The Ishtar Investigation
Chapter 11: Rumors and veiled accusations
Momma Nelson instructed me to never say too much about what happened in my bedroom, but I have to admit that Fate surprised me with how much she appeared to enjoy the evening. It was close to two hours before I finally rolled onto my side and tiredly demanded that I be allowed to sleep.
Fate agreed, but proceeded to lie on her side and back up so her ass was pressed tightly against my cock. When I tried to pull free she grabbed my arm and pressed it against her breast. At that point I realized she was purring much like a contented cat and I quietly closed my eyes.
The next morning I woke up to find that we were still spooned together tightly. My bladder was sending out a few warning signs so I gently eased my arm from Fate's embrace and rolled over, preparing to stand up. The instant my shoulders and back were against the mattress Fate whirled and pounced on me again. She looked me in the eyes and whispered. "Promise me."
There was silence in the room. I looked over and could see that Sarah was lying with Linda although they had their backs to each other. Seeing that Sarah's eyes were closed I looked up at Fate. "Promise you what?" I replied quietly.
Fate blushed. "Promise me that you'll be mine."
"Um ... Fate ... I have my other ladies. How can I be yours?" I asked.
Fate blushed deeper, but smiled. "I know that. All I ask is that you be my master forever. Please don't throw me away like Miss Gates did."
I nodded. "Well, I'm not much for doing things like that," I said.
Fate looked sad, but a giggle from Sarah revealed that my concubine had heard the exchange. "Oh, stop worrying," Sarah mumbled tiredly. "Norm will keep you forever, that's what kind of a man he is."
Fate looked at me as I nodded. "However, first, we need to solve this puzzle, and after yesterday I'm not sure we really are any closer. I think I need to sit in a cafeteria and see who comes up to me today."
Fate nodded and slowly slid from the bed. Once her feet were on the ground she turned around and placed a kiss on my forehead. "Thank you master," she whispered. "I will always do my best for you."
She dashed to the other room as I extracted myself from the bed. Once I was standing Sarah launched herself from the other bunk and threw her arms around me. I could feel her giggling into my back and sighed. "Sarah, you and Fate should stay in the room today. If what Linda said last night is true, we can expect the culprits to take action today."
Sarah pouted slightly, but then gave me a kiss and pushed me towards the other room. I walked quickly over there. As I entered the room I found Fate standing at the replicator looking sad and confused.
"I don't know what to bring you for your breakfast!" she mourned.
"Try a omelet with ham, peppers and cheese," Sarah's voice called out. "Norm loves those."
Fate smiled. Before I could speak up she had obtained a tray from the replicator and brought it over to me. She guided me to a chair and set it before me. I could see that it was the omelet that Sarah had suggested.
Fate sat silently across from me as I ate the breakfast. She quickly removed the tray once I was finished. I smiled and spoke to her. "Aren't you hungry?"
Fate nodded. "Yes, but I thought you wanted me to wait for you to finish breakfast. Jennifer never allowed her concubines to sit and eat with her."
"Well, I like having my concubines with me most of the time," I replied. "However, today you'll need to stay in the room with Sarah for now. I'm heading out to continue the investigation and I'm fairly sure that someone will try something today."
Fate gave me a hug as she ran over to the replicator and began ordering her own food. I got into my usual uniform and after giving a last hug to Sarah headed to the cafeteria where I planned on sitting and seeing who came to me.
As I walked through the corridors of the Success, I noticed that the officers of the ship stared at me. A few ratings were willing to approach me, but the officers glared at me with suspicion coloring their features. It was clear that everyone was now convinced that I was on the ship for an active investigation and that speculation as to what that investigation was had been rampant. I offered nods to the few officers who did not immediately turn away, but said nothing.
Once I found a seat I sat down. The room was mostly empty when I found the corner seat, but once I settled down with a glass of water and my PDA a number of officers began taking seats at the other tables. Most of them were staring at me while also keeping a close eye on their counterparts at the other tables.
A small crowd had gathered at the various tables in the cafeteria during the next hour. Most of the men were junior officers, but I noticed more than a few colonels and majors trying to remain in the background. I continued to look at my PDA as if I was reviewing some facts, although at the time I was actually composing a letter to Heidi, Mio and Mara back on Borneo. Occasionally, one of the officers would dash off down a corridor, usually visibly muttering something under his breath.
I was beginning to think that no one was going to test what I was doing when Major DuPont slid into the chair across from me.
"You certainly have stirred up this place," he said laconically.
I nodded. "Perhaps, but I notice that you don't appear all that worried."
The major laughed. "Well, you already know why. General Clayton followed up on your suggestion from yesterday. We did find out who changed the specifications on the shield generator. The arrest orders went out this morning and the prints are now correct. He would love to thank you, but..."
I tried to hide my smirk, but I could hear a quiet hiss from several of the watching officers. "But if he did, it might look bad considering that just about every officer here considers the Internal Affairs department to be a few steps below your average minion of Satan."
Major DuPont nearly fell out of his chair laughing. "Oh that is a good one, but it's also rather accurate. We don't see Internal Affairs officers here very often, but I can't think of a single officer on the Success that wants to meet one."
I shrugged. "I can't imagine why," I replied innocently. "After all, we only seek to punish those who misuse their authority and in doing so cause harm to other citizens."
It appeared that Major Dupont was about to say more when one of the officers stalked up to the table and stood glaring at me. I was watching the Major regain his seat in the chair when the officer spoke.
"What are you doing here? You have no business on this ship," the man snarled.
I took my time to slowly turn and look at him. "I'm sorry," I said. "I'm afraid we haven't been introduced. I am Commander Nelson, Internal Affairs Officer from the Borneo Military District and reporting to General Montgomery of that district. Now by what right did you say I don't belong here?"
The man raised his right hand as if he was going to throw a punch, but lowered it slowly after taking a breath. "This isn't Borneo Military District," he spat at me. "And no one here cares what some provincial general has to say. You don't belong here Commander."
Major DuPont decided to interject himself into the conversation at this point. "Commodore Franks, it might be wise to reconsider what you are saying. The regulations say that Internal Affairs officers will only respond to the officer who gave them their assignments. If Commander Nelson is here on a mission, your screaming at him will only make you look guilty."
The officer turned to look at Major DuPont. "I'm not guilty of anything, but we don't need some corporate spy here looking over all of our operations!"
I sighed. "Actually, I'll be kind to you just this once, since everyone seems to feel that I'm here investigating them. There is a good reason for me to be here, and I'm sure that even Miles Chandler and Fleet Admiral Tucker will agree when they see the report."
Major DuPont looked at me in shock. "This one is that big?" he asked.
I nodded. "It could be. Obviously, I still have a lot of checking still to do, but General Montgomery did not send me over some little thing. This investigation is perhaps the biggest one I've ever been on."
Commodore Franks looked at me. "You really expect me to believe that?"
I just shook my head. "Its not my place to worry about what you believe. I'm here to fix a problem."
Commodore Franks glared at me one more time before storming back to his table where he sank into a chair. He grabbed a mug that he must have left there and proceeded to scowl at anyone who attempted to approach him. Major DuPont barked a laugh as he stood up.
"He never did figure out that his abrupt attitude causes no end of trouble," Major DuPont observed. "Well, I know that you aren't looking into anything I did, not that I'm going to rest too easy. Something tells me that someone is going to completely come apart before your investigation is through."
I was about to nod when a man wearing a grey business suit approached the table. He waved at Major Dupont. "Officer, please leave me alone with the inspector," he commanded.
Major DuPont turned pale and immediately left the table. The man stood there for several moments before finally speaking to me. "Are you not going to invite me to sit?"
"I'm sorry," I replied. "Do I have a reason to invite you to sit?" I asked.
For a moment the man looked taken aback, but it only lasted the briefest of moments before he schooled his face into an impassive front. As he regained his control he looked at me. "You have been poking around and have dealt with a couple of my underlings," he said. "Now I know you aren't going to tell me exactly what you are investigating, but I don't think I'm asking too much to sit with you and talk for a while."
I looked at the man for another moment. The tie he was wearing with the suit reminded me of the power ties some of the executives loved to wear when attending meetings and I sighed. "Miles Chandler, I presume."
I could hear the man snort, but he refused to acknowledge my comment. Finally I waved toward the seat. "Go ahead and sit," I said. "You know that I cannot say much."
Miles sat. As soon as he was sitting he pounded on the table with his right hand. "I don't like the rules you operate under, and I'm livid that you were investigating my departments without any warning. Now, the rules might say I can't do anything to you, but we both know that I can make whatever investigation you are involved in far more difficult. So, let me know what you are investigating and perhaps I can help."
"Miles," I said quietly. "If I give you knowledge of my current investigation, it could prejudice the investigation. Worse, it could increase the animosity between you and Fleet Admiral Tucker, and I do not need that as this time."
Miles glared at me. "Damn! I had heard you visited Traci and her department. Most investigators don't bother visiting any DECO department, so I had a fear that something went wrong with colonies in some way. Is it as bad as P'yong or Reck?"
"I can't say anything at this time," I admitted. "But I can assure you that you will be informed when I have a final report."
Miles stood slowly. "If you can, I'd like some kind of progress report. I don't like hearing that anyone in DECO has been violating procedure, and I don't need the embarrassment right now."
He looked off into the distance and I could see a scowl upon his face. I looked over to where he had been looking and could see a man wearing an admiral's uniform standing at the entrance to the cafeteria.
Miles turned and left the table. I put my PDA away as he did and moments later the admiral he had been glaring at walked over and stood at the table.
"Officer," he growled. "Are you going to invite me to sit, or shall we have this conversation while standing?"
I refused to look up. "Sit, Admiral Tucker," I replied without saluting. "Having you show up right after Miles left is going to make my investigation immeasurably difficult, but I doubt you care about that."
Admiral Tucker sat down in the chair, throwing enough force into the motion to shake the table. He glared around the cafeteria at the many watching officers. I could see a tight line appear around his eyes. "Only the guilty should be worried, and the fact that so many officers are here says that too many feel guilty about things they are doing. I just want the troubles to end, and you are a unknown quantity in my battles with Miles."
"Office politics," I groaned. "This is why I was a consultant back on Earth. I hate office politics."
I looked directly at Admiral Tucker who tried to meet my stare, but finally turned away. As he did I spoke. "I'll tell you the same thing I told Miles. Yes, I'm here on an investigation. No, I won't tell you what its about, or provide any kind of progress report although you will be provided with a final report when I have finished. Now, the visits from both of you has greatly complicated an investigation that was already complex enough just by involving one or more of the officers on this ship. I really don't want to provide any of the officers involved in the situation I'm investigating a reason for becoming frightened and trying to eliminate me or other possible witnesses."
To his credit Admiral Tucker appeared honestly sorry for his presence. "Look," he said. "You already know about the political battles. I doubt you'd deny that just your being here changes the dynamic quite a bit. Either Miles or I is going to look less competent when you reveal why you are here and who managed to violate procedures. And that is going to have an impact. My goal in approaching you is probably no different from his, to do all I can to limit how much of an impact on my political position your revelations have."
By the end of Admiral Tucker's rant I was shaking my head. "Admiral you might want to cashier me for saying this, but I don't give a fuck about everyone's petty power games. I'm here because someone circumvented established rules and procedures in a way to endanger the lives of other citizens. My sole purpose it to find out who did it and bring him to justice, while hopefully closing the loopholes they exploited to endanger the others. If that means you get a little embarrassed perhaps you should have been paying more attention to what the officers on this ship were doing rather than worrying about whether you or Miles will get declared the first Tyrant of the Human Diaspora or whatever chicken-shit name you two have come up with this week."
The Admiral stood up abruptly and glowered at me. "That disrespect has no place here, officer. And who are these citizens who you say are in danger?"
I stood myself and gave the Admiral a salute. "Sir, once again, regulations forbid me from talking about a case until it is solved, unless it's with the officer who gave me the mission. You are not currently authorized to hear the details, but I can say that this case could have the largest number of charges of premeditated murder of any in the history of humans being part of the Confederacy."
The Admiral gave me his own salute and then turned away. He had gone perhaps two steps when I heard him call out. "AI, I need a private line to General Montgomery as soon as one can be made available!"
His departure seemed to be the signal for a small exodus as many of the watching officers jumped from their seats and dashed out of the cafeteria. Few followed Admiral Tucker, but every other passage was momentarily filled with men. I remained standing where I was as they rushed away. My arms and legs were still shaking as my anger faded and I realized just how close I had come to being court-martialed for insubordination.
Once the shaking subsided I sank back into my chair and reached for my glass. I had my eyes closed as I thought back over the two encounters so I missed Linda sliding into the chair across for me and started when she spoke.
"You must have said something to put the fox in the hen house," she said as I looked at her in shock. "I couldn't hear what you said just before the exodus started, but I have to say you did an impressive job of clearing the room."
I looked around. As Linda had noted the cafeteria was almost completely clear of officers. There were two sitting at a table far from us, but it was clear they were engrossed in a game of Go. Other than them the room as empty, while several half drunk glasses remained on tables.
"Visits from both Miles Chandler and Fleet Admiral Tucker were the cause of the exodus," I replied. "Those two were more worried about being embarrassed by any revelations I have than solving the case. And in approaching me openly they really fouled up the investigation."
Linda giggled. "Perhaps, but perhaps not. We don't know why our suspect decided to do what they did. I can see one or two reasons which would almost require that they act in the next day or two now that you are here and investigating."
I glared at my protégé. "And how would they know I'm investigating them?"