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not."

With a flourish Elric raised his hand, palm up. Had Londo been a true expert in techno-mages, he would have known better than to lie. The probes in the Down Below hallway had recorded Vir's visit, and it was a simple enough task to create a three-dimensional composite, a special humiliation for Londo. On his hand, Elric conjured a foot-tall image of Vir. It spoke. "My name is Vir Cotto, diplomatic attach© to Ambassador Londo Mollari of the Centauri Republic." He dissolved the composite recording to reflect a short jump in time, restored the image at a later spot. "My employer requests an audience," Vir said. Elric closed his hand, and Vir vanished.

Londo averted his gaze. He looked ill.

John's eyes narrowed on him. "You were saying?"

Londo struggled to recover his dignity. "Recording a conversation... a very low thing to do. But in the interest of good relations I am willing to forgive. I offer the hands of friendship." The butcher approached Elric, hands extended, palms down.

And here was the purpose of Londo's recording device. Following Centauri custom, Elric extended his own hands, palms up. He clasped Londo's forearms as Londo did the same. "And I accept," Elric said. "I assume that you would not take advantage of this gesture or misrepresent it as some sort of endorsement."

"Oh-of course not," Londo said. Still he had not learned. Which best served Elric's purpose.

In his mind's eye, Elric visualized magical fire bursting to life within Londo's recording device, the circuits overheating, melting. On the table against the wall, the device exploded with a flash and a puff of smoke.

Elric jerked Londo close and forced his words through clenched teeth. "A risky business, condemning my recording device while using one of your own."

Londo
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