Life onboard the ship slowly returns to some semblance of sanity for a while.
It’s early evening when the klaxons sound to announce that Uguin’s Princess has emerged from jump. William heads to the bridge with Kiimii following on right behind him.
“Well that’s a relief,” Kiimii says. “Just a few more hours and this nightmare journey is all going to be over.”
“Well it will take a little longer than that,” William explains. “Tarsus is a small planet that’s very close to a weak sun, Hote. This means that the jump distance needed to be based upon the diameter of the sun, not the planet.”
Kiimii looks confused. she obviously has no idea what William is talking about.
“So it means that we still have another couple of days to go before we reach Tarsus, not just a few more hours,” William explains.
Kiimii looks as if she is about to cry, obviously desperate to get this journey over and done with. She heads back to her stateroom where she lies on her bed and sobs quietly for a while.
Later that evening, Kiimii has emerged from her stateroom and is having dinner with Laarii and the members of the trade delegation. Several of the crew and party members are also eating, having ha to prepare their own food.
Kiimii starts to sniff suspiciously.
“What’s that smell?” she asks.
Others sniff the air as well. There’s definitely something not quite right.
“It smells like … shi … sewage,” she says.
Kiimii excuses herself and goes to find Grim – the first time that she has spoken with him since the incident in Taeva’s cabin. She finds him attending to the engines at the rear of the ship.
“Grim, something smells like shit,” she explains. “Please can you solve it? You are the engineer, after all.”
Without waiting for an answer, she turns on her (expensive) heels and heads back to the common area. She doesn’t get very far though before Taeva blocks her path. She hands Kiimii her completed complaint form:
“I’ve never travelled on a ship like this before," Taeva starts. "It’s bad enough that the crew are all dressed like gay rent boys in pink lurex: the last thing a passenger wants to see is a bunch of middle aged men with it all hanging out without them touching your backside and staggering into your bedroom at midnight smelling of cheap booze. As Captain, you are responsible for all this, and I’m less than happy about it.”
Taeva jabs her finger at Kiimii.
“Another thing too there’s a funny smell in this ship, and its been getting worse the last day or so. Get one of your crew to sort it out – unless they’re all too busy leching after the passengers.”
“I’m sure going to have a few stories to tell the Starport on Tarsus.”
Kiimii looks crestfallen and starts to panic again.
“Oh, no, madam – I’m really sorry about this sequence of events,” she stammers. “It’s just unfortunate that the staff aren’t working out. I’ve learned from this mess that it’s not a good idea to offer working passages any more. They have no pride in the ship if they are going to move on after one trip. I won’t be making that mistake again.”
“Is there something that I could do to compensate you for your distress? There really isn’t any need for the people on Tarsus to know about the difficulties on this maiden voyage now, is there?”
“And I will get the situation with the smell resolved as soon as possible.”
Jie just watches the drama unfold quietly, The ex-marine knows when she is beat, even if the beating came from herself. She decides that her goal for the last 48 hours of the trip is to avoid Kiimii like the plague and try no further attempts to make amends.
“Sad when you think of it” Jie thinks to herself in hushed tones “I was mauled half to death by 3 rabib Wahroos and smiled as I pounded them into submission, yet one cross look from a snobby socialite cuts me to my soul. Huh, funny how we’re wired”
Having filed the in-bound flight plan with Traffic Control, Williams heads to Maacreedii’s stateroom to check on him. As soon as he opens the door it is clear where the horrible smell is coming from.
Maacreedii’s bunk is a mess, the blankets strewn about the cabin. Maacreedii himself is nowhere to be seen. Holding his breath, William enters the stateroom and peeks into the head. Maacreedii’s bare feet are jammed against the wall beneath the pulled-out sink, his limp legs trailing towards the toilet, his lifeless arms dangling, his head and a surprising amount of his upper torso jammed into the overflowing commode. The sound of the sump working furiously to drain the mess is a jarring rumble.
Gagging, William thumbs his comm. “Captain and Engineer to Dr. Maacreedii’s quarters please,” he gasps.
Grabbing Maacreedii’s belt, William tries to pull the corpse from the bowl but with the powerful suction and the lack of safe footing it isn’t possible for him. Cursing, he gingerly takes Maacreedii’s left arm out of the sludge and checks for a pulse. It’s no surprise that there is none.
Replacing the arm, William snaps a few photos with his comm camera for the police and turns for the door just as Kiimii enters, a perfumed handkerchief to her nose. William stops her at the stateroom door.
“Captain,” he says, “Dr. Maacreedii is dead. It may be suicide, or it may not. In any event, it certainly isn’t pleasant. He’s in the head, but please be careful. The footing is treacherous. We will have to alert the authorities.”
Kiimii’s eyes widen in shock and horror:
“Dead?” she asks William, her brain struggling to take in what is yet more terrible news.
William nods in confirmation.
Kiimii is quiet for a moment and then breaks down:
“ohmygodohmygodohmygod – how can this happen to me? How can he have been so selfish?”
She bursts into hysterics and runs for her cabin, wanting as little to do with the corpse as possible.
“This ship sucks," Taeva says as she becomes aware of the situation, walking back to her stateroom. "What a disaster area.”
“Was he that good a doctor anyway?”
Max is lounging in the doorway, rubbernecking to get a view of the doctor’s corpse.
“Luckily none of us ’ad to find out. girl,” he replies. “I can’t imagine ’e was much good if ’e was as ’igh as a kite the ’ole time.”
William goes to find Arvor to inform him of the latest calamity. Arvor presumes that Kiimii will want as little official attention of that kind as possible. He suggests that if they do a thorough investigation themselves, they can perhaps avoid some of the outside scrutiny and likely bad press for their ill-starred maiden voyage. Kiimii is more than happy to follow Arvor’s advice. Following the controversy of Grim’s supposedly lecherous ways, Kiimii now looks to Arvor as her adviser on all internal matters.
“Grim, switch off the flush mechanism to the head so we can extract Maacreedii.” Said Arvor over comms.
“Roger that, Arvor. Increasing internal atmosphere refresh rate as well. I’ll have the ship smelling better in a jiffy.” replied Grim over ship’s comms.
Turning up the power to the air recycling unit, Grim opened an industrial strength fragrance cartridge and inserted it into the slot in the CMB-255 Filtrator. Almost immediately the ship began to smell like rotting meat. Quickly reading the package label, Grim saw that it said, “Scent of aged G’rel meat: guaranteed to awaken Aslan appetites for mess call”.
‘Oops…’ he thought.
Jie is in the common room getting a last work out on the best shipboard equipment she has ever used. The sun of the target planet, Tarsus, hung in the rear view screen and although her years of study in astronavigation told her better, it seemed to grow larger in the 4 hours she was here. Suddenly, like a bite from a Focaline Tree Rat, Jie smelled something both unpleasent and familiar. She looked clandestinly to the right and then to the left…no one around. Then she smelled her armpit. Nope. That’s not it.
Then it hits her what the smell is.“What the…there are no Aslan Ihatei Mercs on board?!”
Ignoring the stench as best he can, Arvor then seals off Maacreedii’s stateroom from all others (bar William), and does a full and detailed investigation of the body the room and the area immediately outside, taking his time to do the job. He makes use of William’s photos as part of the investigation.
He requests of William an approximate time of death, and probable cause.
He requests a copy of the detailed log of accesses to the Dr’s stateroom from the ship computer.
Once complete, and taking copious v-comp notes, he then conducts brief interviews with everyone on board, basically determining who was where at the time of death, and asking the relationship (if any) of each person with the doctor.
Arvor’s investigations take him well into the night as he speaks to everyone. None of the passengers or crew know much about him though – only Kiimii had every met him before the start of the trip and then only vaguely.
William was able to inform Arvor that the cocktail of medical drugs that Maacreedii had been taking were starting to wear off. Piecing the evidence together, William and Arvor are pretty certain that there was no foul play involved – it was a pure and simple suicide. A combination of coming off the drugs at William’s insistence together with the doctor’s already state of heavy depression had led to his deciding that life simply wasn’t worth living any more, and so this was the only way he found to accomplish his goals.
Arvor and William announce their findings to the crew and passengers. Kiimii seems to have nothing more to say on the matter. Taeva comments that the TDF Unit at the starport will probably just do a routine investigation and report. They’ll be more concerned with assessing incoming risk/security than anything else.
It’s been a long day for everyone and so they are all glad to be able to retire for the night, finally. Especially Kiimii.