This week, Captain Darrow reviews his collection of mysteries. To read from the beginning, go here. I picture Darrow like actor Michael Sheen.
Intruders, chapter 3 scene 2
With preparations for emergency aid underway, Darrow turned again to the mystery. The details were sparse: The miners had reported two incidents of quartz missing from the stores. The inventory was correct one day and out the next, with no sign of tampering. Everyone was denying responsibility, the base had been searched and the men were angry. They had put a guard on the stores who had foiled a third attempt, but there was no sign of the culprit. The guard said the electronically-locked door opened on its own. He claimed he saw a shimmering figure in the dim light, which disappeared when he shone a torch in its direction. The mining company didn’t believe a word. Quartz does not disappear on its own.
Actually, Darrow was inclined to believe the miners, because he had heard of such things before. Among his collection of mysteries he had spotted a pattern. Raw materials were disappearing all over the galaxy, but because it never happened in the same place twice, no one else seemed to have made the link. In some instances the thefts were associated with an equally mysterious death - and the cause of death could not be determined.
Darrow had contacts on many planets and had asked them to investigate the incidents. He was convinced the incidents were linked, and his contacts were starting to agree with him. He thought the galaxy was being raided by an unknown race invisible in normal spectrum light. He thought of them as “Intruders”. But when he submitted a report to his superiors, they were not convinced. Procedure was procedure, but he was being knocked back by his superiors, and however much it grated with him, he had to follow this through.
He contacted his Kohathi friend Calneh from planet Dedan with this latest piece of news. The Kohathi looked like old human men, but lived much longer than humans. On screen, Calneh’s bewhiskered Kohathi face was beaming.
‘Joseph my friend, good to hear from you.' Calneh's soft voice rose in pitch. 'I have some news!’
‘So do I,’ said Darrow, ‘that’s why I called. How are you?’
‘All is well here. You must tell me your news first. Has there been another incident?’
‘Yes, and more than one. They've tried to steal razor quartz crystals from a mine on three separate occasions.’ He couldn’t keep the excitement from his voice. 'And I get to investigate myself this time.’
Calneh smiled, then became serious. 'They must want those crystals badly. I fear this is an escalation of their campaign. Be careful Joseph.’
Darrow nodded and changed the subject. 'What was your news?'
‘There has been another incident here too. Well, not here, on Kohath. The search engine picked it up. There was a death, and maybe because it was someone known to him, the pathologist was more diligent in determining the cause of death. He still does not have a cause, but an unknown enzyme was found in the body.’
Darrow became even more excited. ‘That’s great news! I’m going to be tied up with this mission for a few days, so can you circulate it to the others and ask them to recheck the post mortems?’
‘Certainly. Maybe your “Intruders” have finally left a clue.'
‘Yes. Maybe these two things will be the proof we need of the “Intruders'” existence and the threat they pose. You chase up the enzyme and I’ll be in touch when I finish my investigations.’
‘Farewell my friend.’
Darrow sat back with a smile on his face. Maybe this was the breakthrough he had been hoping for.
[Next week: First Officer Mike Holland discusses the crew deployment]
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