Яппаньки вам,уважаем(ый)(ая)(ое)!

selling them your mother. Now stop asking questions.

One of the tubes dropped to the floor. This one moved, the first Narn said. I swear.

Don't be an idiot, Ko'Vin replied. Let's get this done, and then we'll all go out and get drunk.

The first Narn wrestled the tube back onto the wheeled cart, pushed it toward the air lock. A shadow fell over him, and the Narn jumped.

"Where is your captain?"

Galen shivered.

The Narn pointed over his shoulder.

"That doesn't do me much good if you don't get out of the way."

It was Elizar's voice.

The Narn backed up, and Elizar strode into the hold, marking his way with a platinum staff. Tilar followed. Somehow, beside Elizar, he looked like an anxious assistant.

"You are the captain?" Elizar said.

"Yes, sir," Ko'Vin said.

"You're loading this cargo into the wrong vehicle. It should be going into my lift, which is to the left here." With a precise gesture he extended two fingers toward the air lock.

"But, sir." Ko'Vin pointed to Tilar. "This man told us your lift was to receive only one tube."

"He made a mistake." Elizar turned on Tilar.

"Yes," said Tilar, "I made a mistake."

Elizar turned back to the captain. "One of these rejects"- he indicated the tubes with a flourish of his hand-"is to be my servant. My secret weapon. But to find one suitable servant, I must test them all. I'll be lucky to find one with the proper qualities in this small bunch. Could you carry no more?"

"This is all we were given," Ko'Vin said.

Elizar scanned the interior. "Very well then. Be quick about it."

"Yes, sir."

Elizar strode from the hold, Tilar following.

Get to it, Ko'Vin said, unless you want to be turned into spoo. That was a techno-mage. And that one does not tell fortunes, he ruins them.

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