Princess followed Crusher to the morgue. They already had the preliminary autopsy results from Callie. The results from the other two victims hadn’t produced much. So why were they on their way to autopsy?
“You said you had something, Ducks.” Crusher never said hello when they were on a case. Considering his abruptness, Princess had always been surprised that he’d had so many mates. Something about the Boss attracted the queens; that was for sure. Princess wished that he had it, whatever it was.
“Yes,” Ducks’ British accent arose from the fact that he’d spent his kitten hood in garden shed of the British Consulate. The humans spoke with funny twists to their speech that Princess had never understood. Why didn’t they all speak the same the way that cats did? “These queens were all killed by the same cat.” No surprise there, weren’t they investigating a serial killer?
“Kinda figured that, Ducks.” Crusher apparently felt the same as Princess. “You said you had something new.”
“I do,” the brown tabby chuckled. “I have teeth impressions.” He turned to the table behind him. “See here? Our killer has lost a back tooth and the one next to it is out of alignment with the rest. That tooth pattern is on all three of our victims.” He turned back to face them. “Find the cat whose teeth match these impressions and you have your killer.”
Mittens was on the telephone when Princess entered the squad room, the following morning.
“Yes,” he was saying. “I did enjoy our date last night, Doodles. I just think it’s a little too early to talk of nesting together.” Princess grinned as he settled at his desk. Where did the Probie find them? “We’ve only had one date…I do like you…That is not what I said… Doodles…” The handset rattled into the cradle as Mittens pawed it back into place. “She hung up.” He looked over at Princess. “She wants to move in with me.”
“Way to go, Probie,” Princess couldn’t help ribbing his colleague. You got her right between your paws.”
“We’ve only had one date,” Mitten said. “We hardly know each other.” Princess shrugged.
“Dump her,” he said.
“I can’t do that,” Mittens said. “I really like her. She’s just going too fast, that’s all.”
“Your funeral,” Princess replied. “Queens are like that. They want what they want and they usually get what they want.”
“That’s a sexist remark,” Sassy spoke up from her desk. How long had she been there? She had stealth down to a science and that bothered Princess. He didn’t like the way she would suddenly appear. He glared at her.
“What?” she said. “It was a sexist remark.”
Crusher’s phone rang once. No one moved to answer it. Crusher’s desk was sacrosanct.
“A queen who wants to move in with a tom after one date is going to get what she wants no matter what.” Princess stood his ground.
“What queen wants to do that?” Sassy asked.
“Doodles,” Mittens said, “the queen I had a date with last night. She wants to move in with me.”
“Perhaps she has no place else to live,” Sassy said. “Perhaps it is going to be temporary.”
“No,” Mittens shook his head. “She wants to move in permanently. Apparently she felt a real connection with me.”
“Connect with her on your own time.” Crusher put down his phone. “Grab your gear. We have another one.”
Victim four was another tortoiseshell. Princess watched as Ducks and Mr. Paddy examined the bloody bundle of fur. She was lovely, well, she was lovely before someone killed her and ripped her to pieces.
“Gotta be a tom,” Princess said. “I don’t think a queen would have the strength.”
“Another sexist remark,” said Sassy in a lofty tone. “I could have done this quite easily.”
“You’re a special case,” Princess said. “You are a trained assassin.”
“True,” she said with a slight provocative smile.
“Our killer could be a trained assassin,” Mittens said.
“Trained assassins don’t go after ordinary cats like her,” Princess said. “No, our killer’s a tom.”
“I agree,” said Sassy. “Princess is correct; most females are not strong enough to inflict these kinds of injuries.”
“The size of the claw marks is consistent with a tom,” Ducks said. “I remember one queen, though, who had enormous paws…”
“Cause of death, Ducks?” Crusher interrupted what looked to be another of Ducks’ tangential stories.
“Same as the others,” the tabby was completely unfazed by the interruption of his story.
“Our killer is quite thorough,” Ducks went on. “He kills them quickly and then claws them to pieces.”
“Cannibal?” Crusher asked. Princess winced. That was a gruesome thought.
“No,” Ducks said. “Anything eaten was likely post mortem and by rodents, not cats. Revenge, you might say, on the part of the rodents.” He looked down at the bundle of blood and fur that had once been a lovely tortoiseshell named Patches. “This shows a lot of rage.”
“Against what?” Princess wondered, and was startled to hear himself say, “tricolored cats?” Ducks looked at him. So did Crusher.
“That may be,” he said slowly. “That’s a good thought, Princess.” Princess preened a little. The Boss didn’t give out compliments easily. Mittens came over.
“Found a tuft of fur,” he said. “It looks and smells like the fur recovered from Callie’s murder scene.” Not that again, Princess sighed inwardly. He supposed Probie would learn eventually.
“That’s good work, Mittens.” Princess stared at the Boss. Good work? Oh Goddess! He’d missed something and the Probie had spotted it. Now the Boss was giving kudos to Mittens. Crusher’s paw swatted him on the back of the head. At least he kept his claws in when he did that.
“Stop dreaming, Princess and get back to work.” A rumble of thunder rolled overhead. Princess quickly joined his teammates in policing the scene for more clues to the killer’s identity. The rain they could smell coming, would ruin the investigation.
“That scent is familiar,” Mittens frowned over his tuft of fur. “I’m sure I smelled it before.”
“Yeah, Probie,” Princess said, still miffed, “at Callie’s crime scene.”
“No,” Mittens said. “I mean yes, but I remember smelling it since then. We may have interviewed the killer.”
“Very likely,” Princess agreed. “But that rain is coming now and you will have some time to consider whose scent you have in your head after we get this crime scene cleared of all possible clues.” He looked over to where Sassy was carefully preserving a paw print. “Look at Sassy. She’s gathering evidence. You and I should be doing the same or get a paw-slap to the back of our heads.” The two tomcats got to work just as the rain started pelting down.