Grace Anniston, field scientist with The Research Academy, hurried down the spaceship corridor, trying not to appear rushed while hoping to reach the lab before Danae. She hoped the other scientist had not received news of the collection team's return before Grace did. She sent up a quick prayer to whoever or whatever might be listening that Danae Simpson would not have a chance for lone study of whatever the team had brought back from the planet's surface.
Someone up there must have been listening, for Grace and Danae reached the lab at the same time. Grace smiled, relieved, as she gestured for the other scientist to precede her through the door. Danae looked down her long nose at the Grace as she swept past her into the lab. Clearly, the Pure Scientist was disappointed at the way things had turned out. Grace allowed herself another smile as she followed Danae through the automatic sliding door.
When she saw the tall figure standing beside Larry Thompson, Grace stared, amazed. This was the sample? He looked human! He also towered over everyone around him, making even Larry look short in comparison. He was built like a warrior but dressed like a medieval noble. His long blond hair was pulled back from his face, and fastened at the crown of his head with a strip of polished leather. He turned to watch the two scientists approach and Grace saw intelligence in his clear blue eyes. This was no lesser life-form, and he knew it. He held himself like royalty.
Danae, of course, ignored all of this. In the doctrine of Pure Science, it was written: "'Gut feelings', 'hunches', and the like cannot be trusted." Danae would make no judgements, come to no conclusions, based on casual observation. And, of course, she had not even noticed the fact, most obvious to Grace, that this "sample" was incredibly handsome.
"Well," Danae said in her most business-like tone, "what do we have here?"
"My name is Jeriel Lynndryll," the "sample" spoke up. "I am the younger son of Deriel Lynndryll, King of Faytaisie."
Danae raised an eyebrow. "Mmhm," she grunted.
Grace, however, thought to herself, "I knew he acted like royalty!" She bit back a smirk at Danae's clinical reaction. "His language is sufficiently advanced to be comprehensible to the translator," she commented.
Danae grunted again. The message was clear: she wasn't impressed.
Jeriel spoke again: "Why did you bring me here? What do you want with me?" Although he was too proud to let it show, Grace was sure she could detect fear in his words. And why shouldn't he be afraid? He had been snatched from his home, carried off into the unknown, and he had no idea why.
"We need to study samples of native life," Danae said. "If you would sit here?" She indicated an examining table.
Jeriel eyed the table apprehensively, but he sat. He sat straight and tall, as if the table were a royal throne. Even seated, his exceptional height was evident--Grace guessed he must be at least seven feet tall.
As Danae began to arrange her equipment, Grace stepped forward and cleared her throat. "Hello, Jeriel Lyndryll," she said. "My name is Grace Anniston--but please call me Grace." Forgetting that it was unlikely his people shook hands, she foolishly offered hers. Almost immediately realizing her mistake, she was about to withdraw her hand when he took it in his strong slender fingers. To her disconcertment, he then lifted her hand to his lips.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Grace," he said as he released her hand.