While most of his questions were about the Tholians, every series of questions led to one that compared the Tholian way of doing something to the Seltorian way. He¹s asking the Seltorians about the Seltorians without them realizing it.
       "Or did they realize it?" she suddenly said to herself.
       She went back to the tavern tapes, reviewing the conversation by the Seltorians at the other table. While the translator programs struggled with the clicks and clacks of the Seltorian language, the conversation showed nothing of any interest. Two of the Seltorians worked at the Seltorian business office in the same building as the Dunkar, buying and selling commodities in the normal course of the operation of the Seltorian colony.
      The third Seltorian was a courier who had arrived a month earlier from the Seltorian colony and who departed a few days later to return there. A fairly constant stream of Seltorian couriers came and went from Klinshai, but so did other allied foreigners, not to mention the planetary governments of subject race, Klingon, and warrior colony planets.
      Assuming that the Seltorians were keeping secrets from the Klingons, who was the most dangerous Klingon to their secrets? "The head of the military intelligence section investigating them, that¹s who," she said aloud.
      She scanned conversations Khost had with the Orions, and (again) the Seltorians were a recurring subject of questions, almost all focusing on economics and production.
     Her nose twitched. Krenda did a scan of the Seltorians on Klinshai, and those who came and went. Most of them were on the planet either for a year of duty, or for just a day or two (the couriers). One struck her as unusual. That one arrived four tendays before Khost died, left the day after Khost died, and was in the tavern at the time Khost died. Krenda¹s nose twitched. She didn¹t like odd things. He was the only Seltorian who stayed more than three days and less than six months.
      Krenda spent the rest of the day, and all of the next, reading everything available on the Seltorians, including files she needed her paladin¹s seal to access. She had to go over to the Klingon Galactic Bureau to read some files that they would not allow out of their building. The sum total wasn¹t much, compared to how much was known about, say, the Lyrans or the Arcturians. Much of it was contradictory. It was obvious that the Seltorians weren¹t telling everything, weren¹t telling the truth about something, and were deliberately trying to confuse the issue on anything.
      What was amazing was that none of the information came from Khost¹s section. Every document she could access from Khost¹s section was about the Tholians, and all of that information was covered by reports from the three other Tholian sections of the GRU. What was interesting was that Khost had more deleted files that anyone else in the GRU. Every GRU document had a control number. A GRU officer assigned to study something opened file numbers. If the matter was dropped, the file would be deleted and the control number voided. Khost apparently dropped a lot of investigations.
      That, or the Seltorian files were moved off the books.
       Krenda spent a sleepless night. She was onto something. She went to the Knight Paladin who controlled her section and let him know what she had found out so far.
      "Take the time you need," he told her. "There is something here, or there isn¹t, and we need to know which it is." He also arranged for her to spend the afternoon of the third day in a locked conference room with another squire paladin, one who focused on military intelligence. He had access to information on the Seltorians that wasn¹t linked in any database she could access.  But then, she knew from her own work that the files of paladins are not accessible to anyone but a higher ranking paladin, at least until the paladins were ready to tell someone.
      Returning to her office the next morning, she called up the list of those who worked for Colonel Khost at the time of his death, then checked to see where they were. It was fairly common in the GRU for some officers to stay in one duty section for years, and others to move around. The theory was that the long-term people would be totally immersed in the target¹s information, while those who moved around brought fresh eyes (and information from other sources) to the questions.
      She found one, Captain Klethig, who had transferred to the Kzinti section a tenday earlier. It was, she could tell, a routine transfer that had been scheduled before Khost died. She sent Krovenza to bring him to her office to discuss "Kzinti matters."
      The conversation took three hours, as she had to be careful what she asked. The only way she could ask questions about the Seltorians was to get Klethig to compare them to the Kzintis. That was how she got him to confirm that Khost was investigating the Seltorians, not the Tholians. He couldn¹t make valid comparisons with the Tholians because he knew very little about them.
       Krenda took a step back as she ate her lunch, trying to find other explanations for what was going on. It was entirely possible that this was a simple bar fight with no intelligence implications, and that the real reason for the cover-up was to protect the secret investigation of the Seltorians, not the Colonel¹s affair.
      Krenda knew that Khost¹s boss was Admiral Kopetnikov. She called for an appointment. (No one turns down a request from an Imperial Paladin, but it would be rude to demand a busy admiral come to her office.) She discussed several issues, but only had one question about the Tholians, asking if the loss of Colonel Khost had been a major setback.
      "Not really," the admiral said. "His theories could have caused a lot of trouble, but we made them go away when he died."
       She let the remark pass without comment, but sent Krovenza to question a junior staff officer who had worked for the admiral until a few months earlier. The old detective asked about dozens of things, but added an offhand remark about how lucky the Empire was to have the Seltorians on hand to keep the Tholians pinned down. "I guess that¹s a good thing," the young officer said, "but there¹s something not right about them. Nobody wants to look into them too closely. Investigating an ally is a thousand times more likely to ruin a career than make one." Krovenza casually asked for details and the young officer said that there were mysteries about Seltorian birth rates, production capacity, and the faster than expected progress the Seltorians were making toward building a real shipyard. Hearing this, Krenda ordered the officer held as a "guest" for the time being.
      She returned to talk to the Knight Paladin.
     "Go ahead and release your two guests. I am sending you on a little trip," he said. "You will interview Lieutenant Bressica and Major Dorav. You need to nail down, once and for all, that there is nothing here but the Seltorians. When you return, you will officially close this case. You will decide that it was a bar fight, nothing more. Am I clear about that?"
      "Have I done something wrong?" she asked.
      "No, nothing like that. On the contrary, you have done well," he assured here. "But you¹ve rung enough bells that to ring any more will be dangerous, for you, for the investigation, and for the Empire. The Count is discretely asking what you¹re looking into, and needs to hear that you¹re finished and that his grandniece won¹t be embarrassed by her husband¹s affair.
       "I will have other squires, even a Knight, look into the Seltorian question, in ways the Seltorians won¹t see coming. The Seltorians are a problem, but just what kind of problem we don¹t know. Yet. We will find out what the problem is. The Paladins will have a plan ready to deal with them when the time is right."