The Road Of Danger – Snippet 33


          “Now, that’s interesting,” Cory said in puzzlement.


          “Yes,” Adele said. She paused, plotting her further course of action; plotting it all the way to the end. Because she was fairly certain how it was going to end.


          “Cazelet,” she said. “Learn what you can about who is paying for this operation. Cory, follow that truck to wherever it goes and learn everything about it and its crew.”


          She had no authority to give orders to RCN officers. She knew that; the two men knew that; and they would do as she directed.


          Adele got up from her console. She said, “Tovera and I are going to the Assumption Library. It’s what I had intended, and….”


          She paused, choosing her words. “I have spent much of my life in libraries,” she said. “I think well in that setting. And I have important thinking to do.”


          Lady Adele Mundy strode off the bridge of the Princess Cecile; Tovera followed her in grinning silence. What Adele contemplated was not the business of an RCN officer.




          The Savoy was the fifth and outermost vessel in the slip, but the fact she was tethered at a concrete quay rather than moored to a buoy made her royalty among the thirty or forty blockade runners in Ashe Haven. A suspension bridge crossed the twenty feet–more or less; the bridge dipped or tightened as the side moved–from the entry hatch to eyebolts on the quay, but Daniel paused to look at the vessel before he boarded her.


          Hogg had recovered well enough on the walk that Daniel wouldn’t have guessed that he’d come back from lunch staggeringly drunk. He grunted as he looked at the Savoy. “Not much to write home about, is she?” he muttered sourly.


          “Neither are the cowsheds at Bantry, Hogg,” Daniel said with quiet cheerfulness. “What’s important in a blockade runner is function, not a statement of national pride. That ship has made seven landings on Sunrise since the beginning of the rebellion and has returned a very handsome profit for her captain and backers.”


          The Savoy was a 600-tonne single-decked freighter. The hull was a rusty steel cylinder, floating just above the harbor surface on two pontoon outriggers; they were rusty also, at least the portion above water. The crew compartment was a capsule forward. The fusion bottle was in the hold; there was no separate the Power Room.


          She had four antennas spaced around the hull amidships. Astern a short jack was mounted at 45 degrees to the ship’s axis; there was probably a similar jack at 225 degrees, out of sight from the quay. The fixed jacks gave the astrogator leverage to slew the central antennas against the Casimir Radiation by which ships adjusted their courses in the Matrix.


          A light was on in the entrance hold, but no crewmen were in sight. Daniel could hear voices from within, though; a man and a woman. The words weren’t audible, but the angry tone was beyond question.


          “Hello the ship!” Daniel called pitching his voice to carry. “Hello Captain Kiki Lindstrom! Permission to come aboard the Savoy!”


          There was silence for a moment. A woman of forty-odd stepped into sight in the hatchway. She wasn’t precisely unattractive, but the first adjective which would occur to a man meeting her was “solid.” A man, younger but only dimly glimpsed, followed her from the crew capsule.


          “You’re Lieutenant Pensett?” she said. “Yes, come aboard.”


          Hogg would have started across, but Daniel held him back and took the lead. The treads were steel with non-skid perforations, while the suspension cables were woven from beryllium monocrystal.


          Though the construct was strong enough to support an armored personnel carrier, it swayed, jiggled, and bounced like gossamer in a breeze. Even spacers with years of experience of starships’ rigging might be uncomfortable with the slack support and the wind coming off the sea.


          Daniel grinned. The catwalk took him back to his youth, when he clambered about every building and tree on Bantry, the family estate. He murmured over his shoulder, “Hogg, you never tried to keep me from doing things because they weren’t safe.”


          “And how much would ye have listened if I had tried to do something so silly?” Hogg growled. His greater weight joined Daniel’s on the walkway, their steps syncopating one another. “Besides, you needed to learn how to fall so that you’d learn to pick yourself up again. You mother told me to take care of you, didn’t she?”


          “I suspect she meant what I would’ve called coddling, Hogg,” Daniel said.


          “Well, that’s not what I bloody meant,” Hogg said. His tone of certainty put an end to the discussion.


          The man stepped forward to stand beside Mistress Lindstrom. He was taller than Daniel and perfectly proportioned, with broad shoulders and a trim waist; his hair was short and a blond so pale that at a distance in bright sunlight he would look bald.


          “We don’t need you!” he said, arms akimbo.


          “Petrov!” the woman said. “I told you this was my decision!”


          “You certainly don’t need me,” Daniel said, because it was as easy to be polite. “The Savoy‘s record of success is all the proof of that one could ask for. I need you, though, and I’ll work my passage at any position on the ship. I can both rig and astrogate, and I took my Power Room training in the RCN Academy.”


          “We’ve got riggers,” Petrov said, speaking to Lindstrom now. He was trying to moderate his tone, but he was obviously angry and not well enough controlled to keep that out of his voice. “You handle the fusion bottle, we don’t need that, and I astrogate better than any pansy from Cinnabar. He’s not worth the food!”