Introduction: Auril

Offices of hinRyktor and hinVersar Orbital Housekeeping
Ryskar City
Sefra (Perist Spire)

The seforn behind the desk looked down, straightening the scatter of durofilm sheets on his desk and shuffling them into piles that were, to Auril’s eyes, indistinguishable from the piles they had previously been arranged in.

“Well, En. Amathi, all your licenses and papers are perfectly satisfactory. And you have experience in close orbit satellite maintenance operations?”

“Not strictly speaking. I do, however, have eight years’ prior experience in habitat maintenance, involving extensive extravehicular work, and as you saw, I have a special piloting endorsement and commendation for low-orbit maneuvering.”

“That should do nicely. Very well, En. Amathi, we have only one more question before offering you the position. What was your father’s name?”

Auril winced, internally. Not again.

“Nién Amathi.”

The Nién Amathi?”

“Yes. That Nién Amathi. Infamous interstellar master thief, Nién Amathi. Who took pieces from the House of Collectors on four separate occasions. Who stole the Calyet President’s desk during his inauguration. Who was found mysteriously dead of a heart attack inside a Gilea & Co. Prime Vault. I’ve heard all the same stories that you have…

“But I’m not him.”

*  *  *

Fifteen minutes later, Auril was once again walking the streets of Ryskar City.

“Always seem to be close enough, though,” she muttered angrily. “Rusted, heat-leakin’ hinterworlds satellite-wranglers. As if any self-respectin’ thief would want to steal their ash-crystal-cheap constellation, and I certainly wouldn’t hire on as their contractor to do it. Reputational assets!” The words were a curse. “This whole planet doesn’t have reput –”

“Citizen Auril Amathi?”

She spun on her heel to see a ciseflish hurrying up behind her, heat shimmering from the radiative striping of his – probably his – environment suit under the Sefran sun.

“Yes?” She closed her eyes for a moment, issued a command, and felt the artificial calm of her limbic modulator take hold. “Pray pardon me, sir, my day thus far has not met with success. I am she, at your service. Might I enquire your name?”

“Arbel min Kinethill, at yours and your clan’s. I have a business proposition for you…”