Now Missing: One Box

Characters: Klevetati Yoshino

It was quiet on the bridge of the Phoenix — a welcome change after many days of hectic work, answering calls and managing aid to the people of the planet below. Klevetati Yoshino was making good use of the lack of distractions, catching up on the ship’s operational bulletins and practicing her Centauri while waiting from a report on the murdered Llort she and Kim had discovered a few days before.

Yoshino’s fingers briefly closed about the small mirror, back in its proper place in her pocket. The Abbai police had allowed her to return to the ship with it, although they could have demanded to keep it as evidence until the case was solved — they and Yoshino both knew they had plenty of evidence to work with as it was.

She hoped they would find whoever had murdered the two petty thieves. And wondered if they could also learn why. Perhaps the Llort had stolen something precious to their killers. Yoshino herself, when she learned that they had stolen her mirror, had been ready to kill them. Someone else might not have had a Kim Matsumoto to make them see sense before the deed was done.

Certainly, she reflected, the way they had died spoke of someone consumed by rage. She stared out at the stars and the visible edge of the planet below, trying to wipe away the image of the Llort and their skull-shattered, blood-soaked corpses.

A soft chirp from her console drew her attention, and she tapped the control to activate the incoming message with a soft smile of gratitude. She could use the distraction.

The face that appeared in her small commscreen was distinctly grim of expression, but it was also familiar. “Inspector Malima,” Yoshino said, offering a slight bow of the head in greeting.

The Abbai police detective allowed herself a tired smile. “Anla’shok Yoshino,” she said. “Exactly the person I was looking for. There have been several developments I thought you would wish to know of.”

“Yes?”

“The autopsies on the victims are completed. Our coroner says she has a fair idea of what kind of weapon was used. She offered a sketch along with her report, which I’m uplinking to you now. Also, she found that one of the victims had swallowed a data crystal, very shortly before he died.”

Yoshino’s eyes widened. “Were you able to get anything off it?”

“Yes. It was an inventory of everything they had stolen — apparently they were getting ready to send another batch offplanet. We compared the list to what we found in their rooms. Only one thing was missing.”

Maybe I was right after all, Yoshino thought. If only it’s something we can trace. “What was it?”

“This — I’ve just uplinked the description and an image.” The detective’s features were replaced on the screen by an image of a small, flat box, perhaps twelve centimeters square by two thick. It was unadorned except for a emblem of some kind on the lid. The image changed to reveal the contents — a number of long, thin darts. Their sharp metal tips were encrusted with a dark substance.

“Is that blood?”

Malima shook her head, her wide eyes seeming to darken as the last traces of a smile faded from her face. “No way to tell, unfortunately. But I have a bad feeling that it’s poison of some kind.”

“Do you recognize the emblem on the box?”

Again, the detective shook her head. “That’s where I hoped your people could help us. You’ve got a lot more information than we do when it comes to offplanet criminal organizations. But I’m checking with my colleagues planetwide, too.”

“I haven’t seen this myself, but I’ll find out if any of the other Rangers have. As soon as I know anything, I’ll tell you.”

Yoshino ended the conversation and closed the channel, making sure the information the Abbai had sent was safely stored. Then she headed for the Science labs, in search of Kim.


Copyright (c) 2000 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.