Guest author spotlight: Arial’s Triumph by Liza O’Connor

Arial Logan is the best flier in the world and MAC, the computer program that manages the Corp, wishes to have more with her genetic talent. However, Arial’s mother, General Alisha Logan, has an equally strong determination to protect her daughter from all romantic interests. When Arial falls in love with a new Colonel, her mother is willing to sacrifice not only Colonel Adam’s life, but also the lives of thirty soldiers to keep her daughter safe from the soldiers.

Note: Officers of Rank are referred to as “Sir” regardless of sex.

***

Arial flew into the bathroom that attached two of the medic rooms. She moved to the other room and leaned against the wall while she steadied her wild heartbeat. Had her mother found her with the colonel, he would have been gone before he had even technically arrived.

Afraid if she left through the patient’s door, she’d run into her mother in the hallway, Arial remained in the room. She was contemplating crawling out the window when she realized the sleeping patient in the room was the young cadet that couldn’t collapse his wind-catcher.

Studying his chart, Arial noted that he had lost a lot of blood from the skin abrasions, but he should recover. Whether he’d have the courage to fly again was a different matter. That had been a hellish ride. She had watched him desperately try to collapse the catcher, but no matter how hard he pulled, it refused to collapse.

Arial observed the synthetic fabric piled in the corner. The medics hadn’t even tried to pack it. They had just gathered it in a bundle. Arial stretched it out across the room and sat down to study the toggles. He had pulled so hard that the knots for the back panels were actually wedged inside the toggle bar holes. The front panel rope knots were high above the toggles and quite loose.

How was that possible? The knots should have been stressed equally during the landing. She studied the front ropes. They looked unnaturally long compared to the back. Going to the supply cabinet she pulled out dental floss and cut a yard length. She then measured the length of the front ropes versus the back. There was an eighteen-inch difference.

Flying a wind-catcher with an eighteen-inch difference was not possible, nor could the cadet have taken off. So how did the catcher acquire an extra eighteen inches of toggle line upon landing?

Upon sitting on the floor, Arial stared at the toggle bars, willing them to provide the answer. Unfortunately, if they knew the answer, they remained mute.

Just then her mother and the colonel entered the room.

“Arial.” Her mother shook her head. “I should have guessed this is where you’d be. Denna is sitting in the waiting room. She didn’t know where you were.”

“Is she still out there?”

Her mother looked out the small window of the door. “Yes.”

“Ask her in. I’ve got a puzzle for her to solve.”

When Denna arrived, Arial didn’t even allow time for introductions. Instead, she called Denna over and explained the mystery.

Her mother insisted she measured wrong, but Denna re-measured and verified the rope lengths.

“But that’s not possible,” the colonel said. “I’d been flying with the cadets for several hours. I would have noticed such an anomaly.”

The general’s eyebrows rose. “I’m sure you would, since he couldn’t remain airborne with such long tethers. Is it possible this was done after the flight?”

Arial shook her head. “No. Look at these back toggles. He tried to collapse his catcher. The catcher wouldn’t collapse because the front ropes were too long.”

Denna pulled a magnifying glass from the drawer and sat down before the front toggles. “Well, that’s odd, she declared as she continued to study the rope, all the while chewing on her right thumb. Finally, she grinned, grabbed a pen, and declared, “The maker of this rope was both clever and diabolical.”

Denna looked up at the general. “I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll need to open an investigation. The cadet’s catcher has been sabotaged with lethal intent.”

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About Liza O’Connor

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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