Having met for one standard hour, Cortezzo had brought the meeting to an end, stating due to his tasks assigned him by Lord Tabir that he must leave.  With a wide smile covering his round face, Cortezzo stood and extended his right hand towards Teis who stood and stared at it until realizing Cortezzo’s gesture was sincere.  A tight grin on his thin lips Teis grabbed the proctor’s hand and shook it.  With a slight nod towards Teis, Cortezzo turned to his scribes and with a minimal amount of fanfare, exited the chamber.


As the doors swished shut, Teis looked about the massive room.  Seeing everything but focusing on nothing, he felt odd, yet strangely placated.  He had expected every decision to be questioned, every move to be undermined, yet for reasons he could not understand, it did not happen.  Part of him wanted to embrace what had transpired, yet deep within his mind he was racked with feelings of unease and uncertainty.



Still feeling conflicted, and trying desperately to focus his thoughts on more important matters, Teis walked to the large viewport on the chamber’s west wall and looked out over the vast expanse of sun-drenched sand.  Had what he experienced been by design?  He smiled.  There was only one person whom he could confide in, one who hated the bloated Lords as much as he, a man whom the kingdom had taken his best years then threw him upon the bone pile of obscurity, his former First Prime, Herrea Pinowne.


Teis returned to his chair and pressed the side bar on his console.  Within seconds, the full image of an old man appeared, his face was deeply wrinkled, the skin of an individual who had spent most of his life out in the Matto Grosso with him than within the complex pushing switches.  A black patch, from a battle fought long ago covered his right eye as several days of white stubble covered his face.  With unkempt hair, Pinowne was a contradiction to his appearance, dressed in a clean, pressed smock that flowed over tailored pants.


“Ancient one,” Teis’s voice boomed, “do you think you can clear your busy schedule to make time to see me within the hour?”


The old man didn’t need any coaxing. “Depends on what type of swill you are serving, your Lordship?” was the quick, sardonic reply.


“Snow-laced mescal, or can’t your old bones handle a young man’s drink?” Teis replied with a laugh.


Pinowne gave an avuncular chuckle.  “I will arrive within the hour to show you how this old one can handle the poison you serve.”


Teis looked at him with an expectant gaze.  “Excellent, old friend.  I look forward to your visit and the insights it will bring.  Use the side exit; code delta theta, zero five zero nine.  Until then old friend,” Teis said quietly,” I will keep your drink cold.”


The sounds of two chimes quickly focused Teis’ attention to a smaller gemplasma screen to the left of his console.  With interest he watched the image of a young woman materialize.  Relieved it was not one of the Lords, Teis smiled, noticing immediately two vertical yellow stripes on the shoulder of her dark-brown uniform with two more on her hat that sat atop short-black hair.  So young to be a staff Lieutenant.  Herrea would be curious how she obtained her rank at such an early age.


“Chief Analyzer, I am Lieutenant Lucheri.  Your stalkers will arrive as scheduled.  The first ten will be placed in protective holding pen zero seven.  Lord Dareen’s Alpha male prototype with the remaining fifteen stalkers will be in pen zero nine.  The Verifier pilot will land four standard hours later to be escorted by me to your chamber.”


“Excellent news, Lieutenant.  Do you anticipate any problems?”


“No, Chief Analyzer.  I look forward to working with you.  Do you have any questions for me?”


“None that I can think of now, Lieutenant, but no doubt I will later.



Author Notes


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