Aerex snorted. "Deviants," he muttered under his breath. The comment stung his pride more than anything: though he remained loyal to the sovereignty of the Empire, his all-too-short career in the Royal Constabulary showed him dark sides he never wished to see...
The Captain of the Guard stared at Aerex's report in the candle-lit office, his eyes hard and firey. His gaze shifted up to Aerex, then back at the paper.
Investigator Matare stood at attention, his bronze rank insignia reflecting the yellow-orange light. He's shocked, Aerex thought with a bit of awe. He had never seen Captain Therond anything but stoic and unmoved. Now he saw beads of sweat growing on the captain's quickly narrowing brow. He had every right to be shocked, of course. Aerex's investigation had blown the cover off deep corruption, years of bribery, smuggling, assassinations, intimidation.
Captain Therond slowly lowered the sheafs of paper and folded his hands, his eyes still locked on the document. "What..." He cleared his throat. "What conclusions have you drawn from this investigation, Matare?"
"Sir, I believe offices as high as the duke's personal secretary may be involved, all the way down to beat officers," Aerex snapped, his words formed with military precision. "A deep portion of the civil servants of Jantir are involved in a long-standing corruption scheme. Sir."
Therond breathed loudly, shaking his head in disbelief. He leaned back in his chair sharply, drawing his hand across his round face and large moustache. "And what do you propose we do about this, Investigator?" he asked in a strange tone.
Aerex blinked. "I am not sure, sir. I was hoping you had some ideas."
The Captain coughed. It sounded forced. He leaned forward again, clasping his hands. "This is a delicate situation, you understand. We couldn't move against everyone you've accused here, not without evidence."
Aerex's brow furrowed. "But... Sir, I've provided substantial evidence-"
"You have old paper and dead witnesses," Therond snapped. "It won't stand in court."
Aerex pursed his lips. "Sir, with all due respect, we cannot trust the court. Judicator Hathio -"
Therond's fist slammed down on the desk, causing the candlelight to flicker. "Judicator Hathio is a trusted member of the court. You will not slander him!" The Captain was close to shouting now, his round cheeks darkening with rage and sweat beading on his shaved head. He glared at the investigator. "I don't know what you're trying to pull, what rank you expect to get, but inventing conspiracies is no way to go about it. It's unfitting of an officer!"
Aerex's throat tightened. "Sir," he said, daring not to raise his voice, "I invented nothing. You see the evidence - that report is two years worth of work."
"Two years wasted," the Captain growled. He reached for the wooden filing cabinet behind his desk. "I'm transferring you immidiately. You'll now work the Gantor District beat." Aerex started to open his mouth, but it quickly snapped shut as Therond leveled a finger at him. "I don't want to hear of any more stories of wild machinations or imperial treachery from your mouth or your reports ever again. I consider your report treason, but I'll be merciful and not report you to the courts." He pulled Aerex's file from the cabinet, flung it open, and slammed a stamp on it. It sounded like a hammer nailing a coffin shut.
But... Aerex thought. What had he done wrong? This case was a shock, sure, but his evidence was solid as a cornerstone. There's no way these people would not be found guilty by an arbitrary court. If the Captain cared for justice-
His mind froze. Of course! He's covering his tracks! Matare's jaw nearly dropped. He knew there was corruption in the police force, but the Captain? Therond was the one that granted him admission to the Constabulary Academy at only 16. He had been one of the major forces in Aerex's life. And now he was nothing but a dirty cop? It was too much to bear.
"Is that clear, Matare?" Therond barked, glaring at him in the flickering light.
Aerex blinked. "Yes, sir."
"Fine. Leave the bars here, I'll find the treasury officials in the next town." He hobbled away from the group, silently seething.