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A-to-Z Challenge — Letter T

April 23, 2015

Tech Troubles

Astraeus Earth Force Station, 2115 A.D.

Jack Sparks slumped backwards in his seat and looked up at Davies and Rourke. He squinted under the blinding lights of the interrogation room. “You guys have lousy timing. I just got to sleep,” he muttered.

“I don’t give a damn what you were doing, Sparks! I’ve got a dead officer and your reaper guy sneaking around inside your casino,” Davies remarked as stood at the side of the table, leaned in and placed one hand on the table and the other on a computer tablet. He turned the tablet around and played the video feed. “See that? What’s in the box, Sparks?”

Sparks sat up and stared at the video feed. He watched The Reaper exit the casino with the wooden box under his arm. “I don’t know, man! I have tons of boxes in that place.”

“We know, Sparks. Security has confiscated every box in your joint. They are searching them now. Why don’t you tell us what you keep in them?” Rourke inquired.

Sparks jerked around in his chair and his face turned red. “Man, you guys are determined to get me killed!”

“Just tell us what’s in the damn boxes!” Davies yelled as he slammed his fist down on the table.

“Okay! Damn!” he exclaimed as he shifted in his chair. When Davies gave him a warning look, he continued, “All kinds of stuff like chips for the tables, markers from customers who still owe me, and stuff people bet with when they run out of units… you know, jewels and watches… that kinda stuff.”

“Hardly seems like stuff The Reaper would steal,” Rourke said, looking up at Davies.

“Let’s go across the hallway and take a look at your boxes,” Davies demanded as he pulled Sparks up by the collar of his shirt.

Rourke opened the interrogation door and Davies dragged Sparks across the hall. A table stood in the center of the room with five wooden boxes and their contents displayed on it. Davies shoved Sparks toward the table. Sparks stumbled, then steadied himself as he hit his thigh against the tabletop. He stared down at the items.

“What’s missing?” Rourke asked as he walked around to the opposite side of the room.

“The markers,” Sparks said as he sifted through the all of the items.

Davies combed his fingers through his goatee and then turned to Rourke. “Why would The Reaper want markers? Is he starting his own extortion gig?”

“No, man! That don’t make sense. None of those markers were worth more than fifty units,” Sparks explained. “That’s peanuts to a man like The Reaper. I pay him ten times…,” his voice trailed off.

“For what? Why do you pay The Reaper?” Rourke questioned.

“You know…um…goods for the nightclub,” Sparks stammered.

Rourke wasn’t buying this guy’s act. “You pay him ten times what those goods are worth?”

“Yeah… otherwise, he sells them to the loan shark and then I have to buy them from him. The loan shark charges twenty times the worth,” Sparks explained.  Davies flashed him a look that read I don’t believe you, and Sparks continued, “Listen, it’s all very complicated, but it’s how I gotta do business down there!”

“That still doesn’t explain why The Reaper took the markers,” Rourke retorted.

Davies stared off for a moment, deep in thought, then asked, “Do you keep a record of whose markers you keep? Or do you just keep the markers?”

“I gotta journal I record them in,” Sparks offered.

Davies punched on his link-in. “Shannehey, get in here!” He then turned to Sparks. “Where do you keep that journal?”

“It’s locked in my desk.”

“Keys!” Davies ordered as Shannehey entered the room. Sparks hesitated and then stuck a hand in his pants’ pocket and pulled out a small key on a silver chain. He passed the key to Shannehey. “Office desk drawer… a journal. Bring it here,” Davies said to the officer.

While Shannehey retrieved the journal, Davies escorted Spark back to interrogation and closed the door, leaving Sparks in there alone. He walked back across the hall and stood at the table looking over all they’d confiscated. Some valuable items were scattered across the table—watches, various rings with different gems and metals, head adornments with assorted alien gems—some of the items were forbidden by the IBI. Rourke joined him on his side of the table and picked up one of the head adornments.

“We can’t let any of these go back to the casino,” he informed Davies. “Lock them up. I don’t need IBI coming down on us and Ambassador Amon is injured. We can’t rely on him to act as intermediator.”

“Understood,” Davies replied just as Shannehey returned with the journal and handed it over to him. “Great! Let’s see what’s so special about those markers.”

Davies thumbed through the journal, reading over the list of names, some familiar and some unknown. Half of his officers gambled down there and owed Sparks money. There had to be hundreds of names in that journal and most of them were Caveners.

“You might as well help look,” Davies said as he tore out several pages and handed them to Rourke. He sat down at the table and studied the list in depth.

Rourke sat down across from him, looking over the first page. One name popped out at him immediately—Dr. Martin. Several other members of Medic Labs’ staff were on the list too. He finished the first page and ran a finger down the second page. Near the bottom, he stopped. “Look at this,” he stated, showing the page to Davies.

“I’ll be!” Davies exclaimed. “That blasted tech—Marshall!”

“Didn’t Sparks say none of these makers were for anything more than fifty units?” Rourke inquired.

“Yeah, but that,” Davies said, pointing to the amount of the marker, “is much more than fifty. He’s in the hole for 20k!”

“Sounds like motive to steal those markers to me. Looks like we just found The Reaper. Haul him in,” Rourke commanded as he leaned back in his chair with a satisfied grin on his face.

(more to come in tomorrow’s challenge!)

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