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THE SECRET OF THE MARROT V

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER TWO

TIME : 9:00 A.M.
PLACE : The docking bay

Vohanna, Drake, and Trever came out to greet the M.W.G.D. officers who had just landed. Vohanna and Drake were there because it was their job to welcome invited guests and Trever was there because he was the one who found the bodies of all four victims and he felt he could give the M.W.G.D. officers more information than the others could.

There were four M.W.G.D. officers in all. The first was a man in his early thirties of about average height and build. He had blue eyes and reddish-brown hair. The second was slightly taller and slightly slimmer. He had blond hair, blue eyes, and looked a few years younger than the first.

The next one was considerably different. She had dark skin and dark hair that she preferred to keep in a pony tail. She was the shortest and the slimmest and looked like a warrior of some long forgotten tribe.

To contrast this, the last officer had fair skin and long, blond hair that hung loosely about her shoulders. She was clearly the youngest and carried a youthful enthusiasm with her. She too had blue eyes and all four of them had on a navy blue M.W.G.D. uniform with a badge on the left shirt pocket giving their name, rank, and serial number. All of them had the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

"Which one of you is in charge?" asked Vohanna.

"I am," said the first one, whose name was Peter, stepping forward "Shawn appointed me in charge. He would have come himself, but after a recent assassination attempt, he thought it best to lie low."

Even on the Marrot V, they had heard of Shawn, the leader of M.W.G.D.. Vohanna knew Shawn must have given them high priority if he sent he personal staff.

Peter introduced Hank, the tall one; Linda, the warrior; and Lisa to the others. The captain in turn introduced them to Drake and Trever. When they were through exchanging greetings, they immediately got down to business. Trever brought them up to date with the four murders and the captain's suspicions that a crew member was responsible.

The group began to walk over to the captain's guarters where Vohanna told them they would be more comfortable. Along the way, they ran into Wentar, the Navigation Officer with the strong dislike of authority.

"I suppose your taking the M.W.G.D. officers to your guarters so you can lie to them to your hearts content without the rest of us interfering," grumbled Wentar.

"You will not address me in that tone of voice," Vohanna snapped back. She had dealt with Wentar's insubordination before. "and if you think I am going to lie, you are welcome to come along and tell the truth."

Wentar held his nose. "I wouldn't go into your smelly guarters if my life depended on it," he shouted for the sake of shouting.

He had lost the battle, but he still got a good shot at Vohanna in there. He turned to Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa.

"I'd watch it if I were you," he warned. "Between you and me, I think she's behind the killings."

"That's enough, Wentar," she ordered and then turned back to the others. "I'm sorry about his behavior. I should fire him, but I've never had the heart to do so."

As they continued, Peter looked behind him and saw Wentar just standing there watching them leave without doing anything. It wasn't long before Grendlin, the Engineering Officer, approached them. She was much friendlier introducing herself and offering to help out. When she found out she wasn't needed but could tag along if she wanted to, she declined and went on with her business.

At last, they reached the captain's quarters. Peter noticed it wasn't as nice as the Royal Palace of Triax or the Galactic Executive's Hotel on Terni, but he knew she couldn't afford that kind of stuff. It was slightly more comfortable than the office he worked in when he wasn't on a mission, so he had to take what he could get.

Vohanna explained that the Marrot ships had originated in another galaxy called the Quadnestine and Rinquin was the last surviving member of that race. She also explained briefly that somewhere on the Marrot V were the secrets of hypo-psycotic powers, the force used to kill the victims.

"If hypo-psycotic powers are so deadly, how come you didn't destroy the secrets a long time ago?" wondered Lisa.

It was a question all of them wanted answered.

"No object or power is good or evil," Vohanna explained. "It is only the way that it is used that determines such a thing. Used in moderation, hypo-psycotic powers can be used to help people. Ringuin has saved a great many lives by using his powers."

"Where did the murders occur?" questioned Peter trying to the reason they had come for the time being.

"The bodies were found on the lower levels," Trever began. "Each time, the body was found closer to the bottom level."

Peter could take a hint when he heard one. Trever suspected there was something on the bottom level that the murderer did not want them to find. Peter felt there was no time like the present to start his investigation.

"If you'll excuse us, we would like to question some of the crew," Peter declared.

"Certainly!" Vohanna replied. "If you need any help for any reason, just come back here. I'll be here if you need me."

Peter subtlely motioned for Trever to follow them. When they were a safe distance away from the captain's quarters, the others turned to Peter as if to ask what he was doing.

"Trever, can you take us to the bottom level?" he whispered loud enough for the others to hear him, but not loud enough for the sound to carry anywhere else.

Trever nodded. He knew what Peter was up to.

"Good," complimented Peter. "because that's where we're going."

Peter had planned to explore the bottom level in secrecy, but before they could reach the lower levels, they were stopped by two children. One was a girl about 16 years old and the other a boy about 13 years old. Both of them looked like normal human beings except for their pitch black eyes and hair.

"Where do you think you're going?" the girl demanded authoritively. Except for Trever, they weren't use to an adolescent sounding so much in charge.

"To the bottom level," Trever answered in a subordinate voice. He was use to them and knew what they could do.

"We want to come to," griped the boy.

"I wouldn't recommend that," Peter started to say, but before he could finish, he found himself hovering in mid air. When he stopped speaking, he was lowered gently to the ground.

"That is only a sample of our powers," the girl warned him. "Now can we join or not?"

Peter had no choice but to let them join. He wasn't use to being threatened in that kind of manner. The two children introduced themselves. The girl's name was Fern, the boy's name was Logan, and both of them were Rinquin's children. Both of them had inherited Rinquin's ability to use hypo-psycotic powers and had given Peter of brief taste of what they could do.

Peter had a new respect for hypo-psycotic powers. He tried to think of a way to defend himself against such powers, but he didn't know how it was possible.

TIME : 10:30 A.M.
PLACE : The bottom level

The lower levels had been dark, but the bottom level was the darkest of all. Each of them had a flashlight, but they decided to let Trever and Linda light the way for the rest of them. They had been searching for about an hour with nothing to show for their efforts when Trever remembered a hidden passage in the corner.

He went to the corner as fast as a large group could go in total darkness and found to his delight that he had remembered correctly where the passage was located. Hank turned on his flashlight so Trever would have enough light to open the secret passage.

Trever opened the passage and looked inside. To his surprise, he found what he imagined they'd find. He told the others it was safe and they came in to have a look too. Inside was a machine that looked like it came out of a mad scientists workshop.

"What is it?" asked Peter voicing the question they wanted to know.

"It's a hypo-psycotic power amplifying machine," Logan told him. "Fern and I each used it on our twelfth birthday to increase our powers."

"In other words, the machine is used to either give someone hypo-psycotic powers or increase those powers if they already exist," added Fern. "I wouldn't recommend trying it though, the older you are, there more unstable you become when the machine is used, unless of course you already have hypo-psycotic powers. Most adults die within a year after using this machine."

"Well someone's been using this machine," interrupted Trever. "It's still warm."

"Who knows about this secret passage besides you?" questioned Peter not forgetting that they were trying to solve a murder.

"The captain, Drake, Strillan, Marnia, Tanbrook, and Grendlin," Trever answered. "Cyrenna might know about it, but I'm not sure if Tanbrook told her or not."

"That's an awful lot of people," Peter stated knowing it wasn't much help.

Suddenly, Peter had an idea.

"Do you think you could block the passageway so no one can get to the machine?" he wondered.

Trever shook his head. Fern and Logan offered to block the passageway, but Peter knew if hypo-psycotic powers were used to block the passageway, hypo-psycotic powers could be used to unblock the passageway.

"We'd better go back to the captain," Peter commanded.

When they returned to the captain's quarters, things weren't the same as they had been when they left. The door to the captain's quarters was left slightly ajar. Inside, the place looked like a hurricane had hit it. Her desk drawers were all open and papers were scattered everywhere. Her bookshelf had been raided. Books lay among the scattered papers. However, worse than that, Vohanna was lieing face down seated at her desk.

Hank examined her and confirmed the worst.

"She's dead," Hank reported grimly.

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