Paladin’s Curse: Prologue

My belt began to vibrate. Correction, the phone attached to the holster on my belt was vibrating. I ignored the phone for now and looked at the sheriff deputy standing in front of me. “Pete McCarthy. Esoteric Interdiction Specialist, license number one-three-six-alpha, two-four-two-one-six.”

The deputy glanced at me, then dropped his eyes to the credentials folder I was holding out for him. With a glance at the man next to me, he reached out and took my credentials. I held back a sigh. This is normally where the officer will claim ignorance in the process, and try to turn away my prisoner transfer. I waited for the deputy to think about how he could turn me away. My phone buzzed again. 

“I’m sorry, Mister McCarthy. I wasn’t told of any independent prisoner transfers. I’m going to decline the transfer.”

I nodded slightly and tried to show some sympathy for him. It came across as patronizing, and I was beyond caring. “I understand that you didn’t get any advanced warning of this prisoner. That’s how you usually get these types of prisoners. Your jail is listed as a Class C holding facility for esoteric threats.” I put my hand on my prisoner’s shoulder. “This prisoner is a Class D prisoner who will be waiting for trial. He has no known hazards, and can be held in simple isolation, in accordance with the law. If you have questions, call your supervisor. They should know what’s going on.”

I watched the officer’s eyes shift and harden. Crap. He’s going to be difficult. 

“Listen, asshole.” The deputy poked me in the chest with his index finger. His other hand rested on the butt of the taser on his belt. “I told you, we don’t take prisoners from any other jurisdiction without any advanced warning, and that includes paperwork. I didn’t get any paperwork, so that means that you aren’t dropping anyone off here.” One last poke in the chest to assert his dominance in the conversation. I really hated sanctimonious twits like this moron.

I smiled. “Fine.” I made a show of glancing at his shoulders and collar. “I don’t see sergeant’s stripes on the sleeves, so I’m going to say that you are not the on-duty supervisor.” 

His eyes narrowed. I had pushed a big button, and it was time to push the prick over the edge. “So here’s what I’m going to recommend. While I wait with my prisoner in your lobby, you contact your supervisor. Let them know that if they don’t come down to deal with this, I’ll be filing a complaint with the Office of Transhuman Affairs in the morning.” 

The deputy was starting to look a little scared at this point. I continued. “Director Massey will then be calling your chief. She will let your chief know that all of the funding provided by the Humanity Survival Act to your county, and to your department, including training and equipment, will be held up in the courts until your county facilities are either re-certified, or fail their re-certification.”

I smiled and drove the nail home as the deputy paled. “Do you want to know the funny part about that process? I’m one of the Independent Agents that is on the re-certification board. So we can go through all of that, or you can check with your supervisor about this mess.”

The deputy simply sagged. He stammered slightly as he spoke, “If you’ll give me a moment, I’ll call upstairs and see what I can do.” The deputy slinked off toward the safety of his intake desk.

While I waited for the supervisor, I pulled my phone from its holster. I had missed four calls. I saw the phone number and gave a small sigh. Damn it. I just wanted to go home. I tapped out a quick message to the caller and then put the phone away.

It was about five minutes later that the deputy behind the desk announced that his supervisor would be down in moments. I thanked him and glared at my prisoner. 

The man before me was hunched over, making his five-and-a-half foot frame appear even shorter. The man’s gray hair was messy, caked with grease and grime. His sallow, sunken cheeks were shadowed with a three-day-old scruff of a beard. The man stared at the floor, hands clasped in front of him in shining silver handcuffs. The man’s unwashed body odor was beginning to permeate the room, and I could not wait to get him off my hands. 

The supervisor finally made an appearance. She was a lieutenant with the sheriff’s department, and she did not look happy. Hair pulled back in a sever bun, the her dark complexion did nothing to mask the anger in her eyes. She bore down on me with all the purpose of a bulldozer. 

She launched into her tirade. “I don’t care who you are or what you claim to do, no one treats my deputies the way you just did. If you thought your threats were going to make a difference tonight, I’m telling you right now, you just pissed me off.” 

She paused to take a quick breath and stopped about a three feet away. She was forced to look up at me, but she continued. “Even if I was going to take your prisoner before, I have no intention of doing so now. So you will clear out of this building before I find a reason to make you a resident.” 

As she was making her threat, the phone at the desk rang. The officer picked up the phone and I heard a muttered greeting. There was a pause, and the deputy paled. “Uhhh, Lieutenant? There’s a call for you. You might want to take this.”

She whipped her head around so fast that I thought she was going to give herself whiplash. I hid a smirk behind my hand as I knew precisely who was on the line for the Lieutenant. She stormed her way over to the desk, muttering, “This better be worth it.”

As she picked up the handset, she said, “Lieutenant Whitmore. Who am I speaking too?”

I watched her eyes widen as she looked at the phone on the desk, and then up at me. I could almost imagine the conversation that was happening now. It was getting harder to hide my smile.

She finally got a chance to speak. “Yes, Assistant Director. I completely understand. My name? Lieutenant Kim Whitmore, ma’am. Yes, ma’am. Thank you for your understanding.” She slowly put down the handset back on the cradle. Her eyes came up to meet mine. 

“Ok, Brad. Accept the transfer. Put the prisoner in one of the special isolation cells, get the paperwork out of the OTA file folder. We’re going to give Mister McCarthy all of our assistance.”

I smiled, “Thank you, Lieutenant Whitmore, was it? I appreciate your help.”

She nodded, frowning. She said, “I’m glad we could get this sorted out. By the way, the Assistant Director said, and I quote, ‘Call the office when you are finished. Next time answer your damn phone.’”

I smiled. Sounded like AD Mulder. “Thank you for the message, Lieutenant. I’ll make sure to do that.”

It was two hours later before I finally left the jail. I sat in my truck, bone tired. I turned the engine on and the bluetooth system connected automatically to my phone. Hitting the dial button, I tapped in the phone number to the OTA headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A man’s voice answered on the second ring. 

“Took you long enough, Pete.”

“Yeah. It was the first time this deputy had ever filled out the paperwork. You’ve got one prisoner waiting for pickup in the Cuyahoga County Jail. Class D. Burnt out sorcerer. So what do you want, Jonas?”

 The Director of Operations for the Office of Transhuman Affairs paused for a moment. “You’re in Ohio? That’s great news. I have a case that I need your particular expertise on.”

I sighed. Dammit. I was hoping to take a vacation. I hung my head and took a deep breath, “Alright, Jonas. But I better get a bonus with this one, I was going to take a vacation. Where am I going?”

The voice on the phone chuckled, “It’s not far. Looks like we have some interesting cult activity just south of you, in a town called Wooster.”

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