“Knock knock,” Allison called.
“You may enter,” Yuri stated.
“How’s the exile?” Allison asked. “Having fun in here with the Baron?”
Yuri sat with the little dog in her lap, gently stroking his head.
“I will only be here for two weeks,” Yuri said. “Grace has promised to keep me apprised of any significant events in the ship.”
“And I’ll keep visiting you,” Allison said. “Honestly, if you didn’t have extra training with Lucy you might consider this a vacation.”
“As deserved as it may be, I do not find my punishment amusing,” Yuri said.
“Don’t be mad,” Allison entreated. She moved over and hugged Yuri. “I’m just trying to make you feel better.”
“I do not understand why such a statement would be construed as comforting,” Yuri stated. “But thank you. Knowing what you are attempting to do does make me feel better. I will greatly anticipate your visits.”
“I’ll make sure to show up when Grace is out, then,” Allison said.
“It will not be necessary,” Yuri stated. “We have yet to gain sufficient courting experience for that.”
“Dammit, Grace,” Allison muttered.
Ophelia sat at her conference table, waiting. Lucy reached over and held her hand, quickly moving them both under the table.
Farah arrived first followed by Leon and then, finally Allison.
“Okay group, we’ve got a job,” Ophelia said. “It may prove to be a very difficult mission or an incredibly easy one.”
“Have you all heard about the Kounay and Ghelin conflict?” Lucy asked.
“I have,” Farah said. “The two colonies near the outer edge of inhabited space, as we know it, that have been fighting over everything from satellite resources to exploration rights.”
“Kounay is an Alliance colony, right?” Leon asked.
“Correct,” Lucy said. “And Ghelin belongs to my people.”
“Needless to say, it benefits both sides to find a peaceful resolution,” Ophelia said. “In the interest of avoiding any escalation or dragging their home worlds into it, they’ve asked us to bring them a Ca’urr mediator.”
“Her name is Uhrandra,” Lucy added. “She’s been very good at dealing with conflicts between our peoples in the past.”
“Let me guess,” Allison said. “The possible danger is from elements who don’t want peace and may very well try to stop us from bringing her.”
“Quite right,” Lucy stated. “There will be some decoy ships arriving in Ca’urrg orbit when we do. Each one will use a different route to reach the target site.”
“Ours is neither the most nor the least efficient,” Ophelia said. “In fact, we’re going to try and fool them into thinking we aren’t involved. The plan is a simple one. Right now, there’s a massive science conference being hosted by the Ca’urrs. Their neutral world makes it an ideal location for things like that. Allison will take Paul and Grace down in the shuttle. Our girl will be hidden at the landing site and climb into the ship from the bottom hatch while they’re leaving. We’ll set a course for a station that’s on the same general heading as those worlds. If we’re lucky, they won’t consider us as a possibility.”
“If they’re smart they’ll wait until she arrives and then assassinate her,” Leon stated. “It’s more certain than playing a guessing game with ships.”
“Which is why it may be an easy mission,” Ophelia said. “After all, we just have to get her there safely. They’ll have escorts who will take care of her from there.”
“Will the ships that are acting as decoys all be mercenary ships?” Farah asked.
“They will,” Ophelia answered.
“Then they’ll attack,” Farah said. “I… I think that any terrorists are going to decide that they have a better chance against a small mercenary ship than a trained Alliance-Akumillian security force.”
“Please,” Allison said. “I could take a trained Alliance security force by myself.”
“I could take three,” Leon stated.
“No you couldn’t,” Lucy declared. “Neither of you could. I think Farah’s right. They’ll try to get her on a mercenary ship. Which is why we have to take steps to ensure that we aren’t marked. They won’t have enough ships to follow every one that leaves the planet, especially with the conference.”
“Let’s hope they don’t,” Allison said. “Otherwise we’ll be trying to fight them off without a doctor to treat anyone or an engineer to fix up the ship.”
“It’s a calculated risk,” Ophelia said. “But you’re right. If things go wrong, we’re going to be in trouble.”