“I’ll be careful.” Michael wouldn’t let Frank, Abe, or anyone else get a hold of it. It’d be used for one purpose. To destroy Vinny. Afterward he’d stash it, hide it away.

Zaren grunted.

Michael realized Zaren read his mind, and nodded. He wanted Zaren to understand he’d never do anything ever again to put Venus or her people in jeopardy.

“When you next meet Dervinias, be careful. He’s faster, stronger and more cunning than you are. He’s been alive a long time. And he can break you with the flick of his fingers. All you’ll have is the element of surprise.” Zaren shook his head. “I don’t know if that’ll be enough. But I understand your need to try. As soon as I get the chance, I’ll let those in control on Kelari know what is going on here. I promise.”

“I understand.” Michael moved away from his ship.

“Venus is ready, right?” Zaren asked. He appeared tormented that he couldn’t be there with her.

“Yes, but I’ll make sure.”

“Thank you . . . Michael.” The door slid closed.

Michael ran to check on Venus. She looked bad. Her eyes were closed.

“Venus.” He shook her softly. She didn’t respond and the book he’d given her fell from her hands. “You must wake up.” He checked for a pulse. It beat slowly. He picked up the book and placed it in her hands. “C’mon. You can do this.” When she still didn’t react, he ran over to Zaren and banged on the door. “Zaren, help. She isn’t waking up.” The door slid upward and opened. 

“Michael, come here.” He poked his head inside the cockpit. “See this button.” Michael nodded. “That’s to close the ship’s door. See this here?” He pointed to a large rectangular knob.

“Yes?”

“Turn that once counterclockwise and press. This will put it on autopilot.” Zaren looked at Michael with grave seriousness. “I’d do it myself, but I can’t. Both ships must be returned or there’ll be more trouble—”

“Not a problem, Zaren. I’ll do it.” He started back, but Zaren called him. “Michael!”

“Yeah?”

“I may’ve misjudged you.” It seemed hard for him to say it. Anger still filled his eyes.

“Get out of here. I’ll take care of it.”

The door to his ship closed and Michael ran back to Venus. 

“Wake up.” He tapped her on the face. It didn’t help. “Cret,” he cursed and climbed inside to reach the button. He turned it counter-clockwise and pressed. “Just a little longer and you’ll be home.”

She let out a sob and whispered, “I’ll be dead.”

“Not true. You’ll see.” 

“Michael. You don’t understand . . . love.” She turned away from him.

A sudden wind blasted them. A helicopter hovered in the clearing. “Suck,” he yelled.

A ping, like a rock bouncing off metal, ricocheted off the Transport. Michael peered back and saw three different Army Hummers, a machine gun on the top of each. About fifty people dressed in suits and camo-clothes surrounded the area. He didn’t see him, but guessed Frank was among them.

A large, bulky man wore a hard smile. Must’ve been excited by the whole scenario, tracking Venus and finding the ship.

The gray-haired man pointed a gun at Michael. Hell, they all had guns or rifles aimed at him. 

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