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Wolf's Daughter - Ch. I by Pakkrat I. Magister Magna Dr. Pakkratius walked about the space station, looking at everything as he found its correlating feature in the data tablet he carried. Though the construction was superb and the exotic location was interesting, it was the history of Paramis Station that he studied. As he moved through the docking hangar and into the commons section of the station, he read the history of the former pirate facility. Using Sho'ta'kan technologies, Paramis Station was built in the ominous vicinity of nearby black holes in what was later named Smugglers Run. As the station changed hands from the Sho'ta'kan to the Red Dragon pirate tongs, the station saw much traffic. But over time, better smuggling routes were chosen and the station was in jeopardy of neglect. Though it was under the table, the station was bought, or at the very least licensed, by NET-7 SOL and its newscorp, Net-7 News. Now the station was a communications affiliate with the parent entity. Though still mainly used as a waystation to the Aragoth system, Paramis sector was slowly eroding in traffic as more communications gear was imported and brought online. The news source wanted a staging point for reporting the goings-on in pirate space. Pakkratius looked up from his data tablet. The history of this station was unique, but it was rapidly becoming boring. This would be nothing worthy of putting on the headlines of Net-7 News. Paramis Station, though interesting, was a waste in sensationalising. The viewers would be sorry they turned on the news program if they saw this. With a sigh, Pakkratius shut off the data tablet. Looking about the commons area for something better to do, Dr. Pakkratius saw a Talon pirate speaking with what must have been a very young Jenquai girl. He was rejecting some request of hers. It was most likely another pirate hopeful who wanted to join with the criminal elements of Smugglers' Run. The Talons were a splinter group off the mainstream Tongs of the Red Dragon. They believed in a more draconic and merciless view of the galaxy's piracy. They held the beliefs and worldview of an ancient Earth sea pirate Edward Teach, or the infamous Blackbeard, to be sacred. The Talons had taken up a psychological and brutal means of operations. It appeared now that this Talon speaking with the young teenager Jenquai, felt that little girls had no place in piracy. "Be off, girl!" he told her, his voiced raised to better shun her. "This is no place for the weak and the young." Pakkratius looked again at the Jenquai girl. She was dressed in obvious Progen red colors, a top that bared her shoulders and midriff while a wrap skirt was belted on by a utility belt housing two wicked knives. The girl's only jewelry was a platinum metal collar that did not fit her and sat on her collar bones. Her wild silver-tipped white hair was nothing of the styles of the Jenquai women the Reporter had ever seen. She stood barely above five feet, her short boots lending her perhaps two inches. With her back to Pakkratius, he could not see her face. It was her stance that showed anger. She continued to protest that she was ready for piracy in Smugglers Run. The pirate, a rogue Progen by race, shooed her again, "For the last time girl, begone." To accent his rejection he shoved her away with a large hand. It shoved her harder than the pirate had intended causing the girl to stumble and fall to the deck. Pakkratius stepped over to the fallen girl. She was beginning to pick herself off the deck as he extended a hand down to her. The girl saw the offered hand up and sneered with a little girl's growl. Refusing the help, she stalked off after standing and brushing off her long red sleeves and skirt. Pakkratius shrugged and turned on the Talon who had already ignored the girl for other matters. Scowling at the now disinterested pirate, the Doctor decided that a Talon was not worth making a scene. Life was harsh and crude here at Paramis Station. Pakkratius left for the hangar again to check on his ship, the *Culler*. His Sentinel ship was parked in the drydock of the hangar. Upon his arrival earlier, the Net-7 technicians had produced orders for field Reporters' ships. The newscorp had mandated new modifications for their frigate fleet and all other ships of field correspondents. Pakkratius watched as the aft sides of his Sentinel ship's sails were coated with a layer of white paint mixed with manes essence. The new lining was developed to turn the backside of the sails into a dish-like antenna so as to receive and transmit immense masercom beams to the nearest starbase, Net-7 beacon, another news frigate, or directly to NET-7 SOL in Saturn. With the sails' concave shape and folding nature, the Progen Sentinel was an excellent candidate for the new systems being loaded onboard to better communicate with the newscorp no matter how distant from Sol system the ship travelled. The upgrades in communication were taking longer than the Doctor wanted. He was impatient to be off again to find a better scoop for the news feeds. After his younger clone brother, the now-Imperator Pakkrateus had his adventure, the news coverage of the story had vaulted Dr. Pakkratius from a run-of-the-line Reporter and field correspondent to the new heights of Anchorman on the nightly news transmission. This of course put him in direct competition with the Terran anchorwoman, the famous Zona Mason. She loathed his climb to a seat beside her on the nightly news. It was written in her face every time she had to introduce him for a story. The two were polite on camera, but he felt her ire after each show. Pakkratius noted that Mason's reporting style was geared for social gossip and sensational entertainment. She focused on various famous personalities, the movers and the shakers of the galaxy. An incurable gossip, Zona Mason flit from various upper echelon starbases and planets to come in contact with the upper crust of galactic society. This was in sharp contrast to the Dr. Pakkratius who to her was a peasant among Net-7 News employees. He seemed to repeatedly eclipse her exposes with reports of violence and daring heroics that spanned humanity's galaxy. He was a champion of the common citizen with his grass-roots reporting. Thus, while his career was climbing the ladder as a Reporter and Anchor-'rat', it put Dr. Pakkratius in direct competition with Zona Mason. This struggle with her made for a challenge yes, but in the Progen Sentinel's eyes, it need not be so masked in on-camera politic and pomp. She hated him and he knew it. Other Net-7 correspondents seemed to find the adversarial production amusing, a story unto itself. Now the Doctor needed a new and fresh scoop on a story or else she would be the one to eclipse him on the next broadcast. The Sabine Sentinel Dr. Pakkratius rounded the ramp's corner to have a better look at the modifications the technicians were installing on his vessel. Just beyond his *Culler* was another Sentinel ship, parked with its armored sails folded. Pakkratius was about to continue past his own ship to have a closer look at the second Sentinel when a Progen woman, eyes reading a display on her vambrace personal data assistant, ran into Pakkratius. The two Progen bounced off each other but remained standing to recognize the other. Pakkratius immediately connected the mysterious Sentinel ship with the woman. It was Zyrith Sky, a somewhat short Reclaimer colleague in the Sabine Order. She had black hair and a gentle face, but an expression of disciplined challenge to the collision. She was very short for most women. The Doctor had noted that Sky had mustered for the Centuriata Warriors, but for some reason had been denied, the details classified behind reports of her altercations with a few that had landed her in the Reclaimers arm of the Sabine. The two Sabine Sentinels had last encountered each other on a paired safari of sorts in the Aragoth sector of space named Varen's Girdle. There the two had been beset by crystalline space fauna. The hunt ensued and afterwards Pakkratius had thanked her with a gift, a crystal device, gleaned from the creatures, to install in her ship when she was ready. The two had become friends though he was a Versatile and she a strange mix of potential Centuriata, Versatile, Reclaimer,....and something else he could not quite place. Such was the mystery of Progen women at times. She was now dressed in Progen red armor and deep and dark blue uniform. "Apologies," said Pakkratius automatically. Then he added, "Sentinel Zyrith Sky, what brings you to Paramis?" * * * Zyrith Sky rebounded off the larger Progen Sentinel, the famous and infamous Dr. Pakkratius, Sabine Sentinel Versatile and Anchorman for Net-7 News. So that was the *Culler* she had passed before she ran into him. Her gauntleted hand came up absently to touch the gem-like, crystal device gift on the necklace at her collar bone over her uniform. Though she instantly recalled their last encounter, she recovered immediately at his apology. The Doctor, so called as he was a graduate of the Call Forward interpolation disciplines of the Sabine Order, looked down at her short form. She smiled up at him with a fondness. He had been the only other Sabine to take note of her and showed curiosity about her career. When they had last parted, he gifted her with the crystal medallion on two golden conduit chains that clasped together like a necklace. She admired the Doctor, but knew that their careers were destined to touch only on occasion. She was a Reclaimer, tasked with the First Charge, to restore fallen Warrior-caste Centuriata gene-maps to the Gene Repository. He was a Reporter and freelance Doctor of the Call Forward, based out of Saturn, Sol. Thus, while there was some unnamed attraction to the Pakkratius, it was tempered with professionalism and her own personal drive to meet her goals. "Excuse me," she answered immediately. Then as he took recognition of her, she smiled up at him. "Oh, Dr. Pakkratius, a pleasant surprise to find you here in pirate space," Zyrith answered him. *He's happy you still wear the gift he gave you.* came her own mental voice from over her left shoulder blade behind her. She was now quite used to her vocal "intuition" that rode alongside her mind. Zyrith had made occasional use of the crystal device gift in her own ship. But now that she, in time since, had upgraded her Sentinel ship, she no longer needed it installed. So, she wore it again as a keepsake from her time with the Progen man now before her once more. "It's my first time to Paramis Station and pirate space in general, Pakkratius," Zyrith declared dropping to informality with her friend. "I had just arrived and parked next to another Sentinel when the call came." Zyrith pointed to her vambrace's PDA to indicate the downloaded and encoded message the starbase's comm system had received and distributed to all Sabine Sentinels galaxy-wide. The mission was marked Sentinels-only and looked both important and secret. Then she had collided with Pakkratius. Pakkratius gazed briefly at his own armored forearm PDA then looked back to her, "The call..." His voice sounded friendly to her and more pleasant in person than on the news feeds. "Yeah, this Sabine call to the mission," she explained, stepping close to him in order to display her PDA. "It seems the Sabine are mobilized to find and capture a gene-thief. Do you know how hard it is to steal from the Reclaimers and Restorers, Pakkratius?" He looked at the mission on her PDA and the image of the gene-thief. It was a Jenquai girl with white-and-silver hair, pale blue eyes, and dressed in Progen red. Pakkratius' demeanor changed slightly. And then something clicked in Zyrith suddenly. *He's ignorant of the call to the mission*, declared her inner insight voice. She looked at the Pakkratius, her friend. Did he not receive the mission as well being he was a fellow Sentinel? Zyrith grew wary at the declaration of her intuition. This was her friend, the Pakkratius, right? "What is wrong, Z?" he asked in familiarity, as she stepped from him. Doubt filled her. She asked him inquisitively, "You did receive the mission, right?" Then she glanced quickly at his vambrace PDA at his side. It was not lit up with the encoded call. She had just tipped off Pakkratius the Net-7 Reporter of this secret mission and he had let her do it. She backed away from her friend. "Um, I gotta go," she said hurriedly, wanting a quick reason to be away from Pakkratius. "Stuff to do, yeah. Bye!" Zyrith then turned and ran back down the ramp to her vessel without giving him any chance to further ask questions. If she was lucky and quick, she could deny ever running into the Reporter here in pirate space. He let her go with surprise on his face, yet a strange and enigmatic smile played as she saw him last before entering her Sentinel ship to undock. *Way to go. You just blurted a secret mission to your friend, a member of the press. The Order didn't give it to him on purpose.* Her inner voice chastised her as she pulled from the starbase's hangar. * * * Pakkratius was left standing on the hangar deck as his friend Zyrith Sky retreated in a full run to her vessel. As he analyzed the situation, the Reporter half of him congratulated in finding a new story to dig into. A secret mission out of Porvenir Mons, Endriago for Sentinel eyes only had been denied to him. The Sabine Sentinel in Pakkratius protested his exclusion from this mission and complained at the Reporter half. Still he smiled at his exiting friend's craft hastily leaving the hangar of Paramis Station. As a field correspondent for Net-7 News, Pakkratius had trained himself to take in any details of a situation, especially if it meant a scoop to a story for the newscorp. His education in the Sabine Order only served to hone that skill to cut to the meat of the truth. When Sky's Sentinel was gone from the starbase, he turned to face his docked ship, the *Culler*. The notes, details, orders and the image on her PDA had been speed-read, noted, and remembered. He recalled what she had inadvertently revealed to him. The Sabine encoded call to Zyrith's vambrace alerted the Sabine Order to find and capture the "gene-thief", a Jenquai Defender girl named Wolfsdottir. She was listed as having possession of stolen Progen genes and thus warranted for capture for genetic espionage of Progen genetic secrets. The orders were simple: capture the thief or destroy her if she failed to surrender. Pakkratius noted that the secret mission was not to be shared with the Centuriata, the Collegia, nor any other non-Sabine. The mission was focused upon the Reclaimers though all Sabine Order Specialists, Versatile, and Restorers were to be on alert. *Just how special were the genes this girl had allegedly stolen?* Pakkratius asked himself as he continued to recall the orders he had read. Then the image was remembered. She had silver-tipped white hair, inhumanly crystal blue eyes, and wore Progen red-. It was the same girl from the commons area just minutes ago! Pakkratius had not looked too closely at the girl because of his general distaste for Jenquai. However, now that she was listed on a wanted notification, her details were fully brought to the fore. Then a deeper detail unpacked in his trained mind. The eyes, the sharp chin, her stern expression and those cheekbones! The Doctor of the Call Forward then spoke to Pakkratius. In his time as a practitioner of the interpolation disciplines called the Call Forward, Pakkratius had seen many patient-clients of the service he provided out of his office at NET-7 SOL in Saturn. He had treated many Progen, Terrans, and quite a few secretive Jenquai, all the races of humanity to answer the Call Forward. It was the Sabine Order's specialty to the galaxy. Warriors could be revived to serve again. Unwanted traits could be interpolated out. Desired aspects could be inserted in the genetic matrix. Humanity could be slowly and carefully perfected through the discipline. But this girl in the picture, who was before him some minutes before in this very station, had more in her family tree than Jenquai genes. She was part Progen! In all the histories of genetic annals, in only a handful of incidents had the Progen Republic's Tribunal and Presidium allowed the natural cross-breeding of Progen citizens with other members of humanity, the Terrans and loathed Jenquai. It was so rare in fact that the cloned race of Progen had grown to a distaste of procreation by natural intercourse and gestation. It was feared that any intrusion of weaker genetics might taint the Progen Republic and lull it into weaknesses. Even in the rare occasion of cross-breeding, the offspring were thus noted and blacklisted for their genetic impurity, subsequently shunned from the mainstream gene pools of the Republic, from further procreation. The girl, this Wolfsdottir, was truly being hunted for being half-Progen, half-Jenquai by the encoded orders of the Sabine. They had just lied to the Order at large that she was a gene-thief. But her face, eyes, and her gritted teeth half-smile had just told the Doctor the hidden truth. And more was coming forth from her image alone. In his career as a Versatile in the Sabine Order, Dr. Pakkratius often came into contact with many different Progen of the Republic. He had worked alongside Centuriata, the errant Collegia, the Sabine Specialists, Reclaimers, a very few Restorers at the Gene Repository, and had recently heard rumors from his clone brother Pakkrateus of a new warrior, the Sabura. But once or twice, Pakkratius had run across a secret from the past buried under the histories. The Dog Soldiers, genetically bred for combat and brutality, were a cultured creation of sub-human Centuriata that had been used by generals of the Gate War as obedient shock troops to quell the Jenquai. Their subsequent war atrocities had political ramifications that caused the Dog Soldier program to be mothballed into history, hopefully forgotten by all humanity. It was the girl's eyes and the pegged lateral canine incisors that gave her image's demeanor the clues Pakkratius needed. His brother's adventure had caused a curiosity in him to look into the genetic lines and functions of the Centuriata, the new and ultra-secret Sabura (which netted him almost nothing), and the dark tunnels of stored information on the Dog Soldiers. Pakkratius had seen and learned much of the program. He had even gone so far as to learn about what had happened to the remaining Dog Soldiers that had not been put down after the Gate War, rehabilitated, or Called Forward back to the ranks of the Centuriata. The girl had traits of the Dog Soldiers. She was not smiling, this Wolfsdottir. She was baring her teeth in aggression. The crystal blue irises in her eyes were ringed with black borders, a trait only found in the ranks of the primal warriors of that program. How had this girl inherited Dog Solider genes? She was Jenquai! Dr. Pakkratius remembered the last and very few times he had spoken with a Dog Solider. The interview at a neutral border starbase named Orsini Mining Platform, a distant subsidiary of InfinitiCorp, was where the Reporter had met Growlz. She was a Dog Soldier female who had turned rogue and was on the run from what she called the "gene wytch", a hateful term for Sabine Order leader Vinda. He had interviewed Growlz dangerously up close and at much risk to himself personally and professionally. That day, Pakkratius noted that Dog Soldiers had names reflecting the *canis* genus nature of the Earth dog and wolf. The Sabine Reclaimers hunted down the genetic castoffs of the Dog Soldier program. At the end of the Gate War, many Dog Soldiers escaped into the deepness of space with Jenquai Mordana, the Malefari, hot on their trail in murderous vengeance. Many were found and killed. Less than that were captured and rehabilitated. Fewer still were Called Forward to new lives as returning Centuriata. Pakkratius' brother had met one such example in his adventure. Those Dog Soldiers allowed to live were either under house arrest at the station named Arx Ymir in far-off Jotunheim sector in Aragoth, or they were incarcerated at Detention Center Onorom. To this day, the Dog Soldier program was a distasteful and embarrassing subject even to the Progen Republic. Now Pakkratius understood why this girl, aptly named Wolfsdottir, was hunted by the Sabine Order. She was both heretical in her cross-breeding and politically hostile to the Republic in that she had Dog Soldier traits and perhaps mannerisms to boot. And he had offered her his hand to rise from the deck under an hour ago! She might have bit him if she could. That she was trying to enter the pirate Tongs, specifically the Talons of the Red Dragon, said she was seeking some form of aggressive employment. The call orders listed her as a Jenquai Defender, perhaps a former member of the Shinwa, the modern day Jenquai warriors who defended their race's people and interests. Such a mix of Progen traits and Jenquai training would be an abomination in the eyes of the Sabine. This was a turning out to be news bubbling in a pressure cooker, ready to spew over if allowed. Pakkratius decided then to find this Wolfsdottir again and make her aware of her hunted status. He walked back towards the hangar doors entry to the main commons of Paramis Station. He had to find her before any more Sentinels docked here. Thus, in his concern for a Jenquai girl, Pakkratius missed that he was being followed. In the long hall tube connecting the Paramis Station docking hangar and the commons room, Dr. Pakkratius felt his forward, weight-bearing knee kicked from behind causing him to fall to his knees. His combat training, a requirement for all Progen, kept him from pitching forward, his body remaining upright. Though he went for his sidearm pistol, a slim and wiry black-clad arm slipped around his weapon arm, pinning it while the second brought a slim blade to his neck. The long knife, a Jenquai *tanto*, threatened to open his arteries. But the monomolecular blade stopped there in a clearly vulnerable mercy to Pakkratius. A male, Jovian-accented voice spoke gently in his ear as his assailant spoke, "If we were still at war, bud, you'd be dead, quick and quiet." Then the Jenquai man hauled the Progen Sentinel up to stand and pushed him against the corridor bulkhead, the monomolecular blade still threatening him. Then Pakkratius saw the face of his attacker. The ShadowWalker, for so his operative moniker went, slowly removed the threatening blade. The Jenquai man, another friend of the Doctor, had found him in the solitude of this hall. Pakkratius breathed a sigh of relief. He took his free hand off the chemical grenade he had grasped at his utility belt. ShadowWalker was one of very few of Pakkratius' friends, an ex-Shinwa assassin who now ran a weapons crafting business on the fringes of controlled space. The man released Pakkratius and put away the deadly blade. The two had greeted this way many times, each trying to get the drop on the other. ShadowWalker was only surprised once by the Progen Sentinel Doctor in the past. "Shadow," sighed the surprised Pakkratius, "you nearly scared me to my next iteration." "You were pretty much halfway there, Pakk," answered the ShadowWalker, using his shortened nickname for the Sentinel. He smiled a deadly smile, but relaxed and leaned back across the corridor and against the opposing bulkhead. Pakkratius recovered his composure and dignity. The Jenquai weapons dealer was shorter than the Progen Doctor, dressed in black leathers, boots and light poly-carbon armor. A straight-bladed *katana* rode in a scabbard at his back. It was easily assumed the short-haired former assassin would have other deadly trinkets hidden on his person. The lean man was a quiet death incarnate should he choose. The fact that he was ex-Shinwa meant that Shadow could more easily choose to slay someone if they warranted it. Pakkratius wondered at the man's remnant morals now that he had nobody to call his superior. Dr. Pakkratius had worked with the ShadowWalker before in the realm of ancient artifacts. The two had exchanged services, builds, weapons, ammunition; the sky was the limit. Having resigned the Shinwa, the ex-assassin had his own rumored dark history into which the Reporter avoided probing for good reason. Thus he merely stood there and waited for the explanation for his surprise visit from the Jenquai man. "No doubt, bud, you've heard the *ahem* news?" asked the ShadowWalker. "I am the news, Shadow," answered Pakkratius. "You will have to be more specific." "I'm referring to the um-, so-called secret mission your girlfriend back there was leaking." "How did you-?" asked Pakkratius. The ShadowWalker merely nodded and in answer, brought an index finger of his gloved hand to his temple. Psionics. He had read Zyrith's mind or at the very least read her body language from afar visibly. The Jenquai race had long ago embraced the psychic disciplines now called psionics. The mental powers developed by the race had been later intertwined with their technologies almost to the point of religious doctrine. While the Terrans might have members of their race randomly or heredity 'gifted' and named Psionics, or 'Psis', the Jenquai openly and purposefully studied the mental disciplines. Each Jenquai developed according to how much they could open their perceptions, focus their conceptions, and execute their realizations in the mental realms. Thus each Jenquai had powers differing in individuals and sects of the race. The difference was that while Terrans segregated their Psis apart from un-gifted citizens, the entire race of Jenquai embraced psionics openly. Pakkratius was ignorant of psionics because the Progen branch of humanity had long ago deemed psionics to be too varied to be reliable, untrustworthy, and inapplicable to the might of Progen genetic manipulations, cybernetic enhancements and demeanor. The Progen shunned and eventually bred out any potential for psionics in favor of tried and true methods and augmentations. While Jenquai became proficient mentalists along with their physical development, the Progen threw their lot with physical perfection, genetic manipulation and skills education, without metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. Pakkratius still occasionally wondered what it would be like to be cognizant of another man's thoughts, just touching on telepathy as an example. "So you were spying on us then?" asked Pakkratius more in the declarative than inquisitive. "Helps to keep one's ear to the ground, even here, Pakk," answered Shadow, indicating the newscorp-run pirate base. "But I have more than what your girlfriend brought you by accident. By the way, when did you start getting excluded from your Order's doings, bud?" "Perhaps when I started interviewing dangerous assassins." "Cute. Listen. There's more to that than just some Sabine Reclaimer hunt." "Oh?" "Shinwa-side of things, Pakk." Shadow grew serious then. "Though I left them long ago, I still listen to their battle lines of communication. Battle-lingo hasn't left me entirely. The Defenders are mobilizing on this girl too. Seems she's *ahem* AWOL from the Shinwa, Pakk." "So the Shinwa want her back," said Pakkratius, "and right around the time that the Sabine have clued in on her as well." "Neither of us believe in coincidences, do we?" "The Sabine are calling her a gene-thief," said the Doctor. "Do you know how hard it is to steal genes from the Restorers, Shadow? I mean the genes already in storage of course." "But she ain't a thief, is she, Pakk?" the ShadowWalker corrected. "And the Shinwa don't go all-out for a little girl, even an AWOL Defender." "There's another catch, assassin," said the Sentinel. "If the Sabine can't have her, they'll kill and destroy her so nobody else can." ShadowWalker's eyes came to lock with Pakkratius' eyes. The Doctor knew that "thousand-meter stare" from many previous meetings with the ex-Shinwa. "I walked out on the Jenquarum for good reasons. This girl is good and fed up with their bull too, I'll reckon. As far as I care, she should have that freedom. Your Sabine should do the same, Pakk." Pakkratius did the causal math. One half-breed girl. Two Factions who want her. Capture and-or kill orders. Secret missions. His exclusion from the Sabine side of the hunt meant only that Vinda did not want the press to get wind of it. It was a race and the two Factions could not stand to lose. The fact that the entire Shinwa sect had mobilized had to mean that their higher command knew of Wolfsdottir's genetic significance. And true to "need-to-know", neither Faction had told their subordinates the reasons. They merely gave orders to be carried out. "What will the Shinwa do to her if they get to her first?" asked Pakkratius to the ShadowWalker. "I hear tell," answered Shadow, "they will whisk her to that cozy, cush pen they call Androzari, no doubt until they can make some use of her aside of her skills as a trained Defender. What's so special about a little girl, Pakk?" "Shadow, think," directed the Doctor. "Two Factions of governments that used to be at war now want a so-called 'gene-thief'. Politics. This has to be about post-war What Can I Get Out Of This. She's half-Progen, Shadow, a war-child of the Dog Soldiers of the Gate War; she's a result of war atrocity." "A bargaining chip." "Evidence to be erased. History to be forgotten on purpose." The two men paused to think more on their governments' motivations. Each came up with an endgame result. Shadow spoke first being quick on the draw, "The Shinwa want revenge and perhaps more for the Gate War atrocities." Pakkratius answered with his own revelation, "The Sabine see an opportunity to lay claim to Jenquai genes and research them for interpolation within the Progen matrix. Genes are just as much weaponry as guns are." "Pakk, don't let her be harmed," warned the ShadowWalker. "I'll try to help from the outside, but you're still on the inside of the Sabine, bud." Pakkratius had never before been asked for help by the ShadowWalker in such a serious tone. He thought of the parallels between the ex-Shinwa assassin and the girl. She was here earlier to find a life in which to hide. But the longer he delayed the closer the Order and the Shinwa came. He had to move her to the frontier and fast. "I promise," Pakkratius said as the two clasped forearms in the gesture of agreement that Progen often displayed. Then the two men parted company, Shadow towards the hangar and Pakkratius further inside the starbase. * * * So, the pirates were not taking in young women. Fine by her, thought Wolfsdottir as she stood in front of a mirror, re-finishing her hair. She called the coloration she had chosen 'silver-ish', a white with a sheen of silver when the light caught it at the correct angle. She was sure that her style would present her in a light other than some idealistic Shinwa Defender. 'Dot' scowled at the rejection. She had tried last month, to look into working with the reclusive Cenovar Artificers, the self-exiled Warlock Engineers. Dot figured the disenfranchised scientists would want a warrior like her. However, they wanted more crafting of their strange technologies. She did not like making systems. The teen had heard plenty of tales of the warriors and the battles in space. Dot wanted to prove -to someone- that she now had what it took, beyond the playground that was the Jenquai Defender training facilities of Europa. The Cenovar were turned down after they made their pitch. Dot had done what she considered duty to humanity and was displeased with the results. The mandatory term of service for all graduating Shinwa Defenders was to give unconditionally to all humanity as a Sev Tushnim, We Who Serve In Silence. Those were three quiet years that Dot felt wasted and non-refundable. She did her work quietly and to the strictures of the Sev Tushnim, but longed for action besides hauling in some Seeker caught in a docking bay door. Neither was there thanks that she used a tractor beam from cloaking to direct a lost Terran towards home. There was nothing to say about the term as nothing really happened. Nothing she had done since training felt real. Thus, Wolfsdottir ventured for the first time into pirate space for a taste of the frontier and a shot at some tangible action. What she found first was Paramis Station and a bunch of grown-up bullies. If this is what the galaxy truly had to offer, Dot would reject and reject until she found the truth. Stepping back into the starbase's bazaar from the lavatory, Dot saw a black-robed Jenquai man leaning against the bulkhead. His veiled face was hidden as he spoke -no, thought- to her mind. *The truth, young Wolf-girl, is that there is no truth. Everything about you here is **maya**; it is all illusion.* Dot had experienced telepathy psionics on occasion, but this man's sending was dark and bereft of passion. His mental projection, called a sending, was without emotion and heedless of care. She confronted the man in the robes. "Are you a priest then?" she asked. "Some Sha'ha'dem to show me the path? The Way?" *Oh no, my dear. Rather the inverse. I need but to let you know that none of what you see here matters. It is all unreal and false.* The man bowed politely and produced a long strip of black cloth, a hair-tie or obi for a small person. He offered it to Dot. *Look at these people, scurrying about with useless, materialistic wastes of energy. See their passions of anger, vanity, greed, lust, and attachment. My, how they waste their lives on such anchors.* Dot looked at the various peoples coming and going from the bazaar. Each was in a hurry to spend credits, sell looted treasures or stolen goods. No one seemed to show any redeeming qualities other than the petty passions the man's mind described. The black-clad Jenquai man leaned in and dropped the cloth strip into her hands. *But you, Daughter of the Wolf, know better. You know how false this world is and how it needs to be jolted into new vibrant life again, don't you?* The mental sending was gentle yet fatalistic. Its voice called her to what she desired deep inside. Somewhere at her core, a tiny wolf, a hunter was loosed. "They have to be put on the edge of survival," she answered, giving in to that inner desire. "They must taste destruction," suggested Wolfsdottir with a finality. "Only then will they change and adapt, grow and become enlightened." *You see? You already know the truth. There is nothing on the Outer that is real. So destroying it will only hasten true reality's arrival. The Kaojin know this as well and dance the Dance of Annihilation. Soon, young wolf, you will too. Join us after you have had your first taste.* The man then ended his psionic sending and bowed again slightly and retreated into the crowd. Though Dot felt held at arms-length from the robed man, this Kaojin, he was very formal and polite as possible with his telepathy. She looked at the strip of black cloth, then tied her hair in a silver-ish, spiked plume back from her head. It made Dot feel like she had a tangible revelation she could grasp. While the man's telepathy was impressive, it was his demeanor and calm that attracted her. Logical, controlled, and full of ennui for these people. She too would show them why she had long had a disdain for her teachers, peers, and the rest of the galaxy. It just no longer mattered. Everything was as the man thought to her. It was false. Dot stalked, reborn to a predatory nature dredged up by the Kaojin's suggestion, from the bazaar back towards the commons area of Paramis Station. She was done with pirate space. She would find this Dance in an empirical, warrior's quest for her self-actualization. This was why she shunned crafting, ignored classes of useless skills the Shinwa felt were necessary. This is why she left the Shinwa. They were indoctrinating her to their petty worldview and mindset. Wolfsdottir wanted to seek her own truth. To do so, she would become the Wolf, and learn this Dance. People, all taller than Dot, were crowding her and making her have to slow her stalking pace. It was another indicator of overpopulation and furthered her distaste. To bypass the herd, the Wolfsdottir used her own developed psionics. Though not a master-class 'jaunter', Dot had found her skills quite handy. Her particular inner discovery allowed the young girl to temporarily fold space in short teleport jumps in a clear line of her sight. This had been demonstrated to her Shinwa teachers who immediately saw her future as a Shinwa Defender. Though Dot could only jaunt a meter or so at first, her masters trained her by focussing her powers through their signature class vessel, the Jenquai Defender. Through the systems onboard a Defender, Wolfsdottir's psionic jaunting enhanced the Fold Space capacitors, allowing teleportation over several clicks distance. The girl naturally knew the powers of the Defender's Fold Space ability before ever climbing into the bridge cockpit. This had pleased her immensely. Now she merely drew sharp, surprised breaths from the adults as she repeatedly jaunted pasted them in quick hops. It was taxing and made Dot hungry over time. Her psionics used energy to dodge the heavy foot traffic in the busy station. But her encounter with the Kaojin gave her a purpose and a goal though she knew not where to find this Dance of Annihilation. In her eagerness to search for this path of existence, Wolfsdottir missed that she was being followed.