CSI — Rolui
Characters: Margaret Morgan, Daanike
Gahara and the remaining Huka rejoined Morgan. “She says,” Gahara explained, “that while it should be possible to tell if anything is missing from this case, she will have to inventory it and compare against the records. Kilaloa liked to change the arrangements often. Between that and the disarray, it is impossible to tell what’s missing just by looking.
“I have recorded everything here. I will have to wait for a time to learn if any plants are missing. Is there more we should do here, in the meantime?”
“I wonder if there would be any way to find who has been here recently, either a customer list or…” Morgan let the thought trail off – she didn’t know enough about the Huka conducted business.
Gahara put the imager away and considered, tapping one foot on the floor. “When our own people come to buy, they use these,” she said, lifting the large basket of yellow and orange chips off the counter. “Our purchase tokens are not tied to the owner — indeed, at the end of each day, every shop owner brings their tokens to the countinghouse, where they are pooled and redistributed for the next day.”
She looked further down the counter. “But she was set up for offworlders to buy, using their identicards. We may be able to trace those records.”
“Yes, that would be a good place to start.” Privately, Morgan was hoping it was an offworlder and not a Huka.
Gahara turned to the Huka who was already deep into inventorying the contents of the shop. After a brief exchange, she turned to Morgan and said, “I am permitted to copy the records of the card reader,” she said, going to the machine and working the set of fine levers on the top of it with her claws.
As she set a data crystal into the card reader’s port, she looked back at Morgan and said, “The records of the Guardians on offworlders are few. We prefer to settle trouble quickly and without recourse to the full weight of law. So, the names I have here will mean little. Have you anything which might give us more information?”
“We have links to a number of law enforcement databases. That should not be a problem.”
“For the moment, consulting them might be the best use of our time. We will need to wait on the other threads of this investigation, for a little while yet.”
“It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to set up the connection. Though I do not think I should work in the crime scene itself.”
Gahara nodded. “If it would be suitable, there should be some space within the Guardians’ House, where we can work.”
“That would be very good, yes.”
Gahara led Morgan out of the shop and stepped onto what looked like a cross between a motor scooter and a Venetian gondola. “It is not far,” Gahara said, “but we will travel more quickly this way.” Standing in the front of the craft, she took an elegant wooden wheel in one hand and a long lever in the other. There was plenty of room for Morgan to stand, or a small seat at the very back.
Morgan chose to stand behind Gahara, so it would be easier to talk. With a nod, the Huka pushed the lever forward, and the scooter took off, rolling at a quick pace through the marketplace. Once beyond the marketplace crowds, the scooter moved even quicker, but the ride was smooth enough that Morgan could keep her balance with one hand on the high side wall.
“When we reach our House,” Gahara said, “I would like to take a little time to introduce you to our hukanape — mother to me and my sisters.”
This surprised Morgan, but she guessed it was customary. “That would be fine.”
The scooter zipped on, past several clusters of buildings, until stopping at last in the courtyard space formed by four large, rectangular, three story structures. Many Huka were moving back and forth between them, engaged in a variety of tasks.
“This is the Houses of the colony of Guardians for the city of Uvew,” Gahara said, as she parked the scooter next to several others of similar design. “All of my sisters are born, raised, live and work within this place.”
“You will have to tell me more about your people, as we have time. I’m afraid I don’t understand much.”
“Of course,” replied Gahara, with a drawing back of the lips from her teeth that Morgan was coming to recognize as a smile. “All of us in this colony — as it is for every colony of the Huka — have but one mother at a time. She and her consorts — one, two, or sometimes three — are parents to all of us.”
Morgan nodded. “And the colonies are specialized?”
“In the cities, yes,” Gahara said, opening a large, ornately worked door and ushering Morgan inside. The interior was warm, and largely one open space. As they walked further in, they passed several groups of younger Huka, apparently engaged in studying as they lay on large cushions on the floor.
“In the countryside, each colony is largely self-sufficient, so there is less specialization of work. The only exception — ” Gahara paused a moment in front of another large door, the first division of the space inside — “is the colony of Speakers, who send their people all over our world.”
“Speakers?” Morgan had heard the briefing, but there were always details missed.
“Those who communicate without words we can hear, or even without sight,” Gahara said, pushing the door open. In the room beyond, a queen Huka reclined on a large cushion, conversing with an unusual looking Huka. While all the others Morgan had seen had fur in shades of brown, black and grey, this one’s fur was a deep forest green.
“I believe in your language,” Gahara said, “they are called telepaths.”
Copyright (c) 2003 Jamie Lawson & Leslie McBride. All rights reserved.