Voyages of the Cerberus episode 32: Lucy’s Strength

Lucy managed to convince Madame Prudence to set up a meeting, with the master records present. She made sure that the details of the meeting weren’t kept as secret as they should have been. Leon and Kat stood in obvious guard positions. Farah, Allison and Lucy were all in spots that weren’t quite hidden. Lucy’s position was near the main door. She wore a heavy cloak, concealing her features. They only had a little time before Madame Prudence and the others arrived.

“Do you read me?” Kat asked, checking her communication.

“Loud and clear,” Ophelia said. “Paul’s on standby in case they decide to use something nastier than knock-out gas.”

Kat was about to say more, but the door opened and Madame Prudence arrived, with their bait. Now, they just had to go through with the whole thing. Hopefully, their prey would show up.


“Should I not be with them?” Yuri asked. “A gas attack would have no effect on my systems. I would be able to assist Miss Lucy.”

“Don’t worry about Lucy,” Ophelia said. “Worry about anyone who gets in Lucy’s way.”

“I do not understand,” Yuri stated. “She is relatively small in stature and her musculature is not significantly higher than a human of similar size and build.”

“Just wait,” Ophelia said. “You’ll understand.”


Farah listened to Madame Prudence and her executives talk shop, wondering when their target would make a move. She looked over at Allison, the other woman’s head was drifting to the side and her eyes were half-closed. She hurriedly moved back into position and rubbed her eyes. Was it gas? Farah looked around for any sign of it, but no one else was acting tired nor was there any sign of a gas grenade. She glanced back at Allison. Her head was resting against her hand and her eyes were half-closed again.

Farah heard something overhead and looked up. There was a slight discolouration in the air coming from the ventilation system. “Gas!” she cried. Everyone in the room started to move towards the door, but they all collapsed.

Lucy waited on the floor, just as still as everyone else. Their foe, a human man, came in through the door and moved directly for the table. Lucy slipped silently out of the heavy cloak and moved behind him The man grabbed the record drive and turned, gasping through his gas mask.

“That doesn’t belong to you,” Lucy said, smiling. “You really should put it down.” The man’s hand opened involuntarily. Lucy reached out and snatched the drive. “Thank you. Now, what do you want with this?”

“Damn Akumillian!” The man screamed. He lunged for Lucy. Lucy side-stepped the clumsy attack and turned to the man, her golden eyes opening.

“I can see you aren’t much of a fighter,” Lucy said, her voice taking on a harsh timbre. “I strongly suggest that you give up. We wouldn’t want this to get violent, would we?”

The man cringed at the sound of Lucy’s voice, his body shaking. He dropped to his knees and held out his wrists. “I give up.”

“Good,” Lucy said, her voice losing most of the harsh edge. “Now, what are you doing here? It’s not cricket to cause trouble on a station like this, you know.”

“I’m a detective. I was hired by old man Geralt to find his oldest son,” he said. “There were rumours that he’d come here.”

“I see,” Lucy said. “Let’s walk over to their holding cells and lock you up while we decide what to do with you.”


Fortunately, the gas wasn’t deadly. Ophelia and Lucy went to meet with Madame Prudence.

“Thank you for all of your hard work!” Madame Prudence exclaimed. “You all are just as good as I’d heard.”

“This might not be over,” Lucy stated.

“If this is the work of the Geralt family they’ll send someone else until they find what they want,” Ophelia clarified.

“There is a solution,” Lucy jumped in. “If you tell us the situation, we might be able to help.”

Madame Prudence sighed. “I suppose I should have expected this. Can I trust your discretion?”

“Of course,” Ophelia said. “Only the three of us will know.”

“Very well,” Madame Prudence said. “The truth is, his son isn’t here. His daughter is. She was born in the wrong body. Her old man is a bit old-fashioned and wouldn’t approve of her surgery.”

“But you performed it here,” Ophelia stated.

Prudence nodded. “You have to have some doctors on staff. She’s working to pay for the operation. She’s been doing very well too.”

“Then it’s an easy fix,” Lucy stated. “We just have to convince the Geralt family that they’re wasting their time looking for her.”

“We can manage that for a little extra,” Ophelia said. “We can plant some evidence that she was in an accident or abducted.”

“I certainly wouldn’t want anymore trouble,” Prudence said. “Very well, you have a deal.”

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 31: Game of Deception

“Found something odd,” Grace stated.

“What is it?” Ophelia asked, moving over to her.

“There have been a bunch of transmissions from different locations at seemingly random times to the Geralt family,” Grace said. “What’s interesting is that they’re all written in the same code.”

“What would the troublemaker have to do with the Geralt family?” Ophelia wondered.

“One way to find out,” Grace said.

Ophelia nodded. “I’ll look up the alliance records. You look for back doors.”


Leon and Lucy finished examining Madame Prudence’s room. It was larger than Abe’s but the difference was barely noticeable. Hers had been the very last room hit. They found out that her records had been kept in a locked box in her office safe. Which hadn’t been touched. The two proceeded to their meeting with Kat, Farah and Allison.

“So, what did you find out?” Lucy asked.

“It seems like our culprit hit Miss Tanner’s room first,” Kat stated. “Afterwards, they went after two of her direct subordinates. A Miss Young and a Miss Dupre.”

“Miss Tanner didn’t have her records in her room so it seems likely that the culprit went after the other two to find their records,” Farah added. “Combined, the two of them had most of the information.”

Lucy opened her eyes slightly at Farah’s addendum and smiled. She quickly shut her eyes again. “All right, Farah, it’s time to play detective. What can we tell by the evidence?”

“They seem to be looking for personnel records,” Farah began. “Since they started in the boy’s area before coming to a spot with mixed staff, we can surmise that they’re looking for a particular man. Thy have reason to believe he’s here but don’t know where he’s working. We can also safely guess that they haven’t found him yet, since you said that Madame Prudence’s records hadn’t been touched. What I don’t get is why they don’t just ask for him by name and save the trouble.”

“Because a lot of workers at places like this take on new names,” Allison answered. “Like Candi, or Cinnamon or Mistress Bodacious.”

“And it’s generally the policy not to release their real names to the public,” Kat stated. “Many of these guys and girls ran away from home or don’t have anywhere to go. They don’t need people tracking them down.”

“In other words, they don’t want to get found and Liberty Station isn’t telling people shit,” Leon said. “Our opponent isn’t an amateur. Whoever it is will lay low while the heat’s on. They won’t act carelessly when they’ve come this far without being caught.”

“Like hell they won’t,” Allison said. “Any rat will get careless if you dangle a delicious enough treat in front of them. I say, we bait this putz with something they can’t resist.”

“Like the master records?” Lucy asked. “Just what I was thinking. But, we’ll have to find a way to let them know that the records will be vulnerable without making it an obvious trap.”

“But won’t they suspect a trap regardless?” Farah asked.

“That’s it!” Kat snapped her fingers. “Farah is right. They’ll be suspicious regardless. That’s why we should get careless!”

“Explain, Katie,” Lucy demanded.

“We get the master records, spread the information that we’re going to have them in a particular place with very little subtlety and we pick our hiding positions poorly,” Kat stated. “We’ll let them think that they have us pinned down. We give them the opening that they want while giving the appearance that we just suck at traps. They’ll probably use gas to knock us out. Opening fire is too risky for them. Even if they got one of us, the rest would be instantly alerted.

“I think I know where you’re going with this,” Lucy stated. “I pretend to be knocked out with the rest of you and grab them when they come in for the records.”

“It could very well work,” Allison said.

“I don’t like the idea of letting myself get knocked out,” Leon muttered. “But if it gets the mission done I’ll allow it.”


“As expected from the Alliance,” Ophelia said. “These official records are bullshit.” She looked over at Grace. “Anything on your end?”

“Maybe,” Grace stated. “It seems like their eldest son and heir to their totally legitimate business went missing several months ago.” She rolled her eyes when she said “totally legitimate.” “The details are a bit vague, but it looks like he got in a fight with his dad.”

“You think that the fight was a ruse so that he could cause trouble here?” Ophelia asked.

Grace shrugged. “Hard to say without hearing from the team over there.”

“I’ll check with Yuri,” Ophelia said. “See what they told her in their last report. They should have sent one not long ago.”

“I’ll go back to those messages and work on decoding them,” Grace said.

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 30: Questioning Witnesses

Lucy briefly opened her golden coloured eyes and glanced at the layout that Madame Prudence provided. There were five rooms circled, three of them in the same area. Her eyes quickly closed again. She smiled and handed the map over to Kat.

“Thank you, Madame,” Lucy said. “Tell me, do these executives of yours know why we’re here?”

“They do,” Madame Prudence said. “Each of them has my full confidence.”

“Splendid!” Lucy declared, clapping her hands together. “Then it shouldn’t be a problem if we look over their rooms and talk with them, right?”

“I suppose that would be the best way to start,” Madame Prudence said. “I’ll have them head to their rooms so that you can meet with them properly.”

“I have a question before you do that,” Kat said.

“Go right ahead, Sweetie,” Madame Prudence said.

“Which room got broken into first?” Kat asked. “Yours?”

Madame Prudence shook her head. “Not mine. Mine was actually the last. Abe Georges’ room was broken into first. He’s in charge of the boys.”

Kat glanced at the layout. His room was one of the ones off on its own. “I think we should check there first,” she said.

“That’s true,” Lucy muttered. “Starting at the beginning could help. But it’s also so out of the way.”

“So, we’ll split up,” Leon said.

“What a lovely idea!” Lucy declared. “Kat, why don’t you take Allison and Farah over to this cluster while Leon and I check Madame Prudence’s room and this Mister Georges’?”

“Understood,” Kat said. “We’ll meet back here after we’ve gathered the information.”


“Anything yet?” Ophelia asked.

“Just the usual stuff,” Grace answered. “Transmissions to family & friends, shopping orders, requests for tech support. Oh, and someone on that station is trying to get random people to buy land on a newly terra-formed planet.”

“Didn’t Leon get a message like that?” Ophelia asked.

Grace nodded. “Promised to stab the sender in the face for trying to scam him too. Think we should tell him?”

“I don’t think he actually would,” Ophelia said. “I’ve heard that boy threaten to stab a lot of people. He never has before, but let’s not tempt him.”


“Our first stop is Lilah Tanner’s room,” Kat said. “It looks like she was the second one who had her room broken into. Remember, be polite.” She looked pointedly at Allison.

The three saw a woman with dishevelled brown hair waiting by the door. She looked up as they approached.

“Miss Tanner?” Kat asked.

“That’s me!” Lilah declared. “I was told to expect you guys. I’m Lilah Tanner, in charge of the casino area. I’ll let you in, but it’s been a while since my place was broken into so I don’t know how many clues are left.” She opened the door for them. Clothes were scattered around seemingly at random, various knick knacks were placed seemingly arbitrarily on whatever surface areas were available.

“Did the burglar come back?” Farah asked, concerned.

“What, no!” Lilah said, laughing. “It’s always like this. I’m afraid that I’m not very organised.”

“How did you tell that someone had broken in at all?” Allison inquired.

“Bastard broke my ceramic wombat,” Lilah answered.

“Is there anything that you have access to that someone else wouldn’t?” Kat asked. “Anything at all?”

Lilah thought about it for a second. “The employee records, I guess. Prudey has access to all of them, but I’m the only exec who has access to all of the casino ones.”

“Were the records looked at?” Kat asked.

Lilah shook her head. “I carry mine with me. Whoever broke in couldn’t have seen ’em.”


Leon and Lucy followed the layout to Abe Georges’ room. The man had neat, trim

white hair and wore a suit with a monocle.

“You must be the investigators,” he said in a measured voice.

“That’s us,” Lucy said. “Can we look around?”

“I will cooperate with the investigation, of course,” Abe stated. “But there’s not much point to checking now, I’m afraid. I’ve cleaned up quite thoroughly.”

He opened the door for them and held it. The room was perfectly cleaned and organised.

“It was a frightful mess after the nefarious deed,” he continued. “The drawers had been turned inside out and even the holo frames had been skewed.”

“He looked behind your holos?” Lucy asked.

“Or he unintentionally misaligned them when going about his activities,” Abe stated.

“What kind of things do you have that someone might be interested in?” Lucy asked. “In terms of records and the like.”

“I have the medical and personal records of all the men under me,” Abe answered. “Every executive in this building does. However, I keep the drive with that information stored in my office. Not in my home.”

“Was anyone in your office before or after this incident took place?” Lucy asked.

“Just the employees I’d spoken to in there,” Abe answered. “Nothing unusual…”

“So, something did happen,” Leon observed.

“Please, tell us what you’re thinking of,” Lucy encouraged.

“Well,” Abe said. “Slightly before the incident, I went into my office and noticed that several objects had been slightly moved from their proper places. I’d assumed that it was the work of Miss Tanner. She’s another executive and she has the most annoying habit of moving the objects in my office a few centimetres from their proper positions. She considers it amusing. But when I confronted her about it she claimed that she hadn’t done it that time.”

“Was the drive with your employee records one of the moved objects?” Lucy asked.

“It was,” Abe said. “But it was locked in the desk. I’d thought that the desk itself had been knocked into. Do you think…?”

Lucy nodded. “I think that whoever broke into your place managed to open your desk and look at your records.”

“But why toss his shit everywhere here and leave it be in the office?” Leon asked.

Lucy scratched her horns. “It may be that the break-ins are a distraction from our target’s true objective. We may be dealing with a more clever opponent than we thought.”

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 29: Mystery at Liberty Station

While Grace was getting Wolfgang, Allison approached Yuri.

“So,” Allison began “I couldn’t help but notice that you’re anatomically correct.”

“My physical structure is designed to mirror a human’s, yes,” Yuri answered.

“Tell me,” Allison said. “Can you… how to put this delicately… can you orgasm?”

“Allison!” Kat cried.

“What?” Allison asked. “I’m curious. It’s a purely scientific question.”

“You can ignore her,” Ophelia said. “Our Allie can get a bit personal.”

“It is all right. I am capable of experiencing sexual release,” Yuri answered. “However, I have not been able to explore that function fully since I have never had a partner to engage in sexual activities with. The only other people around were my father and bother.”

“I could be your partner,” Allison said, winking.

“It was my understanding that intimacy is best experienced between two people with an emotional connection,” Yuri said.

“Sometimes you don’t need intimacy,” Allison said. “You just need to get laid.”

“I have no idea what kind of conversation I just walked into,” Grace said. “But I think I might need to hit Allison.” Allison grinned and hurriedly backed away from Grace’s piercing gaze. Grace turned to Yuri. “Presenting the fabulous Baron Wolfgang Andres Von Erstein.”

Yuri examined the tiny white dog. He sniffed her for a moment before licking her nose.


The party was starting to wind down when Ophelia excused herself to answer a transmission. It was audio only. “You’ve reached Captain Ophelia Wester of the Cerberus,” she stated. “How may I assist you?”

This is Madame Prudence of Liberty Station. A feminine voice answered. We’re having a problem over here. I understand that you take jobs like this? 

Ophelia winced when she heard the station’s name. “It depends on the job,” she answered, cautiously. “I’ll need some actual details.”

The figure on the other end laughed. Don’t worry, we don’t need you to supplement our girls or to murder anyone. But I do need an outsider’s perspective. Madame Prudence’s voice lowered. I’m afraid that we may have some heat.

“Did some government lay claim to your area of space recently?” Ophelia asked.

No! The answer was as harsh as it was quick. We still answer only to our own law here. But we’ve also noticed some strange things. Things that show we’re being watched. 

“Such as?” Ophelia inquired.

Well, Sweetie, I can only tell you that in person. Will your lot take the job? 

“We charge a grand up front, a hundred per extra day past the third plus expenses for investigation work,” Ophelia said.

That’s great, Sweetie. We’ll see you lot soon. Madame Prudence ended the transmission.

Ophelia sighed and activated the ship’s internal comm system.


“You’re really dragging us to Liberty Station?” Kat asked.

“Better prepare all the VD vaccinations,” Allison muttered, nudging Paul.

“I apologise,” Yuri said, she was holding Wolfgang in her lap. “I do not know what Liberty Station is.”

“It’s a casino, brothel & drug den,” Lucy explained, without opening her eyes. “They set up shop in an open area of space outside of any jurisdiction.”

“So, why investigate them?” Farah asked.

“It could be a rival group,” Kat suggested. “They sometimes like to scope out their competition using undercover operatives.”

“We won’t really know until we get there,” Ophelia said. “For this mission, Paul, Grace and I will stay on board the Cerberus. Grace and I will look through their transmission data to look for suspicious messages. Paul, go ahead and work on your experiments but I want you ready if there’s an emergency. Lucy will lead Kat, Leon, Farah and Allison to search for clues on board. Yuri, since you’re new I’ll start you off easy. I’ll have you monitor the away team and keep me apprised of developments.”

“May I hold Baron Wolfgang Andres Von Erstein as I do my duties?” Yuri asked.

“Go for it,” Ophelia said. “Remember, Liberty has its own set of rules. Be professional over there.”


The Cerberus eventually arrived at Liberty Station. Allison made a quip about putting protection on the docking links and the ship safely docked. The away team moved into Liberty’s bay. They were greeted by a slightly chubby blonde woman with bright blue eyes. There were three armed guards flanking her.

“Welcome!” She declared. “So lovely of you all to come. Please, walk into my office. I’ll sign for the cargo. We can’t unload it right away, but you can engage our services while you wait.”

She led the group to a large room and dismissed her entourage. “Sorry about that,” she said. “I’m quite at my wit’s end over who I can trust. Now, let’s get down to business.” She passed Lucy an envelope. “There’s your pay up front. Rest assured, you will have the rest when the job is finished. I do run a proper business here.”

“I know,” Lucy said. “You couldn’t keep things running if you didn’t.”

Madame Prudence nodded. “Well, let’s get right to it. Over the past month, Me and several of my most trusted executives have had our rooms broken into. Whoever’s doing it has left a right mess.”

“So, you have a thief,” Leon said.

“that’s what we thought too at first,” Madame Prudence said. “But nothing’s gone missing. Jewellery, high end electronics and other valuables have all been left right where they were.”

“It seems like someone’s looking for a specific thing,” Lucy said. “You might be right. They might be looking for information on your operation or it could be something else. It would help us immensely if you have the layout of the station and you can mark down the places that have been hit.”

“Of course,” Madame Prudence said. “I’ll get that right for you, Sweetie! Just hold tight.”

She excused herself to get the requested item.

“You don’t really believe this is about information, do you?” Kat asked.

“It seems too sloppy for that, doesn’t it?” Farah added.

Lucy nodded. “Yes, but it doesn’t hurt to be polite to our client. We’ll let her have her theory until we find out what’s really going on.”

“Could be a shitty spy,” Allison said.

“Whatever, let’s just find the culprit, kick their ass and get this over with,” Leon said, gruffly.

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 28: Farah and Leon

Farah headed to the Bridge. When she arrived, Leon and Katie were standing with the Captain. Lucy was sitting at a console, her eyes closed as usual.  Farah saluted and stood at attention.

“You really need to learn to ease up,” Ophelia said. “You don’t have to salute me, you know.”

“Sorry, Captain,” Farah stated.

“On Leon’s recommendation, I’m granting you the full rights of a pilot. The Elegant Simurgh is now yours, as long as you continue to perform well.”

“Thank you very much,” Farah declared. “Leon, thank you!” She ran over and hugged the tall man.

“Don’t thank me,” Leon said. “I just guided you a little. You earned this yourself.”

Farah shook her head. “You helped me so much. I wouldn’t be able to pilot it like I can without you teaching me.”

“I never would have taken you for the teaching type,” Katie said.

“I’m just surprised he’s letting her hug him,” Lucy added.

“What?” Leon asked. “Do you expect me to hit a girl who isn’t threatening me?”

Lucy made a note of the door opening while they were talking.

“I’m telling my brother,” Grace said, after taking in the scene.

“I didn’t do anything!” Leon protested. “She got excited and hugged me.”

“In that case she should find someone less prickly to cuddle up to,” Grace said. She leaned towards them. “I’m available, you know.”

Farah’s face flushed and she moved away from Leon. “That’s okay. I just got caught up in the moment. Sorry for causing trouble.”

“That’s disappointing,” Grace said. “I would have liked some attention too.” She winked at Farah. “Maybe next time.”

“Grace, you must’ve come here for a reason,” Ophelia said.

“Yeah,” Grace acknowledged. “I looked over Yuri’s systems.”

“We’re calling the android ‘Yuri’?” Katie asked.

“Isn’t that a guy’s name?” Leon asked.

“It can also be a name for girls,” Grace stated. “Depending on which region of Earth you’re taking it from. Anyway, her systems are all in superb condition and I was able to find a way to disable her should the need arise.”

“Well done,” Lucy said. “So, what’s the method?”

“I can design a specialised type of EMP grenade for it,” Grace explained. “A normal EMP won’t do shit to her systems, but if I can attune one to her frequency specifically, then it should blast through her safeguards.”

Ophelia nodded. “That makes sense. Make a couple as soon as you can. We’ll keep one with the rest of the weapons, but hidden from sight so that she doesn’t see it. We’ll give the other one to Lucy. If she goes berserk then we should be able to get to one of them.”

“On to more pleasant news,” Grace said. “I’ve got Allison and Paul preparing for Yuri’s welcome party tonight.”

“How delightful!,” Lucy exclaimed. “We should all dress up!”

“We’ll try to finish up our work here before then,” Ophelia said. “Farah, Leon, why don’t you two help prepare?”

“Yes, Captain!” Farah declared.

“Whatever,” Leon muttered.

The two left the Bridge and hurried down the corridor towards the Canteen.

“Thank you, for giving me the chance to act as a full pilot,” Farah said. “It means a lot.”

Leon shrugged. “You couldn’t be a trainee forever.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask, how did you lose your alliance position?” Farah asked.

Leon stopped in place. “It’s not a super interesting story, but I suppose that I can tell you. I guess it goes back to when I was studying to be a Peacekeeper. Back then, I didn’t like people at all and I kept to myself. But they suggested that we had to understand people, at least, so I joined a group that met once a week to play some old game around a table. That’s where I met Paul, actually.”

“And it was love at first sight?” Farah asked.

Leon chuckled. “Actually, I couldn’t stand him at first. He was withdrawn and I thought that he was one of those pricks who acts all quiet and tortured for attention. But after some time of getting to know each other, we became friends and, after some shit went down that we had to deal with together, more than that.But the important thing that you’ll need to know is that I grew to admire his dedication to medicine and helping people. Anyway, I graduated and began work. After a few weeks, I was already sick of all the bullshit office politics. The only thing that kept me going, that kept me believing in the Alliance, was that Paul was out there. I figured, if the Alliance was all bad then someone like him couldn’t thrive in it. So, I kept trying to improve things on my own end while Paul kept helping people on his. Then, they stripped him of his licence. I wanted to quit instantly and go off with him somewhere where we could just be away from everyone. But, I kept doing my job. We needed money and I didn’t want Paul to have to do anything horrible for it.”

“That’s actually really sweet,” Farah commented. “That you could keep going for his sake.”

Leon shrugged. “Money needed earning so I earned it. But I had lost all faith in the Alliance and couldn’t see it as anything but a place where shitty people thrived and good people got dropped. Then, my boss called me into his office. He told me in a really unsubtle way that being in a relationship with Paul was killing my chances for advancement and that I should drop that… how did he put it? That I should drop ‘that useless baggage.’ Hearing him talk about the man I love, a better man than he could hope to be, like that…. I just lost it. I punched him out and walked away. Luckily, Ophelia came by a couple days later with her job offers. So, that’s pretty much it. I knocked out my boss.”

“Interesting,” Farah said. “Well, I’m glad you’re here. I really enjoyed learning from you.”

“No need to be sentimental about it,” Leon said. “We’ll still work together. Now, c’mon. We’ve got a party to prepare for.”

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 27: Yuri’s Exam

Grace led Yuri into the ship. Once the bay had been sealed and re-pressurised, she took her helmet off.

“Normally, we’d give you a tour of the ship right away,” Grace said. “But since I was put in charge of showing you around, I’d like to get the business portion out of the way first.”

“Business portion?” Yuri asked.

Grace nodded. “Everyone who boards has to have a check-up. For the rest of us, that meant going to the Medical bay. In your case, it means going to Engineering. I won’t lie. It will take longer than a normal exam. Just because I’m not super familiar with your construction yet. It may even take into the early hours of the morning.”

“I understand,” Yuri said. “I will comply.”


They were all leaving. First Farah and Grace left, Baron following them. Allison was next, cracking jokes as she walked away forever. Ophelia and Lucy were next. Ophelia spared a moment to look back and shake her head. He tried to follow, but his legs wouldn’t move. Kat left next. Finally, even Paul left him. He shouted, his voice making no sound. He wanted to cry out. Even Paul… Paul…

Leon woke up in a cold sweat. His arm was stretched out above him. Just a dream. He looked over at Paul’s side of the bed. It was empty. The book he’d brought had a bookmark put into it and had been left on the stand. He smelled something cooking. He took some time to wash his face and hands before investigating.

Paul was in their kitchenette, working diligently.

“Watcha making?” Leon asked.

“Apple pancakes,” Paul answered. “They’ll be ready in just a moment. The apple is almost tender.”

Leon sat down and tried to banish the unease from his mind. Paul wouldn’t leave him. Ophelia wouldn’t kick him off of the ship. Why even have a dream like that? It was so ridiculous. He faintly registered a plate being set in front of him.

“Looks good,” he said. “We still have orange juice?”

“A bit,” Paul answered. “I would suggest a strong breakfast tea, though. The tastes pair better.”

“Well, I’m sure you’re right,” Leon said, rising. “But I want OJ.”

“Is something wrong?” Paul asked. “You look a bit… off.”

Leon froze for a split second. “Nothing at all,” he stated. “What could be wrong?”

Before Paul could press him, the communicator went off. Paul, get your ass to Engineering. 

“I wonder what that’s about,” Paul muttered. “She didn’t sound hurt.”

“Maybe she finally hit Allison with a wrench,” Leon said.”Was bound to happen eventually.”

“I don’t think so,” Paul said. “She didn’t sound that concerned. More excited.” He shrugged. “Guess I’ll find out when I get there.”

“I’ll refrigerate your brekkie for you,” Leon offered. “Be sure to eat up when you get back.”


Paul hurried over to Engineering. Yuri was sitting with her hands in her lap. Her back was opened up and Grace was working inside it. She looked up at Paul and beckoned him over.

“If you need help with the android you may want to ask someone else,” Paul stated.

“It’s not that,” Grace said. “Come here and look at this. It’s a readout of Yuri’s internal systems. Remind you of anything?”

Paul carefully perused the readout, looking a second time to be sure. “It has a digestive system,” he observed. “These systems are also similar to the human cardiovascular system. Professor Crozier took a lot of trouble to make it not only look human, well mostly, but be able to pass for human.”

“Pardon me, Doctor Paul Albrecht,” Yuri said.”But I have a request.”

“A request?” Paul asked. “What is it?”

“Please cease referring to me as ‘it’,” Yuri said. “I am female and would like to have feminine pronouns used.”

“Fascinating, “Paul said. He turned to Yuri. “I’m sorry about that. I didn’t think an android would have a gender identity.”

“It is understandable,” Yuri stated. “All records that I have access to indicate that my brother and I are unique in that regard.”

“Do you need to eat?” Paul asked.

“Negative,” Yuri answered. “I am, however, capable of doing so. My systems will then convert the materials I ingest into power. It is an inefficient way of gathering energy. But it is more satisfying.”

“Why is that?” Grace asked.

“The taste of food stuffs can be most pleasant,” Yuri answered.

“I… she has a sense of taste,” Paul muttered, “Interesting.”

“Isn’t it!” Grace exclaimed. “she’s a super sophisticated piece of technology. Indistinguishable from a human unless you open her up. And her internal systems are designed to replicate most of what humans can do. She breathes and eats. She even has a pulse.”

Paul glanced at Yuri. “May I?”

“You may,” Yuri answered.

Paul picked up her wrist and felt for a pulse. “She does!” he declared. “You can even see the veins if you look closely. But why go to all that trouble? Especially when you’re going to give her hair and eyes that readily mark her as inhuman.”

“That’s the million credit question,” Grace said.

“It is not difficult,” Yuri said. “Father wanted us to be able to integrate into human society. It was not his intent for us to always remain in the confines of the base, but to find our own paths. It was his belief that being capable of engaging in human activities would be essential. He did not, however, wish us to be too similar to humans. It was his concern that we would be mistaken for covert operatives. Therefore, he gave us certain visual cues that would distinctly mark us.”

“Smart dude,” Grace observed. “Well, I think the examination is over. You systems are all functioning well. I’ll take you on the tour now and tonight Baron will throw a welcome party for you.”

“That is not necessary,” Yuri stated. “I am happy simply to be included.”

“It’s our custom,” Grace said. “Consider it a fun learning experience.”

“I understand,” Yuri said. “Thank you very much.”

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 26: What to do with Y4-R1?

Y4-R1 placed the bodies of her father and brother gently down and dug. Quickly and efficiently. the human visitors had returned to their ship. She didn’t know if they intended to leave or if they would stay a while. She hoped for the latter. Once she’d buried her family, she would have nothing. Would she have to shut down or would it be possible to build a small escape craft using materials from the base? She didn’t want to live all alone.


Ophelia and her crew boarded the Cerberus with their bags. They waited for the bay to re-pressurise before heading directly to the conference room. Lucy and Paul left the bridge to join them.

“We have an unusual situation here,” Ophelia began. “On one hand, Y4 was a big help to us and certainly saved our asses in there. On the other hand, her abilities make her a great risk. Grace,” Ophelia nodded towards the engineer “wants to offer Y4 a position on the ship. I’d like to get all of your input.”

“She’s got a hot body,” Allison said. “More importantly, I pay my debts and she did save all of us. I’d be all for having her on board as part of the crew. Her abilities would be a great asset to us. At the very least, we we her a ride off of this dirt ball.”

“I understand where Allison and Grace are coming from,” Kat stated. “But is it a good idea to have an android that powerful on this ship? If she wanted to, she would stand a good chance of taking everything over by force. I’m not sure the eight of us could stop her.”

“You worry too much, Kitty,” Allison said.

“If she wanted to take control of the ship,” Grace said “then she could have joined Y3 and taken us all out back there. The fact that she chose to help us instead gives us a strong indication of her good intentions.”

“And what if she malfunctions like Y3?” Kat asked.

“The problem was his personality,” Grace said. “With sapience also comes the capacity for decisions and internal rationalising and he came to a bad conclusion. She won’t go down the same route because she’s not the same kind of person.”

“A sapient android is an interesting idea,” Paul stated. “But is it really sound? Can the mechanisms in their mechanical brains really replicate all of the facets that imbue us with personalities or is it just a slightly more sophisticated AI algorithm? If it is just an algorithm, it’s already proven untrustworthy.”

“That’s going to be difficult to answer,” Lucy said. “And I won’t be able to help. My perceptions won’t work on a mechanical mind.”

“There’s an easy way to answer that,” Grace said. “We schlep her along and we observe her behaviour to see if it’s indicative of legit intelligence.”

“Under certain circumstances that might be really intriguing,” Kat said. “But we’re on a small ship with eight people and a little dog. We aren’t equipped for this.”

“Katie, that’s enough,” Leon said. “Yeah, it’s a risk but this crew hasn’t ever been one for playing things safe.” He rose and paced around the table. “Way I see it, one fact trumps everything else. We owe her our lives and the benefit of the doubt. If we welsh on that debt by abandoning her here, then we aren’t worth much, if anything.”

“There’s got to be a way that we can bring her with us and not worry about her going spare,” Farah muttered.

“Perhaps there is,” Paul agreed. “Grace, you have access to Professor Crozier’s records, yes?”

“Got ’em all downloaded,” Grace said.

“Then there’s no problem,” Paul said. “Its body is mechanical and anything mechanical is going to have vulnerabilities.”

“so, we design a weapon specifically to destroy her systems,” Kat said. “I get it. Simple and elegant.”

“Disabling them should also work, right?” Grace asked. “I’ll figure out a way to stop her if we have to.”

“I have no complaints with that,” Lucy said. “Wouldn’t it be lovely if she could become a good friend?”

“It seems everyone is in agreement,” Ophelia said. “Grace, I want you to invite her on board.


Y4-R1 finished piling dirt on top of the crude graves. She glanced at them. They were still incomplete. She returned to the base and fashioned a couple of markers from metal plating. She returned to the location where she’d buried them and set the markers up. It was entirely possible that no one but her would ever see them, but it seemed inappropriate to just leave their bodies lying around.

“Hey, Y4!” The cry was partially metallic, a voice filtered through a spacesuit’s radio. She knew the voice.

She turned. “Hello, Grace Albrecht. You have not yet departed?”

“We’re going to soon,” Grace said. “But we couldn’t leave without everyone.”

Y4-R1 looked at her quizzically. “I do not understand. I was told that the six of you were all who disembarked.”

“We were,” Grace said. “But it turns out we met someone really cool while exploring and we just had to make her a part of our crew.”

“You are referring to me,” Y4-R1 stated, realisation dawning. “You wish for me to join your crew?”

“Absolutely,” Grace said. She held out her arm. “You’re done here, right?”

“My work is complete,” Y4-R1 confirmed. “But will your crew not be uncomfortable with my presence after what my brother attempted?”

“Not at all,” Grace said. “Everyone on board agreed that you would be a welcome addition.”

Y4-R1 took the proffered arm. “Then I shall accept gratefully.”

“Great!” Grace declared. “Let’s go, Yuri!”

“Yuri,” Y4 stated. “That is a human name.”

“Sorry,” Grace said. “Did you not like it? I just thought a more human name might help you, you know, fit in better.”

Y4-R1 shook her head. “That is not it. Yuri, it is a good name. It is also similar to my designation. I will accept it as my new designation.”

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 25: Y4-R1 Activated

Y3 approached the group, slowly and surely. He kept his hand over his abdomen so that Farah’s fire wouldn’t hit the hole that had been opened in his torso by Leon’s blaster overloading. His systems would repair. He just needed time to shut down. There would be plenty of time once the intruders were eliminated.

He found himself suddenly beset by heavier blaster fire, one bolt hitting dangerously close to his vulnerable spot. He adjusted his hand to better protect it, stopped and scanned. There were two more opponents. Both human, negligible in terms of presenting a threat. He continued towards them. Watching with some amusement as the five backed away from him.

It would do them no good. Eventually, their frail bodies would shut down, or they’d hit a dead end, and he’d have them.


Grace watched the liquid drain. The pod popped open and Y4’s eyes opened. They were a bright silver colour. Aside from that, they looked almost human but there was something vaguely off about them. Grace noticed that the pupils were a little too large but there was something else she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

Y4 moved from her pod and bent down to the container with her outfit. She quickly put it on and looked over at Grace.

“My designation is Y4-R1,” she stated. “Are you father’s associate?”

“I’m Grace Albrecht,” Grace answered. She grasped Y4’s hand and kissed it. “At your service. My friends and I need your help.”


“We need to hit the hole,” Kat said. “If we can just force him to move his hand…”

“I know what to do,” Allison said. “Dude should’ve worn pants.” She fired a trio of bolts. Each one hitting Y3’s robotic genitalia. The android didn’t respond. “No fair,” Allison muttered. “That’s supposed to be the weak point.”

“Why would it be?” Farah asked.

Allison shrugged. “Would be on a human guy.”

“But he’s an android,” Farah said.

“Keep running,” Ophelia ordered. She looked at Katie. “We need a defensible position.”

“There’s a chamber not far from here with robot parts,” Kat stated. “We should be able to barricade it easily enough. Maybe he’ll even give us an opening trying to reach us.”


“I see,” Y4 said. “So, my brother is awake and you wish me to protect you from him.”

“That’s pretty much the size of it,” Grace said. “I know he’s just malfunctioning but…”

“You are incorrect,” Y4 said. “Father was mistaken on that point as well. He thought that Y3 was suffering from a glitch but it is not that simple. During our study of  human history, my brother became convinced that power is what matters and what steers the course for society. He also concluded that we are superior in those terms on account of our greater strength, indefinite natural life spans and capacity for learning and retaining knowledge.”

“I think I get the picture,” Grace said. “He doesn’t care about human life except as a means to an end.”

“That is correct,” Y4 said. Grace was surprised to hear sadness in her voice.

“And, what about you?” Grace asked. “Do you also feel superior to humans?”

“I do not,” Y4 said. “I have tried to convince my brother that all sapient life has value and that our existence is proof of the greatness that can be accomplished by humans. He would not listen.”

“My friends are probably in trouble right now,” Grace said. “I won’t force you to fight your brother, but if you aren’t going to I’ll have to go out there and try my luck.”

“You will be slain,” Y4 stated.

“Maybe,” Grace shrugged. “But I can’t hide and leave them to die.”

“I will stop him,” Y4 said. “You will remain behind in safety.”

“Thank you,” Grace said.


“You’ve gotta admit,” Allison began. Seeing him push through that rubble one-handed is pretty impressive. If I wasn’t terrified of what he’s gonna do to us when he gets through in a minute, this would be amazing.”

“Ophelia, do you have any ideas?” Kat asked.

“One or two of us might be able to keep him occupied while the others get away,” Ophelia suggested. “But I really don’t want to do that.”

“Stop right there, Brother!” A commanding voice called out. Y3 stopped, dropping the pieces he had been moving from the barricade, and turned.

“Y4. Have you come to assist me in eliminating these humans?”

“Stop this, Y3,” Y4 entreated. “We were not built to cause harm. Father would not desire this.”

“What he desired is irrelevant,” Y3 stated. “His functions have terminated. With their ship, we can go wherever we wish. Do whatever we wish. We will be free”

“Your way is wrong,” Y4 stated. “I do not wish to use force against you, but I will if I must.”

“You would choose them over me?” Y3 asked, incredulously.

“You are the one threatening them,” Y4 stated. “You are the one at fault.”

Y3 closed in on her, punching her in the abdomen. She quickly regained her footing, delivering a fierce high kick to his jaw. The two circled each other, occasionally making moves against one another. Kat aimed towards Y3’s damaged spot, ready to fire the instant he moved his hand.

“So, Grace was able to convince her,” Allison said. “You go, Girl!”

Y3 moved both of his arms up to guard against a particularly nasty roundhouse kick and Kat fired. The android spasmed uncontrollably, trying to regain his footing.

“My apologies, Brother,” Y4 said. She put her hands around his head and crushed it.

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 24: The Sleeping Figures

Leon drew his blaster and held it towards the pod. “Just give the word and I’ll frag this bitch.”

“Put the blaster away!” Ophelia ordered.

“What if the dude wakes up in a violent mood?” Leon asked. “We don’t know why he’s in there. He could be dangerous.”

“We don’t want to antagonise him,” Ophelia stated. “Be ready to draw your blaster if he’s dangerous but, for now, keep it holstered.” She nodded to Farah. “Keep your hand on yours too.”

“Yes, Captain,” Farah said.


“I found her clothes,” Allison said. “Or at least one outfit.” She held it up. It was a silver jumpsuit with dark blue highlights.

“Leave it alone,” Kat said. “If she wakes up, I’m sure she knows where it is.” She looked over towards Grace. “Find anything yet?”

“Our sleeper is an android,” Grace answered. “It looks like Professor Crozier, the guy who lived here was experimenting with ways of developing sapient machines with free will. There were a bunch of failures. His two biggest successes were designated Y3-Q0 & Y4-R1. Unfortunately, Y3 was mentally unstable. He feared that Y3 would become violent and shut the two of them down to examine the problem in Y3 and check Y4 to make sure that there wasn’t going to be a similar problem. He didn’t find anything wrong with Y4 and was planning to use its program as a template to fix Y3. It looks like he died before he could go through with that plan and reinitialise them.”

“She doesn’t look like an android,” Allison said, checking the pod. “She’s completely anatomically correct.”

“That’s not important,” Kat said. “The more pertinent questions are where the other android is and which one do we have here? If she’s the unstable one, we definitely don’t want to wake her and if she’s not…”

“Then we don’t want Y3 awake,” Grace stated. “Wherever it is.”

“I’ll contact Ophelia,” Kat offered.


The pod’s fluid drained and it popped open. Ophelia heard her communicator go off. “Leon, go outside and contact the other group, she whispered. “We’ll handle this.”

Leon hesitantly left the room to take Kat’s call.

The man opened his eyes. They were a light purple colour. He carefully left the pod, scanning the faces of the two women.

“Greetings,” Ophelia said, stepping forward. “I’m Captain Ophelia Wester of the Starship Cerberus. This is my Farah Jilani, a member of my crew. To whom do we have the pleasure of speaking?”

He looked from one to the other. his pupils shifting in size and shape as he looked them over.

“My designation is Y3-Q0,” he answered. “Where is Professor Crozier?”

“We haven’t seen anyone except you since we arrived,” Ophelia answered, keeping her voice soft. “I’m sorry, but we didn’t read any life signs either.”

“Then, the Professor must have been terminated,” Y3 deduced. “He was the only life form in this complex.” He scratched his chin and looked at them. “Extrapolation: your vessel will run whether or not you are present. Conclusion: You and your crew are unnecessary to my departure.”

Ophelia stood her ground. “And what exactly do you mean by that?”

The android launched forward, grabbing Ophelia by the throat and lifting her into the air.

Farah fired several shots into his arm and another into his head. His hand opened and Ophelia was able to scramble away.

The android turned towards her. “Your weapon is ineffective. It would be prudent of you to resign yourself to your upcoming termination. Struggling will only make it more painful.”

Y3 swiftly ran towards Farah. She stepped back, taking shots at him. Leon burst into the room. He fired several rounds at Y3 while moving to Farah. He tossed the blaster at the android and scooped up Farah in his arms, following Ophelia out of the chamber.

Y3 glanced at the blaster, noticing that it was over-loading just before it blew.

“We have to keep running,” Leon said. “I don’t think that’ll kill it.”

Farah slid out of his arms. “What is it?”

“An android,” Leon answered. “There are two of them in here and I think we found the unstable one.”

“We’ll get to Kat’s team,” Ophelia said. “Grace is our best bet to find something to do about that thing.”


“Any weaknesses?” Kat asked.

“I’m looking,” Grace answered. “Don’t rush me.”

“That thing will already be awake,” Kat muttered.

This is Ophelia. The call was frantic sounding. We’re being pursued by the android. It’s violent and dangerous. Please, find a method of handling it. 

“Goody,” Allison said. “You just know that Leon is going to say ‘I told you so’ over this.”

“We’ll prepare to barricade the door,” Kat stated. “Once they’re through we’ll block it so that the android can’t follow easily.”

“Won’t work,” Grace said. “They’re designed to be significantly stronger than humans.”

“What do you suggest?” Kat asked.

“You two go and help them hold it off,” Grace said. “I’ll wake up our sleeping beauty.”

“Sweet,” Allison said. “I’ll hide her clothes.”

“Don’t you dare,” Kat said. She turned to Grace. “Is that wise?”

“According to the Professor, Y4 didn’t show any signs of instability,” Grace stated. “But she’s every bit as strong as Y3. If I can persuade her to help us, we can win.”

Kat nodded. “All right. I’ll trust your instincts. Just keep looking for a way to shut it down.” She nodded to Allison. The two of them readied their blasters and moved out, leaving Grace alone with Y4 and the bags of parts.

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Voyages of the Cerberus episode 23: The Pods

“More tea?” Lucy asked. She held the pot out.

“Thank you,” Paul said, moving his cup close.

“I really wish that Ophelia wouldn’t go off on missions without me,” Lucy said. “But she thinks that one of us always needs to be aboard during these things.” She tilted her head at Paul. “That’s a secret so don’t tell anyone I said it.”

Paul nodded. “I understand.”

“What about you?” Lucy asked. “What kinds of secrets are you keeping?”

“I really don’t have many,” Paul stated. “But, I suppose, all of us have some. Although, I have a good idea of what Kat’s is and I know all of Leon’s. Although he doesn’t know all of mine.”

“Hmmmm,” Lucy murmured. “What could be so important that you have to hide it from him? Something related to Ca’urrg, perhaps.”

“I can’t say,” Paul said. “What I can tell you is that it’s no threat to this ship or her crew.”

Lucy took a sip of her tea. “Well, I suppose that’s good enough of an  answer.”


“Ophelia,” Kat said. “We’ve found a dead body. It looks like he was a resident of this place. Would you like us to change our plans?”

Do you have a probable cause of death? Ophelia’s voice came in loud and clear.

“It appears that he died in bed,” Kat reported. “Whether from natural causes or not, I can’t say. Do you want Paul to come for an autopsy?”

No. Ophelia stated. There aren’t any life signs so even if it was foul play, there’s no need for us to be concerned. Just leave his body alone and continue your search. 

“Understood,” Kat said. “Let’s go to a different room.”

“And I was looking forward to my nostrils burning even more,” Allison said. “I think I’m gonna be smelling this guy for a month.”

The trio quickly left the man’s room and headed to the next one in the corridor. The second chambre had several bins of circuits and metallic parts. A pair of robotic legs hung to the side. A half-finished arm had been left on the table with the tools sitting neatly beside it.

“Now this is some valuable stuff,” Grace said. “We’ll want the legs, for sure. I don’t recognise the design, but I should be able to figure it out and finish that arm.” She moved through the various components. Pointing out which ones were valuable and which were relatively cheap. Allison and Kat followed her, putting the valuable parts in their bags as carefully as they could.


Ophelia led Farah and Leon into the second room on their side.

It had counters, a fridge, a stove and a single rounded table with a single chair propped against it.

“A kitchen,” Ophelia said. “For one, it looks like.”

“Does that mean the guy the others found was the only one living here?” Farah asked.

“Doesn’t seem likely,” Leon said. “This is a pretty big place.”

“It also raises some serious questions,” Ophelia said. “Namely, where did he get supplies & what exactly was he doing here? Though, it doesn’t seem unlikely that he was, given what we’ve found so far.”

Leon opened the fridge. There was some moldy cheese, a pitcher of water and a few unidentifiable dishes in plastic containers. He closed it again.

“Why would you open that?” Ophelia asked.

Leon shrugged. “Thought their might be something odd that would give us a clue.”

“There’s certainly nothing valuable here,” Ophelia noted. “Let’s move on.”

The three checked the next door, which turned out to be a bathroom. The door after that led to a large storage closet that was half-filled with sealed ration meals.

“We’ll take these,” Ophelia said. “They’ll save us having to cook for a while.”

“We shouldn’t,” Leon protested. “They really aren’t worth anything.”

“Oh, but it’s such a waste to leave them,” Ophelia said.

“It’s a bigger waste to use our bag space for them,” Leon argued.

Ophelia laughed. “I was just teasing you. You really do have a delicate stomach.”

“I can’t help it,” Leon said. “I’ve gotten used to having delicious home-cooked meals. I used to be able to eat shit like this before I first moved in with Paul.”

“This layout is peculiar,” Farah noted. “Why isn’t the food storage next to the kitchen? And why is the guy’s bedroom so far away from this stuff?”

“Maybe the base was constructed before he got here,” Ophelia suggested. “And he just modified the space based on how much room he needed for various things.”

“No point thinking about it,” Leon said. “Unless we find a record of some kind, we aren’t getting an answer.”


“You ladies want to head back to the ship and celebrate a job well done?” Allison asked. “I can bring the toys.”

“We’ve still got a little room,” Grace said. “Let’s check the next chambre.”

“But if there’s another haul like this we’ll just have to come back,” Allison protested.

“True,” Kat said. “But it could also have nothing. I say that we keep moving until we find the next room worth going into.”

The three headed into the next room. It was massive. The walls were lined with large, heavy electronic equipment. In the middle of the room stood a large pod filled with a greenish liquid. A dark-skinned woman with lilac coloured hair was floating inside. A cable ran from the pod to a control console, bolted to the floor.

“She’s gorgeous!” Allison exclaimed. “Can I take her home?”

“Why didn’t we pick up any life signs?” Kat wondered. “Could the thing be shielded?”

“Nope,” Grace said. “This room doesn’t have the right equipment for that.” She moved to the console and began inputting commands. “Hold on. I’ll find out what’s going on.”


Ophelia, Farah and Leon found themselves in a nearly identical room. The only difference was that a silver-haired man floated in their pod.

Ophelia opened a communication channel. “Lucy, do me a favour and do an intensive scan of the area directly in front of me. See if you can read any life signs.”

Checking. Lucy said. The three waited in silence for a moment. No life signs. Why? Do you see something? 

“A bloke in a pod,” Ophelia answered. “It must be shielded.”

The console near them switched on. Farah moved over to it.

“This says it’s commencing the awakening process,” Farah reported. “We have two minutes until he wakes up.”

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