It was late in the evening and the salty waves were dyed a deep crimson as the last rays of evening stretched across the choppy ocean to illuminate a lone passenger ferry making its last trek of the day to the country of Aura. Deep in the hull of the chrome-trimmed-puce vessel, a young woman with silver hair napped restively in her bunk.

"Pardon me, madam, but our vessel has nearly arrived," proclaimed a foggy voice that hovered just to the side of Cerrai's ear. Her eyes opened with a snap and she jerked her head to behold a tall balding man of about fifty-five in a navy tail-coated button down suit jacket and matching slacks. It was one of the many ship stewards.

She blinked owlishly. "Thank you sir," she said, rellaxing the hand that had instinctively reached for her pistol. "I will be up in a minute."

"Very good, madam," said the steward as he blinked boredly and then turned to exit Cerrai's small cabin.

Too close, thought Cerrai. I doubt it would do much for my cover if I were to shoot a mere cabin steward. She rose from her bed and donned the dark grey knee length wool jacket that lay draped on a standard aluminum alloy chair. Besides, she thought, grabbing her compacted carry-on bag and placing it in her deep pocket, he was only doing his job.

When she reached the top deck, her eyes beheld the dim glare of the evening sun and the brilliance of the fated City of Gold, as the ferry pulled into port.

And so begins the next chapter...