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

protected his gravbelt. He rose and moved slowly toward her. Survivors


Fingers closed on her arm. Around her shoulder she saw Glydh. He swung

her before his body. “That’s not nice,” the oncoming invader pealed. He

spun his blaster nozzle to needle beam, aimed, and fired.

Glydh’s brow spurted steam, brains, blood, shattered bone across

Kossara. She knew a heartbeat’s marvel at that kind of precision

shooting. But then the heavy corpse bore her down. Her head struck the

floor. Lightning filled the universe.

The armored man reached her, stood over her, shielded her. A

spacecraft’s flank appeared in the entry. It had sprouted a turret,

whose gun sprayed every doorway where an enemy might lurk. Kossara let

darkness flow free.


A breath of air cool, pine-scented; all noises gone soft; a sense of

muted energies everywhere around; a lessened weight–Kossara opened her

eyes. She lay in bed, in her cabin aboard the Hooligan. Flandry sat

alongside. He wore a plain coverall, his countenance was haggard and the

gray gaze troubled. Nonetheless he smiled. “Hello, there,” he murmured.

“How do you feel?”

Drowsy, altogether at ease, she asked, “Have we left Diomedes?”

“Yes. We’re bound for Dennitza.” He took her right hand between both of

his. “Now listen. Everything is all right. You weren’t seriously harmed,

but on examination we decided we’d better keep you under sleep induction

awhile, with intravenous feeding and some medication. Look at your left

wrist.” She did. It was bare. “Yes, the bracelet is off. As far as I’m

concerned, you’re free, and I’ll take care of the technicalities as soon

as possible. You’re going home, Kossara.”

Examination–She dropped her glance. A sheer nightgown covered her. “I’m

sorry I never thought to bring anything more decorous for you to sleep

in,” Flandry said. He appeared to be summoning courage. “Chives did the

doctoring, the bathing, et cetera. Chives alone.” His mouth went wry.

“You may or may not believe that. It’s true, but hell knows how much

I’ve lied to you.”

And I to you, she thought.

He straightened in the chair and released her. “Well,” he said, “would

you like a spot of tea and accompaniments? You should stay in bed for

another watch cycle or two, till you get your strength back.”

“What happened … to us?”

“We’d better postpone that tale. First you should rest.” Flandry rose.

Almost timidly, he gave her hair a stroke. “I’ll go now. Chives will

bring the tea.”

Wakefulness returned. When the Shalmuan came to retrieve her tray,

Kossara sat propped against pillows, ready for him. “I hope the

refreshments were satisfactory, Donna,” he said. “Would you care for

something more?”

“Yes,” she replied. “Information.”

The slim form showed unease. “Sir Dominic feels–”

“Sir Dominic is not me.” She spread her palms. “Chives, how can I relax

in a jigsaw puzzle? Tell me, or ask him to tell me, what went on in that

den. How did you find me? What did you do after I lost consciousness?


Chives reached a decision. “Well, Donna, we trust that in view of

results obtained, you will pardon certain earlier modifications of

strict veracity which Sir Dominic deemed essential. The ring he gave you

was a mere ring; no such device exists as he described, at least within

the purview of Technic civilization.” She choked. He continued: “Sir

Dominic, ah, has been known to indulge in what he describes as wistful

fantasizing relevant to his occupation. Instead, the bracelet you wore

was slave-driven from an external source of radiated power.”

“Slave-driven. A very good word.” And yet Kossara could feel no anger.

She imitated it as a duty. Had they given her a tranquilizing drug which

had not completely worn off?

“Your indignation is natural, Donna.” Chives’ tail switched his ankles.

“Yet allow me to request you consider the total situation, including the

fact that those whom you met were not noble liberators but Merseian

operatives. Sir Dominic suspected this from the start. He believed that

if you reappeared, they were sure to contact you, if only to find out

what had transpired. He saw no method short of the empirical for

convincing you. Furthermore, admiration for your honesty made him

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