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A Matter of Honor by Ann Wilson

Produced by Al Haines

+------------------------------------------------------+ | This work is licenced under a Creative Commons | | Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 | | Licence. | | | | http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ | +------------------------------------------------------+

A MATTER OF HONOR

A Terran Empire novel

by Ann Wilson

Copyright (C) 1992 by Ann Wilson

I

Irschcha, 2569 CE

Chaos take those Imperial schools anyway!

It was all their fault, Thark growled to himself, increasing his pace as the sleek lines of his ship came into view. Not even the prospect of flying the Prowler lightened his mood this time. The Chaos-loving schools had done too much! They were fine for the unTalented, like humans and now Traiti, but they had probably precipitated a disaster here on Irschcha. Their damnable stress on Imperial rather than planetary allegiance was to blame; it had deprived him of the strongest Talent to appear in many years, Corina Losinj--and it would cost Corina her life soon, if it hadn't already.

He was practically running toward his small ship now, dignity forgotten in the need for haste. "Dammit all to hell!" he burst out, the human curse seeming oddly appropriate under the circumstances. If the Terran Empire hadn't discovered Irschcha for another century, or if Chear hadn't chosen to affiliate with it, none of this would have had to happen.

As Thark neared the ship, he forced his thoughts and emotions under control, away from such useless speculations. He was High Adept of the White Order now, not Chear, and it was up to him to correct Chear's error. His calm voice did not betray his feelings when he returned the salute of the gray-kilted Sanctioner standing at the foot of the boarding ramp.

"Greetings, Master Thark," the Sanctioner said.

"Greetings, Underofficer Jamar. What is Prowler's status?"

"Senior Adepts Valla and Kainor are already on board, as is the rest of my squad. The ship is ready for takeoff."

"Excellent," Thark said. "Then we leave immediately. We have no time to waste." He hurried up the ramp into the ship.

Jamar followed, stopping to raise the ramp and close the lock. Thark went on to the cockpit and secured himself in the pilot's seat, scanning his instrumentation. He was an accomplished pilot, and rather to his surprise he found that the pre-liftoff routine did ease his mood, even under such unpleasant circumstances.


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