly, the area of impact still glowing from the intense heat of the laser beam. Paige didn't stop in her pursuit, but instead poured on the speed and fired a laser beam from her own pistol at the back of the running man. It struck, and though his heavy Bandito Arms body armor held up to it, he screamed from the searing pain in his back. "You bitch!" He spun around and pointed his rifle at her face plate, and fired a three round pulse of laser fire. She ducked under the laser fire and conducted a beautiful shoulder tackle, sending her pistol and most importantly his rifle skittering across the sidewalk they were running across. The man, at 6'2" in height, and outweighing the Sergeant by nearly 100 Lb., easily threw her off of him, and rolled on top of her. "If I'm going to jail, you N.O.M.A.D. slut, I'm gonna take your' head with me!" With that, he pulled out a vibro-survival knife from his boot, and thrust it down towards her throat.

      The four suits of power armor ran after the Big Boss ATV as it careened through the streets of Star City, the innermost portion of the city of Desert Star. Each began firing bursts from the rapid fire field cannons at the back of the fleeing vehicle, but the skill of the driver was apparent. It would zig this way and that, use vehicles on the road as cover, break down an adjacent road, and so on - but each time the power armor suits would simply cut across the lawns of homes and businesses to close the gap in space. Finally Corporal Rene Gireen in Nemesis 33 made a lucky hit on the right rear axle of the Big Boss and blasted it completely off, as the vehicle attempted to swing around into an adjacent lane from the road they were on. The result of the damage was that the vehicle slid out of control up onto the lawn of a small apartment building, butting up against the front wall of the structure. Realizing the situation the man in the turret quickly ducked inside. The three Nemesis suits slowed down and cautiously approached the disabled vehicle even as the wheel blasted off of the Big Boss rolled to a hault a half a block away. Cpl Gireen spoke then over his loudspeaker, "Come out with your' hands up, or we will open fire on your' vehicle. This is your' ONLY warning." The men inside of the vehicle chewed it over a little while, but in the end popped open the side door. The first, a man in Urban Warrior said while raising his arms high over his head, "Why didn't you guys just say so to begin with?!"

      Sgt Welleness caught the man's wrist and held it above her neck momentarily, but he started to put his weight into it. Her strength in her arm failing she called out for help. Just then, a man in N.O.M.A.D. armor with a scorched upper thigh appeared, and kicked the man in the side of the head, knocking him completely off of her. "Didn't anyone ever teach you how to treat a lady?! You're under arrest!" As he said this more than a dozen N.O.M.A.D. soldiers were noticed to be arriving surrounding the lone thief, each of them brandishing weapons. The thief turned prisoner, nodded slowly, and dropped his vibro-knife, hitting with a dull thud as it hit the lawn of the yard he was laying upon.

May 12, 115PA - O830 hours

      Sergeant Paige Welleness and Captain Zeemal Toruthey were sitting at a table in a conference room at the main N.O.M.A.D. headquarters looking over the final reports of the mornings events. "Well, that's that, Sergeant. Four men are in custody, including Veen-ai or Suga, whatever you want to call him, and another is in a body bag thanks to our work. We lost six men in the process though..." Captain Toruthey started to tell his assistant, before he was interrupted. "That's not all you lost, Captain." Spoke a familiar voice. "Colonel Jackson?" "That's right Captain. Not only did you lose six men in the process of apprehending five, there are five buildings completely destroyed, plus another dozen more that will require major repairs. So far we count a dozen dead civilians as well - all from N.O.M.A.D. fire! You two fuck ups are now on suspension, until we get all of this straightened out. You'll be lucky if you walk out of this with your' necks intact at all, as people have already been calling for your' execution!" "B-but sir," Toruthey attempted to counter. "No buts, Captain, you screwed the pooch on this one. You know damn well that the Nemesis was never designed for inner city type combat," Colonel Jackson did not care for the Captain and his high and mighty Lazlo ways. He always seemed to act superior to everyone else because of his years of experience in Lazlo. Finally this bastard screwed up big - and he planned to nail him to the wall for it. "Colonel, if I may?" Sergeant Welleness sensed that the Colonel was missing a big part of the picture in this, and planned to capitalize on it. The Colonel looked at the Seargent who was now sitting with her helmet on the table before her, revealing her beautiful face and disheaveled hair. Unwilling to not look at this creature before him, he unwisely said in a softer tone than that which he was using for the Captain, "What is it, Sergeant?" "With all due respect, sir, without the assistance of power armor in this task we would have lost twice the number of N.O.M.A.D. personnel in the process, and likely more civilians than we did already. The problem was not with the decision to use power armor at all - it was the decision of the Senate to not pursue an S-Mart contract to produce purpose built civil defense suits. I know a lot of damage was done this morning, but, I really don't want to die for doing my best to defend Desert Star ... would you ... could you ... somehow go to bat for us with the Senate?" As Paige spoke, even in her tired and worn state she somehow managed to pour on the feminine charm and bat her eyes in all the right places. Caught off guard the Colonel stammered over his response, "C ... Sergeant ... I'll do what ... what I can." She smiled at his response and thanked him, tilting her head as she did, allowing her hair to partly cover her left eye. "Thank you Colonel, this means a lot ... to me." "Y-you're w-w-welcome! Carry on, you two." While he wanted nothing more than to see Captain Toruthey put in his place, he couldn't see pursuing a court marshall as an option, because that would mean that this vixen assistant of his would have to meet the same fate. Now a demotion though ... that might be possible, and perhaps then ... he could acquire a new assistant, like Sergeant Welleness! With that thought the Colonel left the room, already considering his approach to the senate about a new S-Mart contract.

      "That was brilliant, Paige!" Captain Toruthey was overjoyed - she saved his and her bacon. "You weren't bad yourself, sir. Sure things didn't go as planned, and true enough a lot of bad stuff happened, but we caught the bad guys and that's the important part - right?" She giggled at his obvious pleasure at her performance for the Colonel. "Yes, but in retrospect, we probably did more creds in damage to Star City than the value of everything stolen in the Jewelry heist!" He replied, still smiling at her. "Maybe..." was all she could say. He smiled back at her, and finally got the guts to bring up what was on his mind. "Now ... about breakfast."

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