Unfortunately, even though he had the aid of his talented sons, James and Bolivar whom he'd arranged to have graduate a little ahead of time from the Dorsky Military Boarding School and Penitentiary , things didn't go according to plan. The trio broke into IIER's headquarters easily enough, but they set off an alarm in the process which not only meant 'that Angelina's rescue had to be postponed, but also that the boys had to wipe clean the family's tax records on their own while their father created an appropriate diversion.
But the fun stopped there. After grudgingly assuring Jim that Angelina was out of jail, Inskipp outlined the much more serious problem currently facing the Corps.
Asatellite base which had been hosting a major meeting of the League Navy chiefs of staff had vanished without a trace, leaving League defenses in a dangerously disorganized state. It was up to diGriz to find out what had happened in the satellite, and who was responsible. As a father I felt concern; as a citizen I suppose it was a blessing. What I thought was just good spirits in the lads, the rest of the world tended to frown upon. Before coming here they had been expelled from a total of schools.
Three of these schools had burned down under mysterious circumstances; another had blown up. I had never believed that the mass suicide attempt of all the senior masters at another school had anything to do with my boys; but vicious tongues will wag. In any case they had finally met their match, if not their master in old Colonel Dorsky. After being forcefully retired from the military he had opened this school and put his years of service, experience, and sadism to work.
My boys had reluctantly gained an education, served their term and in a few days would face the graduating ceremonies and parole. Only now things would have to be accelerated just a little bit. As always I reluctantly surrendered my weapons, was x-rayed and spy-beamed, locked through the multiple automatic doors and released into the inner quad.
But there ahead, crossing the ferroconcrete artificial grass, were two upright and brisk figures, unbent by any despair. I whistled shrilly and they dropped their books and ran up to greet me warmly. After which I rose slowly to my feet and dusted myself off—then proved that an old dog can still teach the pups a trick or two. They laughed as they rubbed their sore spots and stood up again. They were a bit shorter than I was, taking after their mother there, but soundly muscled and handsome as gods.
I am here to accelerate your graduation because something not too nice has happened to your mother. Their grins vanished on the instant and they leaned forward alertly, drinking in every word as I explained what I had seen, nodding in agreement. They did this often, many times thinking as one. We marched. In step, at a good doubletime of paces to the minute. We scarcely slowed and only broke step going over his unconscious body. Dorsky looked up growling when we came through the door, gun ready in his fist. Would you be so kind as to give them their graduation certificates and expiration of term-served papers.
I smiled at the unswerving gun and decided that explanation would be more fruitful than violence. If this was an ordinary arrest the arrestees would have been unconscious soon after opening the door. Detectives, cops, military police, customs agents, none of those could stand before the wrath of my sweet Angelina. Time that I will need. The gun vanished.
Accept these graduation certificates as tokens of your reluctant completion of all courses and of time served here. You are now alumni of Dorsky Military Boarding School and Penitentiary and I hope you will, like the other graduates, remember us with a little curse before retiring each night. I would shake your hands except my bones are getting brittle and I am laying off the hand-to-hand combat. Go forth with your father and join him in the battle against evil and strike a blow for me as well. That was all there was to it. A minute later we were out in the sunshine and climbing into the car.
The boys left their childish possessions behind them in the school and entered the world of adult responsibility.
Getting her release will be easy enough, as long as we can get to the records in time. And like us, he regards the tax man as the natural enemy. Soon you will be earning like the rest of us and, with the arrival of your first credit, sweat of your palms and brow, the tax man will arrive as well. Swooping in ever smaller circles, screaming shrilly, until he perches on your shoulder and with yellow beak bites most of the money from your grasp.
Your mother and I have a little nest egg put aside for investing for your future. Money earned before you lads were born.
We have heard your bedtime lectures about how bank robbery helps the economy. It gives the bored police something to do, the newspapers something to print, the population something to read about, the insurers something to pay off. It is a boost to the economy and keeps the money in circulation. It is the work of a philanthropist.
To take only from those who can afford it, to injure no one, to be kind, courteous, friendly and irreverent. To be crooked just long enough to be enlisted in the Special Corps where you can serve mankind best by tracking down the real crooks. As long as your mother and I were stealing money and spending it there were no problems. But as soon as we took our hard-earned salaries in the Corps and invested them we ran afoul of the tax people. By hindsight it was rather foolish. We should have gone back to robbing banks. So now we are enmeshed in their coils, playing their games, getting involved in court actions, audits, lawyers, fines, jail terms—the whole mess.
There is only one answer, one final solution. That is why your mother went away calmly with these financial vampires. To leave me free to cut the Gordian knot and get us out of this mess. And end up broke—but free and happy. We sat in the darkened car and I nibbled nervously at my finger-nails. I cannot steer two innocents into a life of crime. There were snorts, indicating strong emotions of some kind, from the back seat. Then the doors were hurled open and slammed shut again just as quickly and I looked up in shocked surprise as they both stamped away down the night-filled street.
Had I driven them away? Would they attempt to do the job on their own and bungle it? What disasters lay ahead? I was fumbling with the door handle, trying to make my mind up, when the footsteps grew louder again, returning. I stepped out to meet them when they came back, faces grim and empty of humor. We are adults under law having passed the age of eighteen.
We can legally drink, smoke, curse and chase girls.