A pressor beam sent them out the airlock and through the cruiser's wake, the lander's engines screaming as its pilot fought it through maneuvers it hadn't been designed for. Corina felt a sudden lurch of fear could he do it? *He's from Clan Leras and he's battleprepped,* Medart assured her. *That part I'm not worried about can you get anything else while we're going in?*

He knew precisely how good Nevan was at both conventional and psionic combat; since he'd been chosen as the Sandeman champion for this duel, there was every reason to believe he was just as good at magical combat. And Medart could remember thinking, the first time he saw Nevan battleprepped, how much he'd hate to be on the receiving end of the younger man's skills.

They entered the lander and Corina strapped herself into a seat tightly, remembering Medart's caution about Nevan's battleprepped piloting then she made herself relax, closing her eyes, and reached tentatively for Thark's mind-pattern, ready to pull back at the first hint that he detected her touch. They were nearing the Sentinel Mountains before Thark began slowing the Prowler.

Will that cause you any problem?" "No, sir. It just means I prep before we leave, rather than during the trip." Medart sent Corina a mental wince. *Make sure your restraints are tight. He took it easy on the way up because it was your first trip; he wouldn't be concerned about comfort on a combat flight even if he weren't battleprepped. Since he will be, we're going to have a rough ride.*

Is my opponent going to be battleprepped?" "Of course." "Will I be allowed a similar form of preparation?" "Of course, if you have it." "I do. Not built in, the way yours is, but I had a special medikit set up just in case; I have drugs that'll boost my strength and speed.

He'd taken the drugs that would bring him as close as possible for a standard human to the Sandeman battleprepped state. He was keyed up, unnaturally alert, sensitive to every movement around him, and eager to get on with the duel.

"For a standard human, it's almost impossible. For a battleprepped warrior, it's not too bad; they did it quite a bit during the Incursion. It'd save probably ten minutes." "We will do so, then," Corina decided. "Captain Hobison, would you give the necessary orders? And ask whoever is in temporary command to notify Defsat Five when we land, please; I believe we may be too busy to do it."

It was mildly amusing to see that the Sandemans gave him the same cautious respect he'd give a battleprepped warrior; maybe the drugs brought him closer to that state than he'd thought. It seemed like hours before he heard, then saw, the boxy transport null-grav craft bringing his opponent. That, in his edgy condition, was more of a relief than the threat he'd expected to feel.

On the other hand, there was no way he'd care to face a battleprepped Sandeman warrior himself, in anything less than shielded power armor . . . "Not to mention which, it's both easier and safer to be direct, especially with warriors. Like them, for instance." "They much like us are," Hovan said, smiling again. "If you do peace bring, I think we and they will good friends become."