“There’s someone I’d like you to meet,” said the Admiral. “He contacted me on my private line a few weeks ago with some intel on the Bikashi. I’ve had it checked out, and I believe it’s genuine, but best if you hear what he has to say firsthand.” He flicked a switch on the lectern, and the door to the office slid open. “Come in, Sikona,” he said, waving his hand.
Three pairs of eyes widened like owls as an alien strode into the room and took up a position beside the Admiral. He was over seven feet tall, with a broad, muscular chest, narrow waist and hips, and trunk-like legs. His eyes blinked like a lizard’s, and his mouth was a slit below a twitching snout in a chinless head. The skin covering the alien’s face and hands was rough like the hide of an elephant, only darker. Incongruously, he wore the uniform of a space marine, except he carried no weapons.
Hickory’s heart pounded, but Gareth was the first out of his seat. “Bikashi?” His face twisted in rage and he reached for his blaster, found it wasn’t there, and clenched his hand into a fist. He took a half-step forward.
“Stay where you are, Blanquette, or I’ll put you in jail to cool your head.” The Admiral’s voice was stern, but Gareth seemed oblivious to it.
Jess grabbed hold of his arm and held him back. “It’s not Vogel. This one’s much younger,” she hissed in his ear.
Jess was right, thought Hickory. The alien appeared lighter and slimmer than the Bikashi who’d tortured Gareth physically and emotionally for weeks, experimenting on him to the point where Gareth almost lost his sanity. But he’s still the enemy. “What’s he doing here?” She couldn’t believe the Admiral would admit a hostile to his flagship.
“Sikona will be your guide on Auriga.”
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