“You are implying that you and the crew of Starflame have undergone this…this procedure?” stammered Speaker Terwillen.
“Bloody dammed Hell!” shouted the General. “The General Staff?”
The room erupted in pandemonium and then suddenly went dead quiet, all eyes on Reyard who said calmly, “Judge Flamone, I will save the time for your committee on the issue of the crew members left on Metis. The space in the Suspension chambers was required by the Sisters of Lysis who accompanied her to Earth. They are already well dispersed about the Capitol and the planet; supplemented, as you might guess, by the female crew members from Starflame, all of whom have happily joined the Sisterhood.
“This, then, is that part of the story which I am to tell. The rest must come from The Lysis herself to each of you individually, when she accepts your Token of Understanding.”
At his point, a commotion outside the door indicated that Reyard’s companions had arrived. Reyard fell silent, turning to the sound. Senator Moxman arose and started towards the door. The door opened and a woman of about forty years entered – tall, plain, with dark hair swept back at the sides of her high forehead head and held by copper clips. She wore no makeup, her feature were relaxed and her smile pleasant. She was dressed in a simple but practical dress and a beautifully embroidered leather vest. Her demeanor seemed placid yet as she moved she radiated vibrancy, strength and a feeling of commanding power. She extended her hand to the Senator, he took it in his; they stood for a moment and it seemed as if she was studying his face. No words were spoken. When he dropped her hand and turned to the room he had gone quite pale and his eyes seemed frightened. He quickly glanced once more at the woman and then announced to the room, “Gentlemen, The Lysis of Metis.”
She again took him by the hand and brought him with her to Reyard’s side. She swept the room with her ice blue eyes, lingering a moment on each face. Her voice, when she finally spoke, was full and easily heard throughout the large room. “Greetings from the citizens of Metis, gentlemen; Reyard, I am grateful for your service. You have fulfilled your charge in an exemplary manner.”
“Thank you and good evening, Lysis. These distinguished servants of the Seven Worlds are ready and prepared for you to accept them!”
“Excellent, my Herald, it was an honest telling of The Story and I am pleased with your arrangement of the Flints. I am certain that these gentlemen now have a clear understanding of who I am and the import of my visit.”
With that statement, each man in the room felt a distinct tightening in the groin. Panicked looks were exchanged, but no one spoke. The Lysis smiled serenely and said quietly, “Gentlemen, please select your flint and we shall begin.”
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