The conversation continued much the same, the only thing they didn’t share with the group was the mention of Wisssi and Nguvu. They decided to head back to Misko – they weren’t ready to start traveling in other universes so there was nothing more to do here right now.
The Muse of Mischief and Agent Brzko elected not to return via ship with the remainder of the group. Instead they returned via aperture.
“I think we should go to Lincoln City.” M projected to Brzko, before they left Zri’s ship.
It was early morning in Lincoln City, the fog still clung to the trees. Even though there was a chill in the air, they took their coffee out on the deck.
“So what do we do now?” M asked, pulling a chaise lounge cushion out of the storage bin and handing to Brzko before she retrieved a second for herself.
Brzko took a deep breath and let it out. “Uh I don’t know for sure. We need to keep watch over Wisssi and Nguvu, but we don’t know what we’re watching for.” He rubbed his face, they were both tired. “M, they suggested that you didn’t meet Bartala by chance. It was arranged. I’m really sort of creeped out to think that one, we were ‘created’, and two, things have happened due to someone else’s influence.”
“It is annoying isn’t it. But then again, we were hidden on Earth, so we sort of already knew that someone, or something, else was influencing our lives.”
“That’s true, that’s true.” Brzko acknowledged. “It seems like we need to do something to increase the safety of Wisssi and Nguvu. But I don’t think we can do that without divulging – to at least a select few – what we were told about them. Maybe we should share the information with everyone.”
“Maybe we should. What do you think it means? I mean what do you think Agent Qmkos and the Muse of Banter were suggesting?”
“Well if it’s true that you meeting Bartala was arranged, maybe the reason for that was to protect Wisssi from something in the future.”
“Or maybe just to guide him through something.”
“True. And Bartala has already expressed a desire for Nguvu to be bonded to Wisssi, so maybe that’s where she fits in.”
“That’s probably where it starts, but there’s got to be more to it than that.”
“I agree. But whatever it is may not happen until they are both adults. And how do we even know if what we’ve been told is reliable? How do we know that they’ve provided us accurate information, or that they can be trusted? What if they are attempting to influence us in a way that benefits them?”
“Great. So after finding Clyrea X9, and meeting other Clyreans, we have more questions than we did before.” M said getting up to get more coffee.
When she returned with refilled mugs Brzko continued. “I don’t think we have more questions M, I think we have different, or more specific questions.”
“Good point Brzko. So what do we do about it?”
“Ensure the safety of Wisssi and Nguvu, just in case Agent Qmkos and the Muse of Banter are right, and then return to Clyrea X9 and see if we meet anyone else.”
“Do you want to use the portals to explore other universes?”
“Maybe. Are you up for some adventure M?”
M paused for a second, looking at what remained of her coffee. She looked up, met Brzko’s gaze and said, “Oh hell yes, I’m always up for an adventure.”
Brzko laughed. He loves her sense of adventure and enthusiasm. “OK. Do you want to tell everyone about Wisssi and Nguvu together?”
“Bartala first, then everyone else.”
“That’s what I figured. I think you two have a few things to talk about.”
“Indeed, and there’s no time like the present.”
Brzko got up and stretched. The sun was fully up by now, providing enough warmth that the fog was almost gone. “I’ll catch up with you back on Misko, my love.” He bent and kissed her before heading inside.
The Muse of Mischief used her earcom link to contact Emperor Bartala.
“Bartala, are you busy?”
Bartala was in fact busy – in a meeting with a transportation liaison. He could tell that his oldest friend had sent her message privately, to just him. That meant something was wrong, or something important was going on. Instead of answering her while the liaison was in the room, he touched the earcom link and activated the microphone. “It sounds like you got it all under control.” He said to the liaison. “I trust that you will continue to handle things with your usual expertise. If you would be so kind as to excuse me, I’ve just received a message I must respond to.” He stood to make it clear that he expected his guest to leave.
“Of course Emperor. I thank you for your time today. You’re confidence is appreciated.” The transportation liaison said as he headed toward the door.
Once the door was closed, Bartala answered the Muse of Mischief. “M, are you OK?”
“Yes. I need to have a private conversation with you. Where are you?”
“I’m in my public study.”
He hadn’t even finished speaking when she appeared before him.
“Where have you been? You look like you’re dressed for the frozen tundra.”
She was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt that said Female not Feeble, standard Earth garb. “Almost, late fall on Earth.”
“It’s a good look for you.” He teased, moving from behind his desk to take a seat on the sofa. “So what’s wrong M?”
She sat down on the other sofa, facing him. “Nothing’s really ‘wrong’ but there are a few things I think you need to know. You know that we recently went to Clyrea X9 right?”
“Yes, Nalau told me about the trip. She said you confirmed that you are Clyrean, and met other Clyreans.”
“Right. Where is the Empress today?”
“She’s on a mission with Xiix, something about delivering medical supplies and food to refugees in the Zenbliuq Galaxy. I expect her to return late tonight.”
“Good, and Wisssi?”
Bartala consulted the clock above the door. “At this time of day he’ll be in a language class with other children. Why?”
M ignored his question. “There is a guard with him anytime he leaves the palace correct?”
“Two, and now you’re causing me concern. What’s going on M?”
“On Clyrea X9 we met Agent Qmkos and the Muse of Banter, and they told us some interesting things. First, they claim that we didn’t meet by chance. You and I.” She said.
“Hmmm, we’ve considered that before. When we went to Trella, we talked about that possibility.”
“Yes. But they suggested that it wasn’t necessarily about you and I, instead it has to do with Wisssi.”
“Exactly how does us meeting have to do with Wisssi?”
“They didn’t provide details, they only suggested that Brzko and I make sure to keep him safe.”
Bartala inhaled sharply, held it for a second, and slowly released the breath, calming himself. “Do I need to send for him? Have him return to the palace?”
“I don’t think there’s any immediate threat. But there’s more.”
Bartala looked as though he wasn’t sure he could take any more. He stood up and went to a side table, poured two glasses of nekmid, and returned, handing one to her without saying anything.
“It’s about Nguvu. The Muse of Banter suggested that she has something to do with this as well. But we don’t know what ‘this’ is.”
“Is Wisssi in danger M?” Bartala asked with almost no inflection. Which M knew meant he was having to keep himself calm.
“I don’t think so Bartala. But… I can’t be sure. I don’t even know if the Clyreans we met can be trusted. Did they suggest that we watch over Wisssi and Nguvu out of kindness, or do they have something to gain?”
Bartala finished his nekmid and motioned for M to drinkup, to finish hers. She did and handed him her glass. Nekmid was not nearly as strong as the espidrun they had been drinking lately, it had a nice mellow calming effect. He handed a refilled glass to her and took his seat again.
“Gaznzulians. Zri can help.”
“I agree. But first we need to speak with the Empress. I don’t want…”
“I’ll tell her.” Bartala said, interrupting M.
“OK. If you think that’s best.”
“Look Bartala, I know that you have your own palace guards, and I know they’re well trained, but…”
“You want Zri to assign a Gaznzulian guard to Wisssi.”
“Right, so are you developing telepathy now too?” M teased.
“No, no….” He laughed.
“So Bartala, we never really explored the details of the idea that us meeting was arranged. Do you think your father or anyone on Ploosnar could have been involved?”
The question startled him. “Oh! I… Hmm, I never considered it before, but I suppose it’s possible. You know my father was the Emperor of Ploosnar for a very long time, I suppose it’s possible that he obtained information about our futures. After so many years of leading the ronaid empire, his social network was vast. And we did find crystals identical to the ones that grow in caves here on Ploosnar on Trella.”
“Are you sure he was Ploosnarian?” M interrupted.
Bartala opened his mouth, intent on saying that he was, but he then he paused. “My father, I um never considered that he wasn’t. But I guess it’s possible. If…”
There was a knock at the door, a butler stepped in. “Your Majesty, please forgive the intrusion, Commander Zri is here, he said he was summoned.”
Bartala looked at M as he said, “Yes, yes, send him in.”
The butler opened the door wide and Zri came in. His posture demonstrated that he was on high alert. “Your Majesty, Bartala I came as soon as I could, is everything alright?”
Instead of answering him, Bartala looked at M. “Really? You called him in my name? Why didn’t you just call for Zri yourself?”
“It’s more fun this way, more mysterious, don’t you think?” M said, standing up.
“More mysterious no, more mischievous, yes!” Bartala scolded.
“Hey Zri, thanks for coming on such short notice. Please have a seat.”
“Hello Muse of Mischief.” He said, taking a seat as asked. There was a hint of question in his tone.
“Zri. We want to hear your ideas for providing additional security for Wisssi.”
“Has Wisssi been threatened? What are we protecting him from?”
“We aren’t sure yet.” M said as she got up to retrieve the nekmid bottle and another glass for Zri. It would take a while to bring him up to speed.