Kyra trusted Rog to pick the right team and execute the mission on Neraj. Leadership, Papa said, involved knowing when to take charge and equally knowing when to step out of the way and let Hynerians do their job.

The animus virus onboard increased stress levels exponentially. Chaos waited quietly at the door looking for an opening to wreak havoc onboard. Kyra held the key. Her calmness or lack thereof was the only defense between the team and pandemonium.

“Goldie, would you please retrieve my holographic helmet and notify the crew I need the rest of the morning undisturbed. No exceptions.”

“Yes dearest Kyra. Consider it done.”

Relaxing into her leather recliner, Kyra removed the clip letting her hair fall free. A gentle shake of her head released her silken locks as the reflected light from Neraj created the most subtle sparkle on her jet black mane. Taking a deep breath to a slow steady count of sixteen, she held the breath for sixteen and then slowly released her cares, concerns and worries on the out breath to the same steady cadence. Reaching between her breasts she slowly unzipped the front of her form fitting leather top. It looked great on her body and molded to each curve like liquid to the inside of a glass vase, but she needed to breath deeply now.

With each slow steady in breath Kyra’s chest rose like the sun at daybreak, which is to say with a smoothness that would intoxicate a casual observer. Her breathing looked effortless, but she knew, and so did Papa, years of practice stood behind this simple display of mental and physical prowess. She breathed with the grace and elegance of a Zing Tao master. Of course, she had had a pretty good teacher.

Slipping the helmet on, Kyra adjusted the settings for peace and clarity. The images danced before her eyes. Brilliant blues and reds and greens formed an interlocking kaleidoscopic display of beauty and unity; a reminder of perspective, that what seems like two was but one.

When Papa talked about Zael, and he talked about it often, he always came back to a single refrain. “Kyra, my dearest sweet one” he would say, “nothing out there can touch your heart, unless you give it permission. Watch your heart and cultivate the love and compassion within like your most prized garden. When friends and strangers alike come to visit, the gift of a flower will always bring a smile to their face and joy to their heart. Make sure your garden has those flowers to give.”

Kyra watched the display of flowers before her eyes. Each breath became like a ray of sunshine, like a gentle spring rain, nourishing the flowers within her heart.

The same could not be said for Trev. Agitated, he approached Kyra’s quarters. “Goldie, I need to see Kyra right now.”

“I’m afraid she can’t –“

Trev ignored her, and reached for the identification pad. He never saw it coming. Goldie may have been built in Grandma’s image, but Papa had wired in a few of his traits too.

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