Perilous Flames: A House L'u-cif-er Story (ch. 2) by Acton Bell

(Page 2 of 8)

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Nodding at Atambe, he said, "Lead me where you will Lieutenant."
The man hesitated, waiting for his commanding officer's nod. They had taken only a few steps when Brenda called "Wait please."
Muraski looked back over his shoulder. There was an expression of indecision on Brenda's face. It was a near alien emotion for her Muraski was sure. He sent encouragement toward her. What she asked of him, he would do.
She stiffened and took a half-step back.
Muraski silently cursed himself. It was his emotions and sendings that were confusing her. She was in no way prepared for the bond they shared. He pulled mental shields that a lifetime of practice had perfected about himself and choked back a gasp at the sudden feeling of emptiness that sliced through him. He had never felt so disoriented.
When he was in control once more, he looked at Brenda. She seemed to be experiencing the same discomfort as he. Then she straightened and a noncommittal mask slipped over her features. "If you'll come with me please, Herra L'u-cif-er. Lieutenant, you go on to CNC. We'll continue as planned."
The lieutenant gave a sharp salute. "Ma'am?" He was stepping briskly down the hall before Muraski realized the man hadn't been asking a question. He had never heard a Terran use that particular inflection in that manner before and he had met many Terrans over the years.
As the designated heir to House L'u-cif-er, Muraski had been used as an ambassador in House affairs almost since birth. He had met and done business with all the major space faring races and many of the minor ones. He was fortunate in that he enjoyed his work and was able to indulge his curiosity at the same time. And the Terrans were a true curiosity.
Most Byshen considered Terrans an inferior race at worst, a minor one at best. Though they were a lucrative market for Byshen exports, most Houses preferred to deal with Terran markets through intermediaries. Muraski, however, did not. He liked Terrans.
They had intelligence and courage, though their actions seemed at times to be those of madmen. They could be both pugnacious and obsequious in one discourse. They were grasping, generous, meticulous and careless. They were as far from ordered Byshen as possible and Muraski found them fascinating; though part of that fascination he attributed to his bond with Brenda.
He had been just fifteen the first time he saw her and she could have been no more than three or four. He and his twin Genji had been touring the Lewxa Gardens on Thimmon, killing time while their father Kaen was negotiating asteroid mining rights.
Genji had dropped back to examine one of the rock gardens, while Muraski had been drawn on by the lush, overwhelming colors and scents of the tropical Urellon garden. He'd followed the bend in the path and seen her standing alone, her hands behind her back as she looked at the flowers. His first thought had been that she was lost. Then she'd turned innocent sherry-colored eyes on him and all thought had ceased.
As she stared at him, he was pounded by the knowledge of everything Brenda Lind was and could be.

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