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Everyone from the head hospitality steward to the busboy at the cafe knew all about the murder, with varying levels of detail and accuracy about the case. “I heard that she was only a child…” someone had said. Word in the casino levels was that she was a nobody, and had won a lucky draw to be on board The Challenger. “That’s why her murder isn’t being taken so seriously,” hushed tones whispered as the moneyed elite reassuringly told themselves. “Apparently she had been brutally dismembered and parts of her body were found in the meat locker in the main restaurant,” said another vicious, stomach-churning rumour was going around.

The most important piece of information was the room number: Room 474. Krystal and Ming wasted no time in hunting down the room.

The crime scene was not discreet at all. Strewn messily across the front door was police tape screaming the words “Do not cross”. Of course, that’s exactly what Krystal and Ming decided to flout. Pushing the door halfway ajar, they peeked inside.

The blood forensics expert in the detective crew was probably throwing up in the bathroom. Everything from the upholstery to the walls to the chandelier and curtains were covered in blood spatters. Bits of grey matter, skin and dark hair strands were scattered around the upturned dining table and broken chairs. A ripped pinkie finger, with its painted, pink nail still attached, displayed on the coffee table. The revolting stench of death emanated from the carpet. Whoever did this had not intended for the murder to be discreet.

Ming and Krystal were completely unfazed by the crime scene. In fact, Krystal’s eyes lit up.

“Where’s the body though? I don’t see it.”

“There’s way too much blood. Messy, messy…” Ming muttered under his breath. In addition to being a high maintenance 12-year-old, he also had a compulsive obsessive disorder with blood. He often left his duel opponents with clean slits to their throat. “Minimal mess”, he would say.

“Hey! You can’t be here. This is no place for children.” A police escort showed up behind Krystal and Ming, both of whom were eagerly peering and surveying the crime scene. He was out of breath and looked flustered for having left his post, probably to catch a smoke break. “Wait, did you know her? Any information would be vital for the case. The murderer is still at large, and while we’re on this ship, they may strike again.”

Krystal shook her head no. They had no idea who she was.

The police escort shooed them away and resumed his post standing guard at the crime scene door.

Krystal and Ming reluctantly walked to the end of the hallway. They would wait it out until the police escort left to take another break.

As they reached the end of the corridor, sounds of sobbing grew louder.

Three women, crying uncontrollably and audibly distraught, were holding onto one another. Sandwiched in the middle of them, and supporting them with his muscular arms, was the Celtian fighter Gilgamesh. Upon seeing Krystal, he immediately dropped his act of consoling the ladies, and walked towards Krystal with a swagger.

“Hey! You’re Krystal, right? Checking out the crime scene?” he greeted Krystal with a wide smile on his face. His perfect teeth were white and shiny.

Ming looked Gilgamesh up and down judgingly. He raised his eyebrows at his sister. “How do you manage to attract so much trash?”

Krystal kept silent.

“I assume you guys didn’t know her,” Gilgamesh continued, referring to the murder victim. He took the chance to rebut Ming’s cold attitude and sidled up to Krystal. “When you’re done babysitting your brother, maybe you and I could figure this out. You seem very curious about this murder.” He grinned flirtatiously.

Ming hotly responded, “Do I look like a six-year-old to you?”

Gilgamesh feigned surprise. “Oh, are you not?”

At that very moment, Dart came round the corner and nearly bumped head first into the gang.

“Ooooh, what’s going on here?” he enquired quizzically. “Wait, is someone dead?” Dart’s eyes grew big.

Ming rolled his eyes. He didn’t have a good impression of Dart after he had briefly interacted with his sister at the inauguration, immediately after injuring the emcee dead centre on his head with a flying bicycle. “Speaking of trash…”

Krystal’s next statement shifted all the attention.

“I need some bones,” she announced. It was a cryptic statement.

Three pairs of eyes turned to her in surprise. Ming, Gilgamesh and Dart all looked as if she had just asked for a corpse for her powers… which to be fair, she had.

“What kind of sick power did you get? Dart asked curiously, raising his eyebrows.

Ming aggressively turned to Dart, taking offense at his tone. He was as protective of his sister as she was of him. “Watch it, man,” he growled in a cautioning tone.

Meanwhile, the cogs in Gilgamesh’s mind were churning frantically. “They must have moved the body of the dead girl to the mortuary by now. We have to find the mortuary! All ships have one in case one of the crew dies in passage. The real question is where… It’s not like it’s in the ship’s navigation directory.”

Dart wandered over to the police escort down the corridor and asked him directly. “Hey, do you know where the body has been moved to?”

The police escort was nonchalant. “Third floor below deck, grey door at the end of the hall, unit #03-055. Mortuary entry is restricted to those with security classification red and above.”

“Thanks!” Dart savoured this piece of information proudly. Krystal’s eyes shone with determination.

Gilgamesh’s expression fell as he realised that he had been outsmarted.

“All right! Let’s go find the monastery!” Dart pumped his fist in the air.

Annoyed that the lackeys were latching onto his sister, Ming asked gruffly, “It’s mortuary, dumbass. And don’t you have anything else to do?”

Dart’s mind wandered back to where he had parted ways with Felix. Felix had been busy flexing his muscles as he looked over at a gaggle of pale-skinned Xin ladies sunbathing in deck chairs. “Oh dude, look at all these ladies. I’m going to see if any of them need any help putting on sun lotion. Just watch and learn…” Felix said as he walked away. Dart made an excuse to head back down to his cabin, claiming that he had forgotten his own sun lotion.

Yeah… slim pickings. Dart replied cheerily, “Not really!”

Little did the fighters know that around the corner, Minister Glover had overheard everything. He, too, was on a mission.

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About the author

PlayingGamesOfDespair

Bio: YA fantasy book series created by Kabir Singh & Judy Goh
Sypnosis: Tournament of the century, ordained by God. Who will prevail?

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