Castle Roland

Sword of Light

by Rilbur


Chapter 2

Published: 8 Apr 14

"Magi Trent," Lieutenant Hendricks snarled across the precinct, "my office! Now!"

Before Mathew could get halfway to the 'fun' he'd dreaded earlier, Jenkins had fallen in with him. "I thought you didn't like me," Mathew twitted him.

"I don't," Jenkins informed him coolly. "But you do your job, and you don't deserve to be slammed for doing it above and beyond the call of duty."

Mathew looked at him for a moment, considering. "If ever you need any help," he let the promise dangle unspoken.

Jenkins' mouth twisted into a moue of distaste. "If I ever need the help of your kind, that'll be a sorry day indeed, magi."

Mathew winced. Jenkins would do his job, would cover for Mathew when Mathew was doing his own job, but clearly they weren't ever going to be friends. That was fine, Mathew could settle for being professionals.

"What the hell did you think you were doing?" Lieutenant Hendricks didn't even wait for Mathew to close the door. "You were bad enough, covering for him," Hendricks pointed at Jenkins, "but what were you thinking!" Hendricks collapsed into his chair, glowering at Mathew. "Your job is to liaise. You are to advise us. You are to support us. You sure as hell are not here to do our fucking jobs and make us look bad in the god-damned process!"

Mathew tensed his jaw, refusing to fire back as he so desperately wanted to. His job was to 'liaise', and nowhere in his job description did it read that he was supposed to increase tension between DPCR and local police forces, however much he wanted to. Ticking off lower level idiots with clever retorts and snide comments was one thing, but the angry tirade he wanted to let loose was quite another.

"That is an unfair and unjust characterization," Jenkins answered for Mathew, voice cool, calm, and collected. "I failed to properly assess the threat level to a civilian who had been magically assaulted, and he took prompt and responsible action to correct the situation. Insofar as any embarrassment has occurred, it is the result of departmental training and procedures which need to be reviewed. Just as I indicated in my memo last night."

Lieutenant Hendricks' glare shifted from Mathew to Jenkins as he worked his mouth. "Excuse me, detective?" he said softly, dangerously.

"I said we screwed up," Jenkins explained. "In fact, the screw up originated at the highest levels of the department with the training programs that we've been run through and the procedures that have been enacted. We were insufficiently informed about the threat that malicious magi can pose, and misinformed about the nature of the acts they might undertake. As indicated in my memo, departmental training regarding the limits magi act under is at best incomplete, at worst grossly inadequate, as well as being partially inaccurate. We spend time discussing how dangerous magi can be and how many ways they can be a threat, then spend a bare minimum on the limits without any time to compare those limits against what they are capable of in such a manner as to actually understand those limits. As a result, our appreciation of what magi are capable of is critically flawed which will inevitably lead to less-than-appropriate responses while in the field. Worse, we spend no time discussing critical aspects of what happens when a magi over-stresses his limits, despite our responsibility to be capable of providing first aid in emergencies to any citizen, even a magi who has managed to exceed his limits."

Lieutenant Hendricks face was turning more and more red, and Mathew had to force himself to stand back and not use any of the many spells in his repertoire, starting with a simple diagnostic spell to ensure that the Lieutenant wasn't about to suffer a heart-attack.

"Enough!" Hendricks slapped his desk in rage. "You are dismissed, detective! Leave your badge and your weapon before you leave. I'll call you later to discuss what actions you will be required to take before we can even consider letting you rejoin the force!"

Jenkins' eyes flashed. "I'm afraid I must object in the strongest possible words, Sir. I have done nothing warranting such action. I have merely raised a warning regarding the inadequate nature of the training provided by the police department with regard to magi, exactly as I am required to do by law. I have provided that report in writing, and have now reiterated it verbally."

Hendricks snarled wordlessly, then pulled himself back under control. "That may well be your opinion, detective, but I have a different one. As, I feel certain, will the Chief of Police."

"Very well, Sir," Jenkins' pulled his badge out and dropped it on the desk. "I will wait one day before contacting my lawyer," he added before dropping his weapon as well.

"What!" Hendricks spluttered, "why?"

"I will wait one day because I believe you deserve the chance to correct your mistake before I bring a suit against you, personally, and the city as a whole," Jenkins informed him coolly. "I believe the bad publicity of a lawsuit would hurt the police force, as well as public confidence in our services, but I also firmly believe the damage would be less than allowing you to continue in this insane streak of petty, vindictive, criminally negligent course of action."

Hendricks deflated instantly at the mention of a lawsuit. His position was fundamentally unsound, and he knew it. If Jenkins was willing to push it as far as a lawsuit, he might win, and even if he lost he would win any appeals, eventually. And however long it took for him to win, it would be professionally and personally disastrous for one Lieutenant Hendricks, once a rising star of the Dallas Police Department.

"I'm afraid I do not agree with you as the 'disastrous' nature of the course of action the city has chosen," Hendricks' words were clipped and his tone frosty. "However, my suspending you from the force was purely due to the insubordinate tone and disrespectful nature of your comments, and as such will be upheld in any lawsuit. However," he continued in the infinitely reasonable tone of a man humoring a fool, "given the damage any lawsuit over your suspension would do to the force, I'm willing to simply place a reprimand in your file instead."

Mathew didn't smile at how Hendricks had rapidly moved from 'dismissing' to 'suspending' Jenkins from the force. "I'm afraid I'd have to disagree with your characterization of the detective's words," he broke in. "While his conclusions may have been embarrassing, neither his word choice or tone approached 'insubordinate' until after you had dismissed him from the force, at which point he was acting as a private citizen as well as directly answering a question you posed him. Either aspect would be enough to cover him against any charge of insubordination given the mild nature of the language in question, both combined would make you look like a fool should the matter come before a judge, especially given the fact that his position is right, and yours patently wrong."

"I see," Hendricks leaned back in his chair, and suddenly he started grinning. "Feel that strongly about it, do you?" he asked, eyes twinkling. "Magi Trent still doesn't have a partner, did you know that Detective?" Detective Jenkins stiffened in realization. "I think I've found the perfect solution to this situation! Clearly you two are already covering each other like good partners should, after all."

"Pick up your badge and your weapon, Detective," Hendricks grinned. "I believe you two have a case to work on. Dismissed"

"Case?" Mathew asked as they left the room.

Jenkins nodded. "Yesterday."

"Ah," Mathew answered. "I take it he's declined to ask for help?"

"At this time we do not have sufficient evidence to suggest that we cannot handle it out of local resources," Jenkins shrugged. "Frankly, I agree with him."

"Agree?" Mathew spluttered. "Come on, lets head to my office."

Mathew hurried across the building, then pulled Jenkins into a small cubbyhole. "I'll have to put in for a bigger office," he mentioned dryly, waving Jenkins at a chair in front of a desk. Squeezing past the small gap between desk and wall, he managed to sit down at the chair behind the desk. "Alright, now explain to me exactly how you don't think you need help."

"I'm saying that we don't have the proof we need help," Jenkins corrected. "And we most definitely don't need external help right now. First, we have no evidence that this guy isn't a one-trick pony, who can compel and and not much else."

"He managed to create a cerebral hemorrhage," Mathew reminded Jenkins.

"The doctor isn't certain of that," Jenkins shook his head. "He called me last night and brought a few points to my attention."

"Such as?" Mathew asked.

"First detail, there's no proof the bleed was created by magic," Jenkins held up a hand before Mathew could protest. "It's unlikely, but possible, he simply detected the bleed."

"It was done by magic," Mathew shook his head. "Very, very well done, but done by magic."

Jenkins pursed his lips. "I'll add that to my report, not that it will do much good given item number two. He never touched her. Not once."

Mathew opened his mouth, then froze. That wasn't possible. "Are you certain?"

"Absolutely," Jenkins nodded. "I'll get you the video feed if you want it, but the security cameras clearly show they never physically touched, even when she handed over the cash."

"Shit," Mathew swore. "The finesse needed to create a brain bleed without destroying the surrounding tissue demands physical contact."

"That's almost exactly what the doctor said," Jenkins nodded. "Apparently, he's an emergent magi, and he's spent some time studying his abilities and how he can use them to help with his job."

Mathew leaned back in his char. "I'll contact the Department, see if I can shake loose some of the documentation on the case I was working on," he said thoughtfully. "I never thought to actually check with any of the other witnesses about physical contact."

"So, either the bleed is natural-" Jenkins began.

"Impossible, trust me," Mathew shook his head.

"Or the equally impossible fact is the guy did it without touching her," Jenkins concluded.

"Again, impossible," Mathew assured him.

"What is that Shakespeare quote? 'When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth', or something like that?" Jenkins asked. "Clearly you're wrong about one of those!"

"That's not Shakespeare," Mathew laughed, then sighed as he considered the situation. "I'm making an invalid assumption, I will go that far, but trust me it's not either of those."

"Then what could it be? We know the guy whodunnit, but according to you he couldn't possibly have done it," Jenkins shrugged. "You gotta be wrong."

Mathew grunted. "Do we have a copy of that security tape?"

Jenkins tapped the inbox sitting on Mathew's desk. "You need an e-as tcopy too?"

Mathew started sifting through the pile of paper sitting in his inbox until he found a CD that looked promising. Popping it into the drive of his computer, he pulled up the video. Thanks to the helpful index file included with it, he was able to rapidly skip to the right timechop and watch the entire event. "You're right, he didn't touch her," Mathew said thoughtfully. "In fact, it's odd how far he went out of his way not to touch her."

"You got a point?" Jenkins asked.

"I'm not sure," Mathew shook his head. "This guy is just plain weird. We've never gotten video footage of him before, so we're at least one up on DPCR, this needs to get forwarded to them. He's actually been very careful to avoid being caught on tape, usually burning out the electronics on any camera that could catch him."

"The camera was hidden," Jenkins pointed out. "They had a show camera, but no electronics in it. Want me to have them open it up and see if there's any sign of damage?"

"If you would be so kind," Mathew nodded. "I'm going to cut this thing down to a reasonable file size and forward it to the department." Looking across the cubbyhole he called an office, Mathew sighed. "If you want to use my phone you can, but I don't think we can make this desk fit two people."

"I've got a friend in admin," Jenkins snorted. "We'll be getting a better office later today, and the janitor can get his broom closet back."

Mathew raised an eyebrow. "Is that what the smell is?"

Jenkins nodded, smiling. "Well," Mathew leaned back in his chair, "thank you for letting me know. I thought someone was peeing outside the door or something."

Jenkins' lips twitched. "That too, probably."

Mathew rolled his eyes. "Damned hicks."

Jenkins leaned forward and grabbed the phone. "Time to work."

Mathew pulled up the video editing software on his computer and started specifying time chops to create a composite video from. "After we're done here, we should probably talk to the doctor who investigated the young lady yesterday."

"Her name is Lily," Jenkins grunted as he flipped through his notebook for a phone number.

"I didn't get a chance to catch it," Mathew shrugged. "We should probably talk to her again, check her recollection against the video just in case."

Jenkins frowned. "You thinkin' he messed with her mind?"

"We know he messed with her mind," Mathew corrected his new partner, "my worry is if he fiddled with her memory as well. In fact, when you're done on the phone I'm going to call the DPCR and ask for some info in their archives to take with us."

"You got a theory?" Jenkins asked.

"No," Mathew shook his head, "I've got lots of theories, and I need to try and disprove a few of them."

Jenkins grunted as he started punching in the phone number. "Doctor, victim, DCPR, any other leads we should work on?"

"I'll let you know if I think of any," Mathew informed him as he saved the resulting files to his hard drive. "Stupid question, has anyone reviewed the entire tape yet?"

"What for?" Jenkins asked as the phone began to ring.

"Anything we might have missed," Mathew shrugged. "Some detail that might be important."

Jenkins shook his head. "Feel free- Hello? This is Detective Jenkins, calling about yesterday's incident..."

Mathew pulled up the full video file. As a matter of fact, he would look it over himself. It was unlikely he'd spot anything, but maybe he would, despite it being the most boring way imaginable to spend a couple of hours over the next few days.

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