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card out to the security chief with his finger extended along the underside. When Michael took it, he brushed Galen's finger, and several of the probes passed to him.

Michael ran the card through the scanner. "So you're a trader, Mr. Phillips."


"Do you have anything to declare?"


"A trader with nothing to declare. That's a new one."

Galen looked out across the customs area, as if the conversation were of no concern. Alwyn and G'Leel were watching. "I'm here to meet with possible clients. I cater to special requests."

"I'm sure all those special requests are legal ones."

"Of course." Galen turned back to Michael, extended his hand.

"Since you helped out a minute ago, I'll give you a heads up. First-time visitors to this station enjoy my special attention. You may not always know I'm there, but I am." Michael returned the identicard.

"I'll look forward to seeing you, then." Galen retrieved his valise and moved into the customs area, approached Alwyn and G'Leel.

She looked just as he remembered her, skin a brilliant gold with black spots, white scar across her nose, intense red eyes. She wore a sleeveless tunic, gloves, and pants all of black leather. Her arms were sharply defined with muscle. All that was missing was her gun case, since weapons required a special permit. Her lips tightened as he stopped before her.

"G'Leel." They shook hands.


Galen extended his hand to a smiling Alwyn. "Mr. Alecto."

Alwyn seized him in an embrace, crushing his arms against his sides.

Galen's body went rigid, as it always did. He did not like to be touched.

"How I've missed you, my boy."

With a disorienting flash it was not Alwyn embracing him, but his father, the choking smells of sweat and resin soap, and Galen wanted
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