"WHAAT!?" yelled Gates louder than he probably should've. Connors ambushed and beaten by an unknown assailant whose purpose is still unknown. Nothing was taken, no proof data was copied. Gates knew Connors well enough to know that he's not the type to sugar coat or speculate, but according to his report, the assailant didn't feel like a thief or assassin.

He shook his head and noticed the other bridge crew staring. "As you were!" He looked to Oik. "What do you make of it?"

"If they weren't there to kill or steal, perhaps they were merely there to investigate?" That sounded plausible, but there had to be more to it than that. For now, Gates just had to leave it to Connors and Roberto on the ground. He was tempted to send Kia to check it out, but she had more pressing concerns according to the reports he was getting.

A medieval city built around a powerful shield generator? Magic apparently being real? This was going to be tough to explain to HQ, even with the material they've gathered.

"So, what did you find?"

"Give me a second ok Lelya?" replied Yinsi. Lelya shook her head.

"Take your time…" The data they took from the strange man's machines was encrypted, but different. Yet Lelya could tell that Yinsi felt somewhat familiar with it, but couldn't explain it. They'd been together for the better part of a decade and knew each other's moods and feelings like the back of their hands. Not that they had a choice in the matter…

Lelya's train of thought was interrupted when Yinsi got her attention. "Looks like… they were searching for a ship."

"Underground?" Lelya said with some disbelief. Dwarves were known for their incredible land ships, but they never came out this far.

"Well, that's one of their theories. Apparently, they lost it a decade ago and are trying to find it."

"That doesn't make sense, humans don't have sky ships that come out this far. The Royal Military would've stopped them, and even if they did-" Lelya stopped talking as soon as she saw Yinsi in deep thought.

"What if… they're searching for the sky ship that I came upon?" she asked quietly. Lelya nodded slowly. "You had to know they'd eventually send others to search for it, and me."

She nodded again. "Yeah, but at this point it's not like we have much of a choice if they do want you back." Yinsi sighed, and said nothing. She knew Lelya was right but couldn't help but wish she wasn't. They might've had a rough start but they grew to depend on one another, in more ways than one.

"So… what should we do?"

"Well… what else did you find in the data we stole?" Yinsi quietly went through the data for a brief moment.

"Not much, I think they were worried about people like us and all I could find was the data they were gathering and what they were looking for."

"Not even a diary?"

"No. Granted those might've been on a separate machine they hid elsewhere, or they wrote it down on paper. I told you to look through that book."

"I would've if the guard didn't jump me. I think the only reason we got out of that was he had grabbed me around my chest."

"At least he had manners. A true gentleman." Yinsi commented in a dismissive, but mocking tone. Lelya couldn't help but laugh. It wasn't the first time her feminine charms got her out of trouble, but it was the first time it won her a fight. Granted she did wish it never won her a fight again, it wasn't the most dignified way to do so. "Come on, dignity or not, it's useful."

"Quit reading my mind like that ok Yinsi?"

"Sorry! Force of habit. So, what do you want to do?" Lelya sighed, shaking her head.

"For now, we'll keep an eye on them. They don't seem like they want to attack the village, just find their sky ship."

"And what if they do?"

"We'll fight."

Kiaknak shook her head. Connors was a good fighter by human standards, but obviously, his opponent was just as good or better. Not that he could do anything about it. At least Roberto was safe. A little suspicious about why he lost the fight, as it was a bit vague in the report she read, but otherwise there wasn't much he could've done.

She pushed the thoughts out of her head and focused on the task at hand. Going through an enemy city was difficult, but, at least to her, wandering through a neutral one was worse. An enemy you could kill and the only thing to worry about was them hating you more. If you were caught, well it's not like diplomacy was her people's strong suit. Neutral cities required a more… delicate touch ever since her people joined the humans. Not that she heard any complaints.

The guard patrols here traveled in groups of five. Two heavily armored soldiers for crowd control, two lightly armored soldiers, probably for chasing down criminals in tight corners or to climb into rooftops with their bows as sniper support, and a squad leader who was somewhere in between. Interesting. This way they have the means to go after every type of thug, she thought, but it makes them vulnerable to the right kind of strikes. She filed it away and continued to weave her way through the city. She didn't have any problem with killing those in her way, but the more she killed the less of a chance of a peaceful resolve to the mission.

She was headed towards what she figured was not just the city-wide shield generator, but also the central palace. A stone structure with multiple fortifications and artistic design surrounded the base of the tall metal structure. It was a bit obvious they were worried about attacks and infiltration. It appears they kept the shield generator on minimum power to prevent unwanted guests from strolling in the front door. Clever. I wonder who they fought taught them to do just that.

Clever, but a problem. She didn't have the time or luxury to brute force a method past the shield, and if she was caught behind it, there was no way for her to leave without crippling the city shield. At the very least it would make them vulnerable to an attack in the near future. At worst, it could kill her and the entire city if she pushed the wrong button, which by itself was a likely scenario. Unfamiliar alien technology tended to be a hazard to stealth missions. For now, though, she had to watch.

Her orders were to infiltrate the palace and search for any reference to the crashed human ship. Her human companion had already left to return to the Guardian, as to not interfere with her work. Humans fascinated her to no end. Part of her expected Grant to insist on coming along. She understood why their two species had allied in theory, but personality wise they were just incompatible in most cases.

It was a matter of survival at first, the humans had numbers and military might, and the daians' had intelligence and superior technology. Combined they formed one of the most formidable forces the galaxy has ever known. But not too long after her people began to rely on the humans for more than just military aide. They adapted new technologies seamlessly, with the proper guidance of course, and while there was a gap in understanding one another, they were more than happy to let the daians have what her species considered prime real estate as the humans would say, but not in this case. These days it was rare to see a daian not on a human warship.

She would watch, waiting for the right time to slip in and complete her mission. And nothing would stop her. It wasn't the first time she had to go in somewhere blind, but she never liked it. Fortunately for a mission like this, she was given the luxury of doing this her way, and on her own timetable. She'd wait to establish a pattern of when the castle shield was down then move in.

She had known that a castle like that didn't have the means of supporting itself and keep the shield on at all times. It probably had an emergency food store, but it was unlikely they would dip into it while not under siege. More likely they brought in provisions on a daily or weekly basis. She only had to wait a day to confirm her suspicions. Food on two wooden carts was brought to the shield's outer edge and the shield lowered just long enough for them to be brought in. She took a guess based on the size of the shipment and the castle that the food was for an entire week, maybe two. The guards likely lived in the palace, and if they had any family they were either near the shield or inside it in their own wing.

Kiaknak prepared to wait once again.