((Lab, FedSec HQ))
The lab instruments beeped and Meru returned to her testing. The blood toxicology screen hadn't shown them anything useful, standard markers for hyperkalemia but nothing new. The chromatograph, on the other hand…. She ran the unexpected compound it came up with through Fed Sec's database of plants on the colony, looking for matches.
Tahna: I've got it! It's a fungus, a mushroom, it was probably hidden as a powder or something in his food so he wouldn't notice it. The Gorak mushroom, have you heard of it, Agent? It's got enough potassium to make a human sick, though it probably wouldn't be enough to kill them.
Lynas: Gorak? It was an invasive species that was believed to be eradicated about twenty years ago.
Stoyer: I am guessing it would not have been hard to keep some of them.
Neathler: Or maybe someone kept them alive, grew them somewhere.
Lynas: Ensign Tahna, does the field guide volume from Bisul's library mention anything else about the Gorak mushroom? Properties, uses?
Meru leafed through the index, looking for any information on Gorak. She found the entry and scanned it to translate, grateful that the tricorder's translation feature was able to handle printed Pelian at least. It was disappointingly short.
Tahna: It just says it was highly deadly and eradicated.
Lynas: ::nodding his head:: I seem to remember there being some dissent when the eradication effort was going on. Some did not agree with it but I cannot remember why.
Stoyer: So it is likely that the mushroom has been kept for reasons.
Lynas: If someone were cultivating this species in secret, they might have hoped to use it as an unlikely poison that could defy detection. What if the recipe was part of a warning to Bisul not to ingest any baked goods for fear the Gorak poison could be introduced with that vector?
Stoyer: That is a possibility.
Tahna: That's oddly specific.
Why would someone suspect baked goods instead of, say, tea? Or soup? Unless they had inside information on the attempt. And did that mean that the list spelling out "Sylan" was just a coincidence?
Neathler: Shouldn’t there be news articles around that could shed a light on who was against the destruction of the mushrooms?
Stoyer: Agent Lynas, what much dissent was there during the eradication process?
Lynas: I remember it was a minority of people. But they were a vocal minority and raised quite the protest.
Agent Lynas walked over to a wall panel and searched through articles in Pelian.
Lynas: The Gorak indeed has medicinal properties for some species. Specifically Vulcanoids - Vulcans, Rigellians, ::pausing significantly:: Romulans.
Stoyer: Could this be a motive for the murder?
Neathler: That happened twenty years ago. That’s a long time to hold a grudge against someone. And I doubt Bisul was as high placed person back then as he was now.
Lynas: No, he would have been a lowly Melden back then. The largest organized protest group was called the Pelian Way. They believed the greater good would be served by preserving the natural Darime ecosystem. Many offworlders backed the movement.
Meru made a note in her PADD to look into the Pelian Way, anyone who led or was too involved in the movement that might be able to cultivate Gorak. Probably an off-worlder, or a very brave Pelian. But finding the source of their weapon didn't necessarily mean finding Sylan.
Neathler: Agent Lynas, any idea where your wife and Bisul, regularly met each other?
Lynas: They enjoyed shopping at bookstores throughout the city and often stopped for lunch at a nearby diner, The Burrow. It ... ::awkward pause:: ... It was where I first discovered them together. ::pause:: But that is in the past now. Do you think someone might have seen Sylan recently?
Tahna: Someone there might have some information on her disappearance. We won't know until we ask.
Neathler: It’s in the details but Agent Lynas is correct. The notes are written by two different people. ::She paused briefly.:: So what was written by Bisul and what not?
Tahna: We need a sample that's known to be written by him to be sure.
Maybe one of his attendants would have something like that. Notes on a religious text or something.
Neathler: Cory, find the closest location of the meeting places Lynas mentioned. ::She gave a brief nod towards Lynas.:: Our priority is finding Synal. ::She stood up and looked at Meru.:: Do you still need anything from these labs?
Lynas: ::quietly, with a touch of annoyance:: Sylan. Her name is Sylan.
Lynas: Certainly. One last thing I should mention that has become relevant. Bisul's attendant mentioned in his interview that His Eminence was set to announce an understanding with our Romulan brethren.
Tahna: What sort of understanding?
Lynas: Apparently some of the Romulan colonists expressed an interest in converting to the Pelian faith. It would be a controversial step.
That was certainly unexpected news. Perhaps someone was upset about the intended conversions, and the attack on Bisul was meant to send a message to the Romulan converters and their Pelian supporters.
Tahna: What do you mean controversial? Were Pelians opposed to it, or Romulans? Both?
Meru added this information to the already long list of clues in her PADD -- and made sure everything was secure. If it were to fall into the wrong hands, if something happened to her or it even just got hacked, they didn't need to know how far they'd gotten in their investigation and hop off planet at the first opportunity.
Tahna: Could we have some of the more prominent people opposed to Romulan conversion brought in for questioning while we look into any sightings of Sylan?
Meru packed up her samples and stowed them securely in the labs in case they were needed later for any reason.
Tahna: We should also get information any prominent figures in the Pelian Way. Who's still around, who might have the resources to cultivate Gorak.
Ensign Tahna Meru
USS Gorkon (NCC-82293)