Manfred's Investigation

a story
2021-04-20 15:28:55,
2021-04-20 21:17:40
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Part 1- WHPD

Manfred Arnett had never done something like this before. He sat alone in the White Haven station and listened to the cacophony of a big city station.

Some lady shouted profanity at an officer somewhere in the station. Somewhere else an officer shouted a joke he was desperately trying to get through to what sounded like a group of heckling coworkers. Someone had pulled a knife and an uproar had risen and fallen silent as it was dealt with. Somewhere close by a woman sobbed. Somewhere farther away some young man also sobbed, trying to convey his innocence to whoever would listen.

The White Haven station was large. Build of solid, sturdy sandstone without any wood to absorb the sound, so everything bounced off the solid walls and reverberated back into the large, wide space the high ceilings allowed. Areas were broken up by walls, but they rarely stretched high enough to block out the sound. In the far corner, Manfred had worked out there was a collection of cells that were built into a slight decline, creating a pit-effect. Their walls were higher, but from where Manfred was sitting he could see they didn't reach the ceilings.

"Deputy Manfred Arnett?" read out a desk officer from the desk behind the lobby gate.

Manfred rose and strode to the teller's gate.

The desk officer looked him over, before smiling, "You're the Deputy Chief?"

"Manfred Arnett, yes sir," said Manfred, "I was sent from-"

"I know," said the desk officer.

Arnett could see by his uniform he was a sergeant. His uniform was clean pressed and of a bright blue, matching his colleagues. He didn't wear a custodial helmet, but had sitting next to him an officer's cap. Manfred wondered if that would make him a higher rank, or if the uniforms this far West were drastically different.

"The Captain is willing to see you," said the desk officer, "Or you'll have to come back tomorrow for Chief Third to see you."

"At what time tomorrow?"

"Unclear," said the desk sergeant, "It would be a favor, department to department, to see you at all on such short notice. It's a favor Captain Ivy to see you -"

"And I would hate to be rude to the good Captain," said Manfred, "I should love to see him, if it isn't too much trouble."

The desk sergeant nodded, turning to an officer standing against the barred gate leading beyond the waiting area.

"Hey, Dutch. Please take Deputy Arnett, here, in to see Captain Ivy. He's expected."

The officer named Dutch nodded and opened the gate just wide enough for Manfred to squeeze by. Shutting and locking the gate behind them, Dutch smiled and gestured for Manfred to follow him.

They were led through the craziness of the station until they reached the far wall. Dutch opened a door made of some form of metal and it creaked as he opened it. He gestured Manfred through into a hallway beyond.

"He's the second door down that way to the left," said Dutch, pointing to the right from the door, "When your done, I trust you can see yourself out?"

At Manfred's nod, Dutch took a single step backwards, shutting the metal door as he did so. Manfred was cast into a muffled version of the noise he had just been engulfed in. He turned and walked down the corridor, which was lit faintly by oil lamps.

At the indicated door, Manfred knocked on the metal door, and entered when beckoned. He saw a modest office inside, and behind a wooden desk was Captain Ivy, who looked younger than Manfred, but still tired and busy. Paperwork was askew on his desk. He had a typewriter, but by the look of some missing keys and paper shredded and crumpled inside, Manfred deduced it was no longer in use. His deduction was confirmed at the sight of an inkwell and pen not far off.

Ivy didn't stand, but he nodded to Manfred and gestured for a chair.

"Deputy Arnett, I have yet to have the pleasure."

"Manfred, please. It is a rare day when I can come to White Haven, Captain."

"Well, Manfred," said the Captain, "You may address me as Richard. What brings you this way?"

"Business, I am afraid," said Manfred, who reached into a messenger bag he had at his side and pulled out the file Sandoval had assigned to him.

"I have been assigned to fill out some missing sections of this case," said Manfred, "Sandoval is interested in taking a second look at the Cannonball derailment a few years-"

"Cannonball derailment?" Captain Ivy's eyes narrowed, "We closed that case ages ago. That's a military matter now."

"Even so," said Manfred, "I'm afraid I've been assigned to it. My first step is filling in some gaps."

"Gaps?" said Ivy, "What's the meaning of this? What's that Sandoval meaning to accomplish?"

"I... I think he intends to reopen the investigation," said Manfred, "Feel free to look over our file, I was lead to believe this was the file. However, it's missing some pretty foundational pieces."

Ivy grabbed the paperwork and opened it, beginning to thumb through, "Yes, this appears to be the official file sent to Gearford. This should have been in military hands. See these markings? Some of these originated at this precinct. However these ones here signify they were sent away. Giving the gravity of the derailment it was obviously out of the scope of the White Haven department. We surrendered the case to the Military investigators and closed our file on it." 

"Would you mind if I investigated here in White Haven to fill in what is missing?"

"What do you think is missing?"

"Well, for instance, how come the Landship docks and the train yards were not canvased for who was docked there?"

Ivy thumbed through the paperwork, and frowned, "Manfred, I assure you, that would've been elementary to the highest degree. We wouldn't have only canvassed the train yards. Every airship and landship dock in White Haven would have been combed. This is missing from this file, but I assure you it would not be missing from ours. What else?"

"Well, there are references to interrogations. Interrogations of Captains, crew, and several others thought to be connected. I am not seeing them in this file."

Ivy looked through the file some more, frowning. He rose from his desk and went to the door. Peering outside into the hallway, he called out into the hallway, waiting a moment. A clerk appeared at the door.

"I need officer Lupe," the Captain ordered, "Now. It's not a suggestion."

The clerk took off at a run down the hallway and the Captain closed the door and returned to his desk.

"So, a few of these I can see are Military based. I cannot help you there. However, we would've also questioned a vast majority of witnesses, guards, survivors, and the prisoner. These are missing and would need-"


"Yes, there was an intruder on the premises during the robbery," said Captain Ivy, "I don't remember many details, but the army boys were not kind to him. He was taken into federal custody and was tried. If memory serves he was hit by the whole book."

"Was he executed?" questioned Manfred.

"Doubt it. He was injured by an intruder. Probably one of the very pirates who commandeered the cannonball. He garnered sympathy from that and in the end we couldn't really stick him with anything else."

"I would very much appreciate that transcript," said Manfred.

There was a knock at the door, and Ivy ordered the man in, "Get me the Cannonball file, now. Quickly."

"What... Cannonball file, sir," said Officer Lupe, "The Der-"

"The Derailment, Lupe. What other Cannonball would anyone in White Haven be talking about? Get going, double time!"

"It's in the vault, sir. I'll need-"

"You have authorization from Captain Ivy, that is enough. Get those ink-fingered scroll sniffers to open it and get. that. file. Go!"

The officer disappeared as the door shut.

Ivy continued, "You have full reign of our file. Feels free to make copies and bolster your puny file here. I'll certify the copies myself. I'll give you an interrogation room. You also have free authority to double check with the local docks, or anyone else you see fit in White Haven, under my orders. Be respectful."

"I appreciate this very much," said Manfred, "I'm sure your own records won't be lacking. This seems like some form of mistake those soldiers have made giving Chief Sandoval-"

"I don't like him."

"S-Soldiers? Or Chief Sandoval?"

Ivy leaned forward, "Sandoval. With his papers. With his record. with his little crusade. I don't like him. He's made no friends out here. Frankly, he's making us look bad."

"The papers don't feel that way," said Manfred, "I think his arrest record speaks for itself."

"Yes it does," said Ivy, "Would you like to review it yourself? Perhaps children and grannies make a good arrest record for you boys down in the mines, but it appears to me what he's being praised for is the amount of crooks he arrests in a wooden box."

Manfred paused a moment, "They don't make wanted posters for peeping-toms and public intoxication, Richard. Sandoval has taken it upon himself to hunt down these murderers and outlaws. It's them who decide to fire upon a badge."

"Perhaps," said Ivy, "However, for decades we've managed to bring countless to justice through trials."

"And for decades, some of the worst of them have evaded trial after trial."

"Do they deserve less of a trial?"

"I'm simply stating the obvious, one officer to another," said Manfred, "It's an ugly truth, but many of these villains have had posters since before pictures. Some even before the technocracy. Many families are resting easier knowing they are gone."

"And many, end up here," said Ivy, pointing out past Manfred, "Many end up right out there. Filing grievances to be sent East. Appealing arrests here for fear of being removed. Fleeing dying towns to come here after Sandoval's 'Justice' is dolled out."

"If their lives were uprooted by the law being enforced then I am not seeing-"

"Do you agree we have a tough job?" asked Ivy, "Do you believe that justice, true justice, takes a certain amount of... interpretation?"

Manfred took a deep breath as he mulled it over, "I suppose you are right. To do our job well it takes more than book knowledge. Wisdom is needed."

"And how do you weigh mercy into our job?"

"I believe it to be more on the backs of jurors or judges," said Manfred, who nodded, "However... I have been merciful in my time. Sometimes too merciful."

"Would you describe Sandoval as merciful?"

"Sure. As much as any other man."

"Truly?" Ivy's eyes narrowed, "As much as the old Sheriff?"

Manfred tensed. He thought about his old friend, and the unjust charges still hanging over his head.


Ivy nodded, "For a judge; Sandoval has a body count to make any man shiver. Him and his 'soldiers' are at war. If I were you, I would open my eyes a little and decide where you want to be when the papers run out of the deaths of murderers to celebrate and instead are left with the innocents."

Manfred said nothing. Ivy rose from his chair, "Please, Manfred, let me show you to a room where you can do your research. I'll see to it paper, writing utensils, and water is brought to you."

"I appreciate that," said Manfred, although his voice betrayed his unease.

"I'll go check up on Lupe's progress."

Ivy marched out of the room, throwing his door open wide. Manfred was quick to follow him, keeping his head down as his mind clouded over with thoughts.