Lawrence Plantagenet sits in the reception area of the office of Councillor Jeffrey Corris. A gleaming silver AI orb bobs above a low platform near the bureaucrat’s locked door. It repeats, for the twentieth time since the mogul arrived: “The councillor is not currently in the government complex. His arrival time is unknown.”

Plantagenet doesn’t look like he’s slept much in the last couple of days – dark circles around his eyes, salt and pepper hair mussed. He gives a mute stare at the orb. What’s the point of talking to it? Just a lifeless ball of metal, formed plastic, and circuitry.

The orb maintains its vigil outside the councillor’s office,  heedless of the man’s obstinance.

A small security camera in the lobby to the office turns and focus’ on the guest. It remains fixed on him for several minutes without moving.

Inside the office, Corris sits behind his desk. The monitor on the wall shows the man in his lobby. He wasn’t expecting any visitors. Debt collector? Someone trying to convert him to the religious flavor of the week? Both unlikely but wouldn’t be the first time.

The councillor moves his hands through his hair before shutting the monitor off. He presses a control panel and says into it, “Let him in.”

The orb processes the message. It then broadcasts to the waiting room: “Councillor Jeffrey Corris is, it would seem, on the premises at this time. You are cleared to enter, Mr. Plantagenet.” The door clicks as it unlocks.

Plantagenet rises to his feet, walks past the orb, and steps into the councillor’s office. “You pop in with one of those Castori teleporters?” His brow is furrowed, mouth curled into a deep frown.

The councillor leans forward, placing both his hands face down on the desk, “It’s much easier to work when people don’t think I’m here.” He says, sighing. “But some people don’t take the hint. This paperwork just doesn’t deal with itself!” Corris shuffles around the various data pads and paper all over his desk.

Standing, he leans forward and offers a polite smile. “In any case, what is it I can do for you today.. Mister…?”

“Plantagenet,” the man replies, mood darkening with each syllable. “My daughter Amalie was kidnapped. I want to know what you’re doing about it.”

Corris sits back down and leans back in his chair. “Mars Security is looking into the matter. I can follow up with them to see where they are at. As you may be aware, I was at the site of where the rover was found. I am hopeful she will be found alive.”

“Hopeful,” Plantagenet mutters, almost laughing. “Yes, well.” He stands. “I’m hopeful you can find financial backing for your re-election campaign.”

“Is that a threat, or a promise?” Corris says, leaning back in his char. “I assure you, Mars Security is doing what they can. I am waiting to hear what leads they have.” The councillor slowly stands up, leans forward with his hands on his desk. “And if you ever come in here threatening me, my position, or this office ever again, I will put you in your grave and you won’t have to worry about if your daughter comes back. My only concern is with the welfare of Mars and its citizens.”

The mogul appears unfazed by the councillor’s assertion. Instead, he gets to his feet and starts toward the door. There, he stops, turns, and says: “If my daughter doesn’t come back, Councillor Corris, it won’t be Mars or its citizens you need to worry about.” He forces a smile, then moves to exit the office.

The councillor snorts. “I suspect you know more than you are letting on. If you know anything, you best share it.”

“What I know, Mr. Corris, is that my daughter is in the hands of people who murdered her friend and they haven’t made any demands yet,” Plantagenet says. “That seems odd to me.”

“Indeed, it does.” Corris says, sitting down, motioning for the man to sit. “You’re a wealthy man. I am sure you have many enemies.. Or at least people who might want to see your downfall. Any names come to mind? Any threats? Veiled or otherwise, lately?”

Plantagenet looks baffled. “One minute you’re threatening to kill me; the next you suddenly take an interest in my case? That’s about as odd as these monsters taking my daughter without any demands.” He doesn’t move to sit, but he doesn’t leave, either.

“Every once and awhile you have to keep those on the other side off balance.. Make it harder for them to know your true motives.” Corris replies, watching the man. “But you must have enemies, no? No one just abducts a child for no reason. Not from the middle of no where on Mars, unless she was being watched. But by whom.. You must suspect something? No odd letters? Communications that are out of the ordinary? Something to work with.”

“I didn’t get rich making friends, Councillor,” Plantagenet counters. “Pretty obvious she was being watched. Someone waited for just the right moment to strike.”

“And that someone, I think.. Is someone you may know.” Corris says, resting is hands on his desk on top of a number of reports. “None of this makes sense. And if you’re hiding something, by god I will find out. So you  can cut the crap and tell me what we need to know. No one wants to see her dead. But you screwing around is going to bring her home in a body bag.” He councillor sighs and slides a datapad over for the man to look at.

“Why would it have to be someone I know?” Plantagenet asks, taking the PDA. “And what’s this?”

The councillor grins. “Because people don’t just go around kidnapping someones child unless they have something that person has, an axe to grind, or something to prove. Chances are you know more then you’re letting on.” Corris stands up, nodding to the pad. “And that.. is the warrant request going over to the Martian Superior Court as we speak to get access to your financials, communications logs and assorted other things. You’re going to play ball and give the information we want to get your kid back, or this will get very ugly. Very fast. You know more than you’re letting on, I know it, you know it. You choose how this ends.”

Plantagenet reddens at the implication from the councillor. He drops the PDA on the table and stalks toward the exit. “See you in court with my lawyers, then. And forget any backing on the next election, Corris. I’ll find a better horse to back.”

Corris takes a seat behind his desk, shrugging. “That’s fine. But when your daughter turns up dead cut into a thousand pieces you only need look in the mirror to see the reason why she’s dead. We’ll find her, without you. And don’t let the door hit your fat ass on the way out.” He sighs and goes back to work.

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By Brody

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