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Chapter 36

      Jeremy entered Leiha's office, and she motioned for him to sit.

      "I'm happy you decided to come see me," she said.

      "I would have come earlier, but I was under house arrest."

      "You don't sound too angry about that."

      "I was, but ultimately, I realized Gral was right in punishing me, I really screwed up, and endangered the crew. Also, I realized that he didn't do it as lightly as I initially thought he had."

      She tilted her head. "What do you mean?"

      "It hurt him to do that to me. I didn't realize that at first. I was too angry to see it."

      "And now?"

      "Now, I know that it wasn't easy for him to . . .." Jeremy stopped talking, mouth opened. "Did you really start analyzing me before we were done greeting each other?"

      "I did. Your comment about being under house arrest didn't have the emotional strength I expected, based on what I heard."

      Jeremy did smile, "the crew's talking?"

      "Do they ever stop?" she replied, sharing his smile.

      Jeremy shook his head, they were a close knit crew after all, it was difficult to keep things hidden among such crew. "Can we forgo the analysis? I actually came to ask you for your help, well a favor really."

      She leaned back in her seat, and studied him. "You're not here to discuss your anger toward humans."

      "No, I'm not."

      "I was lead to believe that was why you'd come."

      "I never told Gral that, I just said that I'd come see you."

      "Why are you misleading him?"

      "To protect him."

      "What are you planing, that he can't know, for his own protection?"

      "And that of the crew. Before I tell you, what do you know of what humans did to me?"

      "I know they kidnapped you twice."

      "That's all you know?"

      She nodded.

      "Take a look through my memories, when I was a teen."

      "You give me permission to read your mind?" her ears tilted.

      "I do."

      She looked at him, then her eyes widened slightly. "No wonder you hate them," she whispered, after a moment.

      Jeremy nodded. "The attempt on our cubs, was to get to me. There aren't any other reasons humans would try to kidnap two kelsirian cubs."

      "You didn't tell the station master everything you found out from the human." She sighed. "You realize that I'm suppose to report anything behavior that can put the ship in danger."

      "I know. That's the favor I need. I need you to not tell him anything of what I plan to do."

      "Why Jeremy? He wouldn't approve of what you are planing, but he would try to find a way to achieve the same results. He isn't your enemy. Do you realize what you are risking?"

      "I do. But if I don't do anything, they are just going to continue to come after me. I know that he's going to be royally pissed at me for this. I'm going to end up in the brig after this, but so long as he doesn't know, he can't be held accountable. It's just me who is going to pay."

      "You know that you are wrong." It wasn't a question. "It's true that the humans will not be able to pursue legal actions directly against him, but this will hurt him, badly."

      "But he'll keep his command, he'll keep the ship."

      "And you think that will matter?"

      "It has to. I have to make the humans understand what they have to lose by targeting me."

      She looked at him. "You are making a mistake. I'm telling you this upfront. You need to tell him what you know, but I know you won't. I should tell him, but that won't solve the underlying problem." She sighed. "I will help you. I will keep your secret, under one condition. Once a week you will come see me. For one hour you will sit here and we will talk."

      "About what?"

      "Anything, everything. I will ask you questions, which you won't have to answer, but I hope you will."

      "For how long?"

      "I don't know. You know why I want you to do this. The anger you are holding isn't good for you. I hope I can help you resolve it before you are able to set you plan in motion, but even if I can't, I have to help you come to terms with what was done to you.

      "If you agree to my term, I will keep your secret."

      "I agree," Jeremy answered without hesitation.

      * * * * *

      Jeremy, Thuruk, Ashnulem, Perrovtil and Xernial were sitting around the games table, in one of the privacy room adjoining one of the recreation rooms. The room had a large couch, large bed, and multiple chair, the table had been taken out of the storage compartment. The room, and the others like it around the ship were for when groups wanted to have some fun together, but were large enough they would disrupt the use of the recreation rooms.

      Jeremy had started the game nights once his confinement ended, as something to do with friends, he'd told Gral. It was rarely the same people from one week to the next, Gral even joined them once in a while. It was the first time these five were at the table at the same time. Arranging it hadn't been to hard, making sure that each had an idea why they were here, without revealing it to anyone else, had taken three month.

      "Why isn't Toom here?" Thuruk asked. "I'd have expected him to want to help you."

      "I didn't ask him." Jeremy replied, activating the table. "The three of us are too close. I didn't want to force him to choose between me and Gral, and if this blows up in our face, Gral is going to need Toom."

      "That'd be why I'm here then." Xernial stated. "You really think this operation can go bad?"

      "We're going up against a human general, with we don't know how many operatives, operating inside kelsirian space. Yeah, this thing can go bad. That why we're going to need your contacts. You have a claws in pretty much every criminal organization, kelsirian and otherwise. I'm hoping you can use them to track down a ship that is able to move within our space undetected."

      "If we can't detect it, how am I suppose to have my contact look for it?"

      "You have them look for the ripples it's crew causes on the markets," Perrovtil said. "They can't have more than a minimal kelsirian crew. I can't believe they could bribe too many of us. Even our most hardened criminals would have trouble siding with people who oppress their citizens like humans do. Since the general's people can't leave the ship without attracting attention, they are going to have to stock up on everything they need to keep the moral high, that means games, leisure, recreational drugs, I'll give you a list of what they should look for. I'm not even going to hazard a guess as to what they'll do for sex." He looked at Jeremy.

      "I don't know. If I go by the little interactions I've had with military personnel, which only happened when we had a ship dock at the station, they probably won't have sex on the ship. Every time one of those ships docked, they were out in the common areas hitting on the females."

      "Don't they have females in their military?"

      "They do, but I couldn't tell you if they have sex with them."

      The four looked at each other. "No sex," Ashnulem said, "for months at a time?" He shuddered. "They have to be insane."

      "I can't go a week without sex," Thuruk stated.

      "According to Asarin," Xernial said, with a wry smile, "you can't go days without." The others laughed.

      "I could go a week if I had to." Thuruk insisted. "The fact that I don't have to just means I'm in a better emotional state."

      "You might have a point," Ashnulem said. "Maybe it's a human military tactic. Get their military so worked up that they'll do whatever they are told, with the promise of sex when it's done."

      "Sounds like a recipe for a mutiny, if you ask me." Perrovtil said.

      "Ashnulem," Jeremy said, "is there any way you can familiarize yourself with human computers? I'm going to need you to infiltrate theirs, when we find them."

      "You really think they are using a human ship?" Ashnulem asked. "Seems to me that would attract a lot of attention."

      "No, their ship won't look human, probably won't be either, considering they aren't being noticed in our own space, I'm guessing it's a kelsirian design. But if there's one thing I know about humans, it's that they'll never completely trust another race's computers. What we'll need to access will almost certainly be controlled by human computers."

      "I can go over the notes Jurani made when he infiltrated the station, but that won't be much. He didn't get a chance to test the serious system before we had to leave. I can play around the few human ships we'll encounter when we dock at one of the stations they are allowed on, but we don't go there often, so I'm not going to get a lot of practice."

      "Is there any way we can find our way there more often?" Jeremy asked Thuruk.

      "Up to a point," Thuruk answered after thinking it over. "We do have indication of pirates in that area, as well as smuggling."

      Xernial cleared his throat.

      "You know about them, don't you?" Thuruk asked.

      "Of course. I know everything that's going on within our space."

      "If you're willing to offer up some of them, it'll help justify our presence. Otherwise the captain will become suspicious if we always come up empty."

      "Show me what you have, when you can, and I'll tell you who we can go after without creating too much of a vacuum."

      "Good, then we all know what we need to do for now. I have some ideas to test, to help tracking them."

      For the next two hours they played, while also thinking about their tasks, except for Xernial, who seem to be able to focus completely on the game, therefor won all the rounds.


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