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Story 1, Scene A, by Jeff Zeitlin

As the symphony - Gashidda's Second Solomani Arrangement - drew to a close, Nicholas Managudeli stood and stretched. Touching the console next to the chair, he brought the library's lights back to normal. As he turned to leave, he saw something lying on the table next to the door - something which hadn't been there when he entered the library. He picked it up, seeing that it was in fact two things - a note in the majordomo's neat - almost elegant - handwriting, and a card. He read the note...


This card was delivered by a man in a Navy uniform and cloak, with all identifying accessories - rank symbols, unit patches, nametag - removed or obscured. He was wearing a mask. He was taller than I am (about 1.9m, I would estimate), and had an accent, though he did not say enough for me to place it beyond being from somewhere in the central sectors. He asked that I see that you get the card as soon as possible, and that there was, in his words, 'importance but not urgency'. He then left without waiting for an answer, though I was prepared to invite him in to have a drink while he waited for you.

Putting down the note, Nicholas turned his attention to the card. He recognized it immediately - one of his own, though he had not used that design in many years. He turned it over, anticipating what he would find. The date and location stared back at him. He remembered what he had said...

"I can't promise to make good on this, for the reasons that we both know. But if you ever need help, send me this card, and if I can, I will help you to whatever extent I can...."

He had done well since that day, and he owed a lot of it to that incident. It was just barely possible that he could manage to do what the mere presence of the card was asking - but it would be a near thing...

Choose a continuation:
1. Nick returns to his ship and waits for the next contact from his secretive patron.
2. Change Point of View: Follow the man in the uniform

Add a new continuation: Continuation Code: 1A