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THE SECRET OF THE MARROT V

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER FIVE

Fern pulled on Peter's arm until she got his attention. "Logan and I would like to speak to you alone."

She knew Peter wouldn't discuss his suspicions in present company, but she was hoping he would discuss them privately. She and Logan and their own suspicions and they wanted to see if they matched.

Peter nodded and the three of them went off to another part of the ship making sure they weren't being followed.

Hank watched them leave and then turned to the others.

"Isn't it about time we payed Drake a visit," Hank suggested. "After all, as the new captain he is a very vulnerable target."

Linda and Lisa agreed with him and the three of them started off for the captain's quarters. Ringuin was alone once more. He waited a little longer to make sure he was alone and then headed for the library, the perfect place to hide the book.

TIME : 2:53 P.M. (14:53)
PLACE : Logan's room

At first glance, Logan's room looked like that of a typical twelve-year-old boy. There were clothes and toys scattered all over the floor. The bed was small and unmade and, in the corner, was a pile of computer games. It was much more advanced than those found on Earth, but typical for one of the more advanced planets in the Milky Way. However, a closer look would reveal that his room was anything but typical. There were small, metallic objects on his desk that had been bent and twisted out of shape from when he had been practicing his powers. He had some books from the library on the history of the Quadnestine, not something a school aged child normally does unless he has a report to do.

Peter looked once more at Fern and Logan. Their black hair and black eyes seemed sort of out of place. Ringuin didn't have black hair and black eyes and he didn't think their mother did either, so he wondered what gave them such unusual features.

He was aware that the children could kill him just as easily as the murderer could, but he knew they would make valuable allies.

"So do you think you know who did it?" Logan inquired.

"Yes," began Peter. "but we need prove. If you two will help me, I have a plan that will give me all the proof I need."

Fern, Logan, and Peter all suspected the same person which made it more likely than not that they were right. They agreed with Peter's plan and were more than willing to participate.

TIME : 2:59 P.M. (14:59)
PLACE : The captain's quarters

Trever had managed to slip out of the study unnoticed and headed up to the captain's quarters. He left shortly before Hank, Linda, and Lisa headed off in the same direction. Trever knew where they wanted to go and wanted to get their first.

Drake had been busy moving his belongings from his old quarters to the captain's quarters. He had gotten some of the others to help him, but it was still hard work. There was a crisis going on and Drake wanted the transition of power to happen smoothly and quickly. There was no time for fooling around.

Trever knocked on the door and Drake answered it. He invited Trever inside and offered him a drink. Trever turned down the drink, but not Drake's hospitality. They sat down and began to chat almost immediately.

"Rinquin has the book and will put it in a good hiding place," Trever reported.

"Good," responded Drake. "Have those officers from M.W.G.D. found anything out yet?"

"You can ask them yourself," Trever informed him. "They are headed here right now."

As if that was there cue, Hank, Linda, and Lisa entered the room.

"You sure do enjoy hanging around us," complained Linda when she saw Trever in the room.

"Take it easy," commanded Hank sensing Linda's hostility. "He's just trying to help us out."

"Well I wish he'd help us out a little less," Linda muttered.

Drake was quick to change the subject. With most of his crew arguing with each other, the last he needed was for the M.W.G.D. officers to start arguing as well.

"Where's the other one?" Drake asked intently.

"Peter is talking to Fern and Logan right now," Hank replied. "They think they know who the murder is and so do I."

"Who?" Drake demanded with obvious concern.

"First could you tell me if Tanbrook was in the captain's quarters at the time Mevlin was killed?" Hank insisted.

"We spent a great deal of time here, but we had other things to take care of during the night. Vohanna, Tanbrook, and myself were moving about constantly. Any one of us could have done it," explained Drake neither accusing Tanbrook nor defending him.

"I think Tanbrook is the murderer," reasoned Hank telling Drake his suspicions as promised. "He finds things a little bit too quickly, as if he knew where they were."

Drake showed signs of curiousity, but none of surprise. He had suspected it was either Tanbrook or Grendlin and Grendlin didn't seem to be hiding anything like Tanbrook was. Of course, Drake would have been satisfied if they accused anyone other than himself.

"What do you want me to do about it?" Drake wondered. He was prepared to take any steps that were needed to protect the rest of his crew.

"For the time being, nothing," Linda said before Hank had a chance to continue his conversation.

She gave Trever a cold stare as if she thought he was the murder. "Peter has a plan to expose him sometime tomorrow. Whoever he may be."

Trever felt uncomfortable. Until only recently, he had been illiminated as a suspect because he had been with the M.W.G.D. officers at the time Vohanna was murdered, but now that they knew more about hypo-psycotic powers, he was a prime suspect. He could have killed Vohanna just before they left or just before they returned. However, one thing with that line of thinking. It didn't explain how the book was stolen. Never the less, he still felt uncomfortable.

Lisa had been quiet for quite some time. She was busy collecting her thoughts together. While everyone else was guessing who, she was guessing why. The Ruler would want hypo-psycotic powers if he knew they existed and would probably send someone to the Marrot V to get them for him. She couldn't imagine one person working independently without any help. The odds of such a person succeeding would be astronomical.

"Have you ever had any trouble with the Ruler?" Lisa inquired.

Even on the Marrot V, the doings of the Ruler were known. He had conquered a multitude of worlds and led wars that killed millions, maybe even billions of people. Drake trembled at even the thought of the Ruler possessing hypo-psycotic powers. If such an event occurred, the galaxy wouldn't stand a chance.

"Not yet," Drake answered grimly fearing the worst.

Hank and Linda looked at her and wondered how they could be so blind.

"This is much worse than I thought it was," declared Hank agreeing with Lisa's suspicions "Could this ship survive a direct assult from the Ruler?"

Drake sadly shook his head.

"If you'll excuse us, we'd like to discuss things with Peter," Hank explained.

Drake understood and walked them to the door. Trever understood too. He wanted to follow them, but he knew they couldn't have their discussion while he was around.

Trever decided he would see how the others were doing leaving Drake alone once more. He looked around the room. It was hard for him to grasp everything that had happened to him the past twelve hours, but at least he was settled in his new room and his new position.

TIME : 9:30 P.M. (21:30)
PLACE : Drake's former quarters

With all that had happened, it took over six hours for Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa to all be together in a private place and that was only because Drake let them use his old quarters. The room looked quite empty after Drake had moved everything out, but it perfect for having an undisturbed conversation in. The four of them sat down on the floor and gave a brief account of where they had been.

Not only had Peter predicted correctly that the murderer would lie low for a while, but he also suspected that the Ruler was involved before Lisa ever brought up the subject. Fern and Logan had been very helpful to him. They had acted as if they had handled the situation before even though they hadn't.

However, all of them thought that their father had been the most helpful. They didn't even know what they were facing before Rinquin told them about hypo-psycotic powers and the book that everyone was worried about. In addition, they learned they learned about the history of the Marrot ships and what it was like to be the only survivor of a multi-generation mission from an entirely different galaxy.

Peter gave a brief account of his plan.

"Are you sure it's going to work?" Hank wondered doubtfully.

"As sure as I am of anything," Peter replied full of confidence but giving the slightest hint that he wasn't entirely sure himself.

"What are you going to do if the plan doesn't work?" asked Linda.

"Improvise," joked Peter. He knew it was a serious question and tried to think of a more serious answer, but whether he came up with one or not, he kept his thoughts to himself.

They continued to talk, but the more they talked the more they realized that their problems were just beginning. At last they decided to retire for the night. The entire crew had been up since early in the morning and were glad the day was finally over. Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa were also glad the day was over. They had had one of the roughest days they could remember and tomorrow wasn't going to be any easier.

They all said good night to each other and went into their bedrooms. Peter and Hank had their bedroom just to the right of the stairs on the uppermost level and Linda and Lisa's bedroom was just across the hall. They insisted on having their bedrooms next to each other in case of an emergency and Drake gladly complied.

It was unusually early for them to go to bed, but they were tired and knew that they would go to sleep shortly. Unknown to them, Ringuin, Fern, and Logan took turns keeping watch over them and the rest of the crew to make sure nothing unusual happened.

TIME : July 22, 2014 8:00 A.M.
PLACE : The upper levels

Peter and Hank had just finished breakfast when Trever came running toward them.

"Look outside! It's awful!" he gasped as he led them to the end of the hall.

At the end of the hall was a window that normally showed a calm picture of the stars. This time it showed a battle cruiser. The ship was almost as big as the Marrot V (the Marrot V is 3 km across, 1 km wide, and about 300 meters high) and had a certain style to it that only came from Altair 7, the Ruler's home planet.

The Ship of Death, which they found out was the name of it later on, was poised and ready to smash the Marrot V into a million pieces at a single command. The rest of the crew and seen it too and started to panic. They blamed each other for their predicament which only added to the confusion. Linda and Lisa came over to see what was causing such panic. Hank just pointed to the window and the sight was self-explanitory.

"The Ruler wants the book on hypo-psycotic powers," Peter stated grimly.

Drake and Cyrenna joined the group. Drake had attempted to maintain order, but he was inexperienced as captain and his crew's fear was too great. Soon everything resulted in chaos. He had come to the M.W.G.D. officers for help since they had delt with the Ruler before and were better prepared to handle the situation. Cyrenna just wanted to help before the crew started fighting each other. If that happened, the Ruler would win for sure without the slightest bit of trouble.

Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa looked different without their uniforms on. The first day they wore their uniforms as required for a formal greeting, but now things were very informal and the four of them were more relaxed, at least until they saw the Ship of Death.

"Maybe you should have that conference you wanted now," Drake suggested.

"It will take me a few minutes to get ready, but I think the sooner we have it the better," agreed Peter. He turned to Trever. "See if you can find Fern and Logan. If you do, tell them to meet me right here."

Trever set off immediately to find them.

"Is there anything can do?" Cyrenna insisted.

"Yes," answered Peter. "round everyone up and get them inside the main conference room. I can handle it from there."

TIME : 8:15 A.M.
PLACE : The main conference room

The main conference room was used a little over once a week on the average, but due to the unusual circumstances, they were meeting for the third time in the past two days. A murder had preceded the first two meetings and this time the Ship of Death threatened to destroy them all.

The only ones missing were Peter, Fern, and Logan. The others wondered what was keeping them so long and began the meeting without them.

"As I'm sure you're all aware of, we have a new problem," Drake began taking charge of the situation. "A ship, apparently hostile, is less than 100 km away. We have tried to communicate, but the unknown presence refuses to respond to our signals. There is reason to believe the Ruler is involved in the latest threat to our safety."

Drake paused and was about to continue when Peter walked into the room. All eyes turned to Peter as he sat down in the chair reserved for him as if it was no big deal.

"Tanbrook," he began. "I'd like you to take part in a little experiment. Fern and Logan are hiding somewhere in the lower levels and I'd like for you to organize a search party to find them as you did for the missing people who turned out to have been murdered."

"That might take several days," Tanbrook protested.

"It didn't take you that long to find the bodies of the first three victims," Peter reminded him.

Tanbrook was speechless desperately searched for the right words to say.

"How did you know to look for the book in the Engine Room?" Peter continued pressing on with his attack.

"I saw Grendlin hide it there," snapped Tanbrook.

As soon as he finished speaking, he hung his head in shame. He had said the worst thing he possibly could have said.

"Why didn't you tell me Grendlin hid the book?" Drake demanded taking over Peter's job.

A million other questions came at Tanbrook from all different directions. Finally, he just couldn't take it anymore.

Drake cried out for help as soon as he felt the pressure inside his head. Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa pointed a gun at Tanbrook from four different directions and Rinquin released a sonic attack of his own forcing Tanbrook to put up a mental sheild to protect himself. Drake gave a sigh of relief and put his head down wearily.

"Tanbrook has hypo-psycotic powers!" warned Rinquin knowing Tanbrook had used a mental shield.

"I would destroy all of you right now, but I have a score to settle to settle with the Ruler," announced Tanbrook as he suddenly disappeared.

Peter felt somebody push him and the door to the conference room mysteriously opened a few seconds. It was obvious that Tanbrook was invisible. Peter turned to Rinquin.

"Can you track him down?" he asked.

"Just follow me!" ordered Rinquin as he took off in the direction Tanbrook had gone.

Everyone else took off after him. They had found out who their murderer was and now they wanted revenge. However, what lay in front of them made most of them loose hope.

Fern and Logan were face down on the floor groaning in pain. They had tried unsuccessfully to stop Tanbrook from escaping. They had underestimated Tanbrook's power. Peter felt partly responsible because he had gone along with their plan thinking the two of them were more than a match for Tanbrook. Rinquin put his hands on each of them using his powers to heal them. It was important for him as a father and a humanitarian to do this, but it meant loosing track of Tanbrook. Everyone nervously kept watch expecting Tanbrook to attack at any second, but nothing happened.

"The docking bay!" exclaimed Trever. "Tanbrook's headed to the other ship!"

The others could tell that Trever was right from the direction Tanbrook was headed in and started off toward the docking bay hoping to get there in time.

They got there just a few seconds too late. There was a red light over the door which meant a ship was taking off and the room wasn't safe for entry.

The delay was long enough for Rinquin, Fern, and Logan to catch up with the others. Surprisingly, Fern and Logan showed no signs of ever being injured.

"We can't all go after him," stated Drake. "We're going to have to split up."

"I think the M.W.G.D. officers should accompany me to the other ship," advised Trever. "along with either Rinquin or Fern and Logan. They're the only ones who can defeat Tanbrook or even give us a chance."

Under normal circumstances, Rinquin would not let his children participate in such a dangerous activity, but he was needed on the Marrot V and without someone with hypo-psycotic powers, Trever's group didn't stand a chance. Rinquin motioned to Fern and Logan to accompany Trever and the M.W.G.D. officers. Fern and Logan thanked him and waited with the others for the red light to go off.

The red light finally went off and the seven that had been chosen entered the docking bay hoping to catch up with Tanbrook.

"I'm coming with you!" Cyrenna shouted bluntly as she came running after them.

"Me too!" added Wentar.

Trever looked at Wentar with a stunned expression on his face. He had expected Cyrenna to try something like this, but it was so unlike Wentar to volunteer for anything. Trever saw the Wentar was sincere and almost sorry for the trouble he had caused in the past. Trever thought it was because he had been accused as the murderer by most of the crew and he wanted to thank them for clearing his name.

"We're glad to have you!" smiled Trever. He was looking at Wentar, by Cyrenna knew it applied to her as well.

All of them piled into one ship and took off after Tanbrook leaving the Marrot V behind them. Peter took a good look at the Marrot V. He had been asleep when they first arrived and didn't get a chance to see it. It had all the splendid beauty of one of those legendary cities in the sky he had heard rumors of and indeed it had all the things that could be found in most small towns and a few things that couldn't be found anywhere else in the galaxy.

Then, Peter looked ahead at the ship they were approaching. It looked as deadly as the Marrot V was beautiful. Some large red letters gave the name of the unfriendly ship.

"What does it say?" Cyenna wondered trying to make out what it said.

"The Ship of Death," Trever replied grimly.

"Tanbrook's ship has just entered the Ship of Death," Logan reported.

"Well then so are we," said Trever bracing himself for the inevitable to occur.

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