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

ZNJRavenHairedRogue38Vote at the end of this episode!

Previously… Zach finally put all the pieces together to determine which of Merinda’s crew wants her dead.

Episode 38

Putting all the pieces together, something hit me. If Merinda’s intelligent ship SRIP had been sleeping like the rest of the world it wouldn’t have been able to open the doors when we walked into each of Merinda’s crew’s rooms. That meant at the very least SRIP had been deceiving us.

HARV, can this SRIP communicate with the crew telepathically?” I think to HARV.

I assume so…” HARV thinks back to me.

Of course it can,” Merinda thinks back to both of us. “SRIP was designed by Mar’s technology, with the help of the Gladian’s and the psi’s on the moon, to read our thoughts to anticipate our needs…

Wait, I thought the moon and Mars didn’t get along…” I think.

When it comes to matters of the mind we do cooperate,” Merinda thinks.

“Yes, psis do share a common bond,” Carol chimes in mentally.

Okay, my very educated guess was that for some reason Merinda’s ship wanted her dead. The thing was, I didn’t have a motive or proof for that matter. I was going to have to play coy. I needed to find out why a space ship, even an intelligent one, would want to kill anybody. This was going to be trickier than dealing with humans and humanoids. At least with them you could see them to read their faces and judge their actions. Plus when push came to push harder why would an intelligent ship want to kill anybody?

“Okay, Johnson what’s the story?” Hal50 says poking me with a finger. “What gives you the right to be poking around our rooms?”

I take a step back. I don’t appreciate being poked. But before I can do anything HARV appears between us.

“Ah, Mr. Hal50, I feel obligated to inform you that that room belongs to the people of Mars not you. If your leader, Merinda felt threatened, then of course Zach had every right to examine all your rooms because they are actually her rooms she lets you use. I can show you the Mars charter if you wish…” HARV says in typical HARV longwinded form.

“So Zach do you know who the potential killer is?” Alicia asks.

I shake my head. “Not yet, but I am going to question you each individually now. I think between Carol, HARV and I we should be able to crack which one of you it is.”

“It’s surely not me,” Alicia says. “I’ve been nothing but loyal.”

“It’s not me either,” Tezza says. “It would be a PR nightmare.”

“Obvious it’s not me,” Maxxx says. “After all I am her security.”

The three of them look at Hal50.

“Oh sure, blame the android with the human brain. It’s always our fault…” Hal50 moans.

“Nobody is blaming anybody, yet!” I say sharply. “Not until after I question you all.”

HARV, as Carol and I question them I need you to get as close as you can to SRIP to see if you can figure out what type of motive it might have.”

Or what type of means it might have…” HARV adds.

“If I may interrupt you humans and near humans,” SRIP calls over the intercom system. “I calculate this is an optimal time to take off. Now that Madam Merinda has woken up the good people of Earth I suggest we launch asap.”

Merinda turns to me. “Zach are you ready to head to Mars?”

Now this was a bit dicey. I certainly don’t want to let on that I was on to SRIP being sneaky at best murderous at worse. The catch was if SRIP really intended to kill Merinda, letting him blast us off into space where we would be at SRIP’s mercy probably wasn’t the hottest idea… Of course if I was going to maintain the façade of questioning Merinda’s human and near human crew, having SRIP take off might cause him to let his guard down. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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