A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows by Poul Anderson. Chapter 9, 10, 11, 12

dubious of your ability knowingly to play a double role.

“Hence I trailed you at a discreet distance while he went to Thursday

Landing to investigate other aspects of the case. Albeit my assignment

had its vexations, I pinpointed the spot where you were brought and

called Sir Dominic, who by then had returned to Lannach. Underground and

surrounded by metal, your bracelet was blocked from us. We concluded

immediate attack was the most prudent course–for your sake

particularly, Donna. While Sir Dominic flitted down in armor, I blasted

the cannon and entrance. Shortly afterward I landed to assist and, if

you will excuse my immodesty, took the single prisoner we got. The rest

were either dead or, ah, holed up sufficiently well that we decided to

content ourselves with a nuclear missile dispatched through the


“The resultant landslide was somewhat spectacular. Perhaps later you

will be interested to see the movie I took.

“Ah … what he has learned has made Sir Dominic of the opinion that we

must speed directly to Dennitza. Nevertheless, I assure you he would in

all events have seen to your repatriation at the earliest feasible


Chives lifted her tea tray. “This is as much as I should tell you at the

present stage, Donna. I trust you can screen whatever you wish in the

way of literary, theatrical, or musical diversion. If you require

assistance of any kind, please call on the intercom. I will return in

two hours with a bowl of chicken soup. Is that satisfactory?”

Stars filled the saloon viewscreen behind Flandry’s head. The ship went

hush-hush-hush, on a voyage which, even at her pseudospeed, would take a

Terran month. The whisky he had poured for them glowed across tongue and


“It’s a foul story,” he warned.

“Does evil go away just because we keep silent?” Kossara answered.

Inwardly: How evil are you, you claw of the Empire?–but again without

heat, a thought she felt obliged to think.

After all, his lean features looked so grim and unhappy, across the

table from her. He shouldn’t chain-smoke the way he did; anticancer

shots, cardiovascular treatments, lungflushes, and everything, it

remained a flagellant habit. One could serve a bad cause without being a

bad man. Couldn’t one?

He sighed and drank. “Very well. A sketch. I got a lot of details from a

narcoquiz of our prisoner, but most are simply that, details, useful in

hunting down the last of his outfit if and when that seems worthwhile.

He did, though, confirm and amplify something much more scary.”

Memory prodded her with a cold finger. “Where is he?”

“Oh, I needled him and bunged him out an airlock.” Flandry observed her

shock. His tone changed from casual to defensive. “We were already in

space; this business doesn’t allow delays. As for turning him over to

the authorities when we arrive–there may not be any authorities, or

they may be in full revolt, Merseian-allied. At best, the fact he was

alive could trickle across to enemy Intelligence, and give them valuable

clues to what we know. This is how the game’s played, Kossara.” He

trailed out smoke before he added, “Happens his name was Muhammad


Blood beat in temples and cheeks. “He got no chance–I don’t need


“Maybe your people will,” he said quietly.

After a second he leaned forward, locked eyes with her, and continued:

“Let’s begin explanations from my viewpoint. I want you to follow my

experiences and reasoning, in hopes you’ll then accept my conclusions.

You’re an embittered woman, for more cause than you know right now. But

I think you’re also intelligent, fair-minded, yes, tough-minded enough

to recognize truth, no matter what rags it wears.”

Kossara told herself she must be calm, watchful, like a cat–like

Butterfeet when she was little … She drank. “Go on.”

Flandry filled his lungs. “The Gospodar, the Dennitzans in general are

furious at Hans’ scheme to disband their militia and make them wholly

dependent on the Navy,” he said. “After they supported him through the

civil war, too! And we’ve other sources of friction, inevitable; and

thoughts of breaking away or violently replacing the regnant Emperor are

no longer unthinkable. Dennitza has its own culture, deep-rooted,

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