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

ZNJRavenHairedRogue22Vote at the end of this episode!

Zach is going to Mars to help discover Merinda’s killer. He has to decide if he will bring Carol with him and readers voted that he will.
Episode 22

I weigh my options with Carol carefully. On one hand, it’s almost always useful to have a psi on your side. On the other hand, people from Mars, Martians, aren’t quite like normal earth humans. From what I know most Martians have bionics. If some of these enhancements were to their brains, that could make it dicey to deal with them if they could somehow detect Carol was probing their minds.

Turning to Merinda I ask, “How many of your people have bionics?”

Merinda smiles. “Zach, we’re Martians, so we all have some sort of bionic enhancements in us. But they aren’t like Earth bionics where they are replacement parts. On Mars we use bionics to supplement and improve. For instance, Alicia, my faithful aid, has bionic enhanced eyes. Maxx, my security guard, has had his arms and legs enhanced. “

“Okay, so which of you have had your brains enhanced?” I ask.

“Tezza, my PR person, has her brain enhanced so she can make calculations quicker.” She paused to think for a moment. “Only my personal consultant HAL50 doesn’t actually have bionics since he has an android body.”

“But he has a human brain,” HARV says. “So that has not been enhanced?”

Merinda shakes her head. “No, that would be overkill. We on Mars are subtle.”

“What about you?” I ask. “What are your enhancements, Merinda?”

“Certain areas of my brain have been tweaked to allow me to tap into my body’s energies,” Merinda tells us.


Merinda touches me gently on the shoulder. My shoulder warms. “But this simply allows me to make people feel comfort. It’s important that leaders are comforting.”

“So it’s possible that you or Tezza would detect Carol poking around in your brains?”

Merinda looks me directly in the eyes. “Frankly, Zach, I have no idea.”

Tió I can be a help to you here,” Carol says in my head. “Besides, I’ve always wanted to go to Mars.

It’s worth the risk,” HARV tells me.

“Okay, Carol and I can be ready in two hours,” I tell Merinda. “How long is the trip to Mars?”

“Roughly thirty Earth hours,” Merinda says.

“Thirty hours and thirty one minutes,” HARV informs us.

“Like I said, roughly thirty hours,” Merinda says. “We, of course, have 3D printers onboard so we can make you fresh clothing or personal items if needed.”

“My suit and under-armor has the latest in nano-cleaning bots so I am always fresh and clean,” I tell her. “So I’m good, at least for two or three days.”

I turn my attention to Carol. “But I take it you need a change of clothing?”

Carol nods. “Yeah, I am NOT wearing the same outfit for an entire trip.”

“Okay, Carol, unfreeze Alicia then you go get what you need. I’ll stay here and keep an eye on Merinda.” Turning my attention to HARV. “Have you gotten any more information from the ship on Merinda’s companions?”

HARV nods. “Yes, after Merinda prodded her ship, SRIP, it did give me some more data, but nothing beyond the basics: their favorite foods, their favorite colors, their favorite music…”

“SRIP likes to make sure we are all comfortable,” Merinda says. “SRIP really does treat us well.”

“Can I go know?” Carol asks.

“Sure,” I tell her. “It’s time to get this show on the road; well, into space…”

Carol points to Alicia getting ready to unfreeze her. She stops and turns to me. “Oh, don’t you think you should tell Aunt Electra you will be off planet for a while?”

Ah, yes, Electra. I’m pretty sure she would understand. After all, she knows work is work. Plus she is used to me taking off to all parts of the Earth and Moon. Of course Mars is a little different. “HARV, where is Electra now?”

“She is in the middle of a stem cell replacement procedure. The procedure will last for another three hours. Do you wish for me to contact her now?” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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3 responses

  1. I’m sure Electra won’t mind being interrupted to learn that Zach will be going to Mars. If she wasn’t informed, she’d probably be angry about it later. I could also see her having an assistant complete the procedure so she could join Zach on the trip.

  2. After re-reading the previous episode I got the feeling that Merinda might know who her attempted killer is and that Zach is assuming it will be with them on the journey not at their destination.

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