Cera enjoys acting as a dispatcher for the Guardians. When five strangers come to her, brandishing an imperial writ that demands her transfer to Haloth, she is taken aback. When they transport her there without any kind of vehicle, she suspects that she is in a less-than-usual situation, and when she is handed over to wake an energy being, she knows it.
Renn has come to physical form over a hundred times, called by a hundred different women. When Cera calls him, there is something new. She knows what she finds attractive, but gives him enough leeway to add a few bonuses of his own to his appearance.
Between her mind and his body, they are going to make a helluva team.
Once secure in Drehl’s palace, Rhoda used what he had taught her and she reassembled the frame, charred remains and immolated pigments. “Oh, my. That’s not good.”
The image was forming slowly—Rhoda’s nanites weren’t as quick as Drehl’s—but the image was showing a Terran in the clutches of something ancient and powerful. Something that was her destiny. Rhoda was beginning to hate that word.
She grabbed Drehl’s hand and ran to the com unit. “The only thing we have going for us is that they are going to Janial first. The mark on her arm would have sent me there too if it wasn’t for one little thing. I know her.”
Drehl blinked, and his eyes widened. “The Weshkinin Guardian dispatcher?”
“Very good, husband. Cera Morrissy.” Rhoda started to key in the code, but her hands were shaking.
“Let me. Relax, Rhoda. As you know, you can’t control what you paint, and I am not bound by your privacy agreement.”
Rhoda sat back and watched as Drehl made the call, and she sighed in relief when the familiar face came on the vid display.
He outlined the situation as briskly as he could. It would take the strange party several days to get to Weshkinin, so Cera had time to hide.
Cera looked out at them and shook her head. “I am not hiding. This is my home and nothing is going to take me from it that I don’t agree to.”
Drehl frowned. “If they have an imperial writ, they can make you go.”
She nodded. “I will have to see it first. Personally, I think Rhoda has it wrong. Perhaps she was thinking of me and put me in the painting by accident.”
Rhoda leaned over Drehl’s shoulder. “That is possible, Cera. Still, keep your eyes open for any weird priestly archaeologists that look like they bench press small cars.”
Cera widened her eyes. “Very specific description. Thanks. I will tell my Guardians to keep their senses open for me as well. It can’t hurt.”
Drehl nodded. “That is the safest method, good luck, Cera.”
The perky brunette disconnected the call, and Drehl pulled Rhoda down into his lap. She sighed and rubbed her forehead with sooty fingers. “She isn’t going to take this seriously, is she?”
Drehl rubbed her spine. “I doubt it. Come on, let’s see if you can get that freaky brain of yours to cough out any more details. Even something small could help.”
It was a sound idea, so she literally returned to the drawing board, hoping that she could bring something to light that would explain the peculiar circumstances taking place.
* * * *
Cera turned slowly to face the men who had transported directly into her office and held her at blaster point. “Fine. As agreed. No consequences or mention of the portrait done on Yacaro.”