- V -
“You lied to us, Lieutenant.”
“I did no such thing,” the Zakdorn defended himself at Nora’s furious claim, while back in the interrogation room.
“And I really don’t like liars,” she continued as if he hadn’t even spoken. “Especially when they wear the uniform.”
“I didn’t lie to you,” Kolrami said through clenched teeth.
Nora placed a padd on the desk and slid it over to him with such force, he struggled to catch it before it went over the edge. “You had no reason to leave main engineering on the day of Gedar’s death. There was no problem with the navigational deflector.”
His eyes opened wider and then he quickly looked over the padd.
“I have to say, that is one stupid lie to be caught on, Lieutenant, you don’t think we would check the records?”
His noticeably blanched at the revelation and after quickly scanning the padd he made eye contact with the security officer again. “Check the logs. I did go to deflector control and carried out maintenance there.”
“Logs can be altered,” she said.
“But I didn’t alter them.”
Clancy leaned forward in his chair next to the Bajoran, managing to remain a lot calmer and more collected than his partner as per usual. “You do realize of course what this looks like, Lieutenant,” he said and looked the other man deep into his eyes. “Mister Telrik, Crewman McPhee and Crewman Sanzenbacher were all out of main engineering on your orders to carry out various tasks across the ship and then all of a sudden, and with no reason we can determine, you also head out of engineering, leaving Gedar all by himself. Shortly after he’s found dead.”
The Zakdorn reached for his temples, massaging them nervously.
“You killed him, Lieutenant,” Nora said sharply. “You arranged for engineering to be empty, created an alibi for yourself and then returned to throw him down the warp core pit.”
He shook his head urgently. “This is ridiculous.”
“You didn’t like Gedar. You never did. Here was a guy who didn’t take anything seriously. Certainly not his job. And now he was threatening to take away the assistant job which you had worked towards ever since you’ve joined the crew. And for that he had to die.”
Kolrami jumped out of his chair, so fast, it toppled over. “Yes, yes, I hated his guts. Alright? All he ever did was talk about women and his foolish notions of gaining monetary wealth. The man was not fit to serve in Starfleet. He was not fit to wear the uniform,” the Zakdorn yelled. “He wasn’t even a Federation citizen. What business did he have on this ship?”
Nora leaned back in her chair with a large, satisfied grin now decorating her face.
“But I did not kill him. I would never do that. Do you understand? Never. I would not disgrace my uniform or my family in such a manner and certainly not for a little weasel like Jin Gedar. I didn’t do it.”
He remained standing there for a moment, exhausted after his tirade, breathing heavily now and looking at the two investigators sitting on the other side of the table. Then he shook his head again. “It’s not me you want, it’s the Chief.”
“Lieutenant Hopkins?” Clancy said.
Kolrami nodded, picked up his chair and sat down again. “Yes.”
“That’s nonsense,” Nora said. “You’re trying to accuse her to deflect the blame away from yourself. What possible reason could Hopkins have had to kill Gedar?”
The engineer had calmed himself somewhat before he spoke again. “I saw the two of them together just before he returned to engineering. They were having a rather heated argument.”
“And you didn’t tell us this before now?” said Clancy, clearly skeptical himself.
“I didn’t think it was relevant. And, to be honest, I didn’t want to get the Chief into trouble but the more I think of it, the nature of the argument makes it clear to me know that she must have been involved.”
“What was the nature of the argument?”
“I’m not entirely sure but I overheard her say that he was going to destroy her career in Starfleet and she was furious about it. I mean, the lieutenant is a very easy-going person but I’ve never seen her so mad before. I tell you, she had murder in her eyes that night.”
Nora stood suddenly. “I don’t believe a word you’re saying, Lieutenant.”
“It’s the truth, I swear on the honor of my family. I don’t know how much that means to you, but to a Zakdorn, his family is sacred.”
She whipped around. “It was you who ordered Telrik, McPhee and Sanzenbacher out of engineering. It was you who went to carry out repairs to the navigational deflector without any evidence something was wrong. Not Hopkins,” she said. “Do you deny that?”
He shook his head. “I don’t. But I had legitimate reasons for all those things. I knew that with the focus on constructing the sensor array over the next few days we would have little time to carry out routine maintenance. I was just being proactive.”
Nora walked over to the door. It slid open and she waved somebody else inside.
The young dark-haired man had a pair of intense black eyes and like Nora wore a mustard colored shirt under his uniform jacket.
She turned back towards her suspect. “Have you met Ensign Andrus Stadi?”
Kolrami shook his head.
“One of our most recent additions to security. Very efficient man. And you wouldn’t believe the benefits of having a full-fledged Betazoid on the team.”
The engineer stood. “Wait a minute, you can’t just—“
“I can’t what, Lieutenant?” she said sharply, interrupting him. “Ask Andrus here to verify your story to determine your innocence you so desperately cling to?” she said and took a step closer to him. “And why not, exactly? Is it because you are hiding something?”
Clancy also stood and faced the Bajoran. “Lieutenant, may I have a word with you?”
Nora looked at him surprised and then back at the clearly rattled engineer.
“Now, please,” Clancy said again.
She uttered a heavy sigh and headed out of the doors, followed by Clancy and Stadi. All three gathered right outside the room. She whirled on the counselor. “What is it? We’re almost there. We’re this close to getting our man,” she said, holding her finger and thumb mere inches apart.
“I’m very concerned about asking a Betazoid to read Kolrami’s mind against his will. It’s immoral and unethical.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Did you hear his rant against Gedar? He loathed that man. He was all but ready to admit of killing him.”
Clancy turned to look at the engineer through the window into the interrogation room, still visibly upset, he was now pacing in front of the table. “I’m not so sure.”
“Well, I am. And Ensign Stadi here can give us the last piece of the puzzle.”
“Lieutenant,” the young security officer said, sounding more than a little unsure of himself speaking up in front of his clearly agitated superior. “If I’m perfectly honest, sir, I’m very uncomfortable about this. I’ve never, uh, read somebody without their consent.” He didn’t miss the angry look he was getting from his boss, and certainly felt her ire at that moment. “If you give me an order, I will follow it of course, but even then, I’m not sure if I could tell you for certain if he’s a killer or not. My skills are more emphatic than telepathic.”
“Not to mention,” said Clancy, “the ensign’s testimony based on what he would get telepathically or even emphatically from Kolrami would not be admissible in any Federation court.”
“I can’t believe this,” she said, clearly still fuming. “We’re this close on nailing this guy and you’re both putting up road blocks. Fine,” she said and looked back at the ensign. “Give me your impressions then. Surface feelings, whatever. I know you’ve done that before, even without somebody’s permission,” she added and then shot Clancy another look. “And yes, I know, we won’t be able to hold it against him.”
Stadi considered the engineer in the room closely. “He’s afraid, sir, I can tell you that. And he’s hiding something,” he said and looked at her again. “He’s definitely desperate.”
“I don’t need a Betazoid to tell me that,” she said but then continued in a softer tone. “Thank you, Ensign, you’re dismissed.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help,” he said just before he left the two investigators alone.
“There is another option.”
Nora gave Clancy a quizzical look.
“He could agree to an ARA. An autonomic response analysis. But he would have to volunteer to it. We can’t force him to take it.”
“Like an encephalographic polygraph?”
He nodded. “The ARA is a little more advanced. It’s by no means fool proof and again, not admissible in a court martial, but it may provide us some answers.”
She turned on her heels and walked back into the room, Clancy quickly following her and they both took their seats again.
Kolrami seemed to notice with relief that the Betazoid ensign had not come back in.
“We will not require Ensign Stadi’s talents at this point,” said the counselor and noticed that Kolrami visibly relaxed.
“Computer,” Nora said without taking his eyes off the engineer. “Please set up an autonomic response analysis for Lieutenant Junior Grade Sirna Kolrami the Younger. Security clearance Nora-Foxtrot-Charlie-Four-Niner-Baker-One.”
“Security clearance verified. Proceed when ready.”
“What are you doing?” Kolrami asked.
Clancy shot her a sidelong look. “Voluntary.”
She sighed. “A lie detector test, Lieutenant. You said you didn’t kill Gedar. Well now is the time to prove it. Agree to the test and prove your innocence once and for all.”
Kolrami seemed unsure of himself, looking back and forth between the two officers.
“You said you had nothing to hide,” she added.
He nodded slowly and took the seat. “Fine. Let’s do this.”
Clancy picked up his padd and configured it so that it would tie into the ARA, then he looked at the other man and offering him a disarming smile. “Try to calm yourself and answer my questions truthfully with a yes or no only. We’ll start when you think you’re ready.”
He took a deep breath and then after a few seconds: “Yeah, okay. Go ahead.”
“Computer, commence ARA,” said Clancy.
“Autonomous response analysis for Lieutenant Sirna Kolrami the Younger is now in progress.”
“Lieutenant, is your name Sirna Kolrami?”
A soft beep from the padd prompted both Clancy and Nora to look down at its display. It showed the result in a bright green box: Estimated veracity of response: 95.5%
“Are you currently serving as an engineer on the USS Eagle
Estimated veracity of response: 97.1%
“Have you ever been to the Andromeda galaxy?”
“Please just answer yes or no in order for the computer to establish a baseline to analyze your responses,” Clancy said.
Estimated veracity of response: 88.9%
“Are you currently married?”
Estimated veracity of response: 92.7%
“Did you see Lieutenant Gedar on the day he died?”
Estimated veracity of response: 89.6%
“Did you kill Lieutenant Gedar?”
“No, I did not,” he said sharply.
Estimated veracity of response: 81.1%
Nora frowned when she saw the analysis. The box was still green. She exchanged looks with Clancy.
“Did you witness a heated argument between Lieutenant Hopkins and Lieutenant Gedar on the night Gedar was killed?”
He hesitated for a moment and then nodded. “Yes.”
Estimated veracity of response: 90.3%
Clancy looked back at the security chief, apparently not sure what other questions to ask.
She asked her own. “Are you hiding something from us?”
“I … uh … what?”
“Yes or no, Lieutenant,” she said.
“No, I’m not.”
The box turned amber. Estimated veracity of response: 53.7%
“What are you not
telling us?” Nora barked.
“I’m not hiding anything,” he shot back with frustration lining his words.
Clancy shook his head. “It doesn’t work that way.”
He was right; the computer was unable to analyze his last statement.
“Was there anyone else with Gedar on the night before he was killed?” she continued.
“No,” he said angrily.
The box turned into a bright red. Estimated veracity of response: 22.9%
Nora leaned forward. “You’re lying.”
The Zakdorn reached for his forehead, looking frustrated. Then he suddenly diverted his glance towards empty space, as if recalling something. “Wait, I did see somebody else.”
“Who was it?” Clancy said.
He looked him straight in the eye. “On my way to deflector control, I’m certain I saw Professor Rosenthal head towards main engineering.”
Nora leaned back in her chair and crossing her arms below her chest, clearly not buying this at all. “And you didn’t tell us that before either?”
“I didn’t think much of it at the time. Certainly not that he was going to engineering but that’s where he must have been headed, thinking of it now,” he said, sounding excited by his own revelation. “Yes, yes, that’s where he was going. I’m sure of it,” he added and then looked at the counselor. “Ask me the question.”
“Did you see Professor Rosenthal outside engineering on the night of Gedar’s death?”
Nora and Clancy looked at the display. The box turned a bright green. Estimated veracity of response: 93.4%