– IV –
“I suppose this is how things worked before internal sensors,” said Alex Clancy as he walked down the corridor with Nora Laas at his side. “Can you even imagine not being able to rely on something we now take for granted?”
The Bajoran aimed a frown in his direction. “We didn’t have internal sensors in the resistance on Bajor.”
Clancy looked pained. “Of course not, sorry.”
“I still don’t understand why we are doing it this way,” she said, apparently quite happy not to dwell on her past. “We could have easily commed her and have her report to the security office.”
“Yunta Fey is our first suspect outside of engineering we haven’t spoken to yet,” he said. “I want to see her reaction when she hears about Gedar’s death.”
“Is that a trick you picked up in your vast investigative career, Lieutenant?”
Clancy ignored the sarcasm in her tone. “It’s simple psychology. Most people are unable to hide their true feelings when they are caught by surprise. It may only last a second but sometimes that’s enough.”
“Just remember, last time I checked you can’t prosecute somebody based on their feelings.”
“Not in the Federation, no,” he said with a little smirk and then pointed to the two wooden doors they were approaching, embossed with a large Starfleet delta in a transparent inset. “According to Major Wasco, we’ll find the corporal in here. Sounds like she’s one of the few Marines who likes to mix with the Starfleet crew.”
They entered the Nest, Eagle’s
largest crew lounge located at the very front of deck ten. The two-level room offered relaxed seating arrangements below and replicators and dining tables above.
The Nest was busy which didn’t come as much of a surprise considering that the majority of the crew was not while they were parked in the nebula, constructing the sensors array. And of course the large panorama windows allowed one of the best views of their mesmerizing surroundings and many were taking full advantage of this.
enigmatic bartender appeared out of seemingly nowhere to greet his latest guests. “Welcome to the Nest, may I interest you in some refreshments?”
But before Nora could speak, the dark-skinned man with his white bony ridges protruding from his otherwise hairless scalp beat her to it. “You’re here on official business, aren’t you?”
“How can you tell?”
“It’s that look in your eyes, Alex,” he said. “You are here because of what happened in engineering.”
“How do you know about that?” Nora said, sounding almost accusatory now. After all they had agreed with the captain to delay the official announcement for twenty-four hours in order to give them a head start of catching the perpetrator.
He smiled sadly. “It’s very difficult to keep a secret on a starship no matter how hard you try.”
Nora wanted to respond but something in his look changed her mind. She had once tried to keep a secret on this ship too and it hadn’t worked out very well. She didn’t want to think of the painful emotions the thought stirred up in her.
As if he could sense that pain, Bensu quickly moved on. “Is there somebody specific you are looking for?”
“Lance Corporal Yunta Fey,” Clancy said.
“Yes, she’s here,” he said and pointed at the far corner of the room where a woman sat by herself at a table, staring off into the nebula and sipping at her drink. “A remarkable woman, that one. Strong and determined, a warrior through and through,” he added and then looked back at Nora.
She nodded along.
“I can see why you would want to talk to her.”
“Why is that?” said Clancy.
“I couldn’t tell you for certain,” the bartender said, “but I think she knew Gedar. I may have seen them together a couple of times.”
“Thank you,” Nora said in a clipped tone and headed in the direction of where Yunta was sitting.
Clancy caught up quickly. “Not very tactful, Lieutenant.”
“I don’t trust the man,” she said in a near whisper. “He knows too much, it creeps me out.”
He uttered a little laugh.
“Lance Corporal Yunta Fey,” Nora said as they stepped up to the table.
The woman turned to look at the two Starfleet officers. Bensu hadn’t been wrong about her. Even sitting down it was clear Yunta was a fighter, possessing strong shoulders and a muscular built and a hard look in her bright blue eyes. She was also, however, undeniably attractive and apparently without having to give it much effort. She had naturally high cheekbones, flawless skin and silky blonde hair which she currently wore down to her neck. “Yes?”
“I’m Lieutenant Nora Laas, this is Lieutenant Clancy. May we sit down and talk to you?”
She nodded and the two took seats opposite her.
“I know you, Lieutenant. You are the chief of security.”
“You are from Rakantha Province, aren’t you?” she continued. “I remember reading about you and your sister. Leena, was it? You raised some serious hells for the Cardies back in the resistance. I was too young to join at the time but after reading about what you did at an early age, I couldn’t wait to get my hands around their murderous throats.”
“Did you join?”
“Yes but by then you had left Bajor,” she said this without accusation or bitterness which Bajorans who stayed behind often felt for those who had fled before their home world was liberated. “I don’t blame you for doing that. Tell you the truth, I would’ve left too if I’d had the chance. Couldn’t get out quickly enough after the Cardies left. Joint Starfleet’s Marines.”
“It’s a good place to be.”
She nodded and took another drink. “It’s what we Bajorans are good at. Killing spoon-heads.”
Nora cringed a little at the derogative term she herself hadn’t used since her days fighting the Cardassians in the border wars as a Marine but Yunta didn’t seem to notice.
“So how may I help you?” she said. “I doubt you came to see me just to reminisce about the good old days.”
“We’re investigating the murder of Lieutenant Gedar,” said Clancy.
The Marine looked at him, her expressions seemingly carefully schooled. “Gedar is dead?”
“He was killed yesterday in engineering between 2330 and midnight,” the assistant counselor said.
Yunta said nothing, her empty eyes focused on Clancy as if they were engaged in some sort of staring contest.
“We understand you knew Gedar quite well?” said Nora.
But Yunta still didn’t react.
She turned to look at Nora. “Yes. Yes, I knew him.”
But Nora’s asking expression was not rewarded with an answer. “How well?”
“Are you asking me if we had sexual congress?”
Clancy and Nora exchanged a quick, surprised look, neither having expected such a frank response. Clancy took that one. “Well, I wouldn’t have gone there straight away but sure, I suppose that’s what we’re asking.”
“I don’t mince words, Lieutenant,” she said. “And yes, we had an intimate relationship at one point. But I would appreciate if this information did not find it’s way back to Major Wasco.”
“You can be assured of our discretion on that matter, Corporal,” said Nora.
“You said at one point,” Clancy continued. “Does that mean you were no longer in a relationship with him?”
She sipped her drink again before responding. “It ended a few months ago.”
“Who ended it?” Clancy asked.
She considered that for a moment. “It was a mutual decision.”
The counselor did not look convinced at all and even Yunta could tell. “Listen, I’d be lying if I said that what we had wasn’t extremely stimulating for the both of us. But that’s all it was. Physical. We both understood this and decided to move on.”
“Would you happen to know who he moved on to?” said Nora.
Clancy clarified. “Was there a woman he was involved with after you two broke it off?”
“I believe so, yes.”
Clancy looked a little exasperated. “And would you happen to know her name?”
The Marine seemed momentarily lost, staring passed both Starfleet officers and into the nebula behind them.
“Corporal?” Clancy said.
“Sierra Decaux,” she finally said. “I have to report back to my unit. I’m sure you know where to find me if you need anything else,” she added hastily, finished her drink with one last gulp and stood.
“Yes,” Nora said, clearly caught on the back foot a little by her sudden move.
“One more question before you go, Corporal,” Clancy said, looking up and finding Yunta almost six feet tall. “Where were you between 2330 and midnight on that day?”
“In my quarters,” she said. “Sleeping.”
“Alone?” Clancy said.
“I’m afraid so,” she added and then turned and walked away.
They both watched her leave.
“What a charmer,” said Clancy.
Nora shot him a dark look. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You have to admit she doesn’t exactly possess the greatest set of social skills.”
“She doesn’t have to,” she countered. “She’s a Marine.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t know those two qualities were mutually exclusive.”
Nora leaned back in her chair a bit. “She couldn’t have had an easy life. Young women that looked like her on Bajor where prime candidates to become courtesans for the Cardassian leadership. And often they were not treated very well.”
“She looks like she can handle herself in a fight.”
But Nora shook her head. “She wasn’t always the strong fighter she is now, I’m sure of it. I was a slim little thing when I first started out in the resistance. I leaned a few tricks along the way and became a decent shot and handy with a knife but it wasn’t until I joined the Marines that I turned into a true warrior with the kind of deadly skills I wish I’d have had back in the resistance.”
“So what you’re saying is that she’s got the strength and the resolve to kill.”
The security chief didn’t like the sound of that. “Just because she can do it doesn’t mean she did, Lieutenant.”
“Of course not but let’s recap what we’ve learned, shall we? She has no alibi. She has a connection to the victim, perhaps even a motive if he wronged her somehow which considering his reputation is a good possibility and she had the opportunity.”
Nora stood and began heading for the exit. “I’m not willing to consider that just yet.”
Clancy followed suit. “Don’t get blinded by the fact that she reminds you of yourself. She may have had a similar journey but you are not the same person.”
“I realize that,” she said a little too quickly. “Let’s go find Decaux.”