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

ZNJRavenHairedRogue21Vote at the end of this episode!

Zach is trying to convince Merinda from Mars to delay her talks with the World Council so he has more time to find who is trying to kill her. Readers voted that she heed his warning and delay the meeting.

Episode 21

“Merinda, delaying your meeting with the World Council will allow me time to figure out who wants you dead . . .”

Merinda stood there weighing my words so I decided to add a little more heft to them.

“You getting dead isn’t good for your people or the people of Earth,” I toss in.

Merinda stood there for a moment in thought. Raising her arm, she types something on her wrist communicator. “I am texting the World Council and my colleagues on the Mars Council telling them I need to delay for week due to a personal matter . . .”

I smile and nod. “I gotta respect a lady who puts off the World Council with a text . . .”

Merinda looks up at me, eyes wide open. “I assured them the matter will not take longer than a week. I don’t want to hurt relationships between our planets. You can solve this in a week. Correct, Zach?”

“Yes, I will solve this within the week,” I say in my most reassuring voice. Pointing to Alicia I tell Carol, “We better get rolling, unfreeze the aid so she can get the rest of the Mars people here.”

Before Carol can react, Merinda’s wrist communicator starts to beep.

Looking at the communicator, Merinda says, “It’s from my sister on Mars’ Council, Beka . . .”

Merinda touches her communicator, the holographic image of a woman who looks like a blonde-haired (with red and blue streaks), fairer skinned version of Merinda appears.

“Beka, how nice of you to call,” Merinda says.

“So sister, why are you delaying our talks with Earth?” Beka asks, eyebrow raised.

“I just had a traumatic experience; poor Saturn went missing and was almost captured by a dog catcher bot. Only the heroic efforts of Zachary Nixon Johnson and his staff saved us . . .”

“I am not staff,” I heard HARV mumble. “I don’t get paid.”

“I’m staff but I barely get paid,” Carol says.

“Big picture, team. Big picture . . .” I tell them.

Merinda turns her communicator so Beka can see HARV, Carol and I. We all wave politely.

“Mr. Johnson, thank you for helping my sister find our dear Saturn,” Beka tells me. “Now to repay you I insist you come to Mars for a suitable reward.”

Before I have a chance to respond, Merinda does. “What a splendid idea. We will head to Mars immediately.”

Beka smiles. “I look forward to greeting you and any of your staff you care to bring.”

Beka’s image fades off.

“I’m not staff,” HARV says, tapping his foot angrily.

Merinda walks over to me and puts her hand on my shoulder. “Before you say anything Zach, think about what a perfect opportunity this will be. You will have my potential killer isolated and void of any distractions.”

Merinda actually makes an interesting point. On the positive side, we will be locked in a ship with a potential killer who won’t be able to get away. We’ll be in a controlled environment making it easier for me to both protect Merinda and weed out her killer. Of course, on the negative side, we’ll be stuck in a ship with a killer. Still, no plan is perfect.

“Are you sure this is how you want to do this, Merinda? It could be dangerous,” I tell her.

She takes me by the arm. “Saturn and I have faith in you. Our ship informs me it can be ready in two hours.”

“Well, I guess I can be ready in two hours then also,” I say.

Carol looks at me. “What about me, tió? Do you want me there?”

Now I have to weigh my options. On one hand, it’s always useful to have a class one psi on your side. She may be able to pick up on the killer’s thoughts. On the other hand, pretty much everybody now knows Carol is a psi. Having her around might force the killer to be more guarded, making them less likely to make a mistake or tip their hand. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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