"Very well, Lady Krenda," Krovenza said. He stood there in the outer office, obviously intending to wait for the file to appear. Krenda grunted as she sat down, opened her briefcase, and extracted the file. Krovenza stepped into her office, picked up the file, and backed out with a bow of his head. The old detective and the useless case file disappeared.
        "I love my job," Krenda said under her breath as she checked her terminal for incoming messages and for the three new files the secretary had mentioned.
        Krenda had been a police officer for 35 years, graduating from the police academy in a small town on another of Klinshai¹s continents. Five years on the street in a uniform, and she had been promoted to detective. Ten years after that and she had been recruited for the elite planetary bureau, the best detectives on the planet. Another decade, and she was selected for the imperial bureau, detectives based on the capital and sent anywhere in the empire that a particularly difficult case was beyond what the local police could handle.
        It was in the last of the major cases she worked, a murder-for-hire ring on Klegarine, that she had come to the attention of an imperial Knight Paladin. It was, simply put, her most brilliant work at the end of a brilliant career, and she was rewarded with her dream job.
        She had been a squire paladin for five years now. Not only was the pay good, and her office almost palatial, but she didn¹t have to walk the streets carrying a firearm. Being 50, that was all for the best. She was a little old and slow to be going through doors or getting into gunfights with suspects. The stress of knowing that any witness, let alone any suspect, she interrogated could be the one lunatic who decided to fight the police had ruined her digestion and far too many of her nights.
        Her office was in The Museum, an office building that had been built two centuries ago and refurbished before she was born. The woodwork was very high end, too nice for a mere police detective, but the Second Paladin Battalion had inherited the building when the planetary governor built a new and better office building 20 years ago. As a fairly junior paladin, and a squire not a knight, she had one of the smaller and less sumptuous offices, but it was still the nicest place she had ever worked in.
        Every squire paladin had a specialty, and she was one of the few police detectives. Others included doctors, scientists, lawyers, accountants, business people, engineers, and no end of other specialties. The squires were the eyes of the emperor, empowered to go anywhere and look at anything, but she could only report what she found. She had no authority to arrest people (something she missed from her years in the police), fire government officials, or send traitors to prison. Others would do that, depending on her reports.
        As part of the Klingon system of inspectors, checks, balances, and audits, the paladins were the final backstop to the system. Corruption, treason, cronyism, incompetence, inefficiency, even criminality were always rampant in the Empire, and the police and the Empire Security Service worked tirelessly to put a stop to it. In some cases, however, computers determined (or wise old heads became convinced) that something was wrong, and in a few of those cases, a squire paladin would be sent to investigate, or a knight paladin would be sent to take action.
        Paladins of both types did no end of "looking into things" and carried the full weight of the Empire when they did so. No government official, no private citizen could fail to understand that if an imperial paladin were asking questions, the correct and truthful answers had better be given in response. Some paladins worked as advisors, others as inspectors, still others as spies. Some squire paladins sought out the best in the Empire, ideas or technologies or people who had not been given a fair hearing and a chance to prove that they were the next thing. Other squires looked into the worst of the empire: incompetent politicians, traitorous soldiers, misbehaving nobles, corrupt businessmen - whoever had managed to escape the notice of (or bribe) the government, the police, or the Empire Security Service.
        Krenda looked into the merely curious. Every day, she was sent one or more police files of cases from all over the Empire that someone (or some computer) thought were "odd" in some way that could not be quantified. She reviewed cold cases, closed cases, unsolved cases, and solved mysteries that just maybe had been a little too easy to solve, and any investigation (by the police, the intelligence services, the Empire Security Service, or anyone else) that just didn¹t smell right. She looked for reports that made no sense, and she found patterns no one else saw. She occasionally righted a wrong and she sometimes uncovered a cover-up (and sometimes had to cover those back up before innocent pastimes embarrassed people doing important work). She had, more than once, found connections between unrelated crimes that led to larger criminal conspiracies. She had, in her few years here, found traitors, criminals, serial killers, deviants, corrupt officials, and some innocent people who had been wrongly imprisoned. Case files that proved to be nothing important sometimes led to other related cases which even the computers had not realized were just wrong.
        Most of the cases got only a couple of hours of her time. Maybe once a tenday, she found something that required an entire day of her time. Every second or third tenday, she spent several days on a case. About three times a year, an investigation no one had realized needed to be done took more than a tenday. An investigation of any length could find a secret or prove that there was really nothing wrong (at least, nothing important). Some of her longer investigations went nowhere, and some of her shorter investigations proved to be extremely important.
        She had taken a hard printout of a case home last night, wanting to read it a third time before setting it aside. The first of today¹s new files was, basically, an appeal of a conviction of someone who was related to someone important. She found a minor technicality and sent the case back with a "suggestion" that a particular piece of evidence be re-examined. She already knew that would change nothing, but it would give the important relative the satisfaction that every last stone had been overturned.