The Journey Inward – Chapter 4 – ARC

The Journey Inward – Chapter 4 ARC

The following is copyrighted material. It is an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy which is an uncorrected proof and not representative of the final – published version) If you like this chapter, please support the eventual release of this book. Please feel free to make constructive suggestions in the comments or in a personal message to the author. (email at the end of the selection)

The Journey Inward

The Journey Series

Bob James

Copyright Bob James 2017

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the eventual publisher of this book. 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales entirely coincidental. 

This is Chapter 4 of my book. Previous chapters can be found by clicking on the chapter




Chapter 4

Some days Aiden walked to the station.  A beautiful day like this would normally have been one of them. Today, though, he wanted privacy, so he took his skimmer. He didn’t normally have many encounters with others along the way, but he didn’t want to take the chance. If that Qu’evahn female was up, he wanted to talk with her privately.

“What’s her name again?” he asked himself. He pulled out his notepad and read the name again. “Ah, yes, Aryence. What a beautiful female…and she’s Qu’evahn to boot!” Aiden was excited over what the possibilities might be with this female. He had heard a lot of stories from others even though he had never known a Qu’evahn female. He thought Aryence had seemed normal enough, but wondered what she might be like in private.

He opened a mobile communication line and connected with Aryence. She answered. “Hey Aryence, this is Aiden.”

Aryence sounded like she had just woken up, “Hello. Aiden? Aiden who?” Aiden could hear her yawn as she spoke. “How late is it?”

Aiden was miffed at himself for calling so early, but he decided to press ahead. “It’s a little before first moon rise. I’m the cop you met last night.”

“Oh, Aiden! Sorry Aiden.” Aryence yawned again. “I should have told you to wait until after second moon rise to call. What can I do for you?”

Aiden’s tendrils quivered as he thought of all the different ways he wanted to answer that question. He restrained himself because he knew he didn’t want to scare the Qu’evahn female off. “You had said that we might get together some time and I thought tonight would be good. What do you say we get something to eat after work tonight?”

Aryence yawned again, “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. I get off halfway between first and second moonfall. When do you get off?”

Aiden had trouble controlling the skimmer he was so excited. “Play it cool, Aiden. Play it cool!” he told himself. “I normally get off a little closer to second moonfall,” he said. “I can probably arrange to get off a little early so that I can pick you up.”

“That sounds good,” Aryence responded. “Can you pick me up at the bar?”

“I’d love to!” Aiden said. “See you tonight!”                                                        i

“Looking forward to it; wearing purple too.” Aryence clicked off the communicator and Aiden was sure that she had already fallen back asleep before she spoke that last nonsensical phrase. He didn’t care. He had a date with her and that was all that mattered.

He floated the skimmer into his parking space and then, practically floated up the stairs to the locker room to get ready for work.

Seppe came in through the back door of the locker room at about the same time. Their lockers were right next to each and they got ready together talking through ideas on open cases.  Aiden was about to brag about his success in arranging a date when a call rang out through the locker room. “Seppe! Aiden! In my office, NOW!”

When Captain Tengler called, the detectives jumped. Seppe and Aiden got what they could together and ran to his office. They saw Officer Re’Lears who had some pictures on the captain’s desk when they walked in. “Officer Re’Lears thinks she may be able to help you,” the Captain said. “Sit down and listen to what she has to say.” He nodded at the petite female officer. Seppe and Aiden knew that even though she was small, she had a reputation as a fierce cop when she needed to be. She was also smart and if they hadn’t been trying to downsize the force, she would have been a detective in no time.

Officer Re’Lears had no qualms about speaking before superior officers. It was like she was born to the stage and she loved performing as she was getting the chance to do now. “I was reading about your case and it reminded me of a case I had about eight cycle groups ago that we never solved.” She paused, waiting for some sign that they were listening. When she saw them nod and then lean forward in anticipation she continued. “My victim, name of Zerris, was also very tall. He was from the Sufran tribe. His throat had been cut, almost decapitating him, and his legs were cut off at the knees as well.”

She saw that they were still involved and walked over to the communicator. After a few commands, a picture appeared on the wall behind her. “This was the picture I took as I came on the scene. When I showed it to the captain, he showed me the pics from your case. There are a lot of similarities between the situations as you can see.”

Seppe looked at the picture thoughtfully. “That’s great work, Officer! Those pictures are nearly identical, except for the position of the head, and there’s only one finger showing on the hand in your case while ours has five.” Seppe’s voice trailed off as he spoke. “Can you put both pictures up?” he asked Re’Lears. “I wonder,” he said to himself as the second picture came up alongside the first. “Captain?” he asked, “Do we have any other unsolved murders between now and then?” Seppe had a hunch.

“We’ve always got some of those,” the Captain chuckled. “We weren’t too worried about them now that we got rid of all the bad guys.” He thought a second. “Why do you ask?”

“Just a hunch, Captain,” Seppe said with a little less confidence. He wondered if he was reading too much into his idea. “I’d like to look at those case files.”

“We don’t have a lot to do these days with all the bad guys shipped off to Darwinda,” the Captain began, “but we still don’t have time for a wild hrusk chase.” He looked at Seppe sternly. “You are involved in a case right now after all.”

“Captain,” Aiden interjected, “I would bet my life on Seppe’s hunches. I actually did three times. I can’t think of any time that he’s been wrong on his hunches.” Aiden looked over at Seppe and winked, “Can we just get case files of unsolved murders going back eight cycle groups? We’ll do the research on our time.”

The captain rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. “You’d be willing to work on your own time to get this done, Aiden?” When Aiden nodded the captain laughed, “You must really be serious, then. Do it on company time, but don’t fall behind in your other work. I want some progress on this Ca’Suisse case. What was the name of the vic? Grenoj?”

The captain stood up to dismiss them when Seppe blurted out, “Captain, can Officer Re’Lears help us as we go over the files? She seems to have a good understanding of the ideas on this case.”

The Captain put his hand on his head laughing a little, “Go ahead. I hope she helps. Just get me some results!” He waved his hands towards the door. “Now, go on, get out of here. Use task force office number seven and spread your work out there. Just don’t get in anyone’s way!”

All three walked out of the office in silence and headed towards their new office. Officer Re’Lears started to ask a question, but Seppe silenced her. They got to the door, walked in, shut the door and then the cacophony began. Seppe asked Aiden why he didn’t mention last night’s failed hunch; Officer Re’Lears wanted to know why Seppe asked for her; Aiden wanted to know what Seppe had seen; – what his hunch was. Finally, Aiden silenced the trio by pounding on the table.

“As senior officer here, my question gets to be asked first. What do you think you saw, Seppe. What was your hunch?” Aiden asked.

“There was something about those hands,” Seppe began. “I think Zerris may have been the first of what are now five victims.”

“I’m beginning to wish I hadn’t lied, now,” Aiden said shaking his head.

Officer Re’Lears jumped in, “I think I know what he’s talking about, Detective Aiden. I’ll get the pictures and show you what he means.” She flew out the door and headed towards the captain’s office to get the pictures.

Seppe looked at Aiden, “So why did you lie about my hunches never being wrong?”

Aiden smiled, “I just figured last night was an aberration so I didn’t count it when I talked with the captain.”

Seppe laughed, partly in relief that Aiden hadn’t figured out why his hunch was wrong and partly because of Aiden’s audacity. “But you’re still going to make me buy that Argarian Ale, aren’t you?”

Aiden laughed, “You owe me two flasks now, partner.”

Seppe smiled, “You’re on.”

Officer Re’Lears came back in with the pictures of Grenoj and Zerris. “Here you go, Detective Aiden. Look at these pictures.” She spread the two pictures out on the table for Aiden to see. “Look here,” she continued as she pointed to the picture from her case, “This is Zerris. Notice his hand. What do you see?”

Aiden sighed, “His hand is thrown up in surprise, just like in our murder.” He looked a little closer. “It looks like he may be pointing at something.”

Seppe looked at Officer Re’Lears, “Now do you see why I wanted you on the team? I needed someone with brains to outvote him.” Seppe jerked his thumb over towards Aiden. “Why don’t you explain what I’m getting at?”

Officer Re’Lears smiled. “I think Detective Seppe is of the opinion that these hands were manipulated after death. The killer planned to keep on killing and he wanted to mock us with each death.” She paused and noted Aiden looking more closely. “He isn’t pointing. The killer is telling us that Zerris is number one.”

Aiden shook his head in amazement and said, “So you believe that Grenoj’s hand isn’t thrown up in surprise, but that the killer is telling us that Grenoj is number five on his victim list. Is that what you’re trying to say?” When he saw them both nodding he said, “That’s an interesting idea, I’m not sorry I lied, but you still owe me two Argarian Ales.” He pursed his lips. “You also need to find evidence of victims number 2,3, and 4.”

Seppe laughed as he looked at Re’Lears puzzled face, “It’s a long story. Let’s just say that he didn’t exactly lie. It’s more like he didn’t include a piece of evidence. Now, do you drink Argarian Ale? I’ll buy you one when we’re off duty.”

Officer Re’Lears laughed, “Love the stuff! And I’d love to join you. You guys are a team of legend among the beat cops.”

Aiden laughed, “Well then, please don’t tell them the truth when this assignment is over. We’d hate to disillusion them.”

Seppe laughed too. “Right now Aiden and I need to go to the Ca’suisse section and find out about Grenoj. We need you to get the files of unsolved murders between Zerris’s murder and Grenoj’s murder. Look through them, now that you know what we’re looking for, and choose likely victims for two, three and four, assuming there are some. Then we’ll go over their stories and see if there are any common factors.”

“Yes, sir,” Re’Lears said as she saluted.

Aiden looked at her and laughed, “Oh, and acting detective Re’Lears, no salutes. They make us nervous.”

“Got it,” she said and then she suddenly realized what he said. “You can’t make me a detective!” she said wagging her finger.

Aiden laughed. “That’s just for the three of us. Remember. We’re a legendary team. We can make up the rules as we go along.”

Officer Re’Lears shook her head and walked out the door on her way to the records room to search for the files on any unsolved murders while Seppe and Aiden headed for the locker room to finish getting ready. After that they would head to the Ca’suisse section to find out more about Grenoj.

If you have any feedback, please feel free to leave a comment or send an email to

The Journey Inward – Chapter 3 ARC

The Journey Inward – Chapter 3 ARC

The following is copyrighted material. It is an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy which is an uncorrected proof and not representative of the final – published version) If you like this chapter, please support the eventual release of this book. Please feel free to make constructive suggestions in the comments or in a personal message to the author. (email at the end of the selection)

The Journey Inward

The Journey Series

Bob James

Copyright Bob James 2017

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the eventual publisher of this book. 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales entirely coincidental. 


This is Chapter 3 of my book. If you have not read Chapter 1, may I suggest that you read that chapter first. CHAPTER 1  If you haven’t read Chapter 2, you will want to read CHAPTER 2 before this chapter.

Chapter 3

Termes was highly honored in the Qu’evahn community. They marveled at the way he led in the Qu’ruship assembly. Most knew of his obvious pain. Few knew his history nor how lowly he held himself for the failure with his son.  Were it not for Cyret, his amazing wife, he might not have been able to maintain the calm demeanor to lead that he displayed. If Termes had sought political leadership amongst the Qu’evah he could have easily been elected to any office he sought. In spite of all he had done, he felt unworthy as a leader and so served as he could in the Qu’ruship assembly.

Today Termes felt like his failure was being rubbed in his face. Cyret was having great difficulty helping Termes contain his anger. The holo-visioner had talked about the gruesome murder behind the Kroll Rader Bar and Grill and the pictures in the background showed Seppe and Aiden working in the background. “It’s no wonder he never has time for us,” he fumed. “He’s trying to be some big shot police detective! He could help his people by being honest, but he thinks he has to hide who he is. I should disown him! No son of mine should be ashamed of the Qu’evah! If it weren’t for the fact that….”

Cyret interrupted him, something no other among the Qu’evah would do, “If it weren’t for the fact that you love him so much, you would probably disown him… yes dear, I understand.” She stared at him with her hazel eyes mocking him. Her quivering tendrils revealed the depth of her passion for him.

Termes looked at her with eyes blazing, “Woman! Do you know what your problem is? Your problem is that you know me too well!” He laughed a bit as he finished. He couldn’t stay angry long when Cyret shared her wisdom. Termes often told his friends that he would be in great trouble without his wife. Few realized that he was not just trying to be humble. Tears welled up as he resumed speaking, “What shall we do about Seppe? How shall we draw him back into the family? Or even the tribe?”

Cyret looked at her husband firmly. She wondered often about this well respected man. Very few realized that she was a major source of his strength. “If you believe that all things are in the Maker’s hands can you not accept that He might have some plan that you don’t know about? Do you not remember the story of Ertrey?”

Termes looked at her in a dumbfounded way. Of course he remembered that story. Ertrey had wandered from the tribe just before they became lost in the desert. The Maker had come to him, wooing him back to the tribe just in time to lead them from the brink of starvation into the land the Qu’evah now lived in. He had saved them from starvation in the desert and helped them settle in this land they now shared with the Wesdanian and other tribes. Termes had never thought to associate that story with Seppe. He wondered if Seppe might be leading them out of the bitterness of past and into a new era. Someone had to help the old folks like him understand this new technology! He narrowed his eyes and looked at Cyret with even more respect than normal. “You,” he said, wagging his finger, “you are a wise woman! If only people believed me when I tell them that you are more than my inspiration; that you are the brains of the team. They would compel you to be Grand Angana.”

“Oh hush,” she laughed. “It’s a good thing that none in  the assembly know what a foolish man you are! You’d lose your place of honor and they wouldn’t serve you dessert at the common meals.” She knew when to be silly herself and often broke the tension when Termes was taking things too seriously; especially when it concerned Seppe.

“You are so right, my little honey bee. It is a good thing that you don’t sting,” Termes said with a smile.

“Oh, but I can if I need to!” Cyret said. Her face reminded him of the times that she had stung.

“How well I know,” Termes said. He gulped, the laughed a little as he repeated “How well I know.” Then he looked at her sadly, “And how do we help the Maker to persuade Seppe to return to the family? How do we help Seppe to see the light? How do we get him to return for even one assembly?”

“We don’t my love,” she said with a bit of sternness. “We lay our desires for Seppe to return before the Maker and offer our sacrifices and invocations. Then we trust Him.”

“I guess there is nothing better we can do,” Termes said. He sighed with resignation. He shuffled over to the household shrine and bowed before it three times before putting on his prayer shawl. Cyret followed him and followed the same ritual. Together they took a small spoonful of the prayer scent powder and placed it on the prayer candle. They lit the prayer candle together and offered their invocations while the scent powder burned. The prayer candle flared up as it reached the end of the scent powder and then burned itself out. Cyret took her prayer shawl off and bowed three times as she backed away from the altar; Termes did the same.

When they moved back to the table where they sat finishing their bitter morning drink, Termes looked at Cyret and smiled sheepishly. “I must confess. I asked the Maker to give me a sign that He would answer our prayer.”

Cyret smiled back, “I am not surprised, old fool. Remember, trust and never doubt. The Maker will never fail you. Even if His answer is to not answer your invocation, He is looking out for the good of His people. Even old fools like you and me.”

Termes bowed as he looked at his wife, “You are, of course, right my dear. I shall to remember that.” He turned and walked towards his woodshop to finish the book case he was making for the Grand Angana. When he thought he was out of earshot he muttered, “But I still would like to see a sign!”

Seppe rolled over in the bed and tried to get back to sleep. It wouldn’t happen. His eyes were wide open and too many thoughts were running through his mind. He had vivid dreams last night and they all pointed to one thing: he was going to have to contact his patron. He had no doubt that someone had used the ritual torture of the Qu’epic to kill Grenoj. When he discovered one at the crime scene he knew that he would have to search among the Qu’evah for a suspect. The fact that this troubled him, troubled him. He owed no allegiance to the Qu’evah. While he had been raised among them and his patron was a leader in the assembly, he, Seppe, had freed himself of all allegiance to the Qu’evah. So why did it bother him that a Qu’evah was a possible killer? Why did it bother him that Aiden thought all Qu’evahn women were immoral?

Seppe got up and meandered towards the cleansing station. He stepped in and the sonic waves disintegrated the dirt and sweat that had built up since yesterday. He felt invigorated. By the time he was finished he almost felt alive and ready to face the dreadful task ahead of him. He absent-mindedly turned on the holo-visioner and caught the end of a news story about last night’s murder. He winced when he heard his name mentioned as one of the detectives. He didn’t like anyone seeing him or hearing about him on the holo-visioner. He was afraid other members of the tribe who knew him in his previous life would try to contact him and reveal his Qu’evah roots. He didn’t know what would happen if Aiden found out, let alone the police department. That would be very dangerous now, especially since they were trying to downsize given the absence of criminal activity until last night.

He snarled and turned away from the holo-visioner as he moved towards his kitchen, really a kitchenette. He pulled a couple of granck eggs from the refrigerator and laid them down while he pulled out his fry pan. He preferred the granck eggs because they had a slight nutty flavor that warconk eggs didn’t have. While the eggs were frying he kept wrestling with the thought of how to communicate with his patron. He knew that patron would try to pull him back into the workings of the tribe. Seppe wondered why his patron couldn’t just let him live his own life. “Oh well,” he sighed to himself, “I’m going to have to put up with his attempts so I can solve this case.” He ate his eggs silently and put the dishes on the counter. He was going to need to clean some dishes tonight in the sonic sanitizer he realized when he saw that he was running out of clean dishes. “OK,” he thought. “I might as well get this over with and contact patron to see if we can get together.”

He walked reluctantly to the communicator, put it on voice mode and told the communicator to establish contact with patron. The connection was made and Seppe heard his patron’s voice: “Hello? Who is this?”

Termes stopped walking to the woodshop as his communicator beeped. He looked at Cyret and joked, “I told you I wanted a sign!”

Cyret swatted at him as he walked by and sighed. “What am I going to do with you, you old coot? It’s probably Myung from the assembly. She’ll want to confer with you about the next assembly.”

Termes pushed the two-way communication button and said, “Hello? Who is this?”

Seppe laughed. His patron, gracious as he was normally, still had problems showing that graciousness on a communicator. He answered, “Patron, it is I, Seppe. I need to find a time to meet with you.”

Termes did a double take, and then pushed the speaker button on his communicator. “I’m sorry, that was a bit garbled. Who did you say you are?”

Seppe knew what was happening and all he could do was laugh to himself quietly. Patron was putting the call on speaker so that Matron would be able to listen to their conversation. “I said, ‘Patron, it is I, Seppe. I need to find a time to meet with you.’”

Termes smiled smugly at Cyret. She looked at him and shook her head. Sometimes she wished that the Maker also had a wife who would keep Him from doing things like this. She smiled wryly and held her arms up in surrender. She understood that Termes was sure that this was a sign.

“Seppe, my son!” he exclaimed, “You’re always welcome here. All you need to do is say the word and we’ll welcome you with our arms opened wide.”

“Thank you, patron,” Seppe said stiffly. He was not enjoying this call. “When would be good for you?”

“Two more sunrises and it shall be the day of assembly, my son,” Termes said. “If you come for assembly, then we can talk after.”

Seppe sighed. He knew that his patron would make that suggestion. “That would be acceptable patron. I will see you in two more sunrises.”

If Termes had noted the extreme lack of enthusiasm in Seppe’s response, he was smart enough not to point it out. “I’m grateful my son. Any visit from you is like a drink of cold water on a hot day.”

“Thank you, patron,” Seppe responded. “I will see you in two sunrises.” He clicked off the communicator before Termes could respond and shook his head. He sighed. He really didn’t want to have to see his patron, but…. He pulled the Qu’epic from his pocket and stared at it through the evidence baglet. “If only you could talk, Qu’epic. You could tell me stories and I wouldn’t need to see patron. He sighed again, more audibly, and then started getting dressed. He and Aiden had a long day ahead of them that included a trip to the Ca’suisse zone. He wasn’t worried about the trip, though. He had already taken care of the most unpleasant task of the day.

If you have any feedback, please feel free to leave a comment or send an email to

The Journey Inward – Chapter 1 (ARC)

The following is copyrighted material. It is an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy which is an uncorrected proof and not representative of the final – published version) If you like this chapter, please support the eventual release of this book. Please feel free to make constructive suggestions in the comments or in a personal message to the author. (email at the end of the selection)

The Journey Inward

The Journey Series

Bob James

Copyright Bob James 2016

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the eventual publisher of this book. 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales entirely coincidental. 

Seppe turned his eyes away from the gruesome scene in front of him and looked up at the moons. “At least it isn’t Sand Season,” he thought. He sighed. Then he turned his attention back to the murder scene. It was one of the worst he had ever seen. The blood was spattered over a trail about 20 meters long and hit the buildings on both sides of the dark alley. The stiff’s head had been thrown under the fire escape of the building on the west side of the alley. The victim’s torso was splayed against the trash cans of the Kroll Rader Bar and Grill on the east. Both legs were cut off at the knees. The right leg was 15 meters to the south of the body, while the left leg was next to the head, as if it had been kicking the head. The left arm was partially amputated and hidden by the torso. The right arm was extended, as if he had seen the attack coming at the last minute and tried to defend himself. Even at night the flies were already gathering around the pieces of the corpse.

Seppe looked over at Aiden. Aiden was handling the shock of the scene as well as he was. He sniffed the air and could tell that Aiden was fighting back the nausea that this scene invited. Aiden looked up and saw Seppe looking at him. “Me too,” he said. “Twenty-five cycles on the force and I haven’t seen anything like this.” He laughed a bit. The irony was too heavy not to. “Here I thought they were getting ready to retire me, and now this. I guess I still have a lunar cycle or two left before they run me off.”

Seppe nodded. “You’re just hard to get rid of, aren’t you? I was hoping I wouldn’t have to put up with you much longer.” Seppe and Aiden were a team. In fact, they were THE team for the Wesdanian dectective force. Neither had stuck with a partner for more than a few lunar cycles until Captain Tengler had put these two together out of desperation. They had clicked and spent the last 8 cycles solving the tougher crimes together. The coming disbanding would put an end to all of that. But for now, they had work to do. When Aiden turned back to his work, Seppe sniffed again. He wanted to make sure that the extra smell he had sensed was a part of the crime scene and not just a passing odor.

It wasn’t. His tendrils quivered as he sniffed again. The odor was stronger. He knew it, but he couldn’t place it. He thought back to his childhood. He shuddered. He knew that he would have to talk to his pater. He frowned and shook his head. He turned back to the body when Aiden interrupted his thoughts.

“Something smells real bad about this,” Aiden growled. Seppe jumped a little and his tendrils stood straight out. Had Aiden seen him sniffing the air? Would he realize….

Seppe laughed nervously, “You got a dismembered man here, of course it smells bad.”

Aiden rolled his eyes, “You always do take me too literally, don’t you Seppe.” He laughed in friendly mockery. “I just meant that as bad as things look, there’s more going on here than meets the eye.”

Seppe laughed back. He was relieved. “Brilliant deduction, Aiden. We have a dead guy in pieces scattered across the alley and you figured out that something was wrong. I thought you were getting ready to retire and now you look like you’re bucking for chief.”

Aiden snarled, “Very funny bright boy. Let me just ask you one question. Who did it?”

Seppe shook his head in amusement. “We just got on the case how would I know who did ….” His voice trailed off as suddenly the depth of that question hit him right in the gut. “That’s right. We don’t have anything to go on.” He paused, and then looked back up in the sky at the silver moon, “All the bad guys are supposed to be up there.” Aiden and Seppe both stared at Dwarinda, the moon that held all the criminals.

Aiden’s comment highlighted the most puzzling part of the case. Half a cycle ago the Congress had arranged to deport anyone who had ever been convicted of a crime, anyone who had been suspected of a crime, and then anyone who might be thinking about committing a crime to Dwarinda. Wesdania was supposed to be free of any type of crime. Yet here they were, staring at the dismembered body right in front of them. Seppe glanced at the head of the corpse. The eyes stared back at him, mocking his naivete.

“It looks like they missed someone, doesn’t it? What do we got to go on?” Aiden asked with a shrug. “Where do we start?”

Seppe yelled back. “Good question.” He kept the odor clue to himself. He had kept his heritage hidden from Aiden so far, he didn’t want to reveal it now. “Perhaps we’d better get busy and see what we can find.”

“Yeah,” Aiden sighed. “What do you want to search: the head or the torso?”

“I’ll take the head,” Seppe said hesitantly. He had a hunch that Aiden wouldn’t mind and he wanted to check out a possible source for the odor.

“I like that idea,” Aiden said a little more enthusiastically than before. “I never did like working where I thought the victim was watching me work. I was always afraid that he would be alive and start talking to me.”

“Trust me, Aiden,” Seppe shook his head, “This John Doe is NOT going to talk to you.” As he turned towards where the head had been thrown he thought, “But maybe I can get him to tell me his story.”

Seppe examined the ground around him as he took each step. He pulled on a pair of rubber gloves as his tendrils quivered to let him know that he might be on to something. He stooped down a couple of meters from the head and examined the ground. He sniffed hoping to catch a scent that was out of place without Aiden noticing. His head swiveled back and forth as he made his way towards the dismembered head looking and smelling to find any evidence.

“Hey Seppe! You’ll never guess what I found!” Aiden called out excitedly. Seppe turned quickly to look at Aiden’s prize. As he turned his eyes caught a glint of light and his nose picked up a whiff of the scent he had been sniffing for.

“Whatcha got?” he yelled taking note of the glint and the smell. Seppe spied the billfold in Aiden’s hand before he responded.

“I don’t think the motive was robbery,” Aiden yelled. “His credits card is here in his wallet.” Aiden pulled out a small card reader and waved it over the credits card. “This guy had more credits than I’ve ever seen! If the guy who knocked him off was looking for credits, he could have lived out a natural life-time on the credits this guy had.”

“So he was rich. Big deal. Did you get a name and address from the card?” Seppe asked impatiently.

“Yep, some guy named ‘Grenoj.’ He lived over in the Zark,” Aiden responded.

Seppe’s countenance clouded over. He couldn’t say it out loud yet, but this looked like a case of tribal warfare that could be brewing. The Ca’suisse who had migrated into Wesdania City after the Revolution had all moved into the Zark. In fact, they rarely left the Zark which made matters even more troubling. “Why would this Grenoj leave the Zark?” he asked himself. As all this passed through his mind, he quickly processed the information and looked at what he could say. “The Zark?” he asked. “Isn’t that where the Ca’suisse live? Is he Ca’suisse?”

Aiden shrugged his shoulders. “I wouldn’t know, now, would I? You’re gonna have to tell me that. Check for the tribal marks on his head and let me know.”

Seppe turned and laughed quietly to himself. It was hard to believe these two worked together so well with all the barbs flying back and forth. Aiden glanced at Seppe and noticed that he was veering off to the right a bit rather than going straight to the head. He shook his head with resignation and turned back to searching the torso for more clues as to who Grenoj really was.

Seppe veered off to check out the source of the glint of light and the aroma he had noticed when he turned to hear what Aiden had to say. He approached the area slowly, eyes sweeping to and fro trying to catch a glimpse of what he was afraid he would find. Then his eyes picked out a gleam from the ground and he slowly approached as if fearful that the object would attack him of its own volition. He reached down quickly and picked up the toothpick sized object, putting it into an evidence baglet and just as quickly concealing it in his coat lest his partner see it. He justified his actions because he knew that few, if any, Wesdanians would understand the significance of the Qu’epic. “In fact,” he thought, “most Qu’evah wouldn’t know of it either.” His father’s endless teachings on the culture and the traditions of the Qu’evah, even the bloody ones, might actually be important now. As much as he tried to hide his heritage, he was sickened that a member of his own tribe might be guilty of such a horrendous murder.

“What did you find?” Aiden called out. He had seen Seppe stoop down but couldn’t see everything he had done.

Seppe broke out of his reverie and breathed a second to regain his composure. He decided that Aiden hadn’t seen him pick up the Qu’epic and told his lie with more assurance than he should have felt. “Nothing. I thought I saw something over here but it was just a piece of trash.” He knelt down again and picked up a tiny piece of silver thread that was near where the Qu’epic had been dropped and showed it to Aiden.

“It’s probably nothing, but why don’t you bag it anyway. You never know,” Aiden said helpfully.

“I don’t think…” Seppe began to contradict him, then faltered as he saw Aiden’s face, “…that’s such a bad idea. You always find clues in the most insignificant places,” Seppe complimented Aiden as he took out another evidence baglet and put the silver thread in there.

He walked slowly to the head and squatted down to examine it. He pulled back Grenoj’s hair looking behind the ears. It didn’t take long to find his Ca’Suisse mark. Next, he checked the neck to see if he could see any Qu’epic marks. He saw the puncture wound just below the jaw and he knew how Grenoj had met his maker; if the Ca’suisse believed in a Maker. He laughed at himself as the prejudices from his old way of life surfaced. Here he was berating the Ca’suisse for maybe not believing in a Maker when he himself chose not to believe in any of the deities, especially the Maker his people believed in.

“He’s Ca’suisse for sure,” Seppe called out to Aiden. Then he anticipated Aiden’s next question. “I wonder what he was doing over in this section of town?” he asked out loud.

“That’s a great question, Seppe,” Aiden nodded. He pointed towards the bar. “Let’s see if any of those bar patrons have any idea what’s going on.”

“Good idea,” Seppe responded. “If nothing else, I’m sure the bartender would love to get those people out of the bar and head home himself.”

Aiden laughed, “You don’t get out much, do you?”

“Whatcha mean?” Seppe asked innocently.

“The Kroll Rader was groundbreaking in letting females tend bar. They have an all-female bar staff, now,” Aiden added.

Seppe was a bit annoyed, “Doesn’t matter if the bartender is male or female. I bet the bartender is ready to go home.”

“True,” Aiden said, a note of triumph on his face. “Let’s go.”

Chapter Two is now available here

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