Day Six: Military Justice
– I –
Charlie Colcord entered the security office like a woman possessed. “Where is he? Tell me now.”
Jose Carlos spotted the engineer and quickly moved to intercept her. “Ma’am, I need you to calm down.”
She considered the Hispanic officer with a scowl. “Don’t you tell me to calm down,” she said. “This is absolutely outrageous. Your boss obsessed with coming after me and now she thinks the best way to get to me is by having the professor arrested. On absolutely no grounds whatsoever. I will not stand for this. I will lodge a formal complaint at the highest levels of the Federation Council over this.”
Carlos shook his head. “Professor Rosenthal is not under arrest. We’ve merely brought him in for—“
But Colcord had already spotted the room in which the professor was being kept and apparently being interrogated by Nora Laas and Alex Clancy. She quickly sidestepped the burly security officer and headed straight for those doors.
“Ma’am, you can’t go in there,” he protested but was too slow to stop her.
“Never mind telling me what I can’t do,” she said and slipped into the room, immediately causing all three occupants to rise from their chairs at the surprising disruption. “This is an outrage,” she said. “You can’t do this and I’ll make sure the captain learns that you are dragging the professor in here just to get to me, Lieutenant.”
“Charlie,” Rosenthal began but didn’t get a chance to continue when Nora cut in.
“You won’t have an opportunity to complain to the captain when I have you locked up for impeding a murder investigation,” the security chief said sharply as she stepped right up into the engineer’s personal space.
Colcord, recognizing the hard eyes and body posture of a born fighter, took half a step back. But she refused to back down entirely. “You are way out of line here, Lieutenant,” she said. “And to make matters worse your mistakes will have far-reaching consequences. While you grasp at straws you are endangering a mission vital to the war effort. Millions of people could die because of what you are doing here.”
“Oh please, spare me your self-righteous blabber.”
Colcord grew noticeably red in the face.
Clancy quickly positioned himself between the two fuming women. “Ladies, perhaps we all need to take a little breath and calm down before we say something that we can’t take back.”
Both Colcord and Nora immediately redirected their fury at the assistant counselor.
“Charlie,” Rosenthal said again, this time getting the woman’s attention. “It’s alright, really. I have not been put under arrest as far as I know, isn’t that right?” he said and looked at Clancy who for the moment appeared to be the much more coolheaded investigator in the room.
The counselor nodded. “That’s right.”
“They’ve just asked me to come in and answer a few questions and I was happy to help. It’s really quite harmless,” he said, looking at his colleague again. “They’re just doing their job and I’m sure this won’t take all that long.”
Colcord considered her boss for a moment and noticeably calmed herself. Then she nodded. “Very well, Professor but be careful, I don’t trust this one at all,” she said and shot venom at the Bajoran.
“Well that’s mutual,” Nora said with a humorless grin.
“Uh … Mister Carlos, why don’t you escort Miss Colcord to a place she can wait until we’re finished here.”
“I’ll go back to engineering,” the woman seethed instead. “And I damn well know the way,” she added when Carlos tried to point into the right direction. She was gone as quickly as she had appeared, leaving the two investigators and Rosenthal alone in the room once more.
“Please forgive my eager colleague. I know she’s a bit of a firebrand but that kind of dedication is exactly the reason why we’ve been able to make this sensor array work like we did,” he said as he took his seat again.
“Yeah well, that kind of temperament can get somebody in trouble quite easily,” said Nora, still looking after the civilian engineer as she stormed out of the security office.
But Rosenthal resolutely shook his head. “I know what you’re tying to imply, Lieutenant but let me dispel any such notion straight away. Charlie is not a killer.”
Clancy sat back in the chair at the table opposite the engineer. “Where you aware that she had a history with the victim? That they had attended the Academy together and had a bad breakup there?”
The professor took off his glasses to polish them with a cloth. “Not until recently, no.”
Nora had needed a minute herself to calm down after her encounter with Colcord. She took the seat next to Clancy. “I believe you were just about to tell us why you went to see Gedar the day before he was killed. ”
The professor placed the spectacles back onto his nose. “The lieutenant had made some interesting observations about my shield design that I wished to discuss with him further.”
“In his quarters?” said Nora skeptically.
“It seemed like as good a place as any.”
“I’m sorry, Professor but I’m not buying it,” she said.
“Look,” he said and took a breath of air before continuing. “Both Charlie and I had made it quite clear that we were not interested in any input on our project. We both understood the tendency of Starfleet engineers to try and overanalyze everything which I’m sure under normal circumstances is perfectly fine and probably even appropriate. But we were mindful that on our tight schedule we didn’t have the time for this kind of approach by people who were not familiar with the extensive work we’d already put into this.”
“So you were concerned about meeting with Gedar in public after you had made your views on this known?” said Clancy.
He nodded. “It would have sent the wrong message.”
“What exactly did you discuss with him?” Nora wanted to know.
“No offense, Lieutenant, but I doubt I would be able to fully make you understand the particularities of our conversation.”
Nora frowned but Clancy jumped in before she could fire back. “Colcord mentioned earlier that Lieutenant Hopkins had a rather high opinion of Gedar. Did you share that view?”
“Oh absolutely,” he said. “There was no doubt in my mind that he was a very gifted young man, I wouldn’t have sought him out otherwise.”
Nora crossed her arms below her chest and leaned back in her chair. “So you’re telling me that after the years you’ve worked on these shield designs of yours and after you made it clear that no one on this ship would be able to wrap their heads around this in just a few days, you come across Gedar who had such a great insight on your work that you just had to speak to him about it in private?”
Rosenthal considered her for moment, peering at the Bajoran through his eyeglasses. “Yes, essentially, I suppose that is exactly what I’m saying.”
She looked less then convinced.
“You can see of course how all this sounds rather implausible,” said Clancy.
He nodded understandingly. “It sounded implausible to me as well,” he admitted. “That’s why I was quite eager to speak to the young man. And I have to say he was quite happy to share his theories with me, some of which, to my surprise were very similar to my own.”
The doors to the room opened once more, this time to let Carlos enter who, judging by his expression, was at least a little bit uncomfortable at having to disrupt the security chief again. “Apologies for the interruption, sir, but we have a situation in the Nest,” he said, referring to Eagle’s
main crew lounge.
“What kind of situation?” she said and was already on her feet.
“It appears to be some sort of alteration and involves two of our suspects,” he said.
“Have a security team meet me there,” said Nora but was already halfway out of the door.
After exchanging a look with the deputy, Clancy got out of his chair and rushed after her but already knew that he had very little chance of keeping up with the security chief.
* * *