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Local Hospitality panel 1

WHEN DRIN AWOKE, he was in a barn. Old wooden boards hung

almost haphazardly to comprise the walls, with very little attention to

detail or craftsmanship. Rays of light poked through holes where the

wood had warped or rotted out. He lay sprawled out across some hay,

with some domesticated animals situated nearby. Drin pushed one’s

face away from him.

“Pa, he’s awake!” the boy shouted.

Drin recalled where he was. He’d left his ship and passed out just

outside this boy’s farm. The boy saw him and offered water, and that

was the last thing Drin had remembered. He had a splitting

headache, and he was still parched. How long had he been out? In

this heat, even in the shelter of the barn, he could have dehydrated

and died just as easily as he had woken again.

The boy offered him a canteen.

Drin grabbed it and drank, shaking as he poured it over himself,

sucking in the water as if he might never taste a drop again. It spilled

on his face and down his chest. The lukewarm liquid felt like it was


An older Sekaran man came into the barn, towering over him.

The man had a laser repeater rifle in his hand. He pointed it directly

at Drin. “What are you doing here, Elorian?”

Drin dropped the canteen. It clanked on the dirt beside his place

in the hay. Instinctively, Drin formed a shield of energy around him.

Orange light flickered where the nanites pushed to their maximum


Panic filled the man’s eyes. He #red.

The burst of laser #zzled against the nanites’ energy.

“Don’t try to attack me. You’ll just burn out your weapon,” Drin

said. He tried to maintain his calm, forcing himself to his feet. He

kept his palms up toward these strangers to show he was no threat.

“I’m not here to do you any harm.”

The boy scurried behind his father, clutching at the man’s leg.

The older Sekaran kept the weapon #xed on Drin. His hands shook.

“What do you want with us? We’ve heard stories about you from the


The sheikh must have been their local leader. These people

didn’t look to be much of a threat. Just a man and his boy. Honest

workers. The type of people the Templars brought torment to when

they descended on worlds. Was it worth it to convert people living in

such fear? Drin frowned. “I don’t know. I was just trying to get someplace

safe. I need shelter.”

The older Sekaran laughed. “I never thought I’d hear that from

an Elorian soldier-beast. You have your fancy technology that keeps

you from having to do real work.”

“I do real work,” Drin said, crossing his arms.

“Like slaughtering my people?”

Drin frowned. “Those are not my ways. I wish to pursue peace.”

“Those are words I never thought I’d hear an Elorian say.”

“They are true.”

Silence hung in the air. Drin’s somber countenance must have

moved the older Sekaran. The man inclined his head. “Hmph,” the

Sekaran said. He let his weapon fall to his side. “Eltu understands

work and peace. If you prove yourself through real labor, you can stay

awhile. You can sleep in the barn, and we’ll feed you, but that’s all. I

won’t be paying an Elorian. You’re fortunate you came at a good time

since harvest is just around the corner. If you can do some heavy lifting,

we can come to an arrangement. Deal?”

Drin nodded. He wasn’t sure what path this would take him, but

this was obviously a sign from God. Instead of facing death, he’d

found redemption. Someone was willing to provide him a livelihood.

That was praiseworthy on its own.

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