Rog’s body took over. Hands and feet instinctively made decisions. The small pod whipped in one direction and then another. Warning indicators blared, red lights lit up the panel, yet still he pushed the vessel. Better to die with your teeler boots on as his dad liked to say back on their ranch. And by Janus, if this storm was the end of them, if wouldn’t be because he didn’t do everything in his power to save them.

Besides, he had too many stories to tell on just how they had secured the needed medicine and Rog loved to tell stories. As a little boy, his dad had entertained him and his brothers around the campfire many a night. Rog picked up the skill without ever knowing how valuable a good story teller could be on a small vessel traveling through deep space. The last twenty-four hours had given him enough material to last for weeks.

Getting through the atmosphere, making contact with those little creatures called Nerajians, the secret medical base they had to find in the dark of night, deals brokered and negotiated, and now the complications of getting back to Bravo-Four-Zero. Saving Kieran was important, and sure would score a lot of points with Kyra, but these stories were just too good not to tell.

“Rog, Pandoras are requesting steering lock on our vessel,” said Snazzle, the pod’s onboard computer.

“Screw that, no time,” shouted Rog as he maneuvered the pod between electrical bands, any one of which would have destroyed the small vessel.

“Rog, the Pandoras say without their lock, we will be destroyed in this storm. They are demanding control now. Otherwise, our deaths will not be on their hands.” Snazzle almost sounded alive and his tone certainly implied he placed more trust in the Pandoras than in Rog’s skill. Emy couldn’t help but smile at the look of disbelief on Rog’s face.

“Rog,” Snazzle calmly repeated, I believe now means now. Shall I give them control of our vessel?”

About that time a bolt of electricity grazed the ship. Power blinked, lights flickered and Emy, who no one had ever heard raise her voice, shouted. “ROG!”

“Alright, alright damnit.” Rog’s shoulders slumped in that fashion that said don’t blame me for what happens next. Nerajians knew these storms inside and out. They had established incredibly huge and powerful vectoring beacons around the planet. The storms were not common, but when they did occur, any vessel not immediately controlled by a vector tower had little to no chance of survival.

Rog and his crew were going to make it, make it back to the surface of Neraj. The blessing was mixed. They would survive but the clock was ticking for Kieran. Forty-eight hours was only an estimate and they had less than that now.


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