Fate T. Harlaown and the Case of the Murderous Murder
A Tale of Intrigue, Treachery, and DOOM
"So technically speaking, were we allowed to eat that dinner?" Teana asked.
"The case was closed, so it really couldn't be counted as a bribe. And besides, the Kinrath Abyss-devourer was really dry," Fate said with a shrug as the team sat in the shuttleport waiting for transport. "Just one more crime. Improper basting should be punishable by something horrible."
Inspector Siouxport had gone back to his HQ to, in his own words, 'Figure out which of these people needs to go in which jail and then hopefully never see any of them ever again', and Collette... well, apparently Collette just kinda came with the house, because she was apparently all set to go right to work for whoever turned out to be governor next. Hopefully he would do a better job than his predecessors, though if given the choice she suspected Taris would rather have another lover of whores than a WMD stockpiling madman. It ended with fewer satellite-mounted railguns.
"At least it's over," Teana said, kicking her feet up on her luggage and smiling. "Now we can get off this planet and never, ever, ever come back, and that is the after-case reward that is more delicious than any meat."
"I will drink to that. And then drink to other things, until I forget I was ever here," Fate agreed.
"You two are really grouchy," Susanoo chimed in. "This was a blast! We caught the killer, and even though it turned out to be a salted nut, we also caught a bunch of human criminals! Not only did I solve my first mystery, I even got to break a lot of walls and work with a maid! Overall, I'd say this was a super-awesome trip. Five stars, would come again."
"First: this was not a trip, it was a job. Second: You didn't solve the mystery," Teana said.
"Nuh-uh! I said it was Dr. Von Murder, and it was!"
"No, it was a salted nut. Also, technically, there was no Dr. Von Murder. His real name was Billy Ray McFriendly," Teana said, smiling just a little. "Since your only reason for suspecting him... at all... was his name, that means you you didn't solve anything. His name wasn't suspicious at all."
"... I'm told 'McFriendly' means something really horrible in the local language," Susanoo mumbled.
"You know, I'm not 100% sure the local language exists," Teana said with a small giggle. "But cheer up. I will admit that despite yourself, you did actually help me out in a few ways. You have a unique perspective, at least. And you're certainly... well energetic, if nothing else, and there's something to say for that."
Fate blinked. "Teana... did you just smile at Susa? And pay him a compliment?"
"... … … … No."
"Yes. You did. In fact, you've been oddly mellow around him since we closed the case," Fate said, eyes narrowing. "Did something happen that I missed?"
"Nothing happened and nothing ever will happen, ever," Susanoo said obediently.
"Good boy," Teana said. "See? That's all it is, Fate. He learned how to be useful and shut up when told to shut up. Isn't that enough?"
"... No. Because he doesn't learn unless something big happens to drill it into his skull. I've known him since I was ten and he has not actually changed as a person in that time at all. Learning to shut up when told and help quietly is... is not Susa," Fate said bluntly. "What did you do?"
"She did a lot of things. You'd be surprised how much she can accomplish in half an hour!" Susanoo said cheerfully. "Not that I just sat there, of course, she was-"
He was cut off, then by Teana coughing lightly and holding her fingers in the shape of a gun, which she pointed at his face.
"... nothing happened and nothing ever will happen."
"Good boy," Teana said, almost fondly. "See? It's all a matter of training him."
Fate shuddered. "Something's gone horribly wrong here, and I'm not sure what. I suspect I'm happier not knowing."
Tia smiled. "Nothing happened. No worries at all."
Fate sighed. "Well, I guess that's..." she paused, looking down at her commlink in confusion as it beeped. "Huh, central command already? I haven't even filed the full report yet, what could they want to talk about?"
Susanoo coughed. It was quiet, and neither woman really noticed.
Fate popped open her commlink, and the smiling face of her brother, Admiral Chrono Harlaown, appeared above it in a holographic projection. "Fate. We just got the report and frankly... amazing. To think you solved a case this expansive in a single day, and unearthed such a major conspiracy! Taris will remain a free and prosperous member of the TSAB, and it's all on you."
She smiled a bit uncertainly. "Um, thank you, Chrono. But I haven't sent my report, y-"
"I have to admit," Chrono continued. "When you requested that Susanoo be sent to help with the investigation, well... I thought you'd maybe started cracking a little under the strain. He was a first-time investigator and it was such a sensitive case."
"... Excuse me?" Fate asked, her tone suddenly very cold.
"And when you sent us a request with your report, asking if you, he, and Teana could continue on as a permanent unit codenamed 'Team Justice'? Well, we all thought that you might have just gone completely insane. Taris has... something of a record with investigative units going a little loony when they're working there. Mom was suggesting a forced vacation."
"Was. She. Now? How. Sad," Fate said, biting off each syllable as fury built in her voice and her smile got a bit unstable, her eyes locked on Susanoo who was very carefully not looking directly at her.
Teana very slowly, very calmly, moved a few inches further away from him. "Sorry. You're not such a bad guy, really, but if I helped you get out of this without some bruises you wouldn't learn from it."
"But then we read the report," Chrono said, smiling widely. "I have to admit, Susanoo came through better than I ever imagined given that he is... well. A complete moron. You and Teana are the best, of course, but I never imagined that he would help you all mesh so well. One day! You broke open a planet-wide conspiracy in one day! After that, how could we not let the three of you work together long-term?"
"How. Indeed?!" Fate said. She was still smiling, but one who listened closely might have heard her teeth grinding together. "Why, its almost like someone else wrote that report and sent it out and used my equipment to make these request and it wasn't me and he's in so much trouble!"
"In fact, we already have a new case for you. Recently, a series of disappearances in a city on the western continent of Xykonis, in dimensional coordinate 5502002-1, have gotten out of hand. Local police are baffled, and the government is trying its best to suppress information, so it's possible corruption is involved... nothing new to you of course!"
"That. Sounds. Lovely!" Fate said, drawing Bardiche and wordlessly extending it into its staff form.
"In fact, the only way we even found out about this was from a local religious leader who contacted us in secret. A letter, of all things. A little odd, but it's a lead. I've sent you the text. Good luck, sister... if anyone can do this, it is you and Team Justice," Chrono said. As he spoke, the text of the letter appeared in the projection:
Dear sirs and madams of the Empire of the Stars:
I am the soul of Xykonis, and I speak to you. The time of destiny approaches, when all our hearts and minds shall be tested.
The people of Xykonis are stolen from their homes. Do they yet live? Are their bodies torn asunder in the grips of those who would do them harm? Or is something else at play? Is this a test not of the body, but of the spirit? The moment when Xykonis shall step into the light and claim its rightful place of supremacy in the stars?
You must come, and you must learn. Find the truth. It is your destiny, and the gateway to the future for my people. Only if you find the Lost, can we ascend. Only if you learn the final truth... and are shattered by it irrevocably.
Grand Pontiff of the Xyknois Ascendancy,
Overlord Draconis Doomshadow
Teana looked over the letter, paying extra attention to the signature at the bottom. Coldly, wordlessly, she joined Fate in activating her Device and taking careful aim.
"In my defense," Susanoo said a bit nervously, "I'm sure that Doomshadow means something different in the local lang-"
The damage to the Taris shuttleport was not fully repaired until nearly three weeks later.
Author's Note: That was fun! I'm not certain I'm going to actually make a sequel or anything, but it's not impossible... it was short, sweet, to the point, fun to write, and thinking of a mystery while still being funny was a surprisingly intense writing experience.
I'm not promising anything, but... since people seemed to like it? A sequel's not impossible.
As always, please check my profile for additional works, both fanfic and original fiction. And even more as always, thank you for reading! You guys are the best.