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Life for an independent
operator had gone way downhill since...

"... Nirama, and don't you forget it!"

He looked up and checked the comm ID screen. The voice was female, and
the ship registered as the Last Light. Of all the people talking, she'd gotten
his attention. At least someone in Cularin wasn't afraid to talk about He-who-
should-not-be-named. As he expected, comm chatter died off for a bit.

Then finally, "Yeah, Last Light, that goes without saying."

The woman's voice answered again. "That's what's been happening, all
right. Not a one of you've had the guts to talk about what's really been going
wrong. When N was in charge, it meant something to fly these stars. Now, after
the slug, everything's just drek, and no one's got the moons to do a thing
about it."

Borrath topped off his cup and chuckled. Now this was entertainment. The
comm got quiet again, but it didn't stay that way. In any group, there's
always one person who just doesn't get it, and that person always chooses to
speak at exactly the wrong time.

"But Nirama was a criminal and a pirate. Scum just as bad as Riboga,
right?"

Bor cringed and glanced at the ID. Inwardly, he said goodbye to the
captain of the Twilight Star. Whoever that twit was, he'd be dead if any one
of the ships around him ever encountered him in open space.

Out of respect for the soon-to-be-deceased, Borrath turned off the open
channel and sent a quick message on a coded line to the Last Light. It read,
"Thanks for keeping the faith."

He didn't have to wait long for a reply. It came over the same code and
was just as short. "Thanks for having some."

He waited a while before opening up the comm to
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