The Elf & Elhehrim Excerpt

Elf and Elhehrim Special New Front

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EB ISBN: TBA

PB ISBN: 978-1482368185

The Elf & Elhehrim, the second installment of The Elf Series defines the strength of a people to overcome a mysterious menace and establish themselves as a new force for change. The adventure of one aspiring elven woman to grasp the reins of her own future in spite of the daunting odds stacked against her and her companions. This is a quest to have it all, that reveals just what a steep learning curve there looms before the steps toward that particular dream.

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Excerpt from The Elf & Elhehrim “What You Wish For…” © J.L. Lawson, 2013

 

“I only know what I have been told as to what Denalin must have been like;” the newly nominated Elhehrim liaison for the ‘Huntress Contract’ replied to the special committee. “What she meant to the Huntress and to yourselves personally… Well, that she was one of your own no doubt brings home to you the great price this contract and the Huntress’s voyages shall indeed cost before all is said and done. For myself and my folk, we have a vested interest in the results of this particular endeavor: it is close to our own on-going ventures and should therefore receive as much assistance toward its eventual success as can be humbly offered.”

In the dim Guild chambers, aboard the Gorim Station above Sheranara, the seven Seranim comprising the Trade Guild’s classified special contracts commission murmured amongst themselves over the Elf’s petition. She interrupted their deliberations, “Honorable Madam and Sirs, I am not suggesting that you approve my request out of hand; such a significant shift in the execution of this contract should receive your best considerations. Bear in mind however these two points: That your former envoy Denalin was shocked to her core over the initial disclosure that she had essentially been ‘cast out’ from the fold and into our company on the very eve of our departure! Secondly, that although you have no prior business with the Elhehrim…”

The Chair of the Commission interrupted, “…Oh no Mistress Elf, you are not entirely accurate on that score…” Her fellow committee members nodded sagely. “One of my own predecessors, the longest serving Special Attaché to the Supreme Guild Council, kept immaculate records of all this commission’s special contracts—both classified and clandestine. We have most certainly dealt on one occasion with the otherwise legendary Elhehrim folk. A nasty bit of business it was…”

The Elf nodded acknowledgement of the correction; “I trust that encounter was sufficient to warrant an appreciation for their unique skill sets then? Surely one who has been trained by the Enhiides must be considered as a completely acceptable and unbiased liaison—serving even such a contract as this.”

There was more murmuring amongst the committee. “We would very much like to have a little longer to work out our position on this matter…” the Chair of the Commission explained as they rose to leave the chambers, “…there are other ramifications to be considered. Please remain within summoning distance of this station. We shall call upon you as soon as we are prepared.” She added almost as an afterthought, “Naturally your other requests: the disposition of Agent Denalin’s compensation and accounts shall be summarily executed according to her last submitted will and testament—we honor our obligations to our own; always!” She was rather smug over that proclamation, but continued, “The direct hand-off to the Huntress of the Guild technological assets entrusted to our former Agent, Denalin, is granted—considering how efficiently you have proven to make use of it all already… And of course the pro rata installment of contractual compensation for the Huntress will be deposited in the Matriarch’s accounts post haste as well… with our commendations, naturally.” With that they left the Elf and the Elhehrim alone in the chambers.

Dena opened her mouth to speak; the Elf put a finger to her lips and nodded toward the door. Once they were out and among other people on the promenade—where they couldn’t be ‘overheard’ by snooping Guild operatives—Dena burst out with, “Trained by the Enhiides! I haven’t even met an Enthilé let alone the Enhiides of Hykorna! Pulling off this masquerade in front of my own former directors is one thing, but to be an actual Elhehrim? With actual higher training? From the actual Enthilé of the Orion Spur?!”

The Elf let her companion vent as she steered her to an ‘outdoor’ café. “In the first place,” the Elf comforted, “you have met an Enthilé—you’re looking at her.”

Dena’s eyes widened. “Oh!” she almost squeaked, “I’d sorta forgot that part of your stories…”

“Secondly, wherever the Elhehrim actually are, probably spread between one end of the Spur to the other, and likely beyond, does not preclude your representing them and the Huntress to a bunch of people who have only had one significant encounter with said elven folk. And for the record: I was very thorough in your transformation. You are Elhehrim, as much as a former Seranim girl could ever be. And as to your training; if you are averse to such an ordeal, that is not a deal-breaker to me or anyone else. I can assure you of that; it’s a personal choice and I wouldn’t dream of forcing you into anything of the sort.”

The Station’s public address system announced shrilly, “Will the Captain of the Huntress please come to Station Security offices; at once!” It repeated, but the Elf and Dena were up and to the bounce tubes before the announcement concluded. They strode into the offices.

“What’s the…” the Elf began but stopped short, a peel of laughter rose in her throat and she had to squelch that as well. Sitting, roaming, playing at the sensor and surveillance monitors; generally making a nuisance of themselves were the balance of the Nephlii. They all stopped what they were doing and sat stock still when the Elf cleared her throat.

“Our logs show that these… these… ‘cats’ came here aboard the Huntress…” the assistant chief of security voiced through clenched teeth. The Station-master entered behind Dena and the Elf.

“What in the name of shining-star-buckles is going on here?!” she demanded; “No pets in station offices! Chief, what’s the meaning of this?!”

The overly frustrated chief counted to ten before answering evenly, “They are not ‘our’ pets;” and he stared at the Elf, daggers issuing from his eyes.

“This is completely my fault,” the Elf volunteered. “The Nephlii haven’t been around civilization in a long while and I didn’t prepare them properly for this visit…” She broadcast in her thoughts a general demand to the cats. ‘Shoo!’ The room cleared in an instant with dashing fur and tails right by the legs of the station-master. She teetered under the rush of them, then pressed her hands down her tunic.

“That’s better. Chief? Is there anything else, then?”

The harried man shook his head slowly and dropped into his chair. The Elf apologized once more to both of them and edged Dena and herself out of the office—struggling to keep from bursting into laughter—long overdue.

Dena shook her head from side to side, wiping at her tears. “Into every rainy day a little sunshine…” and she giggled all the way back to their little café.

The Elf sighed, “I suppose they’ve found out which ships and worlds they’d next like to ‘plague’ now that they’ve done their homework in the security offices…”

Dena cocked her head, “Is that what they were doing? Why didn’t they just ask? Or use the Huntress’s systems? Why infest the Gorim offices?”

The Elf smiled, “If you could shop in your home village or go the up-scale boutiques in the big city, which would you choose?”

Dena sipped her drink and looked properly chastened; she changed the subject. “Senta was probably right you know; the committee would’ve rubber stamped our entire petition if you had stepped in there as you truly are.”

The Elf replied with a lingering wistfulness, “But then they wouldn’t have gotten to know Dena of the Elhehrim nearly so well.”

Dena snorted; she quickly put a hand to her mouth and nose, glancing around to see if anyone noticed. “That was my point!” In a quieter tone, “That’s what I meant: you’re not the only one who’d love to keep a low profile where the Guild is concerned…” She looked back toward the Guild halls. “I recognized nearly every person in those offices—some I went to school with, others I groomed myself for their current positions.” She turned to face the Elf squarely, “And not a single soul even guessed for a second that I am that Denalin!”

“Technically, dearest,” the Elf confided in the same tone, “you are not. You are not only greater in stature than any Seranim who ever lived, you are emotionally, and spiritually so far beyond that stuffy, officious, self-righteous…”

Dena held up her hands, “I get it already! No need to get graphic!” She pushed her fingers back through her white hair. “True, I am not that frightened little paper-pushing bean-counter. I get it.”

“And one other thing I do hope you get,” the Elf stressed, “that post mortem compensation package just now being installed into your ‘beneficiary’s’ accounts…” she narrowed her eyes, “…meaning temporarily mine; that was clever, but how long do you suppose it will take your former associates to figure out that the same amounts paid out to the estate of one: Denalin Grinta Taborus has suddenly appeared in a brand new account set up on behalf of one: Dena of the Elhehrim?”

Dena’s expression wasn’t ruffled in the least. “That might raise eyebrows if they were both part of ‘common’ accounts management. The latter is, the former never was—-perks of elite employment under the Trade Guild’s classified special contracts commission—the two departments do not share oversight. Once the funds are absent those accounts, it will have been as if they never existed.”

The Elf smiled, “So… As the newest, most wealthy Elhehrim anywhere, are you sure you still want to throw your lot in with the Huntress? I mean, you have your new looks, a queen’s ransom and a growing skill set to keep both of those safe for the indefinite future… whichever resort world you’d like to purchase outright!”

“I am…” Dena began but was interrupted by the sudden arrival of Pim, Senta Isin and Song.

“Done already?” Song inquired, surprised to see them but delighted there were pastries on the table as she and the others pulled up chairs and helped themselves.

“All but for the one thing we actually went in there to accomplish,” Dena countered, getting the attention of the waiter to order more coffee drinks all around.

Pim was tickled, “We get to keep all my new play-toys then?!”

The Elf merely nodded.

Senta pointed discreetly, “That pair of Nourii over there…”

Dena and the Elf nodded after acquiring them.

“They’ve been shadowing us since we left the woolen imports boutique for Isin’s stock…” Song whispered.

“You told us to keep a low profile, so we didn’t zap them,” Isin added seriously.

Senta continued, “The thing is, they keep smiling at us when we inadvertently actually look directly at them! It’s un-nerving.”

The Elf chuckled, sensing for herself what was on the two shadows’ minds just then. “Has it occurred to any of you that they may just be shy about approaching beautiful women?”

“But we’re…” Senta exclaimed a little too loudly; she lowered her voice to a whisper, “we’re Lascorii!”

“Forbidden fruit;” the Elf grinned and waved coyly to the two gentlemen.

Isin and Senta gasped. “You mean they actually…” Senta couldn’t finish the thought aloud.

Dena did for her, “…want to have a close encounter of the physical kind. What man wouldn’t? All four of you are drop dead gorgeous.” She added to Pim, “You of all people should know the lack of a thick head of hair doesn’t mean squat to a rutting male. And I can assure you that’s true whether you’re a tall and svelte Atrian woman or not!”

Pim sniffed, “Never noticed.”

Her sister Song, whose hair was nearly fully grown out now, winked at the fellows now that the alternative interpretation of their shadows’ interest seemed so much more likely.

Pim rolled her eyes, “Don’t expect me to double date with you…”

Then Senta surprised even herself, “I will!”

The two ladies dabbed at their mouths and excused themselves. “Just some station surveying…” they giggled, rose and walked provocatively as close as they dared to the pair of fellows, and passed them.

Isin gasped, “Now they’re following them! Maybe I should…”

The Elf put a hand on her arm. “Should what? Try and see if they have a friend for you?”

Isin gulped. “Uh, no that’s not what I meant…” and her eyes kept following her sister and friend as the two guys overtook them. The girls broke into full hair-flipping-giggling-coy-girl mode. “Well, I never…” she muttered.

“It’s the dawn of a new day, alright;” Dena grinned and stretched.

“And with the committee in temporary adjournment, it’s an opportunity for us to drop down to the planet and do some sight-seeing, just like regular tourists,” the Elf decided. “At least that’s where I’m headed next.” The two Nephlii stood and stretched at once. She chuckled, “Correction, where Mim and Yula and I are heading.” She reached down and stroked their heads; they erupted into their usual roaring purrs at the attention. “As if I could go anywhere alone anymore…”

“At least the other Nephlii are content to remain on the stations and planet here instead of continuing aboard the Huntress;” Pim sounded relieved.

“Dena clucked, “Don’t be so sure…” and she nodded toward Ravena and Elenir, Reia and Jista just coming out of the bounce tubes, escorted by a cat apiece. “I think those four at least may decide to emulate our Mim and Yula.”

Pim shrugged, “As long as they don’t shed in my workshops, fine!” She rose, went and joined the other ladies heading off around to the other side of the station.

Isin asked, “Mind if I tag along with you two? I hear there’s a huge lake and a temple island down there. Very big attraction they say…”

The Elf smiled, “There is and you most certainly may. I have it on good authority that there is a to-die-for seafood restaurant on that lake’s shore. I’m for a leisurely supper and picturesque sunset.”

“Right behind y’all,” Dena added, then snapped her fingers, “I just remembered: I was going to sneak a peek at the Guild archive of that exceptional Elhehrim contract the Chairman bragged about. I’d never heard of it before. Meet you at Vana’s—that’s the famous restaurant you mentioned. And it is everything you heard it was.” She stood up to go back to the Guild offices. “Oh my! I’m still getting used to seeing this station from a much higher vantage point than when I worked here. Being nearly as tall as the Elf is heaven!”

Two weeks later aboard the Huntress waiting to be cleared for departure…

“Where to, Captain?” Jista sat at the nav station expectantly.

The Elf turned to Dena, “Well, Liaison?”

Grinning, because she had been vetted by the commission for the assignment, Dena held up an envelope. “They certainly do like their ‘cloak and dagger’ methods…” and she slit the envelope with a fingernail. “Oh my…”

“What?” all but the Elf were suddenly very interested.

Dena looked up from the single page; held it up for everyone to see. “Nothing! Captain?”

“Uh huh. I had a little private chat with her ladyship the Chairman of the committee. She agreed that as a result of the unqualified success over our initial patrol, what ever leads I should wish to pursue would be more than satisfactory to the Guild. But…” and she held Dena’s gaze exclusively, “…she was also very clear about a second point; her words: ‘that Elhehrim’ shall keep us apprized of your intentions and methods. If not, this contract shall be re-bid no matter how prosperous your ventures actually are’.”

“But that’s just my job!” Dena defended as if it were a slap in the face.

The Elf was nodding, “Of course it is, and of course you know that from experience. But Dena the Elhehrim isn’t supposed to realize the gravity of the assignment. As far as the committee knows, they are taking an extraordinary risk by not having one of their own aboard to keep tabs on me.”

Senta muttered under her breath, “Told you it would’ve been better without your ‘just the regular Elf’ disguise…”

The Elf wasn’t taking the bait. “Now,” she smiled to Jista, “I’m sorry dear, but we needn’t set a course.” Turning to the com panel on the arm of her chair, “Pim? Load the RP for the Hyalina Trade and Touring Lines main offices please. I’m certain you’ll find it among the library offered us by the Captain of Sheranara Triquetra.”

The stunned silence on the bridge was only rivaled by Pim’s voice not responding over the com. After the shock, she answered, “Right away Captain, we should be able to bounce by the time Reia gets us to wrinkling distance from the stations.”

The Elf looked to Reia, “Well? We have been cleared haven’t we?” Reia just nodded without turning to the helm.

“Captain?” her uncertainty was clear. “That’s practically on the other side of the Spur…”

The Elf merely nodded, “And?”

Ravena joined in, “What Reia is trying to say, perhaps, is that… that…”

Elenir finished for her, “No Lascorii vessel has ever crossed beyond the frontier!”

The Elf stood, “Until now. Our charter is to vouchsafe all Seranath Trade Guild underwritten ventures and since we were so deft at tidying up the last little chore, the Selena Trust folks have requested a partnership as principals in the amended Contract—and they typically get whatever they want. What did you think when you signed on to this crew? That we’d be tooling around our own backyard for the unforeseeable future? There is a Rehuin ring of piracy, a few Naud, and a plethora of homegrown ne’er-do-wells all encroaching on the Aldebaran system and every system between there and the Perseus Arm. Pirates are pirates. And if what our ill-fated Hus-a-goof intimated at our final encounter regarding the Hin is at all reliable…”

Ravena nodded and turned back to her station, “Enough said my Captain. I shall prepare counter strategies for such encounters.”

Reia shook off her sudden lethargy and moved the Huntress out passed the boundary buoys. “Ready to bounce when you wish, Captain. And I’m sorry for my slow response.”

The Elf looked at the others as well, “We will likely encounter any and all of the above, but we shall most certainly find other nefarious enterprises having nothing to do with them. The records of the Hin in this Spur are nothing to be take lightly; if there is a clandestine movement being hatched by even one of those devils… And if they enlist the assistance of an already established band of thieves and cut-throats…”

Dena whispered, “Or worse still: hide in plain sight among respectable business folk…” and she shuddered.

The Elf touched her comlink, “Pim, darling?”

“Ready,” came the excited reply.

“Bounce!” The Elf announced curtly. The Gorim Stations exchanged places on the view screen with the Mrona orbiting station headquarters of the Hyalina Trade and Touring Lines. The brilliant colors adorning the outsides of the Lines corporate stations were a stark contrast to the twinkling velvety blackness of the star field beyond. “Very nice;” the Elf smiled in spite of the serious dangers with which she’d just moments before shaken up her command crew.

“Hail the station and request an appointment with Admiral Brona, personally,” she directed to Dena at the com.

In a few minutes the main viewer shifted to the bright eyes and tall ears of a Rutatois Lines Director responding to their hail. The Elf made a double take, “A Rutatois above Mrona? Are there also Soltim…surely no Chanlassans… There are no more of the fair feline folk to be found across the One!”

“Well spotted!” the Director praised. “Not many folks can so instantly judge the subtle differences between our two peoples… You know: ‘a cat’s a cat’ to pretty much everybody. And no, there are no Soltim here. I am Director Tansha and I am…” his voice faltered as his eyes took in the rest of the bridge company. His face became a mask of revulsion. “…What’s that Alhareem demon doing on your bridge! Either you leave our space now, peacefully, or I shall be forced to alert Mronan Security and the Alliance fleets!” And he cut the connection.

The officers on the bridge mouthed ‘Alhareem’ and their eyes moved to Dena. She was ashen with confusion. The Elf didn’t hesitate, “Back us off, wrinkle, stop and cloak.” She turned to Dena and the others, “We have a situation…”

Song and Senta vied for who would defend Dena first; Song’s voice was shriller. “This is ridiculous! The Elhehrim… or ‘Alhareem’ or however they want to say it… They’re the good guys!”

Senta broke in, “Captain you can’t take them seriously?! Our Dena?”

The Elf listened but said nothing. Ravena offered, as calmly as she could manage, “A situation; indeed. There’s a distinct disconnect here. I can only think that we are dealing with…”

Isin cut her off, “Impostors!”

The Elf nodded, she was clearly in thought. The company settled down from the outbursts and mutterings. Song and Senta were at either side of Dena consoling her as friends would. For her own part, Dena construed, “Now I know how Lascorii have felt all these years…”

“It’s not as bad as all that,” the Elf finally announced. “But yes, that is a good analogy. In this case, however, I am with Isin and Ravena: we have inserted ourselves into an untenable situation and it is very likely the usurpation of the Elhehrim’s sterling reputation… at least their historical, or legendary, honorability has been used as a tool in the hands of miscreants. The question: ‘Why?’ shouldn’t even be a riddle to us…” She left that hanging for a moment.

Dena whispered, “Hide in plain sight among respectable folk…” Then her voice was defiant and angry, “But to pose as the Elhehrim?! How wrong is that?!”

Ravena insisted, “We have got to find these impostors and reveal them for what they are!”

The Elf cocked an eye at her, “And they are… whom do you suppose?” The bridge was silent as each of the company ran through the lists in their own minds of the possibilities; the known piratical elements capable of pulling off such a charade, with the cunning to scheme at this level, with audacity and allies… The Elf added, “And what do you suppose these ‘someones’ are aiming for? Surely not merely to be-smirch a practically mythical folk. And likely not to reap the meager rewards of the infrequent stolen booty. This suggests a strategy of grander proportions…”

Jista and Elenir agreed that this was beyond the Naud’s abilities. Isin, and Ravena were reasonably certain this wouldn’t have been an avenue for the Rehuin; “How could they, arising from the Perseus Arm—virtual newcomers—have mined a cherished mythology from our spur so effectively? If it were them, they might have risked insinuating themselves as respectable merchants… actual people whom they could impersonate. But this?”

The Elf had her hand to her chin and was staring out into the star field with the little glistening orb that was Mrona twinkling at its center. “We do not have enough data.”

Dena pushed her shoulders back, “Captain, permission to return to Mrona. Perhaps I should be picked up by the authorities…” Song and Senta gasped.

“That’s unthinkable!” “No mate of ours is going to the inquisitor like a sheep to shearing!”

Dena was shaking her head, “I mean, how else are we going to find out the depth and breadth of these pseudo-Alhareem’s perfidy?” She looked to the Elf with a hint of desperation, “Not allowing the Huntress in Aldebaran space is a handicap to our contract. I may not be an actual Elhehrim, but I’m as close to it as there probably is. We can’t… I can’t stand to think… It turns my stomach to…”

The Elf nodded, “Understood. I would not assign such a task…”

The rest of the company was adamant, “You can’t be serious!? You can’t turn our Dena over to them!”

A hint of a sly smile played at the corner of the Elf’s mouth. “Wasn’t it this very group who, just a couple months ago, certified our Dena as ‘completely’ capable as a reliable member of this ship’s complement? Able to… how did you put it Isin… ‘pull your favorite ass from the fire’ if need be?” She looked from person to person. “It seems to me that Dena’s suggestion is the most viable first step to acquiring the data we shall be needing to sort through this little mystery. I may be able to covertly get some information from the Admiral… if she’ll agree to meet, and even at that there’s no guarantee she’s in the loop where Mronan Security is concerned.”

They each had to swallow that bitter pill. They had indeed rigorously assisted Dena to become as capable and lethal, if need be, as any of themselves.

Dena voiced, as heroically as she could, “I can do this. Just give me a chance.”

That melted her comrades’ resistance entirely. Senta and Song redoubled their ministrations and whispered support. Aloud Senta confirmed, “It wasn’t that we doubted you; it’s just so close to home. No Lascorii would betray a sister to the hands of an enemy…”

The Elf had to make this clear, “The Mronans are not our enemy! This has to be firm in your hearts and minds. They have been victimized. I suspect they are not the only ones either—actually I’m rather certain of that. Whoever these impostors are, they most assuredly have had to practice this deception on lesser targets before they were ready to take their show to Broadway…” The quizzical looks from her crew brought a genuine smile to her face. “…Turn of phrase from another life—Before they felt confident enough to challenge the combined resources of the Guild, Selena Trust and Alliance outright…” She added as a caveat, “They apparently aren’t directly messing with planets, moons and stars so they have stayed relatively under the radar of the Enthilesté; but then I am not exactly Enthilesté… in the strictest sense.” She shot a thought to the other First Water. ‘Comments? Observations? Suspicions?’

As one, the other ten rarified individuals responded clearly, ‘You are correct; not enough data. However, your initial conclusions are sound. Do not discount the reach of the Hin. While we have effectively quarantined them, after a fashion, on their own home worlds, there are most certainly renegade factions and individuals capable of wreaking havoc at this scale.’

The Elf was nodding to herself, and her crew looked on skeptically. She stood, “Jista, Senta, Song and Ravena; prepare the Lúthien for a return trip to the Mrona stations, the Huntress can’t be seen there now, but they’ve no knowledge of our yachts. We shall see if there is a reward for a captured Alhareem.” She looked compassionately at Dena, “Dearest, you haven’t been subjected to the sort of villiany regular people are capable of when they feel themselves justly superior and protecting their interests. This will not be like bartering with obstinate merchants at a bazaar—think more along the lines of hungry wolves or packs of wild dogs. This could be messy for you, and while I shall keep my eyes on you—you shall not be in mortal danger, I promise—still, it will not be ‘nice’.”

Dena took a deep breath, weighed the Elf’s words in her heart, and spoke; “Thank you.”

The Elf closed her eyes and opened them slowly, “Permission granted.”

Dena stood to her full height, pushed back her shoulders and flexed her hands at her side. “Ladies? I believe the Captain ordered the Lúthien to be made ready.” She turned to the Elf with a last comment, “Find the bastards!” and she marched out of the bridge, leaving Jista, Senta, Song and Ravena blinking in her wake. The Captain cleared her throat and gestured with her chin to the doors. They leapt up as if just wakening.

“On our way, Captain…” Ravena murmured as she passed the Captain’s chair.

Isin sat back down heavily at her station; “A true sister and brave.”

The Elf smiled as she turned toward her; “Sister dearest, please scan every ship, station, outpost and closet. We are going hunting and I want to know if their fingernails need trimming before we introduce ourselves!” To Elenir she called, “Set up a standard search sweep course out to fifty light-years if need be. Both of you, coordinate with Pim to collect RP samples from every suspicious nook and cranny—I want to be omni-present in this neck of the woods before Dena’s stomach growls the first time over jail food!” ‘If they even bother to feed her at all…’ she thought to herself.

The Huntress was a flurry of activity.

“Captain, this is Lúthien, we are ready to bounce.”

“Our hearts are one. We are one together. Bounce!” the Elf commanded solemnly.

The Lúthien was a shimmering silver pantheress in the inky space before the ship, then it bounced and was gone. “Captain,” Senta hailed, “we are approaching one of the other Mrona stations in orbit. Ravena’s confident it is one of the Security installations…”

“Good!” the Elf replied, “…directly into the lion’s mouth. Good luck.”

Pim called up from engineering, “Captain, I think I’ve knocked together a reliable set of RP collection probes. Just one thing, though…” she hesitated to add, “these little things won’t have but maybe a twenty light-year range. That’s going to hamper a really swift recon of this corner of space.” Before the Elf could ask, Pim clarified, “The RPs we collect will be just like any others… it’s just that my little babies… well, I could only cram so much in the space available.”

“Understood. Elenir, Reia adjust to our probes’ capabilities.”

Reia remarked, “Won’t actually slow us down at all Captain.” And she winked to a smiling Elenir, “Poor Pim may start wishing she had hair to pull out though—that library the Triquetra gave us is really vast, and Pim’s the only one down there to purge and reload…”

Elenir chuckled, “The actual amount of wrinkling we’ll likely have to do, doesn’t hold a candle to the hops we can make. I’m knotting the nets right now. We are ready to commence on your orders; the Lúthien can rejoin us anywhere, anytime, you know…”

The Elf nodded and turned to the science station, “Isin, you’re with Pim,” Isin rose and hurried to Engineering. “Very well then;” the Elf took a deep breath, “Let’s clean house! Engage and bounce at will.”

The next three hours were a blur on the main view screen—it was disorienting in the extreme, even for Reia. The Elf stepped over to the Com and reset the viewer to stand-by. Meanwhile on the Mronan Security Station…

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