The deader wasn't very fresh, but time spent in the Ditch didn't help. I'd only caught maybe an hour or so of sleep in the past few days, bits and pieces here and there, whenever I could get back to my kip and rest. It had been a busy week, with some piker dead-booking Signers left and right. Verdue was busy with the Cadre job, so I had been dug up. The stench of the body nearly made me lose it completely, and the greasy grub I'd gotten from the Speckled Rat just before didn't help.
At least the Hardheads in their watch post didn't like it much, either. And they hadn't contaminated the body much, though no doubt the Dusties would be coming soon, demanding the corpse for incineration. Thanks to some piking compromise in the Hall of Speakers, they'd get it, too, even if I wasn't done with my investigation.
I had two of the Hardheads sign themselves up as witnesses to my investigation, though they weren't too happy about the idea. They didn't want a spider like me crawling around in their brain-boxes. Tried to tell them they shouldn't worry unless they were the murderers; they didn't like the joke.
As always, I opened up my mind and touched theirs', tasting their auras and psychic imprints. Then I wove connections around their minds, mind-spider with a mind-web, linking the three of us together. They could only receive my surface thoughts – I couldn't hear them, and they couldn't hear each other.
Next I turned to the deader, and extended my mind out to the corpse. I could feel shifting bits of auras and residues left all over the body, mostly the dead Signer's but very faintly those of the guards, now that I knew their taste. I washed the guards' imprints away, and ferreted out those of their fellows. Soon the corpse was as clean as when it was first found. Perfection.
I pulled back after the clean-up, and broadened my net, feeling for the strongest imprint left on the corpse. It was easy enough to find: the mind-scream of her death. I lifted it completely off the corpse, feeling it and tasting it. It was intense pain, shock and fear and even some stupid little regrets in her last moments. I accepted it like an old friend, which it was after investigating so many deaders. But the guards shook and I think one of them even started to cry at it all.