Farah returned to their hotel, alone.
“Where were you?” Kat inquired.
“Grace and I went to walk Baron,” Farah answered. “Then Miss Uras showed up and took Grace to play. Grace came back, like, ten minutes later and took Baron.”
“I’m surprised that she was willing to let you go at all,” Allison stated, shaking her head in mock exasperation. “She finally gets you alone and she lets someone ruin it.”
“Did the Ca’urr mention Paul?” Leon asked.
Farah shook her head. “Sorry, she didn’t.”
“Scuse me,” A Ca’urr slightly taller than Kat came running in. “You’re the offworlders, right? There was an accident. I’m supposed to tell you.”
“What kind of accident?” Kat asked. “Can you, maybe, give more details?”
“Paul’s hurt!” Leon cried. “Dammit, Man, take me to him.”
“Kay,” the messenger said. “Follow me.”
“Hold up,” Kat commanded. “I’ll inform Ophelia and Lucy. I’m sure they’ll want to come as well.”
Uras and Grace hurried into the Queller facility. Grace was wearing a studded collar and carrying a small tote bag.
“This is Grace Albrecht,” Uras introduced. “Our new trusted friend.”
“New trusted friend?” Uhthli muttered. “What has she done to gain our trust?”
“She’s been given clearance at the urging of her brother,” Uras answered. “The council felt that, under the circumstances, it might be prudent to believe in his word.”
“I just hope it isn’t a mistake,” Uhthli said. “Sorry, if I come across as crass, Miss, but I would rather not risk losing such an important piece of equipment due to carelessness.”
“No problem,” Grace said. “I’ve looked over the schematics and I think that I can repair it quickly enough that it’s not going to lose power.”
“You and I will guard her,” Uras stated. “I’m sorry. I know it may be asking a lot given that you were just released from hospital, but I need to keep a strong detail of trusted soldiers on this.”
“It’s no problem,” Uhthli said. “With this I can avenge my honour.”
Uras nodded. “Indeed. Shall we go?”
They looked in on Paul. The top of his head and left eye were wrapped up in bandages. He lay completely still on the bed.
“What exactly happened to him?” Lucy asked.
“Accident,” their guide answered. “Don’t worry. They say if he can make it through the next five or six hours he’ll eventually recover. Scuse me.” He took off. Leaving them alone.
“You guys can do what you want,” Leon said. He pulled a chair up to Paul’s bedside and gently took his hand. “I’m staying with him until he wakes.”
“Grace should be here,” Ophelia muttered. “You say that she went off with Uras?”
Farah nodded. “Sorry. I don’t know where they went.”
“I wonder,” Lucy muttered. “Was Paul already injured when she came for Grace?”
“You think this was deliberate,” Ophelia observed.
“Let’s just say I’m being suspicious,” Lucy said. “The lack of details and the whole part about her coming for Grace so shortly before we hear about this make me think that we’re going to get called in to see Grace next. Probably shortly after she’s grabbed someone else.”
“But what’s the motive?” Kat wondered. “Paul saved them from a plague. Why would anyone on this planet want to hurt him?”
“Plus, this is Ca’urrg,” Allison added. “The planet with a violent crime rate so low that the largely pacifist population of Themis thinks of it as a great example.”
“I’ve heard of that,” Farah said. “They make pilgrimages here to ‘eliminate their bad thoughts’ or something, right?”
“Maybe so,” Lucy said. “But I’d still like to see the crime scene. Just to satisfy myself.”
“It might be difficult to find the accident site,” Ophelia said.
“Don’t worry about that,” Lucy stated, opening her eyes very slightly. “I’ll find it.”
Grace examined the Queller, keeping her mind focused on her surroundings. first, she’d use the two tools that she’d brought to deal with the saboteur. When that was done she’d have time to worry about the Queller itself.
That was when she noticed it. It was a subtle difference, given that it was surrounded by similar looking circuits, but it looked like someone had added something extra. She was about to go over it with her diagnostic equipment when Baron’s barking head burst out of her tote bag.
She rolled to the side, clutching the bag close. A large metal pipe came down where her head had been.
“Thought so,” she muttered. “That explains why you were the only one who wasn’t hurt badly.”
“I still have time to deal with you,” Uhthli growled. He lunge for her, his fangs going for her throat. She blocked with her left arm, his fangs sinking into it. She reached into her bag with her right hand and brought out her trusty wrench. Then she beat him upside the head as hard as she could. He yelped in surprise, allowing her to pull her arm free. Then she hit him again and again. Pummeling him into unconsciousness.
She dropped the bloodied wrench and stroked Wolfie’s head. “Thanks for the warning, Pal. I’m just glad the inhibitor actually works. Even if it is bloody uncomfortable. How do you wear a collar so easily?”
Wolfgang reached his head over to her injured left arm, sniffed it, whimpered slightly and started licking the bite wound.