– V –
“It proves nothing.”
“Really?” said Nora Laas with obvious skepticism in her voice while she carefully watched Yunta Fey across the table from her. “Bajoran DNA on Gedar’s skin proves nothing? Do you think somebody else took a bite out of him? Do you think it was me, Corporal?”
The Marine offered a little smile. “No, somehow I don’t quite see you as the type.”
Clancy took the reins before a clearly agitated Nora could respond to the jibe. He leaned forward. “But you are, isn’t that right? You like to get physical with the people you are involved with.”
She shrugged. “Yes, so what? It’s not a crime.”
“It is if it is involuntary,” said Nora.
“Gedar liked it just fine.”
“Too bad we can’t ask him,” the security chief said.
Yunta considered the other Bajoran and the counselor. “You really think that just because I liked to play a little rough, I killed him? You can’t be serious.”
Clancy glanced at a padd. “I’ll tell you what we think. That DNA and bruising on Gedar’s skin is just a couple of weeks old,” he said and then looked right into her eyes. “You had told us that it had been over between the two of you months ago. Instead he received these injuries while he was involved with Crewman Decaux and we know she isn’t responsible for them.”
Yunta didn’t say anything to that.
“You want to hear my theory on that?” said Nora and then continued when Yunta offered nothing more than a scowl in response. “My theory is that it hadn’t been over months ago and certainly not that it was a mutual breakup as you would have liked us to believe. In fact, I think Gedar got involved with Decaux while he was still with you and you found out about it.”
Clancy took over. “And from what I can tell, you are not the kind of woman to cross. You were furious at Gedar for cheating on you with Decaux. You confronted him about it and things turned ugly. And I’m not talking about some sort of mutual sexual practice with a violent twist. This was pure violence, the bruising on his body leaves little doubt of that.”
“In other words, Corporal, you beat the hell out of him,” said Nora.
Yunta remained silent.
“Would you like legal representation at this time?” said Clancy and judging by Nora’s sidelong look, she wasn’t too happy he’d made the suggestion, she was obviously hoping for a confession.
The Marine stood suddenly, causing Nora to follow suit immediately, already painfully aware that the woman could hold herself in battle. But instead of making any aggressive moves against either investigator, she turned her back to them and walked towards the far bulkhead. She eventually took a deep breath. “Yes, okay, I did hurt him a little,” she said and then whipped around again. “But the bastard had it coming. He didn’t even try to hide the fact that he was fooling around with that little bimbo. Instead he blamed it all on his nature as a Krellonian. Give me a break. What kind of stupid excuse is that? He was fully aware of what he was doing at all times, nobody forced him to do it. But he thought that because of his race he had a free pass to do what he pleased. Well, I set him straight.”
“You certainly did that,” said Clancy.
She locked eyes with the man and it took her a moment to understand the implication and vehemently shook her head. “Not like that, I didn’t. Yes, I beat him a little the day I found out but that was a couple of weeks ago. After that I didn’t touch him again. Didn’t even speak to him.”
“I find that hard to believe,” said Nora. “By your own admission you were furious with Gedar. You wanted him to pay for what he’d done to you.”
“Yes and he did,” she said and then quickly corrected herself. “I mean, I made him pay that day but that is it. I didn’t kill him.” She continued when she found neither Clancy nor Nora convinced by her words. She took a step closer to the table. “If you are looking for the killer, I think you should have another chat with that civilian engineer.”
“Colcord?” said Clancy.
She shook her head again. “No, not the woman. The professor. I know for a fact he was hanging around engineering at around the time of Gedar’s death while he was all alone in there. Plenty of opportunity.”
“Right,” said Nora. “And what would have been his motive to kill Gedar?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know, you’re the detective here, why don’t you find out?” she said. “But Jin clearly had a tendency to get under people’s skin. I’m telling you, I’m not the only one he managed to tick off.”
Nora had apparently heard enough. She pressed a panel on the table and within moments Lieutenant Carlos and another security officer stepped into the room. “Take her to holding.”
“You’re arresting me?” she said incredulously. “On what charge?”
“For now it’s conduct unbecoming and striking a superior officer,” said Nora, holding her intense glare. “Don’t be surprised if we add first degree murder by the morning,” she said and gestured for Carlos to take her away.
“I’m telling you,” she said as she was being escorted out, “you’ve got the wrong guy. I did not—“ she stopped herself suddenly when the doors to the room parted and she spotted Major Wasco standing outside, watching her carefully as she was led away. Nora and Clancy didn’t miss how she quickly diverted her glance in apparent shame.
The burly Marines commander watched her go for a moment before he stepped into the doorframe of the interview room. “Lieutenant, may I have a word?”
Nora nodded. “Major Wasco. Of course, come in. This is Lieutenant Alex Clancy, he is assisting with the investigation.”
Wasco offered the younger man a sharp nod as he walked into the room, taking the seat opposite the two investigators which Yunta had only recently vacated. “It’s about my man.”
Nora nodded for him to proceed.
“You’ll be charging her?”
“At the moment she is our prime suspect,” said Clancy. “Her relationship with the victim and the way in which it ended give her a strong motive.”
“I see. Do you have enough to convict her?”
Nora and Clancy exchanged quick looks. “Not yet,” said the security chief. “But I expect this to be only a matter of time. We can hold her for now on the charges of getting in a fight with Crewman Decaux in the Nest. Not to mention taking a few swings at me after I interceded.”
The major trained his intense eyes on the Bajoran. “That was completely unacceptable behavior and I sincerely apologize that it came to that.”
Clancy shook his head. “Not your fault, Major.”
“I’m her commanding officer, Lieutenant. I am responsible for everything she does and if she steps out of line, that is my fault.”
“Well, we’re not going to arrest you for something she did,” he said with a little smirk that went unreciprocated.
“Major, no offense, but why are you here?” said Nora.
“I want to ask you to hand Corporal Yunta over to me.”
“She’s a murder suspect,” said Clancy, clearly surprised by the unusual request. “And even if she wasn’t, she’s disregarded orders and has committed other crimes.”
“You’ve said it yourself,” Wasco said. “You have no evidence to definitively link her to Mister Gedar’s murder. And as for the other crimes you speak of, as a Marine she should be punished by her peers. And I will see to that personally, I guarantee you that.”
The counselor shot Nora a puzzled look, as if he couldn’t quite believe that Wasco would be audacious enough to make such a request of them. But Nora kept her eyes on the Marine. “You don’t think she did it, do you?”
“No,” he said. “I’m convinced she didn’t.”
“How do you know?” Clancy said.
“For one she had a drill first thing the morning of the murder,” he said and looked at Nora. “And she was there, bright eyes and all. You know what that means, she had to hit the bunk early, she wouldn’t’ have had time to stay out late and get into trouble,” he added and then focused on the counselor again. “But more importantly than that, Lieutenant, Corporal Yunta is a Marine. I’ve known her since the first day she put on that uniform. I trained her myself. Turned her from a broken and angry little girl into a formidable warrior.”
“You ask me, she’s still plenty angry,” said Clancy.
“And so would you be if you’d had a life like hers,” he said before he made eye contact with Nora again. “She isn’t all that different to you, Lieutenant,” he continued. “She went to much the same things you did back on Bajor and I bet she was just as angry and frustrated about her life. You know she once told me that you were her inspiration for joining the Marines. She figured if you had made it to were you are now, then so could she.” He shook his head slightly. “I’ve tried very hard with her. And I know she is nowhere near where you are now,” he said. “Sometimes her anger still boils over and gets the better of her but she has ways to control it.”
“Like when she went off at Crewman Decaux and then at Lieutenant Nora? Like when she beat Gedar senseless after finding out that he had cheated on her?” said Clancy.
Wasco shot the man an astonished look, apparently not having known about the Gedar beating.
“What makes you so sure that this time she didn’t control her anger?” he continued.
But the Marine quickly managed to put on a more confident face again. “I don’t expect you to understand, Lieutenant, but as Marines we go through challenges together that not only bond us in a way which would be difficult for you to understand, it also means that we know the people we fight alongside with better than we know ourselves. And I’ve fought with Yunta and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that she would not have killed Gedar in this manner.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not buying this whole Marines ethos thing. No offense, Major, I know you and your men accomplish extraordinary feats but that doesn’t mean that they are above suspicion.”
“That is not what I’m saying. But I am vouching for Corporal Yunta. She did not do this.”
Nora once again activated the control panel on the table and within moments Carlos appeared again. “Lieutenant, please hand over the prisoner to Major Wasco.”
“Sir?” he said, clearly confused by the order. He wasn’t alone; Clancy shot the security chief a befuddled look as well.
Nora ignored them all and kept her eyes on the Marine instead. “You’ll keep her under guard at all times and she’ll not be allowed to move freely around the ship.”
Wasco stood. “You have my word, Lieutenant. And thank you,” he said and then left the room, following Carlos to the holding cells.
Nora could feel Clancy’s eyes on her and decided on a preemptive strike. “She’s got nowhere to go. Makes little difference if she’s in our holding cell or under guard by the Marines.”
“It’s the principle of the matter,” he said. “She’s our prime suspect in a murder investigation. She should be treated as such. I think the good major got to you with his whole, she’s-just-like-you speech. Or is it that Marines always look out for each other?”
Nora sighed. “You said it yourself, we don’t have enough evidence to charge her. We keep investigating Yunta until we’ve got a solid case. And once we do, I’m going to drag her into a cell myself.”
Alex Clancy grinned.
“Just never thought I’d see the infamously hard-ass Nora Laas going soft.”