Madame olatana warbut as.., p.17
Madame Olatana, Warbut Astrologer, page 17
“Can you see death on these charts, Madame?”
“I can see change, your grace. If the change is brought about by unfortunate circumstances, it may mean death. A natural death at old age, though, is often a change under fortunate circumstances,” Madame Olatana answered.
“So you see a natural death as a fortunate occurrence?”
“It is, almost without exception, your grace. We have a natural cycle to our lives, and a death of the body is part of that natural cycle.”
“And the change is to something better?”
“Your grace, I cannot answer that. All changes bring about new circumstances and new opportunities, even a change that involves a violent death,” Madame Olatana said.
“I’d better not listen to more of this, Madame. I’ve got to investigate this death as a crime and not as an opportunity for spiritual advancement for Frak Fallgan,” the Duke answered.
“And I need to help you, your grace,” Madame Olatana said. “I’ll take these names, find the birth data, and determine which of these people were under adverse influences during these moments. With this volume of persons, it ought to take most of the next day and night.”
“I understand. We rarely have such a wide circle for you to look at,” the Duke said.
“And all are Warbut natives?” Madame Olatana asked.
“I cannot answer that, Madame. For the colleagues, we have only names. We certainly have not interviewed all of them, so we don’t know the native language or even the skin color,” the Duke answered. “That energy company tends to discriminate against Earthlings, but there may be several on the list. It would be more likely, in my mind, the list contains a couple of scientists from Lillitzen, since those entities are always anxious to take work away from their home planet.”
“But those androgynous entities rarely murder, your grace,” Madame Olatana noted. “They don’t have the rage in their tempers for it.”
“Yes, Madame, we have no convicted murders of Lillitzen descent under our supervision,” the Duke agreed.
“So, we will concentrate on male Warbutians, and then work with female Warbutians, and lastly with everybody else?”
“Yes, Madame, that is an appropriate description of the probabilities.”
“Dapa, call your mother and tell her you will be here in the office for the next day or so,” Madame Olatana told the receptionist as soon as she had shown the Duke of Swemor to the door. “And tell her if she would like to come down here to help, she would be very welcome. As soon as the police department pays us, I will send her a fee for her time.”
“What are we going to do, Madame?” Dapa asked.
“You and I are going to find birth data on the Parliament Clerk’s database, enter it into our computers, and create birth charts. Your mother could help by making enough of that coffee the Earthlings drink to keep the three of us awake, and she could go to the corner restaurant from time to time to get food for our meals,” Madame Olatana answered.
“Is this about the Frak Fallgan murder? I read all about that on the Universal Message Service this morning,” Dapa wondered.
“Not quite all, Dapa. There are no suspects, although the police say they are interviewing persons of interest. The Duke of Swemor is looking to us to provide information about who might be under murderous aspects during the time of the crime,” Madame Olatana answered.
“I don’t know anything about murderous aspects, Madame!” Dapa cried.
“That’s my job, Dapa. Your job is to look up birth data, starting with the males on this list from the Duke of Swemor,” Madame Olatana said, pointing to the list on the computer’s screen.
“Males? You can’t tell who is male from just the name, Madame,” Dapa said.
“I know that, but we know that first names that end in a vowel are usually female. That’s as close as we can get, and we will work from there,” Madame Olatana said.
The Duke of Swemor entered Madame Olatana’s code into his picturephone, and soon the astrologer’s face came onto the screen.
“Anything for us, Madame?” the Duke asked.
“I have a status report, your grace,” Madame Olatana replied. “Ten hours ago you gave us a list of over three hundred names. My assistant, Dapa, and her mother, Amoa, have been looking up these names on the Parliament Clerk’s database of birth information, and we have found about one hundred twenty so far. We have just six that we cannot find, so we will need to access the Universal Message Service for more information about those entities.”
“Anything promising, Madame?”
“Of those one hundred twenty, your grace, thirty are male. I assume most of the colleagues at the energy company might be female, and that accounts for the larger number of female names on the list,” Madame Olatana went on.
“Yes, Madame, we have seen mostly female Warbutians over there,” the Duke agreed.
“I have looked at the thirty males, your grace, and I cannot find anybody in that group who was under sufficient stress to commit such a brutal murder,” Madame Olatana said.
“But you are continuing with this evaluation?”
“Yes, your grace, we have at least another day of research. Amoa is also keeping us fed, and I’ll have that cost listed as a separate item on the invoice.”
After another ten hours, the Duke of Swemor called Madame Olatana again.
“Still anxious for any suggestions, Madame,” the royal cop said.
“Your grace, our status is that we have all but seventeen of the names entered into our computers. Of the ones we have entered, I have looked at all the males, and I have only four who are in any way under adverse aspects. Have you narrowed down the time for me?”
“Yes, Madame, your voice print from Frak Fallgan was used to verify her presence in her own home when the boyfriend called,” the Duke said. “Have you looked at the boyfriend?”
“Yes, your grace, and he is just a milksop, not the type of male to cut off the head of anybody,” Madame Olatana said.
“That’s exactly what Sergeant Iwan told me, Madame, but I wanted to hear it from you, too,” the Duke replied.
“And this shortened time, your grace, still keeps all four of those names in the mix,” Madame Olatana said. “We will keep looking at the other names, especially those seventeen we will need to find in databases other than the Clerk’s.”
“Very good, Madame. I will take those four names and call you again in a few hours,” the Duke concluded.
“Better bring these four in, Sergeant Iwan, one at a time,” the Duke of Swemor, that impoverished royal policeman, told his assistant.
“Are you looking for a confession, Lieutenant?” Sergeant Iwan asked.
“We can’t use a confession, Iwan, and you know it. Confessions were banned on all planets by the Universal Supreme Court in the Earthling year of 2065. We have to get hints of items to investigate from these men,” the Duke said.
“No women in this lot, sir?”
“Madame Olatana is still looking at the women. We decided it was a crime more likely to be committed by a man, so she looked at the men first,” the Duke replied.
“Unless this Frak Fallgan had stolen some gal’s lover, sir. Women get really annoyed when that happens.”
“Indeed. Madame Olatana ought to have the women evaluated in another day, and we will see what she finds,” the Duke said.
“Sir, why do you use Madame Olatana? Her invoices are absolutely outrageous. The department pays her more for ten hours of work than I get in a week,” Sergeant Iwan wondered.
“Because she has always produced results, Iwan,” the Duke replied calmly. “We are really stumped here. We have no leads. The crybaby boyfriend is apparently out, according to both you and Madame Olatana. This bunch of troublemakers who want to kill off the King and the Prime Minister may have taken Frak Fallgan as a trial run, but the list from Madame does not contain any known member of
“Who is on this list, sir?” Sergeant Iwan asked.
“Colleagues from the energy company. Maybe Frak Fallgan was in trouble down there. Maybe she made enemies the directors we interviewed know nothing about. She was working on a research project involving a new fuel, something using oil from Earth and a gelatinous goo from Octula, and that project might have produced some jealousies. We just don’t know, Iwan.”
An alarm sounded on the Duke’s desk, and he lumbered over to the information station to review the notice.
“There’s been another murder, Iwan! Mercy! It’s another scientist from that energy company!” the Duke cried. “I’ll have to go back to Madame Olatana. Forget, for now, bringing in those four.”
“It’s a really disheveled fellow at the door, Madame,” Amoa reported to her daughter’s employer. “He insists on seeing you.”
“And with all this work,” Madame Olatana complained. “I had better handle this, Amoa. You use the Universal Message Service to call the Universal Supreme Court about these last two birth dates.”
Madame Olatana looked out the door and found a tired and untidy Duke of Swemor.
“Come in and rest, your grace!” she cried. “We have a full lunch on the table for you.”
As the Duke sat at the makeshift dining table, he nibbled on vegetable pakoras and began to tell the three women why he had called at such an early hour.
“It’s not on the Universal Message Service yet, Madame, but there’s been another murder,” the Duke said.
“At that energy company, I guess,” Madame Olatana sighed.
“Yes, it is just as you say, Madame. At the home of another scientist. This one was shot dead and not decapitated. A quick in and out, it looks like.”
“Your grace, do we have a time for the murder?” Madame Olatana asked.
“A narrower time than for Frak Fallgan, Madame, but still several hours,” the Duke answered.
“Your grace, are you ready to dismiss the names of that bunch of radicals? Do you want us to concentrate on the energy company’s people?” Madame Olatana wanted to know.
“I hate to acknowledge it, Madame, but those troublemakers are out of it. We can’t make the tie,” the Duke said unhappily.
“The charts of the radicals, your grace, show mostly talk. Very little action with those entities. Mostly air signs, few fire signs. I can’t find any vim there,” Madame Olatana confessed.
“And this weapon is not of Warbutian origin, Madame,” the Duke complained. “It looks like something from Lillitzen, but the lab is still looking at the wounds. The bullets quickly disintegrated, of course, as is common with those Lillitzian guns.”
“Lillitzian? Do you want me to concentrate on any Lillitzians, your grace?”
“No, no, Madame. The Lillitzians are very brilliant, but they rarely will shoot anybody. Except for their deranged king, Edsella, they are mostly peace loving.”
“Do you want me to look at those four names I gave you for this new crime, your grace?” Madame Olatana asked the Duke.
“They wouldn’t send the same person twice, Madame,” the Duke replied, shaking his head. “We don’t see somebody who is willing to decapitate a woman also involved as a shooter. Not in all our recorded history, going back twenty thousand years. So, I am sorry to say, you need to look again at all those fellows you ruled out for the Frak Fallgan murder.”
“Before I complete the review of the women, your grace?”
“No, continue on with the women, Madame,” the Duke sighed. “Somebody gained Frak Fallgan’s confidence and was allowed to enter her home. It might have been a women with enough strength to strangle her. A liquid saw could be easily managed by a woman, particularly those overeducated women the energy company uses in their research projects.”
Two days later Madame Olatana had given the Duke of Swemor, that overworked royal policeman, a list of eighteen names. Next to each was marked the probability that person was associated with a crime, any crime, in the time ranges the Duke had specified.
“The crime could be stealing a muffin from the bakery, Sergeant,” the Duke emphasized to his assistant. “A person with a clean record and an honest heart might feel very guilty about the muffin, perhaps more guilty than a career assassin might feel about strangling Frak Fallgan.”
“So we start with the high probabilities, Lieutenant?” Sergeant Iwan asked.
“We start with the city’s database of implant records, Sergeant,” the Duke replied. “Everybody over ten years of age and under one hundred is required to have an implant or wear an anklet with a code the city picks up every two minutes. We rarely have to access those records, but they are available to us. Of these eighteen Warbutians on Madame Olatana’s list, only two are over one hundred, so we ought to have some luck tracing the whereabouts of the others.”
“But what if it was a hired assassin, sir, somebody not an employee of the energy company?” Sergeant Iwan asked.
“Then we are probably looking at two unsolved murders, Sergeant,” the Duke said sadly. “The invoice from Madame Olatana, just from having her look at the employees and those hooligans who want to kill the King and the Prime Minister, will put us at least five percent over budget for the year. The Captain has reluctantly agreed to that expense, but taking any request to her to extend the search to known criminals on the street is beyond my courage.”
“And mine, sir,” the Sergeant agreed.
Within four hours, Sergeant Iwan was able to rule out seven of the eighteen persons on Madame Olatana’s list.
“Each of these fellows was at work at the energy company or at home or between work and home during the two windows of opportunity, Lieutenant,” Sergeant Iwan said. “The city’s records are very clear, although it took some time to access them.”
“So we are down to eleven, Sergeant?” the Duke asked.
“Eleven, sir. We need to attend the Frak Fallgan funeral in one hour, and perhaps we ought to wear our best uniforms. We might get an idea of who is there and who is not,” the Sergeant suggested.
“Indeed. I’ll call Madame Olatana and see if she has any further advice, and then I promise I will shower and dress,” the Duke said.
Within a moment the astrologer’s chubby face was on the Duke’s picturephone.
“Madame, I sent you the list of the seven we have eliminated,” the Duke told her. “Any suggestions?”
“It’s about some lubricant, your grace,” Madame Olatana said. “These remaining eleven have the planet of Stecon prominently aspecting the personal planets. This matter concerns something about a lubricant.”
“I’ll make a note of that, Madame,” the Duke agreed. “Both Frak Fallgan and the other victim were working on a special project involving oil from Earth, so there may be a lubricant in the mixture.”
“Oil, your grace, is a basic ingredient in many lubricants,” the astrologer said. “Learn more about that project, and you will learn the motive. I wish I could do more for you.”
The Duke, remembering the size of Madame Olatana’s invoice, could not bring himself to ask her to do more. “No, no, Madame, we have plenty of things to follow up on now. Are you attending Frak Fallgan’s funeral?”
“Yes, your grace. I have agreed to be a member of Piev Fallgan’s party,” Madame Olatana replied. “She is nearly prostrate with the shock of her daughter’s death, and her partners wanted a woman to accompany them.”
“We will be on duty there, Madame, but I hope you can keep your eyes open for any untoward behavior,” the Duke said. “We are looking for anything suspicious.”
“How many of that project team were there, Sergeant?” the Duke asked after they had returned from the funeral.
“Pretty much the whole lot, sir. They sat together, so it was easy to count noses. The team had about twenty members, before this recent unpleasantness, and all of them were there,” Sergeant Iwan rep
“How many of the team members are on our list?”
“Four, sir. That leaves seven other employees. Three of those seven were at the funeral, and one was a speaker. Read a bit from the Earthlings’ Old Testament, in the token nod to the immigrants, even though we saw no Earthlings at the funeral,” Sergeant Iwan said.
“What did that director say was the distribution of profits to the project team, Sergeant?” the Duke asked.
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