– IV –
Sleep hadn’t come easy to her. The notion that somebody had been killed on her watch had been difficult enough to digest, the fact that it had fallen to her ― at her own insistence ― to catch the killer, was a challenge she had rarely faced in her career as a security officer.
Protecting assets or personnel on an away mission, boarding hostile vessels or repel enemy forces, disarm booby traps, she even had basic certification to take over the tactical station on the bridge if the need arose, but criminal investigations were really not something Starfleet security officers normally trained for and her experience as a teenage freedom fighter on Bajor and later a Marine hadn’t exactly prepared her for this either.
Of course she hadn’t admitted any of this to Owens when she had demanded that it had to be her to lead the investigation. No matter how one looked at it, as the security chief it had to be her job to prevent or if necessary investigate crimes committed on her ship. Even if it was the most heinous crime imaginable.
So she had spent most of her night reading up on Starfleet criminal investigations. Sure, there was the obligatory textbook on the matter but other than that, actual records were in scarce supply. Crimes of this nature usually didn’t take place on Starfleet vessels or installations and when they did, one could usually rely on the Starfleet JAG corps for assistance and guidance.
’s current mission parameters, that, of course, was not an option. She had to do this by herself and she was determined to be successful.
She was still reading one of the few case studies which were somewhat comparable with her own when she entered her security office at 0700 sharp.
Lieutenant Jose Carlos was already waiting for her with a cup of hot raktajino
which she took off him without so much as looking him in the eyes.
“Good Morning, sir.”
“Not sure what’s good about it,” she said and made the mistake of trying to sip the steaming hot coffee, which she quickly came to regret. “We’ve got a killer on the loose on the ship. In fact, no more good mornings until we’ve brought whoever did this to justice.”
The Hispanic officer nodded sharply.
“Has the crime scene been recorded?”
“Every last square centimeter, just as you asked. The computer has already finished compiling the data and holodeck two has been reserved to reproduce main engineering exactly the way we found it last night. You should also know that―“
“Access has been restricted? We can’t have the killer just stroll in there and fool around with my crime scene.”
“Doors have been locked only to accept access to yourself,” he said. “As an additional precaution I’ve stationed two armed guards around the clock.”
“Good,” she said and tried the rakatjino
again. She really needed a shot of it to get herself ready for what undoubtedly was going to be a long, hard day. But she froze just before the cup reached her lips as she watched a couple of her people entering the room. They were joking and laughing amongst themselves and leisurely heading over to the replicator.
“There is somebody―“ but Carlos didn’t get a chance to finish as Nora abruptly turned away from him to face her seemingly relaxed officers, engaging in ‘water-cooler’ banter around the replicator.
Unbeknownst to him, her gaze drilled itself into a junior officer who had laughed out loud following something his fellow colleague had said. “Ensign, I didn’t quite catch that joke,” she said loudly enough to make every last person turn her way.
The young man she had addressed looked at her with wide-open eyes. “I … I’m sorry, ma’am?”
She took a step towards the human. “You seem to be having a terribly good time so I was just wondering what the joke is?”
The ensign seemed to be at a loss for words.
He shook his head. “Uh … there was no, joke, ma’am. I apologize if―“
But Nora Laas had lost interest when she spotted another couple of her people enter the room. Quickly checking the chronometer, she found it was already 0706 hours.
Petty Officer Skyler McIntyre and Caitian Ensign T’Nerr immediately sensed the tense atmosphere in the room, not to mention the hawk-like gaze from their boss and instantly stopped talking amongst themselves.
Nora for her part took a deep breath, allowed a few more stragglers to come in and then turned to the dozen or so personnel who made up alpha shift. “Some of you may have heard we’ve had a murder last night,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Some of you may even have realized that this does not happen on Eagle
and that I specifically asked for everyone to be here at 0700 sharp this morning. Let me make something very clear to you now. And please, by all means, make sure you communicate this to the rest of the team. From this point forward until whoever was responsible for killing Ensign Gedar has been apprehended, we will be entirely focuses on the task at hand. And you will get here, exactly when I ask you to get here and when you do you’ll be focused on one thing only. I will not accept tardiness and complacency from anyone. If you find you cannot behave like a professional, than quite frankly you have no place in my team or in security for that matter. Go see if they have an opening for you in engineering. Do I make myself clear?”
There were nods all around, each and every one of her people standing up straighter and their gazes fixes at the security chief.
“Do I make myself clear?” she repeated in a louder voice.
“Yes, ma’am,” they shouted back in unison.
“Good, now get to work. There’s much to be done,” she added and then turned back to Carlos. “I will rely on you to make sure to keep them focused and in line. I know people were thinking that because we’re no longer on the frontlines we could relax but that’s not the case. There’s a new war going on and this one will be fought right here on board this ship.”
She had suddenly lost her taste in rakatjino
and passed it back to her deputy.
“And before I forget, I want you to pull Gedar’s service record along with all the information we have on anyone in engineering around the time of his death. Start with Professor Rosenthal’s civilian team,” she said and turned to head to her office. She managed three steps before she stopped suddenly. “Jose?”
“Who is that sitting in my office?”
“Ah, yes, I’ve been trying to tell you. That’s Lieutenant Clancy. He said he’s here to see you.”
She turned back around to shoot him a displeased look. “Why didn’t you say so earlier?”
“Uh, I tried but you―“
“Never mind,” she said. “Just get me those files, will you?”
“Yes, sir,” he said before he quickly retreated, clearly thankful for the opportunity to be out of his her line of fire for now.
Nora Laas stepped into her office and the man sitting in the chair facing her desk quickly stood. He was tall, with an athletic look, wavy brown hair and a friendly, inviting face. His rank insignia identified him as a junior lieutenant and he wore sciences colors underneath his uniform jacket. Nora was sure she’d seen him around before but couldn’t immediately place him.
He offered and easy smile and held out his hand. “Ah, Lieutenant Nora. I don’t think we ever formally met. I’m Alex Clancy.”
She shook his hand shortly before she stepped around him to get to her own chair.
“That was a nice speech, you gave by the way. Way to motivate the troops during a crisis.”
She looked him over suspiciously. “How may I help you, Lieutenant? As you can imagine, we’re all quite busy at the moment,” she said as she took her chair.
“Of course. That’s why I’m here,” he said and followed suit. That easy smile not leaving his lips. “I’m here to offer my services to your investigation.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
“I’m an assistant counselor and I have a little bit of experience dealing with homicide investigations. There aren’t too many people within Starfleet who can say that so I thought it made sense that I’d offer you my services any way you see fit.”
“You’re a counselor?”
“I see.” She seemed to consider that for a moment and then abruptly stood again. Clancy quickly left his chair as well. “Well, I’m certainly thankful that you’ve came by and I’ll make sure to call you if I think I’ll need your help.”
It didn’t take a counselor, assistant or otherwise, to tell that Nora had just dismissed Clancy and yet the man stayed rooted to the spot. That smile was gone now and he seemed somewhat uncomfortable all of sudden.
“As I said,” Nora repeated, adding a little fire to her tone. “I’ll call if I need you.”
“About that, you see, I wasn’t entirely honest with you just now and I feel quite silly about that, to tell you the truth.”
She raised an eyebrow, clearly not comprehending.
“That certainly was no way to start our relationship.”
“What relationship?” she said, clearly beginning to get frustrated with this conversation. “We don’t have a relationship.”
He nodded slowly. “Honestly, I thought she would have told you already.”
“Told me what? What the hells are you talking about?”
“See the fact of the matter is, while I do believe I could be helpful to you, this wasn’t actually my idea. I was approached by―“
“Commander Star,” Nora interrupted, seething now.
He nodded. “In fact I’m under orders to assist―“
But the security chief was already half way to the door by then. “Don’t get comfortable, I’ll be right back,” she said a moment before she stormed out of her own office.
Clancy looked after her. “Guess she didn’t tell you then.”