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The Dark Edge

Taken by Force

Hidden from View






Eddon returned to the first U-tube -- just in time to encounter the full force of a human tornado. Marassa Dolor had arrived.

'Sons of pigs! Sons of ninnygoats! Geldings! Flops! Emasculates!'

She stamped up and down in the reception room, pouring forth abuse in a glass-shattering shriek. Her wrists were handcuffed at the front, with a long chain attached to the cuffs. Heffel held on to the other end of the chain. But it seemed that he was the one getting towed and tugged around.

Marassa was a tiny woman, with wide hips and massive bosom. She had only one leg; the other leg had been replaced with a column of solid silver, elaborately carved, joined on below the thigh. But the absence of a leg was no impediment to her fury. She banged the bottom of the column like a hammer on the ground.

Eddon advanced into the reception room. He had already met Marassa twice in the three weeks since his posting to the Uds. Marassa had a habit of getting into trouble with the police.

'You!' She rounded on him, eyes shooting fire. 'You're the cause! Oppressor! Persecutor! Despot! Is this your puny sense of power? Power over a woman? Is that what you enjoy?'

She was over forty years old, but her hair was a lustrous midnight black, her lips a natural crimson, her teeth a dazzling white. There was a mole on her left cheek and huge gypsy-gold rings in the lobes of her ears. Hair, teeth, mole, earrings -- everything seemed to flash and leap forth in the passion of her rage.

'What am I, a dog?' she shrieked. She shook the chain and stamped at Heffel. 'Call yourselves men? I call you dead doodles! No courage! No heart! No feeling! I spit on your doodles!'

She bent suddenly forward, caught hold of her skirts and yoiked them up behind. Her buttocks, clad in bright scarlet panty-nix, stuck out in glorious contempt.

'That's what I think of you! Both of you!' She blew a raspberry. 'I wouldn't waste my wind on you!'

Heffel was deeply embarrassed. He came forward and tried to lower her skirts. But Marassa hopped away from his reaching hands. When she blew another louder raspberry, he gave up the attempt and retired.

'You're not charged with anything, you know,' Eddon explained patiently. 'You're here to help Trexie Keet. If you can.'

'I told her already,' said Heffel, wagging his head sadly.

Marassa stood up straight, letting her skirts fall back into place. She turned to Eddon with a smouldering scowl.

'Where is she then? Where's Trexie?'

'Waiting for you to confirm her alibi.'

'It's all true! Everything she said! Every single word!'

Eddon grinned. 'You'll have to do better than that.'

His grin seemed to enrage Marassa all over again.

'You don't believe me? My word of honour? You -- you -- you policeman!'

She charged at him suddenly. Heffel leaped forward, interposing with outspread arms, guarding his Inspector from attack. Marassa's wildly swinging artificial leg connected with him instead of Eddon -- a sharp cracking blow on the shin.

Heffel let out a yelp, then sternly clamped down on it.

'Er, thanks, Heffel,' said Eddon, who had seen the blow coming and could easily have dodged. 'You shouldn't have done that.'

Heffel turned large reproachful eyes towards him -- more yellow than brown, and filled with unshed tears of pain.

'My duty,' he said. 'Don't mention it.'



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Richard Harland.