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“This is what your damn research turned up? A psychic? We don’t have any psychics on Aria.” He shoved Rye hard. “Get out of my way.”
Rye shoved him back. “Don’t push me.”
“Tash, stop,” his mother pleaded.
But her pleas failed to stop the rage brewing inside Tash. The walls closed in on him. Heat surged through him and his clothes stuck to him. He couldn’t breathe. He needed air. He needed to get out of this suffocating courtroom.
“No, wait.” Vaughn grabbed his arm. “You need to listen to me.”
Tash lost control. He swung and smashed his fist into Vaughn’s mouth, lifting him up into the air and flattening him onto his back.
Rye shoved him again and snarled. “Leave him alone, you idiot.”
Tash lunged, but the bailiffs raced over and seized both of his arms. One of them growled, “This is a courtroom. You brawl outside, not in here.”
Tash’s cheeks burned, and he panted hard. He pulled, but he wasn’t strong enough to take on two security bears.
Vaughn sat up, rubbing his jaw. Blood trickled down the side of his mouth. “You need to listen to me, Tash. I can prove it.”
Tash narrowed his eyes. “How?”
“On the Intrepid.”
“If you would stop being pig-headed, you’d find out he’s telling the truth,” Rye grumbled. “I’ve seen it.”
“Will you please listen to them?” His mother’s insistent voice broke through his anger.
“I’ll listen for you. And only because of you.”
Tash looked between his two brothers. So far, all of his leads had been false. More of his decisions that had gone awry.
“Fine, show me. And you better not be sending me down a false path.” He glanced at his two escorts. “You won’t have security bears to save your ass.”
Less than an hour, Tash, Vaughn, and Rye were back on the Intrepid.
Tash crossed his arms over his chest. “Show me, this damn evidence.”
Vaughn’s lip was swollen and he’d a small cut. Tash didn’t care. It felt damn good slamming his fist into his brother’s jaw after he betrayed their father.
“It’s in my quarters.”
Rye followed quietly behind them, but first he cast a scowl at Tash that would have frighten a snarling taamot.
Tash ignored him, trying desperately to keep his promise to his mother that he wouldn’t rip his two brothers apart. They were lucky she was so forgiving.
Because he wasn’t.
In Vaughn’s quarters, Tash frowned. Old books, files, and notebooks were thrown the room. Vaughn usually kept his quarters neat and orderly.
“Excuse the mess,” Vaughn murmured. He hurried over to a dusty book and grabbed it. “This is in ancient Aamari.”
The first Arian bears used the Aamari language, but it was no longer used, because it was more grunts and growls than words.
Tash raised his eyebrow. “And what does it say?”
“According to this book, the original Arians had discovered psychics on Earth and learned they were powerful enough to bring back memories and read minds.”
Tash struggled to keep his anger under control. He took deep breaths and clenched his fists. He was one step away of pounding the crap out of his brother, but he was the captain. Captains didn’t go around beating the crap out of their little brothers.
“So, you’re saying a psychic on Earth is the answer to our problem?” He couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
Vaughn’s cheeks turned red. “Yes, I do.”
Tash rubbed his eyebrow. “A huh.”
“Listen, Tash. Earth has all kinds of psychics. We need to find one that has reality perception.”
He dropped his hand. “Reality perception?”
Vaughn kept pointing to the page as if Tash could read ancient Aamari. “It’s the ability to perceive reality, allowing them to sense the whole truth no matter how hidden.”
Tash gestured toward the book. “And you know where to find this supposed psychic?”
“Actually, I do.” He stood straighter.
Tash let loose a large heavy sigh. “How did you find this supposed psychic?”
“According to my research, I needed not just to find any psychic, but a psychic powerful enough to undo what the Telsa Sifter had done.”
Tash pinched his lips together tightly. “How do you know this psychic can restore the crew’s memory after the Telsa Sifter deleted it?”
Vaughn cleared his throat. “Because I programmed the scanner to find a psychic that met the computer’s qualifications that could override the Telsa Sifter. Not only would the psychic have the reality perception ability, but she would need to have telepathy.”
Tash’s bared his teeth. “What the hell is telepathy?”
Vaughn’s muscles looked tense, and his face was flushed. “Telepathy is the ability to read someone’s thoughts and communicate with them mentally or affect their thoughts. She would have to be able to transmit information from one mind to another and to retrieve information from another mind.”
Tash raised his eyebrow. “She?”
Vaughn nodded. “Her name is Scarlett Fox. I have the coordinates on where she lives.”
“So, you think this psychic is going to agree to help us.”
Vaughn’s face turned red. “No,” he drew out the word. He looked nervously at Rye who frowned and stared down at his boots.
“So, you’re saying I’m going to have to bloody kidnapped the wench?”
Vaughn straightened his books and notebooks on his desk. “Yes.”
Tash stared at his two brothers. His choices were nil. Every lead he’d followed on Aria ended badly. He couldn’t do anything right.
“Give Grod the coordinates to Earth. We leave immediately. I’ll retrieve the psychic alone.” His strong voice hid the turmoil crawling up his tight throat.
Rye frowned. “Don’t you think we should have a landing party?”
Tash shook his head. “We don’t want to frighten this psychic. We want her to want to help us. Not try and force her. If she’s as powerful as you think she is, what do you think she could do if she felt threatened?”
Vaughn and Rye looked nervously at each other.
Rye shrugged. “I guess we didn’t think of that.”
Tash glared. “That’s why I’m the captain. Return to both of your posts.” He turned on his heels and headed out of Vaughn’s quarters.
But how long would he remain captain? Maybe he should get out before his decisions killed someone else.
He headed for the bridge, not looking behind to see if Vaughn followed. Vaughn was the first science officer and Rye was head of engineering. If he’d had his way, he would have Vaughn assigned to another ship, but their leader, Czar Konan, had other ideas.
Tash’s scalp prickled and chills crept down his spine. What if Vaughn brought evidence against him?
He stepped in the elevator. “Bridge.”
The elevator swooshed and the double doors opened up onto the bridge. This is where he felt at home, but ever since Sutois, he’d been second guessing his command. Unlike his accused father, he fought desperately to save his crew. But those efforts had been useless.
Navigator Grod whirled around on his chair. “Coordinates to Earth have been programmed, Captain.”
“Take her out, Helmsman.” Tash sat in his commanding chair that fit him like a glove. He liked the feel of leather and the controls at his fingertips. If he was de-commissioned, he’d miss his captain’s chair.
The Helmsman Inry nodded. “Plotting a course for Earth, Captain.”
“Good.” Tash leaned back in his chair.
The doors opened. Vaughn walked onto the bridge and took a position as first science officer. Tash met his hesitant gaze then swirled his chair to face the viewing screen. He hated to admit it, but his brother was the best first science officer in the fleet. That didn’t change anything between them.
Vaughn stood beside him.
Tash stared at the viewing screen. “Your plan better work. I don’t want to be going down a worm hole.”
“You’re not. My plan will. All the evidence points to the psychic having the ability to retrieve their memories.” His voice sounded confident, but Tash could hear a slight tremor.
Tash grunted and folded his arms chest. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. Time was running out. Was he making another mistake like he had on Sutois? What if he was making the wrong decision?
This time a wrong decision would condemn his dad to die.
Stay tuned. Next week you’ll meet the woman who will melt his angry heart!