Invasion of Justice (Shadows of Justice)(3)

By: Regan Black

Forcing herself to remain calm, she lifted her gaze to the holographic display open in his hand. The coroner's clinical voice detailed every injury Jane Doe earned in her final fight. Scratches, offensive and defensive, lacerations and the blade strike that ended it. Even in death, the woman looked wild and intimidating. Over six feet with extreme musculature that made it easy to believe she'd been using the hormone-steroid blend known as 'juice'.

"See," Gideon persisted, "cat fight. I don't know a guy that'll jump between two women out for blood. Especially juicers. Not sure I wanna see the bird who won."

I do. The thought came unbidden and nearly escaped verbally. She wanted, needed, to know more about the second woman she'd sensed here. The connection felt deeper than any other she'd felt before, including the link she shared with her only sibling, her brother Nathan.

"She fights but she doesn't juice."

"Not anymore." Gideon flipped off the hologram. "Women haven't looked like that since the days of the Amazon."

"Not the Jane Doe. The other woman." Petra stomped on her frustration. This issue could wait. "Bring in the witnesses, please."

"Okay, but they won't talk."

"I wish the same could be said of you," she muttered. His bark of laughter told her he had ears like a bat.

Putting Gideon out of her mind, she calmed herself with breath control as she watched the witnesses file in. All three were nervous, but the first man was the target of hostile energy from the other two.

She didn't need them to talk as much as remember and feel. When she tapped those feelings, conversation would follow.

According to her notes, they'd been found less than twenty-four hours ago, along with the decaying Jane Doe. Men or not, she didn't think she'd have trouble getting a read on their emotions.

"The lady here wants to know why you didn't help your girl," Gideon blurted.

The men stared back at him with one surly expression in triplicate.

Petra knew her expression differed. If Gideon bothered to spare her a glance, he'd see the unruffled calm she practiced to perfection. But inside she plotted how best to remove him from the investigation–preferably in tiny pieces.

She walked, wishing she could swagger, to the testosterone-heavy end of the engine. "The lady here wants to know why the three of you are working on a decrepit railroad."

Reading the body language of all three, Petra quickly identified and mentally tapped the man the other two didn't respect. His sense of failure went deep and was mixed with a healthy dose of fear and insecurity.

Her prodding produced the expected result.

"J-just a job."

The other two groaned, but Gideon kept them from moving on the talker.

"We got nothing else to lose," he said to his associates. "We just h-hauled cargo."

"And where is that cargo now?" Gideon demanded before Petra could speak.

"W-we–I mean I–don't know. Just gone I guess."

"Drugs? Juice? Caffeine?" Gideon inquired. "That sort of cargo would need legs to just go anywhere."

"Women," Petra interrupted. "Girls and women." She felt Gideon turn to stare at her, but she kept her eyes on the three other men. "Hauling females to a slave auction." She sighed. Kincaid's instincts were right on target–as usual. Maybe they'd finally recover and close some of their stalled kidnapping cases. "Okay. Considering you're all undereducated, I can see the lure of the money here."

Beside her, Gideon shuffled and seethed. Well, he clearly needed a lesson in role reversal. It was past time for her shot at these thugs.

"What happened? Who released your prisoners?" she continued.

The expressions on the two sterner faces flickered. Mr. Talkative went pale.

"Sit," Gideon ordered the three men.

She saw the benefit. By sitting, they'd be closer to re-enacting the recent fright. She followed his lead. "A woman breaks free of the cargo hold and overpowers four guards?"

"Who was driving?" Gideon asked.

Not one answered verbally, but Petra knew. She knew her big picture was off. "None of you can drive this thing. The engineer went with the cargo. With the women. And you," she knelt in front of Mr. Talkative, "you're glad the Amazon's dead."

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