– VI –
“I still don’t understand what we’re doing back here. We’ve already been through his quarters.”
Alex Clancy turned to see Nora Laas with her arms crossed under her chest and leaning against the bulkhead of the late Lieutenant Gedar’s bedroom. It wasn’t difficult to tell that she was still annoyed by his lack of appreciation of the manner in which she had confronted Colcord. She had not taken well to his point that they should have made a strong case against her before accusing her of killing Gedar and that catching her in the blatant lie that she hadn’t known Gedar, was not equal to an admission of guilt.
They’d had words since then and as Clancy had quickly learned, you did not want to get into an argument with the fiery security chief.
“I figured that if we want to go after Colcord we need some better evidence,” he said and watched her frown at that. “According to witness statements Gedar and Colcord have never been seen together outside of engineering. Now if it were me, and I came back on the ship where my former lover who crossed me serves on, and I considering killing him, I’d probably confront him at least once first.”
“Here?” she said and looked around skeptically.
He shrugged. “Where else? She couldn’t have risked being seen with him in public and inviting him to her quarters may have seemed suspicious as well. I figure she would have come here.”
“And how do you plan on proving this, Detective?” she said with obvious sarcasm in her tone.
That’s when the annunicator sounded.
“Ah, just on cue,” said Clancy and walked over to the doors to let Elijah Katanga enter the quarters. “Welcome, Doctor. Did you bring it?”
He showed him the tricorder. It didn’t look standard-issue and had clearly been modified with a bulkier sensor module. “Naturally.”
“And what is that?”
Katanga considered Nora for a moment. “Well, medical tricroders are really great if you are trying to find out what is wrong with people. It gives you all the basic biological and medical readings you might need. But it’s usually only showing you what is. Not what was.”
The security chief looked perplexed.
Katanga stepped into the room and opened his tricorder to begin scanning the room. “Say I scanned this room with a regular tricorder. I could probably tell you that it belonged to Lieutenant Gedar as I would find numerous recent DNA traces belonging to him. This little fellow can find out who may have been in his quarters by picking up the very faint DNA traces of persons who may have only been here a short while.”
“So you’re saying you can tell who has been in his quarters recently?”
Katanga shook his head. “Not with absolute certainty, no. It depends how many hair follicles and skin cells that person left behind while they were here. I’ve been in the room for only a minute or so, I wouldn’t be able to find any traces of my DNA.”
Clancy followed the doctor across the room. “I’m thinking that Colcord would have spend some time here, if she came. It may have even become physical.”
The African doctor nodded. “That would make it more likely to pick up a trace,” he said and then as the two investigators watched with curiosity, the veteran doctor actually went down onto his hands and knees to scan the carpet more closely while slowly crawling across it.
Nora looked on with interest. “Why didn’t we use this technique at the murder scene?”
“Dust,” Katanga said.
“Beg your pardon?”
“That’s what we’re looking for. Dead skin cells mixed in with tiny hairs and all kinds of other microscopic remains.”
“And?” Nora said.
“And,” Katanga said, still on all fours. “Starships and most Federation installations are regularly swept by invisible sterilization beams to eliminate dust build up,” he added stopped and looked up at her. “It’s how we keep everything so damn clean all the time.”
The Bajoran nodded. “Okay, but not here?”
“No,” said the Doctor and went back to scanning. “Somebody had the ingenious idea to have the sweeps suspended in this room after Mister Gedar was killed.”
“Me,” said Clancy and looked at Nora with a grin. “He’s talking about me in case you were wondering.”
He nodded proudly.
“I’m still not following why you didn’t do this for main engineering.”
“Because of the dust mites,” he said.
“Dermatophagoides farinae,” said Katanga from the floor. “Where there’s dust those microscopic little buggers show up as well. And you can’t have that around sensitive technology.”
When Nora was still not quite following, Clancy quickly jumped in to explain further. “It means main engineering gets sterilized much more regularly than other parts of the ship. By the time it occurred to me to suspend the sweeps it was already too late for engineering.”
“Wouldn’t have worked there anyway,” Katanga said as he continued to scan. “The device becomes unreliable in a place where there are too many traces. And engineering is visited by two dozen people each day, there’ll be no way to sort through all that. Besides … ah.”
Clancy stepped closer to Katanga. “Doctor, did you find anything?”
“Yes, my intervertebral disc,” he said with a little groan and then looked up to see the two investigator with worried expressions on their faces. “Why the hell am I the one crawling around the floor anyway? This is a job for the young and able-bodied,” he said and slowly pulled himself back up, Clancy quickly coming to his aid. “Who wants to crawl around on all fours?”
“Don’t look at me,” said Nora when she noticed Clancy glancing his way. “I outrank you.”
She couldn’t help but smirk when he nodded and then lowered himself onto the floor after Katanga had thrust the device into the counselor’s hand.
After a couple of minutes of crisscrossing the room on his hands and knees, the device uttered an alarm.
“Let me see that?”
Clancy handed it back for the doctor to review.
“Can you determine who it belongs to?” Clancy said
Katanga began to manipulate his tricorder. “Cross-referencing with the ship’s database now and … Crewman Decaux, Sierra,” he said triumphantly.
“There’s a surprise,” said Nora, sounding unimpressed. “She was his girlfriend so obviously we’d find traces of her DNA in his quarters.”
“Well, there is plenty of room left for you to scan,” he said and gave the device back to Alex Clancy once more who dutifully went back to crawling and scanning every square inch of the quarters from the bedroom, the wash room and finally returning to the main living area.
Just before they were about to give up, the device piped up once more.
“I think we hit the jackpot, boys and girls,” Katanga said once he had been handed back the device. “Another trace, very faint, no wonder we didn’t pick it up before. According to the database this one does not belong to a Starfleet crewmember at all.”
That got the Bajoran’s attention. “It’s Colcord,” she said and smirked as if she had been vindicated and then looked at Clancy who was standing up again. “Now let’s see how she’ll explain that away.”
“I hate to be reason for disappointment,” said Katanga, “but these are definitely male DNA traces.”
“What?” Nora said. “Are you sure?”
Katanga shot her a stern look. “My dear girl, I believe I’ve been doing this long enough to be able to distinguish between a Y and an X chromosome.”
“Who is it?” Clancy asked.
The doctor referred back to his tricroder. “According to this, the DNA trace belongs to one Professor Erez Rosenthal.”
Nora and Clancy exchanged befuddled looks.