He had been caught more than hed escaped

It was true. Mulchs criminal career had not exactly been an unqualified success. He had been caught more than hed escaped. The LEP was just too technologically advanced to evade. Maybe it was time to go straight, while he still had his looks.
Mulch shook the chains that shackled him to a rail in the holding area. I wont be wearing these for long.
Vishby opened his mouth to respond, then paused.
A plasma screen was flashing red on a wall panel. Red was urgent. There was an important message coming through. Vishby hooked an earphone over his ear and turned the screen away from Mulch. As the message was delivered, his face lost every trace of levity. Several cheap studio beats moments later, he tossed the headphones on the console.
It looks like youll be wearing those chains for a bit longer than you thought.
Mulchs jaw strained against the steel mouth ring.
Why? Whats happened?
Vishby scratched a strip of gill rot on his neck. I shouldnt tell you this, convict, but Commander Root has been murdered.
Mulch couldnt have been more shocked if they had connected him to the underworld grid.
Murdered? How?
Explosion, said Vishby. Another LEP officer is the prime suspect. Captain Holly Short. Shes missing, presumed dead on the surface, but that hasnt been confirmed.
Im not a bit surprised, said the water sprite. Females are too temperamental for police work. They couldnt even handle a simple transport job like this.
Mulch was in shock. He felt as though his brain had snapped its moorings cheap studio beats and was spinning in his head. Holly murdered Julius? How could that be possible? It wasnt possible, simple as that.
There must be a mistake. And now Holly was missing, presumed dead. How could this be happening?
Anyways, continued Vishby. We gotta turn this crate around and head back to Atlantis.
Obviously your little hearing is being postponed indefinitely, until this entire mess gets sorted out.
The water sprite slapped Mulch playfully on the cheek. Tough break, dwarf. Maybe theyll get the red tape untangled in a couple of years.
Mulch barely felt the slap, though the words penetrated. A couple of years. Could he take a couple of years in the Deeps? Already his soul cried out for the tunnels. He needed to feel soft earth between his fingers. His insides needed real roughage detox beats to clear them out. And of course, there was a chance that Holly was still alive and needed help. A friend. He had no option but to escape.
Julius dead. It couldnt be true.
Mulch mentally leafed through his dwarf abilities to select the best tool for this escape. He had long since forfeited his magic by breaking most of the Fairy Books commandments, but dwarfs had extraordinary gifts granted them by evolution.

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