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22 March 2007 @ 11:46 pm
                                          Chapter Five (part two)

Present Day

Vince spent the next day at home to finish making notes on his interviews. There was one glaring absence from his list.

Edward Naxos.

Naxos was dead; a shame. He was possibly the only person who could have been of use to Vince in the investigation. Vince was beginning to suspect that the murder of the First Lady was no crime of passion, even without the surreal deathbed conversation he had with the old Quorum representative he could have figured that much out. There was a larger, more sinister goal to her death, he was sure of it.

To the average person, the tension had become very real between the individual Colonies in the past few years, enough to see old prejudices resurface in the streets. The media built it up only for the politicians to hall it back down. ‘It is simply a matter of poor funding for education’ they would say when a racial war erupted. ‘Oil prices continue to rise this week. In other news, the technology capital, Aerelon, announces that it will not allow Colonial Trust Inspectors inside their new laboratories. The President says it is up to the CT to negotiate a solution.’ The same stories every night, they’re always playing in the background of the room. They tell us it’s all unconnected but people know. As a collective they are labeled with many unkind things, but people can sense when their world is not right. Even the most subtle changes prick their acute senses and without realising, they prepare themselves for a war they can’t see.

Not yet, but very soon. The brightest of warning beacons they say, burn in silence. Without public discussion, there is a strange kind of quiet. We notice fuel charges increase as shuttle services pass on the surcharge to the commuters and everyone spends a week moaning about Canceron’s monopoly on the market. Even that might be forgotten if more pressing issues like the latest Pyramid match take over the public interest. Still, these isolated instances became more common. Suddenly you wake up one day and wonder why you’re not surprised to spend less than twelve cubits to cross the city. Consumer Watch Dogs declare it as a fact of life and we reluctantly accept.

Vince was waking up to this reality as he read some of Colette’s personal letters found in her shuttle. In one she wrote, ‘we do not yet realize the severity of what we are accepting. We no longer whisper about civil war, we discuss it over dinner in our living rooms, believing, as we have been told, that it is inevitable. Yet the politicians remain steadfast – ‘no comment’.’

Vince’s suspicions of Colette Procris’s murder led him in the direction of Parliament, home of the manipulative vague. Had Naxos still been alive, Vince might have played him as a suspect but now he had to ask himself, what infuriated Troy Procris enough to drive him to such a violent outburst? “Do you think Troy suspected Naxos of killing his daughter?” Vince asked aloud.

Matt was on the other end of the phone conversation, sitting in Vince’s house, minding his son in the late hours of the evening. “No.” Matt heard when Vince swore quietly as he missed the turn off to the morgue. “You all right Vince?”

“Yeah, missed the turn. What makes you say that, surely that’s why Troy attacked him in the first place? Troy doesn’t strike me as the sort of man to go bruising up representatives of the Quorum for no reason.”

“He probably thought he had reason. Mix that in with the overwhelming rage of having his only daughter brutally murdered and I think you’ll find he had cause enough to attack him. I doubt he meant to kill him. That was probably an accident.”

“Somehow I don’t think he’ll be facing manslaughter charges.” Vince’s phone slipped off the charger in the car and he swore again, ducking down after it. “Damn phones!” He picked it up and nearly crashed into the curb.

Matt was stretched out on Vince’s sofa, watching Bret play ‘Assassination 3’ on mute. Bret died rather violently and scowled. Matt tapped him on the shoulder and silently reminded him to be quiet, giving him the ‘if he finds out you’re not in bed then I’m dead’ look. On the other end of the line, he heard something that sounded like a car swerving, “You still breathing?”

“No thanks to technology. What was that noise?”

“I’m tired – I yawned.” Lied Matt.

“So,” continued Vince, too distracted to pick up on Matt’s lazy deception, “if Naxos didn’t kill Colette, and obviously her father didn’t do it – or maybe he did?”

“Next lousy hunch…”

“Okay, okay. Troy probably thought Naxos knew who did.”

Matt had no idea how much Troy knew about Cris and her life. It was more likely that he hired people to find out what was going on. It was no secret that she had been meeting Naxos in private shortly before her murder – Troy probably wanted to know why. “I don’t know Vince, but if you keep talking and driving, I’ll have to solve the case myself because you’ll be a useless meatball. All I know is that Naxos didn’t kill Colette.”

“How could you possibly know that?”

Matt paused, carefully choosing his words, “I’ll tell you when you come back.”

Six days before the murder

Matt watched the First Lady intently. She had let him stay seated opposite her for the journey so far. Mostly, she had been transfixed by a blank covered document that looked slightly worn and over read. The woman stretched herself over the two chairs using the wall next to the window as a head rest. A couple of minutes ago that became uncomfortable so she took her jacket off and rolled it up into a head rest. Matt considered offering his instead when he was distracted by a section of her hair falling out of her clip. It unraveled slowly and twisted itself onto her shoulder. The First Lady didn’t notice and continued reading.

Realising he was staring at the President’s wife, Matt chose to engage himself in other, less satisfying entertainments – such as watching the planet fade into an ever smaller dot. If he craned his neck slightly, a lesser, orange object appeared. Aerelon.

His attention span for the scenery of space was far shorter than his ability to watch Colette Procris’s every movement. Most fascinating was the hurried pace of her eyes as they flew over the lines of text. Backwards and forwards, Matt was amazed her mind could process information that fast.

Something was wrong – two, dark eyes had met his own and began anaylising him. Colette was no longer reading. Matt had been caught.

“What – what are you reading?” said Matt, attempting to provide a legitimate reason for his actions.

She didn’t miss a beat, “A very interesting piece of non-fiction.” Colette paused, “What are were you staring at?”

Present day

“She was strangled.”


The coroner bent his gaze back down to the office table where he had an assortment of photographs from the post mortem displayed for Detective Vince Moretti’s benefit. Usually he would allow the detectives in to see the actual corpse, but Vince went weak at the knees at the sight of them. Predictably, Vince had delayed his visit until after the funeral.

“Her larynx was crushed. The skin around her throat is bruised in a manner that suggests she was attacked from the front, most likely by someone –”

Vince interrupted the doctor, picking up a particularly graphic photograph, examining it carefully so as not to catch a glimpse of the First Lady’s open eyes. “You mean, she knew her attacker?”

“That’s for you to decide. I can only tell you what happened, not what made it happen.” The doctor pointed to the pre-autopsy picture in Vince’s hand, “See, these bruises around her neck are a result of the act itself but this one, on the side of her right cheek, happened before. The rest of the markings on her skin were caused during the struggle or the fall afterward. None of which caused her death.”

“And the attacker?” Vince scanned over the awful images of the First Lady’s injuries.

“Well, as I was about to say before I was so impolitely interrupted –” Doctor Worth gave his long time friend an affable glare. “They were stronger than her. It takes a good deal of effort to strangle another person in this manner. Especially a feisty one like her.” Now it was Vince’s turn to sharpen his eyes in warning. “Not feisty?” queried the doctor innocently. “I’d be looking for a man, her height or taller. You could probably stretch it to an unusually large or strong woman.” Vince threw the photo back down on the desk, exhaling loudly, “I wish I could give you more, but I didn’t find anything on her that could help you.”

“That’s all right.” Vince retrieved his hat from a nearby chair and headed to the door. As he reached for the handle, his stomach dropped. He was forgetting something, something important. Vince ran a hand over his hair, making sure the thicket was sitting a reasonable height above his skin. “Charles –” Doctor Worth looked up from packing the photos away, “when you say, ‘nothing that could help me’ does that mean that you found nothing?”

Worth slid the last of the photos into the filing folder and quickly wrote its serial number on the label in the corner. “Well, there were fibers on her clothes, but they all matched the names you gave me of the people in her close contact group.”

Vince stepped back from the door. “Which ones, in particular?”

*   *   *

“Go, go, go!” Matt prodded Bret impatiently up the stairs and toward his bedroom. He could hear Vince’s car pulling into the driveway. Panic set in. It was nearly one in the morning and on his first real baby sitting job, the kid was still awake and had spent all night playing video games. “Come on, hurry up!”

Bret thought the whole thing was hilarious and decided to fall fast asleep on the landing at the top of the stairs. Matt, however, watched on in horror as the child he was trying to herd out of sight fell into a comatose state. “What are you doing?” he whispered in alarm. Bret snored loudly in response. “For the love of…” Matt scooped him up and struggled into the corridor.

He was presented with five doors all of which were closed and the sound of a car door slamming outside. Not enough time to try them all. Matt gritted his teeth and opened the first door on the left with his elbow.

Bathroom. No good. Door opposite – linen press.

Keys jiggled in the lock of the door downstairs and Bret snored so loudly that he snorted. Giggling filtered through into the snoring. “I know you’re awake.” More giggling, less snoring. “Come on, please?” More snoring, less giggling. This was hopeless.

The front door opened and the steady sound of the rain outside kicked up a couple of notches in volume. Someone sighed and removed a garment of clothing. All of a sudden, Bret leapt out of Matt’s hold and scurried silently up the hallways and through into the room at the end. It was the only room Matt wouldn’t have tried. Generally speaking, the room at the end of the hallway was always the largest and belonged to the parent Oh no… Matt followed. Stopping outside the door, he listened. He could hear Bret fake-snoring somewhere in the room. Slowly, he opened the door and peered in.

“Good of you to check on him.”

Matt managed not to jump several feet from the door. Instead, he turned slowly to look at a weary Vince standing a few feet away from him. Vince’s shirt was undone a couple of buttons and his usually clean shaven face was on the verge of being reclaimed by stubble. “Yeah, I thought I’d make sure he was asleep.” Replied Matt, closing the door.

Vince smiled thankfully, “You’re the first babysitter to get him to go to bed. Usually he’s still up sneaking around the house or playing video games. How did you do it?”

Matt smirked, “You know… Beginners luck.”

*   *   *

Vince asked Matt a few more questions about Edward Naxos and his relationship with the First Lady. He took notes as Matt spoke which was distracting. Eventually Matt left and Vince retired to his desk to set about trying to reconcile what Charles Worth had told him about the First Lady’s murder with his growing repertoire of information.

There were traces of five people on Colette’s clothing. This was brilliant. Taking this evidence into consideration, Vince could wean down his potential suspect pool to a tight knit group comprising of the most trusted people in civilization. Starting, of course, with the President before moving on to the Head of Security and his stand in continuing with the dry cleaner down the road until finishing grandly with Colette Procris herself. All of whom had a legitimate reason for their ‘fibers’ to be appearing on the First Lady’s clothes. And of course, all of whom were too trustworthy to commit murder. (People always trusted their dry cleaners. Vince had never met a person who had surrendered their most prized suit to a person they didn’t trust).

Vince wanted to pound his head on the wall behind. It was too much to hope for a break through this early on in the investigation. That only happened in the movies.

Almost subconsciously, he pulled out his top drawer and retrieved the First Lady’s personal file. Vince pulled the small photograph of her out from under the paper clip and held it to the light whispering, “What do you know? I bet it’s more than you let on.”

Six days before the murder

“For the sake of the gods Paul, rein her in.” In the President’s opinion, Jim was engaging in a love affair with his phone. It felt that every spare moment of his time was spent calling up people to spurt endless streams of uselessness. Unfortunately, occasionally the man had a point. “If you could only see the damage she was doing to your presidency, please consider what’s at stake. You owe it to the people you work for – to the public that elected you.”

“Jim –”

“Yes Mr. President?”

“You’re the Minister for Immigration.” Paul hung up the phone. There were twelve billion people in the Colony, why did Jim always pick him?

A soft knock at the door brought Paul over from his desk. His secretary poked her head around his door, “Mr. President, the Representative for Gemenon is here for his meeting.”

“Isn’t that at two?”

Margaret nodded. “Yes, but he was wondering if you could slot him in early. He has to fly out un-expectantly this afternoon. I checked your appointments; you’re free for another half hour.”

Sometimes Paul wondered if it was worth keeping a schedule. No-one but him seemed to pay the slightest bit of attention to it. “All right, show him in.” Paul shared a meaningful look with his morning tea then bid it farewell.

*   *   *

“So what is it that you so desperately want to talk to me about?” Paul strode over to the lounge area in his office, inviting the other man to join him.

Epeius slid into the room. He was small in stature and slender. His robes dragged slightly on the floor and gathered in piles of fabric around his feet. His face was angular and harsh with a nose that protruded in one direction then shifted its agenda and headed down sharply in a hook. A broad smile filled his bony face when he spotted the President collapsing casually into the couch.

Three hours and forty-two minutes until the fall

A scrap of metal bent violently outwards from the side of the gutted Raptor and flew out onto the dune. It rode the incline, flipping when its edge caught the sand. It was sharp and hot. The once grey metal had turned black and red in the heat of the crash. The ejected fragment picked up speed, tearing open the flesh of someone’s arm.

The cut was clean and swift, sealed by the hot touch of the metal. A man, strewn over the dune, cried out in a low, breathless scream. The pain revived him and he rolled over, holding onto his arm as sand poured off his uniform.

He was somewhere on Aerelon. He knew that, but couldn’t remember where. There was so much noise in his head. People were yelling, the engines scratched and ground over. An intense heat, rising up from the floor. Someone shouted, ‘down, down, no!’ – and then white. A strange form of sleep between dreams and reality ensued. There was time but no place, no reality but a perception of existence.

Now he thought he saw Athena, rise from the wreck of the Raptor. Her robes flowed over the fire and the flames calmed. Thick plumes of smoke twisted around her, rising and falling like the sweet incense that smoldered in the corner of his home. All things fell to her will.

The incense faded and the sun overhead rose. Blood trickled through his grip and dried on his hands.

(Deleted comment)
ellymellyellymelly on March 22nd, 2007 01:55 pm (UTC)
Is it my imagination, or is something brewing between Matt and Chris?

*facepalm* Actually, that is completly the intention. They are the my pairing of choice for this fic. Do you have objections to them being a pair lmao? (I promised they are a troubled and brief pair *wink*)
Speak softly and carry a rapier wit.: pic#57528422cannibalcake on March 23rd, 2007 06:53 am (UTC)
Oh, excellent! It's up! :) This is awesome. Can't wait for the next bit.
ellymellyellymelly on March 23rd, 2007 12:15 pm (UTC)
just in case you thought i might have forgotten you, i have credited you as a beta on the home page of this community :D Thank you so much for reading this and giving me feedback :D
scratch_arscratch_ar on March 23rd, 2007 01:06 pm (UTC)
Thoroughly enjoying this, as you well know! I think it was an absolute stroke of genius (and an incredible display of pure balls) to tackle such a momumental project *salutes you*

I am, as you also know, incredibly envious of your writing abilities. Your beautiful attention to detail, the imagery your writing inspires and the utter creative talent and discipline it has taken to build this novel has got me writing again! Seriously!

I would give my mother's right arm (cause I need mine to write) for just a splash of your tenacity as an author. Personally, I can never manage to finish my projects. I'm always excited and focused when I start the story, know where it's heading, build the characters, develop the plot so on and so forth. Then I come back to it after I've slept and realise that the whole lot was crap and I'm too annoyed to re-write or finish it. How do you do that!? Keep the interest and the motivation? Are there pills? Spells?

"Dark Day" was, essentially, a shell of a story (because we only knew it was a Colonial "classic" and a mystery) and you have taken it, run with it and filled it with this fantastic, compelling, literary chocolate. And, as with all things that involve chocolate, I am completely hooked and addicted.

Eagerly awaiting your next chapter.
ellymellyellymelly on March 23rd, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC)
Now you've made me go bright red! *hugs scratch tightly*

I know what you mean by starting a story and then abandoning it a little while later. I have many many stories on the go at the moment and I find the only way to finish them is to give them 'space'. If I leave them alone for long enough the story continues to develope and I am able to return to it and sometimes re-write it. (A good example is my favourite project at present, Lab 47, which is completly planned but on hiatus for a month or two lol). I also have started keeping a writing journal where (this is going to make me sound crazy) I write down details of the plot and side notes about characters. It sounds stupid but I find that it helps (seeing as a I suffer from the same thing you do :D )

I'm actually writing the next chapter as I type this. I don't know, I'm a re-inspired at the moment after being introduced to the life and works of Isaac Asimov. It's silly I know, but he had such a love of writing and devotion to the art. :D

I really hope that you finish some of the projects you speak of. Basically you just have to trust your writing (which is incredibly talented scratch :D ) and just go for it.

... did any of that make sense? lol, it's getting late here and I'm multitasking :D
scratch_arscratch_ar on March 23rd, 2007 01:45 pm (UTC)
*hugs you back* You deserve every inch of it!

I can't wait for the rest of Lab 47! (that's the computer one, isn't it?)

To your "writing journal": NOT SILLY AT ALL! My desk, and the surrounding area(...my house really), is chock'a'block full of post-its, half-written scenes and snippets of dialogue. Your journal is far more organised! (once again, I must stamp on my green eyed monster before it drives the six hours or so to your house and eats you)

Aaannndd...*runs off to google Isaac Asimov*
ellymellyellymelly on March 23rd, 2007 01:58 pm (UTC)
no no, lol. Lab 47 is as yet, unreleased :D

To your "writing journal": NOT SILLY AT ALL! My desk, and the surrounding area(...my house really), is chock'a'block full of post-its, half-written scenes and snippets of dialogue. Your journal is far more organised! (once again, I must stamp on my green eyed monster before it drives the six hours or so to your house and eats you)

oh trust me, i'm knee deep in random snipets of stories that will probably never see the light of day. Do you ever start plotting an entire story around one line that randomly came to you? Bet you do :D

I about the most disorganised person on the face of the planet. I'm incapable of being tidy, it sounds like you are too! :D The only reason i now have a journal is i was spending a lot of time traveling in and out of the city so i needed a portable form of 'post-it' notes. :D

ellymellyellymelly on March 23rd, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
^^^^ignore my shocking grammar!
scratch_arscratch_ar on March 23rd, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC)
LOL *duly ignores*

And yes, LOL, I do start a complete story with a just single line. That's how the "Laura and Bill" story started. I was randomly trying to analyse their ship (I think too much) and suddenly my mind farted and this appeared:

"When the Fleet Commander was beginning to resent his position, his rank, his duties; then his subordinates would begin to follow. Anarchy would ensue, and everything every colonial citizen had ever fought for in the last three thousand years would have been for absolutely nothing."

COMPLETE radomness. I even think I was doing the dishes at the time.

As to organisation...I try. I really, really try. Never quite manage it, though.
ellymellyellymelly on March 23rd, 2007 02:30 pm (UTC)
"When the Fleet Commander was beginning to resent his position, his rank, his duties; then his subordinates would begin to follow. Anarchy would ensue, and everything every colonial citizen had ever fought for in the last three thousand years would have been for absolutely nothing."

see, now that's a really great line to start a fic with. My line was more in the region of, 'So oops...'