(copyright 2017. all rights reserved)
Sam Franklin caught up with Eladio and Tina in Ops while Eladio was still processing what Tina had revealed.
“Hey, you two. What’s up? You look so serious,” said Sam.
“Ms. Grady has provided evidence that, possibly, Elana Sokolov is our killer.”
Sam, shaking his head, said, “Can’t be.”
“Oh? Why not?” asked Tina.
“No access. Her clearance doesn’t cover the Hydro cams. Or the scrubbers. Or the door interlocks.”
“Okay, I get the cams, but the other stuff? What does that have to do with it?” asked Tina.
“All of those have been fiddled. You were right, Chief. The Hydro door shows the interlock was left open, with the alarm disabled, from about twenty-two-thirty the night Granger died until around oh-eight-thirty the next morning. Because of that, when I checked the scrubbers in Hydro, and they showed a spike but we had no alarm, I figured that I better see if someone had fiddled them, too. Sure enough, someone killed the alarm overnight as well.”
“And who did this?” asked Eladio stiffly.
“Don’t know. They covered their tracks pretty well. All I can tell you is that no one below a department head has that level of access. So either someone with serious hacking chops, or someone very high up the food chain.”
“I see. That fits,” Eladio murmured.
“Fits what, Chief?”
“Ah. I came here originally to talk to Tina about a new revelation. But we were side-tracked. Mr. Granger was filing a patent on a new plant strain the night he was killed. He was working with Ms. Sokolov, and she was the one who’d made the breakthrough. She was not best pleased not to be named in the patent, but the work was done in Hydroponics, so, according to station bylaws, it belongs to the lab owners: Britain.”
Sam whistled. “Yeah, I could see that getting under Lanie’s skin.”
Tina turned away from the conversation and began typing.
“Further, Dr. Grant informed me that all of the work has been erased from the system. Given that, perhaps we should not yet rule her out. Does she have the skills to bypass the system?”
“Nope,” said Tina over her shoulder. “At least not that she’s ever showed. And not according to her employment jacket.”
“Besides, Chief, someone had to move Granger. He was a very big guy. Heavy and awkward. You and I had a hard time moving him. I can’t see Lanie getting him into a suit and outside.”
“Tina says she is quite stronger than she appears,” said Eladio.
“Yeah, she’s a lot stronger than you’d expect. But I’ve sparred with her. We’ve done some rolling, and she’s not nearly strong enough to manhandle Granger. Trust me,” said Sam.
“Rolling? What is rolling?” asked Eladio.
“Oh, you know, grappling? Like wrestling? She’s good, too. Beat me every time. But on skill, not strength.”
“How about Anatoly?” asked Tina.
“Volkhov? Yeah, he’s plenty strong enough. Real bear that guy. You should see him on the weights. He can lift a ton.”
Tina raised her eyebrows at Eladio. “He has more EVA experience than Lanie, too. Very accustomed to working in a suit.”
“You think Anatoly now? A moment ago you were in favor of Elana,” said Eladio.
“A couple of things have revised my thinking. Sam makes a good point. Let me paint a picture. Elana is pissed about the patent. She tells the head of her contingent about the work and how Granger is taking it. Anatoly doesn’t like that much. Maybe because Russia gets nothing, maybe he’s sweet on Elana, whatever. Anyway, Anatoly does Granger, scrubs the logs, turns off the alarms. He carts Granger’s body outside using Elana’s ID, then hides Elana in his quarters. She seems to have gone missing, further muddying the waters. Also, I just checked patent filings, and know who sent one off to Earthside about midnight the night in question? One Anatoly Volkhov. Something to do with carbon dioxide uptake in a strain of Pisum Sativum. Poetic to kill Granger that way.”
“What time did you say Elana went into his quarters?” asked Eladio.
“Late afternoon the day you found Granger. I don’t remember the exact time, but I can check it. Is it important?”
“Possibly. I ran into him that afternoon, while I was looking for Ms. Sokolov. He indicated he had just seen her, but that she had headed to the gymnasium. I found no one at the gymnasium had seen her, and the system lost track of her. Which is why I asked you to find her, Tina.”
“His credentials would allow him enough access to hide her location. If he has a little skill,” said Sam, looking at Tina for confirmation.
“Yeah. Anatoly worked in Ops for a bunch of years. He definitely has some skill there. With that and him being a Department Head, he could definitely do plenty,” said Tina.
“But we have no way to prove it,” said Eladio.
“Yeah, it’s just a theory, so far, but it fits what we know,” said Tina.
“So what do we do, Chief?”
“I think we do two things. We see if we can extract Ms. Sokolov from Anatoly’s quarters, if indeed that is where she is. And we have a chat with Mr. Han.”