Jie winked at him. “Jet Yun Chan’s”
Jie threw his head back and rolled his eyes. “Jet Yun Chan, the nanohacker vigilante. It’s an exact copy of his jacket from volume 7. I…” Now the colour came to Jie’s face in full force and he looked away, muttering: “It’s too big for me. I look stupid in it.”
Wu couldn’t resist giving Jie a condescending pat on the head. “There, there.”
Jie recoiled, parrying Wu’s hand away. “Hey watch the hair.”
Sheriff Rose giggled at them, then noticed an alert in her nanoputer. “Alright kiddies, visiting hours are over, you have to go Jie.”
Jie looked worried for a moment. “Can I just give Wu a copy of the ebook? Just volume 7.”
Wu put a hand on Jie’s shoulder. “It’s okay Jie, I’ll manage without it.”
“No, you don’t understand.” Jie said, holding up a hand at Wu. “Please Sheriff?”
Sheriff Rose raised her hand to stop Jie. “You’ll have to send it to me first Jie. If I feel it’s appropriate I’ll pass it on.”
Jie sighed and deflated a little. “All right.” Then he pointed at Wu “Read it. Trust me.”
“I will.” Wu smiled. “Thanks for the jacket.”
The constable approached Jie and lead him out of the room. “See ya Wu.” He called from the door.
The next time that door opened it was to let Penny Dreadful into the room. Penny marched right up to the chair across from Wu and wordlessly sat down. She cradled her chin on her hands and looked Wu dead in the eye. Wu squared his shoulders, crossed his arms and stared back.
Wu considered this Ranger, the woman who brought him in. He looked into her hard blue eyes. She had to be a civil war vet, eyes like that. The knife scare below the left one removed any possible doubt.
Penny raised her chin from her hands and spoke. “Looks like your Sifu bailed on you? How’s that make you feel? You work and fight and slave for this woman and the first moment it’s convenient she ups and flies away. Leaving you to face the music.”
Wu smirked at her and flexed his shoulders. “I feel pretty good about it actually. Seeing as it was my idea.”
“You lay down your life for your master.” Penny said, managing to sound bored. “How noble. What’s wrong? Were you going to cut your belly but you chickened out?”
“I’m Chinese, you red-headed monkey!”
The hint of a smile played across Penny’s stony face. “In the Rangers, our creed is that we never leave a man behind.”
Wu leaned in a little. “That’s because you’re afraid to die. It’s unbecoming in a soldier.”
“Keep telling yourself that.”
“Hey.” Wu turned his palms up. “Sifu got away. That’s all the proof you need.”
Sheriff Rose raised her hand at that point. “That’s enough of that kiddies.”
Penny grimaced at that. Wu turned away. The two of them sat in tense silence for a few moments.
After a while Penny looked back at Wu’s eyes. “Now that she’s off-planet, where would your boss be heading in a stolen star fighter?”
Wu actually laughed. “You think I’d tell you? Triads do not do that. In our creed ratting out a sworn brother is a death sentence. Though I can’t seem to remember if it’s one of those ‘Death by five lightning bolts’ ones or if it’s a ‘myriad of knives’ offence. The list of Triad oaths is as long as your arm.”
Penny let his jokes wash over her. She slowly leaned in on him and locked her eyes on his. Wu backed up, ready to fight. She had been merely looking into his eyes before, now she was boring into his soul.
“What about outsiders?” Penny quietly growled. “Are they treated like sworn brothers?”
“No.” Wu replied, cautiously. “Why would you ask that?”
Penny’s hands clenched into fists on the table. “I’m looking for someone. Before I got pulled onto this assignment I was tracking an ex-ranger who defected to the Black Mask Society. Would he be a sworn brother?”
Wu cocked his head a little to the side, trying to work out what her angle with this was.
Penny leaned in even closer. Wu was worried she was about to pounce on him. “If you can tell me anything about an ex-ranger working for the Black Mask Society…” Penny thought for a moment before saying. “I don’t care what rules I have to break. If you know anything about him, I will help you.”
Wu couldn’t see any way that she was playing him with this. “Who is this guy to you?”
Penny pulled back, the dangerous, insistent demeanour evaporating immediately. “You don’t know anything.”
Penny leaned back in her chair. “And you’re not going to tell me anything about your boss so I guess we’re done. Next Jumpship out of here isn’t coming for another three days. So you make yourself comfortable in your cell.”
With no further ceremony Penny got up out of her chair and walked out. Pausing only to say “This interrogation is over.” To the recording droid.
Sheriff Rose met up with her outside, while a constable returned Wu to his cell.
Penny rested her back against the wall and looked out across the parking lot. Sheriff Rose leaned in close and softly said. “I’m going to leave what I saw in there out of my logs, particularly that part about you not caring what rules you have to break.”
Penny took in a deep breath. “Thank you.” She said. “I owe you one.”
“Don’t get too excited.” Sheriff Rose said as she leaned against the wall next to Penny. “I can’t say the same for my receptionist. Its memory is encrypted. But you can join my daughter and I for dinner tonight in lieu of a favour. You’ll be out of town before I can call it in anyway.”
Penny smirked. “That sounds nice. I don’t have anywhere to stay now that my Fighter’s been stolen.”
Sheriff Rose shrugged. “I can’t do much about that. Though there is a spare office upstairs that we’re using as a store room. It’s not much, but a quick clean and a cot will turn it into a place to sleep and change in.”
“Thanks.” Penny said and offered the Sheriff her hand.
Sheriff Rose took it and they shook. “Don’t mention it.”
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