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The Block – Chapter I Part 2 October 10, 2009

Posted by Yarnspnr in The Block - Chapter 1.
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Let no guilty man escape if it can be avoided
Be specially vigilant
No personal consideration should stand in the way
of performing a public duty

–  Ulysses S. Grant

The Block – Chapter I Part 2:  Old London, Aingland

Debt and Indenture in the Empire of Uppsala

© D. Erick Emert


Two days later, the Miklin complaint arrived at the District Court in New London, Angland.  It took another day for it to be routed from the mail room to the Complaint Investigation Offices on the third floor.  From here it was routed to Senior Complaint Investigator Dorsey Smyth who decided to consider the case himself rather than delegate it to someone on his staff.  His reading of the complaint led to a V-Box call to Jack Ayles.


“Jack, this is Dorsey Smyth over at District.”

“Dorsey!  I haven’t heard from you in a long time.  How’s the wife and kids?”

“Doing well, Jack.  Listen, I have this Ernst Miklin complaint you wrote up.  It seems rather cut and dry.  Are you sure an investigation is in order?”

“Yes.  Miklin runs a shady gambling joint in Lexington as mentioned in my notes.  He’s been reported to be a cheat numerous times, but although Standards has combed the place on more than one occasion, they can’t nail anything on the man.”

“The Olde Ainglich Pub N Play, eh?”

“That’s the one.”

“Any undercover work ever done there?”

“Not sure, Dorsey.  You’d have to check with Standards.”

“Okay.  I wanted to let you know who’s playing the game on this side, Jack.  If I uncover anything, I’ll let you know.  I’m going to get hold of Standards and see what they have on this Miklin fellow.”

“Thanks for the heads up, Dorsey.”

“My pleasure, Jack.  Talk to you soon.”

Dorsey Smyth had jotted down a few notes during his conversation with Jack Ayles.  Now he sat back in his chair with his feet propped up on his desk top, rereading his notes.  Finishing, he closed his eyes and gave thought to the situation.  He concluded he needed more information before unleashing the court investigators.  He reached for his V-box receiver and dialed up Standards.

“Standards, Lynn Fellows.”

“Lynn, Dorsey Smyth from District Court.  Could you patch me through to Grievances, please?”

“Certainly, sir.”

The box buzzed a few times and then… “Leddbetter.”

“This is Dorsey Smyth over in District Court Investigations.  I need your files on Ernst Miklin and/or The Olde Ainglich Pub N Play.”

“Ah.  That would be a huge file, Smyth.  Lots of grievances concerning that bunch.”

“I’ve been told there would be.  Can you have a runner bring me their file by tomorrow?”

“Of course.  What’s in the works, Smyth?”

“Miklin filed a Debt Complaint on a man named Farmer, who happens to be a farmer from Lexington.  Seems the guy owes Miklin over a hundred GT.  It’s a large debt for a small farmer and considering this is Miklin making complaint, it smells a bit fishy.  Did your boys ever do any undercover work on the Pub N Play?”

“Not to my knowledge.  Most of our inquests were of the shake and cleanse variety.  Never found any physical evidence of corruption, but that’s not saying there’s not something worth looking into over there.”

“My thoughts exactly, Leddbetter.  I’ll look forward to reading your files.”

“I’ll try to have a runner drop them off this afternoon.”

“Thank you.”

Smyth hung up the receiver and picked it up again.

“Switch Box.”

“Get me Henry Pfister, please.”

“Thank you.”


“Henry, Dorsey Smyth here.  Could you drop over to my office, I’ve got a job for you.”

“Of course, sir.  I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Oh and check and see if we’ve got anything on an Ernst Miklin or The Olde Ainglich Pub N Play over in Lexington.”

“Will do, sir.  See you as soon as I can get away here.”

A little over an hour later, a knock on his office door interrupted Dorsey Smyth.

“Henry?  Come in.”

The door opened to a small, thin man dressed in the same dark green Investigator fatigues as his superior.  The two men traded a handshake.  “Any luck with Miklin, Henry?  Sit down, man!”

“Thank you, sir.  No, nothing in our records.  Apparently whatever the man’s been up to, it hasn’t reached District Court.”

Smyth seated himself also.  “Hmm.  I was afraid that would be the case.  It seems there’s been a lot of cheating going on at the Pub N Play.  Standards has gone over the place top to bottom but there’s nothing physically wrong that they can find.  I was thinking it might be worth sending in an undercover man to check out the gaming, what’s your opinion?

“Of course, sir.  Glad to help.  What’s Standards got to say about their operation?”

“I haven’t received their files yet – they should be here this afternoon.  But I’m told Standards has received many grievances concerning Miklin but hasn’t been able to substantiate anything.  Now Miklin’s got a small farm owner hooked up for over a hundred GT.”

“By the Empire!  That’s a tidy sum, sir.”

“Indeed.  If this goes through and they find Mr. Farmer guilty of the debt, someone’s going to The Block for a long indenture service.  Are you up for a bit of field work, Henry?”

“Yes sir!  Let me know when you get the files.  We’ll work out our investigation from there.”

“My thoughts exactly.  I’ll buzz you when the file comes in and I’ve had a chance to go over the lot.”

Pfister stood and saluted, placing his right fist near his left shoulder.  “Thank you, sir.”  He turned and exited the office.

Four hours later, the Pub N Play files arrived from Standards and were handed over to Dorsey Smyth.  There had been 172 accusations of cheating in the past ten years, abnormal by any estimation.  According to Standards investigators, they did not do any undercover work because Miklin proved to be extremely wary of anyone gaming in his pub who he’d never seen before.  Miklin ran the card room himself and if an unknown player sat to play, the game proved to be on the level every time.  Most of the players were locals, who came in every week.  Although the locals won just enough to keep them coming in, most of their money ended up in Miklin’s till.  The complaint amounts did not justify the cost of putting an undercover agent in Lexington for the time it would take to prove allegations against Miklin.

Dorsey buzzed up Pfister immediately after going over the file.

“In your opinion, Henry, is there anything more that can be done that hasn’t been accomplished already?”

“I doubt it, sir.  It sounds as if he’d have an eye on me the minute I entered the card room.  Even if I kept coming for months, it would take time for me to build his trust.  He’d know I don’t live in the area.  He might even have me followed to find out where I’m from.”

“Yes, unfortunately I’m of the same mind.  Is there anyone in your department that could move into the area?

“That’s a possibility.  But think of the time it would take.”

“I’m aware of that, Henry.  Obviously we have to carry on with Miklin’s complaint.  But that doesn’t mean that if, in the future, we could prove Mr. Farmer was bilked out of his money, it would overturn any debt owed by him and free whoever ends up in indenture based on his liability to Miklin.”

“Aye, sir.  I’ll ask for a volunteer to move to Lexington.  How soon would you need him in place?”

“Within a fortnight, if possible.  Would the District be willing to cover the costs?”

“Yes, I believe so.  From what you’ve shared with me, this character, Miklin, has been swindling his neighbors for some time.  The District enjoys putting a stop to operations like his.  I’ll be back to you, sir, within two days.”

“Excellent, Henry.  Thank you.”



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