Stefania sat still between Angus and her mother. The Guild people about her made her nervous, they had a strangeness to them that made her skin crawl. One Guild representative in particular kept gazing upon her, his eyes barely blinking, his gaze never wavering. Stefania squirmed in her seat pressing against Angus who looked up at the Guild representative who met Angus' cold hard stare without wavering. Lady Tavdi glanced at Angus and Stefania and went back to her needlework.
"He scares me," Stefania said for all in the compartment to hear.
"Too much time in space has addled his brain is all," Angus replied. "All that time spent among machines and metal has taken away much of his humanity."
Stefania's eyes went wide and she leaned forward staring at the Guild representative with the intensity only one of her age could muster.
"He looks funny," she said letting out a slight girlish giggle and his a smile behind her hand.
"Stop that child, it's unbecoming of a lady of your postion ot behave like such a commoner," Lady Tavdi rebuked Stefania without looking up from her needle work.
"Sorry mother," Stefania smoothed her skirt and looked at the Guild representative. "I'm sorry for making fun of you."
The representative barely nodded his head in acknowledgement and turned his attention to something small in his lap. Stefania squirmed wanting to see what it was but kept silent.
Baron Tavdi listened without emotion as one by one the comm units in his command center went dead as the Imperial Sardakaur systematically over ran his house's meager forces. His aides remained silent as their death approached unabated.
"Is our surprise ready?" The Baron asked softly. A short nod of acknowledgement. "When they reach the Spice stores, overload the lasgun,"Baron Tavdi ordered in a firm voice.
All present knew of the Lasgun and shield set as a trap in place of the family atomics which had been spirited away with the the Baron's family. The Great Convention would matter little already dead.
"They approach my Baron," an aide said softly.
"Do it," he ordered.
The comm unit crackled as orders were given and acknowledged while those present waited for the explosion.
"My Baron! Something's wrong!"
Baron Tavdi sighed. "It was always a possibility, the Sardakaur had infiltrated my house troops." Baron Tavdi gripped his short sword. "Prepare for our last stand," he growled.
To Be Continued.....