Intermezzo

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An idyllic path on the Baltic island of Gotland saw Christina Ulfsdotir walking with three men and a woman trailing her steps. Usually Christina was an uncommonly beautiful woman with her fifty years barely showing. A lithe body and a developed taste for expensive clothes combined with a sunburned, freckled face usually radiating youthful innocence normally made her a very pleasant acquaintance.

Beautiful, though, was hardly what came to mind whenever one met her the last months and they didn't need to see her face to know she was fuming with rage. Shoulders raised high and neck rigidly erect she could as well have roared at them. They also knew she was far more dangerous silent than when she aired her wrath.

"Report!" she finally said, never turning around.

Her four followers all hesitated until one of the men decided her command was aimed at him.

"TF officials know we're chartering a ship and they should know that we'll be able to launch within two months."

"Less if I have anything to say about it."

Christina turned to face the African woman who'd spoken last. "And how much earlier if I may ask?"

"Five to six weeks."

"Good, that should give them something to think about. The nerve! The God damned nerve!"

Her four followers knew she wasn't referring to government officials any longer.

"How the fuck did he dare selling to Red News?" she continued. "That he didn't get the first lesson is one thing, but the second should bloody well have made its mark! How the hell does he dare selling out to the fucking incompetents in their pink little rat hole and then just take off like a dandy tourist!"

No one answered.

"Jessica, you take care of the diversion. We may still need it if the sucker manages to pull some other surprise from his sleeves."

"Diversion, Madame?" the man who'd spoken first asked.

"Christ! I really have to spell it out to you my dear little naive Chairman of the Board, don't I? The Terran Federation government may all be rosy faced dreamers, but they have people who aren't idiots. I want them to concentrate on our ship while the real business is taken care of."

She gave the man a false smile. He was a caring darling and very competent when it came to handling business within the confining bonds of law. It was time he started to learn something about reality.

"I've already sent three from Gatekeeper to solve the problem. They should land there in about two weeks."

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