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

ZNJRavenHairedRogue42Vote at the end of this episode!

Previously… SRIP, the intelligent ship offered to tell Zach who put it up to murdering Merinda. The catch – Zach can’t shoot SRIP.

Episode 42

I hold my gun steady ready to take out SRIP in an instant. His offer though does intrigue me. After all SRIP is just a tool here, a cog in the machine of death. He is not the one that started the process.

Then HARV tells me. “This is strange, you know how you wanted me to look for Council member Sam Storm?”

Yeah…” I think back.

I found him in the rocket port actually looking at this rocket.”

“So, what will it be, Mr. Johnson?” SRIP prompts.

The image of Sam Storm appears in my head. He is smiling proudly and looking up at SRIP. I fire my gun.

SRIP goes blank and silent.

“Don’t need you any longer!” I say to the dead screen.

“You don’t care who’s trying to kill us?” Tezza screams.

“I will contact Mars and have them send a new ship,” Alicia says.

“Zach, are you sure about what you just did?” Merinda asks.

“Well he better be cause there’s no undoing it,” Hal50 notes.

“Not unless Carol can rewind time,” Maxxx says. He looks at her. “Can you?”

Carol shakes her head. “No, at least not yet….”

I lower my gun then state rather confidently with as much bravado as I can muster, “Yes… never been more sure.” Pointing towards the outside of the now terminated ship I say, “The culprit behind all this is out there.” I pause a moment for effect then add, “It’s Councilman Sam Storm.”

I quickly head to the main section of the rocket. Everybody follows on my heels. Looking out one of the windows Maxxx says. “Wait, if Councilman Storm is here, where’s the security, the press, the aids?”

“He doesn’t have any,” I say heading towards the door.

“Then why isn’t he being mobbed by people?” Merinda asks.

“Because he’s traveling alone. Nobody recognizes him. After all, nobody here on Earth actually knows or cares what most of the Earth Council Members look like. To travel incognito they merely need to travel alone… Sexy Sprockets once admitted to me all she has to do to go old-fashion store shopping in peace is take off her makeup and ditch the entourage.”

“So you think Councilman Storm was the one who got SRIP to try to kill me?” Merinda asks me.

I nod. “I do.”

“Why? What motive would he have?” Tezza asks. “Mars has been nothing but helpful to Earth. Your people love our products.” She smiles. “After all they are of the highest quality! The best in all the worlds.”

Continuing my way towards the door I say, “Well I am going to go ask him.”

Carol leans forward and grabs me by the arm. “Zach, stop, you just can’t go accuse a Councilman of trying to kill a diplomat from Mars.”

“Yes, what grounds to you have?” Merinda asks. “It would be your word against his.”

“Yes Zach, he would wriggle free for sure,” HARV says.

“My gut tells me it’s him,” I growl.

HARV and Carol both shake their heads. “For the seventeenth time, your gut isn’t admissible in court,” HARV tells me.

I take a breath and then another. Deep down I know Sam Storm is the mastermind here. I can feel it in my bones. I remember his career as a pitcher, he didn’t have great stuff but he was tricky. Somehow this all clicks with his “Earth first act.” But contrary to popular belief I’m not stupid, I know how the world works. If I go after Storm without any proof he will skip away free as a genetically enhanced free-range turchicken.

“HARV, find me something, anything to connect him to this,” I say.

“On it,” HARV says.

The question is, what am I going to do right now? Do I let Storm walk away without letting on that I am on to him? Or do I risk tipping my hand by confronting him? Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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