Chapter 48

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Captain Juan Martinez was working late, again. He had been back on Capella for a week, after finishing his month long assignment on Tian, and had a mountain of reports to read and evaluate. Not to mention the work still required to wrap up his last assignment. Building a convincing case against unscrupulous businessman, and part time blackmailer and attempted murderer, Ron Pearce, was his number one priority.

Although he had established links between his organisation and the recent events on Tian, where a group of men had attacked the city courthouse in Huan, the evidence had not been as conclusive as he had hoped. It was now a matter of carefully sifting through records, records of payments made, people hired and instructions given. Martinez suspected it would be the financial records that would bring him down in the end, like many a criminal before him.

He rubbed his hands over tired eyes. He had just read the same sentence three times and still couldn't remember what it said. Time to call it a night. For a moment he wished he had taken Katrina up on her offer to drop in on his way home, but he hadn't thought it fair when he knew how late he would be. He was so tired, all he wanted to do was fall into bed and sleep. He closed down his unit and left his office, the lights dimming automatically as he exited the room. He was just about to step outside the building when Patrol Officer Cortez, who was on duty at Reception, called out to him.

"Sir? Captain? You'll want to see this, the news is just coming in from Moonta now. They've found a body in Pearce's house on King's Island."

Martinez turned immediately and hurried back towards Cortez, his eyebrows raised. Cortez hadn't finished. "They think it might be Pearce himself!"

XXX

Lieutenant Lars Muller of the Walleroo police force, watched his wife swimming doggedly from one end of the resort pool to the other. She preferred the flat surface and measured lengths of the pool to the unruly, untamed sea with those annoying waves that insisted on catching her full in the face no matter how carefully she swam. He rather wished she'd told him that before he spent all those credits on booking them a week's holiday at the resort on Paradise Island.

Now that their two children had grown up and left home, he'd thought it time for them to treat themselves to a romantic holiday. Not that it had been that romantic so far. He'd come down with a nasty stomach bug, which had resulted in him moving into the second bedroom so that Sheila wouldn't be disturbed by his constant getting up and down during the night.

So now he was sitting on the side of the pool, sipping a non-alcoholic drink to be on the safe side. He felt much better this morning, maybe they could take a cruise around the islands tomorrow, then perhaps a fancy meal at that restaurant on the beach, there was still time to make sure this holiday was romantic. He smiled to himself and turned his book back on.

XXX

Bari Fanshaw was not smiling, at least on the outside. A grave expression, carefully practised in front of a mirror beforehand, was on his face as he received the news of his employer's death. He didn't feign grief, that would have been too farfetched given the ruthless character of Ron Pearce, but he considered a grave expression to be quite suitable to the occasion.

"A great loss to the business community," he murmured to Captain Varga in Walleroo, through his console unit. He was in his office on Capella, 'Bennett and Fanshaw, Legal Accountants', although at eighty seven, Bennett was scarcely an active partner any more. Pearce had been their principal client for over ten years and the firm was the executor of his estate.

"Quite," Varga agreed non-committally. She went on to request a copy of the will and any other business agreements the firm was holding for Pearce. It was true the police had access to Pearce's own premises, but there appeared to be a problem retrieving the information from his console unit. She had her best technicians working on it.

XXX

Robin Lang stretched his long golden tanned legs out in the hammock and shut his eyes. The sun was warm on his body, the shade from the nearest beach umbrella just covering his face. A red frothy juice, mixed with rum and poured back into its own pretty red skin, sat on a small table within easy reach. The gentle murmur of small waves breaking onto soft sand, whispered in the background. This was the life.

He really needed this break. After the nightmarish events of the last few weeks where he had been blackmailed, shot, and lost his memory, not once but twice thank you very much, he thought he deserved a break in the sun. In fact, looking back, he rather thought the whole of last year had pretty much sucked. He needed time to recover, time to make sense of everything that had happened and most of all, time to get his life back under control.

He'd booked himself a holiday in the islands of Moonta, on Castaway Island to be precise. A lovely island resort, with spacious individual cabins featuring no technology, apart from lighting and a small heating and cooling unit. Nothing to do for four weeks except sun bathe, swim, eat, drink and sleep, a very under-rated activity, sleep. He was by himself and happy to be so, although after the first couple of weeks, he was starting to feel relaxed enough to contemplate the possibility of a holiday romance. Maybe. Most guests were couples but there were a few singles around. A couple of older women had already approached him but he hadn't been interested, content with the quiet luxury of only being responsible for himself, but that might change before it was time to go home.

Nobody would mistake a holiday romance for a serious relationship. It could be a good opportunity for him to reaffirm his sexuality, his heterosexuality to be precise. He couldn't remember exactly what had happened during the two weeks on Huan before he regained his memory, but he could tell from Martinez' reaction to him that he had done something ... inappropriate. Whatever it was, it made him feel very uncomfortable in his presence and he had lost no time in applying for leave and departing for Moonta to avoid him.

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