Checking the Madame
Death in Paradise
Location: Deck 7 - Science Labs
Natalia had discussed with Cailus about what had been found so far. Based on the comparison of notes, it was evident there was something fishy about the hotel. Natalia had been tasked to follow-up with Madame Kroll and it was suggested she take someone along. Shae had been cleared of any involvement and her skills at perception, especially scent, could prove useful.
Natalia headed to the Science deck and found Shae in one of the labs.
"Lieutenant?" Natalia asked.
"Yes? How can I help you?" Shae replied, looking up from some samples of stellar dust. She had not been given any warning as to what had been suggested, so she was quite oblivious to what Intel would be doing in her lab.
"Doctor, I require your assistance on an interview I am to conduct," Natalia informed Shae.
"Assistance? I don't know how I can assist, but tell me what you need and I will do my best," Shae said, saving her work and then turning to give Natalia her full attention.
"We are to visit Paradise and interview Madame Kroll to what she saw last evening," Natalia explained.
"Excuse me?" Shae replied with confusion. "I believe there must be a mistake; I have not been involved in the investigation at all, and I'm not cleared to perform interviews. Wouldn't someone from Security be better suited to this task?"
"Unfortunately, with recent events, there are very few who have been cleared of suspicion, you being one of them," Natalia smiled, trying to calm Shae down.
Shae scoffed with an amused grin. "Yeah, that's only because I don't have a life outside of my job and my daughter and planning my wedding... I swear, I think I've nearly used up all of my holodeck time and started on Cailus'- er, I mean, Lieutenant Griffin's holodeck time just on wedding stuff; I haven't had any leisure time, so of course I missed out on a chance to visit the base!" She sighed in exhausted exasperation. "Alright, I suppose I have enough time to help you with this; after all, if it solves the murder that much faster, then of course I would like to contribute how I can. So give me the details while we walk." Shae shut down her console and started walking.
The pair headed towards the quarterdeck.
"After speaking with Lieutenant Griffin, it seems Madame Kroll was one person connected to a few suspects, yet for whatever reason, she was not interviewed. She was at the hotel-casino the night of the murder..." Natalia detailed.
Shae simply nodded as Natalie continued to pass along the details that they had so far.
-=Paradise Outpost - Hotel/Casino=-
Having been granted begrudging access to the Casino by a nice - but clearly disapproving - manager, the two Starfleet officers were guided up the black and gold staircase, through the back corridors of the hotel, into a service elevator, and finally to the Performer’s Suite. Without much of any conversation they were lead before a large double doorway and told simply to “Wait here a moment” by the Manager. Moments turned to minutes and several passed before the door slightly opened.
A grinning young Ferengi stuck his head barely past the frame and inquired, “Hu-mans?”
"Hello, we're here to speak with Madame Kroll, please?" Natalia asked.
“The Madame is resting for her show this evening. If you purchase the Fanatic Fan Pass in the lobby, you are granted a thirty second audience with her after the concert for a mere fifty thousand credits. Each. Or, if you are True Kroll-aholics, one hundred thousand credits will gain you five minutes and a holopic of the experience.”
Natalia was about to say something when Shae sighed.
Annoyed that this little troll was trying to extort them for wanting to interview a witness, Shae simply sighed. "We could do that," Shae said, looking down at the Ferengi, "or we could go to station security and report your Madame as the culprit of our murder investigation instead of being a mere witness. Even if you did have personnel on hand that could ensure her personal safety, I doubt her reputation would be able to survive such an accusation."
Natalia was both surprised and impressed and awaited the response from the Ferengi.
The Ferengi popped his head back into the room and the door closed. There was a series of harshly whispered words that followed and finally the door opened again. "You have-have fifteen minutes. No photos or autographs."
Natalia raised an eyebrow at the last part. She was not too familiar with Madame Kroll, yet apparently she was the big start around here.
As the two officers entered the palatial suite, which was decorated almost entirely in gold. It was unclear whether this was the work of the Casino's decorators or a homage to the Ferengi's high regard for gold latinum, either way it was a rather shiny affair. Luckily the lights in the suite were turned down low, so as not to blind the new arrivals. The Ferengi walked swiftly through to the lounge area where two bodyguards gave a disapproving snort to the Pandora officers before hesitantly letting them through another large doorway.
Natalia looked at the body guards. They were pretty big guys and could have definitely assisted Kroll in any nefarious activity.
As they walked, the Ferengi spoke, "Remember, this is Kroll's home. As are it's contents." He sniffed, "You have waived legal rights by entering. We will forgo the usual donation."
Madame Kroll was reclined on a chaise-lounge, resplendent in a black silk gown with large chunky earrings while sipping on something through a straw. She didn't look up or acknowledge Parrino and Brennan when they entered.
"Madame Kroll, I am Lieutenant Parrino and this is Lieutenant Brennan. We're from the Pandora," Natalia gestured to Shae. "We apologize for interrupting, yet we wanted to interview you about a matter that occurred last night."
Shae considered carefully the woman lounging on the chaise; how did this woman witness anything, she looked like she didn't care about anything other than herself.
"Tell her I want them back." Kroll simply replied, her tone low and hostile, though never moving from her position.
Natalia raised her eyebrow.
The Madame managed a swift glance at the two, a look of mixed disdain and annoyance, "I take it you are here because that frax Raven stole my shoes!"
Natalia smiled. "No, actually, yet we are happy to take a statement from you regarding that matter afterwards. We are actually here to speak with you about what you may have seen in the hotel/casino last night," the security-posing intelligence officer explained.
Shae very nearly snorted in amusement, but somehow managed to maintain her composed facade; this woman was concerned about her shoes?! They would probably look better on Miss Raven anyway...
"We are referring to the death of one of our Officers, Lieutenant Vicuno," Shae said to clarify.
Kroll paused and looked to the Science Officer with a sneer, before nodding to her assistant. He stepped forward, "If you'd like Madam Kroll to dedicate a song to him, that's available in our Supreme Package, but..." he looked them both up and down, "It's an exclusive level."
Suddenly the Madame leaned forward, outstretching her hand. The assistant immediately dropped down to catch the drink she was about to let go of and placed it on a nearby side-table. Kroll stood, eyes darting between the two as she summoned her thoughts, "Wait... Wait. You think I have some knowledge of this hu-man's death?" She spat as she spoke, perhaps deliberately, "What are you implying, officers?"
Shae held up her hands to try to ease the sudden tension. "We are implying nothing, we merely wish to know what you may have seen or heard. We've received statements from our own people involved, but it helps to verify the details from additional sources, such as yourself," Shae said gently. "Please, Madame, we would be most appreciative if you would tell us what happened, and in return I will make it my personal mission to ensure that your shoes are returned to you," she offered to help make the diva more amenable, since she seemed so concerned about them earlier.
Kroll licked her jagged teeth, before looking back to her assistant. "You." She pointed at him, "Do you have a Vicuno on the list?"
The young Ferengi fumbled for his notes, looking through his device with nervous anticipation. "Vicuno... Vicuno... No. No one by that name." He said it with proud relief, aware that it would vindicate his boss' name from being associated with the murder.
"Show them." Kroll insisted in a huff. as she retook her place on the lounge. She wasn't the least surprised that Vicuno wasn't on the list, but the thought of getting her shoes back meant the Madame would do her best to please the Starfleet officer's inquiry.
"Oh. Yes." He stammered, practically falling over his feet to hand over the PADD to Brennan and Parrino. It was a detailed list of everyone who had paid for visits with Madame Kroll the previous evening, including Raven Mattel and Ignatius. Both of their names had a large strike through them, an added note reading 'NEVER AGAIN' scrawled across it. Lieutenant Vicuno had never met with the Madame; in fact Raven and Ignatius were the only Pandora members to have been granted an audience. This was likely due to the high price of such a meeting, with figures topping three-hundred thousand credits for just the honour to be in the singer's presence. Raven and Ignatius hadn't paid a single credit, though it was obvious that this wasn't the only reason the Madame had blacklisted them.
Shae took the PADD and held it so that Natalie could review the information along with her. "This is unusual," Shae remarked. "Ignatius and Miss Raven were able to see you, but I'm not seeing a payment for the audience. How was it that they came to be in your presence?" she asked. She was also most curious to the fact that Vicuno was not on this list, but she wanted to address one thing at a time, and it was easier to deal with what they had in front of them rather than what wasn't there.
Kroll gave a loud sigh, "I had two events scheduled for after my show last night. The first was a meet and greet at a local bar. We have a financially beneficial arrangement with the owner to hold events there once a week."
"For one hundred fifty thousand credits. Each!" The Assistant chimed in, a broad smile on his face as he contemplated the amount of money. He assumed the Starfleet guests would find this just as impressive.
"And a private audience here in my suite to watch the Light Show." Kroll continued, ignoring her employee.
"Three hundred thousand!" He interjected again, practically drooling at the thought. After catching a look off the Madame, he resigned himself into the background again.
"My former events coordinator invited that hu-man trash to my event. Without paying!" Kroll hissed, "Apparently she had made a spectacle of herself at another bar and they thought I would find her amusing. When I found out she was there without making the usual contribution, I instructed my former coordinator to eject her from the venue. Little did I know, he had taken a liking to Raven and instead of throwing her out, brought her back to the Casino! Suffice to say he is no longer in my employ."
Shaking her head, Kroll continued, "When I returned to the Casino, I found Raven was now on my stage. She and her friend were so intoxicated - on my account! - she believed she was performing in front of the audience. But it was really just the cleaners, who for some reason encouraged this disgraceful display. I will not have some gooblatrupyob standing on my stage! I stormed to the auditorium and had her ejected again. She had the nerve to follow us back to my suite, where she barged in and started going through my wardrobe. It took me almost an hour to have her removed."
The Ferengi nodded to her guards, "This is why I have hired private security. She made me an hour late to the Light Show, they had to delay it until past First Quarter for me. I believe that's one AM in your time." She seethed, memories of her horrendous night bringing up the strong emotions again, "It wasn't until later that I realised she had left with my favourite pair of ruby encrusted boots. AND I WANT THEM BACK!" She ended with a screaming demand, balling her hand into a first and smacking the cushion of her lounge.
Natalia resisted the urge to facepalm.
"So at any point, did you see Paradise security do anything unusual?" Natalia asked.
"Paradise Security?" Kroll scoffed loudly, "They have no place here." She looked down at her hands, "Besides, when I tried to reach them they said they were busy. The nerve! The dis-re-spect. What do I care if they had a faulty airlock hatch or some such nonsense, there was a THIEF in my room!"
Natalia senses something. "They said there was a faulty airlock hatch somewhere?"
Kroll gave another, noticeably louder and more exaggerated sigh, "That's what I said, isn't it? You'll have to ask them for more details, I didn't care enough to ask. If there was a problem on Paradise, you can be assured I would be the first one evacuated off this station."
Shae shared a glance with Natalie; clearly, they would have to go investigate this airlock... "Madame Kroll, you have been most helpful, I just have one more question for you," Shae said to help settle the irate diva before asking more. She retrieved a small mini-PADD from her pocket and pulled up a picture of Lieutenant Vicuno from his personnel file. "So in all the chaos of last night, you didn't see this person at all?" Shae asked, offering the PADD to Kroll to examine.
Kroll's eyes withered, "Do you know how many people I meet in one evening? It's exhausting. I wouldn't even pretend to remember a single one. That's why I need my alone time during the day." She gave a pointed look to her assistant who stepped forward again.
"The Madame has been incredibly giving of her time, with no compensation, I may add." He complained, hoping to wrap up the interview.
"Except for my shoes!" Kroll interjected loudly, displaying her innate talent to go from zero to hundred in a matter of seconds. "You said you would get them back for me, Starfleet."
"I made a promise and I fully intend to make good on it," Shae replied, standing firm. "But of all the people, all the faces that you see in a single evening, I know you will remember the faces of Raven Mattel and Ignatius because they did something that was memorable. Perhaps this individual did something memorable as well? Please, just give his face one good look and then our business will be concluded and we will leave," she implored, offering the PADD once more.
Kroll begrudgingly looked down at the photo then back up again, "No." She said firmly.
The Assistant's brow furrowed and he slowly raised his hand. "I... well... I saw him." When Kroll and other's gaze turned to him, he placed his hands to his face in embarrassment. "Only briefly though! We were returning from the club appearance to the Casino and he was running out of the lobby. He seemed like he was looking for someone." He sniggered a little laugh, "I remember because we have a saying on here on the station. 'You're less likely to see a hu-man on Paradise, than you are to see a Kling-on in a bath.'" He divulged into snorting giggles.
Shae couldn't help but chuckle in response. "Aye, humans are quite the rarity out here," Shae said. She considered asking for more details, like who Vicuno might be looking for, but she had pressed hard enough and didn't want to overstep their 'generosity', and it was unlikely that the assistant would know much more than he'd said anyway. Knowing in advance that they would be dealing with Ferengi, Shae had brought along several slips of gold pressed latinum, and so she dug into her pocket for them now. "The information you have provided us will be of great help to our investigation; your cooperation is appreciated," she said to the assistant as she offered the slips of latinum to him. Then she addressed the Madame. "The same to you Madame Kroll, it was a pleasure working with you, and I will have your shoes returned to you forthwith," Shae affirmed with a polite bow of her head.
"Yes, thank you both very much," Natalia added as she started moving to the exit.
Kroll leaned back in her chair and returned to her rest, waving her hand slightly as a means of a goodbye gesture. She waited as her assistant saw the Starfleet officers out the door, which he did diligently.
“They seemed nice.” He commented upon returning to lounge, eyes salivating at the bars of latinum in his sweaty hand.
Without opening her eyes, Kroll merely clicked her fingers loudly, leaving her hand in the air expectantly. After a pause and with a sadly resigned expression, he walked over and placed a couple of slips into her now open palm. “They were nosey. Katya will hear about this.” Kroll insisted as she stuffed the latinum into her pockets.
-=Hallway - Hotel/Casino=-
"You did great work in there," Natalia said.
"Eh, Ferengi take a bit of creativity, but in the end it's about knowing what they value and applying enough pressure to that without threatening them. And I was listening to their heart rate and respiration and their responses seemed more or less consistent with their baseline conversation, so at least they weren't trying to pull anything over on us," Shae said, smiling slightly. "To be perfectly honest, it was nice to get off the ship for a little while, I was starting to go stir-crazy! So was that all you needed me for, or was there something else?"
"I want to stop by and check one thing. You may be on to something if Vicuno was here," Natalia noted. She greatly appreciated Shae tagging along and she proved her skills to be quite useful to the investigation thus far.
"Right, let's get to it," Shae said with a nod and followed Natalie.
-=Lobby - Hotel/Casino=-
"Hello, we're looking to see if a man checked in to your hotel," Natalia said to the guest agent.
The lobby service desk was attended by a beaming young alien woman with bright green, scaled skin. She was wearing standard issue black Casino attire, with a visor sitting nearly upon her hairless head. She had a gold name badge with a series of unfamiliar symbols on it. After a minute, the symbols shimmered and changed to Ferengi letters, then Klingon, and a few more until the name "Rinna" appeared. She didn’t blink as the Starfleet officers approached, and kept the same poised smile fixated onto her face.
“What name has man?” Rinna asked, her Federation English still developing.
Shae smiled kindly at the attempt. "His name is Vicuno and he is a Lieutenant in Starfleet," she said, then pointed to the pips on her neck as indication of the rank.
Natalia pulled the same file photo Shae had earlier and showed it to the clerk.
The alien tapped at her visor and it quickly illuminated, an interface projecting down from the brim right in front of her eyes. Without looking down, her hands danced across a console screen on the desk as she searched for the Lieutenant's booking. It only took a few moments. "Vicuno. Yes." She declared, giving a nod. "Guest Vicuno arrived in Third Quarter. Paid by subspace transfer of Interior Median Suite and... Oh." The smile threatened to crack from Rinna's professional face for a moment but she soon recovered. "It appears Guest Vicuno requested to cancel his stay. Around fourth quarter. I am unfortunate but this is not compatible with Casino policies. He was not entitled to cancellation. I am hoping you are not here to try as well? Our Casino policies are clear at the time of booking."
"Unfortunately, Lieutenant Vicuno is deceased," Shae informed the casino agent. "What you do with his reservation is completely up to you at this point, we have no intentions of intruding on the operations of your business. Our interests lie solely in gaining any information we can about his whereabouts and actions while at the casino; this will help us find the individual responsible for his death and help ensure the safety of future guests."
This finally caused the smile from Rinna's face to drop, as she sat blinking for a few moments. "Deceased... means gone, yes? Dead? We are most unfortunate to hear of this. From our accounts, it appears Guest Vicuno left the Casino shortly after requesting to cancel his suite and never returned. Our service crew have retrieved his belongings from his suite and they await in our Left Behind section. I can arrange for those to be sent to your ship. But I cannot tell you anything more after he left the Casino. Probably speaking to Paradise Security could assist, yes?"
"Yes, thank you," Natalia nodded. "Are there any notes about why he tried to cancel his suite?"
Rinna shook her head, "No, but he appeared to be in a hurry. Seemed like he was looking for someone. But that's all I can say." The smile returned quickly, "Now. Would you be interested in joining up to our mailing list?"
Natalia politely declined. As they left to head back to Pandora, Natalia said, "Well, I am not sure if we've discovered much of anything, yet we've certainly ruled out some possibilities."
"Agreed," Shae replied simply, and together they returned to the Pandora.