Commodore Hu Mavis stared down at the motionless body of the broken man lying at his feet. The room no longer echoed with the sound of screaming; the man was now mostly silent.
Standing across from Mavis, also looking down at the broken man on the floor, was a servant of God. He was a Sword, chosen by God and the Emperor to defend the Radiant Throne from her enemies. No two Swords were alike, save only in their dedication to the Throne: some kept their names when taking on their new life, others abandoned their names altogether. This Sword's name was Kyas, but he was known only as the Viceroy.
WHEREIN Enmity Is Formally Established, Bets Are Made, Money Is Lost, and the Terrans Find Vindication
In the end it took three weeks to bring the Fool's Errand completely back on line. Bennet proved to be an enormous help in that regard--even Ktk was impressed with his speed and skill. Meanwhile, Velis' people set up their command center in the general mess. All but one of the sealed containers were unsealed: according to Cutter, they were medical equipment.
When Grif asked Velis about them, she confirmed Cutter's guess. "You remember Halge said we could alter your appearance, right down to your DNA?"
"Nice," Grif said. "What about the one still in the box?"
"Not important," Velis said. Something in the way she said it convinced Grif to drop the matter.
WHEREIN Gears Turn and Complicated Things Go Whirrrr
Grif Vindh, Captain of the Fool's Errand, peered over the navigation console display and frowned. "Damn it all," he said, "it did it again. What the hell is wrong with this thing? The screens don't even try to drop."
"Not a problem on my end." The frustration in Cyrus' voice was evident even over the intercom. "The gun is sending the drop code."
This was Grif's third refit. He remembered hating the first two—the first when he'd been the pilot on someone else's ship, the second shortly after he'd purchased the Fool's Errand—but he'd largely forgotten why. Now he remembered: buying and installing new technology was easy. Trying to get new technology to integrate properly was nearly impossible.
WHEREIN Our Hero, Having Just Come Out of the Woods, is Pushed Back In
Grif shifted in his chair, looking from Velis, then to Alef, then back, trying to find some clue as to what they were thinking. Velis was, for the moment unreadable. She sat still, gaze unfocused, as if she were only partially paying attention to the conversation. Alef, on the other hand, was watching Grif carefully... very carefully, with an intensity that made him shiver. Alef's eyes glinted in the light, and Grif thought, once again, that they had to be cybernetic. He wondered what it was like to view the world through the lens of a machine--for that to be the only reference available.
WHEREIN the Terms "Rock" and "Hard Place" are Given Due Consideration
All of the crew had been affected by the audit, and when Hari, Vod, Gurgan and Morgan came back, Captain Vindh filled them in as quickly as he could, starting with the all-important disclaimer "first of all, it's not my fault..."