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The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye (Cover Art)

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Chapter 144 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

"Under other circumstances, Marquess Trempeleau...

...this meeting would be a genuine pleasure." Baroness Ngo said, sitting in the study.

"I take it this has to do with the revelation that 'Commander Andrew's' wife is Penelope Doons-Steiner-Davion, and I'm about to have to explain how the wife of a Royal was murdered right under my nose?"

Elizabeth leaned forward, grasping her cane. "It might be, though personally, I think you explaining how you caught the perpetrators will work much better. I'm here to help you. The killers did a good job-to a point. The resources you have available would certainly not be up to the task of catching them in the act, or identifying them afterward. However, the thing about dishonesty, is that it's never as solidly complete, as facts and truth. Fabrications always leave seams. A tug on the stray fibers, and the cloth comes apart."

"So the stories always say, In my experience things are rarely that...clear." Helen Tremeleau was from Elizabeth's father's generation, but there was something that reminded the younger woman of her grandfather to the Marquess.

"Do you know how I got the Science Minister job? it wasn't the first offer." Liz suggested.

"I assume for your extensive investments in technology in the Lyran member-state."

"No, when I was in my teens, I was apprenticed out to a legend in the civil service-one of the finest auditors in the history of the Exchequer...he taught me a lot during that internship. Your region is economically depressed and constantly under threat from Piracy and Banditry, I think some of the people who've been profiting from that, murdered my friend Penny, to put the arm on her husband, who's been doing the job of bringing that state of affairs to an end...I'm by training an Auditor. Whenever there is something like this-a crime, an assassin, a preventable disaster? there's always a trail of money-of people who profit from it, this is, accordingly, a terrific way to narrow the pool of suspects. YOU didn't profit from this, in many ways, Penny's death puts everything you've worked for at risk, so in my mind, you're not a suspect...but you may be a witness and not know it."

"What do you want?"

"Your cooperation in helping me find the people who financed this." Liz told her, "We're going to run them down, but if I have your cooperation, then it stands to reason that this region will see benefits...that your legacy will be expanded, and you'll be remembered for the good work you have done, lifting things out of the crapper here, instead of ending as a footnote failure who had noble ideas and loads of potential, and yet failed anyway like my Grandfather." Elizabeth tapped her cane to the floor, "I don't want to see you fail."

"So what do you need?"

"Your permission...your financial records, and the warrants to go after the financial records of several of your friends and subordinates." Liz explained, "the Audit will happen, don't get me wrong, but it's the difference between calling in armed agents and kicking doors in, versus a more...civilized...approach. I prefer the civilized approach, and leaving the door-kicking-in for the homes of actual perpetrators. at minimum, even if we don't find the people who financed Penny's death? I intend to ream every corrupt son of a whore who's been making it possible out here to have the problems you've been wrestling with...and that, properly done, will do more than temporarily ease the hard times in this region."

"Why do you need MY records, I thought-"

"..because someone is ripping you off." Liz said, "I need to find the threads leading to that someone, and you need legal standing to pursue relief from their estate when I'm done." Liz gestured out the window, "Filtvelt is nicer than my homeworld, and it's poised to become a center of trade, once the peace with the Taurians is solidified. Your people are on the edge of prosperity, and I want to apply my size-five foot to kick you right into a golden age...and find the person who bought the death of my friend and brought grief to my OTHER friend."

"What makes you so sure you'll find them?"

"Because in any activity that needs more than one person, there is always a paper trail." Elizabeth asserted.

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