CHAPTER 3: EMOTIONAL MANSLAUGHTER
The call was from my ball and chain, a piece of work called the Equalizer. First in command and last to scream uncle, the EQ had taken so many blows for the empire they'd just done away with his physical form and transistorized him instead.
The official line was that he'd given up his body in the name of Korps security, but we'd come up through the ranks together and I'd seen him go Stalin, then solid state. A certain fatal femme had thrown him the gasface and he'd wound up crucified on an ugly stick. There were only a handful of us left who knew him when, and it wasn't very pretty for us either.
"Doolan, you drunken broom, stand at attention when I buzz you."
"I'm working on a decent buzz right now."
"My daughter Suzi has been truant from school all week, and she didn't come home last night. I want her found immediately and returned to me."
No surprises there. Ever since little Suzy-Q got out of kneepants everything that she did or didn't do rated as a minor apocalypse with the old man. Coming up with that kind of baggage and no female around to smooth out the wet spots...well, let's say I felt for her.
At the same time, I was in need of some gainful employment, and the EQ knew that old dependable, expendable Doolan could be counted on to dummy up in a family crisis.
"Where does she hang and who is she with?"
On his big, ugly screen I saw a picture of the Old Fairgrounds and mug shots of a few surly delinquents. Then Suzy's face appeared in a halo of yearning and Clearasil, and for a second there I almost lost my grip.
See, in the Korps we don't always go by the book. Sometimes, its got to be statutory.
"Why don't you give the kid a break, maybe the collarbone?"
"There'll be no more nonsense from her. This time she'll go straight to Rebellion Control."
Rebellion Control was a juvenile snakepit, wielding the cleaver on wards of the state. High spirited Jeckyls checked in, but half the time it was narco happy Hydes who checked out. And when the inmates got wind of who her father was, she'd be drawn, quartered, and left for puppy chow.
"That's emotional manslaughter, they'll depersonalize the damn kid!"
"Now you're an expert on child rearing as well as drug addiction, Doolan? If I see fit she'll haunt a bloody nunnery."
There was no use arguing te Point, so I accessed the spirit of Tina Peel and started thinking tactically. When I hear the word female I reach for my Luger. Young hearts bleed lead, and glycerine tears are the least of my worries.
"This gang that she's running with is posing as a musical outfit called Lucifers Crank; but be forewarned--they are armed and extremely talentless."
"Happy trails to you too, Chief," I said to an empty screen.