Grace finished packing her bag. “Be sure to watch the Baron properly while I’m gone, okay?”
Behind her, Yuri was holding the Baron in her arms and gently stroking his head while he squirmed in an effort to jump down in order to follow his mistress.
“I will conduct that duty with great enjoyment,” Yuri stated. “I will also look after young Hyper with equal zeal.”
“You really like animals, don’t you?” Grace asked.
Yuri cocked her head. “I find their soft fur and mannerisms to be pleasant. Is that unusual?”
“Not at all,” Grace stated. “It’s just interesting to me that that potential is part of your programming. Your creator really did go to great lengths to make you able to appreciate everything a regular human could.”
“He desired fully sapient androids,” Yuri stated. “I believe that necessitates the capacity for emotional responses to stimulae.”
“Certainly,” Grace agreed. “But there are plenty of sapient species with lessened responses, when compared to humans. It would’ve been easier to model you after one of them instead.” She shrugged. “Maybe it’s because he was human.”
“That is a possibility,” Yuri stated.
An elderly man approached the Cerberus, carrying a briefcase, guards at his sides and an unarmed young man following meekly behind. He motioned for the guards to wait and proceeded, followed by the unarmed man.
Ophelia and Lucy were waiting. “Mister Geralt,” Ophelia greeted.
“Captain Wester,” he returned. “I trust you have my merchandise?”
Lucy held out the drive. “Ready and waiting. Please verify it.”
He nodded to the young man who slowly, cautiously brought out his own hand held.
He hurriedly examined the drive and nodded.
“Excellent,” the old man said. “Your payment, Captain. Please check to ensure that it’s all there.”
Ophelia picked up the case and hurriedly counted the credits inside. “Pleasure doing business with you,” she said.
“If you need help breaking the encryption, I’ll give you a discount,” Lucy stated.
Mister Geralt turned to his companion. “How long will it take you?”
“They have a pretty top of the line security system in place,” he observed. “But I can break it for you. It’ll just take two, maybe three days.”
“He nodded. “Good enough. Good enough. I’m sorry, Mrs. Wester, but I’ll have to decline. Can’t have Martin here not earning his pay.”
“It’s perfectly fine,” Lucy stated. “Just checking.”
“If you happen to have more work for us, just ask,” Ophelia said.
“Of course, of course,” he said. “You’ve got a capable crew here. I hope to keep our business relationship going.” He lowered his head to them. “I’ll contact you if something comes up.”
The two walked off, grabbing their guards on the way out.
“Out of curiosity,” Ophelia whispered. “How long would it take you to break through that level of security, if you hadn’t been the one to set it up.”
“A day, maybe a day and a half,” Lucy answered. “I think young mister Martin will have it done more quickly than he lets on. He’s just padding his estimate for safety.”
“Makes sense,” Ophelia said. “I certainly wouldn’t want to risk making a mob boss mad at me for not quite making a deadline.”
Grace and Farah made their way to their hotel. Farah had fallen asleep in the transport with her head in Grace’s lap. Grace was reading a science journal, occasionally glancing at Farah’s sleeping face.
She smiled, this was going to be an enjoyable weekend.
“We have a transmission coming in,” Allison reported. “It’s from Ca’urrg.”
“Ca’urrg?” Ophelia asked. “Put it on screen.”
Uras’ face appeared in an extreme close up. “Hi,” she cried. “Is my friend there? I need to say hi to him.”
“I’ll patch you through,” Ophelia said.
“Yay!” Uras declared. “You’re the bestest.”
Her message was quickly transferred to Medical.
Paul, upon seeing her, activated his emergency lockout.
“Uras, is there another saboteur?” He asked. “Something wrong with the Queller, perhaps?”
“No,” she answered. “You don’t have to worry about us. Rather, we need to worry about you. You and your pack are in danger.”
“What’s the source?” Paul asked.
“The peace talks on the boundary are failing,” Uras explained. “We estimate that it will be less than two weeks before they fully break down and the Alliance is officially at war with Akumil. Your pack is currently in Alliance space, is it not?”
“It is,” Paul answered. “We’re finishing some repairs.”
“You must persuade your pack to leave quickly,” Uras said. “They won’t let you go just because your mercenaries. They’ll take you as prisoners and confiscate your ship. Can your repairs be completed in time?”
Paul nodded. “They should be done in around four days. Persuading Ophelia to leave may prove more difficult. She doesn’t like staying in one place too long, but she’ll probably line up job in Alliance space while we’re here.”
“You have to make sure it finishes quickly,” Uras said. “Or convince her to take an Akumillian job.”
“I’ll do my best,” Paul said. He paused. “How certain is it?” that the talks will break down, I mean.”
“At this point, it’s a matter of when,” Uras answered. “We’ll try to delay it for you. Stay safe, Friend.”
“I will,” Paul said. “Thanks for warning me.”
Uras nodded and cut the transmission.