The Friendly Ambassador: Changes by David George Richards by David George Richards - Read Online

About

Summary

Gusta and Didi are at last re-united with their children. But being confined all together on the Gate of Heaven has unforeseen changes as friend and foe are all forced to associate with one another as equals for the first and only time.

For the Seventy-Ninth of the Telen'Gal, association with the enemy brings with it wisdom, and the final understanding of the error his people have made.

Scyleia wants to save one of the clones that have fought so hard on Klysanthia. And when she learns that Tai-Gil was one of the few survivors to escape alive, her need to bring the Androktone on board becomes a fixation.

And for the clones themselves, the perfect warriors, association with the enemy brings an even greater threat, and perfection soon becomes a blurred and longed for image of the past.

In space, Peleus strives to make Lysippe his, but his efforts are hindered by fate, and then by Pantariste who also announces her interest in him. And as a Matriarch, she is not to be denied easily.

“The Friendly Ambassador: Changes” is the third part of a four part galactic epic that mixes Science-Fiction with Greek Mythology and the legend of Atlantis.

Published: David George Richards on
ISBN: 9781466020603
List price: $2.99
Availability for The Friendly Ambassador: Changes
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.

Reviews

Book Preview

The Friendly Ambassador - David George Richards

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1

peril

Prologue

The Beginning of the End

The Keruh needed food to feed their Hives. They were an ancient race, one bred from generations of war between the Hives. For them, victory meant food and life, while defeat brought death and extinction. But their world had grown too small, its resources drained, and the number of Hives had dwindled. Necessity had forged the surviving Hives into a truce, a truce that became a unification when the Tun-Sho-Lok brought them access to the Ring, a four-dimensional transport system that spanned the galaxy. Now through the Ring Network Portals, the combined Keruh Host could descend on any world, consuming everything in their path. The first world they choose is Lokana, the home of the Tun-Sho-Lok, and a devastating war begins.

The Tun-Sho-Lok sought help in the war from their only allies, the Atlantians and the Matriarchal Klysanthians. At first the war goes badly, but at Ephesus, the Tun-Sho-Lok scientist, Kel-Cid-An, creates a genetic masterpiece, the perfect warrior. The war begins to turn, and on the peaceful planet of Eden the final battle begins.

Gusta and Didi Albatus worked in the Tun-Sho-Lok Embassy. As private secretary to Li-Sen-Tot, the Tun-Sho-Lok Ambassador on Eden, Gusta had known how badly the war was going. She and her husband had planned to flee from Jutlam City with their children, Breda and Tipi. But they are apart when the Keruh attack. In the unimaginable savagery that follows, Gusta and Didi search for their children but are caught up in the mass evacuation from the city. Breda and Tipi are also caught in the same evacuation, but when the Keruh cut the road, escape seems impossible for all of them.

Chance brings both children into the care of the Klysanthians. Tipi carries two of them to safety aboard the approaching Gate of Heaven, but Breda is not so fortunate. She is with Anaxilea, the Matriarch of the House of Charity. Her ship has been shot down, and only she and a pitiful few have survived. They find more Edenites who are lost after the evacuation, but their freedom is short-lived as they are hunted down and captured by the Keruh.

The Keruh Warrior, the Seventy-Ninth of the Telen'Gal, needs his prisoners alive so that they can answer the questions of his Dominant. So until then he must keep them safe.

General Orbanta is the surviving leader of the Edenite Government. He knows that only a nuclear response will stop the Keruh. But with the evacuation failing, the detonation will catch many of the civilians in the blast. But even this fails to stop the Keruh.

Gusta and Didi join up with other survivors in the care of a team of Edenite soldiers led by a Corporal. But although safe from the nuclear blast in the underground tunnels of the rapid transit system, they are soon confronted by a drone, El-Quan. Fortunately for them their DNA is registered, and they have diplomatic immunity as a result of having worked in the embassy, so El-Quan agrees to take them to safety. Gusta compounds the problem of Embassy status by extending the protection to all the civilians and soldiers with them. El-Quan has no choice but to lead them all to safety.

Aboard the Gate of Heaven, Tipi is a rewarded by one of the Klysanthians he has rescued. It is an act that has serious consequences as the ship speeds away from the centre of the nuclear detonation. Tipi is far too large for the slight Klysanthian who has befriended him. With her lying wounded in the sick bay as a result, Tipi is at first treated as a criminal, before Heli, the ship’s preacher takes his side and persuades the Captain, Scyleia that his predicament wasn’t his entire fault. Heli teaches Tipi about Christianity as the ship flies to Jutlam City.

Li-Sen-Tot moves from the embassy to the Edenite Ring Network Portal building where he assumes control of the Androktone forces. He learns of the presence of his previous staff members in the underground tunnels at the same time as he is contacted by Scyleia on the Gate of Heaven. He grants her landing rights in a safe part of the city and Androktones are sent to guard the ship. Mai-Ann questions his decision, but he advises her that this is the best solution to Embassy status as it will allow the Edenites in the tunnel to board the Klysanthian ship and they can be rid of them.

In space, Aeolus on the Prometheus becomes separated from the main Atlantian fleet and he is told to take command of the remaining Klysanthian ships at Eden. This isn’t so easy as the female captains are not used to being ordered about by a man. The most senior and stubborn captain is Pantariste on the Queen of Angels, and she and Aeolus bicker and argue constantly as they continue the fight against the Keruh. When Lysippe is sent aboard the Prometheus to improve relations, Aeolus’s number one, Peleus is instantly smitten. The feeling is mutual and a love affair begins.

Breda and the captured Klysanthians are being taken to Nemen for interrogation when Lupili, one of the Edenites who has been captured, tries to escape. And in the ensuing confusion, the Keruh Warrior who is in charge of them, the Seventy-Ninth of the Telen’Gal, is wounded. The irony of this is not lost on him or on Anaxilea, who drives the point home. Your fate is the same as ours. When we reach Nemen you will be cast into the jaws of a Receiver before us, as we must be questioned. This is all you are worth now. Food for the hives.

As the Seventy-Ninth of the Telen’Gal lies on the truck with his own captives for the rest of the journey, he knows that this is the truth. It is a fate he understands and accepts, but being with these other aliens makes him curious and allows him to associate and learn.

El-Quan is also learning through association with the Edenites. And when another even bigger drone, Yan-Jai attacks, she fights with words as well as weapons, finally agreeing to retrieve Yan-Jai’s other self –her human form– from the Ring Network Building in a bargain to allow her charges to pass.

The surviving ships of the Keruh Fleet are finally destroyed and only the Flagship makes it through the Eden Defence Net. But the losses are heavy on both sides, and even the Prometheus is lost. As the ship breaks up, all dash to escape, and Lysippe and Peleus find themselves alone and adrift together in one of the escape pods.

At Atlantis, President Aegina orders an evacuation. This has been brought on by the fear of a reprisal should their fleet lose at Eden, and also by dreams of impending doom.

As they approach Nemen, Breda and the other prisoners of the Keruh are rescued by Androktones who have got into the Keruh tunnels. The tables are turned as they are freed and the Seventy-Ninth of the Telen’Gal becomes the prisoner. But although Anaxilea urges the Androktones to kill the wounded warrior, Breda commands them not to, and instead has him brought along. In this way she shows her humanity when compared to the Androktones and the Keruh.

In Jutlam City, Gusta, Didi, Kiki and all the Edenite soldiers and refugees with them, are taken to the Klysanthian ship, the Gate of Heaven. El-Quan completes her bargain with Yan-Jai and also sheds her bulk to the larger drone so that she can go aboard the Klysanthian ship with her charges. But at the very edge of the airlock, El-Quan is challenged by another Androktone, Tai-Gil. Only by the intervention of Gusta and Scyleia is bloodshed averted. It is a confrontation that leads Scyleia to develop an unbreakable fixation on Tai-Gil when she learns more of the Androktone's past. But at last Gusta, Didi, Kiki and Tipi are finally re-united.

Read The Beginning of the End and A Gathering of Angels, the first two parts of The Friendly Ambassador.

Chapter One

A Shared Flaw

Her head hurt. It was a deep pain, an ache that throbbed in her skull. It was even worse than before.

When Tai-Gil had first seen the Gate of Heaven standing in Pannertine Gardens her thoughts had never drifted towards the question of whether she could enter it. And when the ship's captain, Scyleia, had asked her to do so, she had refused. This was as it should be. But when she had then scented the Edenite that matched and Scyleia hinted that he might be at risk, her impulse was to enter. That simple impulse set off a chain of thought and reaction in her brain like a wild tornado. It had caused her to freeze on the edge of the airlock.

I must enter to secure the safety of the one that matched! He is in danger!

No! You cannot enter!

But I must! I must enter to ensure the safety of the one that matched!

Lies! Deceit! You wish to enter to be among these aliens! You seek false excuses!

I do not! The Councilman did not order me to stay outside! There is no harm in this!

To enter is to break the orders of the Humeric Council! This is a higher order!

That order was issued for the relief of Klysanthia!

There was no time limit!

But this is not Klysanthia!

And your arguments are a sign of your own defective nature! You wish to go aboard their ship because you are curious! You wish to be among them! They have invited you to coerce your acceptance of their incorrect form! They seek to usurp the Purpose from your mind! Being among them is disgusting, degrading, damaging! To wish this is to proclaim your defectiveness! You are incorrect!

No! I am not incorrect! I am ordered to protect them! My instructions are clear! They must be protected! They must not be harmed! The Edenite matched! He must not be harmed! My integrity is sound! The Councilman did not instruct me not to enter! His order revokes the order given by the Humeric Council!

False! To wish to enter is incorrect!

But I have to!

You want to!

Silence. Defeat.

She had stepped back. Twice she had tried, and twice she had failed. The argument against her was too strong because it was true, she was curious. She did want to know what made these familiar aliens so special. She wanted to know why they had been ordered to fight and die for them twice, once on Klysanthia by the Humeric Council, and again here, on Eden, by the Councilman. She wanted to go inside their ship, she wanted to walk among them, and she also wanted to be closer to Scyleia. There was an unmistakable attraction, an allure from her body, a feeling that Tai-Gil had only previously known from her own kind. Did they inherit this function from these aliens? What did Scyleia seek from her? And was it wrong to wonder…

This train of thought is tainted! You are false! Incorrect! Defective!

The meeting with El-Quan had been a relief. She had defied the accusations of her own mind when she faced her. El-Quan was the defective one. Yes, her instructions to take those that matched aboard the Klysanthian ship had come from the Councilman, but she also protected aliens whose Embassy status had been provided by those that matched. Tai-Gil had stood among those aliens. They disgusted her. They were not correct. El-Quan’s actions in protecting them when they could have been eliminated were questionable. Her integrity needed to be tested.

But El-Quan had been equally defiant. In the end they had both failed and they both knew it.

She is defective! Disgusting! Mutated! Incorrect! Kill her! Kill her! Kill her!

Tai-Gil stood in the shadow of the Gate of Heaven with her hands clamped to her head. The pain was terrible. It felt like something was growing in the centre of her skull and trying to push her brain out her ears. But it wasn’t her aborted attempts to enter the ship that had caused this escalation in the pain. It wasn’t even the knowledge that her integrity was flawed. Even her inability to kill El-Quan wasn’t a cause. No, it had been Scyleia’s action in stepping outside the ship that had doubled and trebled the intensity of the pain. It had been so sudden and so unexpected. And again Tai-Gil had been paralysed into inaction.

She is outside! She will be killed!

You must kill her! She has broken the orders of the Councilman!

But I am ordered to protect them!

Only while they remain inside! Kill her!

But the orders of the Humeric Council gave them protection outside!

Not here! You seek to use these arguments as you wish to further your own defective purpose! Kill her!

The orders of the Humeric Council take precedence! I cannot enter! But equally I must protect them!

She must be killed!

She must be taken inside! For her own protection!

You cannot go inside! Kill her!

I cannot kill her! I must take her inside!

You cannot go inside! Kill her!

The argument went round and round and round and round. It seemed like it would never end. Then El-Quan had removed Scyleia and taken her aboard the ship. And the female Edenite had also entered and the door had been sealed.

The other Androktones who were coming closer stopped, hesitated, and then moved away. They had seen and known the dangers. They didn’t want to share the pain of paradox with her. It was over. Only the pain and the questions were left.

Why did Scyleia do what she did? Why feign unconsciousness and frailty? She knew the instructions given by the Councilman. Did she deliberately attempt to use these instructions against her, to force her to enter when it was impossible? Did she realise what it did to her head? The confusion and contradictions it caused? But did her action reveal more answers than it asked?

Scyleia had stepped outside and placed her life in danger. Tai-Gil knew that she should have killed her, instantly, straight away. Her failure to do so was a reflection of her flawed integrity. But she clung onto the belief that she still followed the Purpose, and that the Humeric Council’s instructions ruled over all. This belief was important to her; it was the only thing that gave her hope. With it she remained pure. Without it her integrity was irrevocably mutated. If the latter was true she may as well be dead, and she probably would be soon. No, she was not defective, the thought processes in her mind were clear. The instructions given by the Humeric Council gave her a true direction uncluttered by contradictions and paradox. She had obeyed and still obeyed. Even the order given by the Councilman was subordinate.

The train of thought was clear, calming, soothing. It reaffirmed her integrity and self-belief.

I must protect them, inside and outside. But I cannot go aboard their ship.

As the pain eased other questions were answered in Tai-Gil’s mind. Scyleia’s motives for stepping outside were clear. She had done so when she had thought that she was going to be killed. She had known the dangers and still she had done it. She had sought to protect her from death. And once outside she had strived to manipulate her to enter. Did these actions reveal an attachment? Why did that interest her?

And El-Quan’s actions were also interesting. She had failed as she had failed. Tai-Gil knew that El-Quan could have killed her but did not. Her weapon was drawn, ready. She also could have killed Scyleia but did not. There had been no instruction for her not to do so from the Councilman. Instead El-Quan had rescued her from her dilemma. She had taken Scyleia inside the ship. She had done what she could not do. She must have understood the conflict in her mind. Was there a similar but different conflict in her mind?

What did it mean? Why couldn’t she understand? Why did thinking about it hurt?

Soo-Fam stared at her through the portal connection. Are you well, Tai-Gil?

Tai-Gil stood in the shadow of the port side hull of the Gate of Heaven. It was getting lighter in Jutlam City, but the smoke that hung so thickly in clouds above the capital meant that only a twilight haze broke through at ground level. She removed her hands from her head, abandoning the attempt to rub and squeeze the pain out of her temples. She sighed and spoke in a tired voice.

Close contact with those who have Embassy status is not recommended.

Soo-Fam nodded. I understand. I had the misfortune to be questioned by one of them across the portal. It was, she paused, distasteful. Try your best to minimise contact.

Tai-Gil bowed. I will, Soo-Fam.

Good. Now I bring you bad news. More alien creatures with Embassy status have been located near Ne-Men. They will be escorted here by Ann-Ra. One among them, a female, matches a registered DNA code. They should arrive shortly.

Tai-Gil looked uncomfortable at the prospect. Then another thought occurred to her and she glanced at the ship behind her. The Klysanthians have sealed the hatch. I cannot contact them and neither can I gain access.

Then I will speak with Sci-Lee-Ah aboard the Klysanthian ship and ask that the outer hatch be reopened. The same procedure will be followed as before. Soo-Fam fixed her eyes more strongly on Tai-Gil. Leave them to Ann-Ra and El-Quan, Tai-Gil. Do not damage yourself any further.

Yes, Soo-Fam. Will these be the last?

Soo-Fam paused thoughtfully. Finally she nodded. The Councilman has given me unusual but specific instructions concerning the defence of this building. I believe these instructions should apply to you and your force in Pan-Tine Gardens. I will advise Sci-Lee-Ah that her presence in this area is no longer to be tolerated. You are to give support only until the ship takes off. The Klysanthians are to be given safe passage in their escape but you are not to die in their cause unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Once they have left you and all the Androktones in the area must head east. Do you understand, Tai-Gil?

Tai-Gil bowed once more. She answered more strongly. I understand, Soo-Fam.

Good. Proceed.

The connection was broken only to be re-established a moment later. Tai-Gil didn’t like the smell this new connection brought to her.

I am whole.

It was a glorious feeling. Strange that she should delight in it. She had been whole all of her life but it had never felt like this. She could feel everything. She could feel her toes. She could wriggle them and feel the resistance of her boots. She could feel the air against her exposed skin. She could feel her hair being ruffled against her back as she moved her head. She felt the air she breathed passing through her mouth and nose, into her airways and her lungs. She could feel the probing fingers of this Klysanthian as she tended the wound in her side. She could feel the warmth of the atmosphere, the feel of her uniform, the pressure of the chair she sat on, and the trickle of blood on her back.

Being a drone was exciting but silent. She had been a mind only. Her whole form had been a blank that obeyed every whim and command. It changed, flowed, stretched and grew at an instant. It was everything and nothing.

Now she could feel tired and hungry. Now she could feel pain. Now she could feel the real effect of the paradox in her mind.

It hurt. It hurt her mind and caused a dull ache that constantly distracted her. It made her movements sluggish. The wound didn’t help either, nor did the prolonged period of kneeling in one position in the portal building. Despite her walk through the rapid transit tunnels, her legs still ached, her muscles were strained and tight, her side hurt and breathing and moving made it all worse. But none of that mattered compared to the ache and torment in her head.

She had thought she had mastered the paradox, but the confrontation with Tai-Gil had proved her wrong. No, that wasn’t true. It wasn’t Tai-Gil. Tai-Gil had seen and recognised her error, but El-Quan knew it was an error even before Tai-Gil had accused her.

Why had she done it? Why deliberately ensure that the others who didn’t match would remain safe? They were incorrect, and they needed to be killed. And it had been the most appropriate moment to kill them. She had known it and deliberately avoided it.

Your integrity is flawed! You have mutated! You are no longer correct! Your mind is diseased! You are impure! Defective! Incorrect! You are a mockery to the Purpose! You should die!

Despair! Agony!

She had no argument. She was defective. She accepted it now. The paradox had poisoned her and finally killed her. She had gone from perfection to drone shell to flawed-Androktone in less than a day, and all with hardly a battle. Her mind had almost sought the change. It opened too many interesting avenues. Even Tai-Gil’s own flawed state hadn’t roused her.

She is defective! Disgusting! Mutated! Incorrect! Kill her! Kill her! Kill her!

El-Quan had recognised Tai-Gil’s tormented state. She had tasted the fear in her caused by the conflict in her mind. It was a similar conflict of contradiction but yet Tai-Gil was still almost intact. El-Quan knew that she fought to hold on to one last element that would keep her integrity pure. She envied her ability to do that. She envied her chance at survival. She craved that same chance but knew it was lost to her. But for Tai-Gil to win the Klysanthian that caused the conflict had first to be removed. El-Quan could have stood by and watched Tai-Gil’s last hope evaporate. Instead she had removed Scyleia and carried her inside.

Even that was an error.

And now she was among them all. Imperfect, mutated, incorrect, and all together in one ship. What further change could that bring?

From agony and despair to ecstasy and joy. It happened in a second. And it was so unexpected that neither Gusta nor Didi even recognised Tipi for several seconds. That they knew him was undeniable, but who he actually was, why that face was familiar, and why they couldn’t instantly, immediately remember him was a mystery. And for Tipi the response was almost the same. He knew them both but almost didn’t.

In strange times the mind does strange things. It had been little over a day since they had all been together. But even then it had been a fragmented breakfast before they all went their separate ways. It was the same as any morning of any day.

Didi cooked, ate and was gone before they awoke. What he had cooked they then ate in rushed and noisy anarchy. Breda had run about with her blouse on but no skirt, her personal communicator and a slice of toast in one hand, and coffee in the other. She had left a trail of spilled coffee and dropped crumbs everywhere. Tipi ate last with his uniform on because he had woken last as usual. His excuse was that Breda was in the bathroom for too long as usual. Gusta had been a loud and bad mannered conductor of events, hurrying them, chiding them, and all while eating her own hurried breakfast. She had tried to tell them things that she thought were important, but as usual none of her children listened to her.

What Didi had cooked so lovingly was demolished in absent care. Breda had shot out the door with her communicator clutched in her hand, and Tipi had smiled at Gusta as she went shortly after. Tipi always put the dishes away and locked up before he left. It was the last time Gusta had seen either of them.

That morning was a lifetime ago. Each hour that had passed felt like a year. In fact the time that had passed before this day paled into virtual nothingness. Gusta had been born and lived her whole life with nothing but a memory of children that never were. Her mind had made it like that, it was the only way it could handle the agony. For her and for Didi, their previous life had slowly evaporated. And then suddenly there it was again, smiling embarrassingly before them in the form of an almost forgotten face.

The reception deck had been large and cold. The hot drinks and blankets were a welcome sign of hospitality and care. The Klysanthians oozed comfort and calm, and the Edenites who had come through it all suddenly felt a relief, a lifting of a heavy load. They were safe, truly safe at last. And then it had happened. As they reached the tables a new face was introduced to them by the Klysanthians, another Edenite like them, saved and washed and clean. Only a mere boy, he met them as they arrived, and moved among them, smiling and shaking hands. They smiled back, nodded and felt better, made more relaxed and comfortable by his presence. Finally the last to enter reached the tables and met the face in stunned surprise.

Tipi? Oh, my God, it’s Tipi!

Everything became a blur of tears and screams and hugs and smiles. Gusta couldn’t remember what she said or did, and Didi was no better. Tipi only remembered that he cried, constantly, and without pause.

Only Kiki remembered everything clearly. He remembered how cold and thin the air was and how light in weight he felt. He remembered how the Klysanthians looked, so slender that it seemed he could snap them with a whim. He remembered how one of them clapped her hands in joy at the reunion. And he remembered the one in the long white coat leading El-Quan away quietly by the hand. He remembered the people too, crying and smiling, sharing the joy and emotions with Didi, Gusta and Tipi. He remembered Salida crying as Gusta cried, thinking of her lost husband and daughter as she slid to her knees. He remembered Ilana looking on as if mesmerised. And most of all he remembered how sad he felt that it was Tipi and not Breda who was there.

Scyleia hurried to the communications room with Heli chasing after her. She wasn’t happy.

That cocky male always has to be at the heart of everything! she snapped angrily as she walked in long strides. "I die inside because I have lost Tai-Gil not for a second time, but for a third time! Because she was on Klysanthia! Because she is actually one of those I had thought was dead! And before even that pain can settle he finds his parents! They just drop in to his lap! I hate him! Everything goes well for him! He gains solace from one of us even though it nearly kills her, he gets rescued by us, you mother him, and now he has his whole family with him! I hate him!"

It is not his whole family, Heli replied as she hurried after her. His sister is still missing.

Only his sister? Scyleia exclaimed sarcastically. Are you sure the rest of them aren’t his uncles, cousins and aunts! He’s cocky, he’s lucky, and I still hate him!

Heli smiled. It is not luck. His faith has brought this miracle. I told him it could be possible if he believed. It was very pleasing.

Scyleia glanced back at her in mild surprise. Have you been preaching to him?

Heli quickly suppressed her smile. He was curious so I answered his questions and urged him to have faith.

That makes it your fault! I hate you too!

Scyleia burst into the communications room and saw Soo-Fam bow before her on the portal. It had been an unexpected connection and Alcinoe had summoned her from the reception deck at the height of the tearful reunion. Scyleia had been pleased with the excuse to leave. The joy of these Edenites left her cold in the circumstances. She felt hollow, as if her guts and sexual organs had all been ripped out and trampled underfoot by a physical manifestation of Fate smiling evilly before her. She was conscious of the agitated state her mind was in as a result, and quickly regained her composure. She paused, swept back her hair, took a deep breath and stepped forward.

Heli remained by the door and watched as Scyleia walked up to the portal and bowed to Soo-Fam.

You honour us with your presence, Scyleia said in calm angelic tones as she raised her head. Is the Ambassador well?

Soo-Fam also raised her head. She had kept it bowed until Scyleia had responded. Her expression was haughty and she replied in an equally aloof manner in a voice that was slightly deeper in tone. The Ambassador is safe and well, Sci-Lee-Ah, Matriarch of the House of Heaven. I am Soo-Fam. I have been placed in charge of the portal building in his absence.

Her remark caused instant interest in Scyleia. He is elsewhere?

Soo-Fam was dismissive. His location is not your concern. What is your concern is that others with Embassy status have been found. One of us called Ann-Ra will bring them to you for safekeeping. Another with them has matched. You will repeat the same procedure as before when taking them on board.

Scyleia’s heart missed a beat. Will Tai-Gil be present?

It was a question she shouldn’t have asked, and the look in Soo-Fam’s eyes proved it. There was a slight pause before she answered.

Her presence is not required.

But she must know they’re coming? Scyleia pressed recklessly.

Soo-Fam’s demeanour became slightly colder. Tai-Gil has been informed of their arrival. Her presence will be minimal. I sense an interest for her in your body that is matched by your questions. This interest is not acceptable.

I apologise, Soo-Fam, Scyleia jumped in quickly, bowing her head. The error is wholly mine. My interest is due to my knowledge that she was on Klysanthia on the day it fell. It was an emotional response caused by a powerful association. Forgive me.

Soo-Fam also bowed. You are forgiven, but your presence in this area is no longer acceptable. You must leave once the second group with Embassy status have been taken on board.

Scyleia was surprised by the demand and looked up quickly. But the Defence Net remains closed, we cannot escape. And to remain airborne in this gravity is to waste fuel.

Soo-Fam raised her head slowly. Then go elsewhere, was the indifferent reply.

There was no point arguing. Scyleia took a deep breath and sighed. As you wish.

Soo-Fam bowed again. Go with good heart.

Scyleia also bowed. And you also. When she looked up the connection was broken.

Heli instantly stepped forward. She spoke loudly and in astonishment. Are you stupid or what? After all that talk of fearing the Androktones and being cautious you practically invite an attack! I couldn’t believe my ears! What are you thinking, Scyleia? Where is your mind? Do you want to kill us all?

Scyleia put her hands over her face in her anguish. "Do not rebuke me, cousin, for you know my weakness! I need her!"

Heli looked at her in shock. You actually seek a liaison with this Androktone?

Scyleia took her hands away from her face and looked back at Heli in confusion. A liaison? she repeated softly. "I had not considered it. My mind is filled with only the need to have her on board, now more than ever. With El-Quan among us at least my failure is ended. But Tai-Gil was there. She was one of them. I have to take her with me. I have to."

"And