“We should kill you here and now,”  Stated Airomem, “You’ve intruded upon Lear territory, and we have no use for prisoners.  Maybe you came here to steal our secrets as a spy.”

“I could only wish,”  Said the man strapped down to the bed, his chest muscles twitching as he spoke, “I am not so lucky, not lucky at all!  I’m exiled!  Go on, kill me now! I’d rather die here- I’m a dead man anyways!”

A frown creased Airomem’s face as she stared down at him, the wretch of a man, scorch marks still on his skin from where she had stunned him as she guarded the bottleneck.  He grinned back up at her, his eyes darting from side to side in a way that made the hair on her neck stand up, and his breath coming in quick gasps.  

“And what, exactly, did you do to deserve such a fate?”  She asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Stealing!”  He screeched, “I stole, and I stole well!  For years upon years.  Stealing, you see, is in our blood and in our bones.  You can even taste it in the best thieves when they die.  But I stole from the chief, dozens of times, many times.  But I only had to be caught once, and should I return, he’ll steal my very heart.”

“Almost sounds romantic,”  Said Airomem, “Stealing your heart.”

“Not if it’s pulled out of your chest still beating!”  He shouted back, the veins in his neck throbbing, and spittle flying from his mouth, “Not so romantic then!”

“Indeed, not.”  Replied Airomem, “But consider, consider if you had a way to make your chief forgive you.”

“Impossible,” He spat, “I’d have to kill twenty Aquarians alone to seek his forgiveness.”

“But what if instead of killing them, I gave you the means to kill them,”  She said, and reached into a bag at her side, pulling forth two black rectangles and setting them at a table beside the man as his eyes widened, “I know these are near priceless among your kind.  By our counts, only four of them that still work exist outside the grasp of the Lear.  But you, you can give them to your leader in exchange for your life.  And maybe as a clever thief, you can even keep one for yourself.”

“And why,”  Said the man, “Why would the Lear, the cunning Lear, the slavemaster Lear, give me such a gift?  It is a trick, and I know it!”

“It is no trick,”  Airomem answered, “But rather, a trade.”

“A trade for what?  I have nothing to offer.”

“Oh, but you do,”  Said Airomem with a smile, as the man’s attention focused upon her, “All you have to do is deliver a message.”


Airomem and her father watched as the lone straggler departed, dancing down the corridor away from the entry point bottleneck, an occasional blue flash accompanying his cackling.

“You gave him two?”  Protested Tela from behind them, “Two stun guns?  This is a dangerous game, arming the Agrarians.  I won’t have my men die without cause, should they attack us.”

“It would be for great cause,”  Airomem’s father answered, “The greatest cause, our survival.”

“Besides,”  Added Airomem, “The stun guns we gave him have nearly no power left, and haven’t been charged in the power room for over three years.  They may look flashy, but they won’t last long, and he won’t know the difference until it is too late.”

“True, but his chief might,”  Said Tela.

“But the bait is too great for them to resist,”  Said Airomem’s father, “Ten stun guns, all for ensuring my safety to and from the bridge.”

“You’re giving them more?”  Shouted Tela,  his face red,“We won’t be able to hold them back!”  

“You won’t have to,”  Responded Airomem, staring as the blue flashes disappeared around the corner, “We plan on supplying both the Agrarians and Aquarians with new weapons.  The new tension will pit them against each other, hopefully starting a wave of battles strong enough to cripple both sides.  And even if they should turn on us, we only have to hold out for a short time, until we arrive at the bridge.  After that, nothing else matters.”

“Again, assuming you’re right.”  Said Tela.

“We’re praying that we’re right,”  said Airomem’s father, and walked back towards the back of the ship, “And you, Tela, should pray too.”

Chapter 32



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