Taggert had the night shift, helping guard the Governor’s Mansion. He paced the floor in the room adjacent to the Seldoms’ bedroom. At three in the morning he still had not heard back from the task force that followed the former janitor out of town.

Their orders were simple. Follow the suspect, engage the crew of the Excelsior if found. He should have heard back from them by now.

He regretted, as almost everybody on this new, raw planet, the lack of technology they had left behind. What he would give right now for old style radios . . .

The neural net and the quantum matrix were the most missed by everybody. Supposedly there was a satellite in orbit that had an antenna that could connect with the quantum matrix. Taggert only knew about it because Seldom had a briefing, and he happened to be in the room at the time.

But it was hopelessly out of reach. And even if they could get up there to turn it on, there was no infrastructure down here to use the connection. So, they remained cut off from the rest of the galaxy.

Taggert stood five foot eleven, or 180 centimeters. He was not the tallest cop on the force, but he was not the shortest, either. He had dark brown hair and eyes like the majority of people in the galaxy, and olive skin that tanned easily when he spent time outside.

He preferred a flat top haircut. In his early 40s, he had not started balding yet, but he expected it to come for him. Both grandfathers and his father had grown bald late in life.

Since arriving at Halcyon with the other colonists three years ago, he had spent little time outside. Administrative police work, then the guard duty involving the Governor, kept him inside most of the time.

Right now he wished he were outside with the task force. Wherever they were.

He stopped pacing and looked at the clock on the wall. It read 3:14.

“Something’s wrong.”

He opened the door and walked across the hall to knock on the guardroom adjoining Lilah Seldom’s bedroom.

“Little Lilah” as the press called her, was two years old. She was a native of Halcyon, the Governor and her husband’s first child, and a little cutie. Everybody adored her.

Annie Gold answered the door, still in uniform and still alert despite the hour. A middle-aged woman with a light complexion with short salt and pepper hair, Annie had the look of several years in law enforcement. This was experience which indeed she had. After retiring from the Capital City Police Force on Juventas, she immigrated to Halcyon.

She had never married, had no family to worry about, and looked at helping settle a new planet as an adventure. She would be happy to tell anyone who listened that the adventure was not what she imagined, what with being cut off from the rest of the galaxy and forced to use 19th century technology and all.

But she had a persistently positive attitude, and a matronly air that made her a perfect bodyguard for Lilah, and so Taggert had assigned her to the detail guarding the child.

Taggert said, “I’m going to check with the guys downstairs. We should have heard back by now.”

“Maybe they did come back already and the guys downstairs forgot to come up and tell you,” Gold said, smiling.

“No. They have standing orders to notify me immediately. Keep an eye on both bedrooms, will you? If something happens, God forbid, move Lilah into the room with her parents and bar the door.”

“Sure thing, Boss. Surely you don’t expect trouble?”

“I dunno. But we should have heard by now . . .”

He trailed off in troubled thought, and left her with the door open. He made his way for the stairs, taking them down to the ground floor where the overnight guard detail served, patrolling the area.

The stairs led to a hallway which opened to a large room. Here the dividing line between what the public could access and what was reserved for the Governor and her family was clearly demarcated with signage and a guard station.

Marco Iglesias looked at him from the desk. He was an older officer, like Gold. A retiree from a smaller town on Juventas, he and his wife decided to immigrate in hopes of obtaining a large tract of land.

Taggert knew Iglesias ended up brushing off his police skills when the war started and he and his wife realized farming would be considerably more difficult with horse-drawn plows rather than harvest bots.

When asked about his ancestry, Iglesias would smile and simply say, “Undetermined South American descent.” No one out here pressed him on it. On a new planet, Taggert throught, no one really cared much where you or your family came from.

Taggert said, “Heard from the away team?”

Iglesias shook his head. He said, “No, sir. I woulda thought they’d be back by now.”

“Outside patrol hasn’t seen anything?”

“Not the last time they checked in.”

Taggert nodded. Four guards watched over the corners of the mansion grounds, checking in with the guard desk on the hour.

A flash of green came through one of the windows.

Taggert said, “What was that? Do you hear that?”

More flashes. In the distance he could make out sounds of a blaster firing.

Iglesias said, “They don’t have blasters do they? I thought we confiscated them all.”

“We did. Unless they have a stockpile we didn’t know about.”


They heard the first gunshot, jolting them into action. Iglesias reached into a cabinet behind him and pulled out four loaded carbines, two in each hand.

Taggert unholstered his sidearm and said, “I’m going back up. Hold this entry point!”

Iglesias smiled with the look of an old man fully committed to his duty.

He said, “Yes, sir. They won’t get by me if I can help it.”

He propped three of the short rifles up against the counter, and brought the fourth to eye level, covering the door.

Dashing back down the hallway to the stairs, Taggert thought the Navy crew would indeed get by the retired police officer. The mansion had not been designed to withstand blaster fire.

For one thing, it was made out of wood . . .


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