(7-1) More dire than at the gates

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It was not, by any metric, Samuel's lucky day.

"Inspector Fraser, my office!" Deadra Vaska bellowed from across the precinct.

Samuel had barely opened the door to step inside the office hall and was enveloped by a horde of civilians complaining to a pair of uniformed orderlies.

"Sounds like you're in trouble, Sam," Angela said as she jabbed him in the shoulder.

"Whatever it is, I'm blaming it on you," Samuel said, as he pushed himself out of the crowd, leading them towards their desks. "So while I'm throwing you under the tracks, go see if we've gotten any more information from Oversight about Silas Miller, Starson Vontusk, or anyone in Silas' social group. We need to get ahead of this kid before he does something reckless and stupid."

"Shouldn't Oversight just leave a couple of hit squads at Research, waiting for Silas to come and meet Amanda Destir?" Angela asked.

"There's no point. No reject on the run would go anywhere near Research," Bertram explained. "Crafters can see and hear through the flame, and Theo is one of the most talented crafters in the City. Any disturbance in the Foundry could reach Theo's ears in minutes, and end in seconds."

"Hope he tries anyway," Bertram added, more mumbling under his breath than actually speaking. Samuel was surprised by how firmly he agreed with the shadow.

He stepped past a couple of interrogation rooms and found himself glancing through the windows wistfully. Inside, a fellow inspector was interrogating a well-dressed woman, who was pleading and in tears over something Samuel couldn't hear. The sight brought a surge of envy to the forefront of his thoughts and left him angry over his current assignment.

Samuel forced himself to stare straight ahead as he made it to the back of the hall, and opened the door to his captain's office.

"Sam," Captain Diedre Vaska said, looking up from the fortress of paperwork that had been paved over her desk. "Shut the door. Have a seat."

"Aye captain," Samuel said. He did as he was hidden, shutting the door securely and taking one of the empty seats in front of her desk.

It had always been easy for Samuel to tell if someone was actually reading. There was a subtle shift in posture and attention that came from focusing, behaviours that were intrinsic to reading. As a consequence, it was also easy to tell when someone, like his captain, wasn't reading.

The Captain was deliberately making Samuel wait. Which meant he probably wasn't in for a pleasant conversation.

"Cinders on the un-healed pustules around my ass, Samuel, what have you gotten yourself into?" Captain Vaska asked, rubbing at her eyes with her hand.

"They make creams for that at the hospices," Samuel said. "And aren't you the one to put me on this assignment?"

"Lay off the wit and focus, Sam. I honestly didn't expect you to do this well. We both know investigations like this move slowly. Too slowly for Oversight. But in the course of basically twenty-two hours, you've gotten yourself so close to this reject you nearly got burned," Captain Vaska explained.

"Saying we have Oversight an unrealistic expectation about how good we are at this?" Samuel asked.

"I had an awkward compromise to make, Sam. You don't clear cases fast, but you close almost all of the cases you get. And the pity-hire you're coaching might not be a crutch in the department with a little more work," Vaska explained.

Samuel scowled, but didn't speak. Captain Vaska's sense for political niceties, and common decency, tended to evaporate when she was stressed.

"Unfortunately, I'm getting nothing but gratitude from Oversight for our help so far. Which means you're stuck on this case," Vaska finished explaining.

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