Chapter 6

Michael woke to find his hands clasped in iron chains. He briefly thought he was back on Bellerophon, the prison planet, but when he looked around, he saw Agron sitting against the opposite wall, also in manacles.

“Your performance in the dining hall was quite extraordinary,” Agron said, his tone only slightly mocking.

Michael gave the irons a good testing to see if they could be dislodged from the stone wall, and quickly realized that they held fast.

“Well, at least I tried to help the captain. I didn’t see you do anything to help.” Michael’s tone was as sour as the lime custard still sticky on his jacket.

“As you have so aptly noted, my training is in analysis and subterfuge, not attacking an overwhelmingly superior force with a sashimi knife. You will be happy to know that your captain has escaped unharmed.”

“What? How can you possibly know that, since you are obviously in the same cell with me?” Michael winced at the pain in his hyperextended shoulders.

“Extravagant news travels fast, especially among the palace servants. By the way, the darkberry tort here is particularly delightful.”

“I wouldn’t know, since I was a little busy while you were enjoying your meal,” Michael said with a hint of venom in his voice.

Agron pointed to Michael’s jacket. “You have some of it, just there, next to the flame-goose puree.”

Michael surveyed his uniform and frowned at its despicable state. Then he began to work at getting some frost jelly from his left lapel onto his wrists in an attempt to make them slippery enough to slide them out of the manacles.

“Besides, Commander, I have every confidence in your captain’s ability to complete her mission.”

“Exactly how is she supposed to that?” Michael said, trying to put as much exasperation into his voice as he could muster without being overtly rude to the highest ranking Orion official. He had long since gotten over his awe of the man and his auspicious office. “Our ship has been captured, we’re in chains and undoubtedly are going to be tortured for information, and you tell me that Traci--Captain Ganner--has escaped. Even if that rumor were true, where can she go?”

“Doesn’t it strike you as odd that they have not concerned themselves with our technology, nor the Valdi strike fighters?”

“After seeing their technology in action, it doesn’t seem like ours is all that superior.” Michael kicked at a large rodent that had found something on his trouser leg appetizing.

“Precisely my point, Commander. In fact--”

Agron was interrupted as the large, stone cell door opened to admit the same serving girl they had met before. She carried a tray of water and porridge. She set the tray down and poured some of the porridge into a small bucket.

As she set the bucket and a large wooden spoon in front of Agron, he smiled at her.

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