In this excerpt, the two protagonists final meet as the ship's second officer introduces Jencet's delegation (really a capture & return team) to the crew.
“Here we are,” the second officer said as they reached an enclosed ramp leading to the vessel’s main hatch. Monitors in the walkway showed images of the ship’s exterior. Jencet stopped briefly to look. The exterior view showed the gigantic tethers holding the ship in the port’s assigned berth.
He looked around the docking area. Large plasmetal overhead supports secured the interior docking area with obvious strength. Kinem’s elbow in his side caught his attention. His brother-in-law nodded at the hatch and gave him a warning look. It was unnecessary, for he had observed the cameras. Lloyds never noticed his preoccupation.
The smile he offered Kinem answered the man’s doubts. Even if assigned to Raven House, a former Eagle knew how to handle not only this ship, but how to take over command if it became necessary. Once through the ship’s main portal, the second officer noticed the crew awaited their arrival.
Lloyds spoke in a buoyant voice. “Oh good, you’re here. Let me introduce our crew. This is Les Fordel… he serves as our chief engineer. He served in the Rangers with the captain.”
Jencet noted the crews’ name tags which he guessed also served as communication devices, before he sized Fordel up as a shorter version of a very muscular Eagle type. Darker haired than most Eagles, Fordel had a similar piercing gaze. The man obviously sized up the impending passengers, too.
Lloyds moved on to introduce a woman, Reed Syznet, the technical and life support officer. As tall and muscular as Fordel, the comely but not beautiful brunette’s pale blue-green eyes held suspicion. The last crewmember Lloyds introduced as Nemil Korkran, the maintenance officer. The man’s dark face held a deep scar running from ear to ear across his face disfiguring his nose. A second scar forked down across the edge of his mouth. Even with obvious reconstruction, scarring still covered the face. He looked threatening.
While the second officer looked defenseless, the rest all showed hard muscle and blank-faced assessment of their passengers as Lloyds introduced the delegation members.
Lloyds ended his introductions saying, “Our Bridge Officer, Boone Adler, of course, presently works on the flight deck, along with Yates Turner, our communications officer.” He turned to the crew. “Have you secured their luggage?”
“Hotel said it’s on its way,” Korkran said.
Jencet judged Korkran’s glance at his superior officer lacked respect. If Lloyds noticed, he ignored the slight. Just then the hatch they had just passed through unlocked and opened.
“Ah, Captain Lacklan,” Lloyds said in a pleased voice.
Jencet adjusted his facial muscles into a neutral, even pleasant regard, while Lloyds introduced the Falcon renegade. Her name tag of Maera Lacklan touched his temper, but not for long. Familiar with how she appeared from his investigation, he felt unprepared for the force of her intense regard and personality, and knew as certain as he stood close enough to grab her that she sensed his purpose and recognized him. Her attractiveness without straggly hair, a bruised face or tattered clothing, startled him as much as the stark silver eyes judging him.
As the second officer introduced them to the captain, Kinem gave her his thanks, and the delegation’s thanks to the Alliance for their help, extending his hand to her in Alliance custom. A motion that angered Jencet. Kinem should not touch his target. He mentally rebuked himself while she took Kinem’s hand and smiled in greeting, an expression Jencet had never seen in any image of her. The expression further increased her allure.
“I’m glad to offer our assistance,” she said in a calm but pleasant voice. “The Endurance’s mission requires we see you safely back to Reax. Show our guests to their cabins, Abbot, while we prepare to leave port.”
He felt her watching his team as the delegation walked away.
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