Jonas frowned as he searched the Rover. The Hi Tech Coffin was still in the hold, along with the half dozen crates sealed in blue plastic insulation and marked ‘Keep below 0 Degrees Centigrade. Do not accept if seal is broken.’ The low temperature was surely not an issue on Mars.
So far Spyder’s attempts to contact the Vladescu Mine via their (home made) satellite link had proved unsuccessful. Marcus insisted that it worked perfectly.
“Nope. Luke ain’t in here” he signalled. The hired hand had not appeared at breakfast, and it seemed that his bed had not been slept in. A full search was now underway.
It was Jake who found him – slumped over the desk in a small office in the despatch area of the greenhouse complex. The searchers converged on the location.
“Looks like he was putting some late work in” said Spyder.
“We’ve got a collection from one of the Mines at lunchtime” said Marcus. "Looks like he was moving the stuff forward for loading so he could save time this morning. He sighed and looked at the fork lift. “I suppose I’d better finish it myself.”
“He ain’t dead” said Jake. “But he seems kind of drowsy. No wound or anything.”
It appeared that Luke had been taking a break in the office: the work was about three quarters done, and a cold cup of coffee sat on the desk. They carried him off to his room in the bunkhouse.
Finishing the loading Marcus went in to feed and clean out Millie. As soon as she opened the door she barged past him and ran loose into the long corridor. Fortunately the doors were all closed, and with some help the goat was coralled and returned to her hab.
“She seems pretty skittish” said Marcus. “What’s up with her?”.
“I think someone’s accessed your computer systems” said Spyder. “Some of the safety camera footage seems to be missing, and someone’s done a long search through your files.”
“Would Luke need to do that?” asked Jake.
“Luke would likely have been sorting out the admin for today’s collection and the stock control” said Marcus. “He has access to most functions anyway.”
“I think someone else has been here” said Jonas. "There are footprints just outside the Despatch side door – smaller than Luke’s.
“Hey man” said Spyder, “An intruder might have just used Luke’s access if he was logged on”
“And spook goat” said Doc. Orlov.
“I guess that might mean Luke has been drugged” said Marcus. “It must be one of the guests? But why?”
“I suggest we keep a watch tonight” said Jake.