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

was probably all there were on Diomedes: sufficient to keep scores of

native dupes like Eonan going, who in their turn led thousands.

Though are they dupes? she thought drearily. Merseia would like to see

them unchained from the Empire.

No. That isn’t true. Merseia doesn’t give a curse. They’re cheap,

expendable tools.

The office was cramped and bleak. “Sit,” Glydh ordered, pointing to a

chair. He took a stool behind a desk. Snell settled on the left; his

eyes licked her, centimeter by centimeter and back again.

“Khraich.” Glydh laid his hands flat on the desktop, broad and thick,

strangler’s hands. “An astonishing turn of events. What shall we do with

you?” His Anglic was excellent.

“Isn’t this, uh, Captain Flandry more urgent, sir?” his subordinate


“Not much, I believe,” Glydh said. “True, from Vymezal’s account via

Eonan, he appears to be capable. But what can he know? That she

defected, presumably joining a remnant of the underground if she didn’t

perish en route.” He pondered. “Maybe be isn’t capable, at that–since

he let her go, trusting her mere self-interest to keep her on his side.”

Hoy? Chives said Flandry is famous … No. How many light-years, how

many millions of minds can fame cover before it spreads vanishingly


“Of course, we will have our cell in Thursday Landing keep him under

surveillance, and alert our agents globally is he leaves there,” Glydh

continued. “But I doubt he represents more than a blind stab on the part

of somebody in the opposition. I don’t think he is worth the risk of

trying to kidnap, or even kill.”

“We may find out otherwise, sir, when we interrogate Vymezal in detail,”

said the man. He moistened his lips.

“Maybe. I leave that to you. Co-opt what helpers you need.”

“Um-m-m … procedures? Treatment? Final disposition?”

“No!” Kossara heard the yell and felt the leaping to her feet, as if

from outside her body. This was not real, could not be, must not be, God

and saints, no. “I am not a, a Terran agent–I came here to–at least

I’m a prisoner of war!”

“Sit!” Glydh’s roar, and the gunshot slap of palm on desk, flung her

back like a belly blow. She heard his basso through fever-dream

distances and humming: “Don’t babble about military conventions. You are

a slave, property we have acquired. If you do what you are told, there

need not be pain. Else there will be, until you are broken to obedience.

Do you hear me?”

Snell’s fingers twisted together. He breathed fast. “Sir,” he said, “it

could be a long while before we get a chance to send a report offplanet

and ask for instructions about her. So we have to use our own judgment,

don’t we?”

“Yes,” Glydh answered.

“Well, considering what was originally intended for her, and the

reason–sir, not a woman among us in this whole region–”

Glydh shrugged. His tone was faintly contemptuous. “Quiz her out first

under narco. Afterward do what you like, short of disfiguring damage.

Remember, we may find use for her later, and the nearest biosculp

laboratory is parsecs hence.”

I will make them kill me! Even as she plunged toward Snell, fingernails

out to hook his eyeballs, Kossara knew Glydh would seize her and not let

her die.

The explosion threw her against a wall. It made a drum of her skull. The

floor heaved and cracked. Snell went over backward. Glydh flailed about

to keep his balance.

Faintly through the brief deafness that followed, she heard screams,

running, bang and hiss of firearms. Ozone drifted acrid to her nostrils,

smoke, smells of roastedness.

She was already out of the office, into the central chamber beyond. At

its far end, through the passageway which gave on the garage, she saw

how the main door lay blown off its trunnions, crumpled and red-hot.

Beyond was the ruin of the cannon. Men boiled around or sprawled


Enormous shone the bulk of a suit of combat armor. Bullets whanged off

it, blaster bolts fountained. The wearer stood where he was, and his own

weapon scythed.

As she broke into view–“Kossara!” Amplified from the helmet, his voice

resounded like God’s. His free hand reached beneath a plate that

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Categories: Anderson, Poul