Saturday, July 25, 2015

Short Story: Orbital PD: Show My Good Side

Orbital PD:
Show My Good Side

“I'm a cop. My beat covers the whole world, but way up here in orbit. That is a lot of territory to cover and there aren't that many police officers to go around. Of course, I wouldn't trade my job for anything” Lieutenant Reese Davison said to the camera being held by an older, balding man.

“and cut” the man said “Remember this is going to be a documentary seen all over Earth, I need to see some real interesting stuff during the ride-along”

Lieutenant Davison glanced toward Sergeant Manny Jones who was looking grumpy about this whole thing. Reese Davison was younger, tall and good-looking while Manny Jones was short, stout and looked like a “get off my lawn, lousy kids” type. The documentary-maker, Bruce Atkinson, was already showing favoritism toward the telegenic Davison.

They were in the main room of the OPD station, it was the mess hall and a bunch of other things, and at 60 square feet it was the biggest room by far. The bosses downstairs had decided that a documentary would be good PR for the whole operation. Manny thought that was bunk, of course.

With the camera off Manny gently floated over to his partner and stopped himself by grabbing the table, it was bolted to the floor. “How long is this going to take? We have important things to do, you know”

The chubby old man waved a hand and said “Fine, fine” as he attached his camera to a harness he wore across his chest, along with other things. He had already taken a tour of the station, Manny barely remembered to go and make sure the toilet was clean and shiny in time.

“The other teams left twenty minutes ago” Manny said, there were only three other teams “We're the last ones out”.

“Is there a call?” the man asked, Manny wondered if the camera on the mans chest was still on and decided to play nice for the sake of PR.

“Yes, Beverly – our dispatcher- has an assignment for us. It seems that one of the religious sects has been preventing one of its members from leaving” Manny told him, looking at the camera “That..” he said dramatically “... is kidnapping & imprisonment!”

Lieutenant Davison was watching this with bemused interest but he had to put an end to this just in case Manny was going to keep going “Okay, lets suit up and roll out”

All three put on the suits, the two OPD officers had the gold crest on their shoulders and chest while their guest had to wear the green and white “reserve suit”. Then they floated down through the tunnel and into the airlock connecting to their ship.

It looked like a clone of the old Space Shuttles but smaller and it had a red and blue light bar on top and a spotlight of its own. It said POLICE on the side and OPD on the tail. Theirs was “car #2”. Bruce Atkinson was impressed and got recordings from inside of the ship as they moved away from the station, turned and rocketed away.

“Lieutenant Reese Davison, 36, originally from Belmont, NY. What made you want to become a police officer in orbit?” their guest asked.

“Well, when I was a kid I witnessed a crime. I told the honest-to-God truth to my parents, to the cops, to the judge but the guy got off light, too light. The cops weren't happy about that but they pulled up their sleeves and went back to work. I liked that commitment, I liked the fact that even an injustice in the system makes them want real justice even more” Reese said

“So, you want to bring justice to space?”

“Oh, not like that. I just needed to stay away from Belmont for a while after I helped catch a fellow cop who beat the perp to a pulp. So I joined the OPD!” he said with a dazzling smile for the camera. Manny wanted to be sick but he grinned and bore it.

Then Bruce Atkinson, still frowning and shaking his head about something pointed the camera at Manny, causing him to perk up. “Is there any special event or desire that brings you to join the OPD, Sergeant Manny Jones?”

Manny closed his eyes and said “ah..” as if he had to think about it “I wouldn't call it special, I came out here because there are less people per squared mile than anywhere on Earth. I really dislike people and crowds... and children – more than one in a room at the same time really”

Bruce looked flabbergasted. He probably wondered if he could even use the footage.

Soon enough Reese got to say “We are approaching the religious sects station now”

Manny picked up the communications device and said “Beverly, this is Car 2, we are approaching the location now, over”

Through static the voice of the woman responded “Why in the -sshhhhsss- are you telling me that?”

“Roger that” Manny said putting it back down “Just dock it, I am not doing a space-walk today”

Bruce got video of the station it was the kind that revolved and gave the occupants some gravity, not as much as on Earth, but some. They also could see that one end of the spinning part was a dome with a large tree inside.

“Dang tree hugging witches” Manny grumbled

“That sounds pretty offensive” Bruce told him “Why would you say that, I might have been recording!”

“Wha... no, you need to understand” Manny said “That is their religion, the Seventh Day Ba'Hai Wiccan Church of Gaia. They literally worship that tree that is in that dome”

So car #2 docked with the religious sect's space station and the air-lock wasn't blockaded or anything, so they entered just fine. They were escorted from the weightless environment of the center up a spoke to the opposite end of where the dome was. Now they had about 0.6g of gravity and were told to wait in small room that had couches around a coffee table, and no room for anything else.

After a minute of waiting a gray-haired woman wearing a white robe with purple trim entered and sat on the white couch opposite the officers.

“What can I do for you, officers?” she asked nicely “Can I get you some tea?”

“No, no” Manny said “We are here to look into a case. It has been reported that a girl is being kept here against her will”

“Ridiculous” the woman said, not looking at all surprised or alarmed by what he said “No-one is kept against their will in our community, you must mean the problem child Naomi. She's just sore that she isn't a good student of... our ways. She can't memorize the catechism to save her own hide.”

Lt Reese Davison decided to take over the talking. “Ma'am”

“My title is Nature Mother” she told them

“Nature Mother, Ma'am, we will have to see and talk to Naomi before we can leave” he told her “We have standard procedures in cases like this”

“This is impossible” the woman said “Naomi is at her prayers”

The two cops looked at each other for a second. Davison asked “How long will that take?”

The woman sighed “She is meditating, in prayer to the life force of the Tree of Life. She must pray to the four winds and for every season. It could take another ten hours”

The filmmaker choked to cover up a sarcastic chuckle. “Pardon me, Nature Mother, may the peace of a quiet sun keep you always warm, but I happen to know a little something of your faith and there is no way the Sa-Christal Prayer takes anywhere near that much time”

The woman seemed a little surprised but then smiled “We are an off-shoot, a branching, of the sect you are referring to. Some of our ways are different”

Sergeant Manny Jones stood up and announced “If you do not deliver this girl, Naomi, within the hour we will tow your station from this spot to near our base, then we will have a dozen officers do a thorough search of the whole complex. Including the dome”

This shocked her “No one outside of the faith is allowed in the dome!”

Manny nodded “That doesn't matter to us. We have to respect your faith, but if you are keeping us from seeing someone who has been reported held against their will, we won't hesitate to pick apart the whole station to find her.”

Bruce Atkinson reached out and picked up the offered glass of tea, a little cooled now, and took a sniff before shaking his head. “Naughty, naughty. Your ways aren't so different from your Earth-bound brethren after all” the man laughed “Seems to have a trace of a certain mild opiate in this tea. Did you think we wouldn't notice?”

She harrumphed and left the room.

“I said I knew a little about their faith” the man said checking his camera “I hope there is a happy ending, this would be good for the show. When she looked surprised about cops going into the dome it rung a bell, must be where they grow that stuff”

“You recorded all this?” Manny asked “You'll need to make me a copy in case this goes to court”

“I'd be glad to” Lt Reese Davison said “Now let's find Naomi and get out of here”

They went into the corridor and started moving around, looking into doors and hatches.

“By the way, you realize that particular stuff in the tea isn't illegal up here, right?” Manny asked Bruce as he filmed them searching the premises.

“But it is supposed to be banned by their faith” he answered “Getting caught is what they consider a sin”

The woman reappeared with a tall, muscular man who had the wrist of a girl in her late teen in his grip. The man did not look at all happy but his blue robe was clean and vibrant, so that is always a plus, appearance gets you points.

“This is Naomi” the woman said “She tells me she has just decided to leave the community, so you can take her away if you want. She's nothing but trouble”

The man let her go and gave her a small shove towards the officers.

“Just leave in peace, child” the woman said without a bit of sincerity. So they left without saying a word until they were back in the ship.

“Are you all right?” Manny asked the girl

“I'm okay, just get me away from here” she told them “I should never have come here”

Davison disengaged the docking and turned the ship toward the station. The man making the documentary asked Naomi “Now that you are out of that place, what will you be doing with yourself?”

She shook her head “I'm not sure”

Manny bent over and whispered “Say you want to be a cop like the heroes who rescued you”

Naomi thought for a second “But she said the man with the camera had them figured out, she only said you cops were too dense to understand anything”

Bruce had filmed that too, he had a big smile.

“Just make sure you get my good side” Manny Jones told him.

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