36 \ 124

The rookie human sled pilot examined her gloves.  The dark, vacuum-to-fit plasleather was thick and flexible with its embedded and overlaid tech circuits.  The material itself was a matrix that delivered highest response from the fingertips and palms.

In Soleil’s spaceflight sessions with Vedani teams, she learned the movement orders for their one-person standing sleds, reconnaissance vehicles.  The gloves recorded and sent information, and kept the vehicle positioned to its user.  Soleil had been told that as a human she lacked at least one communicative interface between the Vedani and their tools.  They set those levels for her into a cooperative subroutine.  She listened to the drumming sound of the gloves on the handlebar podium.

The Princess hadn’t expected to be included on a mission.  She’d attained proficiency but not expertise.  Her thinking shifted, wondering if they were now intentionally placing her in a tragic situation.

The intense learning had changed the tone of her captivity, and at this moment that she was keenly aware of being a prisoner.  She was willing to go, but she wondered what would happen if she refused.  They wouldn’t have brought her into service without a reason, and it wasn’t graduation day.

Uixtr (pronounced “eks-ter”) was the Vedani man who’d been nominated to keep her clearly informed.  He was quite familiar from around the environment, enough so that it dawned on the Princess he might also have been in charge of keeping track of her.  He projected an air of ambivalent acquaintance, and spoke well in her human language.

“We have ways throughout space, established in certain places, that lead to certain other places.  That concept is familiar to you.  Our pathways are utilized in various and different manners.  Some of our waypoints, to use a familiar word, or transanchors to be more accurate, have been newly established with the help of our current alliance.

But now we’re finding a mysterious vulnerability that threatens the placement of the ship where we now reside.  This intrigues us, and it could concern you.  It may be coming from… your side.”  When Uixtr said that, Soleil thought about where she was now, where she came from, and what she was doing.  That opened a deep well of inquiry with invisible depths, into which she avoided staring.

“What is your current alliance?” she asked.  As the question left her, Soleil recognized how bold it was.  It was her puzzle solving reflex; she had actually been curious from a technical standpoint.

Uixtr blinked at her and curled his lips to smile.  “This type of transanchor is created in concert between our technologies, the work of certain dragons, and some unusual little people who can be difficult to define.”

Soleil wondered if Uixtr was hinting at knowledge of her recently gained acquaintanceship, and decided to give-for-give.  “Do you mean the Kao-Sidhe?”

Uixtr nodded a dawning acknowledgment.  “Yes, theirs is a critical contribution.  We don’t know what you may see in this situation.  That’s why we’re bringing you.”

With that, it was time.  Soleil geared up as in usual exercise, in familiar team configuration including Uixtr.  There was an addition of reserve experts, with whom she hadn’t practiced.  Together they exited from a different part of the ship, through a gate new to her.

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