Xenopath

Xenopath by Eric Brown Read Free Book Online

Book: Xenopath by Eric Brown Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eric Brown
Tags: Bengal Station
then took an upchute to Level One,
arriving at the park fifteen minutes later.
    Kapinsky was
waiting for him in the passenger seat of an over-engineered Russian
air-taxi. She signalled him and he slipped into the rear of the
vehicle as it lunged into the air with a whine of labouring turbos.
    She passed him a
holstered weapon. "Keep this on you. You don't know when you
might need it."
    He took the
pistol and strapped the holster under his jacket.
    "What's
happening?" he asked, as the taxi inserted itself into the flow
of air traffic following colour-coded lanes high above the Station.
    "Big
commission," she said over her shoulder. "Biggest I've
handled to date. Homicide is stretched as it is, and then this comes
in. Guy got himself sliced up in the derelict amusement park in
Kandalay. The commissioner got a Scene of Crime team in before
realising they didn't have enough detectives for the follow-up
investigation." She grunted. "Lucky us. It means all the
groundwork will've been done by the time we get there. We just take
the SoC's collated information and do the footwork."
    "Who's the
guy?"
    She shrugged.
"That we'll find out when we get there. All I know is what the
Commissioner told me—a laser slaying in the park, and it's a
messy one. Hope you didn't have a late breakfast."
    He stared
through the side window as the air-taxi whined in a tight arc, coming
in low over the skeleton of an ancient big dipper and tumbledown
amusement arcades.
    The taxi settled
on a concrete apron between a broken-down starship simulation and the
shell of a bankrupt McDonald's franchise. Vaughan stepped out,
staring across the apron to where a knot of SoC officers were
kneeling beside a body in front of an old ghost train ride.
    Kapinsky
introduced herself and Vaughan to the officer in charge, a big Sikh
called K.J. Kulpa. As the SoC team wrapped up their work, dismantling
cameras and laser-measuring apparatus, Kulpa gave Kapinsky the
lowdown and Vaughan stared, despite himself, at the murder victim.
    The guy was
Caucasian, in his fifties, dark haired and pale skinned. He wore a
neat business suit and had died, Vaughan hoped, instantly. It was
hard to tell, though. The killer had taken no chances, scoring a big
X through the guy's chest, joined at the top so that the loop had
effectively decapitated his victim and dismembered the arms.
    Vaughan had seen
the work of a laser before. A single, fraction of a second blast at
long range was enough to halt a charging rhino: this gory elaboration
was either the work of a sadist or someone who was taking no chances
that his victim might survive.
    The SoC team
boarded a police flier, leaving Kulpa and a corpse crew to mop up
when the preliminary investigation was through.
    Kulpa handed
Kapinsky a pin. "That should contain everything we have on the
case, Linda. Call me if you need anything. Good luck." He nodded
to Vaughan and climbed into a private flier.
    Only the corpse
team remained, kicking their heels while Kapinsky knelt and examined
the body.
    Still crouching,
she tossed Vaughan the pin and said, "Access that. The usual
questions."
    He slipped the
pin into his handset and spoke into the mouthpiece. "Victim?"
    The program's
voice, female and Indian, answered, "Robert Kormier,
fifty-eight, male, South African. Victim employed by the
Scheering-Lassiter Colonial Corporation. Position: Executive
xeno-zoologist."
    "Estimated
time of death?" Vaughan said.
    "Midnight,
plus or minus twelve minutes.'"
    "Means of
death?" It was always worth asking the seemingly obvious
question in case the laser wounds were intended to cover the real
cause of death, strangulation or some such.
    "Instantaneous
laser laceration of right pulmonary ventricle."
    "Weapon
used?"
    "Kulatov
MkII blaser, set at maximum burn."
    "Estimated
range of laser when fired?"
    "Between
fifteen and twenty metres."
    Vaughan looked
around at the eerily deserted amusement park. "Witnesses?"
    "None."
    Kapinsky stood.
"Ask who discovered the

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