Murder in the Rue de Verre

       Terkos hated this part of the duty he had taken on. He hated it more than anything else. Better the endless daily drone of bar fights and lost items, drunk spacers and missed ships. Terkos hated murder.
       She lay on the bed in one of High Crystal Station's more back alley brothels. She was a female Cait, 200 pounds of smooth felinoid muscle and soft fur. Her eyes and tongue bulged from the rope around her neck. His forensic people did their tasks quietly. Terkos scanned the scene for anything that looked out of place. In the background several of the girls and the madame hovered in the state of horrified curiosity that seemed to accompany every murder scene.
       In the next room the chief suspect was being questioned by Terkos' newest constable, Nardo. Terkos left the forensic people to their work and checked Nardo's progress. The suspect, a little man, sat dazed on an overstuffed chair. Terkos motioned Nardo aside.
       "Have you anything useful?"
       "Nope, the perp's too drug soaked tos give a reliable statement of his own name."
       "Then take him back to the cells. There is no point in continuing the questioning until we have him dried out."
       "You wants a report on whats he soaked hisself in?"
       "Sarright. Sees ya later Boss. Come ons buddy."
       Nardo physically lifted the suspect to his feet and half carried him out onto the halls. Terkos heard the cargo lifter leave. He turned back the murder room. The madame blocked his way.
       "So, is that awful person going to get his just deserts?"
       "I simply arrest and report madame, I don't judge and sentence."
       "Eet is horrible, simply horrible. My business will be ruined. I loved Mumccu like a daughter. Eet is horrible." She dabbed damply at her reddened eyes.
       "We will do our best Madame Pomadore, I can promise no more."
       "Thank you Constable, thank you zoe much."
       Terkos turned to a sound at the door. "Madame, if you will move your girls back, medical is here."
       "Of course Constable, at once."
       Terkos moved back to the murder room. "Are you done Sal?"
       They moved out of the way as the medical team moved into the room and got the body onto the gurney. Terkos looked around again once the girl had been removed. Sal pulled her tricorder out again.
       "I thought your were finished?"
       "I want one more scan without the body."
       "Evidence is never wasted."
       Terkos left.

       It was well after midnight by the time he got back to his apartment. The lights in Diana's room were long out. The windows were open, allowing the night breeze to cool the room. Leathalan moved quietly from the Dania's room to the great room. Terkos watched the shifting patterns of the clouds and moon out the window.
       **Yes, murder always troubles me.**
       **Yet you have seen much murder.**
       **When it stops troubling me, you must report me unfit for duty.**
       **Is compassion a required trait for police work?**
       **Yes, it is, and I will not debate the point.**
       **I wasn't planning to debate it.**
       **But more than willing to discuss it.**
       **One should always be prepared to discuss the relevance of one's moral and ethical compass**
       **Not when one is weary. I am weary.**
       **Then, you should rest**
       **Excellent advice. I shall heed it.**

       Nardo sat nursing the last Scotch in his glass. Mike wasn't going to chase him out, the Skyview had no closing hours. Customers were few and quiet at this late an hour. Mike worked a conversation further down while Nardo contemplated the meaning of Scotch.
       "Something on your mind?"
       Nardo nearly jumped out of his chair. He settled back down and moved twitching fingers away from the phaser under his coat.
       "Mike, don't dos dat."
       "I was hardly quiet Nardo, you are obviously a man with a problem."
       "I don't knows dat it's a problem likes. Buts, it has me thinkin'"
       "Is it something you can talk about?"
       "Dat murder."
       "In the Rue de Verre."
       "All overs and da body ain't cold."
       "That is the essential nature of bad news. So what has you so deep in thought a noisy barkeep can surprise you?"
       "Dis cop bag, it's new, but I has arranged a few 'scenes', ifin' yous catch my drift."
       "I am listening."
       "Dis scene, it don't ring. I don't knows why, but it was wrong."
       "A review of the evidence scans would seem in order."
       "You is a smart man. But nots tonight." Nardo slammed back the remaining scotch. "I thinks better fresher."
       "Good night to you then Nardo, and I wish you success."

       Madame Pomadore took one last look around the hall before she locked the doors. On the fortunate side, the murder allowed her to close the doors for the night. She had dismissed the girls and all but Jeniee had taken advantage of the break to rush out and dull their senses.
       She turned back to the weasely looking Martee behind her. "Quit breathing down my neck you pervert"
       "Madame has a pleasant smell tonight."
       "French perfume smells nothing like what you want Slestlee, so back off. The question is do you have the orders secure?"
       "Yes, all is as you have ordered. The 'orders' have been moved to another location for the time being."
       "Of course it is secure. With Ane about we cannot be too secure."
       "You don't know the half of it buddy. Just make sure no one else is poking around. This operation is getting too expensive"
       "It would be more expensive for you to end it I think."
       "Watch your tongue you filthy weasel. Ane don't discriminate, and you can't run that fast. Just make sure the orders are secure."

       Morning didn't brighten the picture to Terkos near as much as it brightened the sky. El Nanth was rolling up a clear hard blue sky. The day promised to be hot and code 6. Terkos contemplated his daughter from across the breakfast table.
       "Yes Daddy."
       "If you go outside today, make sure you get a good coating of sunscreen."
       Diana sighed at the injustice as only a ten year old can.
       "Every night I have to wash it off, just to put in on every morning. Why can't I just wear it all the time? Aren't I black enough?"
       "To begin, the old coat wears off. Secondly, it becomes dirty, and must be removed to clean you."
       "Leathalan doesn't have to wear any."
       "Leathalan is a true native and adapted to the conditions."
       "Why can't I adapt to the conditions?"
       "Diana dear, you are as adapted as a human can get. Wear your sunscreen. Remember what happened to Cristy McCana when she forgot hers."
       Terkos could see the memory of the neighbor girl's badly scarred face crossed her mind.
       "Yes Daddy, I won't forget."
       "On a pleasanter note. How is your school work?"
       Diana brightened. "I get to start a new section today."
       "If your marks from the last section are any indication, you should do well indeed. Leathalan, you're quiet this morning."
       **All that needs be said, has been said. Why intrude on what time you have together?**
       "You don't intrude. Any plans outside the complex today?"
       **Nothing planned, but we never plan too closely.**
       "I might be home early tonight."
       Diana bounced in her chair. "That would be great."
       "No promises. I have some serious work ahead of me, but it looks cut and dried."
       **One must be wary of the obvious.**
       "I said, no promises. Well ladies, I need to be off."
       Terkos got a hug from Diana who ran off to her school carel. Leathalan gave him the 'big blue eyes' look. He kissed her nose. Her ears popped straight up.
       "Have a good day, dear."
       Terkos chuckled as he made is way to the transporter station. At least the day started with a smile.

       Nardo woke from a battle with a snake that proved to be his blanket. His head was somewhere in the range of seriously huge, and a rodent of indeterminate living habits had died in his mouth. He stumbled from the bed and staggered his way to the kitchen with sand-filled eyes and rubber knees. In the fridge the libation prepared the night before, in case he couldn't get the words out in the morning, was waiting. Nardo slugged it back. Slowly vision returned, his head shrank to more normal proportions, and the rodent was washed away. Nardo mumbled to himself "Man, I gots to cut back on the fast livin' I must be gettin' old or something." He moved to the replicator. "Usual, hot and heavy, ten minutes." The unit beeped at him and he made for the shower.
       Ten minutes later, clean in a fluffy robe and with a big and delicious breakfast in front of him, Nardo stretched his lanky frame in front of the vid. He waded through the grits, eggs, steak, and coffee as he watched the morning news. As expected, last night's murder was top of the hour. Hell what would these people do with real 'news'. In any case, breakfast done, he had the rent to pay.
       Nardo dressed slowly, getting everything just right. Shirt properly pressed, his tie just so with the diamond stickpin. That had been a battle. Getting Terkos to allow collared shirts and ties. He just didn't feel dressed in a turtleneck. A man needed a tie. The flat, dark gray of the suit without pinstripes, or lapels, was bad enough. He adjusted the shoulder holster and slipped the issue phaser into it, his .45 went into the waistband holster of his pants. The tailor had done a crack-up job, the pistol didn't even mar the lines of the suit. Lastly he pulled on his jacket and placed his hat on his head with a jaunty flair. One last look at his long face in the mirror, and he was out the door.

       Terkos looked at the man in the cell. He was the idea spacer for an earlier era. He was small of frame, spare of flesh. The kind that didn't take a lot of resources for a ship to support. Right now he looked thoroughly miserable.
       Terkos signaled the security guard to lower the cell force field. He entered with the doctor and his Ane assistant. He turned to the doctor.
       "What is his current condition?"
       The Doctor waved his scanner over the man. "He is sober, dehydrated, and could use a meal."
       "Understood I will keep this short." Terkos turned back to the little man. "What is you name?"
       The question slowly registered on the little man. He spoke in a distant drawl. "Pepper, Cyane Pepper."
       "Do you know why you are here?"
       "Ah, no."
       "You are currently accused of the murder of Mumccu."
       Pepper's face dropped. "But... I... She's dead?"
       "This is correct."
       Pepper dissolved into an mask of sorrow and he sobbed heavily. "Dead?"
       "Yes. Do you understand you stand accused of this murder?"
       "Murder? Mumccu? Me, I..." He once again dissolved into incoherence.
       Terkos signaled his companions and left the cell.
       "Athalan, what can you tell me?"
       **He is genuinely surprised, and shocked. He is also suffering a great deal of sorrow. I sense he cared for the woman.**
       "Do you think he didn't kill her."
       **I am not going to speculate. Amblin, the drug found in his system, can induce amnesia, can. It would take a much deeper probe to discover that. But not unless he agrees.**
       "I understand. Terkos turned to the security guard. "When he recovers from his fit, see that his physical needs are met."
       "Yes Sir."
       "Doctor, see that the gentleman is aided in recovering from his drug incident."
       "Do you think he killed her?"
       "My opinion is unimportant. The truth is all that matters."
       Terkos left the cell block.

       Nardo was waiting for him back at the office.
       "So, did da boid sing."
       "Boid, sing?"
       "Spill, give, squeal, babble, tattle, dish the dirt, turn pigeon, go stooly, in shorts, talk."
       "Nardo, I had hopes that you would acquire better language skills over time."
       "What's wrongs with the ways I talk?"
       Terkos sighed. "Never mind. No, he did not talk. I don't consider him in any shape to talk at the moment."
       "So what's da next step?"
       "Same step. We get some food and water in him. Give him time to come to grips with what was apparently disturbing news. Then I try again."
       "Is dis dude ever goings to be coherent enough to gets a story from?"
       "If necessary, we will ask him if he will accept an Ane interrogation."
       "Man, dat's rougher dan yous is."
       "Only if they make it that way Nardo. The problem is that his choice of drugs makes it unlikely he will remember anything."
       "Dat don't seems right somehow."
       "Please elucidate."
       "Hey, I don't swears at yous on the job."
       Terkos frowned. "'Elucidate' is a Standard word meaning to expand on your thoughts, so elucidate."
       Nardo leaned into his points. "Well, when I blows my cash on molls and booze, I wants to remember the fun to makes it woith the money, and the hangover." He tapped is head meaningfully "Why would I hires cute molls and then takes a drug that wipes my brain?"
       "There is little explaining some of the motivations of sophant beings Nardo."
       "Yet, if we has any plans in solvin' this hit, we has to do just that."
       Nardo leaned back and let his focus drift. "It didn' look right."
       "How do you mean?"
       "Murders looks a certain way. That murder didn't look, 'that way'."
       "How should it look Nardo? You had a victim, the usual case in such matters, the innocent bystanders, and in this rare case, the murderer on the scene. We will proceed on the evidence at hand. Unless you can produce a concrete reason to proceed otherwise. The corner should be done by this time. We, that is you, should get the corners report and we can proceed from that."
       "Okay, I'll gets it."
       "You may proceed as you see fit Nardo, within the rules."
       "I always stays within the rules Boss."

       Nardo thumbed through the corner's report over a glass of lunch. Mike looked on bemused.
       "What's ya lookin at?"
       "A very confused man."
       "Yea, so dat ain't never happened in human history."
       Mike wiped a nonexistent spot from the polished bar top. "It isn't mine to ask, but what has you so confused?"
       Nardo tapped the PADD. Why dos a guy puts a rope around da molls thorat for sex?"
       "Nardo, for a worldly man, you have interesting gaps in your knowledge. I find they make me think more highly of you. My advice is that when you don't understand a cultural reference, do as does the Romulan, check the library computer."
       Nardo brightened. "Yea, the Lady ins the know."
       "The very."

       Later Nardo ducked into a public carrel along the High Crystal Promenade. Terkos might keep digs dirtside, but Nardo didn't like the rent. In any case there was little need to physically visit the Memory One Campus.
       "Connects me to the Memory One system please."
       "Connection established, Memory one online."
       Elizabeth's figure, a study in impossible nordic beauty, formed on the screen. "This is Memory One, how may I be of assistance?"
       "Ah yea, I gots some questions about human sexual kinks I needs answered. Sos, you can help?"
       "I shall render any assistance I can Nardo. What are your questions."
       "OK, first, why would anyone strangles their partner?"
       "Mild anoxia is reputed to cause a more intense orgasm."
       "So yous half kills yous partner to makes it feel better?"
       "That is the reason for the practice."
       "Sounds like fizbin to me."
       "I don't recommend the practice."
       "Any other reason?"
       "Nothing short of murder."
       "Right. Seems murder is whats I has to deal with."
       "I will render any aid I can Nardo."
       "Noted. Thank yous for the time."
       "Glad to be of assistance. Memory One out."
       Nardo sat in the carrel for a long moment. He got up and ambled back to the office. Halfway there it finally hit him.

       Terkos was dealing with the usual work of the Station security force. Normal incidents didn't go away when something unusual cropped up. Nardo walked in and sat.
       "I thinks I has a handle on this."
       Terkos looked up from his datawork. "And what handle would that be?"
       "We founds him, on top of her, rope arounds her neck, death by strangulations. Accordings to the report, she was as drugged as him."
       "Two things. Working girls do not shares the customer's hootch, and ain't he kinds of scrawny to strangles a Cait?"
       "The second I can understand Nardo, Mr. Pepper is not a physically imposing figure by any reckoning. However I do not understand the first."
       "Well, I dids some of the business as yous wells know. The girls do not shares anything broughts into the shop, anything. One, yous don't know wheres it's from. Two, the girl needs to keeps clean so she can functions fully. Drunk or drugged, you can't knows if yous in trouble to get outs of it, never minds she ain't sexually her best. So the girls do not gets stoned on company time."
       "If the customer wishes to buy the girl a drink, I have seen girls drink with customers."
       "Dirty secret of the business Terkos. Girls drinks ginger ale and fruit juice. No intoxicates in the girl's drinks. The bartender would knows the rules."
       "Yet the customer is charged for that drink as well."
       "I saids it was a dirty secret. Now tos the matter at hand, whys was she stoned? The corners report did mentions she was stoned, Same drug."
       Terkos sat back and contemplated. "I don't consider that adequate reason to release Mr. Pepper, however, you have valid objections to the scenario as presented. Present me with an alternative scenario."
       "Not today. I don't has any idea what the motivation might be heres. It might bes time to ask Ms. Pomadore abouts her policy abouts outside booze and drugs. In a round abouts way."
       "Conduct such interviews as you will Nardo. I will continue to pursue the conventional scenario. So divided, we might arrive at the truth."

       Nardo waited in a private booth in the Skyview. Mike walked passed, stopped. "Your guest has arrived."
       Nardo passed a slip of latinum across the table. "Thanks Mike. Sees that no ones else is seated in sights of us."
       The Maitre'd walked the man over, and sat him at Terkos' table.
       "Good afternoon Mr. Nardo."
       "And to yous Mr. Jones."
       "You have work for me?"
       "Yes, discreets as usual."
       "Then what do you need."
       "I needs you to hires a girl at da Rue de Verre. Yous must asks the madame or bartender, which ever seems the most likely, for Amblin. Yous must asks the girl yous hire to partakes with yous, from a supply yous will bring yourself."
       "As the constable should well know, Amblin is not legal in this System."
       Nardo slid a small packet over the table. "That is trues enough. This should suffice."
       The man looked askance at the package. "The real thing?"
       "No," replied Nardo. "Theslin, a mild euphoric. I woulds not asks yous to risks yous memory."
       "On our usual scale. If da madame calls the constables, go quietly. Nothing will comes of it."
       The packet vanished from the table, as did the man shortly thereafter. Nardo sipped his Scotch, and let the time pass.

       Terkos waited outside the room. Insulated as it was he could hear the man sobbing. At long last the door opened and Athalan emerged.
       "Did you learn anything?"
       **Yes, but not want you wanted to know.**
       "I will take such information as I can."
       **He remembers nothing of that night. It never made an impression. Such is the effect of the drug.**
       "So he has no idea if he killed her or not."
       **None. However, he is highly upset by the possibility that he could have.**
       "So we must conduct an old fashion investigation with no cooperation from the perpetrator."
       **That would be the case.**
       "Do I prosecute him for the Amblin use?"
       **Why bother.** She looked over her shoulder at the silent door and the broken man behind it. **Its use carries its own penalty.**

       "I am Rafersan." Said the big Cait at the counter.
       The clerk looked up from her work. "Rafersan?"
       "I am next of kin for Mumccu."
       "I, see. What can I do for you?"
       Rafersan grew visibly impatient. "I am here to pick up her body."
       "I'm sorry, but I don't think it has been released by the Constables."
       The edge of the counter groaned loudly and he leaned into it and hissed. "Then why don't you find out if they have, or have not."
       "Of course. One minute please." The clerk turned from the counter and went into the back.
       "Doctor, we have a Rafersan here to pick up Mumccu?"
       The Doctor looked up from her datawork. "We are finished with the body, check his ID and see what arraignments he wants made."
       "Yes Doctor." She returned to the outer office.
       "Rafersan, if I might verify your ID please."
       He slapped the ID on the counter, growling under his breath. The clerk ran the card.
       "Thank you Rafersan. What arraignments do you wish?"
       "Send her here." He handed a card over the counter to the clerk.
       "Will there be anything else?"
       "No." He stalked from the office.

       In the morning Mr. Jones was in the holding cells. Nardo walked into the interview room.
       "My requests for Amblin were refused. My insistence that the girl share my drugs, landed me here."
       "No willingness what sos ever?"
       "Did she says why?"
       "Madam's rules. It would get her fired."
       "Thank you." Nardo pulled out his PADD. "Payment has been made as per our usual arrangements. I suggests Mr. Jones disappear."
       "As your wish." The man's form rippled, and a woman of unremarkable appearance stood in his place.
       Nardo shook her hand as he showed her out. "A pleasure doing business with yous."

       Slestlee spent a few more minutes with the big "Cait", and money changed hands. Pomadore fidgeted in the back of the room, the damn Qzin made her nervous.
       Slestlee bowed and scraped a bit more. "The package as agreed, right here. I hope you enjoy. Would you like her body as well?"
       "Too close to cannibalism. The regular order will be delivered on time?"
       "I anticipate no delays."
       "And what do you call this?"
       "A minor incident. We haven't even needed to shut down."
       "Minor incidents have a way of getting away from one. Humans," shooting a glance at Pomadore, "are not to be trusted."
       "Dear dear Packer. It is all in how you handle them. Approach from the right angle and they are most helpful."
       Pomadore had had enough. "Speak of them in the third person when they are present, and they might shoot you in the back."
       Slestlee scrunched his shouders together involuntarily. "My apologies madame."
       "You're a different matter. I am not worried about 'humans'. It's a certain Romulan and the Ane I worry about."
       Packer said. "I might be concerned about the Romulan, The grass eaters are of no concern."
       Pomadore stalked up to the big feline. "Look Packer, your particular prejudges aside, the Ane run this dog and pony show. Phasers they have are just as deadly as phasers anyone else has. They are also very perceptive, and the last idiot that killed someone on this station, hasn't been heard from since. I have no desire to vanish."
       "You worry too much. How can beings without hands handle anything, never mind weapons."
       "I hate playing devil's advocate Packer, but I'll point out who hired the Romulan. They know their limitations. Be aware of their strengths."
       "Pity, I fear I must respect him less, he works for the grass eaters."
       Slestlee interrupted the argument. "The point is well made. The sooner you are off the station, The less time the constables have of breaking your cover. That cover is fragile enough, and too fragile once the real Rafersan arrives."
       "It was my intention to leave at once in any case. The stench of the grass eaters offends my nose." He took his package, and left.
       Pomadore watched his retreating back. "For our sake, he had better make it."
       Slestlee turned on her. "I have warned you more than once, do not get between me and the Qzin. They do not respect any but carnivores."
       "Read your history bub. Humans are the ones that bottled them up and dictated the terms. They respect us, It took four wars, but they learned to respect us." She grinned at him, it wasn't a friendly grin.

       Something about the view was compelling. It had been compelling since he saw his first sunset on this world. The big blue star rolling slowly down the horizon, the fire in the clouds. His breath caught in his throat that day, and he knew that Glade could be home. It was as far from Romulus as a planet could get, in view, in temperament, and in people.
       Tonight he again sat in his favorite chair, and watched the sun called El Nanth roll it's slow magical way down the horizon. The western breeze, hot and wet blew though the open windows. The night rain would come within hours. Lemonade in his hand he watched the show that was the dance of Glade and El Nanth.
       **What are we before such wonder?** the thought unbidden crossed his mind.
       **We are the cause.** Was the reply.
       **Always with an answer Soft One.**
       Leathalan moved up beside his chair so Terkos could see her and settled back to the floor. The setting fires of the sun flashed across her eyes. **When the answer is the right one.**
       **How can we be the cause of this?**
       **Sophant thought caused this world to be here. Glade was a hot rock, much closer to its primary before sophant creatures willed it otherwise.**
       **An act far beyond me.**
       **How so? Your mind can comprehend all that was done to create Our garden of delight. Your hands can wield the tools that performed the task.**
       **Yet I did not do it. My people did not yet exist.**
       **All people must come into being, all will eventually end. All that has been done or will be done we are heir and cause.**
       **I'm not sure I understand you sometimes Soft One.**
       She turned towards him and Terkos towards her. As the light lengthened the blues faded from the sky, the reds of sunset predominated. Terkos waited for the magical moment. Leathalan's eyes lost their reflected blue. The soft brown natural color, iris and pupil, where visible only in the sunset.
       Terkos took her head in his hands. **What would poets say? The soul of the Ane can only be seen in fading light.**
       **They have said nothing. They can't see to write.**
       Terkos paused, the day's events intruding on pleasant thoughts. **I don't know how to deal with this one.**
       **You mean the recent murder?**
       **Why is this different?**
       **I know, or think I know who the killer is, but doubts creep around my sureties.**
       **Are they so sure then?**
       **I want them to be sure. My instinct says Nardo is following shadows. Pepper is the murderer, and we can never prove it.**
       **Let Nardo doubt. Doubt can be a good thing.**
       **Do you think him correct?**
       **I do not know all the details. It's not for me to say.**
       **Yet I should let Nardo doubt.**
       **You lose nothing, and if he is right?**
       **I will let Nardo doubt.**
       The sun finished it's decent, the room darkened. Terkos sat back in his chair and allowed his hands to caress Leathalan's neck. Darkness suited his mood as clouds obscured the stars, and rain thundered across the plains.

       Rafersan looked around the dock. This was not a errand he was looking forward to. Space travel was bad enough, Space travel to claim your wayward sister's body, that was barely tolerable. Rafersan hefted his in single bag and headed for the information counter.
       "Excuse me, I need to find the main constable's station, and a drink."
       The woman at the booth looked up. "The main constable's station can be found if your follow this tag" she said handing him a guide tag. "Drinks can be acquired at any number of establishments on the promenade."
       "Thank you." He took is tag and headed for the lifts.

       Madam Pomadore charged in on Slestlee. He started up from his work.
       "Claws woman do you ever knock?"
       "Rafersan is on the dock and headed for the promenade."
       "Once he reaches that damned Romulan, the jig is up."
       "The quantifier in your statement is that he must first reach the Romulan."
       "I suppose you have a plan?"
       "I always have a plan. I was informed of his arrival before you entered. My agent is tailing him as of this moment. He will not reach the constable."
       "Another cover-up murder?"
       "Like begets like as you humans like to say. Is madame's stomach getting queasy?"
       "I like another human saying."
       "That is?"
       "Keep sticking your head up and you'll get it shot off."
       "All is under control. Worry not."

       Rafersan dove into the nearest bar he saw. The decor was rough, and the customers looked as rough. Good, he might even get a fight.
       Behind him his careful shadow found a seat in view of the quarry. He waited until Rafersan had his drink in hand, and settled into what was obviously a one Cait pity party. The shadow grinned, he better enjoy, it was his last. Quickly the device was set under the table, the targeting sensors locked to the prey. The shadow tossed a few strips of Latinum on the table and left. No point is being caught in the maelstrom that would erupt. Glade tourists were far too quick on the trigger. If he was lucky, no one would live through it.
       Rafersan nursed his second drink. The first burned a small hole in the pit of his stomach. He felt his hackles start to rise. A feeling of unease, danger. He turned slightly to get a better look at the room. That seat, it had been occupied. Near it a light reflected from under the table. Without thinking old training took over and he hit the floor as pain seared across his back, and the bar exploded. Pandemonium reigned, beams flying around the room without aim or reason. Rafersan made himself small and covered his head as tried to live though the instant war.

       Terkos called the meeting to order. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have before us the matter of the Murder of Mumccu, a Cait.
       "He didn't dos it."
       Terkos frowned. "Opinions come later Nardo, for now let us establish the facts of the case."
       Athalan flicked and ear. **Those are few and difficult to come by.**
       "Agreed. The facts. On Tuesday the 18th, one Mumccu of Kaleeth Clan a Cait of Cait citizenship, employed by the Rue De Verre was found dead with one Cyane Pepper, a human of Crashlander citizenship on top of her with a ligature around her neck and in his hands. Mr. Pepper was senseless under the effects of amblin, a euphoric with the side effect of short term memory lost, incidentally illegal. Sal, you have the corners report and general forensics?"
       "Elaborate please."
       "To the matter of the site; Body and suspect were found as indicated. Clothes of the suspect where found draped across a nearby chair. The site scanned with the biometric signatures of nearly everyone present in the house, most heavily Mumccu.
       Athalan said. **Who wasn't indicated from within the house?**
       "Negatives are not easy to quantify."
       **In this case they should be. We know who comes and goes. We can check list against list.**
       Sal worked briefly with her PADD. "Ms. Pomadore is the individual from the house least represented in the scans."
       Nardo looked up. "Yous would expects that."
       Athalan said, **How so?**
       "Madame is the one least concerned with the workin' rooms."
       Terkos turned to Sal. "Please continue."
       "The presences of Mr. Pepper was indicated to the degree one would expect of casual and indigent presence. Over one hundred other persons were also indicated to a similar degree."
       Nardo said. "Busy house."
       "As to the body proper. Mumccu died at approximately 2245 on the 18th. Cause of death was strangulation. Amblin was present in her body sufficient to render her senseless."
       Nardo sat up. "Waits a minute."
       "I looksed this up. The theory is that this happened during sex right?"
        Terkos said. "That is the current theory."
       "Wells, the reason for doin' the strangulations thing is to heighten the orgasms. If she passes out, shes not enjoyin' nutten."
       "That's a valid point. We can also question Mr. Pepper's state of mind. Sal, if you would continue."
       "The victim had no other wounds pathological conditions or known possible causes for death."
       Nardo chimed in. "Did she have sex."
       Sal looked up. Excuse me?"
       "Did she have sex, you know humpin, two backed beast, intercourse."
       "Well I..."
       "She either had jizz in her, or she didn't."
       "No, she did not."
       "Pepper was toos drugged tos perform. This kind of Kirks the whole 'sex' thing."
       Terkos frowned and rubbed the side of his nose. "Nardo, you have some valid questions. We cannot proceed with the assumption that Cyane Pepper did indeed murder her.
       Athalan said **I deeply question whether Cyane Pepper could murder. Further more I question if he could murder Mumccu. He is profoundly grieving as of this time. He has no known desire for the kind of sex Nardo has indicated. His only 'kink' is a preference for living teddy bears, that is fur covered species.**
       Terkos said. "Then we are left without a motive."
       **We never had a motive, just a suspect and a victim.**
       "This is true. We need to search deeper for a motive."
       Nardo said. "Ninety percents of accidents occurs within five miles of home."
       Terkos steepled his hands. "Perceptive, but is it relevent? What are your findings?"
       "As we discussed, Madame is stricts with her 'nothing brought in' policy. I had a neutral party checks it out. It landed him heres."
       "New rules perhaps?"
       "Not from whats he said, Same old rules same old vigorously enforced."
       Terkos continued. "We come back to the why. Answer the why, we have the who."
       Nardo said. "I'll lays even odds it was someone she knews and knews well."
       "Do you have a suspect?"
       "By names, no, by locations, the Rue De Verre."
       "We need something more concrete than that.
       Athalan said. ** Cyane Pepper needs a vacation. I suggest some remote camping.**
       Terkos looked at her. "You have an idea?"
       ** Nothing firm, but if Pepper disappears, the ones with a motive might loosen up, and make an error.**
       "I will leave that to you. Meanwhile we must start nearly over."
       The door to the conference room burst open. "We have a stun riot on the promenade."
       "Where else, Neptune's Daughter."

       The scene in Neptune's Daughter was right out of a war zone. Smoke left over from fire suppression hung in the air. Bodies, moving and not, littered the inside of the bar and more than a few on the promenade proper. Terkos and company arrived shortly before the medical teams.
       Terkos quickly surveyed the damage. "This was no stunner fight. Find who's alive and get some answers." He moved with propose into the bar.
       As he entered the bar the medical personnel arrived, and began work among the non moving to see who was really hurt. Terkos noticed the tip of a phaser rifle poking above the bar top.
       "Curly, it's over."
       Slowly the phaser came down, and a Bolian head poked up in it's place. "Terkos! Is it safe to come out?"
       "Yes, the shooting is over."
       Curly stood up. "Damn, someone used a phaser on kill." He eyed the blasted section of the bar.
       Terkos looked around at the scarred ceiling and walls.
       "It looks like 'someone' wasn't the only one."
       Curly rubbed the top of his smooth head. "What's the butcher bill?"
       "We don't know yet. What happened"
       "Well I'd just given the Cait over there his second drink, he looked serious about drinking, when the bar right there exploded. Then it was Hell Week. Hey the Cait's still here."
       Terkos moved quickly beside the feliniod and felt the back of his neck. "I have a pulse, but he looks badly burned. MEDIC!"
       One of the medics present moved quick to the Cait's side. He ran eyes and scanner over the still form. "Second and third degree burns, secondary phaser effect, he wasn't hit by it. He's taken some shrapnel from the bar, he's serious, but salvageable." He placed a transponder on the Cait and tapped his commbadge.
       "Edwards to Station control, Emergency transport to medical."
       "Acknowledged Edwards."
       The Cait vanished in a sparkle.
       Terkos turned back to Curly. "We better download your sensor scans, and see if we can make any sense of this."
       The two men moved into the back room of the bar. Curly sat down at his terminal. He brought up the scans from the appropriate time stamp. He and Terkos watched the scan.
       Terkos said. "There, half a minute after you left the Cait his drink."
       "He turns slightly, drops, a phaser fires and that table explodes." Said Curly.
       "Back it up. Right, here. The beam came from under the table."
       "So we roll back a bit further and see who planted the device."
       Curly did so, He pulled the scan to a close up on the man seated at the table. A furtive hand, with something in it, reached under the table, when it came back, the something was gone. Curly stopped the scan on a good image of the man's face.
       "There's your man."
       Terkos nodded. "Good, if you would upload that entire sequence to the main computers."
       "And If I can borrow your terminal."
       Curly slid out of the seat. Terkos entered his pass code. and sent the image to the PADD of every constable on the station, with the charge appended. "We shall see if this gets results."

       The shadow moved down the docks, He just had to make the public shuttle to Builder Station, and he was free. Builder station was big enough and unpopulated enough to hide in until the heat let up.
       The Shadow felt the crowd press around him, there was another constable. The line to the shuttle was unusually slow, he had rehearsed his get away a dozen times. Another constable, scanning faces. The line shifted, he could see the front, constables were checking IDs. The Shadow slipped out of line, as unobtrusively as possible he made his way in the other direction.
       A Constable shouted "CLEAR!"
       The people around him suddenly melted or hit the floor. To do likewise was to surrender. The Shadow reached for his holdout knowing it was useless. Three beams hit him at once. As darkness descended he clenched his jaw in a final act of defiance.

       Terkos sat quietly in the doctor's office. Finally she returned.
       "Your suspect is going to live."
       "I take it that was not his intention?"
       "No, the capsule contained cyanide, plenty enough to kill."
       "So why is he not dead?"
       "He passed out before he could use it, a break for us."
       "What about the Cait that seems to be the target of the attack?"
       "He's going to make it as well."
       "Did you get an ID?"
       "Yes, one Rafersan of Kaleeth clan of Cait. His ID was on his person."
       "Rafersan? But he left the station two days ago. After picking up his sister's body."
       "I remember him picking her up. I didn't see him, but I heard him, he was extremely hostile."
       Terkos moved to her terminal. He pulled up the ID records of the two 'Rafersans'. The pictures stated back at him form the screen. "Totally different."
       The doctor zoomed in on the first Rafersan. "And totally wrong, that's no Cait that's a Qzin. The quills above the eyes, that's a Qzin trait. Caits lack it."
       "So we can add a stolen body to the list of crimes."
       "And a Qzin involvement. You're assuming the same people did both?"
       "Or arranged for both. I would connect the body snatch with the murder. I think we can connect this murder attempt with the first murder as well."
       "According to the scans, it as Rafersan who was the primary target of the attack. Who would seek to kill him except those that wished to hide the fact that her body had been taken. I need to interview both of them as quickly as possible."
       "Your suspect is still out from the stun. Rafersan isn't going to be fit for an interview until morning."
       "Bring our suspect around. He has some questions to answer."

       The Shadow was in Hell, it was too bright, and he felt like his body was not coordinating with his mind. A voice spoke from a distance, but too loudly.
       "He is coming around."
       "Thank you Doctor. We will take it from here."
       The shadow opened gummy eyes. He sat in a pool of light, a standing figure was just outside his vision, and a pair of lambent blue eyes floated in the darkness beyond.
       "You name?" Spoke the figure.
       He heard himself speak. "Go to Hell."
       "We can proceed without your name. It will be less polite, be we can proceed."
       The shadow willed the effort to drag himself erect. "You will get nothing from me."
       "That is a pity. The longer you talk, the longer you live."
       "We have clean, and indisputable, scans of you placing the murder weapon. You are as good as dead. However the more you tell me, the longer you will live."
       "Don't I get a trial? This is a Federation world, what happened to the fair trial?"
       "You will get one, but legal tricks will not be allowed to supercede the truth. Your name, or we are finished here."
       **He's lying.**
       Bob sat to full attention with the mental voice. "What?"
       "My assistant said you were lying. Telepaths are preceptive about these things. Bob, will do. Any further lies will end this interview."
       "Telepath, I didn't consent to a mental probe."
       "Nor are you getting one. Who hired you."
       "I don't know."
       **A half truth.**
       "I suggest you tell me the whole truth."
       "What's my motivation?"
       "The length of the interview, lengthens your life."
       "That means I best hold my facts close to my chest."
       "You are playing a dangerous game."
       "I never see my clients."
       "So how do you get your jobs?"
       "A third party handles it."
       "Then the name of this third party?"
       "I know them only as 'Victor'."
       "Comm number, address?"
       "They call me."
       **Corilan is working on his PADD.**
       "It will delete all information if messed with."
       **Sentient computers, They have a way around the security of dumb things like PADDs.**
       Terkos stepped into the light. "I think our interview is over." The lights came up revealing the room. "Take him to his cell."
       After the suspect was removed by the security bios Athalan said to Terkos.
       **Are you going to tell him the truth?**
       "You mean that he didn't murder anyone?"
       "Not until I have to. Let him stew awhile, it might loosen his tongue.

       Nardo left the Station hospital. Rafersan was not available until morning, at the earliest. Whom ever arranged this little show wasn't going to sit still for the night. This operation was a total blow-out. The only fact Nardo didn't have was a blow-out to who? He kept walking. That was the rub, no clear suspects and less motive. Even the assassin didn't know exactly who hired him.
       Nardo found himself in the Skyview before he realized where his feet had gone. He sat down and ordered scotch and dinner, in that order. He might as well eat. Somewhere during the steak that tried real hard to be real it hit him. Rafersan somehow was the key, and right now no one was guarding him. He wiped his mouth and tossed a tip on the table. He had places to be.

       Madam Pomadore dismissed Jasmine and went into the back area of the brothel. Slestlee was at his usual station, working on inventory.
       "What kind this time?"
       "The Constables caught your assassin."
       "They cannot get much from a corpse."
       The mantee stopped a moment. "Oh dear, that is serious. What about his target?"
       "He messed that up too. Cat-boy is alive if not well. You need a better class of assassin."
       "We are compromised."
       "Seriously compromised. We better shut down and clean up, thoroughly."
       Slestlee stood and moved to the coolers. "For once I cannot disagree with you. I also suggest a vacation for you and I."
       "How long is cleanup going to take?"
       "At least 24 hours if we do it right, and we cannot afford to do it anything but right."
       "I don't dare shut down either, we are doubtless being watched."
       "An astute observation. The sooner we start, the quicker we are out of here."

       Terkos paused as he entered the door to his home. The great room was before him, bedrooms to the right, services to the left. It sounded like Lethilan and Diana were out.
       He moved to the kitchen and began the ritual of making the meal. He would never be one of the select high artists that people paid to have cook for them, but there was pleasure and artistry in the preparation of even a simple man's meal. Terkos lost himself in the task.
       He carried the results to his favorite chair on a tray. The stormy season was in full swing. Clouds scuttled quickly across the expanse of sky. muting but never vanquishing the sun.
       Work cam back to him in a jolt with the first bite. He had left Rafersan unguarded. The subject of the day's concern, and the one cooperative lead they might have. Terkos placed his meal in the keeper, and called to the station to beam him up.

       Terkos quickly made his way to the hospital deck. He practically ran into Nardo in front of Rafersan's room.
       Nardo came up short. "So, was yous thinkin' the same thing I was thinkin'?"
       "Are you referring to the fact that Rafersan, our possible only lead was left unguarded?"
       "That was what I was thinkin'."
       Terkos motioned to the door, Nardo entered quietly, Terkos followed. Both were relieved to find the subject of their concern resting quietly as the burn units healed in their slow methodical manner.
       Terkos noted the isolation force field. "He cannot hear us." He pulled up one of the visitor's chairs and sat.
       Nardo did likewise. "So, is we both goings to sit here and guards him?"
       "I do not even know if he requires a guard."
       Yea, wes got a lot more 'don't knows' than 'knows' rights now."
       "Do you have a theory?"
       "I stands by want I has saids already. I think it was someones she knew, and knews well. But why steals her body, why trys and kill her brother? This don't adds up."
       No, it doesn't. We are missing two key pieces. Knowledge of one would give knowledge of the other."
       "So why don't yous elucidate?"
       Terkos shot Nardo an eyebrow, and continued. "We know where, we know when, we know how. We lack, why, and who."
       "Is Pepper an addict?"
       "No." Said Terkos, his frown deepened. "Both his testimony and his physical condition indicate that he takes nothing stronger than the occasion drinking spree, and sticks to alcohol."
       "So the madam is tough on outsides booze and drugs, but both these peoples is drugged to the gills with the sames drug, the sames illegal drug."
       "What if wheres they gots it was the house bar?"
       Terkos nodded and continued. "According to what you have said, the girl would not expect any kind of drug in her drinks, and has a good reason to 'drink hearty' since it would encourage consumption by the customer."
       "Than's one way of looking ats it."
       "And the customer being a frequent one, would likewise trust the establishment."
       "So fars, it makes sense. But we still ain't gots a shred of evidence, or a motives."
       "As I said, one would likely provide the other. Why would any businessman kill a good service provider and a frequent customer?"
       Nardo paused thoughtfully. "Remembers back whens I started the pawn shop tos front my loan sharkin' operation?"
       "Yes, the pawn shop is still successful, if the other operation was not."
       "It keeps me in scotch, well, what if sex ain't the joint's main business?"
       Terkos paused, nodded. "A front for a second operation of less legal nature. I shall have to resign as a Romulan."
       "Two questions, yous can do that? And, why?"
       "Because I didn't even consider that possibility, and it would be a very Romulan thing to do. Indeed, it would be very Romulan to cover yet a third business with the second."
       "Lets us not get toos carried away. These cats ain't no Romulans."
       "You are correct. One mystery at a time. The question remains; what business, if any, is being conducted under the assumed cover?"

       Madam Pomadore turned up her nose. "This is filthy disgusting work."
       Slestlee continued to haul "merchandise" out of the cooler. "If we do not do our 'filthy disgusting work' well we will likely die a filthy disgusting death."
       "That's the only reason I am even touching this, this, 'stuff' Slestlee." She stuffed more into the grinder.
       "Is madam ashamed of her line of business?"
       "Don't get snide with me you weasel."
       Slestlee gritted his teeth. "I really haven't had time to mention this, but your racial slurs are starting to get on my nerves."
       "MY racial slurs. When you talk to the customers like I was a some half wit pet?"
       "You're the one that insists on that fake French accent. It's so obvious you've acting and have never been within a parsec of France."
       "Me, acting? Your bow and scrap like some royal lackey act in front of those, awful smelling creatures..."
       Slestlee chopped harder. "Like that excuse of a nose could smell anything but money..."
       Pomadore kept grinding. "Money, I might remind you is want got you in this business. You're too squeamish to eat your own 'product'!"
       "I eat my meals in private, for your sake. You're the squeamish one. Killing is fine for profit, but you balk at it now."
       "Me? Balk? Your lousy assassin BOTCHED the damn job. That's what I'm squeamish about."
       "And I suppose your little murder scene was any better?"
       "Until you complicated it by stealing her body YES, it would have worked. That damn Romulan was half sold before he left the room!"
       "According to your assumptions on psychology. You assured me she would not get upset about our business."
       "I'm not the one that wanted to bring a damn Cait in on it. Talking about squeamish, they are the worst."
       "I DIDN'T WANT TO! We HAD to bring her in, she was getting suspicious."
       "Well..." Slestlee purred. "Why didn't you simply fire her?"
       Pomadore leapt to her feet, the grinder crashing to the floor. "BECAUSE YOU SAID SHE WAS TOO CLOSE TO THE TRUTH!!!" Pomadore dumped her last bowl of sludge into the waste disposal.
       Slestlee took a deep breath. "We are gaining nothing by sniping at each other. Done is done. We best finish, quickly, and get the hell out of here."
       Ms. Pomadore kept her opinion to herself and continued with her grinding and dumping.

       Morning saw Terkos running on discipline and rancor. He had sent Nardo home for some sleep about 0200. He himself remained in Rafersan's room.
       At 1000 the nurses were tending the wounded Cait. Doctor Miles walked in and looked the data over. She turned to Terkos.
       "He is up to a short interview. I do mean short."
       "I shall keep it short."
       Terkos moved to the bed side through the prickle of the isolation field. "Rafersan, can you hear me?"
       The Cait turned his head slowly. "Who are you? Where am I?"
       I am Terkos, station Constable, you are in medical, the burn ward. You where wounded in an assassination attempt."
       "Wounded? Why do you sound so, hollow."
       "It is the isolation field Rafersan. Do you know any reason why someone would want you dead?"
       "Dead, me, no. I don't think getting washed out from Starfleet is a reason to die." Rafersan shifted. "I can't move."
       "Lie still, you have medical machines attached to you. You are in serious condition."
       "Oh, wonderful."
       "Be thankful you are alive. It was a close thing."
       "How, long will I be here?"
       "Three days, rest now."
       Rafersan relaxed back onto the bed, clearly tired. Terkos terminated the interview before Doctor Miles got impatient.
       Doctor Miles was waiting when he was clear of the isolation field. "Learn what you wanted?"
       "No, he has no idea why someone would want him dead. I am placing a guard on him none the less. Someone wants him dead, whether he knows who or not."

       Nardo was relaxing at the station when Terkos returned. Nardo nodded at Terkos' office. "Parker is waiting for you."
       Terkos nodded as her entered the office. "Come on in."
       Nardo got up to follow him. As they entered Bill Parker rose to greet them."
       Parker said. "We have a major hit in the recycling system Boss."
       Terkos brought up the system on his monitor. "What and where."
       Parker pointed it out. "Subsector 8, what is liquefied human, and other species' remains."
       Nardo perked up. "That Rue de Verre place wouldn't happen to feeds into subsector 8 woulds it?"
       Terkos frowned as he brought the pertinent information up. "Yes it would. Terkos slapped the terminal off. Parker, get a raid team together. We have a business to 'inspect'."

       Madam Pomadore waited nervously while Slestlee presued the shipping schedule.
       "Why can't we just grab a ship and go?"
       "Please Madam, be less nervous. We must not only have transport we must have the right transport. An Andorian ship, for example, would turn right around and deliver us up if so asked. We need a carrier that is not Federation."
       "Well hurry it up already."
       "Please calm yourself." Slestlee nodded his head in the direction of an Ane idely watching a cargo ship unload. "They can smell fear as well as can I."
       "Then hurry up, I'll be a lot less fearful out of this system."
       "There, I have found a carrier, Choom's Fate, bound for Botchok."
       "Sounds Orion."
       "Yes that would be a good thing."
       "What is good about Orions?"
       "An Orion will not throw over an established business deal for a newer one. Once ensconced on an Orion ship we are under the protection of the house."
       "Good then let's get the hell out."

       The Constables burst into the Rue de Verre in force, shields up and phasers drawn. There was no resistance other than a few shrieks of fear.
       Terkos buttonholed one of the girls. "Where is Madam Pomadore?"
       "I don't know, she said she had some business dirtside."
       Parker called from the back. "Boss, you want to see this."
       Terkos follwed him into the rear areas of the establishment. Parker handed over his tricorder. Terkos read it, blinked, read it again and passed it around the room.
       "Positive, DNA is all over the place. Supposedly Ms. Pomadore went dirtside."
       Parker said. "Yea, but I'll bet you it wasn't local dirtside."
       "Good point." Terkos tapped his commbadge.
       "High Crystal Control."
       "Diana, Terkos. We have a wanted for Madam Pomadore, murder, appearance on file. I would like a six hour lockdown."
       "Lockdown granted Constable Terkos. You have six hours on the clock."
       "Parker, secure the premises and everyone on it for questioning. Sal, Nardo, you're with me. Perhaps the foxes have not quite fled the den."

       Madam Pomadore tried not to fidget as Slestlee cut a deal with the Supercargo of the Choom's Fate.
       "Passage to Botchok is certainly possible my good being, the matter is price."
       "Price as long as it is reasonable is most agreeable. One gets what one pays for."
       "Indeed then you will agree that our prices is most worth the coin."
       Amber lights started to flash up and down the circumference of the dock.
       Pomadore asked. "What's with the lights?"
       The Orion turned to her. "No matter, it means no ships can leave the dock."
       Slestlee twitched. "No ships can leave?"
       The Orion waved off his concern. "It is frequent and for many reasons. A ship passing nearby, another ship docking, many reasons."
       Pomadore said "How long does it last?"
       "If it is for more than a few minutes we will hear a message."
       On cue the comm pinged three times and spoke. "Attention, attention. The station is under a six hour security lockdown."
       The Orion shook his head. "Six hours, my schedule will be interfered with. So little time however can be made up. Ane are at least civilized about that."
       Several beings came to the Orion ship and after checking ID were allowed on board. The Purser was pointing out the lights and explaining that they would be delayed a few hours.
       Pomadore dragged Slestlee aside. "What if that security lockdown is us?"
       "It couldn't be, how would they even know to look for us?"
       "Well they are not going to announce it over the comm. Can we take that chance?"
       "What do you suggest we do, beam to the surface?"
       "Pointless, lockdowns affect the transporters too."
       "What about our Orion friend?"
       "I wouldn't go so far as to call him friend."
       "Acquaintances, whatever must Humans be so picky?"
       "Don't even start now. What did you have in mind?"
       "We get passage and use their transporter."
       "Do it."
       Slestlee went back to the waiting Orion. "I agree to your terms, we will take passage with you."
       "Excellent, I suggest you pick up your luggage and come aboard. This security matter is of limited duration."
       The two grabbed their bags and followed the underpurser indicated. He quickly got them settled into their cabins.
       Pomadore looked things over. "Not exactly luxury accommodations."
       "Third class was all he had left."
       "Am I stuck with your for the voyage?"
       "Stuck? I am wounded."
       "Save it for your next career. You stink."
       "I stink, you have never had the advantage of your particular odor from my point of view."
       "Fine. We BOTH stink, and you snore. Are we stuck in the same cabin with each other's stink?"
       Slestlee slumped. "Yes, I said the space was limited."
       Pomadore ran a finger over a shelf in the tribay. "No doubt a princely fare for a pauperly cabin."
       "We were under the gun. Consider yourself lucky to be on a ship."
       "So, are we going to use the transporters, or stick with the ship?"
       "Well asking to leave right after we got on?"
       "Why would we ask?"
       "Unless you have developed the skill of transporter operation, we are out of luck about stealing the use of one."
       "You press the key combo you want and zot, you're there."
       "Ship transporters are much more flexible, and as a result, more difficult to operate. Even I know that."
       "It was your suggestion to use the transporter. So mister con artist, are we better off sticking with the ship, or you conning our way off?"
       "We stick with the ship. I know my limits."
       The door chime sounded. "Purser."
       Slestlee being closer answered it. "Yes..."
       The phaser beam caught him square in the belly. Ms. Pomadore got out one scream before she to crumpled to the deck.

       The view slowly swam back into focus. Both were present, and in the rather secure grip of security bios. Terkos slowly paced in front of the pair waiting for them to regain their senses.
       Terkos spoke. "Back with us I see. Emma Pomadore and Slestlee of PacKeet you are under arrest for the murder of Mumccu of Kaleeth Clan, conspiracy to murder Rafersan of Kaleeth clan, conspiracy with the Qzin, and countless murders of transients and the selling of their meat. You will have your day in court. Me, I want to know why?"
       Slestlee tried to rub the back of his neck, but the bios wouldn't let him. "What is it to you Romulan?"
       "You say that like it was a bad thing. Romulans, for all our war-like ways, do not eat other sophant creatures. Or worse, be the butcher for those that do."
       "You have no proof we have."
       "I have plenty of proof. The disposal chute from your butcher shop is painted with the gore of the bodies you ground up and threw away, including Mumccu." Terkos tuned on Pomadore. "'Loved her like a daughter' you did. I thank my ancestors I am not your child."
       Slestlee said. "How do you know about the Qzin?"
       Terkos answered. "Security photo. Our station medical director knows the difference between a Cait and Qzin."
       "But you've no proof."
       "It will be seen at your trial."
       Ms. Pomadore said. "What about my girls?"
       "Those in on the murders will face the same charges, and suffer the same fate."
       Slestlee said. "And may we know about that fate?"
       "If convicted, a near certainty I feel, you will suffer anonymous death. That is the law here."
       "I have certain information that will die with me then."
       "You are free to speak with the Ane on that matter. That is outside my control."
       Pomadore turned ot Slestlee. "What about your 'Orion business ethics'?"
       Terkos cocked an eyebrow. "Orion business ethics?"
       "Furball over there told me that Orions will not wreck a deal made for a deal they might get."
       Terkos nodded. "Essentially correct. Orions, in spite of a reputation for being bottom line only types do have a higher honor."
       "So what happened to that honor?"
       "It is intact. It did not occur to you at the time that the Captain's relationship with the Ane and this station would be a prior business arrangement, a very valuable one? Shortly after you boarded his ship Captain Mochock called the security station and asked who we where looking for. Given Ms. Pomadore's description, he agreed to turn you over, 'for Friendship's sake'."
       Slestlee looked pole axed. "Oh."
       Terkos said. "Enough, take them to their cells."

       Nardo was waiting in Terkos' office when her returned from the trial.
       "Short trip boss."
       "Yes, no trial was necessary."
       "So want's the scoop?"
       "In exchange for guilty pleas from all parties and the full disclosure of the Qzin meat ring, they will be remanded to Federation justice."
       "The Ane feeling generous or somethings today? That ain't usual."
       "No, it isn't, but I understand the Ane want the Qzin, the direct consumers, worse than they want this lot dead. They will spend the rest of their natural lives in the Box. That is bad enough for any being."
       "So we gets back to normal now?"
       Terkos smiled. "Yes, as nor..."
       Parker burst in. "We have a fight at Neptune's Daughter."
       Nardo said as both rose to leave. "Yea Boss, business as usual."


Murder in the Rue de Verre -- Garry Stahl, December 2002


       The Rue de Verre, or "Street of Glass" in French. The origin of this tale or at least it's title has nothing to do with Star Trek and everything to do with Cinderella.
       Most are familiar with the tale and the glass slipper that plays so pivotal a role therein. Well in the original Russian version the slipper was fur, which admittedly sounds a lot more comfortable. The change came from a translation from the French in which an older French word for "fur" was used. It was mistranslated as "glass".
       Mulling this little tidbit got me
Rue de Verre. Thinking of my Trek stories got me the concept of a cross-species brothel that specialized in furry girls. Since this had to be planet side or on a station I placed it in High Crystal Station. Since it was there, a Terkos story was indicated. And what better for the Romulan sleuth than a murder. The rest the Qizn and the meat ring followed.
       For those that have wondered where writers get there ideas... Well as Bismarck said. "Those that love the law and sausages should not look into the making of either."

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The Above is a work of fiction. All characters are fictional, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.

       Copyright Garry Stahl: October 2002. All rights reserved, re-print only with permission.

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