This book should be available now, so this is the last snippet.

The Shaman of Karres – Snippet 36

She realized that they could. They must have some kind of infra-red detector. The Toll-teaching pattern said she could no-shape infra-red too. It wasn’t easy to learn while you were running, but she did it. And kept running for a bit for good measure.

The shooting stopped. But that was definitely a bit of an ionization burn on her shoulder. Did she need the Egger route…?

Not quite yet, she decided. She was too close now. But the wound hurt and she was fairly mad about it — partly at herself for being caught like that. Well, if they wanted to shoot at infrared images she’d give them some to shoot at. She could split light images — and infrared was still light. There were four targets for them, moving ones, ones that they could shoot at to their hearts’ content. She pushed the split light images toward the watchtowers. Sore or not, she had to suppress a giggle at them shooting at the bases of each other’s towers. Someone was going to fall, hard, when those came down.

Unfortunately, someone must have realized that could happen. They stopped shooting — and plainly were calling for reinforcements. The occupants of the palatial building came, armed, scared — and opened the gate. Goth decided that going to the ship would just have to wait. She went back out of the spaceship compound, where someone had just found her cut wire.

Goth knew that sooner or later they’d figure out she had to have come from the building compound. And then they’d search that, in earnest. Wincing a little at the pain from the burn on her shoulder, Goth decided it would be sensible enough to make them assume she’d come from outside — and hopefully left that way. So she took a piece out of the outer wire… which caused sirens and alarms, not exactly what she’d had in mind. Obviously the outside perimeter had some sort of detector, to make sure it wasn’t broken.

What was out there that they were so scared of? These people were not exactly soft inner planet dwellers, terrified of the wild. Listening to them, it was all about the Gaks. “There’s bound to be a charge soon!” said someone, warily looking at the dark jungle beyond the cleared area around the fence.

Those funny little hairy humanoids?  Goth couldn’t see it. And her shoulder was sore. So she went back to the palatial building in search of some burn ointment and a dressing. That proved harder than she thought it would be. Even in no-shape, you had to dodge being bumped into and also go through doors before they closed. Someone running nearly sent her flying, and really hurt her sore shoulder. And then they slammed a door in her face.

She recognized the next two coming out — the whiny useless Felap and the Bolivar‘s mate, Forz. “Why can’t we get the Gaks to do it? Or some of the boss’ guards? Those crates are heavy.”

“Because when the Gaks come they want to be able to shoot anything that looks like one, not worry about if these are tame ones or not, you idiot. And we’ll take a ground truck. If there’s a big rush they’ll need extra blaster-charges. Now get a move on.”

“I still don’t see why I have to do it. Ow. You didn’t have to hit me,” complained Felap.

“I don’t have to but I’m going to,” said Forz. “Come on.”

Goth followed the complaining Felap around to the factory, scrambled onto the back of the ground-truck before it rose on its repulsors, and enjoyed a ride out to the Bolivar. She was feeling a little faint by now. Inside the ship she could take a rest and have a good look at her injury. Part way across it occurred to her that their supply of blaster power units was now in a crate labelled toilet paper and if the Gaks did attack they’d have to throw nails at them. Even feeling sore, that made her smile.

Once inside the Bolivar, the two went looking. “Manifest says it should be packed here,” said Forz.

“Well, it’s not,” said Felap, looking at the space-crate label. “Says toilet paper.”

“Patham’s seven steaming hells! Those idiots offloading must have shuffled things about. Look for it.”

They both did and soon found the suitably labelled crates. Felap whined about how heavy they were.

“You’d moan more if we didn’t have them,” said Forz, lifting the other. “They say the last time the Gaks massed an attack there must have been ten thousand of them.”

“Why don’t we just stay on board, then? Just in case.”

“You’re a little worm, Felap. Anyway, Pnaden said that we’re to get the ship off-loaded and ready tomorrow. They’ll be bringing the cargo. He wants a quick turn-around.”

That really didn’t suit Goth. She could cope with the Egger route and one person… but there was a chance of it being two. For that she’d want a spaceship. So once they’d gone, she’d have to wait for their return. Or take steps to see that they couldn’t leave.

 First, though, was food and a clean-up of the nasty burn on her shoulder. Then… well, she had the ship’s codes. Part of her wondered if she should just seal the ship, take off, and put it down somewhere else. That was something she could probably manage. Pausert handled take-offs and landings with the Venture, but both she and the Leewit had been taught how to do it. He’d even taught them how you ought to do it, instead of his way. But that wasn’t quite the same as actually doing the job. 

Once she’d eaten, and had a wash, she was yawningly tired. But there was no telling when they might discover that they’d taken two crates of nails, not blaster power units. So she set about making sure that they didn’t find them. Engineering had a store for lubricants and cleaning material so she put the boxes in there. That involved quite a lot of the heavy lifting and carrying that Felap had moaned about, and hurt her shoulder. Then to make sure that they didn’t leave, she removed two electronic units from the tube-warm up mechanism. They might be able to find them, or replace them — she really wasn’t sure how well equipped their spares were. But, from her experience with the Venture‘s disaster on the world the Megair Cannibals had claimed for their own, she knew that they weren’t going to have a spare multiplier link from the main sequencer. So she took that out too. By this time she was exhausted. She just had to rest, to sleep, somehow, somewhere.

But some instinct said that using the boss’ cabin was probably not a great idea. So she moved her bag out, and took herself to the tip-of-a-broom-cupboard they had given her for a cabin. She cleared enough flat space to lie down on, curled up, and slept.