Chapter 4

Traci was not surprised when she and her officers were taken back to the teleport chamber after their brief audience with Geron. This time she noticed that there was a small monitor above the chamber, upon which was the image of a golden hallway. As they were once again herded through the portal, they found themselves in a large hall, gilded in every direction. The domed ceilings were over ten meters high. She followed the line of the nearest wall, along which ornate columns stretched for dozens of meters before opening into a long walkway that turned sharply into an impressive visitor’s wing. They were then shown to private rooms; Agron and McKenzie were deposited in a room with two beds. Traci’s suite was in another part of the castle.

There was no way of knowing what Scott was telling Geron about her ship and its mission. Traci’s only consolation was that Scott did not know the precise location of the rift from this side. Without it, he could not betray her people.

Traci waited for a few moments and then checked the door. Outside in the hall were two burly guards with sidearms. She carefully closed the door again and walked across the opulent room. She removed her cream-colored uniform jacket and draped it over the nearest chair. The room was finely furnished, with a fire burning in a corner fireplace. She sat down on the bed to think.

First, she would need an escape plan. She thought that with a sufficient diversion she could get past the two guards outside. But where would she go? She needed more information about how the portals worked. Did they always connect the same two destinations, or could the locations be changed? And from there, she needed a way back to her ship. And what of her ship? Was her crew safe? At least she knew Agron and Michael were safe for the moment. She needed a way to contact them.

While she was still testing and discarding various escape plans, there was a knock at the door. Kendahl opened it and poked in his head.

“May I come in?” he asked.

Traci wanted to laugh at the contradiction. Here was her captor, showing common courtesy. She gestured for him to enter. It wasn’t as though she had much choice.

He entered and closed the door behind him. Walking over to a desk in the corner, he helped himself to a chair and brought it over to where she sat on the bed.

“I know you have a lot of questions,” he began as he sat, “and it will take time to answer them all. I also want to apologize for the rough treatment earlier.”

“What do you plan to do with us?” Traci asked.

“You will be guests here for a time,” he said. He had a casual way about him—a boyish charm that was disarming. Traci wasn’t fooled for a moment.

“Can I see my officers?” she asked. “I want to make sure they are well cared for.”

“In time,” he said. A young lady knocked and opened the door. She carried a tray of fruit and cheeses. She also had a pitcher of water.

Kendahl continued to stare at Traci while the serving girl laid down her tray of dainties and withdrew. Traci felt vaguely self-conscious, but decided to assert some control over her situation.

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