Officer Gabrielli escorted the group to the scene of Chief Hardie’s murder. The area was under tight security. The energy flow regulation system was located in a remote corner of the engine room between two of the transit drive mains. Franz offered Laura the technical details as she surveyed the scene.
“Stand back” said Laura, as she surveyed the scene. Gabrielli said nothing, her face giving nothing away. Curious, Rackham stood behind Laura, noting the blood splatter patterns and small chunks of flesh on the surrounding equipment .
“I’d say he was struck from behind with something heavy,” he suggested. Laura tensed.
“Thank you Rackham. " she remarked curtly. “I’ll make my own judgements, based on qualifications and experience.” Seeing Gabrielli stare Rackham bit his tongue.
“Always happy to be dominated by you Laura Dear,” said Rackham. As she started to turn he smiled at Gabrielli.
“Could you point me in the direction of the Little Boy’s Room please Officer Gabrielli? Need to Go.” One of the other crew pointed Rackham down the corridor, and he exited. Laura frowned and resumed her examination. Minutes later she stood up and sighed.
“Dents and cracking in the actual flow control unit do suggest a well-placed assault by a heavy blunt instrument, as well as on the victim.” she opined.
“Also, sabotage of the flow control unit happened before the murder. Engine alarm logs indicate that the flow control unit went off line at 01:32 am EST.” Nobody voiced the implications of this. Rackham returned, pretending to look distracted. Laura ignored him.
“A suspicious figure was caught on surveillance cameras in a passageway not far from one of the hatches to the engine room” said Gabrieli. “It’s in the report. The figure can be seen running in a dark cloak – physical characteristics hard to identify.”
“What about the sub engineer?” asked Franz.
“Miyamoto was interviewed shortly after the murder, but he was too emotionally unstable to provide anything useful.” replied Gabrielli.
“There’s another thing” she continued. “There’s a UWC political delegation onboard, headed by Helen Falk. They’ve taken a strong interest in the details of this case and are constantly chewing over the Captain about it. Background colour.”
“What was the Chief like?” asked Laura.
“Pretty old school when it came to maintaining “his ship”. " said Gabrielli. "Pretty good though – one of the best in the fleet. "
“Short of time and gruff in demeanor, unless you were his superior. " responded Gabrielli.
“And recently?” persisted Laura. “Anything odd?”
“Hmm” she thought. “During the ship’s initial cruise party the Chief was arguing with a few people – most notably a Doctor Sebastian Wells and Helen Falk. Check with the Cruise Director Presta Mendoza.”
“Fine.” Laura nodded.