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

ZNJRavenHairedRogue27Vote at the end of this episode!

In the previous episode, Zach has disarmed Alicia but he is still worried she may be the one who threaten Merinda. Was she really only guilty of – caring too much?

Episode 27

I give Alicia the once over a couple of times. I’m still not hundred percent sure she is as innocent as she claims. Well, DOS hardly anybody is as innocent as they claim. I just need to be as sure as I can be that she wasn’t the one who Saturn heard thinking about harming Merinda.

Carol, do you or Saturn pick up any bad vibes from Alicia?” I think.

She’s scared and ashamed,” Carol thinks back to me. “But neither Saturn or I feel she would be a danger to Merinda…”

Well let’s give her one more testconcentrate on her see if her thoughts give her away,” I think.

Looking at Alicia I bark, “Why does an innocent aid need to keep a knife up her sleeve?”

Alicia takes a defensive step backward. “I am aid to Merinda, one of the Mar’s council. We are on a potentially hostile planet. It is only natural I would be prepared to protect her.”

She seems sincere to Saturn and I,” Carol thinks to me.

“Zach I am not picking up any noticeable signs of lying,” HARV says out loud. It was a good move on his part, knowing we are watching her closely could coax another reaction out of Alicia. I like to believe HARV has picked up a thing or three from me.

Alicia takes another step back, with hand over her heart she says. “I would do anything to protect my Merinda…” Looking me directly in the eyes, “Yes I would even kill for her if needed.” Directing her glance at Merinda, ” That is why I wanted to make myself stronger for you.”

“I believe you,” Merinda says taking Alicia’s hand.

“I believe her too,” HARV says.

“Me too….” Carol says.

“Woof!” Saturn barks, which I take as a bark of confidence.

I’m still not quite ready to cross Alicia off the possible potential killer list. After all, she was pretty darn quick to whip out that knife.

“You’re good with a knife,” I say pointing at Alicia. “Not only did you draw it quickly but you put it against my jugular like a person who knows how to wield a bladed weapon.”

“Of course I do,” Alicia says.

“We all do,” Tezza says.

“It’s a right of passage on Mars,” Maxxx adds.

“Huh?” I say, trying not to sound nearly as confused as I am.

“Earthlings know so little about us,” HAL50 sighs.

Merinda glides over to me and takes my hand. “Zach, we on Mars have a huge cloned cattle industry. Martian steak is the finest on all the known planets.”

That jarred my memory. I had a taste of Martian steak working on a case for Ona Thompson, the richest woman on Earth. It’s a steak that only the top 1% can afford.

“It is expensive,” I say. “I will give you that.” Actually, the steak does melt in your mouth and makes your taste buds dance and almost sing with joy, but I wasn’t going to admit that.

“Our steak is so good because it is all hand raised and hand killed,” Merinda insists. “Each citizen of Mars must do their training and volunteer on the ranches two days a cycle.”

“Which we all proudly do,” Alicia says.

Tezza, Maxxx and HAL50 all nod in agreement.

Alicia touches her ear. “Good news ma’am,” she tells Merinda. “Ship has contacted me. He is ready to take off early. He can leave now…” Alicia looks at Merinda. “Is that okay, ma’am?” She turns her gaze on me. “Do you trust me now?”

Well, I never totally trust anybody except for Electra, Carol and HARV but in this case I did believe Alicia. While a good PI never totally eliminates a suspect without unwavering evidence of their innocence I had to certainly drop Alicia down on my potential killer list.

“Yeah, I believe you,” I tell Alicia.

Merinda puts a hand on my shoulder. “So, Zach are you ready to head to Mars now?”

I could question Maxxx, Tezza and HAL50 here on Earth where I had the home field advantage. Thing is, I’m guessing they might be more open and more apt to slip up if I casually questioned and observed them on the way to Mars. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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One response

  1. There’s not much more he can do on Earth. If he’s lucky, the in-flight meal will be Martian steak.

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