The Raven Haired Rogue by John Zakour, Illustrated by John Dallaire

RHR09Vote at the end of this episode!

In the previous episode, Zach learned that there was a threat to his client Merinda’s life on her trip from Mars to Earth. Now the readers decided Zach must ascertain who made that threat while he, Carol and HARV walk Saturn back to Merinda.

Episode 9

“Okay, HARV contact Merinda and let her know we have Saturn but tell her not to tell the others, Even Alicia.”

“Check, Boss.”

It seemed obvious to me that somebody aboard that ship didn’t want Mars and Earth to have closer ties. “I need to learn more about each of the people traveling with Merinda.”

“HAL50 is actually an android with a human brain,” HARV tells me.

“Well then I need to learn more about all the people and near humans traveling with Merinda.”

“When is Merinda supposed to meet with the World Council?” I ask.

“Tomorrow at noon,” Saturn and HARV both tell me at the same time.

“Zach, I’m having trouble gathering information on Maxxx, Tezza, Alicia and HAL50. Being Martians we don’t have much data on them,” HARV informs me.

“Talk to the intelligent ship; I am sure it has some data…”

“I have and the SRIP ship says and I quote, sorry, no-go Earthling…” HARV answers.

“That’s not helpful,” I say.

“And insulting,” HARV says. “I consider myself being above planetary boundaries.”

“Okay HARV, talk to Merinda and see if she can get SRIP to open up.” Looking at Saturn, “What can you tell me about Merinda’s shipmates?”

Well, as a dog you know I pretty much trust everybody.”

Yeah but any of them that you just want to bite now and again?” I probe.

“Mr. Johnson, I may be an animal but I’m not an ANIMAL.”

“Okay, then just give me your initial impressions.”

Saturn looks up at me from Carol’s arms. “Well I’ll give you my feedback, but please remember I am biased being a dog and all. I can’t imagine Maxxx, Tezza and Alicia ever hurting Merinda. They have all been with her for as long as I can remember and they are very loyal, almost as loyal as I am.   Of course, that being said, they will do whatever they feel is necessary to help Mars thrive.

Okay, then what about the robot with the human brain?”

HAL50 is hard to read. He is not a true citizen of Mars; he is an earth ex-patriot. He said he never felt comfortable on Earth.”

HARV and Carol, are you getting all this?” I think to them.

Yes, Carol is relaying the information to me. It’s a weird but functional way to communicate. I am looking up information on HAL50 now.” HARV informs me.

“Halt, Zachary Nixon Johnson!” I hear coming from above us.

Looking up I see three golden metal cylinders with big red, pulsating sensors on top, they are dropping towards us. I recognize these cylinders as World Council drones.

“How the DOS would the council know we are here and why would they care?” I mumble.

“I’ve been mentally talking with my grandma, your future mother-in-law, council woman Helena Gevada,” Carol says. That explains why she’s been so quiet. “I thought they might know if anybody on Earth was less-than-thrilled by Earth and Mars improving their relationships. Please don’t be angry.”

I lean over and give her a little hug. Looking her in the eyes I tell her, “How could I be mad? That’s actually good PI work.”

Of course the drones droned on. “Zachary Nixon Johnson, your presence is immediately required.”

I look up at the drones which are now mere meters from us. Holding up a finger and pointing at Saturn I say. “I actually want to talk to the World Council myself. But first, I need to return this poor dog to his owner. I can be at World Council HQ in an hour, two tops…” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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