A ship’s captain murdered, his body displayed as if for entertainment. The victim holds a native’s spear as if he thrust it into his own heart. Major Argent fears that the natives can bypass the spaceport’s protection, Dr. Kelso fears the murder will rekindle the war, the soldiers fear the natives are seeking revenge. They must solve the murder before the fear explodes into more killing. More
The Xeres Corporation owns the trade permits and funds the university study. The corporation provides the intersystem ship to transport and support the university research team. The first to die is Dr. Robeson, the head of the research team. Captain Jameson of the Orion, the corporate spaceship, investigates and declares the death to be a suicide. A second investigation begins to throw doubt on the professor’s suicide.
The next to die is Captain Jameson. There is no question that this time it is murder. The body is glued to the wall as display with a spear penetrating his heart. Apparently, there was no struggle with the apartment clean and neatly arranged. Major Argent fears his soldiers will assume the natives are seeking revenge. He closes the base and implements measures to restrict the people who know about the murder. Soon he finds out the murderer is releasing the information and stirring the animosity of the soldiers.
Sergeant Cummings believes a native performed the murder. Major Argent believes a soldier or Xeres security performed the murder. Dr. Kelso suspects everyone who was on the base that afternoon. The natives distrust the offworlder and are reluctant to cooperate with the investigation. As the investigation progresses, it becomes more difficult to find a suspect with the motive and opportunity.
The murder has placed the trade agreements, the peace treaty and the establishment of a permanent spaceport in jeopardy.
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