The Intelligence test wasn’t what Ophelia had expected. There was a large wall with several strange symbols etched on it. The centre of the wall was empty, but there were small symbols matching those found around the wall that could be placed there.
“Is this just a sudoku puzzle?” Kat asked.
“Oh, I get it!” Farah declared. “If we draw the grid like so…” She used her hand held to set up a 9×9 grid and reproduced the symbols on the wall.
“Assuming it is a similar puzzle,” Yuri stated “The solution is…”
“Oh, hush,” Ophelia said. “We may not have your enhanced processing speeds but we can solve a puzzle like this.”
“Would it not be preferable to resolve it hastily?” Yuri asked.
“I kind of like puzzles like this,” Farah said.
“Yeah, so do I,” Ophelia said.
“The tough part is going to be this symbol,” Farah said. “It’s not actually anywhere on the grid.”
“We’ll have to fill one of the squares completely and get it through the process of elimination,” Ophelia said.
“It’s definitely an expert level one,” Kat noted. “At least it has that going for it.”
“Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if it was just an easy one?” Ophelia joked.
Yuri watched and waited while her companions went to work. It took them twenty three minutes, thirty eight seconds before they had the solution ready to go. The wall quickly slid up to give them access to the treasure inside.
“It normally takes me longer to do those,” Farah said.
“Well, three heads are better then one,’ Ophelia stated. “Still, a strange test.”
“The pacificans do not have anything like sudoku in their culture,” Yuri stated. “For them, it would take effort to recognise the nature of the puzzle and to find a solution. We were also on a timer.”
“A timer?” Ophelia asked.
“Affirmative,” Yuri stated. “There was a subtle ticking from the time we entered. I do not know what would happen if we ran out of time.”
“You could have mentioned it,” Ophelia said.
“I considered doing so, but was concerned that it would impact your enjoyment of the activity and cause you all undue pressure.” Yuri stated. “Besides, I was confident in all of you being able to overcome it.”
“Well, it all worked out,” Farah said. “So, let’s go back. We need to prepare Filorya’s welcoming party.”
“Welcoming…” Ophelia had to take a moment to ponder what Farah had just said.
“She took that oath so she’s sticking around, right?” Farah asked.
“It would be a reasonable assumption,” Yuri agreed.
Ophelia thought for a moment. “We’ll discuss this when we get back to the Cerberus.”
The crew, minus Filorya, gathered in the conference room.
“We’re all here for a simple reason,” Ophelia said. “We need to decide how to deal with Filorya. I can release her from her vow and send her on her way, or we can welcome her aboard as a part of the crew.”
“Easy, send her home,” Leon stated. “Done.”
“I disagree,” Paul said. “She seems eager to learn about our culture and prove herself to us. I think it would be prudent to give her the opportunity.”
“I haven’t really met her. So, I don’t care one way or the other,” Grace said.
“She would be viewed in a highly negative light if she were to offer her loyalty only to have it considered not worthwhile,” Yuri stated. “I have had the opportunity to speak with her at length. I have also observed her abilities in action. I believe we should permit her to continue with us.”
“I’d like to be friends with her,” Farah said.
“We do have room,” Lucy pointed out. “And a loyal pacifican could come in handy.”
“We have had a lot of run ins with pacificans,” Kat stated. “Maybe having her along could help us avoid some further problems.”
“So, Everyone wants her around but me?” Leon asked. “Fine. Whatever. Keep her around. I don’t give a shit.”
“Well, it appears that we have a welcoming party to organise,” Ophelia said. “We’ll go to the canteen and get things ready. Paul, we’ll give you a signal when we need you to bring her.”
“You all have fun with that,” Leon muttered. “I’m going to bed.”