The passengers and crew came crowding into the mess hall and took their seats round the tables. They all bore more or less the same expression, one of expectancy mingled with apprehension. The Bolian lady was still weeping, and Elizabeth Cutler was comforting her.
“Now you must just take a hold on yourself, my dear. Everything’s going to be perfectly all right. You mustn’t lose your grip on yourself. If one of us is a nasty murderer, we know quite well it isn’t you. Why, anyone would be crazy even to think of such a thing. You sit here, and I’ll stay right by you – and don’t you worry any.” Her voice died away as Mr. Reed stood up.
Chef was hovering in the doorway. “You permit that I stay, Mr. Reed?”
Mr. Reed cleared his throat.
“Messieurs et mesdames, I will speak in English since I think all of you know a little of that language. We are here to investigate the death of Samuel Edward Ratchett – alias Daniels. There are two possible solutions of the crime. I shall put them both before you, and I shall ask Captain Archer, and Dr. Phlox here to judge which solution is the right one.
“Now you all know the facts of the case. Daniels was found stabbed this morning. He was last known to be alive at 12.37 last night when he spoke to Captain Archer through the door. A chronometer in his pyjama pocket was found to be badly dented, and it had stopped at a quarter past one. Dr. Phlox, who examined the body when found, puts the time of death as having been between midnight and two in the morning. At half an hour after midnight, as you all know, the ship ran into a radiation storm. After that time it was impossible for anyone to leave the ship.
“The evidence of Mr. Vedek, who is a member of a Vulcan detective agency–” (Several heads turned, to look at Mr. Vedek.) – “shows that no one could have passed his cabin (No. 16 at the extreme end) without being seen by him. We are therefore forced to the conclusion that the murderer is to be found among the occupants of one particular Deck - Deck B.
“That, I will say, was our theory,” said Captain Archer. “That means the culprit was likely an officer.”
“An officer?” ejaculated Ensign Sato, startled.
“But I will put before you an alternative theory. It is very simple. Daniels had a certain enemy whom he feared. He gave Mr. Vedek a description of this enemy and told him that the attempt, if made at all, would most probably be made on the second night out from Alpha Centari.
“Now I put it to you, ladies and gentlemen, that Daniels knew a good deal more than he told. The enemy, as Daniels expected, boarded on Earth as a member of the crew. He was provided with a Starfleet uniform, which he wore over his ordinary clothes, and a pass-code which enabled him to gain access to Daniel’s compartment in spite of the door’s being locked. Daniels was under the influence of a sleeping draught. This man stabbed him with great ferocity and left the compartment through the main door, one door down from Commander T’Pol’s cabin–”
“That’s so,” said Commander Tucker, nodding his head.
“He thrust the dagger he had used into T’Pol’s door in passing. Without knowing it, he lost a pip of his uniform. Then he slipped along the corridor. He hastily thrust the uniform into a suitcase in an empty cabin, and a few minutes later, dressed in ordinary clothes, he left the ship just before it started off, using a different means of egress - transporting.”
Everybody gasped. Then, they turned to Chef.
“Impossible,” he said. "I have always been on this ship.
“I think not,” replied Mr. Reed. "Chef has. But not the shape-shifter pretending to be him!"