1 Prologue

Char testifies before a congressional hearing in Washington D.C. fall of 2019

1 Prologue

Prologue
October 2019
Starling K9 Officer Charlotte Rinning stated her name for the congressional hearing wearing her black power suit. As she sat in the chair behind the rectangular desk, she’d never imagined she’d be here, in Washington D.C. testifying on how her partner, her mentor, her Lieutenant, Trish Sanders was gunned down in front of her, back on August 10, 2019.
But when the feds called her, she answered. She was there with her Captain, Chuck Henderson and head of the Department, Marie Paterson. Plus, Starling FBI Agent in Charge, Aaron Gibson. This was a closed hearing.
The feds had been investigating Mitchel Stevens along with Charles Poleski and the Starling Police Department had stumbled upon the large human trafficking ring during one of their investigations. Char and Trish were on a mission to talk to one of their usual informants who had information for them.
The reason her and Trish were assigned to this task was that the informant would only talk to her, and she trusted this one particular informant.
“Is it Mrs. or Miss Rinning?” the head of the congressional board asked.
“That’s Mrs., sir, happily married.”
“Can you recall the date of August 10, 2019?”
Chuck sat next to Char on her right, in uniform. Marie sat on her left wearing a gray power suit. Each had one hand on her thighs to help stop her nervous bouncing. Char swallowed hard. She had to relive that night every night since two months ago. She closed her eyes.
“Miss Rinning, can you recall the evening of August 10, 2019?” he asked again.
“Yes, sir.”
“Please tell the panel what happened.”
“Sir, if I may,” Chuck began.
“Your name sir?”
“Charles Henry Henderson, Captain of the Starling, Michigan K9 Unit. With all due respect sir, my officer has been through a terrible ordeal. And I, we believe that she shouldn’t have to be here to tell that story again.”
“Mr. Henderson, we are so very sorry for your loss. But the reason you are here is because of your appearance that day, our investigation was foiled. Our two undercover agents were found out,” Daniel said.
“And how is that our fault?” Chuck asked. “And that investigation got one of ours killed. Only one of ours, sir,” Chuck countered.
“I understand and am so very sorry for your loss, but your officers had no business going after that person of interest,” Committee Panel Head Daniel Johnson said.
“Sir…”
“One more outburst from you Captain and I will order you out and in contempt. We need Miss Rinning’s statement!”
Char cleared her throat and took a few sips of water from the glass that sat in front of her. She patted Chuck’s thigh and nodded to him she had this.
“Mr. Johnson, on August 10, 2019, my partner and I, Starling Police Lieutenant, Trish Anna Sanders, were investigating a series of human trafficking rings in the Starling, Michigan area. The informant in question is a trusted source of mine.”
She paused and took a few more sip of water. She continued to eye the head of the panel who sat in the middle of two females on his left and two males on his right.
“We went to get information from the informant. As we walked the rundown apartment building where he lived in Starling, we arrived at the door. Before we could knock, we heard screaming and glass shattering. Then suddenly… a person ran out waving a gun…”
Char held the tears off the best she could. She closed her eyes, opened them and took more water in. She swallowed hard and nodded.
“That person shot at us. My partner, was shot in the head.”
“What exactly where you two doing there?” Mrs. Anna Szymanski asked.
“I told you, we were there to get information from the informant.”
“Did you get any information?” Senator Mark Owen asked.
“No.”
“Why?” Anna asked.
“I told you why!”
“And you two had no idea that you were invading a federal investigation?” Daniel asked.
“No, sir,” Char said.
“So, you never got to talk to or see the informant?” Daniel asked.
“Nope. Had no time. I don’t even know who shot at us. Everything happened so fast. I pulled my weapon and fired four shots. My dog, he went after them, but the person shrugged my dog off them.” Char sniffed.
“That is exactly what is on your report. I find it hard to believe that someone like you could recite a report such as this as perfectly as you just did,” Daniel said.
“What do you mean, someone like me? What’s your point?” Char asked.
Daniel glared to her harshly.
“Sir,” she added.
“You seem to suffer from a learning disability called Dyscalculia and slight Dyslexia from a brain injury you suffered when you were eight. I just find this hard to believe,” Daniel said.
Her eyes widened. They had to through that up her, didn’t they? She didn’t need anyone else knowing her past and her disabilities. How the hell did they get this information? She was beside herself. She wasn’t prepped on these questions when they got the call from the feds to appear at this trial.
“Sir, that is private knowledge and only her superior officers know of this. All that information is supposed to be sealed. For her protection!” Chuck stated. “This is an outrage!”
“Mr. Henderson, the mere fact you know her compromises your judgement. I said, one more outburst from you and you are out of here!” Daniel stated.
“Um what?” Chuck asked. “But sir, just because she has those disabilities, doesn’t mean they hinder her ability to do her job.”
“That was the next question I was going to ask her. Mrs. Rinning do these disabilities hinder you doing your job? Do you feel that it might be possible they did on that day in question?” Daniel asked.
Char shook her head. How the hell did they unseal her records? That kept going through her mind.
“Mrs. Rinning?”
“No. They did not.”
“Might I remind you; you are under oath.”
“I know that!”
He glanced to her, and she shook her head. She knew he was waiting for to say sir. This person truly made her believe that he was a pompous asshat.
“May I ask you again?”
“No! I answered all your questions! Just because I have those disabilities, doesn’t give you the right to treat me like I’m a kid. I do my job to the best of my ability. I lost my best friend that day!”
She glanced to Chuck and to Marie, then she smiled at them both. They both smiled back to her. She had about enough of this. But she didn’t want to disgrace her department, her father, her broths, or her bosses.
“Sir!” she yelled into the mic.
After the slight feedback as everyone moved away from their microphones Char rose from her chair.
“Just where to do you think you’re going?” Daniel asked her.
“I’ve answered all your questions. I feel like I am being discriminated against, by my own country that I love and serve!” Char stated.
“Mrs. Rinning, sit down!” he said.
She refused. She turned to Chuck and Marie. What would happen if she walked out? Too many things could happen. So, she sat back down.
She watched the panel talk amongst themselves. Her right leg bounced as Marie tried to get her to calm down. And after ten minutes of discussion, Daniel looked her way.
“Mrs. Rinning, thank you for your service and we are so very sorry for your loss. Continue your great work in Starling. You are clear. You’re free to go,” Daniel said.
“Just like that?” she asked.
“We got everything we need. One thing, do not continue your investigations into the Daxx Corporation, do I make myself clear? This is a federal matter, and we will take care of it.”
“What? Why? I’ve spent a couple of years on them already!”
She her head and rubbed her mouth
“Mrs. Rinning?”
“Fine!” she snapped.
Char blew out a deep breath but then shook her head again. She rose as did Chuck and Marie. They shook their heads in disgust at the results but knew they couldn’t fight it any longer. And an hour and a half later, she was finally home. The cab pulled up in the driveway and she saw the dogs going bat crazy in the window that mom was home.