The next morning the group once again gathered around the huge table in the dining room of the house on Misko. The Muse of Mischief had already told Zri about their concerns for Wisssi and Nguvu, and Empress Nalau had of course heard the details from Emperor Bartala. Agent Brzko had brought Ferocity up to speed the night before. They began the morning by explaining the situation to the others. Once they were up to speed, Zri explained the steps they’d taken to ensure Wissi’s safety.

“He will have a Gaznzulian guard with him at all times. They’ll be clothed in the uniform of the Ploosnarian palace guards, in order to attract less attention. Wisssi has also been fitted with a personal alarm. It’s similar to your armbands but his does not provide any transport, instead, it simply sounds an alarm. I’m not sure that he really understands what an emergency is yet, but Emperor Bartala assures me that they will work on this.”

Lelelu and M both looked toward the Empress to see if she had anything to share about her son’s safety. At first it didn’t seem that she did, but after taking a moment she addressed the group.

“I’m confident that Bartala will be able to teach Wisssi how and when to use the alarm. I find it sad that these conversations need to happen with my son at such a young age. But as the future Emperor, it was inevitable that he would need to be made aware of his personal safety at some point.” She said.

The group stayed silent for a few seconds, giving the Empress a chance to continue. She did not have anything else to say, so Brzko spoke up.

“Ferocity, what did you decide about speaking to the Great Assembly on Dragona?”

“I spoke with Kwaii. I did not want to bring our concerns to the Great Assembly yet. Kwaii has agreed to that I am to be recognized as the official guardian for Nguvu. Although her upbringing is different than other Dragons, she is to be groomed for a bond. She is to be bonded to Ezopica Mischievous Wisssdartai of Ploosnar.” He paused and looked across the table at Empress Nalau. This was the first time the bonding had been confirmed.

The Empress was speechless for a moment. “Thank you Ferocity. Please extend Ploosnar’s gratitude to Kwaii.”

“I will Empress, I presume you will inform the Emperor?”

“With pleasure.”

The conversation momentarily lagged, Lelelu took the opportunity to move the conversation along. “OK, so if Wisssi and Nguvu are reasonably protected, what’s the next step. What are you and Agent Brzko planning to do next?”

M looked down the table toward her faithful assistant. “You know me well Lelelu. Brzko and I are thinking of exploring the portals on Clyrea X9. We’d like to meet other Clyreans, to…. Uh ‘validate’ the information we received. And supposedly we can only be near them on Clyrea X9, so that’s where we’ll start.”

“I know that you don’t need a ship to get there, but I’d like to orbit the planet while you’re gone. I was just barely able to communicate with you while you were on the surface. I’ve boosted my com signals, so I might be able to get through the interference now. And I’d like to keep watch for the VReoria.”

M looked at Brzko to see if he wanted to respond. He did. “Even though I don’t think the VReoria can get to the planet’s surface, that’s a good idea Zri. And appreciated. We don’t want to be surprised by the VReoria. But you have to promise to jump out of there if you detect VReoria, we can’t have them capture you.”

Zri nodded, accepting the terms.

“Lord Brzko, you said that you could each take one being with you…” Ferocity said.

“I think I know where you’re headed with that Ferocity, and you know I always prefer to have you with me, I don’t think it would be wise on our first mission.” Everyone stayed quiet, hoping for more of an explanation. Brzko obliged them. “Each of the portals is guarded by a Hekwagter Gatekeeper, an AI being that can be difficult. We need to get comfortable with them first. And we’re not sure how other Clyreans would react. We just found the planet, we wouldn’t want to offend anyone so soon.”

“I understand.” Ferocity said.

M looked around the table, she could tell that Numia had something to say. But she was not yet comfortable enough to address the group without being called upon. “Numia? Is there something you’d like to ask?” M said.

“Thank you Muse of Mischief. Yes. Will you be looking for something specific as you explore the portals?”

“If you mean, will we be looking for the universe that you’re from, yes. That is one of our goals. Your home planet is called Keatera?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“What is unique about it – for example Ploosnar is vividly blue and full of roinad.”

“Half of the planet is uninhabitable – the atmosphere at the northernmost pole is in constant turmoil. ‘Storms’ I think you would call them.”

“OK, that might help us to find it.”

Again the conversation lagged. Xiix took the opportunity to seek direction. “I understand that Zri will be in orbit around Clyrea X9 while you are exploring. What would you like the rest of us to accomplish?” He projected.

“We may not be gone long, but in case we are – there are still evacuees on Gaznzul that need to be taken home, or relocated to new homes. Please continue to aid them. And Lelelu, I assume there is no shortage of requests for help?” M asked.

“Never. Afrit has even asked for our help, again. It seems he needs a ride home to Jinn.”

M really wanted to say something about Afrit, but managed not to. “Prioritize the requests and do what you can. I think you should stay here on Misko – that will leave three ships to work with. Work together to decide if you should handle things alone or as a group.”

Everyone at the table nodded in confirmation. The plan was understood.

“Anything else?” Agent Brzko asked.

“Two things.” Lelelu said. “The Myaads have requested a meeting. I think they are looking for some advice on how to re-initiate the Rogsaar explorations. And Iysuno has been invited to take up permanent residence with Faaf on Suus. They will actually split their time between her home on Suus and his home here on the Planet of Portals, but you know what an honor it is for him to be accepted on Suus. I’ve been invited to visit Faaf’s home. I’d like to go before you leave.”

“Of course! That’s an honor you can’t pass up.” M said. “When were you planning on going?”

“As soon as we’re done here today. Zri, will you accompany me?”

“Yes. ShyUst can prepare my ship for the Clyrea X9 trip while I’m gone.”

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