Ferocity stayed on Lelelu’s ship on the way to Misko on the Planet of Portals. He maintained a constant telepathic link to his sentient ship; so once in orbit, he separated the ships and manually landed Lelelu’s ship in its usual space, allowing his ship to land on it’s own. He dropped the side ramp and exited the ship. The Muse of Mischief, Agent Brzko, and ShyUst were waiting for him.

“Ferocity, I’m sure you remember ShyUst.” Agent Brzko said, reintroducing them.

“Yes, of course. Hello ShyUst.”

“Hi Ferocity. I was closer than Zri so I came to see if I could help. Were you able to find anything in the logs that could help us?”

“I’m not familiar enough with Lelelu’s ship to attempt accessing the logs. I would not want my lack of knowledge to destroy any information.”

“Good thinking Ferocity. Muse of Mischief, if you don’t object I’d like to have both my technology officer and science officer attempt to figure out what happened.”

“Please, I’m sure they are far more capable at retrieving information than any of us.”

Within seconds two Gaznzulians transported down from his orbiting ship. They immediately boarded Lelelu’s ship and went to work.

“How far out is Zri, ShyUst, and how is he?” Brzko asked.

ShyUst checked his armband before responding, “He is less than an hour away and he is not doing well. I think he’s blaming himself for letting her travel alone.”

“I can understand that but it’s not his fault.” Brzko said.

“And there’s no way Lelelu would allow anyone to tell her she couldn’t travel alone. She is seriously independent.” M added.

One of ShyUst’s officers appeared at the top of the ramp, “Sir, we’ve been able to identify the energy signature from the ship that overtook her. It’s the same as the ship you encountered leaving Trella. It was the VReoria.”

“Damn it.” M said. “What the hell do they want this time?”

“Probably the same thing they wanted last time. US.” Brzko said. He reached for Ferocity with his mind. Out of respect to Dragona’s insistence of privacy, they never spoke of Ferocity’s home aloud, in mixed company. “Ferocity, can you contact Dragona, tell them what’s happened and ask them to help in the search?

Yes Lord Brzko.” He immediately left the group to contact Dragona.

Zri had arrived. As soon as he was close enough he transported himself to the planet. “Where is she? What do you know so far?” He looked back and forth between ShyUst and M.

“Sir, my officers have found the energy signature from the ship that overtook her in the logs, it was the VReoria.” ShyUst said, looking concerned.

Zri literally roared in frustration. He was about to erupt. M reached for Brzko, “Please take ShyUst and see if you can help on the ship.

Brzko stepped toward ShyUst and motioned toward the ship’s ramp. He understood and follow Brzko aboard the ship. M and Zri were left alone.

“Walk with me Zri.” He didn’t budge. “Now.” She said, gently taking his arm and tugging.

He broke down as they began walking toward the beach on the far side of the island – his reflection began to shimmer as the extreme emotion overtook him. “M, I shouldn’t have left her alone. This is my fault.”

M let him continue to beat himself up as they walked. She didn’t say anything, just kept walking with him letting him curse himself until he was ready to get to work.

“What are we going to do? What’s the plan and what steps have you taken so far?” He asked as he regained control.

“Oh there you are Commander.” M said.

“My apologies I just…”

“Love Lelelu like you’ve never loved anyone in your life. There’s no need to apologize Zri, I understand. And you know as well as I do that Lelelu is, and will always be independent. You will never change that, and this is in no way your fault, so get off it.”

“You’re right. That was a completely emotional response.”

“It’s OK, I’m the only one that saw you break down. There was no harm done.” He nodded. “So far Ciic and Bartala  have been alerted that Lelelu is victim to what we assume is a kidnapping. Ferocity is contacting Dragona as we speak, and…”

“They thought they had neutralized the VRreoria after they attempted to kidnap you and Brzko on Trella.”

“I suspect that they did neutralize the VReoria that were involved in that attack. After being enslaved by the VReoria I doubt if anyone has more of an interest in annihilating the entire population. But the VReoria are surely not all in the same place at the same time, they must have a good hiding place.”

“Good point. OK, so what else can we get from Lelelu’s logs and why did they take her?”

“I suspect they’ll demand me or Brzko in exchange for Lelelu. But it doesn’t make sense, the VReoria are known for occupying and enslaving entire planets but attempting to kidnap me or Brzko… I don’t see the connection.”

“You’re correct, it doesn’t make sense. And why attempt to kidnap you or Brzko, you can’t be confined.” He paused, he was receiving a communication via earcom link. “I understand. Yes, I’ll inform her.”

“What’s up?”

“Ciic contacted Gaznzul, she’s sending her entire security force. As is Emperor Bartala. Rather than searching for the VReoria on their own they’ll join us.”

“How many ship?”

“Around 200 from the two of them, we have at least that many Gaznzulians available. ”

“Seriously? I think we should contact the Ruling Council, they are going to wonder why so many ships are heading toward the Planet of Portals.”

No sooner had she said this than a low flying ship approached. It was almost identical to Lelelu’s ship. It landed in the open area near M and Zri. The ramp descended and a Trelod walked down the ramp toward them. M and Zri went to greet him.

He stopped before them and offered a shallow bow, his loose fitting suit billowing in the ocean breeze. “You must be the Muse of Mischief. I am Vustia, liaison to the Ruling Council of the Planet of Portals. We understand that one of our citizens has been kidnapped by the VReoria.”

M extended her hand, “Yes, I’m the Muse of Mischief. This Zri, Security Commander of Gaznzul and a very dear friend of Lelelu’s.”

“The Ruling Council has asked me to inform you that you have their full support. The resources of the Planet of Portals are at your disposal. Just tell us what we can do.”

“Thank you Vustia. We are expecting a ransom, but have yet to be contacted. Zri will coordinate all resources. At the moment we have one request.”

“Please…” Vustia said gesturing for her to continue.

“Please inform the Ruling Council that there are several hundred ships on the way here, Ploosnarian, Suus, and Gaznzulian. We wouldn’t want anyone to think that the Planet of Portals is under attack.”

“Some of them are already showing up on our scanners. We will take the appropriate action to accommodate them as they arrive.”

“We’re going to need a base of operations. I’d like us to all work out of the same location, we can use this residence here.” M gestured toward the empty guest house. “Right now I need to run an errand. Zri is in command until I return.”

M left Zri with Vustia and walked toward her own house. She had no intention of going to the house, she just didn’t want to disappear in front of Vustia. Before she left, she reached for Brzko, “I’m heading to Ploosnar, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

OK, be careful M.”

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