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Esclagon

Old friendsEdit

Sybil was saying something. At first Leone thought he was dreaming, but then he opened his eyes. It was Sybil, and he was awake, sprawled on the sleeping platform of his room at the Temple. He noticed that nice scent she always had. Sybil stood just inside the door of the room, smiling. "Sorry to wake you up. You must be very tired to have fallen asleep so quickly. I'll come back in the morning."

Leone sat up. "No, stay! It's just been a long day... how did you find me?"

Sybil sat down in a chair. "I was in the Temple all day and just learned that you had arrived today. Frank told me that you came with Aristark but that he is now on his way to Mars."

Leone checked the time. "He might not have reached the docks yet. Should I call him back? Are you here with Kalid?"

Sybil explained, "Kalid and I arrived here about three days ago. This morning I woke up and found a message from Kalid. He also left Esclangon... he said that he had to investigate something. Very mysterious!"

Leone was finally fully awake and let his eyes drink in the sight of Sybil. She had tinted her skin a faint green and her hair was done up in an intricate set of knots. He was not really surprised to find her here, but he was alarmed by the idea that Kalid would suddenly go off 'to investigate something'. "Kalid gave no indication of where he is going or when he will be back?"

Sybil went to the room's data terminal and pulled up the message from Kalid. Leone heard Kalid's voice: "When you hear this, I'll be off Esclangon. Someone followed Leone to this system. I'll be back when I figure out what is going on."

Sybil inactivated the terminal. "That's all I know. I assume by the look on your face that you did not know you were being followed."

Leone thought back to the events of the past week. "I've been wondering if we were followed all the way from Sakkara, but I did not really have any evidence. However, let me tell you what I do know and what has happened..."

Leone told the story of the battles at Flammis and in the Akara star system. Sybil said, "Kalid arrived on Sakkara about the same time that you were attacked at Flammis and he warned me that I was in danger. Kalid was able to monitor what was happening to your spaceship by making use of the equipment my servants gave you. After you were attacked in the Akara system Kalid felt it was important to contact you and try to make you come here."

Leone was intrigued by the idea that the "Invocator" had yet another function: transmitting reports to Kalid. "I still do not know what is going on." Leone asked, "Who attacked me at Flammis? Why did Ketar's forces attack me in the Akara system? Who might have followed me to this system?"

Sybil seemed lost in thought for half a minute then she said, "There are aspects of this that I'm still not clear on, but Kalid thinks Set is responsible for the attack against you at Flammis."

"Ah, so you think Set followed me from Sakkara to Flammis?"

"No. The Haldus Order base on Flammis was attacked about a day before you got there."

"I did have about a day delay between when you told me to go to Flammis and when I actually left Sakkara. While the technicians installed your equipment on my spaceship I spent that time reading about the Haldus Order."

Sybil nodded. "I see. And then the second attack near Azur; Kalid told me that Ketar has recently learned how to detect the Haldus Order identification beacon."

Leone guessed that Sybil was quite naive about these technical matters. He knew that Aristark had no real problem detecting the special Haldus Order beacon signal when it was being transmitted by the Invocator on Leone's spaceship. Leone thought about the implications of Ketar knowing about the Haldus Order beacon and possibly attacking Leone's ship because it was using that beacon. "So Ketar is at war with the Haldus Order?"

Sybil shrugged, "Apparently Ketar has decided that it is in his interest to attack any ship using the Haldus Order beacon. I do not understand why."

Leone wondered who could have followed his spaceship to this star system. "After we left the Akara system and we were in interstellar space waiting for my spaceship to be repaired, there was a scanner transient... something was detected at extreme range. If that was another ship following us..." Leone thought about his lucid dream. "I had a dream about another spaceship..."

Sybil said, "When Kalid told me that he had contacted you in a dream, I started thinking back to a dream I once had. I never told you this, but... do you remember when we first met?"

Leone nodded. "I've been thinking about that a lot since I learned that you are a member of the Haldus Order."

"It was the first week I knew you when I had a special dream about you. Actually, it was a dream about our grandchild. I was old and our grandchild was asking me about you. You were dead, but I was telling your granddaughter about you. We were looking at a video of you... you were very famous... I was very proud of what you had accomplished in your life. Our granddaughter was going to take up your work..." Sybil wiped away a tear. "Do you think I'm silly?"

Leone got off the sleeping platform and went to Sybil. He took her hands and pulled her to her feet. They embraced and just held each other for a long time. Finally Leone said, "I've been wondering if telepathy during dreams is a way for two people to communicate and decide if they are right for each other. I also had a vivid dream soon after we met... I've never had a similar experience until Kalid contacted me telepathically."

Sybil asked, "You dreamed about me? What was your dream about?"

Leone told the dream in full detail. Sybil started to laugh and when Leone was done telling about the dream she said, "So you thought I was stone cold, eh? As I recall you kept hitting on me for weeks after we met."

Leone chuckled, "I did not want to give up. I was having far too much fun with you. I thought you were just this nerdy student who did not know how to lighten up and live a little. Actually, I wanted you to live a lot... I wanted you to live your whole life with me."

Sybil held Leone at arms length, "I could not tell you that I was a member of the Haldus Order. Since I could not tell you the truth, I could not involve myself with your life."

Leone asked, "Could not, or would not? What if you had told me thirty years ago what you finally did end up telling me a week ago?"

Sybil replied, "I'm not very good with hindsight, but maybe you would never have become head of Transportation and maybe I would never have told you to go to Flammis and maybe Set would never have murdered all those innocent people on Flammis..."

That chain of maybe, if and might-have-been sounded like a case study for the ancient discipline of chaos theory. Leone asked, "How many died on Flammis?"

Sybil shivered and snuggled against Leone's chest. "From what Kalid has hinted to me, I suspect it was many thousands... all of Kalid's family... all the people who were dear to him."

Leone was shocked. "I see. So is this how wars come about? Ketar wants to avenge the millions who died on Azur. Set wants to avenge those who died on Sakkara. Kalid wants to avenge those who died on Flammis. Will it ever end?"

276px-Standing Osiris edit1.svg

A strange ideaEdit

Sybil and Leone were having breakfast in the dinning facilities of the Temple. For a long time they just ate and looked at each other. Leone wondered if he was in telepathic contact with Sybil. Was it possible that two people could naturally share the same telepathic "wavelength"?

Something was wrong. Leone glanced around the dinning room. Suddenly the volume of conversations in the room had decreased. Leone noticed the green skinned Bahney standing in the doorway. At that moment Bahney seemed to notice Leone and she started towards the table where he sat with Sybil. Leone muttered, "Hmm...I wonder what she wants."

Sybil asked, "Who?" Before Leone could reply the robot was at their table.

One of the Spaceship Guild's intelligence agents stationed in the h32 system and assigned to Esclangon was now giving orders to Bahney. The agent used a virtual reality interface to established a link to the robot. Bahney had been instructed to find Sybil and Leone and try to learn what they knew about Kalid. Bahney said, "Good morning."

Sybil looked up, struggled to remember the robot's name and smiled, "Oh, Bahney. Good morning." Sybil had briefly met Bahney when she arrived at the Temple.

Leone was starting to notice differences in the green color of the Temple robots and he had noticed that some of the humans, like Sybil, also had tinted their skins faint green. Leone thought that faint green on Sybil was alluring, like a subtle kind of makeup. Some of the robots were only light green, like the Frank he had seen the previous night. The Temple librarians were somewhat greener than Frank. Bahney was very dark green, disturbingly dark. Leone was about to take a bite of a piece of coffee cake, but set it down again on his plate. He asked, "Will you join us?"

It was unusual for a non-meal-serving robot to be in the dinning room and other people were staring at Bahney where she towered over the table where Sybil and Leone were eating. Bahney sat down and took a less conspicuous seated position with her face turned away from most of those in the room. "I'm sorry to interrupt your meal, but I understand from what Frank told me that you two know each other." Bahney said to Leone, "I wondered if Sybil knows where Kalid is," but Bahney hoped that Sybil would respond and say what she knew of Kalid.

Leone expected Sybil to reply, but she just pushed a large spoonful of chewy granola into her mouth and continued to look at Leone rather than the robot. Finally, after a long silence, Leone said, "Yes, Sybil and I are both from Sakkara. We actually met over thirty years ago, when we were still in school. It was very nice to discover that she is here....surely one of the strangest coincidences I might possibly imagine."

Sybil took a swig of orange juice and said to Leone, "I'm thrilled to find you here. I was trying to learn the local Temple rituals, but frankly, they are very foreign to me...nothing like what I have practiced all my life on Sakkara. I only wish I had known the minute you arrived yesterday....my day could have been better spent helping you explore Earth history."

Bahney realized that Sybil had avoided saying anything about Kalid, and from that silence the robot concluded that Sybil did know Kalid but did not want to say what she knew. Bahney reflected on her orders. She had been commanded to find out everything she could about Kalid, and there was much force behind that order. Still, Bahney knew from long experience that pushing humans for information was often not productive. It was often better to trick humans into revealing what they knew. The robot looked at Sybil and said, "Aristark was not interested in history, so he has gone to Mars. I wonder if Kalid is also more interested in government and current events rather than ancient history."

Leone thought that Bahney's comment was odd. He was familiar with how to interact with robots who were functioning as servants. Sakkara had some robots who functioned as user-friendly interfaces for databases, and it was expected that robots would just provide information as required by humans. Leone was puzzled by the Temple robots who seemed to have taken on administrative roles that should be for humans. If what Leone had heard was true, all of Esclangon was full of such robots. Of course, besides the green skin which seemed mandatory for all Temple robots, the librarian robots had seemed normal and had efficiently provided Leone with the information he wanted about Earth history. Somehow it seemed that Bahney had changed since the previous day when the robot had seemed very skeptical about the existence of Kalid. Now the robot seemed to be actively interested in finding Kalid. Was the machine just trying to make itself useful to Leone? Somehow Leone felt otherwise. For the first time in his life, Leone realized that he had taken a personal dislike towards a robot. Leone had found Sybil's robot Glen intimidating, but even Glen's silly attempt to play a dirty trick on Leone had not provoked dislike in Leone. Leone was mildly amused at his emotional response to this green skinned machine. He looked at the robot's ridiculously exaggerated and inappropriately exposed cleavage. He looked around at the human diners and saw that none were exposing their breasts to their friends, so doing so was not some aspect of local custom.

The silence had grown uncomfortably long after Bahney's comment about Kalid's presumed interests. Still, Bahney felt compelled to keep trying to get information. Doubtless her masters from the Spaceship Guild were listening to this conversation and they would be unhappy if she failed to make a good attempt to find what these two Sakkarans knew about Kalid. Bahney let her too-small silk robe fall even more open and tried to make her breasts sway and jiggle as she spoke to Leone. "I also learned from the librarians that you have an interest in ancient Egypt. You mentioned someone else to them, someone named 'Set'. In addition to Kalid, are you also trying to find this 'Set'?

Leone wondered if Bahney was actively spying on him. He tried to remember mentioning Set to the librarian robots, but could not. Possibly it had come up in conversation the previous day, but if so it was just an off hand comment in the context of discussing Egyptian history and the historical 'Set' or 'Seth'. In the past week, since Leone had first learned of the mythical 'Set' of ancient Egypt he had often thought about the 'Set' in Egyptian legends. At this moment, Leone had a hard time remembering everyone he had said at the library. "I suppose I did mention yesterday that I know someone named 'Set' on Sakkara. In fact, that is the reason why I am here. In other words, were it not for Set, I would never have had a reason to come to this out-of-the-way star system." Leone felt slightly silly for trying to insult the robot by calling this an 'out-of-the-way star system', but he was now honestly irritated by this impertinent machine.

Bahney asked, "Why would this 'Set of Sakkara' come to this star system?"

Leone was surprised by Bahney's suggestion of the possibility that Set might come to this end-of-nowhere system. He chuckled in surprise and glanced at Sybil. She did not seem at all amused by the idea that Set might come to such a desolate star system. What had Kalid said to Sybil? "Someone followed Leone to this system. I'll be back when I figure out what is going on." Now Leone started thinking seriously about the idea that Set might have been following him. Was it possible to track spaceships through hyperspace? What had Sybil said last night? "Kalid thinks Set is responsible for the attack on Flammis." If Set had murdered all of Kalid's family, was it also possible that Set might come to this system in search of Kalid? How had the Temple here on Esclangon been described by Bahney? "....the public face of the Haldus Order." Was this Kalid's home? If so, then Set might have good reason to come to h32. Leone wondered, was Kalid even now off in space and engaged in a mortal confrontation with Set? As Leone looked at Sybil, he imagined that such a question was what she was thinking about at that very moment.

Again the silence had gone on too long. Leone looked back at the green machine and tried to think of something to say that would make it go away. Suddenly an idea from an ancient legend came to mind. Leone asked, "Maybe you can help me with a bit of ancient history...is it not the case that legend says that Set created the Moon?"

Bahney was programmed to serve as a spy within the Temple. Over the years Bahney had learned much about Temple lore and the historical origins of the Haldus Order in ancient Egypt. It was true that in some ancient legends Set created a Moon by ripping out one eye of the sky god. In legend, Earth's sun was the other eye of the sky god. Bahney was having a hard time devising a logical response to Leone's question. According to legend Set did not create the Moon...the Moon pre-existed as an eye. But did the act of pulling out the eye transform the eye into a Moon? Had the Moon in fact existed before Set touched the eye? And clearly Leone was not actually asking about the legend....Leone was only making a metaphorical reference to the legend in the context of the 'Set of Sakkara'. So what was Leone trying to ask about the 'Set of Sakkara'? Bahney had been told by her human masters that Set was a murderer who was engaged in some kind of war. If the legendary 'Set' had fought the god of the sky and the 'Set of Sakkara' was at war, then what was the modern equivalent of the Moon? What would it mean for the 'Set of Sakkara' to rip out an eye of someone he was at war with? Maybe the metaphorical equivalent of an eye was....

But Leone had asked the question of Sybil and did not expect the robot to reply. Leone now remembered his line of thought from just before falling asleep -for the second time- the night before. Sybil had come to his room and they had talked for hours. Finally Sybil fell asleep and Leone had picked her up and laid her on the sleep platform. He had then taken her chair and sat watching her sleep. She looked no different from the young woman he had first known thirty years before. Given the power of modern medical technology, she could reasonably expect to retain the appearance of a young woman for another thirty years. Sitting there, watching Sybil sleep, his thoughts had drifted over many strange ideas as sleep approached again for himself. He thought of the fact that the fourth planet of this system was called 'Mars'. Some of the ancient legends said that the 'Mars' of Earth was not a star, but rather it was a planet that was seen from Earth by the naked eye as if it were a star. And Leone had thought about the fact that the third planet of this star system was a Green Planet. And there had been something else...just before he fell asleep...something else about the third planet...

When Sybil heard Leone's question about Set and the creation of the Moon she started thinking about the Temple ceremonies she had witnessed during the past three days. In one of those ceremonies there was a re-enactment of the creation of the Moon. The sky god was depicted as striking the Earth and the Moon was formed as a fragment of the Earth. The Earth remained as the Water World and the Moon became the lesser light of the sky. Suddenly Sybil realized that the third planet of this star system was Earth. Everything she knew from Earth history, all of the legends, fit this star system.

Leone was lost in thought and lost in Sybil's dark eyes. Suddenly her eyes grew very large just as he was thinking...something else about the third planet...a water world...suddenly Leone had a strange thought. Could the third planet of this system be Earth? Of course! It was exactly one astronomical unit from the star. That was the definition of an astronomical unit! And all the Earth legends said that Earth had a large airless Moon. Leone now recalled thinking about the Moon of the third planet just before falling asleep. Leone was shocked and startled by the idea that somehow the true location of Earth had been concealed.

Just then one of the dinning hall servant robots came to the table. All of the manual labor robots who had nothing to do with Temple business did not have green skin. The food-serving robot asked Leone and Sybil, "May I bring you anything else?"

Leone was still deep in thought, trying to remember what he had previously been thinking about the Moon.

Sybil was elated by her realization that the third planet in the h32 star system was Earth, but she dared say nothing about her thoughts.

Bahney was finally kicked out of her endless loop of trying to respond to Leone's metaphorical question. Bahney ordered the other robot, "Go away, you are interrupting our important conversation."

The food-serving robot was programmed to always defer to Bahney and Frank model robots. Without another word, the food-serving robot retreated to the kitchen.

Sybil was startled to see the Bahney robot dismiss the food-serving robot before either Leone or herself could state their needs. Sybil stood up and said to Leone, "I have nothing further to say to this robot except that I intend to file a complain about its rude behavior and call for it to be inactivated and scrapped."

Leone was amused by Sybil's outburst since it so closely matched his own irrational emotional response to the machine's odd behavior. Leone stood up and took hold of Sybil's hand. With no further words they walked out of the dinning room.

ArcologyEdit

Leone took Sybil's hand and quickly led her out of the Temple complex. Sybil asked, "Where are we going?"

Leone replied, "I'm not sure, but that was too weird. I've never seen a robot behave like that...it was almost as if Bahney had been possessed."

Leone quickly became lost in the passageways of Esclangon. "I don't trust Bahney nor would I trust that our conversations would be private if we stayed in the Temple."

They emerged from a corridor and found themselves in a commercial shopping district. Sybil looked at the displayed images of clothing in front of a store. She said, "Almost everything I brought with me from Sakkara is in my room at the Temple. Do you intend to go back there at all?"

Leone saw one of the many Frank robots and had an idea. "It might be safest to send a robot." Leone stopped walking and nodded towards the robot.

The Frank robot seemed to notice their attention and he approached them. "Can I help you?"

Leone replied, "We are visitors here, and, ah-"

Frank nodded, "Yes, I recognize you. Leone and Sybil, from Sakkara. Are you lost?"

Leone was startled again by the fact that all the robots seemed to be in constant communication and know everything. Was it possibly to hide or even have privacy on Esclangon? "Yes, that's right. We have been staying temporarily..." He pause, suspecting Frank knew all about it.

Frank grinned, "Yes, Leone, I am fully programmed to serve and I know you stayed at the Haldus Temple last night." Frank gestured to the shops, "Would you like advice on where to shop? Esclangon uses an unusual idiom; all the small booths are called "boutiques" and that is where you can get all the basic necessities, for free. Specialty and luxury goods are-"

Leone interrupted the robot, "Thank you, Frank, that is useful information. We might need to pick up a few items, but that is not what I wanted to ask you. I was told that there are dwellings available, and, ah, if so, how would we find one?"

Frank replied, "Yes, that is true. Esclangon has many empty homes. So, do you intend to remain here as permanent residents or would you like temporary housing?"

"Temporary. I understand most people do not actually reside here on the asteroid."

Frank explained, "That is correct. Most homes are located in the many space stations surrounding Esclangon proper." Just then a second Frank robot arrived. "I am a shopping assistant, but this other Frank is a housing specialist. I'll leave you in his care." The first Frank turned and walked away.

The other Frank said, "Would you like to find a residence as close to the Temple as possible?"

Leone shook his head, "No, actually, I'm intrigued by the idea of seeing one of the nearby space stations."

"I see, but it would be possibly to have quick access to the Temple from some stations such as Bayonne." The robot used a small holoprojector to display the location of the Bayonne station which was connected to the asteroid by a set of space elevators.

Leone said, "I'd prefer something with easy access to the spaceship docks where I arrived yesterday."

Frank shifted the displayed region Esclangon to that centered on the spaceport. "In that case, a good choice would be Calais Arcology. Let me show you-"

Leone suggested, "Can you let us use your dataprojector? I'm sure we can find it on our own."

Frank shrugged, "Of course." He handed Leone the device. "You can control the projector with voice commands or just point...the interface is traditional."

Two hours latter Leone and Sybil were officially installed as the temporary residents of a home in the Calais Arcology. It was sparsely furnished and, in fact, the Frank who came by to formalize their occupancy and retrieve the projector explained that nobody had ever lived there previously. He tried to talk them out of this selection. "There is another similar residence nearby that is completely furnished."

Leone did not like the idea of living among the clutter of items collected by someone else. "This will do fine, thank you"

Frank departed and Leone joined Sybil where she stood looking out a large window that provided a view of other nearby space stations in orbit around Esclangon. They did not have a view of Esclangon itself.

Leone still wondered if there were spy devices even here, but he had already decided this was the best he could do to have some privacy. He really wanted to discuss with Sybil the idea that this was actually the star system of Earth, the so called Solar System. It was now clear to Leone that this was a fact, but he was baffled as to why the true location of Earth had been hidden. He was still nervous about mentioning the location of Earth. Instead, he raised the issue of Set, "I was disturbed by Bahney's suggestion that Set might have come to this star system. Yesterday you said that Kalid thinks Set attacked Flammis. Can you tell me how Kalid knows that?"

Sybil was disturbed by the effort Leone had gone to in order to attain some privacy. Kalid had warned her that the Spaceship Guild tightly controlled the population of Esclangon and used robotic spys. At the time, Sybil had assumed that Kalid was talking about special attention being paid to the Haldus Order Temple of Esclangon, but now it seemed possible that there was some great secret about the Solar System that the Spaceship Guild actively worked to maintain. Sybil wanted to discuss the mystery of Earth and what the Spaceship Guild might be hiding, but she had decided not to discuss anything that Kalid had not previously felt free to discuss.

Sybil was feeling guilt over the fact that the decision of the Silver Tulipan Order to send Leone to Flammis seemed to have led to the Set's attack on Flammis. After departing from Sakkara in Kalid's spaceship, Kalid had explained that he feared for her life since she was the one who sent the technicians to install the Invocator in Leone's ship. Kalid explained that one of those technicians had been killed. Sybil had asked how Kalid knew that the technician was dead and that Set had attacked Flammis, but he had remained silent and refused to answer. Now Leone was asking the same question about Flammis.

Sybil was aware of the fact that Kalid had been able to communicate with Leone by using telepathy, even while far distant on his spaceship, and by that means Kalid had managed to get Leone to come to Esclangon. Sybil had never previously imagined the possibility that a mind could reach out across interstellar space in that way. Was Kalid the only one who could do such a thing? She believed the Haldus Order intelligence reports about Set and his telepathic abilities. Could Set also establish telepathic links to distant spaceships? Had that ability allowed Set to follow Leone's spaceship? Had that same "far seeing" ability allowed Kalid to know that Set had attacked Flammis?

Sybil still had the memory from when she was sixteen of her mother instructing her about Kalid, "...when you meet him be aware and do not ask silly impertinent questions of him... just try to listen instead of talking." During her time with Kalid on Esclagon there were many questions she had wanted to ask Kalid, but she had held back, particularly after he had refused to say anything about how he knew that Set was responsible for the murderous attack on Flammis. Sybil had been trained to accept the need for secrecy in the Haldus Order. If it were important that she know something, she would be informed. Otherwise, it was her job to recruit into Silver Tulipan any promising young telepaths on Sakkara. So, given the need for secrecy, what could she now say to Leone?

Sybil continued to gaze out the window. Leone wondered if Sybil was going to reply. "Are you not allowed to tell me Haldus Order secrets?"

Finally she said, "Leone, I know that you have risked your life trying to find Kalid. I appreciate what you have done in an effort to reach out and cooperate with Kalid so as to find a way to deal with Set. I wish you had arrived here a few hours earlier, before Kalid departed, then you could have asked him these kinds of questions. Kalid knows far more than I..."

Leone nodded. "Well, I'm not sure we can afford to wait until Kalid returns...and, I hate to say this, but what if he never returns?" The implication of his hypothetical was that Set might kill Kalid. By the look on Sybil's face he could tell that she was also thinking about that possibility. "If Kalid is killed, then it will truly be up to you and I to find a way to deal with Set. I think we should assume that Kalid would want us to do our best to help deal with the dangers posed by Set. So, what I am trying to say, is we should trust each other and share what we know."

Sybil did want to be completely open with Leone. She knew that she could trust him, but she was crippled by the fear that more disasters would befall the Order if she shared any more secrets with Leone. At that moment she decided that she could not live in fear and had to exert her will. "Yes, I agree. Let me tell you what I know about Set..."

Calls for helpEdit

Leone listened to Sybil's account of how Set had hunted down and murdered Haldus Order adepts. Set had then sent a warning to the main Silver Tulipan Temple on Sakkara: release the evidence you have about the space elevators disaster or more of your members will die. She described in detail Kalid's account of his telepathic vision of the attack on Flammis. "And now I have word that my home on Sakkara has been invaded twice, and it appears that Portia and Glen were abducted. Of course, I suspect Set. Kalid and the rest of the Haldus Order tried to go into hiding, but I believe we can no longer afford to hide, we must all act together to contain Set."

Leone told Sybil the details of Set's continuing attempts to intimidate the Sakkaran government. "I'd happily see Set prosecuted for his crimes, but Set is also right to demand that we solve the mystery of the space elevators disaster. Those telepaths of the Haldus Order with information about the space elevators disaster need to come forward with their evidence."

Sybil nodded, "They long ago gave their evidence to the Justice Department."

Leone had carefully investigated that claim. "But there is no evidence of that. Look, we have to start at the beginning. We can set up an independent tribunal to hear their evidence."

Sybil said, "It is unlikely that those witnesses will come forward as long as Set is free to roam the galaxy executing members of the Haldus Order."

Leone paced for a minute in front of the window. "Okay, so we are back where we started a week ago...can we form a coalition that is able to contain Set? Let's call Kalid and Aristark back and then go to Akara. It still makes sense to try to unite the strengths of the Antiquist party and the Haldus Order against Set. Really, how else can we hope to contain him?"

Sybil replied, "I'm not sure there is another way, but some members of the Haldus Order are afraid to work with the Antiquists. I tried to get Kalid to go to Azur and meet with Ketar, but Kalid wanted to come here. Now that I have figured out that this system is the home of human kind I want to ask Kalid why he came here."

Leone nodded. "Yes, I figured that out, also. I wonder why the true location of Earth was hidden from the galaxy."

Sybil shook her head, "It is hard to believe that such a deception is possible."

Leone said, "Okay, I'll call Aristark and you call Kalid."

Sybil was about to say that she had no way of contacting Kalid, but at that moment the front door opened and Bahney entered, followed by a squad of other robots. "Halt! No calls! You are both under arrest!"

Leone demanded, "Arrest? Under what authority?"

Bahney replied, "I'm an agent of the SGIS. I've been ordered to take you to Earth."

Sybil said, "Earth? That is a dead world!"

Leone sputtered, "SGIS? Spaceship Guild Intelligence? I don't recognize your authority over me!" Leone tried to run out the door, but he was restrained by the robots.

Bahney said, "They are resisting arrest." She ordered, "Gas them."

Leone and Sybil were quickly rendered unconscious and then loaded into a spaceship that was docked to the archology. Soon they were on the way to Earth.


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