“This is Amai, of course.”

The blank look they got in return caused the woman to sigh. “Amai-of-the Wormholes? The Grease Trap of the Universe? The Super-Sargasso Sea?”

If anything, this made Ki look even more confused, and apparently it showed.

“Look, I’m no tour guide,” she said. “Give me something of value, something that’ll make it worth my while, and I’ll see what I can do. Otherwise you’ll have to sod off, you dig?”

Ki produced the 24k gold pin from Arik’s grenade and held it out, dangling, like an earring.

The woman greedily snatched it, bit it with teeth that looked like they had been filed to sharp points, and then tucked it away in one of a thousand tiny pockets. “Right, then. Name’s Logona, dig? I’m normally a comber, looking for fancy stuff on the Frontiers. Tell me what happened before you ended up here.”

“Aria had been killed, and the other bodyguards as well,” said Ki. “The kidnappers had taken Chroma. I killed all but one, and as he ran through the courtyard, he dove into the fountain there. I followed, and though it was only a few inches deep, I surfaced in that puddle over there.”

“Hooboy,” Logona said. “Sounds like you found a natural wormhole. Chances are your Chroma, whoever that is, has got herself taken into Amai. Did you try going back through the puddle?”

“No,” Ki said. “I am sworn to protect Chroma with my life and to bring her back if taken.”

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