Positively fuming, I did something that I thought I’d never do. It was something that was so unlike me but felt so right in the moment. I slapped Rob Martin directly on the right side of his face… hard.
He rubbed his cheek, and started saying “OK, I deserved…”
I fumed at him. “You deserved way more than that. My mother was murdered, and I’m only hearing about it now?!”
He hung his head. “I’m sorry…”
Still fuming, and before he could say anything else, I continued. “And, what was with that “Through the Looking Glass” jäte? Is this a joke to you?!”
He shook his head, which was bowed down about as far as a neck can go. “I’m sorry about that. I was hoping to lighten the mood when you saw the illegal business here, but I know I blew it. I’m really sorry.”
I just glared at him, and he continued while we walked towards the end of Splicer Town. “There’s someone I want you to meet. She’s the one that brought me up to speed on these things. I didn’t know about your mother’s murder until I was told two days ago.
I stared at him incredulously. “You don’t expect me to believe that.”
He took a deep breath. “I know it’s hard to believe after learning all of this… mulgeon so suddenly. But I swear it’s true. I knew about Splicer Town while I was captain of this ship, and I apologize profusely for not telling you about it sooner. But I believed your mother died from a brain embolism, just like everybody else.”
We stopped in front of a small, unmarked building. “We’re here. I know it doesn’t look like much, but the woman inside is a genius at detective work. She’s a modern-day Hercule Poirot, Adrian Monk, or Jessica Fletcher”.
Not knowing much about mystery fiction written on Earth, I just assumed the people he named were famous detectives, kept my mouth shut, and walked through the small door into the door of the woman that was apparently the Epoch’s greatest detective. Well, at least that’s how Rob sold her to me. I hope she lives up to the hype.
The office was dark and empty. I was surprised to see that that the only thing in this completely grey room was a twenty-first century-style coffee maker atop a simple wooden table, no bigger than the coffee maker itself, and a simple wooden desk with a simple wooden chair. The desk only contained a single sheet of paper. The whole scene matched the nondescript entrance to the office. It was all a bit eerie, actually.
Rob spoke up and introduced me to the detective. “Angel Siharath, meet Juliana Frederick”.
If I was superstitious I would probably have walked out as soon as the detective came into full view. She was definitely the child of a splicer, a black cat to be precise. She reached out her paw to shake my hand. I looked at it for longer than is polite, chided myself internally for my rudeness, shook her hand, and greeted her. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
She looked at me, and her cat-like mouth turned up into a smile. “Your statement is a bit overstated, but I understand. I know this whole situation is a bit overwhelming, and I’m sure the fact that I’m a splicer baby doesn’t help matters.”
Continuing, she stated, “Plus, there’s also the matter of the mostly empty room. I’ve been told it’s more than a bit creepy”. She took a quick glance at Rob, before returning to her statement. “However, I prefer to work with as little clutter as possible. It helps me focus on the case at hand.”
She furrowed her brow at that remark. “And, this case is certainly a perplexing one. Most of my work involves theft or blackmail. This is the first murder case I’ve ever had to investigate.”
After saying this, her cat-like eyes opened wide as if she had shocked herself with her own statement, then quickly filled with sadness. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be so blunt. I’m treating this as just another case, but this one has caused real hurt. I’m sure this is hard for you. I promise I’ll catch the person or people responsible.”
Still extremely annoyed with Rob, I shot him daggers with my eyes as I stated “This has all been thrust upon me so suddenly, so I haven’t even had a chance to cope with this yet.” I then looked at the detective and tried to muster a smile, which I’m sure wasn’t very convincing. “But I appreciate your kindness and your willingness to help get justice for my mother.”
Detective Frederick then shot her own look at Rob that put my own to shame. Without a word, she had managed to turn his face beet red in shame, as he tilted his head down towards the ground. “I’m sorry if Mr. Martin was less than discrete. He’s been helping out here for the last few days and can be of great assistance to me, but he can be a little… less than sociable at times.”
At that, I grinned inwardly, despite myself. The great Captain Martin has actually found his match, and not only that, this detective seems to treat him as his mere assistant. It reminds me of a reverse Sherlock Holmes situation, with the great detective keeping her assistant in touch with his humanity in this case. OK, I don’t know a lot about Earth fiction, but I do know about Sherlock Holmes. You’d have to be daft to have not.
The detective then looked back at me. “I’m sure Mr. Martin told you that I believe your mother’s case is connected to the recent unrest between the people on this ship.” I just nodded my head in agreement, and she continued, “I think that they were meant to be a distraction for something big. I’m not sure yet what that could actually be, but I bet your quick thinking with diffusing the situation had thrown a spanner in the works, so to speak.”
“They likely thought that they could use the fact that you are new to your role as ship’s captain to their advantage, but they didn’t expect that you’d be every bit as good of a captain as your mother.” I actually beamed at that. My initial thoughts of creepiness about her had proven to be unfounded. I just met her, but think I already like this lady.
The detective went on to say, “they’re likely to try again and that puts the advantage in our court. We might not know what they are up to, but they definitely don’t know that we’re on to them. That means that we might be able to actually catch them in the act next time.”