“And that’s the mission,” Ophelia finished. She’d explained the request to retrieve Elijah J. Tawaig.
“I do not understand why it is considered vital for us to meet with Misses Levinia and Emily,” Yuri stated. “Would it not be more efficient to simply make our way to the Drotor system and retrieve him?”
“For a hyper intelligent android, you certainly are naive,” Lucy said, wagging her finger. “There’s a reason some of our clients want to meet with us in person before we do a job.”
“What would that reason be?” Yuri asked.
“There’s something more to the mission,” Ophelia answered. “Something they don’t want to risk being intercepted.” She looked around the conference table. “We don’t all need to meet with them. Grace, I want you and Yuri to stay aboard and continue working on getting the Cerberus back in peak shape. And these are aristocratic ladies, so Leon and Allison will remain behind as well.”
“Worried we’ll embarrass you, Mummy?” Allison asked, adopting a fake English accent. “Please, just don’t throw us in the cellar again.”
“Hey, what are you implying?” Leon demanded. “I can handle myself around classy people.”
“Fuzzy,” Paul said, speaking softly. “You fidget every time you wear a suit and you… Well, sometimes, without thinking you…”
“You scratch your ass,” Allison chimed in. “Like, vigorously scratch.”
“Don’t worry, Leon,” Lucy reassured. “Paul will be fine. We’ll just take him to their estate and bring him right back. No one will have a chance to hit on him.”
“Fine,” Leon muttered. “I suppose it’s fine for him to be around a married couple.”
“Now that that’s settled,” Ophelia continued. “I will need all three of you to dress formally and be polite.,” she glanced at Paul, Farah and Kat. “Even if one of them says something that’s a bit smug or arrogant.”
“Make sure you’re ready to go when we reach Earth,” Lucy added.
The Cerberus reached Earth and docked at the station in Cornwall. Ophelia was in a more formal captain’s uniform. Lucy’s outfit was Akumillian formal attire, a skin-tight black and yellow outfit with assorted badges decorating it. Paul was wearing a suit. Kat had a close approximation of an officer’s formal uniform and Farah wore her nicest dress.
“It feels kind of like we don’t go together,” Farah observed.
“That’s fine,” Lucy said. “I doubt they’ll care much as long as we’re suitably fancy.”
“Their estate is in Oxford,” Ophelia said. “We’ll grab a shuttle and get there quickly.”
“Can’t believe they think I’m not fancy enough,” Leon grumbled. “I’ll show them fancy.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Allison said. “I wasn’t either and I’m sure the rumours are completely untrue.”
“Rumours?” Leon asked. “What rumours?”
“Oh, you know,” Allison said. “They say that the Ladies Tawaig like to have young gentlemen join them in their chambers. Especially the bald, doctor variety.”
“I’m coming, Paul!” Leon shouted. He ran right into Yuri, who quickly grabbed him.
“Is it wise to tell him such falsehoods?” Yuri asked.
Leon stopped trying to break out of Yuri’s grip. “Wait, that was a lie?” he demanded.
“Well, yeah,” Allison said. “But you have to admit, your reaction was hilarious.”
The five of them hailed a shuttle and got a ride to the Tawaig estate. It was a rather extravagant home, with multiple stories and a large, carefully cultivated yard.
They approached the front door and Ophelia rang the bell. It was answered quickly by an elderly maid.
“And you are?” she asked.
“Captain Ophelia Wester of the Cerberus,” Ophelia introduced herself. “My crew and I are expected.”
“Of course, Captain,” the maid said. She opened the door widely for them. “Please, let me show you to the sitting room. The Ladies are waiting.”
The five were led into a large sitting room. The walls were decorated with paintings and several sculptures were set against them. There were two ladies seated.
“Captain Wester, I assume,” one of the ladies rose to greet them. She had a dark complexion, bright brown eyes and straightened black hair. “I am the lady Levinia Tawaig.” She gestured to the other woman. “This is my wife, the lady Emily.”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance,” Emily said, rising to offer her own hand.”
Ophelia gently shook their hands. “Charmed,” she said. “Captain Ophelia Wester, at your service. This is my wife, Luciverianna.”
“A pleasure,” Lucy said, bowing her head.
“My ship’s Doctor, Paul Albrecht.” Paul bowed. “Our crewman, Farah Jilani,” Farah curtsied. “and our crewman Katie Horne.”
“Very pleased to meet you both,” Kat said. “She reached out for their hands, kneeling and gently kissing each one in turn.
“Very good,” Levinia said. “It’s good to see that your crew understands these things.”
“It does set us at ease,” Emily added. “We had heard some unsettling rumours of you being a band of ruffians.”
“Please, sit,” Levinia invited them. Ophelia and her crew sat in the chairs offered to them. “I suppose you’re wondering why we had you meet us in person.”
“It was on my mind,” Ophelia stated.
“Well, I’ll get right to the point,” Levinia said. She brought up a holographic image of a young man with jet black hair and deep, dark brown eyes. “This is our nephew and heir, Elijah J. Tawaig. As of this moment, he’s cavorting about somewhere in the Drotor system.” She looked away from the image. “We’ve tried to teach him to act a proper gentleman as befits his station, but the boy has been quite intractable.”
“However, it has been quite some time since our last attempt,” Emily said. “We wish you to bring him here, completely unharmed, so that we might try to talk some sense into him.”
“We will authorise you to stun him, if absolutely necessary,” Levinia stated. “However, should it be necessary we would like you to contact us and we will conduct the meeting on your ship. He mustn’t be dragged here in cuffs.”
“We understand,” Lucy reassured her. “Whatever would the neighbours say?”
“Precisely,” Levinia agreed. “And, if you do get him to come of his own will, we ask that you have him wear a suit. We have one prepared for you to take with you.”
“I understand perfectly,” Ophelia stated. “We will bring your nephew to speak to you and we will do our utmost to have him come as a gentleman, but if that’s not possible we will do everything in our power to ensure that no ill rumours spread.”