This is the sixth part of Death’s Muse. Gwyn visits Kenwick and spends time with the clergy hearing of Temperance. Death’s Muse – 6 – The Prudence Of Temperance
Tag Archives: Detective Story
After having established that José was José Montéro, Samuel traced whom Whetherly was, Edgar Whetherly, who had become a senior manager at the LDC. Whetherly had had links to two of the other four victims, in that he had managed them at various times. Giles Acton, who he did not have links to, was an auditor in the finance division of the LDC. Giles had been the victim who had been killed almost as soon as Samuel had been appointed to investigate.
Samuel checked what calls had been connected, at the time he believed the call was made. He selected those calls that were voice only, then those which were with phones that were not contracted to corporations or individuals. The remaining hundred or so, he reduced by considering regular callers and when the phone was first used. That brought it down to about five which he analysed for connections to LDC, taking into account recorded locations of personal beacons and the terminus of calls. One of the regulations for LDC staff and those who worked for most of the Luna corporations one was being the carrying of personal beacons, which showed where they were and aided the emergency services in times of emergency by giving readouts of their vital signs. That brought it down to one, which terminated in the LDC offices in the Armstrong Administration Dome. There were about four individuals at the terminus who might have answered the call and they included Whetherly. The other end of call being located in Nixon Dome, which was in the final stages of construction, given the details of the call it was deemed to be the call and investigated. The construction in Nixon had been halted by a strike that had been going on for more than a month.
When a Samuel and a couple of rover’s full of Deputies investigated Nixon Dome. The dome had been destined to be a light industrial and warehouse zone. About half an hour after arriving there, Samuel found where José had been held. That José had been there was confirmed by an Archaeoswarm, that also found traces of three other people. There was also proof that a plasma torch had been used there.
Tracing the other calls that had been made by the phone to the number that had been called in Armstrong Dome, Samuel established that only Whetherly had been near the terminus of all of them. Using a voice analyser on the recordings of the calls Samuel confirmed it was Whetherly and came up with an individual who was Daker, David Acre. Acre had come up from Earth a year or so earlier and had lived like a blank for most of that time, in that he had worked for cash and not availed himself of any official services and had not paid for anything other than in cash or in drop cards. Drop cards being debit cards that you purchased then credited with money in designated businesses, usually for cash. Some drop cards were strictly illegal but others had uses that the authorities condoned. There was a file on Daker that indicated that he was believed to be involved in a smuggling racket, that had been busted earlier that year, but they had not found enough proof against him to arrest him. There was a known associate of David Acre, a Sean Webber, who had been born on the Hedonia Station. Viewing the files for Acre and Webber, Samuel confirmed that their images matched what he had seen. Down on earth, one of the samples of DNA had shown up at the scenes of several murders of drug dealers in South America. Acre had another known associate, Michael Monteban of which little was known, save that he lived the high life but had no job or obvious means of support.
Tracing the serial number of Plasma Cutter, that Samuel had noted was easy, it had come from Bergerac Tools in the Bergerac Dome. Bergerac Tools secretly taped all those who hired their tools. The tape tied Monteban to the Plasma Cutter.
Forensic deamons, released into the LDC computer system spent a day and a night auditing the computers, files and records of the LDC, finding many security threats but no obvious issues to be tied to Whetherly. Following on from this, Samuel set forensic accountancy daemons onto LDC accounts that within six hours had found numerous irregularities and evidence of a major frauds, that had been committed in the departments managed by Whetherly.
Having shared what evidence there was with the magistrate, Samuel did divinations to confirm the evidence and establish if there were any others involved. Monteban, Acre and Webber had all been responsible for the deaths with Whetherly commissioning the murders. Derek Ashbowl, one of the earlier murder victims, and Whetherly had been responsible for the frauds. For a conviction another certified diviner or investigator would have to confirm their guilt with another divination.
Taj had to keep his eyes closed or become disorientated as the two scenes could not be reconciled, by his brain, but Samuel had long since been able to cope with two or three scenes playing in his mind. What Taj heard did not disorientate him, but he ordered, “BE QUIET!”
Samuel had out done himself obtaining not just sight or even sight and sound but sight, sound and scent. The other reason Samuel used a Hunter7 on the moon was that up there his powers were always enhanced and that more than compensated for the lesser magical abilities of the Hunter7.
The first few seconds of the visions, of what the victim had seen, were very distressing for Taj and not pleasant for Samuel. The victim’s sight had been focused on a plasma cutter that was slowly moving towards his hand. The cutter would instantly cut, burn and cauterise flesh. They both heard the victim’s screams for mercy.
“Now, José tell us what we want to know and this will be over.” Came a voice from behind José’s head.
José tried to turn his head to see, who was speaking, but could not get far enough around to see them. Taking in the periphery of José sight, Samuel noticed a distorted image of the taking man, in the reflective metal, of the power unit of the plasma cutter. Pale or grey hair had the talking man, balding and no beard or moustache.
The one who was doing the cutting was tall and thin, born and raised in a low-g zone. The vocal one was of a build that meant he was a native of at least Earth gravity. Their general forms told Samuel that neither a standard body shell, most likely a natal shell, though either could have been a custom shell, but their mundanity ruled against that.
Samuel tried to see with magical sight, which was successful, as José had had some magical talent but not enough to be trained. That sight revealed more than anything else. The enhanced perception revealed that both the perpetrators had cybernetic systems and that the talker also had biowares. Samuel manipulated the perceived rate of time flow, which started to pass in the scene at three times the normal rate, until the cutter cut and José passed out due to being overwhelmed by the torture.
With the victim unconscious, the perpetrators were more careless with what they said. That they used torture to extract the information that they wanted, said a lot about the perpetrators, as far easier and more efficient technological and magical ways of interrogation existed.
The one who Samuel thought of as the talker, “Give it five minutes then revive him, Sean, I’ve a call to make.”
The talker walked away a few steps. After a few seconds Samuel faintly heard, “Daker here.” Samuel’s enhanced perceptions told him the time that it had happened and also made José’s hearing clearer than it had been for José who had had no real conception of what had passed whilst he was unconscious. Evidence was slowly coming his way. That he had spoken to identify himself, led Samuel to conclude it was an audio only call, which meant that limited the number of call there were to consider as most calls included video or other enhanced content.
There was little else of use in the call, except the proof that there was at least one other person responsible for crimes and that person was most likely the one who was the money or leader of the gang.
After José had been brought round and threatened with the cutter again, he broke just before the cutter started to sear his flesh. Thereafter, he spent nearly an hour desperately telling them every thing he thought they might want to know and eagerly answering the questions that they answered. The questions and answers told Samuel little save that what José knew was not really that important and that the crimes were about something else. A name, Whetherly was mentioned once by José, as having been his manager at one point but most of the rest could have been easily learned by a request to LDC.
Once he had answered their questions, José suffered far worse until he died. Samuel managed during that time to resolved better images of Daker and Sean.
Now for a change of story type, this one is sort of Science Fantasy/Transhuman/Biopunk in nature. It is the first story in a very different setting, that may become the Justice Journals
The night was coming to an end with the surface outside the domes well able to freeze boiling water in seconds. No air there to keep creature alive. Within the domes the temperature was comfortable, to some maybe too warm for nighttime. Day and night different too. Outside a day took four weeks of earth time. Inside the dome just a standard earth day. Within the domes the gravity field gravity being that of earth, but without the field it was exactly right for the moon. Tranquillity was not tranquil as dawn was about to break. The Dome’s shutters would rise two hours after Luna dawn, at dome dawn.
That which had caused Tranquillity’s peace to be disturbed was the finding of a body. Accredited Arcane Investigator Samuel Arthur Western had been called to the scene, as it was the latest member of The Lunar Development Corporation’s staff to be killed. After the third death, Samuel had been offered the contract to investigate the deaths. On taking the contract, Samuel became a Lunar Deputy. Before he reached the moon though there was another death. On the moon or within the Luna Council’s jurisdiction corporate security officers and corporate investigators were granted the status of being Luna Deputy Sheriffs.
Samuel was not a native or long-term resident of the moon, but was far too familiar with the moon for his liking. Too familiar with place’s that were not within earth’s atmosphere. Inside Lovell Dome, of the Tranquillity Domes Complex (TDC), Samuel despaired over what passed for a police force on the moon. Those who were members of the Luna Police Service (LPS) were either youngsters who had few if any skills to get them the ride up to the moon or those who other police services wished they had never recruited who had gained promotion by transferring to LPS. In the whole of the LPS there were maybe three competent police offices, or so Samuel believed. Those at the site of the body dump were typical of the force, being barely able to find the scene let alone process it or even secure it. Sargent Shaunessy was in charge and more interested in his coffee than his job. Deputy Derek Almond though was trying to arrange a cranial crew to preserve the head. Before taking charge himself, Samuel scanned the area for the Provincial Magistrate, Taj Rei. Of those who were officially investigative officers on the moon, only the Provincial Magistrates were considered truly professional by any but the LPS. It was the Provincial Magistrates task to have other’s gather the evidence for them and then themselves judge the evidence and determine the guilt or innocence of those associated with the crime. In many ways Samuel preferred Investigative Magistrates to other more adversarial systems for considering the evidence. Back in the British Territories, Samuel had had to deal with adversarial courts and the jury system.
He had served his mandatory minimum term, of Investigative Service, with the National Sacred Sites Protection Force (NSSPF), having been trained as an Arcane Investigator to NSSPF’s bursary. Accredited Arcane Investigators possessed many police powers even after leaving a formal police service and going private or commercial. Having been on the series winning University Challenge Team for Hecate College, Henges University, his birth shell was occasionally recognised. Henges University being the most prestigious and oldest of the Liberal Sciences Universities, With Hecate College being the oldest college. Between his powers as an Accredited Arcane Investigator (AAI) and the additional powers from being a deputy sheriff, He had full police powers and additional powers to gather evidence and rights to use arcane abilities and magic to gather evidence and apprehend suspects.
Awaiting Samuel was a corpse with much of its head destroyed, as had the previous victims. That there was massive damage to the brain meant the victims memories and skills were not salvageable. The smell of burnt flesh, bone and brain hung sweetly on the air despite the victim being hours dead and having been murdered elsewhere and if the past bodies were anything to go by striped of any physical evidence. The hot plasma of what were, commonly, known as broiler rounds had seared and cooked the hair, flesh, bone and brain of the victim. Several of the Luna deputies were bent over emptying their stomachs, some distance away, having approached the body too closely. Samuel knew there were more wound than just those to the head. That there were other wounds was a characteristic of the earlier crimes and also evidenced by other scents that made up the smell that sent the deputies retching.
Eventually Taj’s rover arrived and Samuel strolled over, “Morning hope you haven’t had your breakfast.”
“So you’re what a Hunter7? Are you Samuel Western?” Taj held out his pocket ID Scanner that did a simplified scan of a shell’s brainwaves, to establish the shell’s spirit’s identity. Samuel smiled at the naivety of the required process. Personally he could convince the machine he was any of about a dozen spirits easily and if he worked at it many more. Just a simple mental rote had identified Taj to him and he had done that as the rover arrived.
The formal scan complied with Samuel Looked down on Taj, “We will supervise the use of nanites to gather any evidence that survives. I expect none given the previous crimes. Once that is over we will kneel by the body and you place your hands on my anointed temples whilst I rest my fingers over the victim’s eyes. That way we should both see the last hours of his life. If I can I will sense what he heard and you will be able to hear it too.”
“They said you would be all business.” Taj smiled, “Till it’s over. Why the Hunter7?”
“The Genebridge’s Hunter7 is the best bloodhound shell for the Luna environment. Compromises my power’s somewhat but the superior speed and coordination as-well-as enhanced mundane senses more than make up for that up here. Henge Biologicals’ Homodeus is my choice on Earth.” Just to show off he with superior speed and masterful sleight of hand he palmed Taj’s scanner and made it appear afront of Taj.
Before using magical investigation, Samuel released an Archaeoswarm of the scene of the dump. The Archaeoswarm being a swarm of naniets that would gather whatever evidence there was in the area and excavate down to buried items of changes in subsoil.
Extracts from the memoirs of Chief Superintendent Drake Verdier, (1848-13/09/1927).
Meeting The Terrors Of The Night, In One’s Own Home
A Visit From A Lady
It is now more than three years since Alice Howard disappeared and just less than that since I last put pen to paper to record, the major events of, my life. Now I unfortunately find that I must add a short note, after the end of the previous chapter. The reason I find that I must add this note is that, three months ago, I received a letter – signed J. Fitzjames Bart — it arrived the week after my grandson was married, to Roberta Fletcher, who is Helena Fletcher nee Fitzjames’s daughter. The letter’s writer claimed, that he had been the Horror and that he had finally taken Alice, once the twins no longer needed her. At first, I took it for a bad joke and was about to bin it, until something made me read more than the opening paragraph. Whomso had written it knew the case at least as well as I did — maybe better than I did. Several days later I read it for a second time. There were some passages, in the letter, that referred to things I had never even put in any of my reports, these included exactly what I had said, in my first meeting with John Fitzjames, about how I had cut my arm. I eventually had, Gus, my grandson, check out the other details, in the letter; they all proved to be true, even the date Roberta arrived in London, from the colonies, which was the Sixth of August 1882. So it seems that there were two Horrors or more correctly two Gifham Rippers, Roberta and John. By some mischance, I had been out smarted by a murderous little boy, who had feigned illness and frailty, to escape suspicion. It is still hard to believe that John Fitzjames was the Horror, even if, as I believe, the letter was most likely from him, despite that everyone thinks that he is dead.
I feel that it would be wrong, to rewrite what I have written about the Horror, as the letter’s insights, into the case, would only colour the way I portray John Fitzjames. Because of the letter, I have removed all details of the injuries that the victims had suffered and what lead me to concluded that the Horror was responsible for the burglaries. I feel that if the reasons for him killing, Ben Hunt, were as he claims, in the letter, then that was the only death that the Horror, or Horrors, can be forgiven. For all her faults, Alice did not deserve what Ben had planned, to do to her. The wild claims the writer made might account for some, if not all, of the more unusual aspects of the case, but those claims are most likely just the creative imaginings, of a writer, — out to exploit the case, yet again, for profit. For that reason and to protect Gus’s mother-in-law from even more sorrow, Gus and I have sworn to never to reveal the full contents, of the letter. We have instead requested that the archivist, at Bellham University, keep my manuscript there and only release it, once they are sure that certain possible authors — of the letter — are dead, most likely from drink.
Extracts from the memoirs of Chief Superintendent Drake Verdier, (1848-13/09/1927).
Jack Rips Through Bellhamshire
For much of 1898 and 99 the villagers of Gifham feared for their lives, for night-time was a terror, that regularly brought death to one or more villagers. At first it was thought that a feral dog — or dogs — was responsible for the deaths, as all the bodies showed signs of being bitten and the victim’s had had some of their flesh eaten. On the Thursday after Christmas 1898 was when I was called in, a body was found in the fields near Gifham — it was that of the pregnant wife, of a wealth, local land owner. On this occasion things were different, the woman’s body showed none of the usual signs of an animal attack — the previous ones had all shown such signs — despite which there were far too many similarities with the earlier bodies, for them not have been killed by the same killer. All the bodies had suffered massive blood-loss and there was no signs of a struggle, also there was far too little blood found, at all of the scenes of the crimes. The lack of the animal bites on the body — that had concealed the evidence, of the true nature, of the attacks, on the earlier bodies — revealed that some kind of blade had slit one of her wrists.
By the place, where we entered the field, where the body was found, there was a wrecked trap — it had lost a wheel, the previous evening. Both people who had occupied the trap, when it had been wrecked, were severely injured in the accident — John, the youngest son of George Fitzjames baronet, was nearly killed in the accident. That morning, he was abed, in what was expected to be his deathbed. The trap’s other occupant, a Miss Roberta Fitzjames, a distant cousin of Sir George’s, had died in the early hours of that morning, after heroically, despite her terrible injuries, carrying the mortally wounded, unconscious John Fitzjames the several miles, across fields, to the Fitzjamess’ home.
Extracts from the memoirs of Chief Superintendent Drake Verdier, (1848-13/09/1927).
The Unquiet Grave
Drake’s First Case
Just after I had been made an Inspector, I became entangled in a most unusual case at Nucaman Cemetery. There had been many small incidents at the cemetery, over the previous few months. The cemetery’s watch man had been assaulted at least three times, as well as him being attacked by dogs and also several tombs had been violated. The heinous incident, that resulted in my being called in, was when the gates of the Howard family’s tomb had been forced and a newly entombed body had been defiled. Christina Howard — the daughter in law of the young alderman Howard — had been entombed there only the previous day. The events at Nucaman Cemetery had become a priority investigation, after what had happened the previous night, at The Howard Tomb. The Howard family’s influence and prestige ensured that the constabulary’s finest officers were assigned, to the investigation.
I travelled to the cemetery with little hope, of solving the case — back then there was little hope of resolving cases, unless the person responsible confessed or was caught in the act. When I arrived on the scene, several of my subordinates were seated, in absolute silence, and looked rather pale. Not far away from them, there were the watchman and the caretaker, who were talking to a local clergyman. Just, as I went to enter the tomb, Constable Jenkins warned, “You dan’t wan t’ go int’ thar’.” I agree with him now, but back then I just gave him a look, that said you are on report. At my folly, he just shook his head. Only seconds after I had entered the tomb, I was back out side it once again and my breakfast joined those my colleagues had deposited earlier. It was the first time my stomach had had problems, retaining its contents, at a crime scene, since I first encounter a dead body.