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The sudden feeling of danger was so strong that Liam, who had come to work early to check a few things for the day's schedule, rocked back in his chair with a gasp. His heart pounded as he looked wildly around the large room, but he saw only the blue-purple walls, the glimpse of the Washington Monument that was visible from his work station, and the odd Taelon vines of the chamber he shared with Da'an. The Taelon's high seat was empty; Da'an had not yet appeared from his personal quarters to begin his work day. Nothing in any of the computer displays in front of him indicated that there was anything wrong anywhere in the embassy.

Not the embassy, then. The Resistance? He pulled out his global to check for incoming messages, but found nothing -- hardly surprising since there were no Resistance operations running right now. Had there been, he would have made an excuse not to come to work so he could monitor them from Augur's place.

So where?

An image came to him then like the visions he used to have when he was newly born -- glowing wings desperately battering at the rounded head of a creature that Liam recognized, but had never himself seen in person.

He had almost forgotten about his tenuous bond with the skrill queen whom he had smuggled to the jungle not so long ago. He had watched over her while she birthed her brood, making sure none of the jungle's creatures could harm her while she was thus vulnerable, and then had left her and her family to their new life. Since he had no way of returning her to her native planet, settling her and her new family in the Amazon basin was the best he could do for her.

He wondered if his father was aware that the creature bonded to his right forearm was only the larval form of the skrills, a vibrant species frozen in that moment of their development by the Taelons so that their ability to manipulate energy could be used as a weapon. Liam, in his desperation to learn what it was that the pregnant queen needed, had allowed her to bond with him, holding her to his bare skin while her tentacles sank into him. The slowly fading scars could still be seen on his chest. He had thought that the bond would fade as well, but he had apparently been wrong.

He slowed his breathing, closed his eyes, and opened himself more fully to the bond -- a risk here in the embassy, because not even Da'an could know what he had done -- but this could not wait. She was desperate; the creature would not be turned and it was headed inexorably for the young ones.

It's a turtle, he thought, projecting calm reassurance. It poses no danger to your children. If it will not be moved, then move them. He imagined her moving the children; he did not know if she could understand the words, but he knew that she would understand the thought and emotion behind them.

The queen had already started to chivvy the young ones out of the turtle's path; it was ignoring them just as it had ignored her. A feeling of relief came to him as the turtle lumbered on and disappeared into the undergrowth.

Liam shook himself free of the bond and went back to work.