Thanks to the jump drive in Ferocity’s ship, it only took a few minutes to get home from the Glion Galaxy. After the intensity of the rescue mission, they didn’t want to use aperture travel to get home and leave Ferocity to make the trip alone. The Muse of Mischief and Agent Brzko had never been so glad to see Misko as they called it.

At the sound of Ferocity’s ship, Whotov came rushing out of Ferocity’s house. “You have returned! What news do you bring, was there success?”

“Yes Whotov. Lelelu is safe, the captives have been rescued, and the VReoria specimen ships have been destroyed. Come, I’ll tell you all about it.” Ferocity said, extending his wing around his butler and escorting him toward his home.

“Dibs on the first shower.” M said picking up the pace as she headed to her own home.

“Why? I don’t see why you should get the first shower, I smell just as bad as you do!” Brzko said following after her.

“Because I want to go see Emperor Bartala on the way to Gaznzul.”

“Oh, OK then. Be my guest.”

Showered, and in fresh clothes – low boots, tight black leggings, a short skirt, a corset, and of course her derby – M went to Ploosnar. Arriving at the bottom of the palace stairs she began the ascent. Bartala was waiting for her on the landing when she got to the top.

“Where is my wife M? Was Empress Nalau harmed?” He demanded nervously.

“No, not at all. She’s fine Bartala.” He immediately relaxed. “Where’s Wisssi?

“Inside with a nanny. I didn’t want him to see… to be with me in case you had bad news.” He turned and walked toward the palace, M followed.

The nanny was just inside the door. Wisssi reached for the Muse of Mischief as soon as he saw her, making some sort of indiscernible baby sound. The nanny presented the baby toward M, she had no choice but to take him. “Oh! OK then. Hello Wisssi.”

He squealed with delight. “Ah you see he already loves his Autaunia.” Bartala said. “Now, tell me how the rescue went, is Lelelu OK?”

“Yes, we were able to rescue Lelelu and destroy the VReoria specimen ships.”

“Specimen ships?”

“Yes, the VReoria travel around the universes collecting one or two of every species they encounter. They plan to either alter their own species or create a new species, with bits and pieces of their collection.”

“Wait, universes? They can travel through the Multiverse?” He interrupted.

“We think so. We rescued species that none of us have seen before, not even the Suus.”

Bartala was silent, letting this sink in. “Where is Nalau?”

“She’s on one of the evacuee ships with the young beings that were rescued in the Glion Galaxy. She wouldn’t leave them, insisted on staying with them until they get to Gaznzul, which will be sometime tomorrow.”

“Ah, that sounds like her. How many beings were rescued?”
“Around 300, and it seems most will survive… physically anyway.”

Wisssi grabbed the derby off of her head and dropped it on the floor, squealing with delight. Bartala reached for him. “OK, OK, little Emperor, that’s enough torturing your Autaunia for today. Physically?” He said wanting M to continue.

“Each being was held alone in a stasis tube. It kept their bodies from aging but their minds were functional. That kind of seclusion is sure to have driven some of them over the edge. They’ll be evaluated at a rehabilitation facility on Gaznzul, those that are OK will be found places to live. Those that are not, will be able to live out their lives in the rehabilitation facility.”

Bartala looked like someone had punched him in the gut. “I cannot imagine the anguish they must have suffered. And there were young beings? The VReoria are truly vile creatures.”

“And one of the beings rescued is Lelelu’s father.”

“What? No, he was killed when she was a child, was he not?”

“Apparently not, just captured by the VReoria and put in stasis.”

Wisssi began to fidget, Bartala let him slide down to the floor. He waddled off, down the hall giggling, one of his nannies right at his heels.

“He can walk already?” M asked.

It took Bartala a second to answer, he was still processing everything M had told him. “Hmmm? Oh yes. He can walk. He’s Ploosnarian! Not human or whatever it is that you are!”

M was relieved, her friend was returning to normal. “I think you should consider taking Wisssi to Gaznzul to meet your wife. She’s going to need you with her when she begins to process all that she’s been through.”

“Oh I’m sure she heard and saw things she’s not accustomed to while handling the administrative duties, but she’s strong, she’ll be fine.”

“Uh Bartala, she wasn’t in an office somewhere. Empress Nalau was on the front line of the combined forces, helping to release the captives from stasis.”

“What!? The Empress of Ploosnar, my wife, took an active role in the mission? I don’t know what to say.” He stood there, with his mouth agape, looking completely dumbfounded.

“Well first, close your mouth. You look like a dork. And then get your butt in gear and have the guards prepare your ship, you and Wisssi are going to Gaznzul. I’ve got to go.”

“Mmm OK. We’ll see you there.” He turned to go find a butler that could make the arrangements and M returned home.

“How’s Bartala?” Brzko asked. He and Ferocity were sitting at the table eating something that smelled divine.

“Fine. I told him to take Wisssi and go to Gaznzul to meet Nalau. What are you eating? More importantly, is there more? I’m starving!”

Brzko smiled, “It’s lasagne, there’s a plate for you in the oven, salad’s on the counter.”

M went to the kitchen and got her food before joining them at the table. “Do you want to leave for Gaznzul as soon as we finish eating?”

“I’d like to but I don’t think we should.”Brzko said. “The first rescue ship won’t arrive until the morning; and Ferocity needs some time to contact the Great Assembly on Dragona; and we should contact Ciic, and Vustia. I’m sure they were in contact with their ships, but they may have questions for us. Oh and sleep would be good.”

“Oh sleep, right.” M said sarcastically, making Ferocity laugh.

“I know how to make you slow down M.” Brzko said grinning. She just looked at him, waiting. He reached under the table and produced a beautiful titanium bottle.

“Espidrun!” She exclaimed. “Now you’re talkin’!” She jumped up to get glasses.

Ferocity sat his fork down and looked over at Brzko, tilting his head slightly.

“An old Earth phrase… I’m not sure of its origins but it basically means ‘now you’re saying something I agree with’.”

“Earth must be a very difficult place. Why don’t they just say what they mean?” He picked up his fork and went to work on his salad, because of course Dragons eat with utensils.

M returned with shot glasses and lined them up. She opened the bottle and filled each with the hot pink liquid, they all three watched the blue steam rise as it was exposed to oxygen. She distributed the glasses and held her up, “To a kick ass mission!”

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