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THE SECRET OF THE MARROT V

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER THREE

The others stood there in silence. The murderer was getting braver. The lower levels had been closed off, so he started killing on the upper levels where everybody lived. Trever examined Vohanna's body and noticed that her head was the same deformed shape as the other victims were.

Wentar peeked inside and asked what was going on.

"Vohanna has been murdered," Trever cried in fustration.

"That's too bad," said Wentar without very much feeling and continued on his way.

"He really annoys me at times," Trever snapped. "I wonder if he would even care about his own death."

"Take it easy," Peter ordered. "We have to take things one step at a time."

While the others were concerned with Vohanna's body, Fern and Logan knew exactly where to look. They picked up the books and put them back on the bookshelf in the proper order. Only one book had been taken, but the theif had tried to make it look like more.

"There was a book here on how to use the machine down below," Fern announced. "It was stolen by whoever killed the captain."

Peter looked at the blank spot where the book had been. If Vohanna hadn't kept the book a secret, they might have been able to prevent her death. However, now that the murderer had the machine and knew how to use it, the only thing to do was request a group meeting.

TIME : 2:00 P.M. (14:00)
PLACE : The main conference room

Drake, who was acting captain after Vohanna's death, agreed with Peter's request and called for a second emergency meeting immediately after lunch. Everyone arrived on time. Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa questioned all of them, but they didn't learn much from it. Trever, Fern, and Logan were the only ones who had an alibi the entire time span in which the murder took place. Any one of the others could have done it, even Rinquin though it was unlikely since he already had hypo-psycotic powers.

Drake sat down at the head of the table and called the meeting to order. He had assumed command easily and smoothly as Peter hoped he was doing with the others in Shawn's absence. Everyone stopped talking and listened to Drake hoping he had some answers.

"From now on, it is strictly forbidden to enter the lower levels," Drake began. "Anyone found in the lower levels will be thrown in the brig indefinitely. In addition, all quarters shall be searched for the missing book effective as soon as this meeting is over."

Strillan immediately turn to the M.W.G.D. officers.

"Look what has happened since you came on board," he protested.

"It would have happened anyway," defended Trever. "Besides, four murders took place before they arrived. There was no reason to expect the killings to stop."

Trever explained what they had found on the lower levels, but it only resulted in more protests.

"You explored the lower levels without my permission," Tanbrook roared. "You know that you are suppose to tell me what you are doing when you search for something."

"I take full responsibility for his actions," Peter cut in.

This time, it was his turn to defend Trever. He was their greatest ally and there was no way he was going to be punished for helping them.

Wentar turned to Marnia, the Science Officer and asked her, "Why haven't you said anything?"

"Because I have nothing to say," she replied logically.

"What about you?" Grendlin snapped back at Wentar. She was one of his most outspoken critics. "Why do you always have to act up? You never take anything seriously. I don't see how you ever became an officer in the first place."

"I'm a very good navigator," Wentar remarked smugly.

It was true that he was such a good navigator that he got a promotion in spite of his rudeness. Surprising, he treated the people that worked under him with respect. He was only those above him that he gave a hard time. Anyone who outranked him was considered his enemy.

Drake saw that the meeting was only causing people to blame their problems on each other, so he tried to control the meeting and establish order. When that didn't work, he simply adjourned the meeting and hope that another murder wouldn't occur.

Fern suggested to the M.W.G.D. officers that they should talk to Rinquin. He knew more about hypo-psycotic waves than any of the others did, so could explain the threat that was facing them.

Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa were all in agreement and followed Fern and Logan to the Study where Rinquin was busy doing research.

TIME : 2:15 P.M. (14:15)
PLACE : The upper levels

Unlike the lower levels, the upper levels were full of activity. Passengers and crew alike were moving about on their own personal business. It was as if they weren't even aware that a killer was on the loose capable of frying their brains without even making contact with them.

Some of them did know the potential danger and had gathered in the main hallway for their own emergency meeting. The meeting was organized by Strillan and consisted of all the officers and security guards except for Drake who was busy with his duties as captain and Wentar who wasn't invited for obvious reasons.

"We know that Wentar is the murderer, but Drake and the idiots from M.W.G.D. won't do anything about it, so it's up to us to stop him," Strillan informed the others.

"How do we stop him if he has hypo-psycotic powers?" Tanbrook questioned. "He could kill all of us before we ever get a chance to react."

"He isn't that powerful yet," explained Strillan. "The murders have occurred one at a time. It will take weeks from him to achieve the powers you described. If we take him by surprise, we can defeat him."

"What is Wentar is innocent?" Trever cut in. "We don't know who did it any more than they do. If we go around killing whoever is the most suspicious, how long will it be until none of us are left?"

"He's right," agreed Cyrenna. "We can't accuse anyone without proof."

"Who are the officers and who are the security guards around here?" bellowed Tanbrook.

Most security guards would have kept silent after their commanding officer pulled rank, but Cyrenna knew she was right and went over his head.

"Drake is in command, not you," she stated. "and if you or any of the others trying to pin the killings on any one of us without proper permission, I will report everything I have heard to Drake and let him handle the situation."

"Well what do you think we should so in the mean time?" asked Grendlin who was not in a very good mood.

"I think we should do what Drake asked us to do and look for that missing book," Cyrenna declared.

Trever was pleased with his new partner. She had been in her new position for less than a day, but she already new to obey the captain over the other officers.

"Maybe the book will tell us who the murderer is," Marnia suggested to everyone's surprise. She hardly ever spoke unless she was spoken to.

In Drake's absence, Marnia was the next highest ranking officer and therefore in command. Even in their unorthodox meeting, they still respected authority. That was the reason they had accused Wentar and for them to disobey authority would make them look just as bad, so they immediately started looking for the book.

Cyrenna looked in Wentar's quarters. She still thought he was innocent, but it wouldn't hurt to check. Trever looked in Tanbrook's quarters. He had been pulling rank on him much more frequently then usual and had aroused suspicion.

"Besides," Trever thought. "it's not every day I get to search the quarters of my commanding officer without getting in trouble."

Marnia checked Strillan's quarters. He too had been acting suspicious ever since the people from M.W.G.D. had arrived. It was as if he had something to hide.

Grendlin checked Marnia's quarters. She never liked the way Marnia kept silent most of the time. She had always felt that there was more to Marnia than met the eye, maybe even an alliance with the Ruler.

Most of them were ready to fight Wentar only a minute earlier, now they each had a different suspect in mind. Each of them thought that they knew who the killer was, but none of them had proof. All of them had a different suspect in mind, but all of them agreed that the book would be a vital clue, if they could find it.

They went from room to room with no luck.

They had been searching for half an hour and felt like giving up when Tanbrook suddenly exclaimed, "I found it!"

They all came running out into the hallway to have a look. Tanbrook had indeed found the book they were looking for it.

"Where did you find it?" wondered Cyrenna.

"I found it in the Engine Room," Tanbrook replied. "a rather strange place to hide a book."

"Maybe he needed some engine parts for his experiments," suggested Cyrenna referring to the murderer and his need to increase his hypo-psycotic powers.

"Or she," added Tanbrook eyeing Grendlin. "How many people have gone in the engine room since Vohanna's death."

"Only myself," Grendlin stammered. "but we're just drifting right now. We don't need the engines. I just did a routine inspection of the engines. I wouldn't have time to hide anything. Besides, if I were the murderer, I would have squashed you like a bug just now."

"And let everyone know you're the murderer?" questioned Tanbrook. "I don't think so."

Grendlin and Tanbrook exchanged hostile looked and went their separate ways. Grendlin went back to her room and Tanbrook went to the Drake's quarters to return the book to its proper owner. Trever went with him to make sure he returned the book.

Drake was pleased to see they had found the book, but Drake knew that he was also a suspect and shouldn't have the book even if he was the new captain, so he asked them to give the book to Rinquin. Rinquin had practically memorized the book, so it wouldn't make any difference to him whether he had the book or not.

Tanbrook and Trever obeyed agreeing that Rinquin was the best person to guard the book. Rinquin was still more powerful than the murderer from what they had seen, so it would be almost impossible to steal the book again and if Rinquin and the murderer were one in the same, they might as well give up.

Drake remained where he was. His sudden promotion to captain was a bit difficult for him under the circumstances. He hoped that the people from M.W.G.D. would figure out who the murderer was before anyone else was killed. He knew that he was a major suspect and had no intention of keeping that dark shadow over his head for very long.

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