– II –
On Clancy’s suggestion they had set up a large, freestanding computer screen in the middle of the security office. The multi-functional transparent screen had been re-purposed to keep track of the ongoing murder investigation and featured on the very top an image of the smiling Lieutenant Gedar.
Just below him was an entire row of additional headshots starting with Lieutenant Kolrami, the sour-looking Zakdorn engineer; Corporal Yunta Fey who wore a hard expression on her Bajoran features; Crewman Sierra Decaux, smiling broadly; Charlie Colcord, the attractive, blond engineering advisor to Rosenthal; then the bespectacled professor himself. The last image was that of recently departed and raven-locked Doctor Ashley Wenera.
There was a short description underneath every suspect’s photograph including their claimed whereabouts during the time of Gedar’s death and possible motives.
Underneath all that was a timeline of events starting at 2315 with Gedar attending and then leaving a late-night meeting on deck twenty-four with Hopkins, Rosenthal and Colcord.
2320: Gedar returns to main engineering also on deck twenty-four.
2330: Kolrami leaves main engineering with the remaining engineers, leaving Gedar by himself.
2330-0000: Gedar is killed.
0025: The body is discovered by Crewman Sanzenbacher.
0035: Security arrives and locks down main engineering.
Nora Laas turned away from scrutinizing the board to find Alex Clancy with two cups of steaming hot Klingon coffee, holding out one for her. She took it off him. “How’d you know?”
“I’m an assistant counselor,” he said with a little smirk. “It’s supposed to be my job to know what people around me are thinking.”
She frowned. “Do me a favor, Lieutenant, and do not try to psychoanalyze me.”
“You had a raktajino
when I first came down here to visit you,” he said soberly. “It didn’t take much psychoanalysis to figure out that it is your beverage of choice in the morning.”
She nodded as she took a little sip.
“So, did you have any breakthroughs yet?” he asked and looked back at what some in security had taken to calling the murder board, much to Nora’s displeasure.
She followed his gaze. “Far too many suspects and too much empty space on our timeline. It doesn’t help that we can’t narrow down his time of death either.”
“I believe the remaining duty engineers are due to come in later, they may be able to fill in some of the blanks for us.”
The boatswain whistle interrupted their conversation and everyone in the room stopped what they were doing to await an announcement which followed promptly.
“Attention all hands, this is the captain. It is with great sadness that I have to announce that a fellow crewmember has been killed on board
Eagle the day before yesterday. Lieutenant Jinsu Gedar was a valued member of this crew who was well liked by his colleagues and made friends easily wherever he went. Only a day before his gruesome death he delighted us all with his splendid performance in a marvelous play on which he had worked hard over the last few weeks with his fellow performers.
Mister Gedar had served in Starfleet with distinction for nearly five years and had a bright future ahead of him. His death was tragic and entirely unnecessary. He did not die defending his ship, his crewmates or the Federation. Instead, all evidence points towards a willful and cowardly act committed by one of our own.
Rest assured that whoever is responsible for this crime will be found and brought to justice and I have instructed Lieutenant Nora to take whatever actions are necessary to identify and apprehend the perpetrator. I expect every member of this crew to fully cooperate with her and her colleagues while they carry out this investigation.
A memorial service for Lieutenant Gedar will be held tomorrow at 1600 hours in holodeck three. Any who wish to attend may be released from their duty shift to do so.
That is all.”
The security chief uttered a heavy sigh. “And there goes our element of surprise,” she said. “I tried to convince the captain to keep things under wraps for longer but clearly he didn’t agree.”
“We should be thankful we’re on a starship. On any planet or a civilian outpost the media would have been all over this within minutes of finding the dead body. Besides, as Bensu pointed out, you can’t keep a secret on a starship for long.”
“Right,” she said. “Thank the Prophets for small miracles then,” she said and stepped closer to the board. “But the captain no doubt will want some updates and this,” she said and pointed at the large screen, “is not good enough.”
Clancy nodded and took a chair. “Alright then, let’s go through what we have so far. It may help.”
She tapped on the first suspect’s image which immediately grew to fill up most of the screen. “There’s Sirna Kolrami the Younger.”
“Who we know didn’t care much for Gedar and obviously couldn’t understand why he was in the running for a promotion that he probably felt was suppose to be his. That could be a strong motive.”
Nora shook her head. “Maybe on a Klingon ship or perhaps in some twisted parallel universe but not in Starfleet, it’s not.”
“Let’s not forget that not only is he a Zakdorn, he also hails from a family of master tacticians. Which means he probably is more than able to come up with some sort of ingenious scheme to carry out something like this.”
“So now we persecute people based on their race?”
“I’m just putting it all out there, Lieutenant,” said Clancy and then placed his boots leisurely onto a nearby desk and leaned back in his chair while sipping on his own raktajino
Nora rolled his eyes. “He’s got an alibi,” she said. “According to the logs he was checked in working on deflector control during the time of death window.”
“Checked in, yes, but without internal sensors there isn’t a way to verify that. Besides logs can be altered.”
She tapped on the larger-than-life Zakdorn face to return it back into the line-up, clearly done for now considering the Starfleet engineer as a murderer and brought up the hard features of Corporal Yunta next.
“Ah yes,” said Clancy, “if Kolrami is the brain, she’s got to be the fighter. And she’d be more than capable of killing a man, probably needing nothing more than her bare hands to do it.”
“If that’s all it takes to be a suspect on this ship, we can add the entire Marines contingent and most of my security team onto the board,” she said with a frown.
“Yes but Yunta had an intimate relationship with Gedar. And her responses when we questioned her were more than a little bit suspect.”
“She just learned that a man she only recently had a relationship with had been killed, she was clearly not thinking straight,” said Nora and crossed her arms underneath her chest.
“She’s a Marine, isn’t she?” he said. “Trained to think quickly in a life or death situation? And yet she seemed completely out of it for a while there. And I’m not buying the whole mutual break-up story for a minute. That’s what people say to safe face.”
“Or maybe it’s the truth.”
“Well, she’s got no alibi at all.”
She swiped the screen to bring up Crewman Decaux’s photo next.
“The death of Gedar seemed to come as a real shock to her,” said Nora as she considered that large smile on the young woman’s face.
“Either that or she is a great actress.”
The security chief shot him an annoyed look.
“I think we have an abundance of witnesses who can testify first hand that she is a natural on stage. Besides, again, no alibi. Not to mention that she suspected her boyfriend to be cheating on her. Now there’s a motive alright.”
Nora brought up the next two images together so that Colcord and Rosenthal were side by side.
“Not much there,” Clancy admitted, “we know they aren’t the biggest fan of Starfleet engineers and Colcord really didn’t care for Gedar being at that late-night meeting on the night of the murder but that hardly makes either of them killers.”
But Nora kept scrutinizing the pair.
“Now please tell me you’re not being biased because they are civilians?”
“Of course not.”
“Besides they both have alibis. They were with Hopkins in that meeting until well after the time of death,” he said.
“They could have had somebody else do it. Perhaps somebody on their team.”
“Sounds like a bit of stretch to me.”
But Nora turned to her deputy who was standing close by watching their discussion. “Jose, have you run a background check on all the civilians? Anyone with priors or a criminal record?”
The Latin lieutenant shook his head. “None I could find, sir. We are limited however on how much information we have on civilians as we cannot sync with any external networks while we are in this soup.”
Nora nodded and then reluctantly moved to the last suspect. “I find it hard to believe Wenera is somehow mixed up in this.”
Alex Clancy got onto his feet. “For once I agree,” he said and stepped up next to her. “I know for a fact why Doctor Wenera left the ship and it’s not because of an illicit affair with our victim.”
“Sorry, doctor-patient confidentiality,” he said with a boyish grin. “Or is it doctor-doctor confidentiality in this case?” he added with a confused look on his face.
“Sorry to burst your bubble but you’re not a doctor,” she said and closed Wenera’s image.
“My, Lieutenant, is that a sense of humor I detect?” he said. “Could there be a softer core underneath that tough shell of yours?”
She shook her head. “No, just more toughness.”
He gave her another smirk as if to say that he didn’t completely believe that before he went back to work on the board. “According to Decaux’s suspicions a senior officer was involved with Gedar. And with Wenera out of the picture, it narrows down our list of suspects.”
Nora grasped her coffee cup again and walked to the seat Clancy had recently occupied. “There is no way a senior officer is involved in this.”
“We should follow every lead,” he said and brought up the first candidate, DeMara Deen.
The Bajoran quickly shook her head. “No way.”
“They were both performing in the play which means they must have spent some time together.”
“I know DeMara almost as well as I knew my own sister. Regardless of her supposed attractiveness and whatever you want to call her aura—“
“Tenarian Glow, is it?”
“Whatever,” she said. “She is not the one to have casual sexual relationships with the likes of Gedar and she’s a pacifist. Besides she left Eagle
well before Gedar was killed.”
“Good point,” he said and swiped the screen to bring up the next image, this one of the sandy-blond chief engineer.
“Now wait a second,” he said. “Lieutenant Hopkins actually makes a lot of sense. She was Gedar’s immediate superior officer and she clearly saw something in him as she admitted herself. So much in fact that she brought him along to a meeting with Colcord and Rosenthal even though they had made it clear that they did not care for Starfleet input on their ideas.”
Nora shook her head. “No.”
“She was also really shook up over his death,” he continued. “She all but started crying when we talked to her.”
“And that makes her a killer?”
“Maybe not but she may have been involved with him,” he said.
Nora leaned forward in the chair. “Louise and I went to the Academy together. When I said I know Dee like a sister, well I know Louise better than a sister. She is not involved here. Move on.”
But Clancy was not willing to do so just yet. “Listen, I know you have friends on this ship and on the senior staff but if we want to catch whoever did this, you will have to free yourself from all preconceptions.”
She looked him square in the eye, her own killer instinct asserting itself for just a moment. “Move on.”
He did. But the next suspect didn’t sit very well with the security chief either. After all it was her own, no-nonsense portrait that looked back at her from the murder board.
Clancy looked at her over his shoulder, once more seeing those smoldering eyes directed at him.
“Just saying, if those peepers could kill, nobody on this ship’s safe,” he said but then quickly swiped her off the screen.
Nora seemed to like the next suspect much better and she sat up in her chair. “Wouldn’t put it passed her.”
“Wouldn’t put what passed me, Lieutenant?”
Nora and Clancy turned around to see the real life version of the person currently gracing the board standing near the doors.
The counselor quickly tapped the board to minimize the large face of Tazla Star again and return the screen to its previous configuration.
“Wait,” the Trill first officer said as she stepped further into the room. “You have me
down as a suspect?” she said when she saw her face among the others.
“I think the Lieutenant meant this in relation to having had a relationship with our victim,” Clancy said but then considered his words for a moment. “I don’t think that sounds much better.”
“No, it does not.”
Nora stood as well. “We’re simply pursuing every lead, Commander,” she said, garnering her a surprised look from Clancy. “So maybe you’d like to tell us where you were on the night of Mister Gedar’s death?”
The first officer glared back at the security chief but then spoke before it could develop into a staring contest. “On the bridge, on duty,” she said. “I was pulling a double shift. I think there are about four or five witnesses who can confirm that if you want to look into that.”
“We probably will,” Nora said without breaking eye contact.
“Ah, so Commander, what bring you down here?” Clancy asked, clearly in an attempt to lower the rising tension in the room her arrival seemed to have caused.
She looked at him and then at the board. “I’m about to brief the captain with an update on your progress.”
“I was going to brief him myself shortly,” said Nora.
“I’m sure you were,” said the first officer without affording the security chief another look. “So these are your suspects so far?”
Clancy nodded. “Yeah. Ignore that last one.”
“Do you have any insights on the suspects, Commander,” he asked, noticed the disapproving look from Nora but chose to ignore it.
“I can’t say that I know any of these people particularly well,” she said after studying the names and their faces. “Colcord is interesting.”
“Well, I hear she made a strong case to Command to be assigned a different ship to carry out this mission. I don’t know the details or the reasons but she seemed quite insistent on the point initially. When it became clear that we were the only ones available, she eventually relented.”
Clancy nodded and added the new information into a padd. “That is interesting and warrants further investigation, thank you, Commander.”
“Glad to be of help,” she said. “I’ll leave you to it then,” she added and then headed back towards the exit without making eye contact with the security chief.
“Commander,” Nora said.
She stopped and turned.
“You didn’t answer the most pertinent question.”
The Trill considered Nora for a brief moment. “I told you I was on the bridge, Lieutenant.”
She smirked without humor. “About having a relationship with our victim.”
Star took a deep breath but then appeared to change her mind regarding her response before she spoke. “From what I can tell I wasn’t Mister Gedar’s type,” she said and gestured towards the murder board. “It looks like he preferred blondes,” the red-haired Trill said and promptly left.
Nora looked back at the screen, studying it closely.
Clancy stepped closer to her. “So you and Commander Star—“
She held up a hand to stop him in mid-sentence.
“Sometimes it helps to just let out your frustrations and talk about…,“ he didn’t go on when he noticed those killer eyes on him again. He swallowed. “Maybe some other time then.”
But Nora was already too focused on her padd and a new lead she was going to follow up on to pay the counselor any further consideration.