– II –
She was still trying to get her head around the fact that a member of her crew had quite possibly been the victim of a heinous crime. Had been murdered. And no matter how one looked at this, the truth was it had happened on her watch. Security, after all, was her role and therefore the safety of all crewmembers was solely her responsibility. She had failed. She had failed Lieutenant Gedar.
Nora Laas crouched near the body of the Krellonian engineer and watched quietly while members of her security team scanned every last bit of forensic evidence possible before the body would be transported to the morgue for an autopsy by Doctor Katanga.
It still bothered her that Commander Star had openly declared that she wasn’t up to the task of heading this investigation. So perhaps criminal matters were not her specialty. She was a fighter first and foremost. A leader of men if she had to be. Probably the best hand-to-hand combatant on the ship and deadly accurate with almost any weapon. She had partaken in a couple of investigations before, most recently as a deputy security chief on Deep Space Two almost five years ago. Her colleague and friend So’Dan Leva had been in charge of the investigation initially as the head of security and frankly her contributions had not been significant.
Her lack of experience didn’t mean she’d yield to Tazla Star. She was head of security and no matter what, she would find the guilty party and bring them to justice. That she had promised the captain, and perhaps even more importantly, she had promised herself.
Jose Carlos, her deputy, approached holding a padd. The man was loyal to a fault, tall and muscular, the Hispanic officer had been made for security work. Did he have the finesse, as Star had put it, to find a killer, she wondered. She hadn’t exactly recruited her team based on their investigative skills. An oversight she came to regret now.
Nora stood. “What precisely do we know so far?”
Carlos had been prepared for the question and referred to his padd. “Cause of death appears to be severe trauma from impact,” he said and looked up along the warp core shaft and towards where he had likely plummeted to his death. “I’d say he fell about ten meters and landed face down.” He turned back to his padd. “Time of death was between 2330 hours and 0045 hours. The doctor is trying to narrow it down but that might not be that easy.”
“Apparently we don’t know much about Krellonian physiology or how their bodies react after death. His body temperature is nowhere near what it should be.”
“Who found the body?”
“Crewman Wyche at 0045,” he said. “He called in the medical emergency. The medical team arrived two minutes later and found Gedar already dead. Doctor Katanga arrived at 0053 and officially pronounced death before calling us. By 0055 we were on site and engineering had been sealed off.”
“Ten minute after he was discovered,” she said, mostly to herself as she considered the body still sitting in a large puddle of his slowly drying blood. “Plenty of time for the killer to slip away. If he hadn’t already,” she said and turned back to her deputy. “Internal sensors?”
He shook his head. “Turned off.”
“What? How?” she said, fully aware if the sensors had been operating, especially the visual pickups, this investigation would have been over before it had even begun.
“They were turned off after we entered the nebula,” he said, sounding frustrated himself. “Apparently the background radiation rendered them useless and provided false data.”
“Splendid,” she said. “Glad I was told about this.”
He shrugged helplessly. Clearly he hadn’t been told either.
She turned back to watch as the medical technicians began to remove the body now that the site had been thoroughly scanned and documented. “I want statements from everyone who’s seen the body along with everyone else who’s been talking to Gedar within the last twenty-four hours. Let’s start with everyone in engineering and then widen the net in the morning.”
“I’ve already taken Wyche’s statement.”
She nodded. “Good. Make sure every last square inch of the room has been scanned. I want to be able to create an exact replica on the holodeck. Then seal off this area but reopen main engineering. I want two armed guards here for the rest of the day.”
Carlos seemed surprised by these orders. “We’re letting people back onto the crime scene already?”
She frowned. “Not my choice,” she said curtly. “After you’re done tell everyone to get a good night’s rest. We start first thing at 0700 to put the pieces together and find whoever the hells did this.”
Nora shot a last glance at Gedar’s body before it began to dematerialize, leaving behind only the large stain of his dark red blood as gruesome evidence that a young man had met his death here tonight. Then she turned and headed back to the elevator which would deposit her to the main engineering deck above. Once there she’d make her way straight back to her quarters. Not to catch up on sleep she knew she wouldn’t find but start her investigation and learn everything she could about the victim.
No matter what Star or anyone else thought, she was going to find whoever did this. After all she had promised herself and Nora Laas was not a woman to make empty promises. No matter what it would take, she would not allow a killer to roam free on her ship.