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said briskly. "Then let's get to work. We don't have much time."

And with those words, the Pandora of the third age of Mankind prepared to open the box.

Vir was not looking forward to what seemed his umpty-umpth meeting with the League. They had very much begun to wear on him, since each of the member races had its own agenda, and the representatives had no hesitation at all in expressing said agendas at the top of their lungs. The worst was when they were all trying to speak at the same time. At least it would have been tolerable if they'd been arguing with one another. Instead they were all putting forward their respective party lines, acting as if none of the others were speaking as they did so. Vir tended to come away more puzzled than ever, and usually with a severe headache.

The transport tube slowed to a halt. It meant that Vir would be a few minutes late for the meeting. He hoped that it would stop at every level, and then he could be many minutes late for the meeting.

Susan lvanova stepped into the tube and nodded acknowledgment to him as the doors slid shut behind her. He returned the silent greeting, and then decided that it would really be far more effective if he actually spoke. "Good afternoon, Commander."

"Hello, Vir," she replied.

He seemed to want to say something to her, but he was hesitant, as Vir oftentimes was. lvanova, who hadn't slept particularly soundly, wasn't especially interested in trying to draw him out, so she kept quiet and hoped that Vir would see fit to do likewise.

"I should tell you," he said, and inwardly she sighed. So much for the subtle approach. Vir, meantime, continued,"... only because it's considered a sign of good luck among my people ... I saw you in a dream last night."

She wasn't even listening, really.
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