“Farah, Yuri, come with me,” Ophelia ordered. “It’s time to greet our passenger.”
“Acknowledged,” Yuri stated.
“If she gets too friendly remind her that she’s getting married soon,” Allison called out to them as they left.
“She’s marrying a man,” Kat said.
“Doesn’t mean she won’t be interested in my girlfriend too,” Allison said.
“You have nothing to worry about,” Kat said. “She has no interest in women like that.”
“How do you know?” Allison asked.
“I… I did some research,” Kat muttered.
“Someone’s evading the question,” Allison observed.
“Play nicely or I shall have to separate you two,” Lucy said.
She arrived in a copter with two armed guards by her side.
“Hello, thanks for picking me up,” she said, brightly. She had dark hair and dark brown eyes. “Sorry about the guards. My fiancé is a bit paranoid.”
“No problem,” Ophelia said. “Farah, why don’t you take Miss Theris on board?”
“Please, call me Mrs Nipbur,” Angela said, winking. “Even if it is a little premature.”
Farah led her on board while Ophelia and Yuri spoke with the guards.
“What kind of threat are we looking at?” Ophelia asked.
“Nothing definitive,” the first guard answered, wiping her brow. “But Mister Nipbur is the heir to a quite lucrative textile company. It behoves us to take every precaution. I trust you’ll do the same?”
“Absolutely,” Ophelia agreed. “Just entrust her safety to us.”
“Your guest quarters are this way,” Farah said. “Right through the bridge.” She led Angela into the bridge.
Allison looked up and Kat hurriedly tried to hide her face.
“Katie!” Angela cried. She ran up and tightly hugged Kat. “Why, it’s been an age since I last saw you.”
“The plot thickens,” Allison whispered.
“You two know one another?” Farah asked.
“I should say so,” Angela declared. “Katie was my best friend all through University and for years after.”
“So, what happened?” Allison inquired.
“Oh, it was a dreadful business,” Angela said. “My first husband, may he rest in peace, was found murdered. The peace keeping forces suspected poor Katie for a time, but she was dropped as a suspect. The whole thing made a right mess of her career though, and I lost track of her.”
“How wonderful that you found one another again!” Allison declared. “I bet you have all kinds of catching up to do.”
“Yeah!” Angela agreed.
“Kat, are you feeling okay?” Farah asked, noting that Kat had been looking at the floor during the entire exchange.
“Just tired,” Kat muttered. “Take over for me for a while, okay?” She hurriedly excused herself.
“Come find me later so that we can talk!” Angela called.
“I’ll go check on her,” Lucy said. “Farah, help our guest settle in. Allison, watch the bridge for a couple seconds while Ophelia and Yuri return.”
Lucy found Kat in her quarters.
Kat was holding a book, looking only slightly less shaky.
Lucy moved inside and closed the door behind her. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Ophelia and I should have recognised the name. Still, you should have told us. We could have taken you off of active duty.”
“It’s fine,” Kat said. “I needed to face this, face her, at some point.”
Lucy nodded. “I understand. Just don’t push yourself.” She sighed. “I’ll put you on a self-set schedule. Come in when you’re feeling up to it and return to your quarters when you need to. At least as long as she’s here.”
“Thank you,” Kat said. “And I’m sorry.”
Lucy shook her head. “Don’t be. We all have times in our life that we’d like to forget. But, for your own sake, I’d suggest trying to remember the good times the two of you had. Don’t just fixate on how everything fell apart.”
“That’s not an easy thing to do,” Kat said.
“I know,” Lucy acknowledged. “But I also know Katie Horne. I know how strong she is. And I know that Katie Horne can face her past, no matter how difficult, and hold her head up high. After all, you don’t regret anything you did, do you?”
Katie shook her head.
“And you didn’t do anything wrong, right?” Lucy added.
“I didn’t!” Kat declared.
“There you have it,” Lucy said. “Just remember that while we complete this mission.”