AN: Thank you to everyone that has continued to read and review these fics. I'm glad I'm not the only one a little obsessed with Karrde and Shada.

I seem to have stolen a good many tropes from the Stargate fandom for this fic.

Setting: About six months after Timothy Zahn's Visions of the Future and my story A New Alliance

Their contact was a customs inspector named Valtz who had made quite a fortune for himself by looking the other way when certain cargos came and went. He had contacted Karrde claiming to have information that he would find very interesting. So, of course, here they were.

They would be meeting Valtz at his family's compound away from the prying eyes of the planetary capital. Since it was in a very conservative area away from the offworld influences of the spaceport, Shada would pose as Karrde's wife. Apparently, the natives didn't consider it seemly for a female to be in the company of three males, none of which was her husband. It was a role she had played often enough over her years as a bodyguard for her various employers. At least she could rely on Karrde not to take advantage of the ruse as some of the others had tried.

Shada dressed carefully, making sure she followed the strict customs of the females of this world. She put on a long full skirt and a loose tunic. She braided her hair and pinned it to the back of her head with several zenji needles. Then she draped the big sheer veil over her head, securing it with a metal circlet. She folded the veil back from her face and wrapped it around her shoulders before pinning it with a broach the way the less traditional women of the planet did. She checked herself in the mirror making sure that none of her hair was exposed. According to the information she had gotten from Karrde, a female showing her hair in public was a big no-no here. She really hated these backward Outer Rim planets.

She left her quarters and met up with Karrde, Chin, and Aves in the hanger. "Will this do?" she asked Karrde, gesturing to the veil.

He looked her over intently, searching for any stray pieces of hair. "That should be sufficient for an offworlder," he told her.

"You know, I don't understand the point of these scarves," Aves said conversationally as he climbed into the driver's seat of the airspeeder.

"It's a local custom," Karrde told him sliding into the back seat next to Shada. "Women cover their hair because a female's hair is considered to be very erotic."

"Yeah, well, you can still see their hair through the thing, so what's the point? It's like a tease."

Shada leaned forward between Aves and Chin's seats. "Don't you find my hair erotic, Aves?" she asked in a mock sultry tone.

Karrde and Chin laughed.

"Not particularly," Aves said glancing back over at her. "I mean it's always pretty, but it doesn't make me want to drag you off to my quarters. No offence, Shada."

"None taken," she grinned and sat back in her seat.

"I think perhaps the concealment has eroticized it tremendously over time for them." Karrde offered. "The longing for what you can't have."

"I'm a simple guy. I like regular erotic parts just fine."

They pulled up in front of the compound. Karrde handed her out of the speeder and offered his arm. "Are you ready, my dear wife?"

Shada noted the vaguely amused expression on his face. "You do delight in a masquerade, don't you, Karrde?"

He shrugged. "One learns a lot from walking in another's boots."

"True. I must say I'm a bit curious to see what one learns about walking in Mistress Karrde's boots. Has there ever been real Mistress Karrde at some point?" she asked giving him a sidelong look. She was curious. Karrde revealed very little of his past to even those closest to him.

"Not other than my grandmother."

"How fascinating." Very interesting- a grandmother, not a mother. "I look forward to hearing about this great lady."

"One day perhaps." His lips twisted into a mysterious smile. She doubted that day would ever come.

There was a young man waiting for them at the gates of the compound. "Captain Karrde, be welcome. I'm Shon, Inspector Valtz's assistant."

Karrde nodded in greeting. "These are my associates, Aves and Chin and this is my wife."

Shon bowed deeply. "Thank you for honoring us with your presence. If you'll follow me?"

Shon led them into the house to an office where Inspector Valtz was waiting for them. He came around a large ostentatious desk to greet them. "Karrde, so good of you to come." They shook hands and then Valtz focused on Shada. "Is this your new woman then?"

Karrde glanced at her, clearly amused. "Let us say that I am her new man."

Valtz laughed and clapped Karrde on the back. "That's often the way of it then, isn't it?"

Shada kept her serene smile and did not roll her eyes.

"Shon would be happy to take Mistress Karrde on a tour of the marketplace while we discuss business," Valtz offered. "I'm sure there is much to amuse her there."

"Aves, why don't you join her," Karrde told him.

"Gladly. There's nothing I enjoy more than a good marketplace," he replied with more than a trace of sarcasm.