The timing of the two events kept pushing into his thoughts. Logically he kept rejecting the idea that one had anything to do with the other. What possible connection could there be between the weather and the theft of an android?

It was too farfetched to even consider.

Never the less, the words of Dr. Raghnall continue to pull at him. “...a strong disturbance within the ethereal layer...”

Or was it too farfetched?

He had detected something at the Grimrok building. Well, he was fairly certain he had detected it anyway. It had been so weak that it was little more than a suggestion. Or maybe it was only his imagination. He remained unsure. The RAAID unit hadn’t picked anything up. But then, Zak’s Elvish blood had managed to outperform the unit before. Sometimes you had to rely on your own abilities rather than machines. That being said, he was still too uncertain of what it was he’d felt.

Zak had never met Dr. Raghnall, but he regularly used the services of the Institute of Occult and Paranormal Sciences. The use of integrated magic had become an indispensable part of a well-planned network security system. Since Zak refused to have anything to do with magic beyond his own sporadic ability to detect it, he regularly subcontracted the magical aspects of his network configurations to the Institute. Maybe he should call in the Institute on this one. Their trained sorcerers could perhaps detect more than his untrained, and often limited, abilities could.

He decided to contact the Institute when he got back to his loft and request a sorcerer. Their services guaranteed confidentiality, so it should not be an issue with Grimrok. He leaned back in his seat and shifted his attention to the rest of the newscast.

“Tension mounted once again today between Orkensha Nations and the Aragne Commonwealth over land claims concerning the Akkasson Mountain Range. Stretching from the Gwainroch Sea in the north to the Kusanar Ocean in the south, the Akkasson Mountains have been the subject of ongoing dispute between our country and the Orkensha for thousands of years.

“The Akkasson Mountains make up the entire eastern border of the Aragne Commonwealth, while also falling within the borders of the Orkensha provinces of Orkkanta, Dhann Khi and Bh’ag Mur. The rich ore deposits located within the Akkasson range have always been an essential resource for both nations. The contention of ownership of the mountain range only intensified when large deposits of arganite ore were discovered.

“While Prime Minister Sarte has been working diligently to find a peaceful resolution to the land dispute with the Orkensha, many of Aragne’s energy corporations are criticizing the Prime Minister for his willingness to compromise. Sol Corp and Mega Thrust, Aragne’s two leading corporations in the energy field, have been particularly critical of the Prime Minister’s efforts. Representatives from both corporations have come forward to state that it is vital to both our domestic well-being and to the continued expansion of our interstellar commerce for us to take our rightful possession of the Akkasson Mountain Range.

“In a related story, Aragne Minister of Defense, Gerold Hakkim, released a statement early today accusing the Orkensha Nations of escalating tensions between our two nations by continuing its build-up of military strength inside the Kelthar Pass. He went on to say that the Orkensha Nations have no right of claim along the western edge of the Mountain Range. Minister Hakkim concluded his statement by saying that the Aragne military is fully prepared to defend our borders against any threat...”

Zak’s pulse quickened as he listened. The bastard Orks were going to keep pushing until things went too far. His hatred for them was automatic and had been a part of him for a lot of years. That part of him would welcome war against the Orkensha. He’d be more than willing to re-enlist and do another stint in the military if it came to that.

“Yeah, right on!” Kam’s entire body was as animated as some spastic cartoon character. “We’re gonna kick some Ork ass, hoohoo!”

The kid’s comment snapped things back into perspective for Zak. In spite of the open wound he’d lived with all these years, which sustained his hatred of the Orks, he understood that war was not a preferred choice. He’d been there and done that and there had been nothing glorious or heroic about it. War was brutal and barbaric. And more death would not bring back those who died before.