The Whisper of Damkina Part 69

March 25th, 2019  |  Published in Whisper of Damkina

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“So how did your lesson go?” Amanpreet asked after councillor Krna had gone.

“Well, I think!” Prima replied. “I don’t quite understand Kska body language yet but she seemed pleased with me.”

“She is,” Mark agreed. “You’re a quick study and we were right that Kska techniques suit your kind better than human ones. If you keep progressing at this rate we might let you do a short supervised jump on the way back to Talis. If Amanpreet is okay with it.”

“As long as you are ready to jump in if she makes a mistake,” Amanpreet said.

“Of course,” he said.

“Yes!” Prima did one of her joyful little dances before looking around. “Merit isn’t back yet?”

“I believe not,” Amanpreet said. “But we haven’t been to your quarters to check.”

“I’d sense if he were that close,” Prima said. “I’d better call him.” She prodded her keyboard. There was no reply and she almost seemed to wilt a little. “Why wouldn’t he answer?”

“He went to see the Mez homeworld ambassador, right?” Niobe said. “I’ll call them and see what’s keeping him.” She walked over to the console and placed a call. After a few moments the ambassador, a large Mez with strong red and green patterning on his tentacles, answered and a short conversation in one of the many Mez languages ensued. When she finished the call Niobe was frowning. “He says that Merit left about an hour ago with his security detail. Althea is not so large that he shouldn’t be back by now. Something isn’t right, so I’m calling security.”

“Please do, something must have happened,” Prima said. “But do assure them he’s not dead,” Prima said. “I’d know immediately if a member of my hive died.”

Niobe nodded and turned back to the console.

“I know you said that you communicate via pheromones,” Amanpreet said quietly so as to not disturb Niobe’s conversation. “But knowing at a distance that he’s alive and being able to sense through walls if he’s close sounds almost telepathic.”

“I think it is a little,” Prima said. “The full nature of our connection to each other was something our scientists were still investigating when the war came. I think your ability to hear Promise’s songs is similar.”

What!” Niobe’s yell got everyone’s attention. She was clutching the edge of the desk and breathing hard. An apologetic looking Asian woman was on the other end of the video call.

“What is it?” Prima asked.

“My apologies, Prima,” the woman said. “I just checked the camera feed along the most likely route from the Mez section to your quarters and it seems that someone has incapacitated his escort and kidnapped your colleague.”

Prima wilted even further. “Merit!”

“Don’t worry, we’ll find him,” she said.

“Shouldn’t the camera have alerted you to the violence?”

“Yes, which means someone disabled the alarms but they didn’t have access to shut the cameras down which means we can exclude the higher ranks.” She made a growling noise. “Althea is supposed to be the safest place in the Galaxy how could this happen?”

“Maybe I’m just cursed,” Amanpreet said. “Last time I was here someone got attacked as well.”

“Not cursed, just tangled up in everything, I think,” the woman tutted thoughtfully. “I’d like to send you more security but I need to double check things first. I’ll contact Councillor Krna and request help from the Ishtari security team. I know they won’t be involved in this mess and we’ll need to delay taking Kayla’s statement as well. We’re tracking them on the cameras now we know what happened and I’ll call you as soon as your friend is safe.”

It was barely fifteen minutes after they had called that Councillor Krna reappeared on their doorstep with two Tkin security officers. Through the window of her environment suit they could see the Kska’s feather’s bristling with anger, an emotion Amanpreet didn’t think she had ever seen from an Ishtari of either species before.

“I do apologise, Queen Prima,” she said. “I really do not know how such a security breach happened. I have brought our two best officers to protect you until the humans have finished – how do you say it? – Cleaning their house.”

“Do we know who did it yet?” Prima asked.

“We have an idea,” one of the Tkin said. “Commander Aw – that’s the human you alerted = has run facial recognition and says that there we four middling ranks security guards involved. She also says that a quick background check indicates that one of them has had contact with the head human scientist on the Corona mission since your return. Commander Aw seems to think it might be related to why she was removed from command by her deputy.”

“Oh her,” Amanpreet said. “She wanted to attack the Coronans to get information she was convinced they had about the enemy.”

“So they are looking for information on the enemy?” Prima asked.

“It’s a reasonable inference,” Krna said. “Even though I’m sure you have already shared everything you know. Humans can be quite untrusting and rather aggressive at times.”

“We did,” Prima said. “I just hope Merit will be okay. If it is that they won’t be happy when he can’t tell them more.”

“We know where he is,” the Tkin said. “They are just working out how to get in without endangering him.”

“Thank you!” Prima said. “Are his escort okay? Commander Aw said they were incapacitated.”

“They are,” Krna said. “They were drugged unconscious, tied up and dumped in an out of the way corner of the domes but otherwise unharmed. The doctors say they should come around in a few hours.”

“Thank goodness!” Prima said. “I guess all we can do now is wait.”

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