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03.08.2013 , 12:16 PM | #97
He found a table at the far end of the dining room, away from the other guests. He was enjoying every mouthful of a large and rather unhealthy breakfast consisting of coffee with cream, cave mushrooms deep fried in pepperleaf batter (a local delicacy), bantha sausages, a nerf cheese omelette, and toast with marmalade made with fruit from the hotel's own plantation, when Twelve and Cirean walked in. They came across when they spotted him, hand in hand and with an air of glowing contentment about them. Again Lokin felt a vaguely embarrassed sense of intrusion.

"That looks good", Twelve said as he sat down. "I think I'll imitate you, got quite an appetite myself." He looked around and beckoned to the nearest serving droid.

"Wow, that is some appetite!" Cirean commented, looking at his plates. "What have you been doing, Eckard?" Then she looked at Twelve and blushed.

Lokin affected not to notice, and told them about his early morning walk up the hill, and the sunrise. By the time their breakfasts arrived, Twelve and Cirean had made plans to try the same walk the next morning.

"What about the rest of today, any plans?" Cirean asked as she spread a generous layer of butter on a slice of toast before adding a couple of slices of bormu bacon and piling mushrooms on top.

Lokin swallowed the last of his coffee and shamelessly refilled his cup from Twelve's pot. "The hotel is offering a good number of excursions. I thought perhaps I'd try one of the boat trips, probably the Galemere one. In and out of lots of little islands and inlets, supposed to be very pretty. Includes several stops on the islands and lunch at a locally famous restaurant on one of them."

Cirean looked up from her mushrooms and bacon. "I never took you for having the soul of an artist or being the natural scenery-loving type before. First you go up a hill to watch a beautiful sunrise and now taking boat trips round pretty islands."

"Hidden depths", said Twelve, round a mouthful of sausage. "Eckard, if you want more coffee, just call a droid, don't steal mine, you sneaky bastard."

Lokin grinned, and waved at a droid, which obediently rolled over and refilled their coffee pots.

"The sunrise was pure coincidence, Cirean", he replied with the utmost seriousness as the droid rolled away again. "It's called scouting the terrain. This would be a very good area to set up ambushes, plenty of cover and ways to move unseen. I'm just putting my humble skills to use. I need to practice or I'll lose them."

Cirean made a face. "You have to bring it back to work. Can't we just pretend to be normal people on holiday for once? Just for a few days?"

"Of course, of course. I was joking. We are, as you say, normal people on holiday. Therefore, we must establish that firmly in everyone's eyes by doing normal people on holiday things. This is a planet famous for the beauty of its lakes, so we'd better go and admire them. Don't you agree, Beinn * ?"

"No question of it." Twelve nodded. "But you could still scout the terrain anyway." He winked at Lokin, out of sight of Cirean, who simultaneously poked him hard in the ribs and kicked Lokin under the table.

"Ouch!" they both said, grinning.

"You deserved it, ganging up on me like that! Anyway, have you answered the question? You're going on this Galemere boat trip, right Eckard?"


"What do you reckon, Beinn? Same trip, different trip, sit on the terrace admiring the view all day?"

"If it might pique your interest further", suggested Lokin, tapping the guide book which was open on his datapad beside his plate, "there are colonies of insectoids on some of the islands which have been isolated since the creation of the lake when the area was flooded at the end of the last ice age, five thousand-odd years ago. They've evolved remarkably quickly and differentiated into around ten separate species. Although there's some debate about whether two or three of them are only subspecies."

Cirean looked at the datapad, which was displaying a picture of what was presumably one of the insectoids. "So actually you're going to chase beetles?" She wrinkled her nose.

"They are a little like beetles, yes, but ten legs and only vestigial wings at best. I thought I might collect a few specimens, if I get the chance. Anything which has the genetic capacity for fast, stable mutation may prove useful to my work. I can explain while we're on the boat." He smiled blandly, then made a small hand gesture to warn them that there were people approaching.

Twelve rolled his eyes. "A day of scientific lectures, with no escape except voluntarily marooning myself on an insect-infested island with a long swim back. I'm going off the idea."

"Me too", said Cirean. "I don't particularly want to share a boat with a lot of little multi-legged creepy-crawly things either."

"They're not little, about palm sized", explained Lokin, holding out his hand as a demonstration.

"I think that's worse! What did I ever do to deserve a brother like you? I'm picking a better one next time!"

They all laughed, as did a pleasant middle-aged Mirialan couple who'd just sat down at the table next to them, and whom they'd met at dinner the night before. The woman asked Cirean in a friendly fashion what it was that Lokin had done, and the two of them started a conspiratorial "aren't men awful" conversation, while her husband sat patiently with a good humoured "here she goes again" look on his face.

"Well, if you're coming, Beinn", said Lokin to Twelve, "the transport leaves in about half an hour. If not, I'll see you at dinner. I'll leave Cirean to blacken my name in peace now."

“Don't you want to stay and prepare a defence?” enquired Twelve, and he and the husband grinned wryly at each other.

Lokin chuckled. “I've heard it all before, she's been telling me since she was knee high to a nexu cub.” He smiled aimiably at everyone, and went off to his room to pick up his carbonite projector and specimen box.

* Twelve was travelling under the name Beinn Dearg, which was an identity he'd used several times before. This might possibly have been his real name; even Cirean didn't know. She and Lokin were posing as brother and sister, with the surname Ardmore, again something they'd done before.

Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.