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Rated: E · Fiction · Action/Adventure · #2215553
Episode II: Part IV - Mission or Murder
Part IV





Stardate: Nov. 28, 2096


“What happened?” Captain Foxwell demanded, exchanging glances with the Stargazer’s Chief Medical Officer.

“Unknown, Captain,” Rivera replied, both standing over the examining table and the corpse of Professor Adana. “Initial examination revealed no sign of trauma, nor of any sudden onset of illness. We’re preparing to conduct a detailed autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.”

Foxwell and Rivera turned in response to the Medical Department’s hermetically sealed doors opening, followed by Chief Security Officer Warwick entering sickbay, two of his officers accompanying him.

“I was just going to tell you, Captain. Those are the three that brought the Professor here. I happened to drop by after the formal dinner had ended, just to check-in with our night staff. Five minutes later, Warwick and his two security officers arrived carrying the professor. My first thought was perhaps he had had too much to drink. He was still breathing and mumbling slightly; that’s when he went into cardiac arrest. We initiated resuscitation protocol; unfortunately, all efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.”

Foxwell turned his attention to Lieutenant Warwick. “What’s your story, Lieutenant?”

“We were contacted by Ensign Wells shortly after midnight. He reported he was on his way to his quarters after being relieved from duty in the Operations Department. He stated he found Professor Adana face down on the deck outside his assigned quarters, just around the circular bend of the corridor where the Ensign’s cabin is located.”

“Ensign Wells -- isn’t he one of the junior relief helmsmen?” Foxwell asked.

“Aye, Captain. He’s a new crew member. Wells reported aboard while the Stargazer was in space dock undergoing repairs.”

“Continue, Lieutenant.”

“We arrived approximately three minutes later. Wells was kneeling next to Professor Adana. He was not fully alert and oriented, but he wasn’t unconscious, either. He was moaning and incoherent. My first thought was he might have had too much to drink during the welcome aboard dinner. We didn’t call for medical assistance as we were able to assist the Professor to his feet, the three of us helping to support him all the way to sickbay; he then collapsed just outside the entrance.”

“Any crew members other than yourselves and Ensign Wells involved?”

“No, Captain. Wells remained on the scene until my two officers and I were able to assist the Professor to his feet. Wells then continued to his quarters.

Foxwell sighed, then turned in the direction of the Chief Medical Officer. Noting his grim expression, Doctor Rivera took it upon himself to suggest both he and the Captain personally notify Professor Adana’s daughter of the death of her father.

“Shall we proceed to Leia’s quarters, Captain?”

Foxwell paused, then took a deep breath. “It’s the absolute worse part of being a Starship Captain.

***

Arriving at Leia’s quarters, Foxwell pushed a button on the casing covering the wooden framework housing the auto controlled doors. They could hear the muffled chime inside the cabin -- no response. Foxwell and Rivera exchanged glances.

“Something doesn’t feel right, doctor.”

“I wouldn’t blame her for being sound asleep,” Rivera speculated. “It’s been a long and difficult day.”

Foxwell pushed the chime button again, then lightly knocked on the doors. “Leia -- it’s Captain Foxwell,” he announced in a quiet tone -- still no response.

Rivera looked at Foxwell. “I’m beginning to agree with you, Captain; something is off here.”

Foxwell pressed the red security button on the bulkhead comm panel. “Security here, the unidentified voice answered, “state the nature of your contact.”

“This is the Captain -- send a security team to E deck, section 2, state room 112.”

“Aye, sir.”

***

Within minutes two Security Officers arrived on scene. Using a sensor controlled device attached to his utility belt, the senior officer triggered the doors’ hydraulic actuator, both panels separating opposite each other and into their respective door frame cavity. The cabin’s fiber optic lighting sensor responded in tandem, fully illuminating Leia’s assigned stateroom.

“Leia?” the Captain shouted, entering her quarters, followed by the two Security Officers and Doctor Rivera.

"Doctor, she's here in her bed," Foxwell declared, Rivera moved hurriedly past the two security officers as he made his way to the bedside of the Assistant Chief Geologist.

“Leia -- Leia?” Rivera repeated a second time, leaning over her as she lay on her back. The Chief Medical Officer placed his hand on her shoulder and gently shook. Her eyelids remained tightly closed, with no indication of any state of wakefulness. Rivera stood, flipped open a diagnostic medical analyzer, then slowly waved the detachable scanner over Leia’s head and upper torso with his other hand.

The Security Officers discretely examined her quarters, looking for any evidence of foul play. Rivera flipped the medical analyzer shut, snapping the scanner into its compartment on the back of the unit.

Foxwell remained silent until the doctor concluded his examination. “What is it, doctor?” What’s wrong with her?”

“Her vital signs are stable, but she’s comatose. We need to move her to sickbay. She needs a more extensive examination and we’ll need to run some tests.”

“We’ve covered the entire state room, Captain,” the Senior Security Officer chimed in. “There’s nothing here that stands out or raises any kind of red flag that we can find.”

Foxwell looked around, a puzzled expression appearing. “Professor Adana is dead, and now his daughter is in a coma. What the hell is going on? What’s the common denominator? There has to be a connection. These two incidents cannot be purely co-incidental.”

“On its surface I would tend to agree with you, Captain. But the current priority is to move Leia to medical. And we need to do that immediately.”

Foxwell sighed, pursed his lips, then turned and placed a hand on Rivera’s shoulder. “Arrange for a medical team to move Leia to sickbay. Security will remain here and seal her cabin. I’m on my way to Beta’s quarters. Keep me informed on her condition.”

***

Beta’s Stateroom: 4:00 am

“Most unfortunate,” Beta replied, acknowledging Foxwell’s brief summary regarding the death of Professor Adana and his daughter Leia’s medical condition. “May I speak freely, Captain?”

“Go ahead.”

“While I agree with you and Doctor Rivera that these events appear to be related, our first priority continues to be the mission. We’ll need someone to assume the duties of the professor and his daughter.”

Foxwell locked eyes with Beta. “I don’t need a reminder about priorities, Commander. I’m very well aware of our primary mission.”

“I only meant to suggest we refocus our attention to determine which of their scientists would now be the most qualified to lead the geological survey team. I did not mean to infer we terminate the investigation or minimize its importance.”

Foxwell paused momentarily as he pondered on the suggestion of his First Officer. She was right, of course, on both counts. He turned in her direction. “Beta, before we reach Luyten b, I want you to complete a review of the database personnel files on the Geologists aboard Stargazer; as Science Officer I want your recommendations regarding the most qualified to be appointed Chief Geologist.”

“Understood, Captain. May I ask the status of the current investigation regarding the Professor and his daughter?”

“Chief Security Officer Warwick will be fully briefed and instructed to conduct the appropriate investigation in unison with Doctor Rivera and his findings,” Foxwell replied. He turned again, staring pensively at the bulkhead.

“Would it be reasonable to surmise something else is bothering you, Captain?”

Foxwell craned his neck and locked eyes with Beta. “There’s a killer aboard the Stargazer.”

Click to read Episode II Part V "Star Voyagers: "JOURNEY TO PARADISE"




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