Wanted: Master Weaponsmith

Characters: Klevetati Yoshino, Dr. Kim Matsumoto

Yoshino paused briefly on her way through the Science labs, as she approached Kim’s door. The rooms were busy with a myriad of work, some in cooperation with Medlab, some with teams on the surface. All directed toward the welfare of the planet below. She smiled to herself, and rang the chime.

Kim barely paused in her study of a couple of transparencies. “Come in.”

Yoshino entered quickly and offered her friend a bow as the door closed behind. “You look busy,” she said.

“We don’t lack for work here.” She lifted her eyes and looked at Yoshino curiously. “I would say you have found something in your efforts.”

“Is it so obvious?” Yoshino’s smile widened a little. “So much for being inscrutable. But yes, I’ve just gotten word from Inspector Malima. She sent us images of some additional evidence her people found.”

“Yes?” Kim set aside her work, and cleared a little room around the nearest computer. “I hope it is more answers than new riddles.”

“A bit of both, I’m afraid,” Yoshino said as she called up the data from Abbai onto Kim’s screen. “The Llort had an inventory of their loot, and this is an image of the one item not found with them.”

Kim studied it for a few moments. “It’s new construction, but it’s design isn’t. A replica, or at least a very good approximation.”

Yoshino pored over the image for several long seconds. “They look like the sort of darts which would be used in a blowgun,” she said softly, then added, “Strange. It would seem these Llort ran into someone with a penchant for ancient weapons. Here’s the sketch the medical examiner did of what she thought might have been the murder weapon.” A second image, a rough pencil sketch, appeared beside the box. It was a clublike weapon, with a short heavy handle and a flanged ball at one end.

“Indeed. Ancient, but effective.” Kim frowned at the image. “But why so determined to get it back? It is going to a lot of trouble for a replica.”

“Unless ….” Yoshino’s expression went abruptly dark. “Unless they intended to use those darts.” She leaned in close to the computer, then commanded it to enlarge and enhance the image of the box. “I knew someone once … he made ancient weapons like this. To be used.”

Kim watched Yoshino, but carefully kept her senses out of what the other woman was thinking. “So there is some significance to these darts. A seemingly foolish one to cling to, since a replacement could have been found and the deed done long before we could attempt to stop it.”

Yoshino nodded. “Whoever is doing this … wants the best quality they can get. And there can’t be too many people making these sorts of things, not on developed planets anyway. But the question is, who is it?”

“And who do they intend to kill?” Kim pulled up her seat and sat down. “And there is also the question of how much time we have, now that the darts have been retrieved.”

“I only know the answer to the last one, with any certainty,” Yoshino said wryly. “Less than we’d like.”

Kim sniffed, not denying it.

“It must be more than a private vendetta between criminals,” Yoshino speculated, “since I don’t think they’d go to such trouble for weapons. Maybe if we knew who was the killer, we’d have a better guess at who was the target. Do you recognize the symbol on the lid of the box?”

“No, but there are a few directions we take the search. I would be surprised if one of ours hadn’t come across it at some point, somewhere.”

“If they have, it’ll be in our databanks, onboard or with a link back to Tuzanor.” Yoshino looked again at the image of the box and its contents, then away quickly, speaking quickly as well. “Do you want me to look into that?”

Kim hesitated. She could tell there was reluctance, but there was little time to allow for personal feelings. “You seem to know more about weapons than I do. I think it best if you investigated the darts, while I do the symbol search.”

Yoshino drew a deep breath, then nodded. “I’d better get started, then. I’ll do this from my station up on the bridge. If you need anything, or find anything, that’s where you can find me.”

Kim nodded. “Good luck then.”

Yoshino was already headed for the door, decision having apparently restored her rapid grace. “And to you, good hunting,” she said.

Copyright (c) 2000 Jamie Lawson and Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.


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