Cherryh, CJ – Merchanters Luck

Cherryh, CJ – Merchanters Luck

Cherryh, CJ – Merchanters Luck

C.J. Cherryh


Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV

Chapter XV

Chapter XVI

Chapter XVII

Chapter XVIII

Chapter I

Their names were Sandor and Allison… Kreja and Reilly respectively. Reilly meant

something in the offices and bars of Viking Station: it meant the merchanters of

the great ship Dublin Again, based at Fargone, respectable haulers on a loop

that included all the circle of Union stars, Mariner and Russell’s, Esperance

and Paradise, Wyatt’s and Cyteen, Fargone and Voyager and back to Viking. It was

a Name among merchanters, and a power to be considered, wherever it went.

Kreja meant nothing at Viking, having flourished only at distant Pan-paris and

Esperance in its day: at Mariner, under an alias, it meant a bad debt, and the

same at Russell’s. The Kreja ship was currently named Lucy, and she was

supposedly based at Wyatt’s, which was as far away as possible and almost

farther away than reasonable for such a small and aged freighter, claiming to

run margin cargo for a Wyatt’s combine. Customs always searched her, though she

called here regularly. Small, star-capable ships on which the crew was not

related by blood, on which in fact there were only two haggard men, and one not

the same as at last docking… such ships were not comfortably received at station

docks, and received careful scrutiny.

Lucy was a freighter by statement, a long-hauler which ran smallish consignments

independent of its combine’s close direction, since the combine had no offices

on Viking. She was a passenger carrier when anyone would trust her—no one did,

though the display boards carried her offer. She took merchanter transfers if

she could get them.

That was how Sandor Kreja lost his crew at Viking, because the crew, one old and

limping sot who was paying work for his passage, found his own ship in port and

headed for it without a by-your-leave. The old man had only signed as far as

Viking; he had been left behind at Voyager for a stay in hospital, and he was

simply interested in catching his own ship again and rejoining his family: that

was the deal.

It made Sandor nervous, that departure, as all such departures did. The old man

had been more curious than most, had nosed about contrary to orders, had been

into everything—lied, with epic distortion, about where his Daisy had been, lied

about deals they had made and what they had done in the wars and what he had

done in dockside sleepovers, entertaining as it was. His departure left Sandor

solo on Lucy, which he had been before and had no wish to try more often than he

had to, running a freighter blind tired. But more, the old man left him with a

nagging worry that he might have turned up something, and that his considerable

talent for storytelling might spread tales in stationside bars that Lucy had

peculiarities. Viking had tightened up since Lucy’s last docking: warships had

pulled in and rumors surmised pirate trouble. They were nervous times; and a

little talk in the wrong places could get back to station offices. It might,

Sandor thought, be time to move on.

But he had conned his way onto the loading schedule, which meant they were going

to fill his tanks and he was going to get cargo if he could only subdue his

nervousness and keep from rousing suspicions this trip round. Forged papers

labeled him and Lucy as Wyatt’s Star Combine, which had a minor interest-bearing

account at Voyager and Viking, outside its territories, a fund meant for

emergency use if ever one of its ships should have to divert over from regular

WSC ports. It was his seventh call here on the same faked papers—in fact he

foresaw the time when the stamp sheets in the book would be filled and station

would have to renew his papers with the real thing, a threshold he had crossed

before, and which made life for a time much more secure… until some needed

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