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

down, take a drink or three before dinner.” Since he feared she might

refuse, lest that seem to herself like running away from what was in

her, he added, “Trohdwyr would like a toast to his manes, wouldn’t he?”

She followed the suggestion in a numb way. “Will the whole job be this

bad?” she asked.

“No.” He joined her, pouring Merseian telloch for them both though he

really wanted a Mars-dry martini. “I was afraid things might go as they

went, the first time, but couldn’t see any road around. You did witness

Trohdwyr’s murder, he suffered hideously, and he’d been your beloved

mentor your whole life. The pain wasn’t annulled just because your

thalamus was temporarily anesthetized. Being your strongest lost memory,

already half in consciousness, it came out ahead of any others. And it’s

still so isolated it feels like yesterday.”

She settled wearily back. “Yes,” she said. “Before, everything was

blurred, even that. Now … the faces, the whole betrayal–”

{Nobody died in the cave except Trohdwyr. The rest stood by when a mere

couple of marines arrived to arrest her. “You called them!” she screamed

to the one who bore the name Steve Johnson, surely not his own. He

grinned. Trohdwyr lunged, trying to get her free, win her a chance to

scramble down the slope and vanish. The lieutenant blasted him. The life

in his tough old body had not ebbed out, under the red moons, when they

pulled her away from him.

Afterward she overheard Johnson: “Why’d you kill the servant? Why not

take him along?”

And the lieutenant: “He’d only be a nuisance. As is, when the Diomedeans

find him, they won’t get suspicious at your disappearance. They’ll

suppose the Terrans caught you. Which should make them handier material.

For instance, if we want any of those who met you here to go guerrilla,

our contact men can warn them they’ve been identified through data

pulled out of you prisoners.”

“Hm, what about us four?”

“They’ll decide at headquarters. I daresay they’ll reassign you to a

different region. Come on, now, let’s haul mass.” The lieutenant’s boot

nudged Kossara, where she slumped wrist-bound against the cold cave

wall. “On your feet, bitch!”}

“His death happened many weeks ago,” Flandry said. “Once you get more

memories back, you’ll see it, feel it in perspective–including time

perspective. You’ll have done your grieving … which you did, down

underneath; and you’re too healthy to mourn forever.”

“I will always miss him,” she whispered.

Flandry regarded ghosts of his own. “Yes, I know.”

She straightened. He saw her features harden, as if bones lent strength

to flesh. The blue-green eyes turned arctic. “Sir Dominic, you were

right in what you did to Snell. Nobody in that gang was–is–fit to


“Well, we’re in a war, we and they, the nastier for being undeclared,”

he said carefully. “What you and I must do, if we can, is keep the

sickness from infecting your planet. Or to the extent it has, if I may

continue the metaphor, we’ve got to supply an antibiotic before the high

fever takes hold and the eruptions begin.”

His brutal practicality worked as he had hoped, to divert her from both

sorrow and rage. “What do you plan?” The question held some of the

crispness which ordinarily was hers.

“Before leaving Diomedes,” he said, “I contacted Lagard’s field office

on Lannach, transmitted a coded message for him to record, and showed

him my authority to command immediate courier service. The message is

directly to the Emperor. The code will bypass channels. In summary, it

says, ‘Hold off at Dennitza, no matter what you hear, till I’ve

collected full information’–followed by a synopsis of all I’ve learned

thus far.”

She began faintly to glow in her exhaustion. “Why, wonderful.”

“M-m-m, not altogether, I’m afraid.” Flandry let the telloch savage his

throat. “Remember, by now his Majesty’s barbarian-quelling on the Spican

frontier. He’ll move around a lot. The courier may not track him down

for a while. Meantime–the Admiralty on Terra may get word which

provokes it to emergency action, without consulting Emperor or Policy

Board. It has that right, subject to a later court of inquiry. And I’ve

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Categories: Anderson, Poul