Quinn and The Quasars: Chapter Five
Start from the beginning here: Chapter One
“I can’t believe this is happening,” Serpentine said as he walked backwards and forwards in Captain Ulf’s office. Quinn’s betrothed, Prince Serpentine and her mother Queen Varianna had arrived backstage at the ‘Quinn and the Quasars’ concert just in time to see her being led away by security officers. The pair had quickly followed, demanding an explanation from Aleister Trice, one of the arresting officers and a family friend. When they arrived at the security headquarters on Electric avenue, the Queen and prince had been shown into Captain Ulf’s office where Aleister tried to explain the situation to the irate royals.
“What’s the Alliance coming to when a princess of Varuna can be arrested like a common criminal?” Serpentine demanded, glaring at Aleister who was sitting behind the Captain’s desk.
“I’m sorry, Serpentine,” Aleister insisted. “I tried everything in my power to stop the arrest from going forward in the way that it did, but Captain Ulf insisted.”
“Where is Ulf now?” Varianna asked with a sigh as she collapsed into a chair.
Aleister cleared his throat and looked away, trying to avoid eye contact even though his eyes were hidden behind heavily tinted lenses. “I’m afraid, Captain Ulf has had to return to Duat,” the security officer explained apologetically.
“So Ulf isn’t even here but you’re using him as an excuse to arrest my daughter?” Varianna asked, her pale cheeks colouring with rage. “Release her at once!”
This time it was Aleister’s turn to sigh. “I’m sorry but I’m afraid I can’t do that. Before he left, Captain Ulf insisted that the evidence against Quinn was sufficient to justify an arrest and he said that it was the only option in the circumstances.” Aleister explained. “Captain Ulf said that when the murder of Tigre Stripes becomes public knowledge there’ll be a scandal if it can be suggested that the only reason Quinn wasn’t arrested is because of her social status. This incident could cause a significant amount of unrest in the Alliance.”
“What evidence?” Serpentine asked, cutting in before Quinn’s mother had a chance to speak. “How could there possibly be any evidence against Quinn? She’s not a murderer!”
Behind the desk Aleister folded his arms as if protecting himself from the onslaught that would come when he started listing the evidence against Quinn. So far the case was entirely circumstantial but circumstances didn’t look good. “All right,” Aleister agreed, unfolding his arms and tapping a few keys on the computer in front of him. “I shouldn’t really be doing this but I’ll show you what we have so far.”
A holographic screen appeared in front of the desk on which an identification picture of Quinn was displayed next to that of a Bubastian male from the Duchy of Asia. This is the victim Tigre Stripes. He was an out of work actor who had appeared in a couple of low budget productions,” Aleister explained as art for the two films in which the dead man had appeared flashed across the screen.
“I know that man,” Varianna gasped. “He’s the one who stole the Pearls of Mer from Quinn.”
“I see,” Aleister acknowledged thoughtfully. “We’ll come back to that in a moment, but for now I’ll explain how we came to the decision to arrest Quinn.”
Serpentine looked at Aleister suspiciously. There was something that the man he had once considered a friend wasn’t saying. For some reason Aleister didn’t want to talk about the theft of the priceless Varunian heirloom. Could it be because the theft gave Quinn a motive for murder? Deciding that this must be the case and it would be better not to give the security team any further excuse to believe that Quinn was the culprit, Serpentine kept his curiosity to himself.
“We received a call earlier this evening from Pearl Palace stating that an unidentified body had been found in Quinn’s bed when servants went in to clean the room.” Aleister continued. “Captain Ulf and I attended ourselves and were surprised to see that none of the family were at home,” he stated quickly trying to preempt the question he imagined must be on Varianna’s lips. Why had none of the family been informed? “The body was quickly identified as Tigre Stripes and the cause of death appeared to be poisoning by Tears of The Abyss.”
“But how is that possible?” Varianna interrupted, looking from Aleister to Serpentine. Tears of The Abyss was a poison from Varuna specifically from the Fish Kingdom of which she was the queen. The substance was highly potent, needing only a single drop to kill a fully grown adult in the most horrific manner imaginable and had previously been the bane of Varunian high society used in all manner of assassinations during Varuna’s Warring States period thousands of years in the distant past. The poison was a banned substance on Varuna, only existing in medical resource facilities or other secure laboratory settings.
“That very question is part of the reason why Quinn became the primary suspect,” Aleister replied with a nod, “That and the body being in her bed...” he muttered under his breath.Tapping a button on the console in front of him Aleister continued with his explanation, “This is how Mr Stripes was found.” On the screen an image of the dead man lying between the sheets of Quinn’s bed was displayed. The covers were pulled back and the corpse lay naked in the centre of the bed. The characteristic black and blue mottling of the skin and jet black tears from the eyes so characteristic of the Tears of The Abyss poison was clear for all to see, as was the bottle on the table beside the bed.
“No, that’s impossible!” Varianna gasped, clamping her hand to her mouth as she stared wide eyed at the screen.
“What is it?” Serpentine asked looking at the image on the screen to see which particular aspect had caused his future mother-in-law to catch her breath. He wasn’t surprised that she had had a bad reaction to what she was seeing. The sight of Tigre Stripes’ dead body lying nude on his fiancee’s bed disgusted and worried him. Serpentine was certain that Quinn hadn’t killed the man but even if she was later found innocent the accusation would tarnish her reputation forever. If word got out that a naked man had been found in her bed whilst she was engaged to him the salacious gossip would cause a scandal worse than for the murder. It was upsetting to him as Quinn’s betrothed so Serpentine reasoned that must be what had shocked Varianna but he couldn’t have been more wrong.
“The bottle,” Varianna wheezed, barely able to speak. “That bottle is one of my husband’s family heirlooms from the warring states period. It’s part of a private collection that once belonged to Queen Maris and is now housed at Pisces Palace. It can’t possibly be here on Adhara.”
“Why not?” Serpentine asked though the next minute he felt stupid for doing so when he saw the expression on Varianna’s face.
Varianna was looking at him with a mixture of desperation and disgust, “It can’t possibly be here because…” she started and then looked at Aleister as if pleading with his mind not to make the connection whilst she desperately tried to come up with an alternative explanation. “Because…”
“Because only a member of the Zanni family can authorise the removal and transport of such a valuable artefact,” Aleister said, finishing Varianna’s sentence for her.