There was a knock on the door.
"Enter," was all Sandoval said in response.
He allowed the door to open and close with a few seconds as the figure stepped closer before looking up from his paperwork. Deputy Manfred Arnett stood in front of him. Manfred ran his fingers through his long, dark hair which was greying on the sides.
"Ah, Deputy Arnett," said Sandoval, removing his reading spectacles, "What wonderful timing. Please, sit."
"Thank you, Chief," answered Manfred, sitting.
"Was that matter settled?"
"Yes, sir," said Manfred, "Just a minor labor dispute. Happens all the time in those Prodigious border towns. Nothing a badge couldn't sort out. I think we came to an agreement with the company and workers."
"Oh, none sir. A fine to one particularly rude fellah but it was paid and sorted easily enough."
Sandoval shook his head, "A fine..."
"I took the liberty," continued Manfred, "Of taking a run by the Sorditudo offices to bring back more of the files you requested. Took the initiative to load up a whole mess of cases. They are being unloaded from the wagon now."
This earned a smile from Sandoval, "Brilliant. Nicely done."
Sandoval gestured around him, vaguely to the office, "And how are you liking these new offices?"
"They are nice," said Manfred, "If not a little far from home. But Astam Junction has made itself the center of Antiford travel."
"That it has," said Sandoval, "Strange, don't you think? Astam Junction is policed by tour Bobbies while the town of Sorditudo has a dedicated police force?"
Manfred nodded, his eyes sweeping Sandoval's desk, "Well, it has been a very long time since the laws and regulations were written. Sorditudo also handles all touring police. It helps ensure recruits get valuable experience as well as ensure all the small towns are properly policed without needed to find their own police."
"Indeed," said Sandoval, "But times do change, I feel. Perhaps it would make more sense for a bustling junction such as Astam to put forth a little more funds towards a police department of their own. Perhaps then they would be better suited to handling the Bobbies on Tour as well, given their access to all forms of modern travel."
Manfred sighed, "Are you suggesting disbanding the Sorditudo Department, sir?"
"Nonsense," said Sandoval, "Just that tomorrow I will be sending a letter to Gearford suggesting a little re-arranging of organizations. I just feel it makes more sense, given how these two towns have developed since the laws were written."
"What do you think will happen to us?" asked Manfred, "To me?"
"Nothing," said Sandoval, "Although I wish government worked as fast as a letter takes to travel, I'm afraid it could be some time before any action is taken to put the changes into affect. You know, politicians."
"Technocrats," smiled Sandoval, "Self appointed 'experts' of the modern world. Sorry, you understand I had some experience with them before I was sent out here."
"Chief, uh, sir," said Manfred.
"Please," said Sandoval, "Adrian, if you would. We are colleagues after all."
"Adrian," Manfred was uneasy being so formal with him, "May I ask a question? I am worried about something."
"You may confide in me," said Sandoval, "Never be afraid to speak your mind. You are my deputy and therefore my closest confidant and advisor in my duties."
Manfred weighed his question before asking, "I have concerns about Sheriff Carl Puckette. I am worried about him. These charges are just so unlike him. I honestly feel he is innocent, sir."
"Oh, so do I, Arnett," said Sandoval, "He has been nothing but compliant with my wishes and I have found nothing in his writings, paperwork, or in interviewing the men he commanded to suggest the charges are true."
"That's great," said Manfred, "So we can get him released?"
"I doubt he will have trouble at his trial," said Sandoval, furrowing his brow, "But there is little I can do to get the charges thrown out. We do have a legal process to go through, Arnett. A Justice system that yields to the will of no man. I'm afraid there's no cheating the system."
"You said yourself the charges are baseless and-"
"Baseless? I don't believe I said that exactly," interrupted Sandoval, "I said I have found nothing since I took over and started my investigation. But there is plenty to base it on. Where should I begin?"
Sandoval gestured to the paperwork on his desk, "Since we have arrived we have seen resolutions to many unsolved cases. Tracked down wanted criminals in our jurisdiction. Rooted out corruption on a scale few could imagine in the East. Our arrests have soared. Read the papers, Arnett. Crime is down. Many of the surrounding towns haven't seen a single highwayman or bank robber in weeks."
Sandoval leaned in closer to Manfred, "The facts are unclear. Something the good Sheriff was not doing is working for me. Cleaning up his jurisdiction has me working hard these days. We're making a difference, you and I."
"Maybe it's the resources you have that we didn't before," said Manfred.
Sandoval smiled at the comment. He nodded, knowingly. Then, he reached down and retrieved a folder, placing it on the desk and pushing it to Manfred.
"Speaking of unsolved investigations and increased resources," Sandoval waited for Manfred to open the folder before he continued, "I have a special investigation for you. One that my own resources are stretched too thin to tackle on my own just yet. You have been pulling overtime. Working hard. I could use some of that moxie here."
Manfred read the title of the folder; "Cannonball Derailment- White Haven- 1896". He could see it was a large file, filled with tin-type photography of the crime scene, typewritten statements from witnesses, and reports from officers on the scene.
"Sir, this... I remember this."
"Yes, a cold case I've taken an interest in."
"I remember this," said Manfred, "This was a Military investigation. Is this out of our-"
"The Military has one fatal flaw when it comes to this investigation," said Sandoval, "They are soldiers. They lack observational skills. They lack imagination. They lack integrity. This wasn't some Goblin hive to blow up or a Prushian to run through. This is an investigation of the highest caliber."
Manfred began to thumb through the documents, "So we are reopening this case?"
"You are, Manfred," said Sandoval, "There are obvious holes in this file and I need it filled. I can't help but feel your take on it will yield results."
Manfred pointed into the paperwork, "We're missing the docking logs from the train yards."
"The Docking logs from the train yard," said Manfred, "These documents make reference to them but they are missing. It could tell us what trains or landships were registered in the yards. Combine that with these reports that a landship was involved with the assault on the Cannonball and I can see a clear hole here."
Sandoval smiled, his eyebrows raising, "See, Manfred? You are already wielding results. You should be on the next train to White Haven and get those records."
Manfred closed up the file, nodding, "I can look into this. I think this is more a question of missing information from the file but if there were clues overlooked I'll do my best to find them."
"Thank you, Manfred," said Sandoval, "I trust you with this. I have faith you will not let me down."
"Thank you, Chief Sand- Uh, Adrian."
"Now go ahead," said Sandoval, "I'm making this your priority. With your full attention on this I trust you'll swiftly conclude this investigation."
Manfred stood and took his leave, closing the door behind him.