~*~“Eagle now Raven Jencet, it is a pleasure to have you visit our domicile.”
“Likewise, it is my privilege, Falcon Leader Duvan.”
“As I believe private government business brought you here, I will take you to my office.” Duvan did not lead him down the staircase, but along a front corridor to its very end where an elegantly embossed copper door faced them. A sentry at a desk looked at Jencet with suspicion. Duvan ordered his officer to bring beverages and food to his office.
The spacious office contained a beautiful circular view that drew Jencet to the window. Downward and to the right, a river curled between two cliffs far below the office. Even from this height, Jencet saw the white ripples of fast-moving water and the native vegetation lining the cliff face. The first settlers labeled the native plants ferns. He knew these ferns something far different, poisonous, and dangerous, but Reax valued them for the products they made. Earth native species had escaped cultivation and now grew in Reax’s wilds.
He contemplated the fact that not only had humans changed Reax, but also other life forms. In turn, Reax changed them. A view of the Essence City stretched across the land further to the left. The Luminary Edifice towered at its center. Jencet enjoyed the rare combination of wild Reax and disciplined genome structure provided in the view.
He stood in front of the window for several minutes with Duvan next to him. Finally, he said, “Magnificent.”
“Yes, it is, thank you. Take a seat and tell me your business.”
Once seated, Jencet began. “You had a tyro name Maera nine years ago.”
Duvan kept any surprise or affront from his expression, but Jencet noticed the leader’s brief hesitation.
“Yes. She failed her Engagement.”
“Can you tell me about her?”
“First, why?” Duvan asked.
“With your permission?” Jencet indicated the wall screen. Duvan nodded and pressed a
connection. From his connex, Jencet pulled up the image on the wall screen showing the United Planets envoy’s visit in the Genome Chamber from several years ago. “Do you recognize the woman behind the envoy?”
At first, Duvan had no reaction, and then he could not disguise his shock. His eyes widened in an intense stare of utter astonishment at the image. He blinked several times before he resumed his calm Falcon bearing. “It is her. How is that possible?”
“For security reasons, you must not reveal the information I am giving you.”
Duvan gave the Air Realm’s sign of promise and trust. “Of course.”
“Information brought to Dominion Primus Dakeene predicted not all tyros gone missing from Engagement died.”
“They either died or the Incarnates stole and subverted them,” Duvan said in a very implacable constabulary tone.
Jencet, against Raven teaching, felt his lips twitch. “In most instances, usually the first, and in the more recent past, the second, yes, but in certain instances some thought a few tyros left before initial Engagement, choosing not to come back. Maera proved their theory.”
Duvan shook his head still staring at the screen. “I attended that day in the Genome Chamber. I remember seeing the envoy and her entourage. I ignored the officer as just another Alliance assistant to the envoy. Believing Maera dead, I never looked for her among the staff. I swear I did not know. How…?”
“From United Planets records, I have received this information. She changed her name to Maera Lacklan, supposedly one of their war displaced, and became an Alliance citizen.”
“I will find and kill her,” Duvan said, unexpected anger filling his face.
“No, you will not. I will find her and bring her back to Dakeene’s justice.”
The Falcon Leader head shook in disbelief, and then looked at Jencet in near apology. “She has brought embarrassment to her House. Again.” He studied the screen. “Is she wearing a uniform? Something else I did not notice at the time.” His admission seemed to mortify the Falcon Leader. He gave Jencet a swift glance. “At that time, Tyb remained Falcon Leader, and I seldom approached her. I only saw her from my seat in the chamber, but hindsight shows I might need to hone my Falcon training.”
“She was an officer in the Alliance Rangers, but does not wear a dress uniform, probably a deliberate dress-down, perhaps at the envoy’s request. I’m sure they didn’t want to present a militaristic presence. Nor does she wear all her badges and honors. However, I also know she earned some of those later. According to the records I discovered, she became a highly decorated officer of numerous engagements in the recently ended Khajari War. She also received degrees from two prestigious universities on Earth with very high scores.” He brought up copies of the degrees to the screen.
Duvan leaned back into his seat, his visage never leaving the screen’s view. “One degree in military science and another in mathematics? Who would have thought…?” The anger left his frame, and Jencet recognized the man’s new introspective, almost cunning, resolve. With another fast glance his way, Jencet saw Duvan considered the situation’s possibilities. “She became very successful.” Settling comfortably back in his chair, he gave Jencet a cool look. “What do you need to know?”
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