"Well Kraaus, we have about a 20 minute ride to the Star Slammer Bar, if you have any questions or concerns now would be the time to address them." "To tell you the truth Chief, I am hugely curious about a few things that I have seen here on the station. For one thing, what is the purpose of the blue light that leads the Darter?" "Very good question Kraaus, one I get quite often from new visitors. The Darter, as you can see has no track that is visible to the naked eye, the light is a saftey feature of the train so that the residents and visitors of the station know when it is comming. If you will notice, the light follows the exact path of the train and is only glowing when the train is in motion. The light constantly leads the train by 200 yards, it's quite simple really, when you see the light, you had better not be standing in it for long!" "Very interesting, very interesting indeed." The two men continued talking about various details of the train as they went along their route. Every so often Kraaus would break away from the converstation to get a look at the spectacular beauty that the station had to offer.
"We are about half-way there now, we are heading to an area of Kel Arcol known as The Cavern. If you are into late-night partying, this is definately the place that you want to end up. The Cavern features 24-7 nightlife and features some of the nicest bars and casinos that the space station has to offer. If you come down here on your own tome though I must warn you, if you must go to the lower levels of The Cavern I wouldn't take much in the way of valuables, I'll just leave it at that." Naturally, the more that Laric talked about places that I shouldn't go on the station, the more curious I became. Why didn't Laric just sent his security force on the station down here to take care of the problem? Oh well, I figure i'll ask him at a more approperiate time, right now we had much more pressing issues to deal with. As I was in mid thought I glanced out the window of the train and noticed that the blue light that shown on the ground was leading us straight to a large tunnel. "The tunnel ahead leads into the area known as The Cavern, I'm sure that you've noticed that the habitation center of the station is equiped with artifical sunlight. You will eventually notice that we do our best to simulate all phases of life for our residents. There is artifical day, night, even artifical rain, everything that you could possibly think of, this station has been equiped with. The area that we are about to enter is a little different, you'll see what I mean momentarily."
With a sudden gust of air we silently entered the tunnel. "Notice anything different?" Laric said inquisitively. As I looked ahead, I was very suprised to see very little light at the end of the long tunnel. "Why is there hardly any light on the other side of the tunnel?" "Well Kraaus, as I said earlier, The Cavern features 24-7 nightlife and we mean that literally." "But why would you want to make an area of habitat zone constantly night?" "You'll see in a few moments Kraaus, be patient." After a moment the train neared the end of the tunnel, as we glided through the tunnel opening, I was greeted by an amazing sight. As Laric had said, it was night in this area of the station, but each building and street corner was ablaze with flashing neon lights of every color imaginable. It was almost as if they were dancing and it seemed that each building we passed was more colorful than the next. "As you can see, we like to keep this area darkened so that we can give the visitor, and resident an authentic nightlife experience, no matter what time of day it is."
I was so entranced that Laric had to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention back on the matter at hand. "Snap out of it Kraaus! We need to discuss some details of the case at the Star Slammer before we arrive, we only have about 5 minutes left until we reach the station." "Sorry Laric, what details do you have for me that I may have not found in my case files." To tell you the truth, I was slightly annoyed that I was expected to be official at this moment, all I wanted to do was take in the amazing lightshow that was happening all around me, but I didn't get into this line of work to go sight seeing so I reluctantly gave my attention to Laric and let him proceed. "The Star Slammer Bar was once the hottest spot to visit in The Cavern, however in the last few months criminal activity in the lower areas of The Cavern have picked up significantly. People are starting to become weary about traveling too far into the Cavern and the Star Slammer has lost a lot of business." Once again the question crossed my mind and I couldn't supress it any longer so I had to ask Laric. "Why haven't you just sent your forces down here to take care of the problem?" "Well, to tell you the truth Kraaus, the file that you got on the station may have been just a tad... misleading"
"What exactly does that mean Laric?" I was beginning to wonder just how much of the information about the station I had received was accurate. "GO ON" I was really getting angry now, why would Laric have kept this from me, did he think that I would not have come otherwise? "Well you know how the files said that we currently have 257 prisoners in the onsite facility?" "Yes, I remember that from the files... why don't you just tell me what's really going on and quit playing this little game!?" "Well the truth is we are currently at our maximum capacity of 500 prisoners so we have to... uh... how do I say this... pardon some criminal activity." "WHAT!? You can't be serious!" "I'm afraid so... If you will remember when you flew into the station you saw the central column with three rings?" "Yes I remember that well." "The lower ring, which is connected to the lower section of the Cavern is where the onsite jail is located. We are currently working on expanding the size of the ring, but the project won't be completed for several more months, during that time we have to keep the prisoners in jail for shortened sentences and then release them to make room for others. That is why the criminal activity is so rampant in the lower section of The Cavern, it is basically a revolving door for petty thieves and other miscreants."
Just when I didn't think I could handle hearing anymore I looked outside and saw our destination station ahead. As we stopped at the station the blue light from the Darter faded and we stepped off of the train. "I don't suppose you have any other little suprises for me do you Laric?" "No, I'm sorry I didn't tell you but we try to present a positive image of the station at all times, if word got out that there was trouble we may loose our tourist industry which would be catastrophic for the well being of the station as a whole." As Laric continued giving me tired excuses as to why he had lied to me in my reports we began walking down a street that was quite darker than the rest. The lights here were not as vibrant and many of them had burnt out. At the end of this street sat the Star Slammer Bar, once a majestic jewel in the heart of The Cavern, now just a fossil of what it once was. Many of it's once colorful lights were now burnt out or flickering and hissing loudly, even the sign which once hung out proudly from the building was now missing several of it's letters. S__r Sla____r B__ was all that was visible from the street. "It really only took a few months time for the area to become rundown like this?" "Yep, and the further you go into The Cavern, the more rundown it looks, like I told you watch your pockets down here and never go anywhere alone. The top section of The Cavern is quite safe still and that is where most of the tourists hang out, Unless you are investigating the crime scene, I suggest that you stick with the upper section of The Cavern for your entertainment." "Dualy noted."
As we approached the bar with it's still relatively fresh crime scene (the murder had occured about 12 hours earlier) all of the pictures from the files came crashing back into my mind. The head sitting behind the bar, the body lazily draped across the bar, and the cryptic message. As we swung open the front door of the bar we were passed hurriedly by an official looking gentleman, He was wearing some sort of service uniform that I had not come into contact with before, he passed us so quickly that all I could catch was his name tag "Commander Draykus, Eskalon Aegis" I will have to remember to find this Commander Draykus later on and ask him of his envolvement with the station, but for now back to business. Looking across the room, the first thing that was visible was a counter with a register and other various small items, there were a couple of other agents that were walking around talking and taping off different areas with crime scene tape. One of the gentleman at the scene came up to Laric and me and introduced himself. "I am officer Donaley, I am a member of the security force here on the station." I soon realized that this introduction was more for me that it was for Laric, as this was one of his men. "Any other clues of importance found so far Donaley?" Laric asked. Without letting Donaley answer, he continued on. "From now on you will answer to Detective Kraaus, he is from the IIA and will be leading the investigation of this case." "Yes sir!" Donaley said with a hearty salute. "I am very happy that you are here, we have found some very curious clues, maybe you could help us put the pieces together." "I'll do what I can Donaley, lead the way." With Donaley in the lead we turned a corner from the entrance of the bar and there in front of us was the scene that I had become so familiar with in the photos from the file.
The first thing that I did was go straight to the bar area. "Was anyone else here that would have seen what happened?" "The only other person here was the waitress, at the time of the murder she was in the front room of the bar that we just left. She told us that she remembered seeing a giant Mechan walk in who looked very disturbed, apparently he had an augment with him, some sort of robotic bird." Donaley looked very proud to be sharing this information, kind of like a child that brings home an "A" on a test to show their parents, I found it quite amusing. "Well done Donaley, why would a Mechan want to all of a sudden murder an unassuming bartender? There must be more to this case than meets the eye, and according to the message on the bar I would say undoubtedly that this is more than just a random killing. Donaley, why don't you leave me here for a moment to look around." "Sure thing boss!" Donaley said with a stupid smile. "I'll go back up front and look over some of the evidence that we have found so far!" As Donaley left I put my concentration back on the bar. I AM NOT THEIR PAWN, THEY WILL NEVER KNOW MY SECRET. What could it mean, and why kill a seemingly random bartender? There had to be more, there had to be a connection. Were the bartender and the Mechan somehow connected? Who else was involved? What was this secret and why was it worth killing for? Suddenly Donaley ran up to me in a panic. "It's gone! It's gone!" "Easy Donaley, what's gone?" "The evidence bags! They were laying on the counter close to the entrance earlier and I don't think anyone has left the scene!" "Oh someone has definitely left my friend, I think we might need to track down a certain Commander Draykus."