Forged (Star Breed #10) - Elin Wyn


“I cannot imagine what the Emperor was thinking, sending someone like you on such a delicate mission.”

Ambassador Thalcorr sniffed and took a small, disapproving sip of his tea.

Everything he did was disapproving, so I didn’t take it personally.

“It may not be our place to understand,” I answered mildly. “All you have to know is that we’ve both been assigned to go to this Station 112 and make contact. You’ll talk to the corporate envoy, and I’ll follow-up on the manufacturing order.” I grinned, happy to know the sight of my teeth made him nervous. “Speculating on more than that doesn’t do either of us any good.”

Of course, I’d done plenty of speculating on my own.

Quinn and Torik’s foray into the Areitis Sector hadn’t gone unnoticed by Vandalar.

As Emperor, he had other Imperial fish to fry, but I was certain that as soon as he had the time, he’d be redirecting his attention, and troops, towards reestablishing control in the sector.

“Why do we even need to make an order from a second-rate corporate manufacturing facility?” Thalcorr demanded.


I fought back a sigh, instead taking a sip of my own drink.

It definitely wasn’t tea.

“It’s not so much that we need it,” I explained. Again. “Any of the Imperial manufacturing facilities could provide the same part. Think of it as a good-faith order. A test.”

And it worried me more than a bit that the ambassador couldn’t understand such a basic opening gambit.

I’d asked Quinn to do a little poking around. It didn’t look like Thalcorr had done much more than attend parties for the last few decades.

Maybe Vandalar was trying to reward him with an actual assignment.

Or, more likely, punish him for some political infraction I didn’t want to know about.

“I’m not here to get in your way. I’m just along to make sure everything is built to spec.”

And to ensure that Desyk Consolidated Systems was at least slightly legitimate.

Lorcan and Cintha’s little adventure into the world of coerced and kidnapped workers had us all on alert.

So when our friends from Heladae had sent out a message on the dark boards of Areitis, just to see who might be willing to open talks with the Empire, it was just our luck that the one nibble we had so far was from a corp that didn’t have the cleanest reputation.

Vandalar had limits.

Nice change from the usual political nonsense.

“I have served the Empire for my entire career,” Thalcorr started up again.

I didn’t doubt it. Every inch of Ambassador Rix Thalcorr looked like a patrician, Hub-born fop.

Silvered hair carefully swept back at the temples, smooth, perfectly regular features, tall but not too tall, thin but not scrawny.

I’d lay good credits the man had never missed a meal in his life, or used his muscles in anything other than a sculpting pod.

I pushed away from the table and got to my feet, anxious to interrupt him before the spiel picked up speed.

“Look, we don’t have to like each other. To be honest, I doubt if we ever will.” A raised eyebrow confirmed his agreement on that point, at least. “But you need to trust that Van knew what he was doing when he sent me on this mission.”

“That’s a level of faith that I’m struggling with,” Thalcorr muttered under his breath.

“And, whether I like it or not, I have to trust that he has some belief that you’re minimally competent. At least, I’m crossing my fingers.”

And with that, I took my beverage and headed back to my cabin.

It actually had been a pleasant hour in the lounge before ambassador stick-up-his-ass had found me and begun complaining, for the sixth time in six days, about the mission.

I swiped my hand over the palm-lock of the door and went into my cabin, twirled the chair around and plopped down, pulling up our progress on my own tablet.

Two hours left until I could actually get off the ship and do my job.

I made another tally mark on a private document.

One more time I’d managed not to throw the arrogant prick out an airlock.

It was the little victories that counted, right?

We are approaching Station 112. Please prepare for docking.

Finally. No one who’d ever traveled on the Queen could say the Imperial ship Kodo Ragir was cramped. But any more time cooped up with Thalcorr, even on something the size of a dozen residential hives, was going to end up with Vandalar short one ambassador.

I pulled up the exterior cameras on my tablet, threw the visuals to the wall screen, and winced.

Station 112 had