Little Fuzzy – Day 64 of 77

“I think you just did,” Jack said.

“No, that won’t do. I need a definition.”

“Don’t worry, Gerd,” Gus Brannhard told him. “Leslie Coombes will bring a nice shiny new definition into court. We’ll just use that.”


They walked together, Frederic and Claudette Pendarvis, down through the roof garden toward the landing stage, and, as she always did, Claudette stopped and cut a flower and fastened it in his lapel.

“Will the Fuzzies be in court?” she asked.

“Oh, they’ll have to be. I don’t know about this morning; it’ll be mostly formalities.” He made a grimace that was half a frown and half a smile. “I really don’t know whether to consider them as witnesses or as exhibits, and I hope I’m not called on to rule on that, at least at the start. Either way, Coombes or Brannhard would accuse me of showing prejudice.”

“I want to see them. I’ve seen them on screen, but I want to see them for real.”

“You haven’t been in one of my courts for a long time, Claudette. If I find that they’ll be brought in today, I’ll call you. I’ll even abuse my position to the extent of arranging for you to see them outside the courtroom. Would you like that?”

She’d love it. Claudette had a limitless capacity for delight in things like that. They kissed good-bye, and he went to where his driver was holding open the door of the aircar and got in. At a thousand feet he looked back; she was still standing at the edge of the roof garden, looking up.

He’d have to find out whether it would be safe for her to come in. Max Fane was worried about the possibility of trouble, and so was Ian Ferguson, and neither was given to timorous imaginings. As the car began to descend toward the Central Courts buildings, he saw that there were guards on the roof, and they weren’t just carrying pistols—he caught the glint of rifle barrels, and the twinkle of steel helmets. Then, as he came in, he saw that their uniforms were a lighter shade of blue than the constabulary wore. Ankle boots and red-striped trousers; Space Marines in dress blues. So Ian Ferguson had pushed the button. It occurred to him that Claudette might be safer here than at home.

A sergeant and a couple of men came up as he got out; the sergeant touched the beak of his helmet in the nearest thing to a salute a Marine ever gave anybody in civilian clothes.

“Judge Pendarvis? Good morning, sir.”

“Good morning, sergeant. Just why are Federation Marines guarding the court building?”

“Standing by, sir. Orders of Commodore Napier. You’ll find that Marshal Fane’s people are in charge below-decks, but Marine Captain Casagra and Navy Captain Greibenfeld are waiting to see you in your office.”

As he started toward the elevators, a big Zarathustra Company car was coming in. The sergeant turned quickly, beckoned a couple of his men and went toward it on the double. He wondered what Leslie Coombes would think about those Marines.

The two officers in his private chambers were both wearing sidearms. So, also, was Marshal Fane, who was with them. They all rose to greet him, sitting down when he was at his desk. He asked the same question he had of the sergeant above.

“Well, Constabulary Colonel Ferguson called Commodore Napier last evening and requested armed assistance, your Honor,” the officer in Space Navy black said. “He suspected, he said, that the city had been infiltrated. In that, your Honor, he was perfectly correct; beginning Wednesday afternoon, Marine Captain Casagra, here, on Commodore Napier’s orders, began landing a Marine infiltration force, preparatory to taking over the Residency. That’s been accomplished now; Commodore Napier is there, and both Resident General Emmert and Attorney General O’Brien are under arrest, on a variety of malfeasance and corrupt-practice charges, but that won’t come into your Honor’s court. They’ll be sent back to Terra for trial.”

“Then Commodore Napier’s taken over the civil government?”

“Well, say he’s assumed control of it, pending the outcome of this trial. We want to know whether the present administration’s legal or not.”

“Then you won’t interfere with the trial itself?”

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