Laurie shifted uncomfortably, recognizing she didn’t have much of an option if they were to see it through. “Of course not. We’d be delighted to come.”
“Good, good,” his oval face split into a broad, toothy grin, which to Laurie seemed entirely insincere. “We may be renounced as traders, but if I do say so myself, our hospitality is it’s equal. We have a banquet hall across the square from here. Meet there in two hours?”
Laurie nodded and stood. “Of course. Thank you for your hospitality.”
They exited the guild hall without incident. Once they were several streets away, Laurie whiled on Scorch. “What the hell was that?”
“What do you mean, Captain?”
“Why do we not trust him? I thought he was our safe contact!” It was times like this, when she was agitated, that her right eye ached under the cybernetic patch.
“He was, but he is not himself. Something seems off. He is usually carefree and easygoing, but he was guarded and quiet. We should proceed with caution.”
“You know,” she said as the reached the Venturess, “I’m supposed to be the captain. For once, I’d like to feel in charge of something.”
“It will work out. We must be on guard, though.” “You’re awfully quiet, Bartender.”
“It seems to me that there is a lot in motion here. He is on edge about something, but that doesn’t mean he’s set to betray us. It could be that he is afraid for his life, if your uncle is attempting to seize control.”
“I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.” Scorch climbed the ramp in front of Laurie. “We should all be armed, just in case.”
Inside, she opened the weapons locker. She carried her usual pistols, slipped a smaller one into her right boot and was just secreting small knives up her sleeve when a voice interrupted her.
“You won’t need those.” Daaman stood at the top of the ramp. “At least, not for me, which is who I assume they’re for.”
“Is nothing sacred to you guys?” Laurie snapped. A confused expression crossed Daaman’s sandy gray face.
“Sorry, your cousin here decided to give me the shock of a lifetime earlier. What are you doing here? I thought we were having dinner later.”
“That’s why I’m here. And why I assume you came to Maciia. Or at least, why he did.” He nodded to Scorch, who had climbed out of his suit. “It’s worse than you think. I am sure your mother is in league with Uncle.”
“Then why didn’t she just take over the guild?”
“Because their designs aren’t on the metalworking guild. They want a shipping guild, too. It would give them almost unlimited power over the other guilds.”
“So what do we do?”