Young Master Avnar and other male members of House Avnar with powers gathered around the old table that had been used to plan things for generations.
“Why are we still here?” One of the men asked. Burk Avnar was a barbarian of a man and looked the part with his wild beard and large frame. “The action is on Brevick and we're here in neutral territory where nothing is being done!”
Master Avnar sighed. “I would give anything to be able to knock down a couple of houses near here and get it all over with. But we know doing such a thing would be the end of the great houses and the whole system that's been built up since the colonies landed.”
A dapper, slim figure wearing all black leaned forward and said “The patriarch of the family must stay here, by the law, but the rest of us can be sent to Brevick or any other colony. We have many properties and business dealings on Brevick that need to be protected.”
“We were told that Marlton and the others were invincible, that the other houses had no powerful enough members to stop them.” said one chubby man in a suit, Gan. “We even breathed easier when we learned that the only two Halik loyalists with power were killed. How have we lost Brevick?”
Others assented to the question.
“We haven't lost Brevick, yet. Marlton is still alive and the other houses have not been strong enough to consolidate their base of power. The situation is still in flux.” Young master Terk Avnar told the others, and then he smiled. “As a matter of fact, Gannie, I'm thinking of going myself.”
“But that's not possible. When you accepted the mantle and title of your father you became anchored to this world and even this wretched little village.” The man in the suit responded, still chewing on the food he had eaten.
“That is why I am going to temporarily surrender the title to you.”
There was shock in the room. Every one of the others were surprised. Everyone tried to shout over everyone else.
“The rest of us will go and restore order on Brevick.” Terk Avnar said, “We will leave in two days time, everyone be prepared.”
After they left the conference room Dostin had some questions.
“Do you really trust your uncle Gan that much?” Dostin asked.
“Gan has never been anything but scrupulous when it came to the finances of House Avnar, I think I can trust him long enough to put Brevick to rights.” Terk Avnar told his bodyguard. “Besides the others will be with me, Gan will be nothing again once we return.”
Jon Halik lay on his bed with his back to the door, reading from a book when Seri knocked and pushed the door open.
He responded with a hrmph sound, which sounded like permission to enter to the girl. She approached the bed and addressed her fathers back.
“There is something I need to tell you, father.” She began and then searched for the words, “Grandfather says it would cheer you up to know, but, I don't know.”
The book closed and her father turned to face her.
“My dear Seri, what are you trying to say?” he asked, seeming amused.
“I have a power, father. I apologize for not telling you sooner.” She told him and watched the changes in his face, the surprise, the embarrassment, the pride, the worry all making appearances. Finally, he looked at her again and nodded, “I see. Thank you for telling me, Seri.”
It seemed that he thought this talk was over.
“Aren't you curious as to what kind of power?” She asked, “Or why I've decided to tell you now?”
He sighed, “I'm not someone who thinks so slowly. I can guess that you've inherited one of your grandparents powers and that you think you can do something on Brevick. Which is impossible.”
“Grandfather says he doesn't recollect anyone in the family having the power to freeze.” Seri told him, causing him to rub his chin. “Also, I do think I should go to Brevick.”
“Out of the question, Seri. You are not to even think about trying to get involve in the fighting, you are too young and untrained.” her father said, although she would have bet that being trained would have made no difference in his attitude.
“Good night, father.” She said as she left. Seri had already decided that she would find a way to reach Brevick before she reached her own chamber. The question was how to do that without being caught. Each of the great houses had ships docked at High Port, but there was no Halik working on the orbital station at present.
There was a Benjamin Croce and they were allies, presently. Seri would have to bring a Croce into her trust and persuade them to give her clearance and transport to the High Port without alerting her father or grandfather.
Early the next morning Seri was out and about the township and wasn't surprised to find Mars Croce loading a wagon at the Croce warehouse. She nodded to herself and walked right up to the large young man.
“Hello Mars, it's been a while since we've spoken,” Seri said in as friendly a voice she could muster in the cold.
The young man looked surprised to be addressed. “Oh, hello there Seri Halik, why are you here?”
She smiled, “I have a business proposal for your father, Nehemiah Croce. I need to speak with him about an urgent matter.”
The large man scratched his head and looked around, “My father doesn't really want visitors, Seri, he rarely ever leaves the house without bodyguards these days. What with the troubles on some of the other worlds.”
“I'm sure you know all about that, Mars. You are much more intelligent than your father gives you credit for.” Seri told him, he was starting to blush a bit, “By the way, where are these crates and barrels going?”
“Oh, these are going to High Port and from there to Brevick.”
Not doing a good job of containing herself she burst out, “That's perfect. Mars, maybe you can help me instead of your father.”
He seemed confused, “Me? How could I help you? With what?”
“I'll accompany you to the loading port and I'll tell you my idea on the way.” She said taking a hold of one of his thick arms.
“Go to Brevick?” Mars asked, “Are you insane? This is just cargo, you can't sneak into the cargo hold and survive the trip. The hold is filled with argon for the passage through trans space.”
She hadn't known that.
“Your family owns the lift ship, yes?” She asked, he nodded. “Your family also owns the transport that will go to Brevick, right?”
He wiped his face, “Seri, are you trying to get us both arrested or killed?”
“You are a Croce, those crewmen work for you. You are their master.” She explained, “Certainly they will follow your orders if you tell them to give me passage.”
He closed his eyes, “Then what? You will have no documents on High Point, you won't be welcome there.”
“Your uncle Benjamin works on the station, I'm sure he can figure out something. After all, our families are allies are we not? Our families are taking back Brevick together, correct?” Seri told him, she could tell he was falling for her manipulations, “Who knows, maybe our fathers will decide to arrange a marriage...”
The wallmen at the gate to the liftport paid no attention to Seri, despite it being rare to see anyone traveling with Mars Croce before.
“I expected some questions,” she admitted.
“They are very loyal, my family controls the liftport.” He told her, with a wink, “It drives the House Avnar batty though.”
Her first sight of the liftship came as the wagon turned the corner. It wasn't as large as she had expected, there was no way anyone could stowaway on the thing without being noticed. It looked like a big round snail's shell, but painted white with a hatch and small windows at the front. A hatch opened on the side and robotic arms lifted the crates and barrels to pack inside the hold.
“It's not as I expected, Mars. Don't you think you could figure a way to get me on that transport to Brevick?” She asked, squeezing his arm and laying her head on his broad shoulder.
“I'll be in so much trouble if I do, I'd have to go with you.” Mars told her.
Seri was confused for a moment before her expression brightened, “Does that mean you can do it? Will I have time to get my things?”
He sighed, “You really mean this? There's no time to get things, it's leaving very soon.”
She sighed and nodded, “Then let's go. We will keep Brevick free!”
He shook his head, “I just want to keep my hide intact.”