((Ketar V - Shipyards))
::The sprawling surface shipyards that made up the industrial core of Ketar V were, like most things on the world, well past their glory days. The long, slow slide into disrepair had begun at the turn of the 24th century, when navigators and cartographers had discovered a faster means through the Shoals that bypassed the once central world. As trade and investment shifted to Meridian, life on Ketar V began to take on a more desperate tone - one that longed for a return to good days now slipping further and further away. As the population plateaued and the workforce stagnated, the colonial council got increasingly desperate to attract new settlers and began easing immigration standards to what some felt was a dangerously lax degree. The dispossessed, alienated and hopeless castoffs from a dozen worlds slowly found their way to Ketar V and established their own enclaves, largely isolated from the main population. After years of the well intentioned but poorly thought out policies, Ketar V had gone from the shining jewel of the Shoals to a blemished hodgepodge of transients and drifters from around the quadrant. Unofficially, the current immigration slogan, muttered over cheap drinks in filthy bars, was ‘When you’ve been kicked out of everywhere decent, give Ketar V a try.’::
::The yards still produced most of the ships used within the Shoals, so anyone willing to do difficult, dangerous work for long hours and low pay could find themselves jobs that would support their bar tabs. Their greatest strength was that they didn’t ask many questions. The yards employed thousands of anonymous laborers, from welders and machinists to crane operators and cargo haulers. ID’s were rarely required and even more seldom inspected and, so long as you showed up approximately on time and weren’t obviously drunk, you could eek out a meager living.::
::For some though, that wasn’t enough.::
((Outside The Explosive Decompression Bar, Ketar V))
::Staggering into the alley adjacent to the bar, R’oan leaned heavily against the wall and relieved himself on the accumulated trash and detritus that seemed to be everywhere these days. As he voided himself of the evenings ales, he started drunkenly talking to himself::
R’oan:: What I Sssshould’ve said….*hiccup*....what I should’ve said...told that foreman...shove it up….*hiccup*...not working another triple shift…
::R’oan was distracted from his diatribe when he realized he wasn’t alone in the alley, and clumsily attempted to regain his composure. Slightly obscured by the junk, R’oan could make out a shoulder and the side of a head, facing away from him, leaning with their back propped against a waste container::
R’oan:: *hiccup*....sss...soosorry…*hiccup*...didn’t know this one was occupied...
::R’oan laughed loudly at his own attempted humor, but the figure didn’t move and offered no reply. Some animal part of R’oan’s mind began sounding alarm bells::
R’oan: Hey...HEY! Didn’tsa hear me….*hiccup*...buddy?
::R’oan zipped up his pants and staggered over to the figure, slapping him heavily on the shoulder.::
R’oan: S’not….not a good…*hiccup*...sleeping spot…
::Whatever else R’oan would’ve said came to an abrupt halt as he got his first good view of the man. He tried to turn away but only made it a few steps before stumbling to his knees and emptying his stomach on the ground.::
::The body propped against the dumpster hadn’t been there long, but insects and vermin were already attracted to the large pool of blood that had leaked out of the numerous stab wounds across its chest and stomach. The torn, soaked clothing was missing its distinctive comm badge insignia, but R’oan recognized the Starfleet uniform the dead man was wearing easily enough. Pulling himself to his feet, he began running back towards the bar, not sure what to do.::
::He had never seen a murder victim before.::
((Shuttleport - Ketar V))
::Henning stepped out of the shuttle and looked around for a moment. Ketar V had the aging industrial feel one would expect from the oldest colony in the coalition. Still that was a good thing to Henning in a way, it meant that there was hardly any crime so something that needed an outside marshal was going to be interesting. The fact it was a murder had Henning even more interested.::
::Deputy Marshall Calbert of the Colonial Marshalls was pacing near the landing pad as the shuttle came down. Since receiving the call and locking off the scene this morning, he’d fallen back on procedure where he could because, like most in the Marshalls, he had no experience with this type of investigation. On some level, the prospect of working a major crime was exciting and even fascinating in a macabre way. Investigating a murder, an almost unheard of transgression even on the fringes of Federation society, was normally the stuff of holodramas and historical entertainments. To be involved in one himself was nearly unthinkable, and some men might take it as a chance to further their careers, or build a reputation as an investigator. But those men hadn’t seen the crime scene. They hadn’t seen the frozen rictus of pain on the victims face. They hadn’t looked into a dead man's vacant eyes. They hadn’t had the stench of blood in their nose for hours after leaving the alley. They hadn’t seen the wounds.::
::When he had composed himself adequately, Deputy Calbert reached out to the one man in the service he knew that might be equipped to deal with something of this magnitude. Now, as the shuttle arrived, he gripped the crime scene report with sweaty hands and felt his mouth going dry as Marshall Henning Hext stepped down the ramp. Hext caught sight of his uniform and walked to him briskly, wasting no time.::
Calbert: Marshall Hext! Thanks for coming so quickly. I’m Deputy Lucius Calbert.
Hext: Ah yes, how are you today?
Calbert: oO Sick to my stomach? Worried I won’t sleep this week? A little scared? Oo
Calbert: Fine, sir, considering.
Hext: So what did you call me in for? ::shouldering his pack::
Calbert: Well Marshall, nobody on our team has ever lead a murder investigation and we wanted to do it by the book. I’ve got the crime scene cordoned off and a forensics team is going over it now. The body is in stasis at the hospital morgue.
Hext: Alright. Lead the way.
Calbert: My flyers waiting just over there.
::Henning followed the local marshal into the vehicle and they made the short trip to the medical complex in relative silence.::
::As the landed at the hospital complex, Calberts communicator squawked and he listened to the call over his headset. The forensics team had completed their first sweep and were compiling their report, but they called over a few highlights, and they were enough to make Calbert pause.::
Calbert: Sir, do the initials R.L. mean anything to you?
Hext: ::Thinking for a moment.:: Out in the Shadows there is a group called Reya-Laialara...but they are not only very close knit they don’t come out much either. ::looking to his side at the deputy.:: Why?
Calbert: Forensics found them written on the ground next to the victim. In his blood. It looks like it may have been the last thing he did.
Hext: I see...have central check the records of folks leaving the planet since the time of death.
Calbert: I’ll have them look into it. Morgue is down this way.
::Calbert nodded towards a waiting service lift and both men headed down. After a short and uncomfortably quiet trip, the doors of the lift opened to a seldom used hallway. To Calbert, the lights were just the wrong hue and the antiseptic smell somehow evoked his sense memory of the blood at the crime scene. As they walked into the morgue itself, a member of the medical staff checked their ID’s before allowing them in, then closed the door behind them.::
::Calbert took a deep breath, then used his ID code to key open the stasis drawer. On smooth mechanical rails, the drawer slid open quietly and presented the naked body. The wounds and tissue damage were extensive and the body, in repose, looked even more...disturbingly unnatural. Thankfully, someone had the decency to close the bodies eyes since Calbert had seen it last.::
Hext: ::looking over the body:: What do we know about him?
Calbert: I’ve got his details here, we got an ID on him from the fleet registry.
Hext: oO Fleet registry? Damn that means… Oo
Calbert: Lieutenant Commander Armin Illanos. Thirty Seven, unmarried. Clean service record. No priors. Had been stationed as a Starfleet Liaison at the dockyards for the last seventeen months. Lived alone. Next of kin is listed as a sister currently living in the Mariner Valley on Mars, Sol System. We’re trying to get in touch with her, but you know how communications are out here.
Hext: Not a typical problem for us but it is at the moment. So what are you thinking with this? ::finally looking up and returning to his full height.::
Calbert: Honestly Marshall, I don’t know what to think. Basic timeline we’ve established has got the vic working his normal hours yesterday, then leaving the Starfleet offices sometime between 17:30 and 18:00. Initial assessment puts time of death at around 0200 this morning.
Hext: And the weapon?
Calbert: He was attacked at close range with an edged weapon of some type, we’re looking into that now. Whoever did it was stronger than your average humanoid - penetration shows multiple organ punctures and some chipped bones. Would’ve been almost impossible for a human to put that much force into a single blow.
Hext: Several wounds as well. Could tell us about the motive. Did he have anything on his person?
Calbert: We can’t locate his comm badge. Whoever took it either destroyed it, or ditched it somewhere clever. We’re still looking.
Hext: Alright, a good thing then. We might be able to get things on the location if we get some help. So what is the next step you want to head toward.
Calbert: Well, sir, honestly, that’s why I called you. We’re not really sure what to do next. His commanding officer is demanding immediate action and threatening to bring Starfleet Security in.
Hext: A murdered Starfleet officer. ::rubbing the bridge of his nose.:: Right let me at your office, I have a call to make for some help we will need. In the meantime, see if you can get that information on the ships that have left the planet since time of death. Also see what you can find out, if anything about Reya-Laialara being here..just in case..
Calbert: No problem sir. It looks like he won’t be boldly going anywhere.
Inspector Marshall Henning Hext
As written by:
Deputy Marshall Lucius Calbert
Colonial Coalition Marshals Service, Ketar V Station
As written by: