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Chapter Six
Oh No
Xellos takes an apprentice

     Canal and Kain sat down an unrepentant Lina and started explaining the monetary facts of life to her. As her face started falling, Xellos turned around to mask the grin that had begun to form on his face; from what Kain had already told him, Lina was not going to like this at all.

     “Do you understand now, Lina?” Canal asked in a tired voice.

     Lina shook her head.  “No more gold coins, just those little plastic cards.  Where is the satisfaction to that?  Does that mean all my treasure is now useless?” she added plaintively.

     Canal shook her head.  “Not useless, but as there are so many cheap imitations there are very few dealers who deal in gem stones.  I’d have to see what you have to tell you what was worth anything.”

     “Xel, this place is mad, I want to go home,” Lina cried out. “There isn’t even any good food here.”

     As an explosion shook the ship, Lina and Xellos took defensive positions, backs together.

     “Oh no, not again,” Canal said as she beat her head against the wall.  “75% of my budget is going towards repairs that she causes.”

     “But a good meal is worth it, especially if it’s prepared by Milly, the greatest Cook in the Universe,” the blond proclaimed as she entered the control room.  “I have prepared my extra special banquet for 50 along with Kain’s bologna ice cream.”
     “Food, you mean real food?  Not that mess that comes from those boxes?” Lina drooled.  “Where is it?”  She grabbed Milly by the arm and dragged her toward the dining area.

     By the time the others had caught up, more than half the food was gone and Lina was still going strong.  Instinctively, Kain did what all of Lina’s companions had learned to do - grab what you can as fast as you can before it disappears.

     Milly looked on gratified.  “A good meal is the answer to all of life’s problems,” she commented happily.

     After grabbing the last morsel of food, Lina agreed,  “You’re right. So many people don’t understand that when the going gets tough, the tough get fed. You’re right, though, with a full belly anything seems doable.”

     Milly smiled, at least there was now one person who understood her philosophy of life.  That Xellos was a real disappointment, though; all he had was one cup of tea, not nearly enough for a big strapping man like him. She’d have to take him under her wing and teach him about the joys of cooking and eating.

     “I’m glad you had me make the food order larger, Kain; my skills are really going to get a workout this trip. Oh, by the way, where are we going any way?”

     “Neena heard a rumour about Rail being spotted in the D sector; there’s a private base there. If I use the warp drive I should be there in no time.  Be good practice for Lina if I get her to power up the Swordbreaker and do the jump,” Canal suggested.

     Kain’s eyes flared jealously, up to now he had been Swordbreaker’s only pilot since his grandmother. “I don’t know; we just had an example of her control in port.”

     Xellos waved back a sputtering Lina. “Lina and I come from a world far less forgiving of the miscasting of spells. She was the best sorceress of her generation at home; her control or lack of it outside of the realm of spells is immaterial.”  Xellos tried to banish memories of Lina taking out whole towns by mistake when angry.  “I cannot link up with the magic systems of this ship, most likely because of my race, so Lina is your backup. It is a lot better for her to learn in a safe environment than in battle.”     

     Milly focused in on the one comment that caught her attention. “What do mean by different race?  You look human and there are no other known races that can mimic us that well.”  Milly’s eyes gleamed.  “I’ve discovered a new life form, I’ll be famous, awards will be given to me for being the Greatest Discoverer in the Universe.”  

     Kain and Canal groaned, this was not the preferred reaction from Milly, the expected one maybe but not the preferred one.

     Milly’s heart started racing as Xellos beamed at her. Visions of fame and fortune danced in her mind.

     “You’re going to have to be the Greatest in the Universe at another thing instead,” Xellos told her.

     “What the Greatest Diplomat, or the Greatest Trader?” Milly asked.

     “The Greatest Secret Keeper in the world,”  Xellos replied.

     “Oh that’s easy.”  Milly was disappointed, no fame and fortune keeping secrets.

     “Not really, the fun part lies in letting people know you know what they’re looking for even if you don’t have a clue.  I’ve been doing it for a while now and due to outside influences, I’ll have to give up the title.  Ask Lina, I was known far and wide for my secrets.” Xellos caught a glance from Lina and gave her a smile.  “I’m not giving them all up, Lina dear, so don’t worry.”

     Lina snorted and answered. “Xellos is right; he was famous for secrets.  I’m sure if you looked up secrets in the dictionary, his picture would be there.”

     Milly thought it over carefully, “What you really mean is I can’t say anything about you and that you’re caught up in whatever mess Canal and Kain are in now?”

     Xellos nodded in agreement.

     “Oh well, if you have to do something, do it right. I will be the Greatest Secret Keeper in the Universe.” As Milly flashed a victory sign, Lina had a scary flashback of Amelia doing the same thing and shivered.

     “I think it’s about time you explain to Milly here what’s going on,” Lina told Kain and Canal.   She’ll need some secrets to keep.” Lina then turned to Xellos and glared. “Just don’t teach her your ‘that is a secret’ finger waggle thing,” as she added the last comment Lina imitated Xellos’ voice and gestures.

     “That is so cute,” Milly exclaimed and started practicing “That is a...secret.  That is... a secret.  That... is a secret.  I think I got it on the last try. What do you think, Xellos?”

     “Perfect, the pause goes after the ‘that’ the finger waggle is done during the pause,” Xellos began instructing Milly.
     Lina just looked on in horror.  What had they unleashed on this poor unsuspecting crew? She turned to Canal and Kain and apologized furiously.

     “Come on, Lina, it can’t be that bad,” Canal answered.

     “You have no idea,” groaned Lina.  She wondered if she should be giving Canal Filia’s mace, but decided that she would get more use out of it pounding Xellos later. At least they had gotten off the subject of Xellos’ race; she really didn’t want to get into the whole monster explanation again at the moment.  She much preferred that they continued to think of Xellos as a strange human right now.  Canal knew differently but luckily she was keeping her mouth closed.  The whole reformed monster thing had gone right over Kain’s head.

     Not for the first time, Lina wished that Naga could see Canal.  As much as Naga’s confidence level annoyed her, Naga was really the best sorceress Lina knew when it came to Golem creation.  Could Naga recreate Canal or something like her? No, probably Naga would end up with something closer to those other lost ships.  

     “Time for warp, Lina, let’s go,” Canal broke Lina out of her reverie.

     When they got to the control room, Lina was not surprised to see Kain following them.  Protecting his ship; Lina could understand that and even admire it, even though she knew much of it was prompted by his fear of her losing control.  Canal’s eyes narrowed as Kain took a seat at the weapons monitor.  

     Kain looked back defiantly. “I’ll give the orders and Lina can provide the psy energy. You want Lina to learn to channel through the ship, right?  Well, she needs to concentrate on that and not worry about the rest.”

     Canal smiled. “You’re right, Kain.  Let’s get going.  Lina, sit down in the control chair.  This will be very similar to when we were fighting; the important thing is that you concentrate on giving me your energy.  I can draw on your power by myself, but it is better if you give it to me.”

     Lina sat down at the chair trying to ignore Kain giving the orders.  She jumped a bit when two protruberances extended themselves on each side of her head, but remained calm.  “Okay, this is just the same as when I used the demon blood amulets.”  Experimentally, she activated the amulets as well as she pushed power into collecting rods.  Damn, she really preferred using a sword, aiming energy to her temples was giving her a headache.  Hearing Canal making a comment about the power collection being slow, she lifted her hands to the rods and began feeding them magic that way.

     “Stop, Lina, we’re charged,” Canal shouted as the ship warped.

     Lina sat down later with Canal while applying a healing spell to her sore head.

     “What happened, Lina?  There was only a trickle then all of a sudden my power levels were charged,” Canal asked.

     “There’s a difference in how I use my magic and how you’ve been doing it.  If I’m working with large amounts of power, I use my hands.  This channel power through your head thing hurts me.   If you want me to be effective, you’ll have to change the design of my chair or at least the collection unit.  Even using my amulets, I just couldn’t do it well.”

     “That’s an easy redesign. Do you mind if I analyze those amulets, though?” Canal asked. “There may be something I can copy.”  

     “I doubt it but you’re welcome to try.  Those are demon’s blood amulets, made with the blood from the demon lord in each of the four worlds.  I have no idea how they were made or where they come from; I got them from Xellos so he may be able to give more information, but now that he has taken an apprentice in secret keeping, it could be difficult,” answered Lina, handing over the amulets.  “Be careful with them, they are unique.”

     As Milly walked in Kain asked, “Hey, Milly, when is supper?”

     “Now that... is a secret,” Milly answered.

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