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escape got to him. He spent his time beneath the dock simply admiring light-sparkles on water, the rake
of masts, the fluid chill enclosing his skin, the roughness of the bollard he held, the chuckle against hulls
and their many vivid colors. His mood had just begun to ravel away in worry(Damn, I should've told
Endre what I know) when the Magyar arrived.
"Will they not seek us here first?" Vadsz asked.
"M-m, I doubt it," Heim said. "Don't forget, they're from, a dry planet. The idea of using water for
anything but drinking doesn't come natural to them; you notice they've left all these facilities untouched,
though coast-wise transport would be a handy supplement to their air freighters. Their first assumption
ought to be that we went ashore as soon as we could and holed up in town. Still, we want to get out of
here as fast as possible, so let's find a boat in working order."
"There you must choose. I am a landlubber by heritage."
"Well, I never got along with horses, so honors are even."
Heim risked climbing onto the wharf for an overview. He picked a good-looking pleasure craft, a
submersible hydrofoil, and trotted to her. Once below, she'd be undetectable by any equipment the
Aleriona had.
"Can we get inside?" the minstrel asked from the water.
"Ja,she's not locked. Yachtsmen trust each other." Heim unslipped the lines, pulled the canopy back, and
extended an arm to help Vadsz up on deck. They tumbled into the cabin and closed the glasite. "Now,
you check the radio while I have a look at the engine."
A year's neglect had not much hurt the vessel. In fact, the sun had charged her accumulators to
maximum. Her bottom was foul, but that could be lived with. Excitement surged in Heim. "My original
idea was to find a communicator somewhere in town, get word to camp, and then skulk about hoping we
wouldn't be tracked down and wouldn't starve," he said. "But now-hell, we might get back in person! It'll
at least be harder for the enemy to pick up our message and send a rover bomb after the source, if we're
at sea. Let's go."
The motor chugged. The boat slid from land. Vadsz peered anxiously out the dome. "Why are they not
after us in full cry?" he fretted.
"I told you how come. They haven't yet guessed we'd try this way. Also, they must be disorganized as a
bawdy-house on Monday morning, after what I did to Cynbe." Nonetheless, Heim was glad to leave
obstacles behind and submerge. He went to the greatest admissible depth, set the 'pilot for a
southeasterly course, and began peeling off his wet clothes.
Vadsz regarded him with awe. "Gunnar," he said, in a tone suggesting he was not far from tears, "I will
make a ballad about this, and it will not be good enough, but still they will sing it a thousand years hence.
Because your name will live that long."
"Aw, shucks, Endre. Don't make my ears burn."
"No, I must say what's true. However did you conceive it?"
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Heim turned up the heater to dry himself. The ocean around-murky green, with now and then a curiously
shaped fish darting by-would dissipate infrared radiation. He had an enormous sense of homecoming, as
if again he were a boy on the seas of Gea. For the time being, it overrode everything else. The frailty and
incompleteness of his triumph could be seen later; let him now savor it.
"I didn't," he confessed. "The idea sort of grew. Cynbe was eager to ... be friends or whatever. I talked
him into visiting Bonne Chance, in the hope something might turn up that I could use for a break. It
occurred to me that probably none of his gang could swim, so the riverside looked like the best place. I
asked to have you along because we could use German under their noses. Also, having two ofus,
doubled the odds that one would get away."
Vadsz's deference cracked in a grin. "That was the most awfulSchweindeutsch I have yet heard. You
are no linguist."
Memory struck at Heim. "No," he said harshly. Trying to keep his happiness a while, he went on fast:
"We were there when I thought if I could pitch Cynbe in the drink, his guards would go all out to save
him, rather than run along the bank shooting at us. If you can't swim yourself, you've got a tough job
rescuing another nonswimmer."
"Do you think he drowned?"
"Well, one can always hope," Heim said, less callously than he sounded. "I wouldn't be surprised if they
lost at least a couple of warriors fishing him out. But we've likely not seen the last of him. Even if he did
drown, they can probably get him to a revival machine before brain decay sets in. Still, while he's out of
commission, things are apt to be rather muddled for the enemy. Not that the organization can't operate
smoothly without him. But for a while it'll lack direction, as far as you and I are concerned, anyhow.
That's the time we'll use to put well out to sea and call de Vigny."
"Why ... yes, surely they can send a fast flyer to our rescue." Vadsz leaned back with a
cat-outside-canary smile."La belle Danielle is going to see me even before she expected. Dare I say,
before she hoped?"
Anger sheeted in Heim. "Dog your hatch, you clot-brain!" he snarled. "This is no picnic. We'll be lucky
to head off disaster."
"What-what-" Color left Vadsz'scheeks. He winced away from the big man. "Gunnar, did I say-"
"Listen." Heim slammed a fist on the arm of his seat "Our amateur try at espionage blew up the whole
shebang. Have you forgotten the mission was to negotiate terms to keep our people from starving? That's
out. Maybe something can be done later, but right now we're only concerned with staying alive. Our plan
for evacuating refugees is out the airlock too. Cynbe jumped to the conclusion thatFox herself is on this
planet. He's recalled a lancer and a cruiser to supplement his flagship. Between them, those three can
detectMeroeth raising mass, and clobber her. It won't do us any good to leave her doggo, either. They'll
have air patrols with high-gain detectors sweeping the whole planet. So there goes de Vigny's nice
hidey-hole at Lac aux Nuages. For that matter, with three ships this close to her position,Fox herself is in
mortal danger.
"You blithering, self-centered rockhead!Did you think I was risking death just so we could escape?
What the muck have we got to do with anything? Our people have got to be warned!"
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With a growl, he turned to the inertial navigator panel. No, they weren't very far out yet. But maybe he
should surface anyway, take his chances, to cry what he knew at this instant.
The boat pulsed around him. The heater whirred and threw waves of warmth across his bide. There was
a smell of oil in the air. Outside the ports, vision was quickly blocked-as he had been blocked, thwarted,
resisted and evaded at every turn. "Those ships will be here inside an Earth day," he said."Fox better
make for outer space, the rest of us for the woods."
"Gunnar-" Vadsz began.
"Oh, be quiet!"
The minstrel flushed and raised his voice. "No. I don't know what I have done to be insulted by you, and [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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