Operative Gunnar Skjold kissed the heads of his playing children as he passed them on his short way to the vast home which lay semi-submerged by a thick layer of earth. As he dressed quickly in the solar shower, he sensed Amut'a behind him. Without turning, he told her the Council might be calling.
"If so, I'm active again," he said quietly. "I know," she acknowledged, clicking the answer in the soft tongue movements of the voiceless Pantherians. She came to stand before him, the warmth of ten Solmitic suns radiating from her eyes. He tried to look away from her blinding love, but her lips found his and they kissed deeply, with Amut'a's tongue expertly communicating her wish that he were still unclothed. As he felt the jut of her breasts and the tendrils of her Pantherian passion tearing at his marrow, he growled playfully and brought his hands lower. Then he cursed an ancient Norwegian word as the summons sounded in his left ear.
"They also want you," clicked Amut'a. Gunnar nodded and reached into his tunic for the long, slim leather wrap containing the neurosensors Pantherian surgeons had painfully, illegally and secretly removed from his body. He crooked the finger-like wrap, returned it quickly to his tunic, and then nodded politely as Finalta's tel-image materialized before them.
"Bad time, Gunner Shield?" asked the Convenor. They repeated the standard pronounciation game that he found so tiresome before she delivered the unsurprising news of his activation selection by seventy-four percent of the ministers.
"Since I see that you're dressed, I assume you're ready to go immediately," said the Convenor.
"Yes," he answered. "The God-Seed co-ordinates are secret?"
Finalta nodded. "Known only to Professor N'Gula and me." Gunnar looked to his wife, who nodded her head and smiled the maddening smile of the Pantherians.
"Telepath them to Amut'a now. She's fixed on you," he said. He waited, watching his wife's black eyes roll up in their sockets as she impossibly found and gathered a thought generated 2000 kilometers away.
"Will you be wanting the STA for transport this time?" asked the Convenor.
"No -" he answered, drawing out the vowel thoughfully. Abruptly, he changed his mind, and turned his reply into a yes by adding, " - something, Finalta? You should let your hair grow in. You're still a very handsome woman. And yes, I will use the Apperture. Have the portal here in twenty-three minutes, please." He looked at his lovely Amut'a where she sat, momentarily drained from telepathy. Her black eyes smoldered and met his. "Make it an hour, Convenor," he added.
Amut'a looked up at her husband and moved her mouth in the shrouded Pantherian smile that could drive warriors to weeping. When he clicked a yes to her unspoken question, she nodded and rose to fetch their eldest son.
The Convenor took note as Gunnar quickly listed his shockingly small weaponry and support requirements. After they disconnected, she hyper-lasered the encrytped source and destination co-ordinates to the Space/Time Apperture control module. She was only mildly surprised when the STA officer immediately messaged back that the God-Seed operative had already fixed a very different destination. Only for a moment, Finalta wondered why Gunner Shield wanted to begin his Antarctic quest in the distant Pyrenees. Then she considered his unpredictability and warrior instincts, and leaned back to look out again at the placid lake.
She ran a veined hand over her shaved head and fought another smile. Maybe I should, she thought, and then shook her head wistfully. Silly old aardvark, she told herself sternly; well into her Seen years, and she hadn't thought about her looks in sixty Earth years.
Seventy-seven kalomenes to the south-east, the Planetary Council Minister of Rabkali also sat back in his chair, carefully looking out into the night and away from the low table before him, where a small box shimmered in colours alien to human eyes. Only when the box hissed like escaping air and settled to a blue-grey colour did he turn.
"You heard it all, soldier?" he asked.
Above his right shoulder, a dot of tawny light turned white, then grew into a pulsing orange orb the size of a basketball. It hovered, and spoke in the voice of a crackling fire.
"Yes, Burndtree. The Zirkanians thank you. The God-seed must be ours."
"You can track the warps of the STA, I assume," said the minister. "And then know where he's going."
"Yes, Burndtree. It seems we shall soon meet Gunner Shields again."
The light sparked, pulsed, and faded to darkness.