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A Most Peculiar Body, Pt. 2

Posted on Sun Oct 27th, 2019 @ 8:12pm by Lieutenant Commander James Stacker

Mission: Dust Stirring
Location: Chief Medical Officer's Office | Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 241910.27

"Please." The look on his face could have curdled milk. Or perhaps it was the look one acquired when they were looking at curdled milk. "What a truly horrific way to die. If I'd seen him, I might've thought his sanity was questionable. I can't imagine anyone in sight want to remain in sight for very long. If there was anyone there to begin with other than himself. Thanks," he added as he took the drink from her. "Any thoughts on what the toxin was? Or how it was delivered? That might give security - well, intelligence too - some sort of clue."

"The makeup is not unlike an old Terran toxin called parathion. Could have been done in any number of ways," She sighed as she slid into her seat, "Inhalant, injection, absorption through the skin." The prattling was only ceased when she took a bite of her food. Chicken salad was quickly becoming a favorite, especially when it had cranberries and blue cheese tossed into the mix. She was about to take bite two when she noticed her partner's expression, "Everything alright?"

"Hm? Oh." The look smoothed into something more like him, as he made a thoughtful sound and shook his head, picking up the fork as he did so. "Sorry. I was just thinking of how bad it was. Not that I have much sympathy for him to begin with. Still ... bad way to go. Not that there's a pleasant way to die." He fell into silence after this, the sound of the fork stabbing through his lettuce, spearing some chicken and a crouton with a notable crunch in the process.

One of the wee Vorta's eyebrows rose as she considered both him and the statement he had made, "That's not entirely true," She tutted with a grin, "I've always considered slipping away in your sleep to be one of the best ways to go. No pain, but you're right. This guy didn't die easy and the stabbing... Not sure what happened there other than someone was drunk and saw him as a threat or a challenge and one thing lead to another."

He made a thoughtful sound as he chewed another bite of mixed chicken, crouton, and lettuce. The scene of the crime had been messy and complicated; the rumor mill suggested security was pitching fits over the sheer volume of forensic data to be processed, sorted, and analyzed. He personally put little stock in rumors, but in this case would not have been surprised to find that true. Which led him to wonder just required a stabbing and a poisoning. "It's a bit overkill. Any way to tell which happened first?" he inquired, an eyebrow raising in query. His tone suggested he would not be disappointed if she couldn't answer. It was a question that someone not skilled in this line of analysis would ask.

"Yes," She nodded, drawing a finger around the mouth of her glass, "There's evidence that his heart had stopped beating when he was stabbed. Maybe a minute or two before, but it had." Now it was her turn for her brows to furrow. In the heat - if one could consider it such - of an autopsy one rarely slowed down to think of just how brutal the death had been or how the body on that table had been battered. There was only simple fact: someone was dead, followed by another fact: she needed to know how it happened. Each bled seamlessly into the other and then came a signature after some notes and the case was sent back to those investigating or the family was notified, sometimes both. Sitting there with him and actually discussing it made it more real and, in a way, more personal. "If I had to guess he was on top of someone, probably fell and took them down... Trajectory of the blade would suggest that as well. So whoever stabbed him really may have thought it was do or die, kill or be killed and we're not exactly dealing with two easy going species to begin with."

He paused long enough to wipe the corners of his mouth, removing traces of the sparse dressing before they could trickle down into his beard. The action also gave the man time to think. "It wouldn't be the first time someone panicked during a ... killing gone bad." He hesitated to apply the word 'assassination,' because there was no evidence point that way. Unless you include the toxin. But how many times have you heard of botched jobs involving toxin? Not many, but then again he hadn't made a professional career out of searching law enforcement databases. There's time for that to change, though...

"I assume all the details about the knife are in here?" he asked, holding the PADD - the one she'd left behind - up with one hand, giving it a slight back-and-forth wave. "Anything I should be particularly aware of?"

"Hysteria happens." She shrugged, tucking back into her salad, "The knife was standard fare for a Klingon, nothing special. Probably a good couple thousand of them wandering around this station." The answer was flippant, almost dismissive until her head cocked to one side and she finished yet another bite, "Except the one you're looking for will be missing the very tip of it. It broke off between the victim's fifth and sixth thoracic vertebrae."

A prickling sensation ran down his spine after her words. Was it the cavalier way in which she'd discussed how the tip was missing? Yes, he concluded. In his experience there were very few in this world who would discuss circumstances involving a murder in such a cavalier way. Mostly they were doctors and medical staff, combat veterans, and killers. One category sometimes involved multiple categories. Sometimes one stood by itself without support from the other two. He knew she wasn't a combat veteran - he'd seen the way she high-tailed, months ago, when the archaeological site came under fire. A killer? No way said his mind and gut, immediately rejecting it. So, a doctor. Exactly what he knew to already be true.

Which still didn't get rid of that prickling sensation. Almost as if he could feel the blade punching into his back. He put his fork down for a moment, while suppressing the urge to get up and walk around until the feeling was gone. Hands settled on the thighs of his pants, rubbing them while he thought. "That's not going to be the sort of item you replace or repair easily. Especially not on a Federation starbase."

"The best they could hope for is to trash it in a replicator." A wary eye watched the unflappable man become, in a word, squeamish. She could see his discomfort as much as she could sense it in the way his posture and demeanor shifted - something that left her with a measure of guilt over her own truly devil-may-care approach to such things. There was no emotion to be found within her for the victim, nor a tear to be shed. She simply didn't know them and her work was her work. Science was very much free of emotion and when it came down to an autopsy it was less about medicine - which was certainly driven as much by emotion as it was by science - and more about the raw science needed to connect the dots. Either way, she wound up remorseful for ruining the Ghost's lunch, "I'm sorry. Should have saved this for another time, but it's important and I want you to have the pieces you need to put the puzzle together. The station shouldn't have to live in fear."

An eyebrow came up, at this, and the fork-ful of lettuce and chicken reversed course to return to his plate. "I would hardly call this a state of 'living in fear.' The resident population is over twenty-six thousand, and out of that one Nausicaan has been killed. Admittedly under unusual circumstances and with something that does pose a threat if used against a larger population center. For now we have no evidence that whomever possesses it intends such use. This isn't to say that we don't have a slight matter of concern, but living in fear?" The tone of his words made clear his skepticism at the hyperbole, as did the head-shake. "If more bodies start accumulating, I'll reevaluate my thoughts, but for now we have a single murder to deal with."

It was her turn to hike a brow and she came bitterly close to missing the chance to bite her tongue before she replied with a haughty 'You're out of touch'. Playing verbal hockey with him wouldn't solve a damn thing, much less a murder. "You have a man who was poisoned, if that gets out there will be a fair deal greater people demanding information and rioting on the promenade." She shrugged, "As it is, there are members of your crew that don't see it fit or wise to venture out into public spaces and people most definitely are looking over their shoulders, but you're right. It's one murder... After how many assaults on the station within the last two years?" Her fork sunk back into her salad as she abandoned her need to look at him. Her point was made, but it was evident as hell that she wasn't the one in Command - and never would be. "Anyway. Thank you for coming down for lunch."

There was a decidedly-long period of silence from his side of the desk. He was still there of course: the blur of color in the corner of her eye showed he was still present and seated. The sound of his breathing was audible as well. But for the first time since they had met, the man appeared to be either at a genuine loss for words or professional riled and stomping on it appropriately. Which was a remarkable thing for a Marine to do in the present era, and given present circumstances. Finally he heaved a larger exhalation of breath and stood, the chair creaking as he relieved it of its burden. "It was my pleasure. I'll see myself out."

The door hissed open, then closed, as he left the office.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB - 1170

Lt Commander James Stacker
Executive Officer/Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB - 1170

 

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