"In the Shadows" Chapter One / by Charlynn Schmiedt

by Travis Anderson

On the planet Aldus, a Class K adaptable world near Terra Nova, one of the Federation’s most secure sites was built amongst the pressure domes and tunnels of the installation. Memory Alpha stood as a repository from all of the accumulated knowledge of the Federation’s member planets. The planet, fifth from its native star, was cool enough to insure the electronic machines that accessed and surfed the digital memory wouldn’t overheat.

The life support requirements on Aldus were actually less arduous than those of a starship. Aldus had an atmosphere, one the terraforming processors were gradually converting into something most humanoids could breathe. But until then, those tending to Memory Alpha had the domes.

Memory Alpha itself was built into a cave network. Surrounding the site were shield generators and defensive phaser banks. The planet’s atmosphere, thin as it was, still prohibited the use of surface launched photon torpedoes. Still, this single facility had a defensive posture and emergency energy reserves and rations worthy of a planet such as Earth, Vulcan, Tellar, Andoria, or the numerous populated worlds of the Rigel system. In short, it would take the destruction of all surface life and dwellings to penetrate Memory Alpha’s defense grid.

Lt. Commander Mira Romaine sat in her office and took a break from her current project. She’d been at Memory Alpha for three years now and had risen to the Assistant Chief Archivist’s position. As such, she was tasked to head up a special delegation of Memory Alpha scholars that were headed into the Romulan Star Empire.

No Federation representatives had ever traveled to Romulus. The United Federation of Planets didn’t even have normal diplomatic relations with the Star Empire. Contact between the two governments was reserved for deep space communications and the rare exchanges occurred in the Neutral Zone.

Romaine smirked to herself. At least exchanges took place in the Neutral Zone if one ignored the U.S.S. Enterprise’s incursion into Romulan space to steal a cloaking device. While that incident was recorded in Memory Alpha, access was highly restricted.

Romaine understood that Admiral James T. Kirk had been temporarily reduced in rank to Acting Captain and was now taking the Enterprise out for a second five-year mission. Having briefly been a part of his first five-year assignment, Romaine was pleased for Kirk.

She was even happier for Commander Montgomery Scott. The Enterprise’s Chief Engineer had refit and redesigned his beloved starship from the keel up. Its performance against V’Ger had been unparalleled in the history of the Federation.

Romaine was especially pleased with the outcome of that incident since the V’Ger crisis that had gripped known space was the provocation that had prompted the Romulans to extend this invitation for her and her specialists to travel inside the Star Empire. Without V’Ger, this opportunity would never have arisen. And this opportunity would allow Starfleet to get a few concrete answers out of the normally secretive Romulans.

It was known that V’Ger had penetrated Klingon space. A Starfleet listening post had recorded the Klingon Defense Force’s futile attack against V’Ger. A few short hours later, the listening post was also converted into a digital footprint and stored within V’Ger’s vast archive of the galaxy.

As an archivist, Romaine drooled at the thought of the knowledge V’Ger stored. She thought it a bloody shame that the entity had passed beyond this plane of existence. The sheer loss of scientific knowledge was incalculable. However, the Enterprise crew’s own encounter with the existence of the so-called “Mirror Universe” brought hope to Romaine that one day V’Ger would be encountered again, if only in a different quantum universe.

Romaine’s desk comm chimed. The ID stated that is was Petty Officer 3rd Class Molly Standish. Standish had been Romaine’s yeoman since she’d been booted upstairs into the Assistant Chief Archivist’s chair. Standish was pleasant enough to work with and she’d already mapped out most of her boss’ preferences and quirks.

“Yes, Molly?” Romaine inquired.

“There’s a Lt. Commander Mercy Knight to see you,” Standish informed her. And then, she almost conspiratorially added, “She’s from Starfleet Intelligence.”

Romaine grinned at Standish’s dramatic presentation. Standish was a romantic at heart. She saw everything in broad strokes with heroic moments to be found at every turn.

“Send her in,” Romaine replied.

While Romaine waited for Commander Knight to clear the Standish hurdle, she idly wondered what color of uniform Starfleet Intelligence officers were wearing these days. She hadn’t kept abreast of all the departmental color changes when Starfleet adopted new uniforms the year before. While Romaine was more than happy to ditch the mini-dress, she largely regarded her current togs as “pajamas with a purpose”.

Romaine wore the powder blue of the sciences division. Her old mini-dress had also been blue, so there was little change in the base color. Only the tint had been altered. Operations personnel underwent a massive change, though. Instead of red tunics or dresses, they now wore a beige colored set of “pajamas”. Engineering, operations, and security officers all wore the newly assigned color.

Of course, Romaine had met Starfleet Intelligence analysts that retained their blue uniforms while the field agents had worn security red. She supposed it made sense to wear the red garb since Starfleet Intelligence was nominally a branch of Starfleet Security. But now, those same people would be decked out in boring old beige. It had to be something of a culture shock after wearing bright red day in and day out.

Commander Knight waited a moment after the door “shooshed” open. Romaine was impressed by this act of courtesy. It would make what she was about to say come out a little harder. But only slightly.

Commander Knight wore the expectant beige which marked her as a field agent. She wore a ready smile and her eyes were eager with anticipation. Romaine thought she’d better kill any and all expectations right off the get go.

“Whatever you’re here to recruit me and my team for, it isn’t happening,” Romaine declared forcefully.

“Recruit?” Knight asked mirthfully. “Recruit can be such a naughty word. I prefer to think of it as I’m providing you with an opportunity.”

“I already have an opportunity. I’m going to Romulus for an information exchange. I’m not interested in skullduggery,” Romaine asserted.

“Mmm,” Knight pursed her lips and seriously studied Romaine. Romaine found it a little unnerving until Knight spoke again. “Actually, I think you’re dying to undertake a little skullduggery.”

“What part of ‘no’ aren’t you understanding?” Romaine retorted.

“That whole galaxy between the ‘N’ and the ‘O’,” Knight quipped. “There’s a lot of play between them.”

It was Romaine’s turn to scrutinize Knight. They could have been sisters, the physical resemblance was so sharp. Knight’s skeletal structure was a little slighter than the average woman her size. Romaine had the same feature. It came from being raised on Mars.

Whether or not Knight was a Martian settler, and the inflection in her voice strongly suggested that she was, she was either incredibly dense or overly confident. Romaine was betting on both being true. “Look, Commander, Starfleet has offered me everything but a command of my own to undertake some espionage work while on Romulus. I turned the brass down, so why would I listen to a mere Lt. Commander? No offense.”

Knight grinned, “None taken. May I have seat at long last or am I going to be standing here the whole time?”

“Grab a chair, but don’t get comfortable,” Romaine shot back.

Knight settled in and her eyes practically glittered with excitement. “I can offer you the one thing everyone else neglected.”

“And what is that?” Romaine dryly inquired.

“The truth,” Knight said bluntly.

Romaine waited, then finally asked, “Are you going to elaborate while we’re still in the 23rd Century or do I have to guess my way to this supposed truth?”

“I just wanted to see if you were interested enough to ask,” Knight shared humorously. “You are, so I will.”

“I’m dying from all my laughter,” Romaine deadpanned. “Are you getting anywhere near a point?”

“Do you have any idea of the true impact of the Romulan Star Empire developing cloaking devices?” Knight wondered.

“Well, the incident in the Neutral Zone where a Romulan Bird of Prey destroyed entire observation posts with their plasma torpedoes and escaped while under cloak kind of gives that away,” Romaine said smartly.

“The Bird of Prey, to be blunt, is an outdated platform. Even the Romulans have seen that. They have something called a ‘Warbird’ in development. But until then, they’ve traded cloaking technology with the Klingons in exchange for D7 cruisers. A lot of D7 cruisers,” Knight explained. “They don’t have a fleet of them but they have acquired at least two squadrons worth. These squadrons are equipped with the latest cloaking technology. The very technology they rushed into development because of the Enterprise’sincursion.”

Knight could tell she held Romaine under her spell. “These D7s could proceed under cloak into inhabited Federation star systems. An equal number of Birds of Prey could draw the fire of the planetary defenses and form a picket to harass incoming starships while the D7s mount a full scale invasion or whatever the Romulans version of General Order 24 is.”

She paused. “Still with me?”

Romaine was silent as she numbly nodded.

Knight resumed her presentation. “That’s the scenario we’re currently looking at.”

“But surely Starfleet has fathomed the technology behind the cloaking device and has a countermeasure in place,” Romaine insisted.

“One would hope,” Knight replied, “but military secrets are the most fleeting of all. Like I said, Starfleet has the old generation of cloaking device. There’s a brand new generation out there and it’s far better than the previous model. The basics are probably the same but the application is a brand new science.”

“So you want me to steal the plans for the new cloaking device?” Romaine warily asked.

Knight laughed, “Not in the slightest.”

Romaine was perplexed. “Then what…?”

“The Romulans only pose a threat if they have the resources to sustain a second war. Remember last time they fought Earth? The Federation supported Earth with material assistance but the Federation itself was only a few years old. The only star fleet in existence was Earth’s. A united defensive front was still in the talking stages,” Knight reminded Romaine. “Rumor has it that the Star Empire has expanded its borders just as the Federation has unified and rallied together for mutual defense. So of course, we have massive, and constantly growing, resources. Do the Romulans have the same?” 

Romaine decided to cut straight to the chase. “So what, precisely, are you asking of me?”            

“My superiors want a map of the Star Empire. What its boundaries are and what its internal resource base is comprised of,” Knight explained.            

“Won’t the Klingons assist the Romulans?” Romaine wondered.

Knight snorted derisively. “The Klingons will be more than happy to sit a conflict out and let the Star Empire and the Federation tear out each other’s throats. Afterwards, they’ll pick both carcasses clean.”

“How do I even know you’re authorized to ask me to do this?” Romaine suddenly asked.

Knight wore an approving smile. “You have good instincts. You may be a natural at this work.”

“Spare me.” It was Romaine’s turn to be derisive. “And you still haven’t answered my question.”

Romaine could tell her standing in Knight’s estimation was growing by veritable leaps and bounds. “Search the Bureau of Personnel’s database. My sanitized record is on file, as is my posting with Starfleet Intelligence.”

“Pardon me.” Romaine fired up her comp/comm. She searched several databases and quickly perused the record that she did indeed find on file. Knight had enjoyed some distinction as an analyst before moving to field work. She was fast tracked for promotion, so she must have been successful in her new vocation.

Romaine turned back to Knight. “Okay, everything seems to be in order. But you already knew that. Tell me, what was in your official reprimand for the events on Cestus III?”

Knight smirked. “You know I can’t discuss that.                  

“Humor me,” Romaine insisted. “What was the reason behind it?

Knight mulled her options and then shrugged. “It was felt in certain circles that I was giving away too much information to the Gorn embassy. Officially, I was there to gather information and not hand any out.”

“Did you hand out information?” Romaine sharply inquired.     

“Yes,” Knight admitted to Romaine’s shock. Knight chuckled softly, “It wasn’t anything classified or any military operational secrets. I basically explained the Federation’s news service feeds and data nets to them. They’d ask questions regarding things they saw or looked up and I’d explain as best as I could into a cultural paradigm they could understand. The biggest hurdle was getting past their genetically based caste system.”

“I can imagine,” Romaine mused. “The Andorians hold a similar viewpoint revolving around their four sexes.”

“Anyway, I acted in the name of good will and received a reprimand. The fact that I cultivated two assets in the process is the only thing that saved me from prosecution,” Knight grumbled.

“Not to change the subject, which I’m going to do, but you honestly think the Romulans are willing to go to war with us?” Romaine asked.         

“Not to be overly alarmist, but we’ve compiled compelling evidence that suggests Romulan agents, disguised as Vulcans, are currently in the Federation. So they’re scouting us to see what our resource base is and trying to determine our ability to prosecute a protracted war,” Knight divulged. “We simply need to do the same. Once both sides realize the futility of a war, maybe we can honestly talk our way to an understanding.”

“But you don’t think so,” Romaine surmised.

Knight appreciatively smiled at her again. “I’m trained not to think so. But there’s always hope.”

“Agreed,” Romaine asserted. “So how long do I have until I need to give you an answer?”

“I have a twenty-four hour window,” Knight admitted, “and then I start approaching members of your team.”

“You can’t do that!” Romaine protested.

“Starfleet Command thinks otherwise,” Knight replied. “This is a critical mission. One of you will accept it. Frankly, you stand the best chance of success, but I’m more than willing to use a fallback option.”

“How do I get in touch with you?” Romaine asked tersely.

Knight pulled a communicator off of her waistband and offered it to Romaine. “This is encrypted so the conversation will be private. It’s also keyed to my personal communicator so only I will receive said message. I’m available any time during the next twenty-four hours. But once I resort to my fallback position, you’ve blown your chance no matter if you have a change of heart later,” Knight shared.

Romaine snatched the communicator out of Knight’s hand. “I’m duly warned.”

Knight offered her a conciliatory smile. “I just don’t want there to be any misunderstandings.”

“There won’t be,” Romaine assured her.               

Knight rose. “Then I’ll show myself out.”

Knight paused at the door. “Just to let you know, I really do hope you accept the mission. And this conversation is classified. Just so you don’t spread the word about what’s happening. If one of your subordinates needs to be informed, I’ll do the sharing, not you.”

Romaine was flummoxed as Knight exited her office.

Romaine closed down her comp/comm and went to the staff briefing room. It was time to get the daily reports from her team that was going to Romulus. They were compiling all of the data the Federation had on the Voyager probe that became the entity known as V’Ger. Some of that data had been sent from the doomed Epsilon Nine observation platform. The listening post had observed the Klingons engage V’Ger. All too little use.

Her team was comprised of four hand-selected archivists. Lt. Savro gel Taurig was the second ranking officer of the mission. He was also a Tellarite. His family owned a shipping firm that made deliveries to the observation posts ringing the Romulan Neutral Zone and the planets within the zone itself. He’d had direct dealings with Romulan merchants carrying out the same task.

Ensign Maury Pollachek was human. He had family directly involved in the Earth-Romulan War. Some of them had died, but two had gone missing and were presumed captured — that is, if Romulans took prisoners. Captain Kirk’s experience said that they did. Romulans seemed to value military trophies, so there was hope Pollachek’s relatives had survived and maybe even had descendents he might be able to contact. 

Ensign T’Ling was the newest member of the staff and team. T’Ling was considered something of an expert on all things Romulan. She’d personally studied the records of the Sundering, that period in Vulcan history when dissenters had fled Vulcan rather than accept Surak’s new philosophies. Her personal motives for volunteering for the mission were unknown. It might very well be pure academic interest, but Romaine had a feeling there was a personal agenda behind T’Ling’s cool Vulcan facade.         

Chief Petty Officer 3rd Class Molly Standish was going because Romaine was going. Standish was Romaine’s assigned yeoman. As such, she acted in that capacity for the whole team on this mission. She never complained about the extra workload. In fact, she seemed to thrive on it — A fact that Romaine intended to exploit when they returned from Romulus.

The reports were pretty cut and dry. Most of the actual research and record gathering was done. Now they were all assimilating everything they could gather on Romulus and her people. They were even taking crash courses in the Romulan language. Since the Romulan tongue had three distinct dialects, they had split up a dialect a apiece to Romaine, Taurig, and Pollachek. T’Ling insisted on learning all three. And, damnably, she was well ahead of her peers in fluency.

After the meeting concluded, Romaine got T’Ling off to a quiet corner. She wanted to pick the Vulcan’s mind since she was the resident expert on Romulans. She posed a simple question: If the Romulans had sufficient resources, would they attack the Federation?

T’Ling’s answer wasn’t a cheery one. “Romulans retain the martial drive that governed my world for eons. If they were convinced they had an advantage over the Federation and Starfleet, they would attack without hesitation. They would also attack without warning. The cloaking device is intended as a first strike weapon. Its first documented use was a demonstration whereby the Romulans employed both the cloaking device and the newly developed plasma torpedoes. Their strike was an unqualified success until they were confronted by Captain James T. Kirk in command of the U.S.S. Enterprise.”

“You don’t have to promote James Kirk to me,” Romaine reminded her. “I served under the man. All too briefly, but he made an impression.”

“Yes, of course,” T’Ling allowed, “but as to your inquiry, let me clarify one point. The Romulan conception of advantage seems to be one of merely possessing near parity with the military aspects slightly in their favor. Given the slightest odds of a favorable outcome, a Romulan commander will engage. This was well documented in the Earth-Romulan War.”                

Romaine switched the query up. “What do we know of the Star Empire’s borders?”

“Precious little. The bulk of the Star Empire is in the Beta Quadrant. Like the Klingons, we have not penetrated far enough into the Beta Quadrant to venture a guess as to the extent of these two respective empires,” T’Ling calmly proclaimed. “Experience and hard won intelligence has sounded out the widely held belief that the Klingons are hard-pressed to acquire raw materials. They are desperately lacking in such strategic minerals as dilithium.”

T’Ling paused, as if searching for the appropriate words. “We have no such information or theories regarding the Romulans. The widely held consensus is that if they have the resources to fight effectively, they will do so. What we do know with clarity is that the Romulans prize stealth and secrecy,” T’Ling declared.

“Then why would they agree to an information exchange?” Romaine had to ask.

“Quite simply to determine the capability of our intelligence gathering capabilities,” T’Ling coolly replied. “What do we know about V’Ger? Do we know where it came from? How did we acquire any and all information? How did we stave off its approach on Earth? Do we have a superior weapon they have not learned of yet? It’s all wonderfully academic to them, but with real world consequences that could shake the foundations of two quadrants.”

“Remind me never to ask you to cheer me up,” Romaine quipped.

“Agreed,” T’Ling conceded.         

“Well, if they were expecting a top secret magic ray gun, they’re in for a disappointment,” Romaine snorted. 

“Quite the opposite. Such news would provide welcome relief,” T’Ling responded. “In either case, a known capability is preferable to a surprise.”

Romaine headed for the chief archivist’s office with a dour look on her face. Commander Frederick Garth was a wonderful administrator, having commanded a smaller starbase prior, but he wasn’t a researcher, so she was apprehensive regarding the request she was about to make. Would Garth be able to sit in for her while she complied with Starfleet Intelligence’s request?

She had no idea of what agreeing to their terms would entail, but she imagined she wouldn’t like most of it. Part of that disgruntlement came because of the request she was about to make. Garth was a man that believed in quotas. He wanted regular progress on an hourly basis, which worked fine when shuffling paperwork. But research was often time as much art as science. Would he be tolerant enough to let her people work in the way they did best?

Romaine wasn’t certain how to gauge Garth’s reaction to her informing him that Starfleet had asked her to go TDY for a time. He seemed rather ironically bemused by it. “Yes Commander, I’m aware of the need for you to abandon your post during our time of need.”

“Sir?” Romaine was puzzled by the remark.         

“A Lt. Commander Mercy Knight was in my office no more than ten minutes ago. She handed me orders transferring you to the U.S.S. Longbow as a mission specialist,” Garth informed her with some chagrin. “Helluva time to be abandoning me, Romaine.”     

Romaine was momentarily speechless. Knight had correctly anticipated her response to Starfleet Intelligence’s request. It was obvious Knight had used a cover story to blanket her true assignment. How the hell was she supposed to corroborate a story she knew nothing about?              

“I’ve always wanted to go aboard an Archer-class scout. Did you know they were only commissioned in 2261?”

Garth looked eager to discuss this topic. He knew, after all, that Romaine’s father was an engineer in the Utopia Planetia Yards while she grew up. She’d also briefly dated Montgomery Scott, whose own legend in Starfleet was already firmly established.

“No sir, I didn’t,” Romaine honestly admitted. What was an Archer-class scout anyway?

“I’d ask to go aboard with you, but I think the accommodations will be tight enough already,” Garth chuckled.

“Yes sir,” Romaine replied blankly. She was in way over her head.

“Anyway, I’ll let Taurig handle the day-to-day preparations. T’Ling can second him. Standish will keep an eye over them,” Garth said pleasantly as though he’d anticipated her concerns.

“Thank you,” Romaine said with heartfelt relief. “All I know for certain is that I’ll be back in time to depart with the team.”

“You’d best be back, Commander. God knows I don’t want to take your place. The Romulans would be crying ‘foul’ for years to come,” Garth said jovially.                 

“I won’t let that happen, sir,” Romaine promised. And she meant it.

Romaine retreated to her quarters after discussing her impending absence with Standish. She’d been carrying the communicator with her and she finally dared to flip it open. “Romaine to Knight.”

“Good to hear from you, Commander,” Knight pleasantly replied.           

“You win. I’m in. But you knew that already,” Romaine said gruffly.         

“I’m a good judge of character. It’s a job essential,” Knight retorted. “Now pack the bare essentials. Two changes of undress uniform and the usual complement of underthings and sleeping attire. You have two minutes.”

“And then?” Romaine was a little surprised by the abruptness of the request.

“You join me,” Knight informed her.        

“You’re planetside?” Romaine inquired.

“No, you’ll join me aboard the Longbow,” Knight said as though it were the easiest thing in the world.

Romaine knew differently. Memory Alpha was more heavily shielded than Starfleet Headquarters or the UFP president’s offices in the Palias de la Concorde. And that shielding was always active. The only site in the whole complex that could be accessed from orbit by a transporter was the transporter station on the surface outside of the complex. Visitors were then whisked into the complex’s structure by tram.

“But that’s…” Romaine began to argue.                 

“You have a minute thirty remaining, Commander Romaine. I wouldn’t waste it,” Knight advised.          

 Romaine did as she asked but didn’t see the point. What Knight had suggested was improbable. No sooner had she zipped her issue duffel shut did she feel the familiar tug of a transporter taking effect.

Romaine was still gaping in astonishment when the transporter released her. She found herself in a rather cramped four pad transporter room that had to be aboard the so-called U.S.S. Longbow. Knight was the only person present, having manipulated the transporter’s controls herself.

“How…how did you do that?” Romaine stammered in disbelief.

“Well, without a homing beacon it’d still be impossible. But fortunately, you’re holding one,” Knight grinned.

Romaine blankly looked down to the communicator in her hand. She numbly held it out. “Would you like it back?”       

Knight shook her head. “No, I’d prefer you keep it.

Romaine gave her a quizzical look. Knight shrugged. “I’d like to contact you from time to time. This way I can find you and vice versa.”

Romaine’s look turned to one of suspicion. Knight held up her hands. “I’d just like to chat once in awhile. That’s all.”

Seeing Romaine subside, Knight turned and waved for the archivist to follow. “Come on. I’ll show you to your quarters.”

As they passed through the ship, Romaine learned a few things. The crew didn’t wear official Starfleet uniforms. Or, to be more precise, proper Starfleet uniforms of the day. They wore jumpsuits more fitting of the Earth Starfleet era of the 2250s.

She also discovered that the ship was exceptionally small. Areas of the hull were too cramped to stand in, so they were used as storage. There were also no turbolifts. Each deck was accessed by ladder wells. Fortunately, there were only four decks, so it wasn’t like you could exhaust yourself endlessly climbing.

The last surprise was the accommodations. Only the CO and XO of the ship received private quarters. The other twelve members of the crew hot racked in two communal rooms with two bunk beds in each. Mission specialists had a room reserved for them that was twice as small as the crew’s quarters and possessed a single bunk bed. Romaine was sharing this room with Knight.                

“Want to flip a coin for the top bunk?” Knight mirthfully inquired.

“Take it. I don’t like to be on top,” Romaine commented.              

“Oh ho! You’re a bottom!” Knight teased.

Romaine’s cheeks burned slightly at the baldly sexual reference. Knight smirked, “And you’re also something of a prude. So be it.”

Romaine refrained from retorting. She felt a fluctuation in the gravity field. She knew the ship had left orbit and its gravity plates were adjusting after shedding the influence, however slight, of the planetary gravity well.

“Where are we headed?” Romaine wondered.

“Izar,” Knight revealed. “You’re about to spend three weeks at Starfleet Security’s advanced tactical training center.”

“Tactical training?” Romaine almost yelped.

Knight swung into action to ease Romaine’s fears. “Sections of the center train Starfleet Intelligence field agents. Trust me, we’re not sending you out to pick a fight. Your style of espionage will be rather quiet and unobtrusive. But if trouble should happen, it’s best to be prepared for it. Don’t you think?”

Romaine silently cursed Knight for being so practical. “How long will it take to reach Izar?”

“We’ll be there tomorrow,” Knight confided. “These scoutships may not look like much, but they can reach warp 8 and sustain it for twelve hours.”

Romaine was impressed. The only ships in Starfleet’s inventory that could currently boast that were the Constitution- and Miranda-class cruisers. Of course, it seemed the Archer-class scouts would have to be added to that mental inventory.

“Care to do a walkabout?” Knight teased. “The Captain said it’s okay as long as we don’t interfere in anyone’s duties.”

Once again, Romaine was startled. “I thought you’d want to get started on briefing me.”

Knight shrugged. “That won’t do any good until you’re focused. I imagine you’re a bundle of curious energy right now, so it’s best to appease that and then get to work.”      

Romaine found herself endlessly marveling at how well Knight read her. It was rather disconcerting. Still, Knight made a good point.

“All right,” Romaine conceded at last. “Give me the tour and then I’m all yours.”

“You’re going to be sorry you said that,” Knight predicted.           

Deep down, Romaine already knew she was right.


Please send feedback and other correspondence regarding this story to Brin_Macen at yahoo dot com.