Intruders Chapter 11 scene 1
When Darrow returned to the Kestrel, Commander Blackwell reported he had checked the video record from the stores door. He was able to confirm that a figure did indeed show up under infrared light. Darrow drew in a breath, to control his thumping heart, this was good news, very good news. Proof at last! The Intruders he had speculated about were now on record. At that moment a call came through from Holland.
‘Captain, there’s been a death.’
‘Yes, I heard one of the trapped miners died.’
‘No, sir. The stores have been raided again, and the watchman, Pavel Patla, has been found dead.’ Holland was interrupted. ‘Oh! Yes, Mr Jones. I’m sorry sir, I’m not allowed to say any more. Mr Jones wants to see you immediately.’
‘I’m on my way.’
Darrow headed to Jones’s office, his emotions conflicted. It was strange, to be glad about someone’s death. Darrow told himself he wasn’t glad the man had died, just excited about having real evidence. It was particularly exhilarating to know that he was on the spot during the incident - the trail couldn’t get much hotter than it was right now.
Outside Jones’s office, Holland attracted his attention from around a corner.
‘Captain, I’m not supposed to talk to you, but I wanted to warn you. Because everyone from the base rushed to the mine when they heard the trapped men had been reached, they’re all accounted for. Our crew are also accounted for. You are the only one missing at the time Patla died. Jones is very angry.’
‘Thank you, Commander.’ Darrow thought fast. ‘Take an electron scan of the stores door and get a copy of the stores video record. Get them to Commander Blackwell, he’ll know what to do.’
For a moment, he was more concerned about the evidence he was seeking for his own investigation, than the current situation. Of course the evidence could help solve both enquiries. Holland’s look of surprise brought Darrow back to the present.
‘Just get that evidence. It may be exactly what I need.’
When Darrow knocked, Jones hustled him inside, locked the door, and sat in front of it.
‘No more mysteries, Captain. I want answers, and you’re not leaving until I get some.’
Darrow took a chair away from the door and sat down. He leaned back and breathed deeply, trying to look calm and unthreatening.
‘You know where I was Mr Jones, I was out at the old opencast mine workings, looking into the thefts of quartz you reported.’
‘Waste of time,’ Jones scoffed, 'and you could have been anywhere.'
'I wasn't alone and I wouldn’t say it was a waste of time,’ said Darrow. ‘I didn’t find anything to help my investigation, but I did find evidence of smuggling, and a smuggler.’
‘Someone is smuggling micro crystals. I’ve got some of their equipment, in case they try to clear it out.’ He rushed on, before Jones had time to take it in. ‘That’s not the important issue right now. What happened to Pavel Patla?’
‘He was found dead by the open stores door, and there’s more quartz missing! How am I supposed to explain that to the mining company?’
‘Where is the body now?’
‘In sick bay. Dr Thomas has finished with Elwyn and your doctor and is doing a post mortem now.’
‘Would you mind asking him to check the enzymes in the body? Advise if there are any he hasn’t encountered before.’
‘Just ask him, please, then I’ll explain.’
Jones went to the comm unit and called Dr Thomas.
‘Hello Wil, you must be calling about Huw. I can patch him up, but I recommend leave. It’s going to take a while to heal the psychological trauma.’
‘Thanks Simon, that’s good to know. We’ll use the accident fund to send him home. Now then, I’ve got the Kestrel’s captain here, and he has a strange request for you. When you do the post mortem on Pavel, will you check for all enzymes? Known and unknown.’
‘What do you mean, unknown?’
Jones looked quizzically at Darrow.
‘Something that’s not on record, Doctor,’ Darrow said, loud enough to carry. ‘I’ll have details sent to you when I can get back to my ship. But trust me, the tests are vital.’
‘Very well. I’ll let you know.’
Jones sat behind his desk, Darrow leaned forward.
‘Do you know the funny thing about all this? The things that looked significant, turned out to be irrelevant, and the things that looked irrelevant, turned out to be significant.’
‘I wouldn’t call Pavel’s death irrelevant,’ Jones bristled.
Darrow raised a hand. ‘Sorry, that’s not what I meant. We came here looking for sabotage and found an accident. I discovered smuggling, but it’s got little to do with the theft of the quartz. But Kozlik’s ghost, who everyone laughed at, may turn out to be very significant indeed.’
[Next week: Darrow resolves things with Jones]
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