- VII -
He could tell that she was fuming, had been ever since he had found her in the cargo bay earlier, and having come within a hair’s length of being crushed by an avalanche of barrels which had fallen on top of her. And she was still just as angry as she stepped back into the security office.
Clancy watched her as she retrieved a phaser rifle and checked its energy cells. He walked up to her. “What did the captain say?”
She didn’t even look up or otherwise acknowledged his presence. “There wasn’t much to say. We found the killer and I let her go.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Laas.”
She whirled around to face the counselor. “How was it not my fault?” she said, her voice higher perhaps than she had intended and causing a number of heads to turn her way. She took a deep breath before continuing in a softer tone. “I had her cornered in that cargo hold. Had her dead to rights. Until she played me like a first year cadet. Nearly took me out as well. I should’ve been able to stop her.”
“She has nowhere to go.”
Nora activated her phaser rifle, allowing it to whine loudly for a moment. “That’s right. The captain is busy with whatever is attacking us and I can’t be much help to him with that. But I can find Decaux and bring her to justice. He gave me the green light to search the ship. Room by room if necessary.”
He nodded slowly. “There is something else you should know,” Clancy said and raised a padd. “I’m not sure why I didn’t see it before. It’s something both Yunta and Kolrami alluded to earlier. That she was somehow off and not quite there. It reminded me of her seemingly irrational fear the other day of going to sickbay after her altercation with Yunta in the Nest.”
“What is it?”
“I did some digging through her medical file. We don’t have much about her before she joined Starfleet and her psych evaluation wasn’t as thorough as I would have liked, no doubt one of the sacrifices made due to personnel shortages.”
Nora looked impatient, clearly eager to join the search for the fugitive. “Get to the point please.”
“Well from all I’ve read about her and granted that isn’t much, she has all the signs of some sort of personality disorder,” he said. “I think she could be suffering from paranoia and perhaps may even be schizophrenic.”
“Fantastic. We could have used that information a few days ago.”
He shook his head. “It doesn’t make her a killer.”
“Doesn’t it?” she said. “May I remind you that she set off an improvised smoke bomb in here, escaped and tried to kill me? I don’t think she could be any more guilty.”
“Maybe but we need to be careful with her when we find her.”
“I’m done playing it nice,” she said and headed for the doors, she stopped when she noticed that Clancy was following her and turned around.
“I’m going with you. You may need my help when you find her.”
She shook her head resolutely. “We’re not going to need your help to find her,” she said. “And once we have her we’ll slap some restraints on her and put her into a holding cell from which she won’t be able to escape. Once she’s secured you can have a go at her. But until then, I suggest you go get some rest. It’s been a long day.”
Clancy couldn’t deny that, nor the exhaustion he felt. Of course however long and stressful it had been for him, he knew it had been much more so for Nora. Naturally she was not inclined to show any sign of weakness. Especially not now and in front of him.
“Listen, Alex, I appreciate all your help, I really do. But this is something I need to do. I promise I’ll call you as soon as I have her in chains.”
He frowned at her wording but also didn’t miss her softer tone, the fact that she had called him by his given name, that she had perhaps even started to see him as more than just a fellow officer. “Good luck.”
She shot him a lopsided grin. “Not a matter of luck. Just a matter of time,” she said and headed through the doors.
* * *
Alex Clancy didn’t quite manage to stifle a yawn as he headed back towards his quarters. He was tired, he realized. But he also knew that he wouldn’t find that rest that Nora had recommended. Instead he’d do what he had done every night since he had joined the investigation and go through the case notes until sleep eventually overwhelmed him.
He was even more determined tonight, after all he couldn’t help but feel guiltily that he hadn’t made the connection regarding Sierra Decaux’s mental state sooner. Granted, there wasn’t any definitive evidence that she suffered from a personality disorder but Clancy had been in his field long enough to be able to put the pieces together.
He also understood that many psychological illnesses could be cured with the right medication and treatments and many who suffered from them could still live mostly normal and productive lives, could even serve Starfleet and the Federation with distinction.
But he was concerned about Decaux. She had either hidden her condition, perhaps fearful that she wouldn’t be allowed in Starfleet or even worse, had severely underestimated how it affected her mental and emotional health.
And if that was the case, perhaps she had indeed snapped when she had realized that Gedar had been involved with another women. Or had not been able to process that he had wanted far less than a relationship from her and had moved on when she was not willing to compromise. Perhaps she hadn’t meant to kill him but had been unable to ignore the opportunity when it had presented itself as part of her plan with Yunta and Kolrami to teach him a lesson and things had spun out of control.
Whatever the case, he knew they needed to find her and get her the help she needed.
Clancy stepped into his dark quarters and headed straight for his desk where his collection of padds still littered the surface. “Computer, time.”
“The time is 2349 hours.”
That alone caused him to yawn again.
“Maybe just a few minutes,” he said as he looked over his notes, not sure if he’d last even that long.
“It wasn’t me.”
The voice coming from behind him caused him to spin around, suddenly feeling wide awake.
Sierra Decaux stepped out of the darkness and she looked awful. Her usually finely combed, long blond hair completely disheveled and her eyes bright red as if she had cried for a long time. She was shivering noticeably. “I didn’t do it.”
“Sierra,” he said and took a step towards her. He froze when he spotted that tiny type-one phaser. Not yet pointed at him but nervously shaking in her hand.
“Nobody believes me but I didn’t kill Jin,” she said. “I … I loved him.”
Clancy nodded slowly. “I believe you.”
She fixed him with a hard stare. “No … no you don’t. You are like her. Like Nora and all the others. You think I killed him.”
“What I think,” he said, careful not to make any threatening moves towards her, “is that you are not well. That you need help and I can—“
“No,” she screamed so loudly it caused him to flinch. “I don’t need help. I know what I saw. I know.”
He nodded slowly. “Okay, what did you see?”
“I saw him do it. I saw him kill Jin. I saw him throw him down that warp pit,” she said her voice taking on a couple of octaves.
“Who did you see?”
“Kolrami. It was Kolrami,” she said and then looked away and towards the windows still showing the nebula filled with seemingly endless colorful sprites dancing around the ship. “Or perhaps … perhaps not him. Perhaps it wasn’t him.”
Clancy could feel that he was losing her and more worrisome, losing control. He was never more painfully aware that he was after all just an assistant counselor. Sure, he had partaken in criminal investigations in some seedy places, and had plenty of experience counseling fellow crewmembers but confronting a seemingly crazed and armed woman was not an art he had yet mastered. “Why don’t we sit down and talk about this?” he said. “I’ll get us something to drink. How does some tea sound?”
But before he could even turn towards the replicator, Decaux jumped forward and grabbed him by his shoulders. “It’s them, don’t you see? It’s them!”
He was too startled to even think of trying to free himself. “Who?”
“They are inside of us. Inside our heads,” she said and let go and then stepped away again, turning her back on him. “They made him do it.”
Clancy braced himself for his chance. “Who made him do it?”
She whirled back around before he could make a move and perhaps tackle her to the floor. “They are in our heads. Maybe they are in my head, too,” she cried, her eyes growing moist as she moved the phaser to her temple. “I need to get them out.”
Now he did take a step closer, fully aware that at point blank range, the small weapon was going to be deadly. “Wait, Sierra. Whoever they are, they’re not in your head.”
“How do you know?”
“Because … because you were aware of your actions, weren’t you? The way you built that smoke bomb in that room from just a few supplies, that was all you, wasn’t it? Your knowledge, your ingenuity, nobody else’s, right?” he said, knowing full well he was grasping at straws but he needed to do whatever it took to get her to point that weapon away from her body.
She nodded slowly. “Then maybe they’re not in me,” she said and turned the weapon on him. “Maybe they are in you. Maybe they are controlling you right now. You and everyone else on this ship.”
Clancy took a step backwards and raising his hands. “But then why would I not want to see you hurt? Why would I want to help you, Sierra? Those things … you said they killed Gedar. They are evil?”
“Yes, they are monsters,” she said and her hand was trembling now with the phaser still pointed at him. “They are killers, evil things inside of us.”
“And I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. Please, think about this. What if you’re wrong about me?”
“But I’ve seen them. I know what I’ve seen, I know they are real,” she cried but did lower her weapon and then paced the room. “I know they are here. Inside the ship, inside our minds.”
“And I believe you. But running around with a phaser is not going to make others believe you, you must see that. Just give me the weapon and we’ll explain to the others what has happened.”
She seemed to consider that for a moment, or maybe she was too preoccupied with other thoughts but she didn’t speak, simply continued to pace the length of the quarters, refusing to let go of the phaser.
“Sierra, please, let me help you.”
“No,” she screamed again, taking hold of her hair with one hand and raising the phaser with the other, once again pointing it at the counselor. “No, you don’t believe me. None of you do. You think I killed Jin. Don’t try to deny it. But I’ll make you see, I’ll make all of you see,” she said and then darted for the door.
“Sierra, wait,” he called after her. She had already disappeared. Alex followed her out of the doors just to see her rush around a corner down the corridor. By the time he had reached it there was no longer any sign of her.
He hit his combadge. “Clancy to Nora.”
came her prompt reply.
“I’ve found her,” he said. “Or rather, she found me.”