Previous Next

Don't I Know You From Somewhere?

Posted on Fri Mar 10th, 2017 @ 7:37am by Lieutenant Erin Whitlam PhD & Commander Jordan Gunning

Mission: Lie Of Omission
Location: Science Lab 8 [Deck 82]

Jordan had stepped off his shuttle and immediately been served with inspection papers for the little ship. Lazlo was seeking a bit of revenge for being put in a difficult position and who was Gunning to argue with that? The investigator held the only thing he needed from the ship, the only thing that could even be questioned by the base's authorities. The little slip of paper had been bagged, rolled, and shoved into a little pocket on the inside of his sleeve.

He knew what he needed to know from it, but he hoped that a more scientific analysis might allow him to skip a couple of steps.

If there was one man who could help, he knew it would be the station's science chief, Titus Drusus. He rounded a corner and the large doors of the science labs parted in front of him. It was early - very early - and nobody seemed to be about. He walked past the thick glass windows of the individual labs where a few scientists went busily about their experiments and another few tried their best not to doze off in front of piles of notes.

By the time he reached Lab 8 there was no sign of Drusus so he opened the door and stuck his head in. "Have you seen Commander Drusus?" He asked the hooded figure working within.

Her first shift on her first day in this new assignment wasn’t due to begin for a few hours yet, but Erin Whitlam found herself unable to stay away. She just had to check. It was about two thirds of the way through her usual morning swim – a daily ritual that was just as important in her life as the coffee that followed it – when the thought tugged at her attention like a rip tide. She finished her remaining laps, dressed back in her sweats and rushed straight to the lab to find out. If the Starbase didn’t have one installed, her planned observation of the Galenera binary would be pointless.

She looked completely out of place with no shoes, black sweatpants and a light grey hoodie, but the determined look on her face broached no challenge from the few people scattered around the labs. She accessed the console in Lab 8 and scrolled through the instrument inventory, finding her answer just as the door opened.

She swivelled the stool around to face the door and pulled the hood back off her head. The man in the doorway didn’t look like he belonged in the labs either. “Haven’t seen him,” Erin replied with a shrug. “But if you find him, can you tell him we’re in desperate need of a Mark Four Subspace Gravimetric Spectrometer, instead of the obsolete Mark Three we have.”

The woman's face was familiar to Gunning but he couldn't put his finger on where he'd seen her before. Probably here, he thought. Where the hell else would he recognise her from? "Subspace Gravimetric Spectrometer." He repeated loudly, stumbling over the word 'gravimetric'. "What's that when it's at home then?"

So not one of the science staff, then, Erin thought to herself. "It's basically a subspace scanner that lets us have a closer look at the behaviour and strength of gravitons in subspace. But the Threes are rubbish compared to the Fours."

"Sounds fascinating." Gunning lied. He only barely remembered what a graviton was. "If you see Drusus can you tell him that Gunning's looking for him?"

Erin furrowed her brow as a bell rang in the back of her mind. "Gunning?" she repeated as a memory forced it's way forward. "Any relation to Alexander Gunning?"

Oh for christ's sake. The younger of the Gunning brothers had spent a career, nay a life, answering questions about his illustrious and sadly departed brother. Getting out of the service had been - at least in part - an attempt to get away from dewy-eyed recruits asking him about the exploits of Errol Flynn himself. "Yes, my brother." He said eventually, it was just easier.

The hesitation in his response told her that he'd heard that question plenty of times before, so dwelling on it was probably not a good idea. "Oh," she said with a nod. "He served with my father during the Dominion War. I have all of his after action reports - the declassified ones, anyway - and I must have come across the name at some point."

"Who was your father?" Jordan asked, realising he'd probably been a bit brusque with her. "I knew some of the folk he served with. Not very well to be fair, I was probably a bit too young to be running about with them."

Erin seemed to straighten on the stool just a little bit, a subtle display of pride and respect for his memory. "Julius Whitlam. He was captain of the Manoora."

"I rememeber him!" Gunning exclaimed, slightly too excitedly. He could see it now, the woman's face bore an uncanny family resemblance and he remembered seeing her alongside Captain Whitlam's wife at one of the Dominion War remembrance services. He caught himself before asking how he was doing these days. He knew. "I was sorry to hear about what happened to him."

She smiled at Gunning's enthusiastic reaction; it meant that his recollection of her father was at least positive. She had long ago grown accustomed to the various reactions people had when they found out whose daughter she was and knew how to handle the sympathies that inevitably followed. "Thank you, I appreciate that," she said, looking around the lab. "And, I'm sorry about your brother as well. You probably hear that a lot, too, I'll bet."

"Most people just avoid eye contact to be honest." Gunning knew that his new job meant it was easier for the officers of the base, especially the ones who had been aboard a while, to ignore him and get on with their days. Lucky them.

That struck Erin as being a preferable alternative to what she usually encountered - people going out of their way to tell her that they knew her father. But she was used to it by now, having practically grown up with it; her father had been dead most of her life. Rather than dwell on ghosts, she took the opportunity to change the subject. "Well, if I see the boss around I'll let him know you're looking for him. Can I tell him why you're chasing him?"

"I need him to do me a favour." Gunning was trying to keep it to himself but something about the conversation stopped him being cagey. He took the little roll in its protective bag out from his sleeve and carried it across the room to the young Whitlam. "I need to try and get some kind of DNA analysis on this. I need to know who wrote it."

She took the bag from him one quick motion and held it up. "That should be easy," she said before she looked around the room. Spotting a likely place for it, she walked over to a nearby drawer and pulled out a bio-configured tricorder. "What are you, some kind of detective?" she asked as he brought the bag and the tricorder back to the bench in the middle of the room.

"Umm, yeah." Gunning suddenly felt quite silly, cutting about dressed like a detective. "Private Investigator."

She looked at him sideways as she carefully removed the paper from the bag and placed it on the bench top. "I didn't think you were Starfleet," she said, before turning her attention back to the specimen. "Security types are usually neatly into their uniforms by this hour. What's the case you're working on, Detective?" she added as she opened the tricorder and started tapping in commands.

He must finally have shed that 'look' of a Starfleet officer. "Just Jordan's fine." He said, watching her carefully across the desk. "A murder down on Archa Four, a young guy. Police aren't overly keen on me looking for leads."

"Do you think that's professional jealousy? Or that they don't want the murderer found?" Erin asked conversationally as she scanned the specimen.

"I think it's probably a bit of both. Local police forces never have much time for people interfering with their investigations which, I guess, is what I'm doing."

"Maybe just a little," Erin said as the scan completed. She looked at the readout and nodded, before turning the display so Gunning could see it. "Well," she said. "We've narrowed your search down to about half the population of Archa Four. Whoever wrote this was an Archan male."

Gunning took another look at the handwriting. The script was beautiful, arching, calligraphic. He would have said feminine in one sense - that was why you couldn't put any stock in handwriting analysis. "It's a start." He'd had a feeling that this didn't have any off-world input. This didn't prove it but it strengthened the hunch. Archan high society was a pretty tight group and although you could find yourself in it pretty quickly, they didn't take to foreigners well.

You weren't likely to see any Vulcans at an Archan garden party. "Anything else to go on?"

She shook her head and shrugged. "I can tell you that he had black hair, grey eyes and a chromosome abnormality that would make him more susceptible to certain kinds of cancer. But I can't give you the guy's address and work schedule from his DNA," she added with a grin. "I can give you his DNA profile, though. You should be able to cross reference it with any Archan databases you might be able to break into."

"I was really hoping you could tell me where he gets his coffee in the morning." Gunning took the offered PADD as he watched Whitlam carefully place the paper back into the protective bag. "This is really helpful, Whitlam, thanks."

"No problem," Erin replied with a smile as she handed the bag back. "Good luck with your case, Detective."

Jordan Gunning
Private Investigator


Lieutenant (JG) Erin Whitlam
Science Officer


Previous Next