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Little Fuzzy

XIV
They walked together, Frederic and Claudette Pendarvis, down through the roof garden
toward the landing stage, and, as she always did, Claudette stopped and cut a flower and
fastened it in his lapel.
“Will the Fuzzies be in court?” she asked.
“Oh, they’ll have to be. I don’t know about this morning; it’ll be mostly formalities.” He
made a grimace that was half a frown and half a smile. “I really don’t know whether to
consider them as witnesses or as exhibits, and I hope I’m not called on to rule on that, at
least at the start. Either way, Coombes or Brannhard would accuse me of showing
prejudice.”
“I want to see them. I’ve seen them on screen, but I want to see them for real.”
“You haven’t been in one of my courts for a long time, Claudette. If I find that they’ll be
brought in today, I’ll call you. I’ll even abuse my position to the extent of arranging for
you to see them outside the courtroom. Would you like that?”
She’d love it. Claudette had a limitless capacity for delight in things like that. They
kissed good-bye, and he went to where his driver was holding open the door of the aircar
and got in. At a thousand feet he looked back; she was still standing at the edge of the
roof garden, looking up.
He’d have to find out whether it would be safe for her to come in. Max Fane was worried
about the possibility of trouble, and so was Ian Ferguson, and neither was given to
timorous imaginings. As the car began to descend toward the Central Courts buildings, he
saw that there were guards on the roof, and they weren’t just carrying pistols—he caught
the glint of rifle barrels, and the twinkle of steel helmets. Then, as he came in, he saw that
their uniforms were a lighter shade of blue than the constabulary wore. Ankle boots and
red-striped trousers; Space Marines in dress blues. So Ian Ferguson had pushed the
button. It occurred to him that Claudette might be safer here than at home.
A sergeant and a couple of men came up as he got out; the sergeant touched the beak of
his helmet in the nearest thing to a salute a Marine ever gave anybody in civilian clothes.
“Judge Pendarvis? Good morning, sir.”
“Good morning, sergeant. Just why are Federation Marines guarding the court building?”
“Standing by, sir. Orders of Commodore Napier. You’ll find that Marshal Fane’s people
are in charge below-decks, but Marine Captain Casagra and Navy Captain Greibenfeld
are waiting to see you in your office.”
 
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