Previous Next

Interview With Danger, Part 3

Posted on Sat Nov 20th, 2021 @ 4:04am by Commander Arianna Frost & Rear Admiral Gareth Tau

Mission: Mission 0: Everybody Has A Story
Location: Undisclosed location
Timeline: Sometime after Part 2

It was a lot easier to study and vilify a known enemy than it was doing the same to one of your own. It was a truth that, even after so many years in the Service, Arianna still struggled with. The Shipley case had dug up a lot of demons for everyone involved. With an enemy, it was easy to distance oneself and offer unbiased views.

It was them, not us.

With one of your own there was that added level of disgust and disappointment. Among other things.

"Yes, but you are supposed to be better than that." Sardi had said the other day, referring to the Federation.

Once upon a time she too had felt that way, when she was set to leave Archernar. A daughter of a colony on the perpetual edge of invasion by the romulans. The Archernari had become as paranoid as the people threatening to conquer them. So had she. Frost had called it healthy awareness and found nothing wrong with it.

Starfleet had always presented that other ideal. Morality, integrity, honor. Safety. All concepts highly appealing. Ideals to strive for.

Now, years later, being with with Starfleet Intelligence had created the amalgam of 'healthy awareness' and morality and integrity that made dealing with the likes of Shipley that much more difficult. Reconciling understanding of his deviant condition and the morality's disgust was hard.

Arianna sat at her desk in the Investigation Office, where she and the others assigned to the case had been working for weeks now, trying to untangle the web of atrocity that their prisoner had wrought.

He had JAG-ed up since the last interview and his defense was working hard to discredit the evidence Sardi's team had found. Much to Sardi's ire and chagrin.

"Hey Frost!" A voice came from the side, interrupting yet another read through of the recorded conversation from the last interview.

"Yeah?" Ari looked up and turned to face the speaker.

"You owe me 20 darseks!" It was an obnoxious Bolian, a Lieutenant named Ched Marafit, who had come to gloat. "Told ya you couldn't get him to crack!"

Not him again. Arianna gave a mental sigh, "I've got ten more hours, still parsing through the new witness statements and evidence. How about instead of being a drongo, you buckle down and help out? Hm?"

The case was sadly past the point of admission. He was not going to talk and his JAG representative was good enough to have been able to discredit the evidence collected so far. If they didn't come up with irrefutable evidence within the next ten hours, he would go free. He would be free to continue his vicious streak of murder.

"How am I supposed to help after you already borked it?" the Bolian retorted with a smug smirk. "You knew he was skittish and yet you pushed him anyway. Now he's untouchable because anybody who saw anything is dead. That's the problem with blitzers. They tend not to leave witnesses. Unless you got a piece of DNA hidden somewhere, then we got nothing we can stick. Yeah, it's all over but the crying."

"Hold up!" Came from the back of the room. "I think I may have something."

Arianna spread her arms in a 'well?' pose. "Don't keep us in suspense, mate."

"You know how he either used the camera positions to be just out of clear sight, or how he scrubbed the recordings?" The young Kotacian man with purple hair continued, "he missed one backup. Commander Sardi, you said the XO's codes had been used at each instance?"

The Bajoran man nodded from where he sat at his desk. "Yes, we had them changed the moment we realized that he was the one using them to scrap his tracks. But by the time we caught him it was already done and we couldn't pin him to it."

The Kotacian nodded. "Yes. However, I've been parsing the digital data of your reports. All the backup recording had been scrubbed, except for the last murder. I'm running a reconstruction algorithm of it now."

"We cut him off?" Sardi looked happily confused.

Was this the break they needed?

"What was so special about this one?" asked Ched the Bolian. While he was still smug in his assessment, the glibness of his tone dropped away, giving way to curiosity. "What's the common denominator between the vics?"

Frost was speedily pulling up their victim profiles onto the holo display. "The final vic was the XO." She said, reading through the file again, then she tapped on the historical profile.

"Yeah, Commander Ellen Burnley," Sardi offered.

"Okay, here we go," the Kotacian said.

"Put it up," Frost said.

The scene appeared on the screen. One of the maintenance corridors, dark lit, with a periodic release of excess fumes that got sucked out by the scrubbers, making the scene look like ancient murder mystery vid.

Shipley didn't seem to care this time to hide his face, or his weapon. He approached the woman immediately when she came into view. He gesticulated madly at her, visibly yelling for a good minute. Burnley didn't seem to understand what he was talking about.

"No audio?" Arianna asked.

The Kotacian, Sh'vek, shook his head. "No, sorry, that's the bit he managed to wipe. I can try to reconstruct words from the lip reading but only partially, where the camera has a clear view."

"Do it, meanwhile, we're profilers," Frost continued, "what can we profile from what we have just seen?"

"Easy," Ched said smugly. "Our boy here asks the commander out for a drink, or maybe a bite to eat, or whatever. She sees his weapon and understandably refuses. He takes it personally, makes his advance, and that's all she wrote."

Arianna shook her head, "wait, look..." she brought the recording backwards then played it again, "he knows who she is, or at least of her, more than she does of him. Why would a Commander come down to a service tunnel for a date..."

"She's not..." Sardi added, pointing to a kit in her hand. "She's there to work..." He tapped on a few controls, bringing up more data. "Repair request sent about thirty minutes before. Commander was a hands-on type so sometimes she helped out with repairs."

"But the sub is a blitzer," Ched protested. "Crimes of passion and opportunity and all that. If he called in a phony work order that would call the commander personally, well, that would make him organized." He gave a cocky, condescending half smile. "That goes against the profile which says he's a disorganized killer."

Arianna ignored the direct jab, "Sardi...any requests like that for the others? Anything that would have them at their murder scene on purpose?"

The bajoran was already looking at the requested data. "Cross referencing now."

"I've managed to pick up some words from the image," Sh'vek spoke up, "actually just one line, the rest is too inconclusive."

A mechanical voice spoke with the input data, "Your mother destroyed my family, so I destroyed yours." Then emulating the next sound, "No!"

At this Arianna looked over at Sardi, her mind going back to their original conversation after the last interview with Shipley.

The other woman. Could she have been right from the start?

"Do we have the name of the father's mistress or new wife, or whatever?" Arianna looked over at Ched, "that was your side of the investigation, Ched."

The Bolian started thumbing through his PADD. "Uh, sure, let's" He let out a nervous chuckle. "Doesn't seem her name ever came up in the previous line of questioning. Guess it just didn't seem important at the time. Maybe he doesn't even know, see?"

Arianna's palm met her face, followed by a deep sigh. "Find out. You have three hours, I don't care who you wake up."

"Calm your titties, Frost, I'm on it." Ched sighed in frustration and stepped away from the huddle.

Arianna stepped over to Sardi, "let's get the other vics cross-referenced with Burnley, see how they relate to her. We need a motive for the others."

The bajoran nodded, pulling out the requested files. "Nothing in official records so far."

This made Frost pause for a moment, "it can't have been random."

Sardi nodded in agreement. "I'm going to cross reference witness statements as well."

"Whoa!" Ched shouted from the subspace communication console. "Now I know why I never got the name of the mistress!" He downloaded the files he'd pulled from the extranet and put them on investigation unit's main screen. "It's because there is no birth record for a Jonathan Aldous Shipley! No mother, father, or anything else because he...was married!" Ched attempted to load a file, but a large red X filled the main viewer.

"File Not Found," said the computer.

"That's bullshit!" Ched shouted. "I was just looking at it! Our boy Johnny took his husband's name, but for some reason the file is inaccessible now." He shrugged. "Never mind. This other file here that just came up in the search is the real kicker. Look at it. What's important is Johnny's birth name. It was Jonathan Aldous Burnley! See it?" Ched pointed enthusiastically. "It's dated 10 years before Commander Burnley's DOB. Dear old dad must have left Johnny Boy and his mother high and dry for a newer model that was the commander's mother. Jonathan Burnley later married a Mr. Shipley, but divorced a couple years later. Even without that guy's file on hand, we can see our Shipley didn't enter Starfleet until after that divorce was filed. I guess is why his birth name wasn't in the front page of his personal file." The burly Bolian was practically hopping up and down, which made his jowls jiggle. "Do you get it? Our perp and his last victim were siblings!"

"What the actual fuck?" Frost was heard saying as she turned over to Chet. "How'd we not have this intel before?"

Sardi was nodding, "and it looks like the other vics and the Commander Burnley had...intimate...engagements. They were all, as you say, exes of various sorts."

"Shipley...or Burnley whatever his name is, is a forensic engineer, he'd know how to doctor files. But I'm still confused where this new intel came from." Arianna added, "we have our motive. Resentment."

"So who's going to take another crack at him?" Ched asked. "I still say he won't confess, and the 40 Cardassian leks I confiscated last month agree!"

"Ched, you need to find out where we got this sudden intel from." Said Sardi, then looked over at Arianna, "shall we?"

Frost was already on her feet and nodded, "lets get the prosecutor in and get this sicko."


Previous Next