This short story needed to be told, but didn’t fit in the greater story of the third installment of The Inspector Thomas Sullivan Chronicles, Murder on Persephone. So here it is in short story form. I hope you enjoy it. Please note, if you are using any ebook reading device or app to read one of the Thomas Sullivan novels, you will find links to short stories on this page of my author website. These links allow me to direct readers to backstories and short stories that need to be told to fill in the universe Sullivan lives and works in. Otherwise, these stories would go untold. Thank you for taking the time to find out how:
Sarah Gets Her Badge
I watched Sarah as the shuttle banked while it began its ascent to the space station. Josephson was several seats back, no doubt clutching the armrests as if his life depended on it.
It was hard to reconcile the beautiful woman of a young, but indeterminate age, with the child that at times, was Sarah. She had taken the time, probably at the insistence of Alice, to brush her long brown hair and apply the slightest traces of makeup around her eyes, the effect of which was to draw a man into those big pools of brown surrounded by a sea of porcelain white. For once, Sarah was wearing the black, form fitting designer pants I’d bought her as part of her pay. A grey blouse of a warm and functional material of some sort along with her knee high boots and long black leather greatcoat completed her ensemble.
No grown man could walk past Sarah and not look twice.
Which made it all that much harder to reconcile her current behavior with her physical appearance. With her seat reclined, Sarah looked comfortable as she examined her newest bauble, a brown leather case for a badge.
Not a toy badge, mind you, but a real one.
Her expression was one of sheer delight, the kind only a child can convey. Sarah’s face was one big smile with happiness beaming from her countenance. Periodically she would giggle in delight as a result of discovering some new detail in the badge or its protective leather wallet.
Like I said, at times it is hard to reconcile her appearance with her behavior.
Sarah had been awarded the badge just this morning before the three of us departed for the Space Port for our flight to Persephone, the further of Beta Prime’s two moons. She’d promptly clipped on her belt in the manner of plain-clothes detectives, smiled at the pup and me and walked out of the precinct.
Josephson had just stared at me in disbelief, not quite understanding why I had given in to the demands of our fair assistant. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure myself why I had finally given in to Sarah’s demand to have a real badge.
I just know the smile she’d given me was more than enough reason.
“I want a badge, a real one. Not a toy one. A real one Sully.”
I looked up from my tablet to see Sarah standing in the cubicle I shared with my young partner, Detective Sergeant Josephson. Standing there, hands on hips with disheveled hair and snowflakes still clinging to the shoulders of her greatcoat, it was a bit hard not to laugh.
So I laughed.
Josephson was a little smarter. He got up and left.
Sarah didn’t think the matter was a laughing one.
“You have a badge. Josephson has a badge. I want a badge,” she insisted, tapping the toe of her right foot.
“You work for me. Not the Alliance Police Force.”
“So what if I work for you! I go to dangerous places with you. I go to dangerous places without you to gather information. I follow dangerous people. I’ve seen things, bad things, only cops see. I do research, I report for roll call…”
“I get it,” I growled, raising my hand to put a halt to her petulant whining.
“It doesn’t change things, Sarah. You’re a civilian in the employ of the police. You are not a cop. You have no formal education. You haven’t been to the Academy or served in the military police. You just don’t have the qualifications necessary to be a cop.”
“This is because I’m a clone, isn’t it,” was Sarah’s angry response.
I sighed. She was committed to this one. I wasn’t going to be able to talk her out of it or distract her when her attention wandered.
“It has nothing to do with that. In fact, you don’t need to be advertising that fact around here,” I reminded my pretty assistant.
“I can’t help it they only taught me to read,” Sarah pointed out, still tapping her toe in irritation.
“I can trail a suspect better than anyone on the force on this planet,” she reminded me. “No, I can do it better than anyone on the force on this planet and ten others.”
She was right.
“You know I’m right.”
I wasn’t going to let her know I agreed.
“Sully, I want a badge! A real one, so I can look like I belong when we’re at a crime scene!”
“Nobody ever thinks you don’t belong at a crime scene,” I told her.
“That’s just because the male cops are checking me out and the female cops are wondering who I slept with to make detective and you know it, Sully.”
She was right again.
I tried a different tack.
“What if I got you one custom made?”
“Nope. Has to be real. Issued to me by the IAPF.”
“Sarah, the Chief will never agree to it,” I said, waffling in an attempt to shift her focus away from me.
“I want you to make the Chief say yes.”
I began to wonder if this is what it felt like to be the father of a five-year-old girl who is as stubborn as a grown woman. Then I realized that was exactly what I was dealing with.
“Sarah, be reasonable.”
“I am being reasonable. I do the job. I should have a badge. It’s not like I’m asking for a weapon, you know, a cannon like what you carry.”
She’d just left herself open. I pounced on my chance.
“You and I both know you carry weapons.”
She frowned, momentarily confused by my statement.
“Okay, so I carry some knives. There’s a big difference between my knives and that cannon you have strapped to your hip, or the gun in your shoulder holster or even the throw down piece you have in your boot. Even that little toy thing Josephson carries is more deadly than one of my knives.”
“More deadly until you’re close enough to use one, especially if it’s a vibroblade.”
“Sully,” she cried, stomping her foot and folding her arms across her chest. I could see the tears beginning to well up in her eyes.
I stood up. The exchange was over. I hate it when women cry. It’s an unfair weapon they use against the males of the species. I especially hate it when Sarah cries.
Sarah persisted for six days.
It might be more accurate to say I held out for six days. She simply wasn’t going to let go of this idea she should be issued her own badge.
I had hopes Sarah would, as Father Nathan is fond of telling me, rest on the seventh day like God did.
Evidently Father Nathan needs to tell the story to Sarah as well, because on the seventh day she didn’t let it rest.
She even had the pup coming around to her way of thinking, though I suspect he just wanted her to stop whining about it.
So I gave in. Sort of.
I went and talked to Chief O’Brian about the problem. That went so well, I didn’t even bother telling Sarah I had tried and he’d said no. He just reminded me just how far out-of-bounds her working for me as an assistant was with Alliance police regulations.
Markeson thought it was hilarious which only rubbed salt in the wound.
So I decided he and the chief should feel my pain.
“I’ve reached a decision,” I informed the little minx after roll call the next day.
Sarah smiled from ear-to-ear. “You’ve decided to get me a real badge!”
The smile vanished, replaced with the now familiar tilting forward of the head combined with a scowl, pouting lips, crossed arms and tapping of her right toe.
“Because I don’t have the authority to grant your request,” I said firmly. “But, as your employer and mentor in the field of law enforcement, I have decided that if you want a real badge, it’s up to you to obtain it. Legally.”
Sarah stood up straight. The toe tapping stopped and the pouting lips receded. The scowl and crossed arms remained.
“Is this a trick?”
Josephson fled the scene again.
“No,” I answered. “Not at all. You have the interesting challenge of being much more mature in your appearance than your actual age.”
“This is about my being a clone,” she hissed, the pout and toe tapping returned.
“Only indirectly,” I said calmly, reminding myself that an even emotional keel was the only way my devious plan would work.
“You can’t help the fact you never received a formal education,” I reminded Sarah. “Other than being taught how to read, a skill which has allowed you to teach yourself many different things, all of your skill as a police officer is either a result of genetic engineering or life experience. Would you agree?”
Sensing a possible trap, Sarah remained silent for a moment before slowly nodding in agreement.
“So, I have decided, this is an excellent opportunity for you to experience first hand what it’s like to deal with the power of the man, also known as the Bureaucracy.”
“You’re not going to give me a badge,” she accused.
“Did I say that?”
“No, but I just know this is a trick,” she protested, adding a toe tap for good measure.
I sighed. The frustration was real, not an act.
“If, and only if, you can convince Captain Markeson and Chief O’Brian, both of them, that you have earned the right to carry a badge, then I will see to it you get a real, honest to goodness, police badge complete with leather wallet to carry it in.”
Sarah frowned, certain I was trying to pull a fast one.
“I want the kind I can clip on my belt or wear around my neck like a necklace,” she stated firmly, leaving no doubt as to the type of protective case she was to be given for her badge. Should she actually ever obtain one.
“You promise,” she said softly, her eyes growing larger and more hopeful by the millisecond.
I hated myself. For about one second.
I flinched. Markeson rarely interacted with me. He was bent and we both knew it. My immediate supervisor steered as wide a path around me as possible. The less contact he had with me, the less chance he would slip up and give me the one tiny piece of information I would need to send his rear end to Persephone.
He’d just returned from medical leave after being shot by one of his flames who turned out to be a deserter, murderer and smuggler, of clones no less.
He turned into my cubicle and glared. Josephson, as was his habit of late, fled the scene before a possible crime was committed.
“It’s bad enough you pay that, that woman, to follow you around,” Markeson paused to gather his thoughts in order to generate the insults he evidently felt the situation required. “To claim she’s of any help, an actual assistant is ludicrous! Then you go and tell her she can have a badge! An actual, real detectives badge?”
“I said no such thing,” I said evenly. “I told her a police badge. There’s a difference you know.”
I got a kick out of tormenting my bent supervisor.
“Detective, police, it doesn’t matter,” he roared, causing a few heads to pop up for a second, glancing over the cubicle walls.
“Are you feeling okay Captain Markeson,” I asked, feigning concern. I figured if I could increase his blood pressure a few more points he might have a stroke and save us all a lot of trouble.
“No, I am not okay, Inspector Sullivan. Believe it or not, possessing a detective’s badge is an honor.”
He leaned over me as I sat in my desk chair, glaring. His normally immaculately groomed hair now had a few strands out of place. Markeson was serious.
“It doesn’t have to be a detectives badge,” I answered. “Just a badge. So long as its real.”
“Not happening,” was his instantaneous response.
“It’s out of my hands then,” I told him, turning back to my desk and picking up my tablet. I leaned back in my chair, making sure it creaked at just the right pitch to irritate Markeson.
“What do you mean,” he responded, a sudden worried expression covering his face.
“Sarah won’t leave it alone.”
“Won’t leave it alone?” I detected a hint of concern.
“She’s made it her mission. Sarah won’t rest until you say yes.”
“What makes you think that,” Markeson asked, his tone cautious.
“Because I told Sarah it was up to you and the Chief as to whether or not she got her badge.”
Markeson’s head snapped back and he stood straight up quickly.
“Why did you do that?”
I glanced at him and smirked.
“Because, she has a point. She’s good at what she does. Did you know Sarah can tail a suspect, who’s looking for her, and never be spotted. She never gets bored on a stakeout. You know she’s lived on the streets. Sarah can blend in at will and she has a way of getting information out of people we can’t.”
I let him consider that for a moment. Markeson could be paranoid. If I prodded him just right, he’d come to the conclusion Sarah might stalk him on her own time in an effort to wear him down.
“Sarah really wants this. She believes she’s earned it. Once Sarah gets something into her head, she’s like a genetically engineered cat after a Primian rat. She’s likely to pursue this with you on her off duty hours. I know she did with me.”
His face turned pale as he swallowed hard.
“Off duty hours?”
“I have no control over Sarah when our duty shift is over. She does what she wants.”
Markeson wasn’t ready to give in, but a little stalking by Sarah with a sudden appearance here and there to issue her demand for a badge again would have him passing the buck to the Chief.
“You’re devious Sully,” Sarah giggled. “How many days do I have to stalk the Captain?”
“Not many,” I replied, warming to my ill-advised idea. “Just make sure you surprise him when you let him see you. The point of this is to let him know he can never really be certain you aren’t tailing him. I’ll make sure he knows you’ll keep this up until he changes his mind.”
“Can I get off duty early today,” Sarah asked, warming up to the plan. “I have a few things I need to do before Markeson heads out for the evening. Oh, and will you give me some money to pay Ralph? If Markeson’s going to be traveling around in his hovercar I can’t tail him.”
I figured cab fare was a cheap price to pay if it kept Sarah out of my hair and pestering someone else about the badge she wanted. Besides, Ralph was an ex-con I trusted. As a cabbie, he was the best on Beta Prime and I had no doubt he could tail Markeson and not get made. Sarah would be safe with him. I passed over some hard credits to pay for cab fare.
Sarah made a face when she picked up the money.
“I’m not made out of money,” I reminded her. “You get paid every two weeks, just like everybody else. Whatever it is you want, you can wait until you get paid.”
She decided not to push her luck, smiled at me and left, no doubt in order to arrange for a night of misery for Captain Markeson.
Markeson smiled at the voluptuous blonde as she slowly approached his table, strolling provocatively for his benefit. His eyes took in every curve of her figure, every centimeter of which was covered in fabric designed to cling as tightly to the female form as possible. Just a hint of a seductive smile had found its way to her ruby red lips. She batted her long eye lashes, drawing attention, occasionally, away from her chest to her emerald green eyes, courtesy of designer contact lenses.
“Good evening, Captain Markeson,” the shewolf purred as he stood to seat her at his table.
“Good evening, Cassandra,” the Alpha predator replied, showing his white teeth with a most charming smile.
Markeson took his seat again and gave his companion for the evening another approving once over. He decided dinner would be quick followed by a quick trip to the establishment’s bar and then home to his apartment. He reached for her well-manicured hand to start the process of seduction.
“There you are,” a female voice declared loudly enough to draw the attention of several diners close to Markeson’s table.
Unsure of who the female voice was targeting, Markeson looked up from his date to find Sarah standing next to his table, in her now familiar stance, complete with tapping right toe. Dressed in her most form fitting clothes; Sarah hid her figure, to the extent that she did, with her long black greatcoat.
“Don’t give me that,” Sarah snarled, shaking her right index finger at the startled Captain.
“Who is this bimbo?” Sarah declared, loud enough for most of the customers at the restaurant to hear. The maître de took note and scurried to rescue one of his best customers from the impending embarrassment of two females clashing.
“Excuse me,” Markeson replied, startled by Sarah’s confrontation.
“You heard me! Who is the bimbo? You promised me, no more bimbos!”
“Honey,” the blonde said, extending her verbal claws into the fray, “I think you’re mistaken and I’m certainly no bimbo.”
“Huh. Could have fooled me,” Sarah shot back. “I could read the labels on your underwear if you were wearing any your clothes are so tight.” Ignoring the blonde, Sarah continued her assault on the unnerved Markeson.
“Thought you could go behind my back again, didn’t you,” she declared, pleased all of the women in the restaurant were paying attention.
“Sarah, can we talk about this later,” Markeson said calmly, trying to gain control of the situation.
“No, we’re going to talk about this now! Explain to me what this bimbo is doing here!”
“Miss, is there anything I can do for you,” the maître de interjected, trying to calm Sarah down so he could lure her out of the establishment.
“Yes,” Sarah snapped, directing her furious glare at the hapless man, causing him to take a step back. “Don’t ever let my man in this place again if he’s with a bimbo or has one waiting for him.”
Sarah turned to face Markeson with her right hand raised to strike him. She slammed her hand flat on the table, gave Markeson one final look that could kill, brushed the maître de aside and stormed out of the dining room.
A stunned silence settled over the dining room. After a few seconds passed, the sound of silverware clinking and hushed whispers of gossip filled the void. Cassandra stood, slapped Markeson and wiggled her firm backside for all the males to see as she departed.
Embarrassed, his appetite for anything gone, Markeson reached into his pocket for hard credits to leave behind to cover the loss of the price of the meal, tip for his waiter and the general embarrassment the scene had caused. As he laid the money on the table he noticed a piece of white plasticard used to leave messages where Sarah had struck the table.
Curious, he picked it up, turning it over to read the message.
I found you tonight. I’ll find you tomorrow night. I’ll find you every night until you realize just how skilled I am at tailing a suspect. You’ll never see me until I want you to. If you think tonight’s performance was entertaining, just wait till you see what I have in mind for your next date. I want my badge.
Markeson quietly slipped out through the discreet side entrance and made his way through the snow to his hovercar. He got in, secured his safety harness and started the power plant. As he reached for the control for the car’s sound system, he found another piece of white messaging plasticard.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I could tail you anywhere. I want my badge. The sooner the better.
I heard him coming. The general tenor of the racket Markeson was making confirmed my suspicion Sarah had already struck fear into Markeson.
I smiled. Sarah had struck quickly and evidently gotten her message across.
“Yes, Captain,” I answered without looking up from my work.
Markeson squeezed past the fleeing Josephson into my cubicle. “Do something about her!”
“What do you want me to do,” I asked innocently.
“Sarah embarrassed a lady friend of mine at a restaurant last night,” Markeson hissed in a low, serpent like tone.
“You mean Sarah embarrassed you,” I clarified.
“That too. Now get her to call the dogs off!”
“Not possible. I told you she was relentless. Bet you never saw her coming either?”
“Point proven! Now call her off!”
“I’ve told you, what Sarah does on her own time, is her own business.”
“She works for you Sullivan! Call her off! I’m not going to be looking over my shoulder when I’m on my own time. My social life is my business and nobody else’s!”
“Then you might want to reconsider you’re position in regards to getting Sarah a badge.”
“Are you saying you won’t do anything about this?”
“You’re the one saying that, Captain,” I answered, needling the man. “Sarah can be invaluable as you’ve just discovered. She can also be quite stubborn. I don’t have the authority to grant Sarah her request, but you and the chief can make it happen.”
Markeson looked away, the CPU processing. He wasn’t just worried about his social life, he was worried about the various business enterprises he ran off the books and the fact I might be taking an interest in sending Internal Affairs his way with a few hints of what to look for.
“Okay, you win. This time. But don’t try something like this again,” Markeson threatened. “I know you can control her.”
“So, does this mean Sarah gets a badge?”
“You figure out a way the Chief can make it happen and I’ll make sure he goes along with it,” Markeson promised.
It was all I could do not to laugh out loud as the pretty boy strutted away to his lair to lick his wounds.
I watched Sarah read the inscription on the piece of fancy plasticard, her gaze focused with great intensity. She read it a second and third time before placing it on my desk.
“What does Interplanetary Alliance Police Auxiliary mean Sully?”
“It means you will get paid the huge amount of ten credits every two weeks like the rest of us saps who work around here.”
“Ten credits is nothing,” Sarah said, frowning. “I didn’t want money, I wanted a badge.”
I couldn’t help myself. I had to laugh.
“It means you are an auxiliary employee of our precinct.”
“I don’t understand,” a confused Sarah replied.
I reached into the pocket of my coat and pulled out a brand new wallet of the type every detective was issued when they received their detective’s badge.
Sarah’s eyes went wide and she reached for the wallet. I pulled it out of her reach and held it over my head.
“Let’s get a few things straight first,” I said firmly.
“I get to have a badge,” Sarah asked softly, almost as if she thought I was playing a trick on her.
“First, promise when we’re on the job, you follow all of my orders to the letter.”
“I promise,” she whispered, a smile beginning to form on her face.
“You promise to cooperate with Josephson and not give him grief.” I paused for effect before continuing, “most of the time.”
“You leave Captain Markeson alone at all times unless instructed otherwise by me.”
Sarah clapped her hands together twice and bounced a couple of times in her chair before answering.
“Admit your were unreasonable about how you went about trying to get your badge and promise you will NEVER do anything like that again.”
Sarah’s smile faded and she looked down at her lap as she softly spoke, “I promise.”
“Here’s your badge, Police Auxiliary Officer Sarah,” I paused. It had never occurred to me to ask Sarah her last name.
She looked at me with a trace of sadness in her eyes. “Is it okay if I don’t have a last name,” she asked, suddenly worried the badge might disappear.
I handed Sarah her badge. “It’s okay, Officer Sarah.”
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