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Dedicated to our only son, Jason Matthew, who gives us more love, joy, and pride, than any human being deserves.

Copyright Š 2010 Victoria Hewitt and Matthew Hewitt All rights reserved. ISBN: 1449928382 ISBN-13: 9781449928384 Library of Congress Control Number: 2009913315


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D ust rose from behind the beat up pale yellow pick-up truck as

Paul Layton pounded the accelerator, despite the fact that the vehicle groaned in resistance. The fusion-powered transportation sputtered to dying, so he squinted his green eyes in hopes of finding that he had almost made the Galactic Council outpost security gate. Coasting the truck to the side of the road, he slammed it to a stop then swung the door open to jump outside, nearly falling into the brownish-colored soil that powdered up around his feet. He softly swore, giving the spent machinery a kick in the door, adding yet another dent to its already marred frame. Straightening, he turned to make the half-kilometer trek up the road on foot and to the small passage gate. From this distance, he could see that there was an official perched at the entrance peering at him, as she had no doubt seen his civilian vehicle break down. He hurried the pace, jogging until the uniformed woman waved at him in recognition. Making the dull green post, he smiled at her, revealing his one redeeming quality-his perfectly white teeth. “Hey, Mia,” he greeted, shaking the dust from his sandy blonde hair and tee shirt that displayed the question, “A Piece of What?”


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“Paul,” she returned, smiling her sweetest as she shifted her cute petite figure in the blue uniform she wore, “you can’t come on the base.” He laughed, winking at her. “I’ve got clearance.” “No, you don’t,” she giggled; purposely twirling the end of her short cropped black locks on one finger. “Sure I do! You know, I’m here to see Mc Gadin.” He handed her the documentation that he had taken from the pocket of his jeans. As she checked the papers, she observed, “So, Mc Gadin’s out of specialized training today?” “Yeah. She told me to come to the base to pick her up.” He scratched his nose and shifted his weight. “Can’t wait to see her.” Now her expression grew sour. “I don’t know what you see in her. She’s such a bitch!” He grinned. “But she’s my bitch.” “I wouldn’t be too sure about that. You’re not here all the time. She’s got every man here panting like a dog.” She stepped from the guard post and walked to the jeep that was parked behind it. He followed her. “I guess I’ll drive you. She should be in the Officers’ Lounge.” She raised her wrist so that she could speak into the transceiver she wore. “This is Ensign Gonzalez. Security gate number five needs a replacement.” “Acknowledged,” came the response. “Thanks for taking me. You’re a real angel, Mia.” He jumped in the passenger side of the transportation. Watching her punch a button on the dash and the jeep turn over, he observed, “Damn, fusion ignition ‘v’ three. I got the old crap.” “Yeah,” she agreed, “it’s pretty nice.” They started forward, Paul scanning the countryside. The brown dirt seemed to go forever until it ended at the face of low-lying wheatcolored hills. In front of them he could see the Galactic Council outpost, and to the right of this, several landing fields. “Stop!” he shouted, pointing at the sky.

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Mia squinted, attempting to see what he was looking at. She then held in focus the brilliant landing lights of a space vehicle, its haul reflecting the afternoon sun. “Fucking look at that!” He scrambled out of the jeep, as the incoming space ship grew larger. “Will you look at that?” He glanced back at Mia, only briefly, then once again settled on the outline of the incoming vehicle. Mia had joined him and now shielded her eyes as she studied the brown outside of the ship. It was huge. Bigger than the Galactic Council’s transports, but what amazed her was that though the spacecraft was almost overhead, it was silent. “Whose is it, Mia?” Paul gasped, he too noting the dead silence. As it glided past, its shadow covered across them, the jeep, the road, and some fifty meters beyond. Looking directly up, he saw the landing booster’s fire, but again no sound reached them from the ignition. “Denebian,” Mia observed in no more than a whisper. His voice was riddled with excitement. “No way. Here? Now?!” She nodded. “It’s a class four light wing. It’s made on Dranten, in the Denebian Empire. It’s used to carry their ambassadors.” “It’s silent running,” he marveled. “Yeah.” Her agreement held a lilt of admiration. “I’d sure like to know how they do it.” “They got to have some sort of sound modifier technology,” he said, seeing the craft move away as it had flown over them. “Have you ever seen a Class I war craft from their fleet?” “Nope,” she pushed out. “I got to see one once. When I was in the Galactic Council, I was working space dock to make some weapons modifications on the Martian surveyors, and this huge, I mean huge Denebian craft docked. A Class I. It was fucking impressive. I wanted to pee my pants.” She nudged him. “Hey, you wanted to see Mc Gadin.” He nodded, following her, though his eyes were still on the craft. Even as they started towards the barracks, he watched it as it settled onto a landing platform and he felt the vehicle they rode in stop in


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front of a building, the same greenish dull color as the guardhouse. “Thanks, sweet cheeks,” he grinned, patting her on the side of the face. He jumped from the jeep, and then moved to the door, showing the paperwork to the security man outside of it. He went inside. The corridor was relatively empty, except for a couple of officers on their way out. Paul was a known quantity, so the second pushed him in the shoulder, grinning and giving, “In the lounge, Layton.” “Thanks, Tiddle.” He went that way, stopping at a door and peering in the small square window that gave a restricted view of the interior. He didn’t see her, but did hear laughter, that of a woman, soft and seductive. He opened the door. He put on his best smile, finding her sitting on one of the tattered couches, her legs crossed on the low table in front of her. She did not see him, since she was engaged in conversation with three male officers, all laughing with her. Paul frowned since two of the men sat on either side of her, almost in her lap. The third was perched on the edge of the table, though he also hung on her words. She wore a tight pair of jeans and a soft, yellow blouse that buttoned at her wrists, both materials clinging to her tall, shapely curves. The only visible allure was that the upper garment was open just enough so that it revealed the rise of her cleavage. He was fixed here for a minute then traveled to her features. Damn, she was gorgeous. He was lucky. She treated him like shit, but he overlooked it. All he had to do was see those dark, almost black eyes, her soft round lips, high cheekbones, and classic, yet demanding, features and her personality no longer mattered. Falisha Mc Gadin noticed him standing there, his eyes glazed over, his lips parted. She shook her head and sighed, ignoring him completely and patting the man next to her on his thigh. “So, Ron, you’re still convinced Mitchell’s actually sending someone into the Denebian Empire?” “Why the hell not?” he snorted. His look was that of typical military, right down to his crew cut and cocky attitude. “I hear we have proof that they’re developing a superior weapon and the G.C. wants it verified. It’s against galactic treaty, you know.”

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“Mm,” she purred, seeing that Paul had moved towards them. “I feel sorry for the poor sucker who gets sent since the Denebians aren’t very hospitable.” “Hey, Ron.” Paul waved to him. “Fal.” He smiled, moving past the man who sat on the table and stumbling in towards her to kiss her. She grimaced, turning her head so that he planted his wet lips on her cheek. “Ready to go, sweetie?” Paul rubbed his hands together as he straightened. “No, Paul. I was told to wait here. Mitchell wants to see me.” He eyed her escorts. “Can we talk alone?” Taking a deep breath, she stood to step over the man to her right and towards Paul. “In the corridor.” “Sure,” he agreed then followed. Falisha stepped into the empty hallway, folding her arms, then turning to face him. Paul nervously laughed, as she looked hard at him. He was about six foot, she about two inches shorter. At least he was glad she wasn’t wearing heels. “So, six months of training…” She took a deep breath, mixing it with disgust as she reached for the clip that loosely held her long tawny hair, letting it down only to fix it tighter. “You know, Layton, get to the point.” He cleared his throat, then reached into the pocket of his pants and retrieved a diamond ring. She did not even express surprise as she asked, “What am I supposed to do with that?” “Come on, baby, we’ve been going together for three years! It’s time we had a commitment.” Then he laughed, “Otherwise I’d say you should become a nun.” She glared. “Criticism, Layton? Hate that I’m not a slut like that bimbo Mia? Keep your damn ring.” “No, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean anything by it! Honest! Please, Fal!” he begged, urging her to take it. She handled the small diamond. “You’ve been out of work for almost a year, Paul. How did you ever afford it?”


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He shrugged, and then confessed, “I sold some stuff.” “What stuff?” He appeared dejected. “My meteorite collection.” “Oh, Paul, you didn’t!” she said, slipping the ring on. “Wait just a minute!” Both turned to find a tall, well-built male coming towards them. His face thin and long, his hazel eyes twinkled, his smile succumbing to laughter beneath his short-cropped dark hair. He was dressed in a Galactic Council issued blue uniform, his insignia bearing the rank of commander. He strode to where they were, putting his arms around Falisha and planting a kiss on her mouth. “John Mesco!” She playfully slapped him on the shoulder as he let her go, unaware that Paul looked on with a good deal of jealousy. “You have to stop that!” “Never,” he grinned, and then suddenly took her hand. “What’s this?” Paul reddened as he stammered out, “We’re gonna get married.” He shook his head. “No way, she’s mine,” he said, putting his hand around her waist then grabbing her backside. “John!” she squealed. He punched Paul in the shoulder, and said, “You stud.” Then he faced Falisha, his demeanor becoming serious. “Fal, sorry to tell you, but your leave has been cancelled.” “What? That’s bullshit. I’ve been in training for six weeks!” she angrily informed him, her dark eyes flashing as she clenched her fists. “I have qualified leave. I want to know why, John.” “Well…” He grabbed Paul by the shoulder. “Sorry, Buddy. Kiss your sweetie good-bye. From here it’s classified.” “Oh, sure,” Paul stammered, stepping closer to Falisha. “Hey...” Forcing a weak smile, she met the kiss, tolerating him rushing his stiff tongue into her mouth as he embraced her. She pressed her hands to his chest and gently pushed him back to sever the contact. “Okay, Paul, that’s enough,” she said, touching the side of his face. “I’ll call you later.” She watched him walk away and wiggle his fingers at her in a wave.

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John had folded his arms, cocking one leg and shaking his head, while expelling, “No accounting for taste.” “Mesco!” She shoved him in the shoulder, setting him off balance. “That’s not nice. Paul’s sweet. Kind! And, not all that bad looking either.” “Maybe,” he frowned, “but he’s also unemployed, meek. Yep.” He rubbed his hands together and grinned. “A sure fired loser.” She glared. “You know, Mesco, you’re on shaky ground.” He motioned down the hall. “You ready? I’ll brief you while we go.” “Yes, I’m ready,” she agreed, walking with him. “You’ve been assigned to my ambassadorial team.” That stopped her. “What?” she exclaimed, not negating the surprise from her voice. He gave a half smile. “Disappointed?” “No,” she softly expelled, unconsciously touching her fingertips to the side of her hair, then to her collarbone. “But you’re…you’re the primary Galactic Council ambassador to the Denebian Empire.” “Yep.” Starting to walk again, he slipped his arm around her waist. “And do you know, Fal, I don’t have a single woman on my team?” Leaning her head against him, she laughed, “And why would you? Given the Denebians see women as second class citizens.” He stopped by a set of double doors. “Mitchell’s in here. We have your first assignment. Are you” -his eyes shone as he let her go“excited?” “Don’t get too ahead of yourself.” Her tone chastised as she put her hand to the door. “I haven’t heard what it is yet.” They entered to find two Galactic Council officers there. The first was Matt Campbell; the man was part of the weapons team she had worked for before her recent training. He had been a council officer for over forty years. His experience was telling as his brow drew to furrows when he spoke and his speech became rapid. It was said that he was the best scientist the G.C. had, but that the years were taxing his abilities. She waved at him since they were friends.


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The other was Sara Mitchell, who was an advisor to the president and an overseer of the espionage department, which, of course, didn’t actually exist. She was also director II of the Galactic Council, an elected position that carried quite a bit of power in the senate. It was said that she and the Galactic Council president had actually been romantically involved at one time. Falisha and she did not get along. In Falisha’s opinion Sara was pushy, Falisha attributing it to her discomfort with herself given she was heavy set, but did nothing to improve her appearance, since she wore the bare minimum of makeup, her brown hair cut short, which lent a masculine appearance. “Sit down, Lieutenant Commander,” Sara abruptly ordered, and then admonished, “You’re out of uniform.” Falisha frowned. “I was going home. Or…” She slid into the chair, and then directed her attention to John as he sat down. “So I thought.” “Commander Mesco,” Sara drilled, settling some paperwork in front of her, then picking up a small handheld computer device, “has probably told you that you’re now on his team?” “Yes,” she affirmed it. “Though, I don’t know what good I can do.” John pointed out as he crossed his legs, placing both hands on his knee, “Your primary training was weapons technology. You’ve worked with the transparency shield and cold fusion development–” “How is this important?” she interrupted, eyeing Mitchell, who was fixed with John. Mitchell broke her line of sight and smartly delivered, “We have information that the Denebian Empire is testing a new weapon.” She motioned to the weapons director. “Matt.” “Well, Falisha.” He adjusted his position to lean his arms on the table and fold his hands. “We have some information that the Denebians are testing a new weapon. The scope of the weapon, well, we’re very concerned it may be plasma.” Her eyes filled with suspicion. “Plasma? Cold fusion?” “Yes.” John stood and retrieved the computer device from Mitchell then handed it to Falisha. “Here’s the report.” She accepted it, her eyes scanning the words on the small screen. Nothing was said for several minutes as she examined the information

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retrieved by one of their surveillance systems that guarded the border between the Galactic Council and Denebian Empire. She lowered it into her lap. “This report, was it validated?” Mitchell shook her head. “Our border patrols have no record of it or a recurring test. But, you can plainly see that the satellite reports a test of some magnitude.” “But you don’t know for sure?” Falisha appeared concerned, as she considered Mitchell’s words. “You know, the Denebians are just going to deny it. If you showed this to them, they’d probably laugh.” John snorted. “Sorry, Fal, they wouldn’t laugh. Denebians have no sense of humor.” Matt took his glasses off and peered seriously at her. “Falisha, that’s why we have to verify this before we accuse the Denebians of breaking the weapons treaty.” “We need,” John recognized an expression of disbelief as he spoke. “We need someone to go in there, Fal. Tap into their mainframe and get this,” motioning to the data device that she held, “verified.” She said nothing so he expelled, “Come on. We have to do this. That weapons treaty is specific. The G.C. senate must approve the research of new technologies. Also, testing like this must be reported!” “Who are you trying to convince?” Falisha asked as she rubbed her hands on her thighs. She took a deep breath. “Okay, this is the written report. What quality of image did the satellite actually record?” Sara passed her hand over the monitor that was inset in the table directly in front of her. A holographic rendition sprung to life in the center. There were several hazy light images moving at slow speeds through the blackness of space. “When this was recorded,” John explained, “the reception was minimal, at best. You’ll notice that the shape of the craft is cylindrical, which coincides with Denebian design.” Falisha watched as three craft converged on the fourth. “Are we sure they’re not Vexan?” “We don’t think so,” Matt offered. Suddenly a brilliantly blue burst of energy was expelled from the three craft and the middle ship disappeared.


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“It’s weak,” Falisha stamped. “That’s why,” John straightened to accentuate the words with his hands, “we need to send someone in with weapons training and, well, your recent espionage training only makes you the more perfect individual to get the job done.” He had to be kidding. Finally able to gain her composure, Falisha cleared her throat. “Let me understand this. I’m supposed to find out if the Denebians have broken the weapons treaty with the Galactic Council by getting information off of their main frame?” John nodded. “Yes.” “Have you people lost your minds?!” she challenged as she grasped the small computer in both hands. “What am I supposed to do? Go to Deneb Five and tell the councilmember there that I’m a new ambassador and I just want to peruse their military database!” “No.” John’s expression was brushed with pleasure. “That’s the beauty of this. You see, the Denebians expect one of our operatives to give them information for a price.” “How do we know this?” she hurriedly put out. “I have my sources,” he slyly gave, and then studied her dark eyes that were filled with consideration. “Fal, you’re perfect for the job. I mean, if we sent in a man they would be leery. This way the suspicions will be less. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just sending them a new ambassador.” Falisha visibly disagreed. “Listen, Mesco, I could see this insane plan maybe working somewhere like the Sumartian Empire, which is only three planets and has very little up-to-date technology, but you’re asking me to retrieve information from an empire of fifty-four habitable planets! And not only that, despite our treaty with them, the Denebians are the leaders in weapons technology.” She stood, turning the computer device over and shoving it at John. “What does that say?” He frowned. “Terrell Technologies.” “Terrell…the name of the ruling family in the Denebian Empire,” she said, waving her hand in a wide sweeping motion. “And if I picked up every device in this room, half of them would be developed and

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manufactured in the Denebian Empire! So how am I supposed to be able to infiltrate their mainframe?” “Look, Falisha,” Matt soothed. “The Denebians do seem superior, but you’ve got to get past it if you’re going to make this work. And once you’re on the planet, security barriers aren’t an issue. Our previous analysis shows that they have no internal planetary defense systems. Their only surface defense is man power.” “Are we really sure about this?” she charged. “Lieutenant Commander Mc Gadin,” Sara interrupted. “You did ask for this promotion.” She sighed. Feeling cornered, Falisha gave in. “I know.” John pulled a case off the table. It was rectangular, rose in color and looked like a cosmetic bag. “Are you familiar with the download device produced by ‘Galaxy’?” “You know I am,” she grumbled while taking the case from him, which she knew must contain the device. “This is the plan.” John came closer, and then sat on the edge of the table in front of her. He reached for her forearm. “I’m going to introduce you as a new ambassador. You see, I was supposed to fly to Deneb Five to meet with Head Councilmember Vincent regarding issues over the planetary system that the Sumartians are claiming were stolen from them by the Denebians. I’ll send you instead.” He shrugged. “They’ll protest because you’re a woman, so all you have to do is say just two little words.” “What,” she asked, pulling her arm from his grasp, “words?” “Cold fusion,” he replied, resting his palm on the table. “You see, the informant is supposed to use these words to signal that they’re going to give the Denebians classified information.” She sat back down, staring past Mitchell and to the cold sterile white of the wall. “What if I’m caught?” She directed her line of sight back to Mesco. “Are you going to get me out?” His blank expression answering the question, he said, “We can’t admit we have anything to do with you if you’re caught.” “What’s the penalty for espionage in the Denebian Empire?” Falisha asked.


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Matt cleared his throat. “In all likelihood,” he paused, “the Denebians would first have you tortured and then executed.” She glared. “So, why don’t you just say death, Campbell?” The room was quiet for a time, John examining her, as she seemed to consider her options. “Mc Gadin,” Sara spoke first, “we need you to do this. If the Denebians are allowed to develop a cold fusion plasma weapon, the balance of power in the galaxy would be dramatically upset.” “I know,” she softly agreed. “Will you do it?” Mesco pressed. She guffawed. “Do I have a choice?” Hesitating, she asked, “What now?” “Well…” Mesco stood. “I have it on good authority that Lord Terrell is on the head councilmember’s planet, Vantar.” “So,” she shrugged, “what’s that to me?” She was surprised that he went to one knee in front of where she sat. She examined his eyes as he started with a large degree of warning in his voice. “You must get off of Deneb Five before Lord Terrell returns.” Her lips parted slightly, she softly expelled, “Why?” “Because it’s too risky for you. You see,” he said, taking her hand that was not holding the case, “it’s said that he has some uncanny ability to discern truth from people. And well, he’s…” “What, John?” she pressured again, becoming uncomfortable since he acted as if the information needed to be pried out of him. “What?” “Dangerous,” he said with finality. “You have to be careful.” “Okay.” She patted his hand and then stood, walking after him and into the hall, towards another conference room. She hesitated at the door, clutching her case in one hand as she took a deep breath. John walked in first, his smile wide as he went into the mirror of the previous room they had been in. He greeted, “Ambassador Gerald.” Falisha stepped next to John, but her attention was for the five Denebians inside. Her first notice was to their size. They were tall; the ambassador, who appeared to be the leader, was better than six two in her estimate, leaner than the others who she had no doubt were his

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protection. He was blue eyed, the distinct evidence that he was of the ruling family in the Denebian Empire. He was handsome, not devastatingly so, but beyond the looks of an average Terran male. Though she had heard it told that the Denebians were hard and uncompromising, she saw warmth in the man’s eyes that he didn’t try to hide. The second thing that struck her was their dress. It was common for the clothing of other empires to be vastly different from Terran attire, but theirs appeared to be taken from the twelfth century on Earth. The ambassador wore black breeches with high riding boots of the same color, a green tunic, elaborately embroidered at the wrists. His guard wore similar, though their outfits were all brown, no markings, except at their belt was a leather patch with a script “ ” on it, a “.” following it. She did note that despite their dress, they each had a laser weapon fastened to their side, a stark contrast to the dagger that was worn in the sheath of one of their boots. “John,” Gerald greeted back in Denebian as he eyed the attractive woman who was with him. “Are you coming with us to Deneb Five?” He shook his head and responded in the same tongue, “No.” He held out his hand to Falisha and introduced her. “This is Lieutenant Commander Mc Gadin.” Gerald smiled, not negating a forwardly visual examination of her. She was tall and shapely, her features highlighted by a certain allure that caused him to consider her quite beautiful. She held out her hand to him. “Hello.” John caught her wrist before she could step forward, and then informed her in the Universal tongue, “It’s not customary to shake hands in the Denebian Empire.” “That’s okay.” Gerald’s accent was rich, an indication that the common galactic dialect was not his native language. He bowed slightly. “Gerald Terrell, primary Denebian ambassador to the Galactic Council.” “I’m pleased to meet you.” She gave him a warm smile. “Gerald, this is one of the newest ambassadors on my team. I know you were expecting me to be there for the discussion regarding Sumartra–”


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He was cut off as Gerald raised both hands in disagreement. “No, no, John. Don’t you tell me you’re sending a woman as an ambassador? You know very well that’s unacceptable.” Falisha glowered. “Excuse me, Ambassador.” Her tone was curt. “I may not have a penis,” she said, unaware that John flinched with her words, “but, that doesn’t make me incompetent. I have plenty of training to oversee a diplomatic forum.” Gerald examined her, recognizing a fire that was so intriguing it caused him to laugh. “That’s funny.” “I heard that Denebians don’t have a sense of humor.” She paused, noting he still appeared amused. So she smoothly said, “Cold fusion,” batting her eyes, then adding, “It’s impossible, isn’t it?” John shifted his weight, feigning a nervous tone, he asked, “Now, Lieutenant Commander, why would the Denebians care about that?” “John,” Gerald motioned to the door, “I want to talk to your new ambassador alone.” Mesco hesitated for effect, saying, “Sure, okay.” Gerald sat down at the conference table, then with two fingers pointed to the door so that his men would leave. He leaned back, fixed with how she set the case she held on the table near him. “Okay, you have my attention.” “Oh?” She appeared coy as she slipped her backside into the chair. “Now I do? Overlooking my sex, of course.” He frowned. “Of course.” “Take me back with you.” She leaned forward. “And maybe,” softly she gave, “we can explore cold fusion…together.” “What do you want?” he smoothly asked as he drummed the tips of his fingers on the top of the table. Moistening her lips with her tongue before speaking, she said, “What does anyone want? I have needs like anyone else.” Her words were pressed through sexual intent. “Desires…wants.” His countenance was one of appeal. “And you want money.” “Why not?” She motioned to him. “The Denebian Empire is the richest in the galaxy, and if” -she smiled- “if you knew what I know.”

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Letting a deep breath go and noting he briefly dropped his sight to her bosom, she told him, “You could be richer still.” He considered, well aware that a woman informant would not sit well with Lord Terrell. However, he had to make a decision. “It’s a long way to the Denebian Empire.” “Six days, so what?” He chuckled. “You may not get what you want. Or,” he hedged, “give us what we want. Which may be worse for you.” “Again,” she gave through a breathy tone, crossing her legs then sliding the fingers of her right hand over the top of the case. “We might not get what we want, but isn’t it fun to just…” she bit her lower lip and released it slowly, “…try, Ambassador?” “You can call me Gerald.” His blue eyes danced with certain mischievousness. “Unless…you’re uncomfortable?” “Why would I be, Gerald?” Considering that he was far better than average looking and that he succumbed to her guile was intriguing. Maybe the G.C.’s reasoning for sending her was because she was a woman. “You don’t make me uncomfortable.” “I’m glad.” He smiled, and then asked, “What makes you qualified to discuss cold fusion?” “My training is weapons technology,” she replied, purposely sliding her fingertips to where her blouse opened at her breasts. Leaning forward she caressed, “You can check if you want.” “I will,” he assured. “All right, Miss—” he asked. “It is…Miss Mc Gadin?” Glancing at her engagement ring, she slid it off her finger then put it in her pocket, answering, “Yes, it is Miss Mc Gadin.” He smiled. “All right, Miss Mc Gadin, I’ll take you to Deneb Five, and you can share your expertise with her councilmember.”


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~2~

Ana Terrell pressed her nose to the parked coach window, peer-

ing into the street in an attempt to find her lover. He was late, and if he didn’t hurry Lord Terrell’s bonded woman, Colette, would return before they could have any time together. She sat back, surveying the plush red silk that covered the coach walls, and then pressed her hand to the velvet seat as she changed her position. She focused on the light blue sequins that were sewn into the skirt of the off-white gown she wore, and then sighed. Her expression changed as the opposite door that was near the walk, opened and there he was. “Thomas!” she greeted. The young man shut the door, pressing two fingers to his lips, and then dropping the curtain over the far window. As he did, she studied his immature, yet handsome lines. She watched as he briefly lifted the curtain, looking out to the cobblestone street where people passed, the wooden walkways effacing the shop fronts. The scene lent no technology; just the remnants of a very old and custom bound society. As he withdrew from the examination, she smiled at him.

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He returned the expression, gently caressing the side of her face with the back of his hand. She was pretty, her doe like quality lending width to her sea blue eyes and small yet full lips. “Does Colette know you’re in here?” he asked, now fondling the small buttons that lined the front of her bodice. “Yes. I told her,” she said, catching her breath since he slipped his other hand under her skirt. “I told her that I was unwell.” “Ah, huh,” said simply while pressing his lips to the rise of her cleavage. She now raised the curtain again. “I’ve been waiting so long, Thomas. Where have you been?” He ended the attention to her body. “You know,” he informed her bluntly, “it’s really none of your business.” Disliking his words, she informed, “Maybe not, but it’s a big risk, my waiting here!” She touched her hand to the sapphire studded comb that held her straight, light brown hair up. “If Colette knew we were together she would immediately tell my brother and then what?” “Well…” He gently pressed his mouth to hers and then withdrew. “I’d probably get my dick cut off and then my head.” “Thomas!” she admonished. “You often demonstrate that you’re better than five revolutions younger than I!” “I’m just telling you the truth.” He rested his eyes on hers, revealing that his were a much darker blue than her own were. His dusky hair accentuated this. “You know very well that what we’re doing is against the law.” He grinned. “If my Lord found out I was sleeping with his sister? Don’t you think he’d have me killed?” “Yes,” she worried, “and I dishonored.” “Not just dishonored,” he said, unfastening one of the buttons on her gown, and then a second until he could barely touch the apex of one of her breasts. “I’m pretty sure my Lord would have you whipped too.” “Thomas,” she admonished, pushing his hand down, “you’re not helping me to be in the mood.” Again she glanced under the curtain in search of Colette. She dropped it since she felt his hands under her skirt and on her bare thighs.


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He looked up at her. “Take your panties off, Ana.” “We don’t have time. Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere else?” “Yes.” He frowned. “The transport field. But come on, it’ll be quick.” She fumbled under her skirt, drawing the material off. She then lay back on the seat, Thomas moving over her. He kissed her, open mouthed, his tongue searching hers as he reached between them to unleash his maleness. Suddenly she pressed her hands to his chest to sever the embrace. “Thomas, did you take anything? I’m close to being able to conceive.” He appeared perturbed. “No, Ana. It’ll be okay. I just won’t cum inside you.” “That never works!” she disagreed. He couldn’t argue, as he just didn’t have that kind of control. “What do you want to do?” Irritation seeped through his words. “Well, we can’t have intercourse, if you haven’t taken anything!” She sat up since he moved away, grumbling as he stowed his still erect manhood. “Don’t be angry, Thomas.” He sat down next to her and folded his arms. Opening the curtain, he watched the street as he pouted. “Sweetheart—” she said, rubbing her palm on his thigh. “Don’t be mad.” “I’m not,” he ground, firmly clenching his jaw through the words. His demeanor radically altered as he felt her let loose his maleness, sensing her cool fingers glide over him in a calculated rhythm. The action was replaced by the warm wetness of her mouth. “Oh, Ana,” he voiced his acceptance, “that feels good.” He looked down on her, touching her hair as she pulled him in further, then focused on his pinnacle. Grasping the bottom of his shaft, he helped her to gain his culmination, shuddering with the result as he moaned his delight. The young woman sat up, doing her best not to gag as she quickly spat the remains in a blanket throw that was on the seat. She was unaware Thomas watched her, his expression critical. “You know, you should like it if you love me.”

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She had just subdued another dry heave, now able to look at him. Swallowing she argued, “That’s not true, Thomas. I don’t like the taste. I enjoy pleasuring you that way or I wouldn’t do it at all!” He smugly delivered, “I could make you.” Her blue eyes widened. “You shouldn’t threaten me like that, because we’re not even bonded! And you would only have that right if we were!” Thomas observed, “I bet you’d hide your gagging if I was your brother!” Knowing it was true, she gasped, “But he’s Lord Terrell!” She sighed hard. “Please, Thomas, let’s not argue. You know you can’t compare yourself to my Lord in the same breath.” She raised the curtain and glanced out the window. Her eyes filled with concern. “Hurry, get out! Colette’s coming!” She quickly buttoned her bodice and slipped her underclothes back on as he crawled from the coach, then she settled back as Colette opened the opposite door. After one of the guards assisted the woman inside, Ana said, “It’s very cold out.” Colette eyed her. The woman herself was quite beautiful; her black hair drawn up was a stark contrast to her blue eyes. Her face was long, her cheekbones defined. Her features were somewhat cold, but could appear expressive if she smiled. Her only drawback was that she was slight, her shape fine and more that of a boy’s than a mature woman’s was. She was drawn to the door as a guard placed a large box next to her. Instead of saying anything to Ana, she opened it, and then withdrew a crimson gown, the bodice shimmering with small rubies and diamonds. “That’s pretty,” Ana observed, trying to take up conversation. “It’s for your joining with my brother?” “Yes.” She pursed her lips, set the material back in the box, and then pulled the brown cloak she wore tightly around her. “It’s too big. I’ll have to have it altered.” Rubbing her hands on her arms, she exclaimed, “It’s so cold! Ana, hand me that blanket throw.” The young woman stammered while looking at the item that held her lover’s ejaculation, “I, well, I told you I wasn’t feeling well. I retched in it.”


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Colette appeared displeased. “That’s disgusting. Why didn’t you just throw it onto the street?” She suddenly stood to bang her fist on the roof of the transport. “Go, now!” she bellowed. Thomas took a deep breath as he watched the coach pull from the curb, then he turned towards a side street. His abruptness nearly caused him to run into a man. The common Denebian citizen stopped, and bowed, as he muttered, “Forgive me, Master Thomas.” Thomas stepped around him, moving to the alleyway and finding five guards there, one holding the reins of Thomas’s horse. Clarence Mendon looked on disapprovingly as the young man took the reins of the animal. His light brown eyes scrutinized him. The other guards and he wore the uniform of an elite guard, who were part of Lord Terrell’s private forces. He shifted in the saddle, admonishing, “Master Thomas, we’re gravely late.” Thomas glowered, swinging on the horse and then sharply jerking it towards the street. “Well then, stop talking and ride.” They made the crowded street, though it did not slow them down since people gave way to them, as they rode towards the outskirts of the Portal City and towards the transport station. At the end of the town was a large gray building, and behind that Deneb Five control and a landing field. They rode next to a security fence, the vertical red glow warning of passage. Thomas pulled up his horse, seeing that the light wing Gerald was on had already set down. He also noticed that a coach, with some twenty guards, was waiting on the landing field. “Damn,” he mumbled. He was late. Dameon was probably already there and would be irritated. He waved to a man who monitored the fence and it was shut down. The energy dissipated as if evaporating, and then the field was replaced once they had ridden past. He dismounted. “Stay here,” he said to the men. The ramp of the craft was down so he stepped onto it. He moved past the guards there and found that Gerald stood with Dameon, both cloaked from the cold. The second was as tall as Gerald was, but he was from the Dranten side of the Terrell line, so he was thinner, aristocratic, his features pleasant, though when he smiled it was never welcoming.

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His coloring too was lighter; the blueness of his eyes more like a shallow sea. His hair, light brown, was straight. Thomas cleared his throat as he moved closer. Dameon turned, looking hard at the young man. “Thomas, this has to stop. You should have been waiting at this field before midday!” “I know,” he mumbled. “What? Speak up!” Dameon snapped at him. “If it were my Lord who gave you the task, you would have been here before Deneb rose.” “I know! I know!” he whined. “I had to do something!” Dameon frowned. “Nothing is as important as the political business of the Empire!” Thomas’s expression was filled with resistance. Dameon sighed, and then was drawn to a female voice. “Hello.” Falisha stood in Terran attire, a black business suit, the skirt short enough to expose a good portion of her legs, the jacket covering a white blouse that lent a sensual entry to where the cloth buttoned just below her bosom, which displayed her well endowed cleavage above her small waist. She indicated the thin coat she held in her right hand and expelled, “I don’t think I dressed for the weather.” She then smiled at Dameon. “I’m Ambassador Falisha Mc Gadin.” Dameon was fixed with intent on her stocking-covered legs, having to draw himself away to respond to her. “Dameon Terrell, temporary councilmember of Deneb Five.” “Oh, my,” she batted her eyes, “that’s an awfully big title.” Dameon looked hard at Gerald and then admonished him in Denebian, “You said nothing about the informant being a woman!” Gerald shrugged while defending, “You didn’t ask.” “Didn’t ask?” Dameon charged. “My Lord will be furious. You know how he doesn’t like surprises!” Gerald frowned. “Well, you either wanted the informant or you didn’t. She’s it,” he said, motioning to her. “I brought her, now it’s up to you to get her to tell us what she knows.” Dameon sighed hard, looking at her and noting she seemed irritated, probably because of the foreign exchange. “Well, Miss Mc Gadin,


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I offer the hospitality of Deneb Five. We will take you to Devisha, the main castle and Lord Terrell’s home.” Recalling John Mesco’s words that Lord Terrell was “dangerous”, she offered, “I’m happy to stay at the Galactic Council outpost in the Portal City.” “No, no, the castle is far more opulent. You’ll be quite comfortable at Devisha.” Dameon started down the ramp. She walked with him, slipping on her coat, which was weak at best against the biting cold. In one hand she held the cosmetic case, her other luggage had been picked up by one of the guard. “Well, I have to thank you. I wasn’t looking for any special treatment. Or to disturb Lord Terrell.” “It’ll be no disruption,” he assured as they neared the coach. “You see, my Lord is on Vantar meeting with his head councilmember and other lead councilmembers. Our business will hopefully be done before his return and you’ll be on your way back to Terra.” Falisha stopped at the open door, considering how she would ever get in with the tight skirt. She looked at the men, who were all standing behind her. Grasping the skirt, she hiked it up just below her backside, and then stepped into the coach. All eyes were fixed on her legs as she slid into the vehicle. “Feast on that,” Gerald chuckled to Dameon in their native tongue. “If she weren’t our informant I might offer her some real Denebian hospitality,” Dameon replied. “Me too,” Thomas added, causing both men to laugh. “You, boy?” Dameon chastised. “A woman like her would eat you for late meal.” “She would not!” he defended, following them into the coach. As they got in Falisha made sure she sat on the same side as Dameon. Thomas and Gerald sat opposite. She pulled her coat around her. “It’s freezing,” she announced, gladly accepting a blanket from Gerald. “Well, now that you know my name, you probably did your research and know everything about me. So, how about a little information on you?”

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Dameon remitted, not liking it. The woman was Terran, inferior, and he wanted to display his feelings, but he knew that he could not use that tack if she would tell them anything. “Gerald is one of Head Councilmember Vincent’s bastard sons. I’m the son of Councilmember William of Dranten. Thomas is also Vincent’s bastard.” “This Vincent sounds mighty busy,” she smiled. “It is the responsibility,” he curtly responded, “of direct line Terrell males to increase the members of our family. Master Vincent is Lord Terrell’s uncle.” “Which makes Gerald and Thomas his cousins.” She noted that the young man was staring at her cleavage, given she had only covered her legs with the blanket. “Yes. But, Master Thomas was raised by my Lord, so he’s not allowed to refer to Lord Terrell as ‘cousin’.” Dameon leaned back, turning slightly to look at her. “I’m Lord Terrell’s third cousin by joining.” “Joining?” “Marriage,” Gerald supplied, elbowing Thomas in the ribs. “But most of the time you just end up calling him sir, don’t ya?” “Shut up, Gerald,” Thomas said, not wanting to be embarrassed in front of the Terran. He just knew she wouldn’t eat him for late meal. “What does that mean?” she pressed. Gerald grinned, since Thomas looked hard at him. “Thomas just has a way of pissing Lord Terrell off lately.” “Oh.” She leaned towards Thomas, patting him on his thigh. “It’s okay. Lord Terrell’s reputation in the galaxy is that he’s pretty easy to piss off.” “Miss Mc Gadin,” Dameon firmly said. “Be advised that the hospitality that you’re receiving, you wouldn’t be receiving, if not for Lord Terrell. So please refrain from disrespect.” “Well, all right. I’ll refrain.” Then she smiled sweetly at Thomas as she pulled her hand away. “But, it’s still the truth.” Wrapping her arms around her, she exclaimed, “It’s still so cold!” She purposely scooted closer to Dameon. “You don’t mind, Councilmember, do you? I hope the castle is warm. I use a lot of blankets at night.”


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“Devisha is properly heated,” he informed her; catching the scent of her long, full hair. “And the beds are lined with enough warmth that one could sleep naked and still be warm.” “That’s good.” She snuggled even closer, unaware that Gerald and Dameon briefly locked eyes. “I didn’t bring anything to sleep in,” she informed. “This woman,” Dameon spoke in Denebian, “is a tramp. I can’t believe she’s a weapons expert or that she holds any degrees whatsoever.” “It all checked out, Dameon,” Gerald said, breaking a smile as Dameon purposely put his arm around her. Deneb Five’s councilmember informed her, “Miss Mc Gadin, if you’re cold, I have plenty of room in my bed.” “No,” she said, shaking her head as she pretended to shiver. “Sorry, I can’t. I’m engaged.” Dameon looked for clarification from Gerald, given he was the lead ambassador to the Galactic Council. “Bonded,” he defined. Dameon snapped, “If you’re committed to another man, why are you laying on me?” “There’s no law against sharing warmth.” She was surprised that he pushed her off him and to a sitting position. He looked hard at her. “There is in the Denebian Empire. Now, the information you promised us.” “We haven’t even gotten to the castle!” She argued. “Miss Mc Gadin, the information. You told Gerald that cold fusion was impossible. Why?” Biting the end of one of her long nails, she coyly supplied, “Because it is. Isn’t it?” “You should be answering questions, not asking!” he snapped at her. Sighing hard she gave, “I’m not saying anything without an agreement. I want you to guarantee my protection. I mean, if I’m on Terra, working for you, I don’t want the Galactic Council finding out about it.”

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“Working for us!” he laughed. “Miss Mc Gadin, you’ll never work for us. Nevertheless, you have information that you said you would be willing to divulge. So, divulge it!” She bit another of her nails, glancing outside to a flat plain that further on was lost by trees, and then back to the men as she shrugged, saying, “I want an agreement. And payment.” “You know,” Gerald soothed, knowing Dameon was becoming inflamed, “we can’t agree on a payment if we don’t know how important the information is.” She again shrugged. “Then I guess we’re at an impasse.” “Impasse?” Dameon shouted, but at Gerald, not her. “Did you know she wanted some agreement?” He shook his head. “Calm down, Dameon,” she suggested, her tone placating. “It’s Master Dameon, wench!” She started laughing; she couldn’t help it. “Wench! That’s funny.” Gerald chuckled too, becoming silent since Dameon’s expression was angry. “Why don’t we talk about this later?” “Yes,” Falisha agreed, looking kindly at Gerald, “much later.” They were quiet as they rolled into the castle courtyard. Falisha was the first to step out, overcome by the large majesty of the black walls of the castle, Devisha. There were two towers, both on the same side, three stories of rooms and majestic battlements. One of the rooms, which appeared expansive from the outside, had a balcony. The courtyard itself was huge, housing not only the castle, but also a large barn and paddock where she saw a black horse pacing the fence line. “This is beautiful,” she commented. “Devisha’s very old,” Gerald explained. “It’s estimated that it was erected over four thousand revolutions ago. And even before this, there was a structure on this site, but no one is sure for how long.” He stopped as he felt Dameon grab his arm. Gerald looked at him, directing his sight where Dameon indicated. On the top of the castle snapped a banner and on it, a dragon-like creature, its mouth open, its red eyes slits, grasping a script “ T. ” in its front talons, all against a black background. It flew only when Lord Terrell was at the castle. He spoke to


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Dameon in Denebian so that the Terran woman would not understand, “My Lord is already back?” “Yes, it seems so,” Dameon agreed. “What’re you looking at?” Falisha pressed. “Nothing,” Gerald smiled. “Let’s go in.” She agreed, thankful since the wind whipped around her and her legs were almost numb with cold. The entry was opened and they stepped into a large hall. The ceiling was high, arched; tapestries decorated the wall to the right. Falisha studied the elaborate artwork, seeing that each of them had a rendition of the same dragon that was on the banner outside. One was that of a woman, sitting on the ground, the creature’s head in her lap as she pet it. “Denebians seem to like dragons.” Gerald noted that Lady Theresa, who was in the picture, and the Terran woman, looked similar. She had the same tawny hair, classic features, and dark eyes. “No, he’s not a dragon.” Gerald would have continued, but another interrupted, startling Falisha, since the small male was standing right next to her. “He is Master Gondor.” He was dressed in a meager, brown robe, his arms folded. His gray eyes were kind, his expression ageless. When he smiled, his slow movements were lost in an uncanny youthfulness. “And Master is all powerful.” Falisha studied how he searched her features with intent. “And you, Miss Falisha, are quite beautiful.” Gerald motioned to him. “This is the Master Healer of Fendon,” he introduced the stranger, wondering why the Master Healer would even speak to an inferior female. “Thank you, Master Healer.” She was drawn to his warmth. “No, no,” he corrected. “You must call me Marcus.” “All right,” she softly said, and then in the same breath queried, “So, is this Master Gondor real?” “He lives,” he agreed. “I care for him. One day he and Lord Terrell will be one and my care won’t be necessary, only my counsel.” “Be one?” She appeared puzzled as he nodded in agreement. Pointing at the woman she asked, “What’s that around her neck?”

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“The medallion of the Beast. The channel for his power,” Marcus gave, and then bowed. “Excuse me, Miss Falisha.” Falisha watched him go then looked to the tapestry again. The medallion was an emerald encrusted profile of the creature’s head, its eye a shimmering red stone. Without altering her sight, she said, “What a strange little man. I wonder how he knew my first name…” She shivered. “But, I like him. You know, Gerald, if I could go to my room, I could change into something a little warmer.” “Sure. Come on.” He walked to the main stairs. Falisha went with him, her hand on the curved banister as she ascended, looking down at the stone-floored foyer below and sitting area, a large standing fireplace the focus of the room, its hearth almost filling the far wall. The crimson carpet on the stairs had started at the lower floor and ran into the hall. She walked with Gerald past a good number of rooms, up another set of stairs, and finally a third. He opened the door, and then turned to the four guards behind him. “Stay here. Escort Miss Mc Gadin downstairs when she’s changed.” “Gerald!” she called before he left. “Yeah?” He smiled, his blue eyes shining. A little overcome by the majesty of the castle, she apologized, “I really need some sort of agreement. I mean, I just can’t give up information.” She hesitated. “Come on in, Gerald.” He stepped in the room, Falisha not watching him move towards the fireplace and pick up an iron poker to stoke the embers. The beautiful four-poster bed transfixed her, the coverings thick, warm and inviting. She went to the curtain, pulling it back and seeing the courtyard below that was becoming bathed with the late afternoon approaching. She allowed the curtain to fall, finding that one of the guards had put her things on the bench at the end of the bed. She opened the bag to pull out her black slacks, a blue sweater, and her flat black slip on shoes. “You don’t mind staying, do you?” she asked him, since he was looking at her. “I feel a little out of my element.” “It’s intimidating being at Devisha for the first time,” he pointed out. “No, I don’t mind staying.”


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She took a deep breath, and then ran the words through it, “Yes, it is intimidating. I’ll only be a minute.” She went into the bath. The entire room was a modeled marble, browns, tans, blacks, and grays, floor and wall, the tub inset, so you had to step down into it, and double sinks. It was more like a hotel than a residence, given the bathroom was appointed with all the necessities, clean towels, soaps, other sundry items all ready for their first use. She took off what she was wearing, and then slipped the warmer clothes on. She opened her cosmetic case that hid the download device, to remove her brush. After she applied more color to her soft lips, she fixed her windblown mane. She ran her hands to the material of the sweater where it cut low enough to reveal a fair portion of her cleavage, and then smoothed the touch over her small waist and to her shapely hips. She stepped from the bathroom to find Gerald still waiting for her. Gerald said nothing, him briefly shifting his weight as he forced himself to draw away from her shapely bosom. She gently pulled at the sweater. “Is there something wrong?” “Wrong?” He barely found his voice. “No, no.” She playfully laughed. “Are you okay, Gerald?” “Sure,” he said, rubbing his damp palms together he stepped closer to her. “Everything’s okay.” She looked up at him, not negating a seductive allure. “You’re rather good looking.” He took a slight breath as he was prodded with sexual urgency. “Thanks.” “I’m sure,” she said, putting her hand on his arm, “you’ll help me with Dameon, right? He seems very impatient.” “He does,” he agreed. “But I could help you out, I guess.” “You guess,” she said, sliding her backside outward as she rubbed both her hands to his shoulders. “That’s not very” -biting her lower lip and releasing it slowly- “convincing.” Putting his hands to her waist, he experienced a definite compulsion to kiss her. She softy pressed her hands to his chest, stopping him as she said, “You’re going to smear my lipstick. I just put it on.”

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“Oh,” he swallowed. “Sorry.” “If you help me with Dameon,” she assured, “I may just give you that kiss.” His eyes brightened with anticipation. “It’s a deal.” She slipped her arm past his, bringing her other to grab onto him as well. “Where to next?” “Dameon will probably want to see you again. So, downstairs.” They walked to the barrier, both exiting, Gerald taking her hands from him before the guards could see them. Moving downstairs Gerald saw that the main office doors were open, so he led her here. She stepped in the room with him. There were two servants present, the women putting trays with food on the table at the far end of the room. Both wore drab brown gowns, though well fitting and clean. Before her was a huge fireplace that housed a roaring blaze, but it was the only light in the room and so lent shadows to the rest of it. The room was set with comfortable furniture; a mahogany desk was to her right, the table and chairs to her left. The colors in the room were mainly earth tones, all cast over the short hunter green carpet. This she took in, in less than a second since she was drawn to the large portrait above the fireplace. It was that of a man, a Terrell, given by the blue eyes, but the color of them was incredibly dark so that no doubt in a certain light they would appear violet. This would probably be accentuated since his wavy hair was also dark. What struck her was that he was too perfect, the artist no doubt having soothed his ego by enhancing the boldness of his expression, the chiseled yet rugged structure of his face. He seemed to look through her as she studied it. Incredibly handsome was what she would define him as. Gerald was pleasant looking, even Dameon was above average, yet this male had been painted as someone virtually fictional in expression. She moved closer given she was taken with the charm that lay against the black velvet tunic he wore. It was the same as the one the woman had been wearing in the tapestry. “Lord Terrell,” Gerald supplied. She touched just above the firmness of her breasts. “That’s the same medallion that the woman was wearing in the tapestry.”


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“That’s right.” “But why is he wearing it?” “Well,” he said, stepping next to her, “legend has it that a Terrell who can wear the medallion can also use the power of Master.” “What kind of power?” Curiosity bit the air. He too looked at the painting. “Two hundred revolutions ago Lord Matthew was said to have the power of Master. He united fifty-four habitable planets, and hundreds of systems, using it.” “That sounds like a weapon.” “Maybe.” “Gerald.” It was Dameon. He walked in followed by two guards and then another Terrell, this male older, gray coloring his temples. However, other than this, one would not have known he was much older than Dameon given he was well fit, his expression superior, his air the same. “Father,” Gerald greeted him in Denebian. Moving closer to where they stood Gerald’s father surveyed Falisha with a good amount of disdain. “You should have told Dameon the informant was a female.” “Well, Father, I didn’t think–” “Absolutely correct. You didn’t think!” “Yes, Father,” Gerald remitted. Now speaking in the Universal tongue, he said to Falisha, “I am Head Councilmember Vincent Terrell.” She smiled a warm welcoming acceptance. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” “The pleasure is all yours, Terran,” he informed. “Now, if you’ll sit down, we can discuss your demands.” She glared at him. “I don’t like your tone.” “And we don’t appreciate being manipulated,” he shot. Falisha sat down then glanced to the door as it opened. Two other men entered, one moving to the right of the door and into the shadows. He then rested his back against the cool stone, and she could tell by the glow of the monitor that he held a small computer device in his hand, his attention drawn to it instead of the conversation. The second stood outside of the shady darkness. A guard, she assumed, since he was

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not as richly dressed as the Terrells, though differently from the castle guard: his jerkin was dark green, no patch on his belt and his eyes were not the blue of the ruling family. That Vincent didn’t bother to introduce either one of them was concerning. “Miss Mc Gadin,” Vincent called to her again. “What?” She drew his attention to find him perturbed. “We are concerned by your comments. You referred to cold fusion. You offered information and now I’m told that you want an agreement for protection.” “That’s right. I mean, I’m sure you have something like that for your other informants,” she smartly announced. Vincent smiled. “We have no other informants.” “All right then,” she said, folding her hands in her lap, “your spies.” He shook his head. “We haven’t any spies.” “That’s bullshit and you know it. I’m not giving any information unless I have certain guarantees!” She was drawn again to the two men; the man who was a guard took the device from the male in the shadows and then brought it to Vincent. In that brief exchange, she could see the deep blue of the sleeve of the tunic he wore. It was velvet, richly embroidered with gold inlay. It was confirmed he was not one of the common guard that roamed the castle and in all probability was a Terrell. Vincent studied the screen, and then moved around the table that was in front of the couch where she was, to sit on the low furniture, slightly off to the side of her. “Falisha Melissa Mc Gadin. Twentyeight Terran years of age. A lieutenant commander in the Galactic Council.” Appearing irritated she challenged, “Don’t you think I know my own statistics? You don’t see the word ‘stupid’ listed there, do you?” Gerald chuckled and with it, she heard a definite snapping of fingers. She thought that the sound had come from the direction of the undisclosed male, but wherever it had been from it immediately stopped Gerald’s amusement. “Being funny won’t help us come to any agreement,” Vincent pointed out. “You’re a member of the Galactic Freedom Fighters for


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Peace, Amnesty Galactic, and The Officers’ Union. Your record is sparkling. You hold a Ph.D. in mathematics and weapons technologies. Now, why would a woman, who has such a shining career, want to jeopardize it?” “Why not?” she shot back. “Do you know how much the Galactic Council pays?” “No,” he responded in the same tone, “and neither do I care.” “You know…” Her eyes flashed as she clenched her fists. “None of this has any relevance to my giving you information.” “But you haven’t given us anything!” Vincent was drawn to the darkness as the man spoke in the Devin dialect of Denebian, one only direct line Terrells could understand. His voice was deep and commanding, with an undeniable compulsion to it. “Councilmember, you are wasting my time. Ask her about the technology.” “Yes, my Lord,” he responded. As the undisclosed male spoke, she considered, that though he used a language she could not understand, the tone was seducing. She worried, again recalling what Mesco had told her about meeting with Lord Terrell. Dangerous. John had used the word dangerous. Vincent continued, “Cold fusion. Why cold fusion? And you said to Gerald that it might be impossible. How do you know this?” “My agreement.” She was firm. Again, the hidden man spoke, and Falisha tried to focus into the shadows as he did. “We put nothing in writing,” Vincent repeated so that she could understand. “Tell us about the transparency screen the Council has developed.” She played dumb. “Transparency screen, what’s that?” “Look!” Vincent became irritated. “It’s right here on your record of service. You were one of the weapons experts in developing the transparency screen at alpha stage less than two Terran years ago!” “That’s classified! How did you get that?” She reached out and grabbed the device from him, but unfortunately, the words on it were in Denebian.

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“Why would you worry about whether or not it’s classified?!” Vincent now shouted at her. “When you’re willing to get paid for giving us classified information?!” She hesitated, thinking she was cornered and saying, “You’ve got a point.” She had to give something. “The transparency screen never really worked. We had problems with certain weaknesses in the field.” “So, it never was completed?” he pressed. She nodded. “So, the Galactic Council abandoned it?” “Yes,” she lied. Vincent stood and looked down on her. “Are you sure, Miss Mc Gadin? Or has the Galactic Council entertained the help of the Sumartian Empire in developing it?” He noted her visibly trying to subdue any reaction. “Or maybe they’re now dealing with the Centaurians?” “The Galactic Council,” she said between her teeth, “can deal with whoever they want to. And I told you, they’ve abandoned its development! Are you deaf?” She was drawn to the shadows as the man emerged from them, and since he did not look in her direction, she went to evaluate him physically. He was taller than Gerald, not by much, but he did carry greater muscle mass. He wore a royal blue tunic, his lower form clothed in black, a red sash around his waist, which was probably a symbol of his position. He finally faced her to move closer, Vincent giving way as he approached. She slowly got to her feet, trying not to show any insecurity, for the portrait that she had sworn was an enhancement of his features did not do him justice. His eyes were even bluer, his definition more set, determined, and he was incredibly handsome. Far beyond any Terran standards. His jaw was firm, hair dark and wavy. Though she was a tall woman, she found herself forced to look up at him as he moved almost on top of her. He saw the hesitation fill her dark eyes, considering that this Terran female was rather bold. “I think,” he said in the Universal tongue, so she would understand, seeing her features briefly display a lack of assuredness as he spoke, “you are” -he hung on the words- “a liar.” He then said to the men in Denebian, “Leave.”


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Falisha saw them go and gathered what his command had been since they were left alone. She found herself unable to break away given he held her gaze fixed. As soon as the door had closed, he held out his hand to her. “Lord Jason Terrell.” She looked at the offering, recalling how John had stopped her from shaking Gerald’s hand, since it was not a customary greeting in the Denebian Empire. “Go on, I do not bite,” he said, smiling slightly. “Hard...that is.” “Falisha Mc Gadin.” She slipped her cool palm past his large warm strong one. The texture of his skin was not soft, but somewhat rough, making her consider that he apparently did not run his empire from behind a desk. He withdrew, picking up the computer device and moving to his desk and laying it there. Then he softly said, “It is ‘whomever’ they wish to deal with, not ‘whoever’.” She stammered, as she hated that she was thrown off balance. “What, I’m sorry?” “The Galactic Council may deal with whomever they want to.” He paused to scrutinize her. “Oh,” she said, shifting her weight, “I don’t see the difference.” He said nothing at first, and then charged as he changed the subject, “Do you know how dangerous it is to toy with the Denebian Empire?” Finally gaining her composure, she expelled, “I wasn’t toying.” “No?” He folded his arms, not negating the criticism from his countenance. “The transparency screen is through beta testing. It reflects laser fire and it is only eighty percent reliable. Your weapons experts cannot figure out why. And the Galactic Council has not abandoned it.” She hedged, “How do you know that?” Not softening his tone he continued, “If I recall correctly, you are here to give information. Not ask questions. True?” Examining her avoidance, he pressed, “Cold fusion. Out of all the weapons technology, why would you pick this one to gain intrigue?” She boldly said, “You know why, Lord Terrell. It’s your code, not mine.”

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“I do not know what you are speaking of, Miss Mc Gadin.” A brief expression of cynicism brushed his lips. “And what can you tell me about cold fusion?” “Nothing,” she said, again issuing deceit. Given her response, he answered for her, “Your government deemed cold fusion unobtainable some four revolutions ago. They purposely went out of their way to convince the rest of the Council that the technology was a failure.” He paused. “Now, I cannot believe you do not know this.” “I know it,” she admitted, uncomfortably altering her posture since he briefly dropped his eyes to examine her physically. Normally she would have issued some flippant sexual allure, but somehow she felt that tactic would be a huge mistake with him. The thought made her uneasy. “And as I said before, isn’t it impossible?” “Nothing is impossible,” he said, recalling Dameon’s complaint to him about the woman being a tramp. “Of course, unless you wish it to be.” Then he asked, “Have you eaten?” She hesitated, given she had not expected the question, and then answered, “Not since this morning.” As he indicated the table, she stepped from the front of the couch, and then briefly hesitated. She had to hold in her reaction as she felt him put his hand to the small of her back to pressure her forward, the touch partially on her backside. She told herself not to flinch as she walked towards the table, thankful when he lifted the contact. He took the covering off a plate. “You will find that food in the Denebian Empire is rather plain. Unlike on Terra, eating is considered a way to survive, nothing more.” He pointed to a dark-skinned bird. “This is a range bird, similar in taste to a game hen.” He lifted another cover. “All of the greens are either boiled or steamed. You may help yourself.” She took a plate, doing just that and then sitting down. “Aren’t you eating?” He shook his head. “I do not dine with inferiors.” “I’m not inferior.” He said nothing and she noticed that he remained expressionless, an obvious sign of disagreement.


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“I was not surprised,” he began, taking the chair opposite her, “that our informant was a woman.” “Why?” She took a bite of the bird and found it delicious. Watching how she ate, slowly pulling the flesh of the cooked bird and taking a small bite then wiping her hands on the cloth napkin, though they were probably still clean, he informed her, “I have never met a woman who can hold her tongue when it pertains to anything of value.” She put the food in her hand on a smaller plate. “I see you’re not only a bigot, Lord Terrell, but a male chauvinist. Inferior and a woman.” Her smile was slight. “You must be shuddering with contempt.” He expressed amusement through the words, “And am I somehow supposed to be offended by this observation?” Examining his features, which held little clue to what he may be thinking, she pointed out, “Any decent human being would be.” Seeing her affront, he firmly informed her, “I neither claim to be decent, nor do I make the statement that I am an intricate part of this ‘human race’ you speak of. I am, however, Denebian first and Lord Terrell second. Both titles leading me to believe that I do fashion that Denebians are superior and that the opinion of a Terran female means little or nothing to me.” He deepened his tone, fixing his gaze on hers, he told her, “And I can announce that bit of bigotry in twelve different languages.” “I see we can also add egocentric to that description.” She offered her most caustic expression. “You may if it pleases you.” The words were void of any reaction. “You also take liberties when they’re not wanted. Did you have to put your hand on my ass?” Without hesitation, he replied, “Yes.” Not expecting the response, she touched her fingertips to her collarbone and then to the side of her hair, searching for a good comeback, but was at an immediate loss for one. “Well; well,” she finally gave, “you should say you’re sorry.” Noting that his response made her uncomfortable, he gave, “No. I am not. So, why say it?” “Because it was inappropriate!”

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“Useless Terran politeness without cause. Apologizing without meaning it. Saying thank you,” he said, noting her eyes darken with irritation, “and for what?” “It’s called kindness, Lord Terrell.” “Weakness,” he corrected, again taken in with the fact that she unconsciously pressed her fingertips just above her bosom, sliding them to her throat. “Do you always fidget this much?” “I…” again reaching for her broken composure, she set her hands in her lap, and then uttered, “I’m not fidgeting.” His amusement was quietly expressed. “Do I make you nervous, Miss Mc Gadin?” “No.” She forced the conviction. “You don’t make me nervous, Lord Terrell.” He stood, closing the coverings on the two plates. “You have taken up enough of my time. My director will come in here with Master Vincent. You will give them a statement, and in it, you will divulge what you know.” She laughed, “Over my dead body.” “If you prefer,” he snapped, the comment stopping her amusement. “I do not play games. You seem to have lost the focus that you are a traitor to the Galactic Council. One communication to your president and your title would be reduced from Lieutenant Commander Mc Gadin to inmate Mc Gadin.” “So, which is it, Lord Terrell? Are you going to kill me or turn me in if I don’t cooperate?” she challenged. “You really think that if I disappear there won’t be Galactic Council investigators swarming all over this planet?” “Do not,” he said between his teeth, considering this woman could verbally joust better than most men he knew, “threaten me.” “The obvious isn’t a threat,” she pointed out. He took a deep breath, considering his next words. Standing he moved to where she sat, and then put his hand on the top of the table to lean close to her. As she looked up at him, he refrained from saying anything, until it was clear that the silent scrutiny made her shift with uncertainty. He let go, “I am not a tolerant man.”


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Studying his stunning blue eyes, she saw no kindness there. “I can see that,” she softly said. “Oftentimes I am described as unreasonable, even unfair. Not only by other governments, but by members of my own family.” He paused. Noting her strong expression waver, he offered, “I do not like being displeased. However, because you are a woman, I will make allowances.” “I appreciate that.” She forced herself to look at him, despite his expression of disapproval. “Do not rush to thank me.” He offered a smile riddled with feigned amusement. “I will continue to offer my hospitality to you for one rotation, which is a Denebian day. At this time if you do not give me what you have promised, I will extract the information from you. Do we have an understanding, Miss Mc Gadin?” Brushed with concern, she had to force a response, saying, “Yes.” “Good.” He straightened, then chastised, “And another thing. Keep your hands off the male members of my family. My councilmember has already complained about your dissolute behavior.” He barked, “Clear?” Falisha wanted to respond with force, but found she could only weakly deliver, “Yes…it’s clear.” He indicated the door. “You may now go.” She slowly stood, then started towards the door, only to pause and turn back towards him to find that he watched her retreat. “How do you…extract information?” He assured her, “Painfully.” “That’s what I thought.” She opened the door, stepping into the corridor where there were four guards. Down the hall came a woman, followed by two more of the castle’s protection. She was small, petite, though striking. Falisha smiled at her, considering she was probably very warm in the beautiful gown she wore. “Hello,” she greeted her. Colette glared, thinking the woman should put some clothes on, though she wrestled with a twinge of jealousy as she considered that the Terran’s form was made for pleasure. She also worried, given she had

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emerged from Lord Terrell’s office and no doubt he probably thought the same. “Why are you talking to me, inferior?” Still stinging from her meeting with Lord Terrell, given he had gotten the best of her and she hated it, Falisha bristled, “How would you like me to kick your pompous Denebian ass?” Colette gasped, “How dare you!” “You’re damn right, how dare me! If you think you’re so superior, see if you can guess how long it’ll take me to put your butt on the floor!” Gerald was trotting down the hall towards them, having heard the exchange. “Ladies!” He stepped next to Falisha. “She’s no lady, Gerald,” Colette announced so that the Terran would understand. “Just look at how she’s dressed! You should put some clothes on, Terran!” Falisha eyed Colette’s thin shape, her fine form that had little or no curvature to exemplify her female gender. So she laughed, “And you should make sure you never take your clothes off! In case someone mistakes you for a boy!” Colette’s eyes filled with shock. The exchange had brought Lord Terrell from his office. He quickly evaluated the standoff, the Terran woman standing on top of Colette, her fists clenched, her countenance aggressive. He reached out, taking hold of Falisha’s arm at the elbow. She turned towards him, jerking away and spewing, “Keep your damn hands off of me!” Colette let out a small cry of disbelief; Gerald’s eyes going wide immediately after the words were released. Falisha glared hard at Lord Terrell, killing her desire to flinch as he raised his hand. Settling to a determined pose, she waited for him to land the slap, but he never did, instead he lowered the threat. “I warn you now, Miss Mc Gadin, no one speaks to me that way,” Lord Terrell informed as he looked down on her. “This woman is bonded to me. And as my guest, your actions are not only inappropriate, but intolerable.” She snickered, “Oh, lucky her.”


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He did everything to quell his expression of incredulity. “Pardon me?” “I said–” she started again, but he cut her off. “I know what you said!” Since he was getting nowhere he fired at Gerald, “Escort this woman to her room.” “Yes, my Lord.” His cousin hurried her away. Lord Terrell watched them go, gaining his composure as he considered her reaction, which was unflinching, despite the fact she could have been on the floor if he had landed the strike. He took a deep breath, indicating for Colette to step into his office with him. Colette smiled at him, moving inside and then sitting on the couch. “Jason,” she said as she patted the cushions next to her, “I’ve missed you.” Noting his expression, that told her he was elsewhere, she stood, moving closer and putting her hands to his chest. “It’s been lonely.” “I am sorry to hear that.” Pushing her away and going to a wet bar that was tucked close to the table and chairs, he pulled a glass and then filled it with a crimson colored alcohol. “Jason,” she panted his first name, kneeling on the couch, her arms resting on the back of it, “I found my joining gown today.” “Did you?” he asked, appearing perturbed. “It’s a beautiful red color.” Her expression fell as he turned from her as if he had not heard a word she had said, instead drinking the contents of the glass as he looked out the windows and into the late afternoon. “My Lord, have I…displeased you?” “No,” he softly gave, considering that what upset him was that she could not wear the medallion of the Beast. That is what upset him. Moreover, he had to settle for her. Her family had strong lines to Master. She was the best suited, though not the right woman. “I am not displeased with you.” “Oh,” she said, fighting tears, “you’re so quiet.” “I have a lot on my mind,” he gave as an excuse as he sat down, and then set the empty glass on the table. Keeping his hand on it, he twisted the container, withholding everything from her. It was not proper for him to share his feelings with a woman, even if they pertained to her. He looked down, since he felt her hands on his arm, and found her kneeling on the floor next to him.

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“I can ease your mind, if you like.” He disagreed. “Not from the burden I carry.” The words only caused her to appear distressed. “I love you.” “And I am glad that you do.” “Dameon,” she said, referring to her brother, “says you’ll never love me, because I can’t wear the medallion.” “This is not true. You know very well that I may grow to love you.” Battling tears, she said, “I want you to love me now.” He shook his head. “Love is not something you can command. And less than a revolution ago, you were content in my not loving you, knowing you would be Lady Terrell. What has changed?” “You’ve changed, my Lord,” she hurried the words, lest they bring chastisement. “Don’t you desire me anymore?” What he wanted to say is that, he never did; however, he pushed out, “You are misreading my attentions to you.” “I am?” “Yes.” Her lips quivered. “Is there any way I can change your feelings?” He shook his head. “I’ve been tested for the medallion once. I was but a child. Maybe now, Master will accept me?” He studied her blue eyes that held so much conviction. “A second test would result in your death if Master finds you inferior. You know this.” “I would rather try and die, than have you not love me,” she broke through with distress. “If you are going to cry, woman,” he said as he stood and moved away from her, refilling his glass, then sitting down in a chair that was near the fire, “I would rather you would leave.” She struggled, but pulled her tears in. She followed to where he sat, sitting at his feet then putting her head on his thigh. She closed her eyes as he touched the side of her face. “Why must you make love to me like you care?” “I care, Colette. I just do not love you as you would want,” he pointed out. “I have no desperate feelings at the loss of you nor do I think on you with constant compulsion. But I do care.” Resting his head back, he closed his eyes. “What do you think of our Terran guest?”


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She looked at him, but he was in a position so that she could not read his expression. “She’s rude and ill-mannered.” “Yes,” he agreed, easily able to picture her dark eyes, her want to challenge despite the risk. “She verbally jousts like a man.” “Well, look at how she’s dressed!” He softly laughed. “Clothing does not make the person.” “Well,” she stammered, feeling slighted that he even was discussing her, “she’s an inferior Terran.” “True.” He took some more of the drink. “She’s so little a woman that she didn’t even shield herself when she knew that you were going to slap her.” “Mm, hm,” he said, considering she had not even flinched. “Do you think she’s beautiful?” she pressed. He considered the question, and then decided it was best to avoid it. “She is Terran.” “But—” he was now looking at the fire, so she pressured, “do you think she’s beautiful? I mean she’s…” “Blessed with a form for begetting sons,” he finished for her, and then added, “and you are jealous, because you are not.” “Must you insult me by comparing me to a Terran?” A lilt of disagreement was there. He immediately lifted the touch as he opened his eyes to look at her, and snapped, “Are you challenging me?” “No, no, my Lord.” Her expression filled with unease. Still delivering a disapproving gaze, he growled, “I may compare you to one of my horses if I like.” “You may, my Lord,” she meekly offered. “Get out,” he ordered as he rested his head back again. “May I…wait for you in your chambers?” “No.” Her expression was crushed. “I beg your forgiveness; please be tolerant,” she pleaded. “I am not angry with you. But, if you persist I will be!” He now leveled his sight on her. “Go!”

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She stood, unable to sustain her tears as she stumbled for the door. She set her hands to the barrier, starting since it was opened and the head councilmember was there. “Master Vincent,” she curtsied. “Miss Colette,” he greeted, passing her as he went into the room. “My Lord,” he bowed. Moving closer he indicated the chair across from Lord Terrell, and since he was given approval, he lowered himself there. “What do you think?” “About what?” Jason’s tone was bitter as he slid the glass on the table, it stopping just before falling from the edge of the other side. Vincent cleared his throat as he shifted his weight. “A great number of things, Nephew, but let us start with the Terran woman. Is she our informant? Or is this all a ruse?” Jason softly laughed, but not for amusement. His handsome lines drawing to seriousness, he said, “Too easily done. And the female has nothing to divulge, or so it would seem.” His uncle nodded. “What of the Sumartians? Mesco was supposed to partake in the discussion over the three outer planets. Do you want the woman, though an informer, to take his place?” Appearing disagreeable, he replied, “Vincent, save Master, how long have you known me? I find that query lacking a great deal of insight.” “Then,” Vincent hedged as he stood, “I will postpone the discussion with the Sumartians?” “No,” He firmly delivered, drawing Vincent’s attention. “I wish for you to end the discussion. Those planets are the Denebian Empire’s. There is no further verbal intercourse needed.” Taking on the firm demeanor of his head councilmember, he said, “We will have problems in the foreseeable future if we don’t at least–” “End of discussion,” Lord Terrell commanded, fixing his sight to the fire. Vincent frowned. “May I leave, my Lord?” Jason did not respond, but waved his left hand towards the door to dismiss him.

Forced Heritage  

Chapters 1 and 2 from Forced Heritage.