The Murderer of Immortals, Part 2
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Last time on Nexus:
The Murderer of Immortals, Part 1

Chloe's scream put Dean immediately on alert. It took only seconds until he smashed open the door to the woman's bathroom, ignoring all etiquette. During this time, he had gotten fifty different ideas of what might be the reason for the scream, ranging from no towels to tentacled deities emerging from the toilet bowel. While the door opened he thought about three different plans for each of these possibilities.
Much to his regret, one of his assumptions turned out to be completely correct when he noted Chloe, unconscious thanks to shock, and then the occupant of the toilet stall she lied in front of.
It was Mrs Hayden. Somebody had decapitated her and her head rested on her lap. The eyelids were closed but weirdly sunken in. Blood came from them.
With a sigh, he lifted Chloe up and proceeded to bring her back to the others.

Jonathan Drake, chef and at the moment barkeep, marveled like the others in the bar a lot at this phenomenon happening in front of his eyes. An hour ago, the blonde had placed herself on one of the barstools in front of the bar made from valuable wood and golden ornaments and since then had relentlessly drunk through the entire selection. And that consisted of one hundred and twenty beverages, after all. Of course, the whole ordeal had not remained without consequences, because meanwhile she swayed from one side to the other like a shaky metronome and seemed to gradually reach the point of alcohol consumption where she started to lose her native language. Not that that would have stopped her.
"Hm, shat… shat wun doshn't have shat mush off 'n impact, nah, he doeshn't… Gimme-gimme shomeshing from she blue flashk over shere, pleashe… Woah, you-you have shree handsh? Amashing…"
Normally Drake would have pulled the brakes already and helped the lady to a chair so she could sober up but who blew up a gold mine? With trained movements he filled the requested beverage into a whiskey glass and pushed it towards her. Mrs Hunter needed three ties to get ahold of it and then emptied it in one go.
"Golly," Mr Ward marveled.
He himself had a good track record as well but his consumption palled in front of the amounts the blonde poured into herself.
"Have you seen something like that before, Ms Macintosh?"
The exoskeleton wearer, who had limited herself to light drinks, shook her head in silent amazement.
"Ish more like… like mint, like… like a TicTac, yesh egshactly" Mrs Hunter slurred meanwhile and critically squinted at her glass.
"Can I… Can I get shomeshing from she bottle ova shere? She one wiff she, uh… wiff she worm? And-And she one ova shere? It loogsh sho cute…"
Drinks got poured in, pushed over , almost toppled over twice and then downed in one go.
"Oh, shat… shat is gudd… Makesh really warm… Hope, look at… look at shat! I, yesh, I gonna cuddle you to show you shat…"
Drake was relieved that the blonde, who was currently hugging a partly bemused but also embarrassed looking Ms Macintosh while beaming with joy, showed a rather sunny disposition under the influence of alcohol. There had been other occasions where guests had become aggressive and raving mad. Mrs Hunter ended her hug and raised up from her barstool, wavering like a barge in a storm.
"Ladiesh and Gshentlemen, it ish a great pleash- Great pleashure to enshoy your company tonight… Phew… I wash… I wash in a lot… a whole lot of plashesh already and you, you are completely… completely okay. I like it here…"
The blonde rolled her eyes backwards and also toppled over backwards, stiff as a poker. None of those present could prevent her to crash hard onto the floor.

Chloe woke with a start. She still had the picture of Mrs Hayden in front of her mental eyes, all the blood… She must have been fallen unconscious. She deduced that from the fact that she was dreaming
Chloe indeed knew fully well, that she was dreaming because that dream plagued her since a while now. And she couldn't get out of it, even if she was aware that it was a dream. Normally, you woke up if you realized that.
First off, she was naked. And it was icy cold. The reason why she still hadn't gotten a cold in real life was a mystery to her.
Everything around her was completely dark but she knew that something was in the darkness. Something gigantic. Chloe had touched it while she had wandered through the blackness for hours. It was rosy and soft and she had never been able to estimate its dimensions. And she knew that it, whatever it was, was dead.
But this time something was different…
Chloe didn't see anything in the blackness but she felt clearly how life slowly but adamantly returned to this thing…
"- you don't get a reception, too?"
"Nah. We should try the landline."
"We don't have something like this up here. Too new, too far off…"
Chloe opened her eyes. This time, she seemed to be truly awake, since she lied on a couch. Dean had leaned over her and mustered her with a deadpan expression.
"Everything alright, Chloe?" he asked.
In this situation, the human body most of the time executes a diagnostic program which sadly also sheds light on the most recent happenings. This resulted in Chloe fighting with all her might against the intend to throw up her dinner.
"I'll take that as a no," Dean noted dryly. "Lie down for a short while, you'll only make it worse if you start to move. Think of something pretty."
With those words he turned away from Chloe and walked to a group formed by the adults. Only Elli and Mr. Macintosh were missing.
Chloe gave her best but Dean was one to talk, just now, somebody had died- Hold on, nobody died here… This assessment made Chloe's hair stay on end. Fortunately her stomach contents also ceased its attempts to leave Chloe's body and left uncomfortable heartburn.
"So none of us can call an ambulance?" Mr Hayden concluded right now with shock and fell numb on a chair. "Why is the reception gone now, of all times?"
To his right was a yellow cocktail he immediately consumed in one go, despite the fact that it belonged to someone else.
"I doubt that they can still help her," Dean said now. "However, somebody should go and call the police."
"Uh, regarding that…" Henry cut in.
The geriatric waiter hummed and hawed a little bit on the spot.
"Somebody activated the lockdown system and our password doesn't work anymore…"
"What lockdown system?" Dean inquired.
"This hotel here is for the the rich, those that give something for their safety," Mr Ward explained. "Therefore, this house gets fully locked down every night."
"Only the best safety measures for our guests," Henry noted and earned a few raised eyebrows. "But tomorrow morning the lockdown will be lifted automatically, promise."
"What are you doing in case of fire?" Dean asked. "You have to get out somehow, even if you can't get in."
"You got me wrong," Henry replied, with sweat on his face. "We are dealing with a bug here that can happen with improper operation. It can hardly be triggered by accident, but we sadly managed it twice already. Right now, the system is stuck in the lockdown sequence in an endless loop and doesn't process input regarding its parameters anymore. However, the loop will be broken tomorrow morning at seven by the timer switch that normally unlocks the building again."
"And why don't we have any reception?" Ms Macintosh asked.
"I have no answer for that," Henry replied. "The lockdown should not impede radio signals."
"So we're imprisoned here? Without help in sight?" Mrs Ward exclaimed. "What are your security detail doing all day?"
"Dear Ma'am, we might be a hotel for well-situated people but we can't afford the manpower to cover every room. We have three guards who make their patrols here," Henry tried to rehabilitate himself.
"Before I keep listening to this blabbering I will smash in one of the windows to get out," Mr Hayden growled and rose up again. "This whole place is a single effrontery. I have to help my wife!"
He took a chair, positioned himself in from of one of the panorama windows and winded up.
"WAIT, SIR, THAT'S-" the butler could only yell.
"-armored glass…"
"What kind of security measures are those?" Dean asked while Mr Hayden got flopped on his behind by the enacted forces and hit by chair fragments. "Are you planning for World War III?"
"Some of our customers have a lot of enemies," Henry explained. "As a result they are properly paranoid that somewhen one of those could show up, if you catch my drift. This here gives them peace."
"Oh, so that too… " Dean murmured. "Henry, get everybody present in this house together in here. Not that somebody gets the idea to "punish" the perpetrator by themselves."
Henry nodded hastily and hurried away.
Dean returned to Chloe, shaking his head.
"Morons…" he murmured.
"What will we do?" Chloe asked and got up.
Except for the heartburn she slowly started to feel better again.
"Do we take the Nexus and get out?"
Without saying anything Dean pointed towards the couch besides besides the one Chloe occupied. Elli lied on it, cuddled a cushion and snored quietly.
Sometimes, she giggled.
"Booze coma," Dean explained. "The woman is useless before sunrise. She should finally stop acting so impulsively, for your…"
"So, we are stuck here?" Chloe asked, fearful.
"With a murder case on our hands, yes."

It took a while but then Henry came back with four people. Two of them had a militarily short haircut and wore a blue security uniform like the third one. The third security guard was apparently the owner of a exoskeleton, with the appearance of a sturdy bald African-American. The fourth was a chef according to her work clothing, also possessed an exoskeleton and looked like a black-haired Polynesian.
"If I may introduce really quickly," Henry began, "This is Tim and Tom, as in Tim und Tom Orwell, Twins, Michael Shaw and Sandra Pukui. Together with me and Mr Drake over there we make up the entire personnel present, because everyone from the management has already left. Is everybody else present?"
Everybody looked through the crowd.
"Where is Robert, Ms Macintosh?"
Indeed, her brother was nowhere to be seen.
"He must be the perpetrator!" Mr Hayden fulminated instantly. "The coward doesn't even dare to come back after this scandalous deed. When I get him… "
"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Dean declared. "There are several inconsistencies in this theory. First, he didn't have a motive or at least none we are aware of, after all, the Macintoshs and Haydens met today for the first time, didn't you?"
Those spoken to nodded.
"Then to follow this up, the man did probably have next to no knowledge about alarm systems. Or about blocking mobile phone reception, right?"
"A little bit,"Ms Macintosh said. "He is in charge of installations and maintenance of the safety mechanisms in our facilities. But I don't believe that he can change a password just like that."
"Additionally, he doesn't have had access to any sort of large knife. We did not find a murder weapon but the cuts were clean and the eyes got hit with precision. If we assume that both got caused by the same weapon, it must be a large knife. And we would have noted if he had carried one of those. Furthermore, almost no blood splatters were present, so it is to be assumed that the clothing of the culprit remained clean. So that is also not a reason to go into hiding. That makes it very unlikely that he is the perpetrator," Dean summarized. "No clue where he is right now but even if he is, he will not attack anybody as long as we are in this room. Probably on some toilet with diarrhea ore something like that. He had also gone into the direction of the bathrooms, didn't he, Henry?"
Henry nodded.
"Then it is only a matter of time until he returns. To split up to search for him doesn't sound like a good idea for me. Not until all doubt," and while saying that he looked at Mr Hayden, "has been removed."
"And what is with Ms Macintosh?" Mr Hayden growled.
Dean addressed Dr. Allison.
"You were in the bathroom at the same time as the women. Did you hear any sound of a struggle?"
The doctor shook his head.
"I saw the walls," Dean explained. "They can't block out such noise, since the victim certainly struggled. In conclusion, Ms Macintosh can't be the culprit."
"And if she did it after the doctor left?" Mr Hayden inquired with a toxic glare.
"Uh, Mr Hayden?" Dr. Allison butted in, "She came back maybe five minutes after me. I would have heard something in the corridor."
Mr Hayden clenched his teeth. Dean ignored that deliberately and gave the hotel staff an apologizing look.
"I am sorry but these circumstances make you the prime suspects. You know the most about the technology here, and you know where the sharp objects are."
"That can't be right," Ms Pukui replied steadfast. "I was in the kitchen the whole time, Drake can attest that, he was with me."
"Until I had to man the bar," the Barkeeper narrowed in. "And you got out twice for a brief while because somebody had knocked."
"So it was you," Mr Hayden concluded immediately and pointed with his finger at the chef.
"The thing with the bar, okay, but the woman was decapitated. We do have big knives for that but I wasn't gone long enough to achieve something like that," the chef defended herself. "And none of them have left the kitchen, I swear!"
"The bar was open for two hours! Even you would have get it done within that time."
"Uh, Mr Hayden," Mr Drake butted in with an annotating pointer finger. "Ms Pukui does the dishes after the meals have been served. With such amounts that takes an hour. Also, I have always seen her in the kitchen when I had to go to the storage room to get new supplies for Mrs Hunter. I had to go so around very thirty minutes. The probability, that she committed this murder in exactly this timeframe is quite low."
"And everything was squeaky clean, I saw that when I fetched her," Henry added.
"One hour after the dishes are done suffices completely," the new-fledged widower kept insisting firmly.
"Rather fifty minutes," Dean narrowed in. "Otherwise, she would have encountered Chloe and me. The entrance to the kitchen lies between here and the bathrooms. Or is there another entrance?"
"Yes," one of the Orwell twins affirmed. "But it leads outside, she would have to run around half the house to get in again. And would still have to pass you."
"With an exoskeleton that is no issue at an earlier point," Mr Ward butted in. "And she could have simply deposed the knife somewhere."
"Then she would have passed us," one of the Orwells noted. "We met in the entrance hall at this time and before the murder, she could have only deposed something in the storage room on the opposite of the toilet. If she had deposed something before the outage, we would have seen her on the surveillance cams but Pukui was in the kitchen the whole time."
"Outage?" Dean inquired.
"Our, uh, camera systems failed…"
"Now tell me, are you intending to cover for the culprit, or what?" Hayden fulminated.
"Hold on," Dean requested to defuse the situation. "For better organization, let us create a time recap. Will later also help the police. Okay? Einverstanden?"
Nods from those present. Dean grabbed a ball-point-pen and a pad of sticky notes from the bar and started noting.
"Good. So, I start a little bit prior. At seven the dinner started. The guests are at the table, the kitchen personnel is in the kitchen. Henry walked around all the time to serve everything and to take orders and the security team?"
"In the surveillance room, where our surveillance cams run together," Mr Shaw claimed.
"Hm… well, about that later," Dean proceeded. " The first one to raise from the table was Dr. Allison. You wanted to go to the bathroom, right?"
"Uh, yes," the surgeon said. "That must have been a quarter past eight."
"Good. The personnel remains in the kitchen slash surveillance room. And Henry bustles about to do his job?"
"Uh, no," Ms Pukui denied. "The doctor briefly knocked at the kitchen to ask where the toilets are. I told him where."
"Thanks, but otherwise everybody was where they had been before, right?"
Unanimous nodding.
"Then, maybe five minutes later, Ms Macintosh gets a call. What was that about, by the way? Your face went numb."
Ms Macintosh looked downwards.
"A deal slipped through our hands" was the sad answer.
"My condolences," Dean replied dryly. "Anyway, you rose up approximately a quarter past nine with Mrs Hayden to go to the bathroom. From here the time window where Mrs Hayden can be decapitated starts. Did something happen in the kitchen or in the surveillance room?"
"Ms Macintosh also knocked at the kitchen to inquire about the bathrooms," Ms Pukui answered.
"We should really put up a sign…" Mr Drake noted dryly.
"Hm, anything else?"
General head-shaking.
"Moving on then, roughly five minutes after the women have left, Mr Macintosh also goes. Thirty-five minutes later, Dr. Allison returns. Extended session, wasn't it?"
"Yes, the food was quite substantial," was the indignant answer.
"I can attest, that he did not leave the men's bathroom until the women came," one Mr Orwell noted. "Saw him going in through the cameras but he didn't get out again. We don't have cameras inside the toilets for privacy reasons."
"Noted," Dean affirmed briefly. "Did you notice something else during this time?"
"Michael got a call and went outside," the guardsman said. "Don't know exactly when but the women were still in the bathroom. Took maybe ten minutes until he returned inside."
"Thank you, Tim," Mr Shaw interrupted him. "But I can talk for myself."
"I am Tom, Sir," he responded with military brevity.
Mr Shaw rolled his eyes in annoyance.
"Regardless, the call was a private matter. Family business, I would like to only explain this to the police, if you allow. When I came back, our cameras were disabled and the house got locked down automatically. As a reaction to that, I ordered the Orwells to patrol the hallways while I tried to get the tech back online."
"So you don't have an alibi," Mr Hayden asked furtively.
He seemed to be right before the explosion.
"Not a direct one, but the log files of the computer will show you, that during this time I tried everything possible to get the security system back under control. We did not tell anything to the guests and the rest of the staff to prevent a panic."
Dean took notes with razor-sharp writing and a speed that got Chloe to wonder why the pen did not melt. Three sticky notes stuck to the table already. Written on with font size 8.
"Did you see anything on the cameras short of the outage?" Dean asked the Orwells.
"Nothing, except maybe Mrs Hayden, Ms Macintosh and Dr. Allison passing the kitchen, as already stated. Mrs Hayden just walked past it. And then Ms Macintosh briefly grabbed her phone but because of the camera angle we couldn't see what for."
"Is that true?" Dean questioned Ms Macintosh.
"I… I think yes," was the hesitant answer. "probably watched the clock. I don't remember every time I take out my phone."
"That's normal, I'd say," Dean commented and addressed the Doctor while putting down a just slightly fuming pen. "Did you hear any noise, Dr. Allison? The men and women's bathrooms are right beside each other, and as already stated one does not let gouge out one's own eyes and decapitate oneself without strong protest."
The Doctor shook his head.
"Then it must have happened later," Dean supposed. "Ms Macintosh came in only five minutes after him and Mrs Hayden was certainly not acquainted enough with her to let her approach on arms length. And even if you had overpowered her, there would have been a scream or at least banging noises the Doctor would have had heard. So you were the last one who saw Mrs Hayden in one piece?"
Ms Macintosh nodded.
"And you are also the last one who saw your brother."
She nodded again.
"Okay… now it's point nine, Drake opens the bar and Pukui does the dishes. All who have no alibi are our two twin guards here. You did say that you didn't see Ms Pukui on her projected route during her 50-minute time window between eleven and near midnight."
The two guards nodded.
"Must be shortly before half past," one of them specified. "The way couldn't have been used without us noticing something because we took our routes in opposite directions and met ourselves in the entrance hall. But we didn't hear a thing."
"So the time window for the attack closes at, let's say, 23:15?" Dean asked. "Because shortly before midnight me and Chloe got to moving."
"Approximately," was the affirmation.
"So it was one of you!" Hayden snapped at the two security men.
"Mr Hayden, as much as I as I feel sorry for your loss, I vouch for both these men," Mr Shaw spoke.
Mr Hayden hand-waved that.
"Vouch!? While you were distracted they fried the security system. They are in cahoots with each other, indeed!"
"That cannot have happened," Shaw responded. "The control box for the alarm system is outside the surveillance room and by pure chance I stood in front of it while answering my call."
"Can the system be hacked from the outside?" Dean asked.
"No, it is an isolated system, there are no links to the outside. What I could imagine is, that this murder has been planned long beforehand and somebody slipped in a virus directly that activates at a designated time and then deletes itself. Haven't found anything like that in the system until now. Either it was really well programmed or I didn't search thoroughly enough."
"Why though?" asked Mrs Ward? "Why were we trapped in the first place? Can somebody explain that to me?"
"We can't be held here for eternity, somewhen, somebody will notice," Dean pondered. "But if I look at this together with the reception outage, I arrive at the conclusion that somebody wants to keep us here. Maybe a third party we don't know about."
"And why?" Mrs Ward asked again.
"Well, that is just an assumption and I hope I am wrong," Dean begun. "But it seems as if the perpetrator is not done with us yet."

Next time on Nexus:
The Murderer of Immortals, Part 3

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