Thursday, October 10, 2013


by Edward M. Erdelac -

Considine’s fear that the downing of the fighter would bring the rest of Morgenstar’s air force, while not unfounded, proved inconsequential.

Yulaura took full advantage of the gritty, cluttered skies, driving the rover down through low canyons and grumbling along beneath rocky overhangs, rendering them nearly invisible from the air.

They did see a pair of fighters circle like carrion flyers far overhead, but the downing of their comrade had perhaps made the others wary about flying too low.

It was a circuitous route, but in two hours time the rover came to a stop at the edge of the ocean, where the old sub-ferry station waited, along with a single Morgenstar fighter, sitting on the shore.

“Looks like they wised up,” said Yulaura. “Or one of ‘em did. What now?”

“They haven’t seen this rover,” said Dressler. “As far as they know, we’re just a bunch of grit-breathers looking for passage to Zirconia. Give him a spare suit and a mask and let’s park this thing. We’ll wait till the sub-ferry docks and then go.”

Considine donned a too-tight exposure suit and desert robes and a mask as Yulaura pulled the rover into the holding lot.

They waited a half an hour before the tower of the sub-ferry broke the surface of the water and pulled into the dock.

“You sure he’s worth all this trouble?” she asked Dressler.

“Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t, but there’s still the compensation to be had. And that’s worth the time, yes, unless you wanna live in the rover from now on.”

Yulaura sighed as Lyn pulled on her facemask again.

“Well I don’t wanna live in this thing,” said the girl.

They stepped out into the whipping, volcanic winds, and walked to the shelter of the station.

They were the only waiting passenger except for the Morgenstar pilot lounging on a bench in his flightsuit. He was a clean-cut, angular fellow, not one of these bruiser security officers, but he had a stingshot pistol strapped to his thigh, and when they came in out of the wind, he stood up.

The ferry-attendant, a bored looking old woman, announced the arrival of the ferry through her squelchy public address, and stood up tiredly to take their money.

The pilot walked towards them, his hand on his pistol.

The doors to the ferry opened, and Considine was delighted to see two familiar faces step off, along with a crowd of people bound for elsewhere.

Considine stepped to the two uniformed Enforcers and pulled off his facemask.

“Haj! Jelly!” he exclaimed.

It was Jelly Galveston and Haj, two of his own team. They looked startled to see him and stared bemused at his clothes.

Considine glanced back at the Morgenstar pilot and saw him hesitate, then move his hand away from his pistol and trot back outside, heading for his fighter and communications line no doubt.

“Inspector?” Jelly said. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Haj drew his pneumatic sidearm and covered Considine.

“You’re under arrest, Considine.”

Considine raised his hands slowly, and looked over at Dressler, Lyn, and Yulaura with what he hoped was an apologetic expression.

“I’ll sort this out, I promise.”

Dressler and Lyn started forward, but Yulaura grabbed them both by the elbows.

“Sure,” she said. “Be sure and contact us when you do.”

She pulled them back, turned them around, and walked back outside.

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