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Evan Delano - Investigation

Rahman and Rivi Vataix

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(( The Shadows. Seheik Settlement Starport. ))


:: A hot wind from the west blew over the plains on the outskirts of the settlement, causing the  tall, brown grass to wave over the horizon. A century ago, a Vulcan poet had dubbed the eastern grasslands the Amber Sea. And, standing from a third-story landing platform, Evan found himself making the same comparison while he collected his thoughts. The vista was a valuable reminder of how beautiful this place could be. ::


:: With that thought in mind, he turned back towards the bodies and debris. The stench of burned electronics and flesh threatened to turn his stomach, but he forced control. ::


Delano: The security footage?  


:: The settlement’s port administrator - a middle-aged Romulan woman named Koleen - had been staring at the wreckage since she’d called for his attention a few seconds earlier. The woman looked suitably flustered by the accident, and even as she processed his verbal cue, she had difficulty looking away from the carnage. ::


Koleen: I’ve got it here, Sir.


:: Delano pressed his lips together at the honorific. Seheik’s law enforcement was comprised almost entirely of civilian volunteers. Evan was an exception to that, if only because of his background. The elders had been concerned about some of the newest additions to the settlement and had authorized the sheriff to deputize some of the experienced volunteers. And that was why Evan was here. He was the only deputy with significant experience with explosives. ::


:: Despite the title, however, Evan disliked the idea of people calling him sir. It reminded him of the life he'd left behind. Still, she woman had served on a Romulan warship until just a few years earlier. Evan knew better than most how difficult some habits were to break. ::


Delano: Thanks.


:: He took the offered memory chip and plugged it into his scanning device. The device was larger than a modern tricorder, and wasn’t nearly as sophisticated, but it did it’s job well enough. This deep into the Shadows, he wasn’t about to complain. ::


:: He tapped a few commands into the device, then used the small display to view the moments leading up to the explosion. ::


:: He counted four men loading a medium sized cargo freighter pushing an anti-grav unit containing a magazine of photon torpedoes. KDF configuration by the look of them, though Evan wouldn’t know for certain until he did a more thorough analysis of the wreckage. ::


:: The footage continued, and Evan watched as the men parked the anti-grav unit on the ship’s cargo lift. One of the men tapped the controls to raise the platform to the ship’s cargo bay. Fifteen seconds later, the ship’s hull was blown open by an internal explosion. ::


:: Though he’d take another look with a more sophisticated display, Evan saw nothing more than he’d expected to. The easiest explanation of the accident: A group of “scavengers” had acquired weapons and arranged to transfer them to another ship before returning to Shadow’s Edge - such activity was common here, and the elders allowed it in exchange for their discretion and occasional smuggling of passengers in and out of the settlement. The weapons had been unstable, or perhaps sabotaged, and now four men were dead. ::


:: An unfortunate accident, perhaps, but nothing requiring a more in depth investigation. And yet, Evan couldn’t shake the sense that he was missing something. ::


Koleen: I suppose we’re lucky none of our people were up here.


:: Evan offered a polite nod as he reviewed the readouts from his scanner again. ::


Delano: It might have been easier if they were.


Koleen: What makes you say that?


Delano: The agreement we have with the pirate factions. Seheik is supposed to be neutral territory for them. The fact that none of our people were here could be seen as evidence that no longer applies.


:: The already pale woman blanched. ::


Koleen: I see.


:: Evan nodded his agreement, hearing the depth of understanding in her voice. Seheik was self-sufficient, and could survive without the pirates. But only just. In the best case scenario, there would still be some shortages. And given the rising tensions between the elders and some of the younger Reya-Laialara, that could mean trouble. That rosy scenario assumed the pirates didn’t try to retaliate. ::


:: He continued the conversation while keeping most of his attention focused on the readouts from his scanning device. ::


Delano: Don’t worry, it probably won’t come to that. I just need to rule out the possibility of some kind of attack.


:: Evan was pacing slowly around a piece of debris he’d managed to identify as one of the ship’s cargo transporters. ::


Koleen: I’ve been running this facility for two years now. We’ve never had an accident of this magnitude. How can you be sure it isn’t some kind of attack?


:: He frowned as he recognized a familiar energy signature in what was left of the transporter’s pattern buffer. ::


Delano: Do you know why they didn’t use this to bring their cargo on board?


:: Koleen stepped closer as Evan crouched down. ::  


Koleen: I assumed it had something to do with the warheads. Maybe they knew there was something wrong with them.


Delano: Maybe. Antimatter warheads can be dangerous to transport under some conditions. :: Break :: Koleen, can you remind me of the frequency the starport transporters use? I need to filter out some background readings.


:: She was absently staring at one of the nearby bodies. The fire suppression system had reacted quickly, but the man’s remains had been mutilated and badly charred in the explosion. ::


Koleen: 152.1


:: Evan examined the Romulan again, his eyes narrowed slightly. ::


Delano: You’re certain none of your staff helped in loading the cargo?


:: She looked up, expression concerned. ::


Koleen: My “staff,” as you call it, is three people, including myself. We were all together when the explosion occurred. That isn't uncommon. Most of our clients prefer to handle their own cargo.


Delano: Can you confirm their whereabouts? Security footage? Computer records?


Koleen: I… yes, probably. Why? What have you found?


:: Evan shook his head. ::


Delano: I’m not sure yet.


:: There was a long pause as the wind blew around them and Evan continued his scans. That last had been a partial truth. He wasn’t certain of the exact context, but what was clear is that someone had used a Reya-Laialara transporter - likely one of the starport’s - to beam something on or off the pirate’s ship moments before the explosion. ::


:: He spent another hour collecting as much data as possible before finally allowing the bodies to be transported to the local medical clinic and the debris into an empty (and secure) warehouse nearby. ::


:: After reporting the situation to the Sheriff, who would in turn speak to the Elders, Evan spent the rest of the day back in his apartment, pouring over the data. It was early morning by the time his analysis was over, and Evan's eyelids felt heavy. Despite this, Evan knew he wouldn't be able to sleep that night. ::


:: The Reya-Laialara was an inherently peaceful group. They had no ships of their own, and few weapons beyond civilian grade sidearms like the one he wore when he was on duty. There just wasn’t any need for them. ::


:: And that’s what made his findings so disturbing. Why - in a settlement almost entirely populated by pacifistic refugees - would anyone steal a shipment of photon torpedoes? ::




Evan Delano

Deputy Sheriff


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