STAR RAMMER -- Day 9 (mid morning)
I'm in shock.
When I reported for duty, the captain instead had me accompany him to the observation deck. Jolly was waiting up there, looking grim. He asked me to take a good look at the remains of the IMPALER as they hung in a mechanical cloud orbiting Khalikkam. The small spark of maneuvering engines flashed like fireflies as the scavengers pick at the carcass.
"We want to get the people responsible for this," said the captain.
"And we know you can help," added Jolly.
I didn't know what else to say so I asked, "Sir?"
Jolly stared into my eyes then, hard. I could have sworn he said, "You read minds." So I recoiled, stammering, "You think I can read minds? I assure you that I am no criminal."
Then he did speak out loud, "But I only thought that."
I wanted to run. I would have if there were some quick escape off the starship. I felt trapped.
"Calm down," Captain Landom said. "We are not here to persecute you. I knew before you boarded that you were psionic."
"What are you talking about?"
"Jolly spotted the man who was following you on Catania. There is only one type of prey he hunts."
I glared at Jolly. "You saw him. You never told me. Who is he?"
Jolly no longer met my gaze. "Pope. Jonathan Pope. And I wager you have not seen the last of him."
Captain Landom added, "You are safe from him as long as you are with us."
I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing.
Captain Landom continued, "We want you to go the surface with Jolly's team and aid in the investigation and interrogations. You'll stay in full body armor including helmet and your com unit will be set to two-way communication with Jolly alone. No one else will know who you are or what you are doing. Your participation in the mission does not go beyond this room. Nor does your secret, which only Jolly and I know."
What else could I say but, "Aye, Captain."
Jolly just stopped by my cabin with the body armor. We leave in a few minutes.