"I'm sorry, Sire," said Nimue, "but Isis and I must go immediately."
"What did you land on the Excalibur for if you were only going to leave again?" Arthur demanded.
"I can't tell you that." Nimue reflected that perhaps she owed an apology to King Uther, Robin of Locksley, Sir Lohengrin and Princess Deirdre for all the arguments Avalonians'd ever had with starcruiser captains over nonintervention.
Arthur eyed the CAVE interface up and down, or rather its exterior disguise as a large wooden door with black metal trimmings. "A door," he said. "Where does it lead? There's nothing on the other side of that wall but a hold."
"I can't tell you anything. Please, sire, before it's too late."
"Too late for what? Can't tell me that, right?" Arthur got an awkward smile from Nimue. "Can you tell me how you got onto my ship undetected?"
"Must've been a teleporter, sire," said Guenevere. "And one up to the old Roman specs - farther along than ours."
"I'd really like to find out about your science, Nimue," Arthur said. "This is exactly the kind of thing the Excalibur was built to seek out."
Nimue winced as she said, "My people have a sort of prime directive against such intervention."
"You're kidding," said Arthur. "What rubbish." When Nimue didn't respond he turned back to his people. "Recommendation?" Arthur asked Lancelot.
"They appear to be concerned with our own best interests, sire," Lancelot observed with Benwick cool. "And certainly if they were malevolent they could do us less harm off the ship than on it. I recommend you allow them to depart."
"Yah." Arthur was still frowning at the time travelers, but he nodded. "On your way, Nimue."
"Thank you, sire. It's for the best." Nimue led Isis to the CAVE door.
"Right. But if I didn't have this Saxon courier mission on my plate -"
As smoothly as if she'd meant to, Nimue turned at the CAVE threshhold and went back to Arthur. "Sire, you must allow me to assist you on your mission."
"What?!" Arthur exploded. "Now you want to stick your nose in my business? Why?"
"I can't tell you that."
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