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

ZNJRavenHairedRogue25Vote at the end of this episode!

In the previous episode, Zach is about to head to Mars with Merinda and her crew to try to deduce who might want Merinda dead. Before he goes though Zach wants to evaluate the crew.

Episode 25

I decide it would be best to shake Merinda’s employee apple cart a bit to see if anything fell out that I might be able to use against that employee. There is the direct hard poke approach and the more subtle poke approach. Since I didn’t want to tip my hand too much I go with the subtle touch.

“I’m glad I will be accompanying you all back to Mars,” I say with a big waste eating grin on my face. “I’ve never been to Mars. I hear it’s amazing what you’ve done with the place.” That was a classic PI trick of softening a target up before hitting it with a hard shot. I smile. “Of course a lot of people would be uneasy traveling in an enclosed area for a couple of days with the world’s last PI.” I scan the faces in the room I don’t detect any noticeable ticks. “I hope none of you have anything to hide,” I add.

Scanning again I notice that Alicia is slightly hunched over and turning from my gaze. Hmm, could the doting personal aid act be only an act? Heading over towards Alicia I mention, “Alicia you seem to have something on your mind…”

Zach, where are you going with this?” HARV asks in my mind.

Yeah, tió,” Carol mentally agrees. “I don’t get any evil vibe from her at all…”

I walk past HAL50 and Maxxx. I note that HAL50 readily moves to the side to let me pass. Maxxx hesitates for a moment, like he thinks he wants to say or do something but he doesn’t.

Reaching Alicia who is now standing behind Merinda I start my line of questioning, “What’s going on, Alicia?”

Looking at her feet she says, “Ah, nothing. Business as usual. As you here on Earth use to say, everything is A-Okay….”

I smile. The history buff in me really appreciated the A-Okay. Of course she may have known I like history. She may have done that to intentionally get on my good side to get me to let my guard down. Yeah, I do have a thing for the old days, they were simpler times when everybody wasn’t wired to everything, but still you don’t stay alive in this business for as long as I have if you get easily distracted.

“What are you hiding, Alicia?” I press.

“Nothing, nothing, nothing,” she insists, still looking away from me.

“That’s a lot of nothing,” I tell her. “I kind of think that much nothing leads to something.”

I know you think that sounds cool, but don’t push too hard,” Carol warns.

I glance over quickly at Merinda who is still holding Saturn in her arms. I need to gauge her reaction. She seems content in letting this play out. Saturn has his ears perked up.

“You are hiding something Alicia!” I insist.

Alicia turns and takes a step away from me. Yeah, she is definitely hiding something. She may not have been the one to threaten Merinda’s life but something wasn’t kosher with her. I had to find out what.

Lunging forward I put my hand on her shoulder. “Talk to me,” I order as I try to spin her towards me with a tug.

Alicia resists my initial tug. That was a friendly warning tug. If she wanted to play rougher I was more than game. Grabbing her by the shoulder I spin her firmly towards me. We are face to face. The kicker is, she has a knife with a shining 15 centimeter blade, pressed against my throat.

“You want answers I’ll give you answers!” she screams.

Never would have pegged Alicia as the keep-a-knife-up-the-sleeve type. Now this was an interesting development. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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