Nick eyed up the small control panel situated by Goushi Miura's bedside. It consisted of just a simple menu screen activated by code inputted onto the console. It was essentially just a standard burglar alarm, albeit with more of a killer intent. Nick peered at the screen, browsing through the menu on the screen. One task read activate system, Nick chose to ignore that and chose a simple settings tab, unsurprisingly the console asked for the password. He inputted 'zero, four, one, three'. Access denied. He put in the code again. Access denied. He tried twice more with the same code only to come up with the same message.
"Hey Catherine," Nick spoke down his cell phone to his boss. "I think I can explain why Miura got bopped by his own bodyguard, let Mandy and Archie they're in for a big haul."
Nick chuckled to himself as he hung up the phone as he imagined the two lab tech's disgruntled expressions when told of their increased workload. He then got back to his work, picking out the extruder gun from his kit and casting a paste across each of the buttons which made up the panel for the console. As each cast set he took a photo, sending each one back to Mandy at the lab who ran them through I-AFIS.
As Mandy analysed the fingerprints, Nick unscrewed the main console, removing the motherboard and hard drive containing any data inputs which had been made to the individual system. He checked these devices for prints, when none showed up, he bagged them as evidence, instructing a cadet to take them back to the A/V lab as soon as possible.
Having extracted the data from the console, Nick heard his cell phone chirp, the name display showing that Mandy had finished identifying the prints. "Stokes."
"Right, I found prints on the zero, one, three and four keys," Mandy spoke down the phone, her tone suggesting tiredness and a desire to call it a day. "All of them came back to one person, the victim, Goushi Miura."
"Okay then, thanks dear," Nick laughed as he heard Mandy make a grunt of annoyance before she hung up the phone. He picked up the phone, instantly dialling Catherine's number. Before she had even had a chance to answer the phone he exclaimed happily down the phone, "my gut instinct paid off. I'm ruling this case out as an accident."
Doc Robbins pulled back the cloth, revealing the last moments Peyton Adelaide's life etched onto her face. "I'm sorry to disappoint you Greg, COD was not the ghost of Patrick Walliams."
"Fair enough," Greg remarked. "But if he ends up on your table, I'm your first port of call."
"What exactly was COD then Doc?" Sara asked him, eager to move forward with the investigation.
"COD, similar to your first victim, massive head and neck trauma, although her first and second vertebrae snapped, severing the spinal chord," Doc Robbins read from his initial autopsy findings.
"So she was our house's second victim then?" Sara suggested.
"Actually she wasn't," Doc Robbins intervened, pulling away the sheet covering her lower body to show her legs which showed extensive signs of damage. "Fractures of the proximal tib-fib joint. She was hit below the knees."
"She was hit by a car?" Greg queried.
"That's correct," Doc Robbins confirmed, he pointed to an interesting bruise on her upper right thigh. "This is a peculiar contusion, but it confirms she was hit here first, I found little bruising elsewhere on the body suggesting she died moments after she was hit."
The two CSIs peered at the oddly-shaped bruise closely, Sara muttering, "looks like a 'H' or something on an ensign, H for…"
"Honda," Greg finished for her. "She was hit by a Honda."
"I can't tell you what speed our Honda was going," Doc Robbins spoke up. "But I can tell you that our driver obviously cared enough to clean up after themselves, many people would have left the victim out on the road."
"Whoever hit her must have known about a good hiding place, and must have worked for Miura…"
"Wait a minute," Sara interrupted him, reading through the case file she had brought down with her. "I've got it!"
Without saying another word, Sara briskly walked out of autopsy, a sense of excitement apparent in her stride leaving Greg and Doc Robbins clueless towards what she had discovered.
"Do you plan on following her?" Doc Robbins, obviously amused by Sara's abrupt behaviour, asked Greg.
"I'll take my time, maybe she might have solved it by the time I find her," he joked. A beeping sound announced that he'd just received a page. Glancing down he saw it was from Sara. Get your lazy ass to the garage ASAP. "Well scrap that, I've got a date with a mean machine… and some bashed up vehicle."
"Alright Archie," Nick said, placing a hand on the A/V tech's shoulder and crouching down to see what was going on on the screen. "Tell me what you've found."
"Actually, it's what I haven't found," Archie replied. "I managed to access the complete data log which shows precisely what has been changed over the years, and I've found barely anything."
"Run me through them all then," Nick instructed him.
"Well I've got a four incorrect codes inputted earlier today," Archie told him.
"Yeah that was me testing the system for myself," Nick replied.
"I've got a correct code being inputted from this morning, and before then an incorrect code being put in at two-fifty-eight am," Archie muttered, scanning through the sparse data sets on the computer screen. "Before today, I've got nothing, no changes to the options, no intrusions, no shutdowns. Goes all the way back to two-thousand-and-two when the thing was set up."
"Whoa, hold on you said a correct code was inputted earlier today?" Nick asked him, his initial hunch turning into the likely theory.
"Yep, the correct code was seven, seven, five, nine."
"Whoa that's nowhere near the code we were given in the handbook. And it looks like Miura was fooled too, and you say the code has never been changed?"
"Not even entered before last night."
"Cheers buddy, I think it's about time we brought in the brainchild of this messed-up system."
"Is your head screwed on upside down buddy, or are you just plain stupid?" Brass paced around the room, circling Young, who sat as composed as he could possibly be in his seat.
"I don't quite get it, Captain Brass," he quivered, obviously intimidated by the police captain.
"Do the numbers 'zero, four, one, three' and 'seven, seven, five, nine' mean anything to you?" Brass asked Young, who had casted his eyes downwards towards the table. "I'll take that as a no."
"Why are you holding me here?" Young demanded. "Is it just because the security system I designed almost injured some of your guys? Hey, don't forget who saved their asses back there."
"Oh is that all you think this is about?" Brass raised his voice sharply, slamming both his hands on the table so aggressively it took Young by surprise. He flinched into an upright position. "You mean you don't care about everyone else who worked or resided in that death house? The servants? Guests? Mr Miura himself?"
"They knew about the risks associated with the system and the agreed to it," Young replied, equally raising his voice. "The system made that house the safest place in Vegas."
"Did you just hear that? It sounded like Goushi Miura flipping in his grave," Brass grunted, ever losing his patience with Miura's assistant. "Tell me, what's the password to deactivate the system?"
"Zero, four, one, three," Young replied casually. "My boss chose it himself."
"Yeah, maybe, but is that the code you actually put into the computer?"
"Urrm, yeah it was," Young retorted, as he sat back, folding his arms and rocking on the hind two legs of the chair in a cocky manner.
"Mr Young, I've got here the complete data extracted from your elaborate security system, one side of A4," he dangled the paper in front of Young before sitting down next to him. "Let's go through it together, shall we?"
Brass paused, apparently it was not a rhetorical question but Young slowly nodded, unsure and anxious about what awaited him.
"The data shows pretty much every time anything has been inputted into the keypad. From November twenty-first o-three until yesterday we have nothing."
"Well that means the password was never changed then…"
"Oh it wasn't changed we know that, it wasn't correct to begin with. Incorrect password error has come up five times today. Once at two fifty-eight am, four times at two pm." Brass quickly glanced at Young, noticing that his pupils had become increasingly dilated and his hands were beginning to shake, a sign of caving. "We found prints on the zero, one, three and four numbers, they all came back to Miura who was found dead moments later…"
"Well you can't prove that I was the one who inputted the incorrect password originally."
"No, but let me show you this nifty statistic," Brass smirked, pointing at a line around a third of the way down the page. "Correct code, system de-activate, ten-thirty am. Four guys saw you personally reset the system; two of them were police officers."
"Surely you would have found my prints all over those number keys as well then."
"Catherine Willows gave you latex gloves," Brass reminded him, stunning the man into near silence. "You knew the code Mr Young, you knew the system was programmed on the incorrect password and you did nothing… for eight years."
Young continued to sit in silence, Brass said nothing more, hoping that the awkward quiet between them would extract some final plea for clemency from Young. But instead of a plea, or cry of despair having been convicted, Young managed to find a voice which seemed rather unlike him. Deep, glum and slightly sinister.
"Funny, isn't it? How I did nothing?"
"Oh, believe me, I'm laughing my ass off," Brass muttered to himself sardonically.
"I spend, close to a year designing it, working triple hour shifts, testing prototypes; I even spent half of my own savings on it. What do I get in return? Nothing! No little bits of "well done Francis" or "nice job." I got no sign of reward, heck, eight years on and I'm still in the same old job whilst my boss is too busy collecting his human antiques from all over the world. My entire career, treated like a piece of crap."
"Trust me," Brass warned him. "I'll bet you were treated better there than where you're going."
"Do you know what is funny? I didn't even mean to kill him; I just wanted him trapped in his own room, and his only way out would be having me save him. But you know what; I got to do both today," he smirked to himself sinisterly before adding coldly, "and you know, I think this way worked out better."
"Well Superman, a.k.a. Francis Young, you're under arrest for negligent homicide, for the death of Goushi Miura," Brass rose to his feet, indicating to the officer by the door to cuff Young, who still bore a cold-blooded grin upon his guise.
From behind the glass which overlooked the interrogation, Catherine and Nick watched as Francis Young was escorted to a jail cell by Officer Mitchell. The two of them had been watching the entire time, not even speaking to each other as the interview unfolded.
"You know you did good today Nick," Catherine told him, thinking about what Young had just said in the interrogation. "And I'm not just saying that… because… you know…"
"Nah it's cool, no worries," Nick replied. "Besides, there was something dodgy about that guy the moment he appeared."
"That's why I'm saying you did good. You knew something wasn't right and you went back and investigated it, even at the risk of almost pulling a triple. I… I reckon I might have let him slide."
Nick grinned and shook his head at Catherine, "I know you Catherine, and trust me, you'd have gone all the way as well."
Catherine smiled back, unsure whether she had had as much faith in herself as Nick did, but nevertheless the words were a great comfort to her, taking her mind off the bombshell which had potentially been dropped on her that day.
Greg walked into the garage to find that Sara had already started to comb the red Honda that was sat in the middle of the room.
She popped her head out from underneath the car, calling out to him, "you took your time!"
"I've been gone ten minutes!" Greg called back to her.
"Yeah, and I want to go home today, so I could do with a hand," Sara replied. Greg rolled his eyes, giving in to her nagging. "RO is our DUI, Harold Wallace."
"Yeah, I think I saw the guys from impound towing it away from the crime scene earlier," Greg recollected, he noted the large dent in the front of the car. "This thing hit a tree didn't it?"
"I don't think a tree is the only thing it hit."
The pair of them began the task of processing the car, Greg was able to find a red substance on the bumper of the car, hydrogen peroxide confirmed the substance to be blood. Sara's inspection of the trunk revealed small blotches of blood and pieces of fabric which looked similar to the blanket that was found along with Peyton Adelaide's body. A four pack of beer was collected from the backseat of the car; only one beer can was left attached to the rings connecting them. Having processed the majority of the car, the pair of them fumigated the entire vehicle, revealing prints on the steering wheel and door handle which were collected.
As they finished lifting the prints from the available surfaces, Hodges came bumbling in looking smug with himself as per usual, ready to reveal a pile of results for them.
"Choose a number, one, two or three?" Hodges offered to them.
"Hodges, do we really have time to play this…" Greg began irritated.
"Three," Sara interrupted, hoping it would motivate the lab tech to give them the results quicker.
"Miss Sidle has chosen folder number three," Hodges said to her in a voice reminiscent of a game show host. "I wonder what her prize will be."
Sara bemusedly opened the folder, reading in her most dead-pan voice, "hairs found at the scene were feline, notably from a Turkish Van cat. Hairs match fibres found on a pair of gloves in Harold Wallis' possession at the time of his original arrest."
"Now Mr Sanders, one or two, which will you choose?" Hodges asked Greg in the same tone.
Greg simply took one of the folders out of his hands and read the contents of it aloud. "Fabric found in the boot of the car was a match to the blanket the body was wrapped in."
"So what else have you got for us Hodges?" Sara told him, eyeing up the remaining folder in his hand.
"I'm afraid David Hodges cannot tell contestants what they could have…"
"Hodges," the two CSIs warned him.
"The blood from the trunk and the front of your car matches the victim," Hodges blurted out, quickly surrendering to the tired and grumpy CSIs.
"I got to say," Sara said smiling. "That is the definition of a slam-dunk."
"Miss Sidle, that evidence is circumstantial," Wallis' attorney warned her. "A partial print found on the entrance to a hidden passageway?"
"Which leads to where we found the body of Peyton Adelaide," Sara argued.
"But you have no evidence to prove which places the body of Peyton Adelaide with my client."
"Actually, we do," Sara glanced at Vartann who sat beside her. The look he returned telling her bring out the big guns. Sara pulled out a series of charts, crime scene photos and evidence sachets, placing them in front of Wallis one at a time. With each piece of evidence his eyes changing from relief to terror.
"Peyton Adelaide wasn't killed at Goushi Miura's mansion, was she," Vartann declared to Wallis. He whispered something to his attorney, who nodded back in reply.
"No, she wasn't," Wallis replied, faltering as he spoke. "And I… I didn't mean to…"
"You were drunk weren't you," Sara told him, in a surprisingly reassuring voice. "Lights all around, dizziness, you probably didn't know she was there."
Wallis shook his head apologetically, "it… it all happened so fast. One moment, I was cruising along the boulevard, the next there was a scream and I heard something hit the bumper and fly over the top of the car… I couldn't… I couldn't just leave her there."
"You took her to the one place you know was secret, secret from most people anyway. Remove all evidence her death had taken place, you even took her broken heel." Wallis nodded, tears beginning to stream down his face. "Then once you dumped the body, you went to leave the house, but, you saw your boss at the bottom of the stairs. He had died too."
"Two people died… two people died because I couldn't be assed to take a bus," Wallis sobbed. It was hard to feel sorry for a killer, but Sara knew what it was like to suddenly find yourself at the side of the road, no idea how you got there, no idea where you got the headache from.
"What did you do after you found the body of your boss?" Vartann asked Wallis.
"I wanted to call it in, I'd sobered up a bit, finally my instinct was kicking in… I saw blood on my car, my windscreen was cracked. I crashed it into the tree, hoping that it would cover it all up."
"Then you got drunk on the rest of your beer, making it look like just a DUI charge." Sara finished the story for him.
"I'm… I'm so sorry," Wallis sniffled, a look of genuine remorse etched upon his face.
Sara stared back into his eyes, hers beginning to well up slightly as she thought about how one silly act had ruined so many lives. "I'm sorry too," she replied sadly, although who she was most sorry for, was eating away at her mind.
"Okay, okay, there's still something I don't get about this case," Nick exclaimed to the rest of the team as they sat in the break room discussing the case. "Why did Miura even leave his bedroom? Even when the system said it hadn't deactivated?"
"Well he was heavily dosed on diazepam," Greg pointed out. "I mean, he didn't even seem to realise he went to bed in his suit, how could he read an error message on that tiny screen?"
"Yeah but he must have had some idea that if he'd stepped out that room he'd have been knocking on heaven's doors?"
"Did your dad ever take you out hunting Nick?" Ray asked him.
"Yeah, yeah we used to go down to Lake Travis in summer when I was a kid, go camping and set up a few traps by a campfire. Caught quite a few rabbits back then."
"Do you remember the delight of catching your first rabbit? I'm sure Miura would have thought the same, after an eight year wait. Not over a thousand years ago mankind survived on what he hunted, and I'm sure that instinct is still present in a lot of us today. Harold Wallis was essentially that first rabbit."
"Well it's true what they say, curiosity killed the cat," Greg added.
"Ironic isn't it," Sara spoke up. "Miura builds a mechanical bodyguard, afraid of corruption, only for the machine to only show loyalty to another person."
"The "safest house in Vegas", possibly the world, kicks up two bodies, two different crimes in one night," Catherine added to Sara's point. "I think I'll stick to a husband who can kick ass."
"Well, speaking of human instinct, I think the only thing I'm crying out for at this moment is some sleep," Nick said, stifling a yawn as he got out of his seat. "I think I'll be calling it a day there."
"I second that motion," Greg piped up. "I've changed my mind from earlier, I miss my bed more."
"I'm off too, see you guys tomorrow," Sara called out as she picked up her bag and followed the guys out of the break room leaving Ray and Catherine behind.
"You think you're going to do okay?" Catherine asked Ray, realising he had returned to his sombre expression.
"Yeah, I'll be fine," Ray assured her, also starting to pick up his belongings. "I think rest is probably the best thing for me for now."
"Yeah, take it easy. Go and see a doctor if it gets any worse," she instructed him, her motherly instinct kicking in. "Have a good night."
"See you tomorrow boss."
Catherine watched Ray leave, concerns beginning to fill her mind as she remembered their talk earlier that day. She looked at her watch, she was due on shift again in a few hours, it almost seemed pointless going home.
"Hey, you're still in," Catherine looked up to see Vartann poking his head round the corner of the break room. "You still wanna talk?"
"Oh-erm," she hesitated. "Sorry Lou, I'm knackered, and I'm meant to be back here in six hours. It's been…"
"Hectic, I know," he finished for her, still grinning. "My place is closer you know."
Catherine thought about that proposition for a moment, she mentally kicked herself at how long she had taken to process the offer. It was one if she was in any other state she would have accepted within half a second.
"Yeah, that sounds great!"
A/N: Yes, pinch yourself, an update only TWO days after the last!
Anyway, that's the end of this story. I hope you enjoyed it, thanks for everyone who has reviewed so far, keep them coming in guys! The next story, Dreaming of a Normal Death (1x09) is due to be released on Friday, November 25. (hopefully) It will also be Sara-centric.
Sorry this one's dragged out a bit, but I hope you enjoyed it nevertheless! Thanks for reading!