Chapter 38 Pt. 3
By the numbers. By the numbers. By the numbers, Mollin chanted silently, straining to keep a cool center while moving the Moth into the mass exodus of ships fleeing the imperiled prison.
The asteroid belt was a placid meadow compared to the chaos of fleeing shuttles and jettisoned pods flittering around two of the station’s three towers.
Two towers because Koz’s code had left the lockdown itself largely untouched.
Three times in the past few minutes alone he’d had to make a sudden, swift deviation in their flight path to avoid being clipped by, or smacking head-on into one of the craft leaving the station in a full-burn blind panic.
Whether a miracle or a product of his adrenalin-fueled reflexes, he couldn’t say. Nor did he have the time to analyze the feat.
They were in the endgame now. A period that, for him at least, demanded that the plan be followed to the letter. By the numbers.
<I believe you can give me auto-pilot control again,> Dorothy announced as Mollin brought the ship back to their prime course. <Most of the transports have left the station. Only the Acheron and the Charon remain. They are loading stragglers as we speak and will be departing shortly.>
"Guess they’ve figured out they need to get off-station to call for help,” Koz, whom had been uncharacteristically quiet the past few minutes, entered the exchange.
“I suppose it is good to know the Libra Consortium don’t employ idiots,” Mollin acknowledged the AD’s observation.
<Be advised. Acheron and Charon have just signaled liftoff,> Dorothy informed them.
“Good. We should be clear to dock in 3-point-5 mikes,” Mollin said. “Dorothy, let’s reach out to the Lady.”
Moments later Eineen Marifanne, the Lady’s chief of security stepped into a lift aboard the SRS Orithia TGSS-4952.
The vessel belonged to Lady Fayla Szado, and as such was one of the most advanced deep-space star-craft to grace the Known.
Eineen knew this to be true because Cressid Vosh, the ship’s engineer, said so.
Unlike most Rasalkan vessels, the Orithia was a hybrid affair, from hull to engine to life support, she boasted designs and technologies from several of the Known’s leaders in the spatial construction, navigation, communication, and propulsion…so Cressid said.
Cressid had continued to wax poetic on the Orithia’s safety, comfort, durability, and performance. Especially, and specifically, the engineer added, in the ship’s ratio of motion to equilibrium. Indeed, Cressid had declared, toasting the vessel with her morning cup of tea, the Orithia’s third-generation quantum-inertial dampers could keep the craft running as smooth as a sleigh ride across a frozen lake, even in the midst of a Class-5 magnetic storm.
To which Eineen, biting back against the space sickness roiling through her system, said rabunga shit.
As the Lady’s favored Terrans would put it, Eineen didn’t give a rodent’s buttocks what Cressid said about the ship’s inertial dampers, or the smoothness of the ride.
She knew that they were in space, and that the ship was moving through space, and that her stomach felt as if it were twisting into fat, wet knots and threatening to push the contents of her last meal up her throat.
So it was, as Eineen exited the lift onto Deck Epsilon Four, that she paused briefly to dig into her jacket pocket for the vial of Limpyrol.
The medication had been prescribed by House Szado’s healer to combat the effects of her aversion to space flight. One droplet on the tip of her tongue and she was good to go, for at least another hour or so.
Goddess bless chemistry.
Bolstered by the meds, she strode down the passage before stopping in front of one of the doors.
She’d barely managed to tap the chime before a quiet “Enter,” came over the comms.
The door opened and Eineen stepped through to find the apartment’s sole occupant—Dama Fayla Szado, leader of House Szado, the Lady—seated in the classic kamal position, at the center of a triangular configuration of white candles.
“Lady.” Eineen stopped, just over the threshold, to give the traditional bow and crossed-arms gesture of reverence due a full dama. “Forgive my interruption in your time of meditation.”
“No need for apologies, Eineen,” Fayla said, rising to don her familiar gray robe with a sigh of fabric. “I was just finished. You have news?” she asked, offering the courtesy of a verbal query rather than mind to mind contact.
“Indeed,” she said. “We have just received a message from the Gypsy Moth.”
Fayla’s expression remained cool, her black eyes revealing nothing as she asked, “And what is the message?”
“‘The roof is on fire,'” Eineen replied, pleased her own expression remained bland.
Fayla’s arched brow at the odd message was gratifying. “I see. Anything else?”
Eineen nodded. “Station law enforcement vessels are already launching from Vir-22. In addition, the SRS Toxophone has been redirected from its patrol of the sector, and is expected to arrive within twenty minutes.”
“Excellent,” Fayla said. “Please inform Captain Aix to proceed to Libra, at best speed.”
“Dama,” Eineen offered the salute and turned.
“Oh, and Eineen,” Fayla called her attention back.
Eineen paused, turned. “Yes, Lady?”
“I believe, according to our most recent wager on Finn and Slater’s chances of success, you now owe me five hundred credits.”
Eineen didn’t bother to stifle the sigh. “Yes, Lady.”