|ALEJANDRO CRISTOBAL MARQUEZ PUT HIS hands behind his back and
the dim lights and harsh noises of the portside bar. His palms were
slippery with sweat and his chest
tightened; he hoped that his anxiety and hatred did not show in his
face. Before him, the tall, dark-
skinned tauCaptain rocked his chair back, put his feet on the table,
and skimmed the contents of
Sandro’s Certificate. The blue light of the Certificate’s readout flickered
across the tauCaptain’s
face, imparting a demonic look to the high cheekbones and oriental
eyes. Sandro cautiously relaxed
his clenched hands and resisted the urge to look around, convinced
that the other spacers were
grinning and poking each other with their elbows. They had watched
this scene before.
The tauCaptain tapped the Certificate with his finger and the blue light
faded as he tossed the
disk on the tabletop.
“It says here you’re a Second, newly commissioned,” he said.
“And you want to ship with me?”
Sandro’s throat felt dry. “Rumor has it that you need a Second, sir.
That you’ve been on
MarketPort four days over schedule, looking for one. I’m a Second by
paper, not promotion . . . it’s
hard to find a berth. I took my chances.”
“Aerie-Kennerin does not ship neophytes.”
“No sir. But A-K doesn’t ship without Seconds either.” Sandro held his
breath, but the
captain’s lips tilted upward. He swung his feet from the table. The
front legs of the chair made a
sharp noise amid the cacophony of the bar.
“Get a chair . . . um . . .” He glanced at the Certificate. “Marquez.
Am I pronouncing that
“Yes, sir.” Sandro pulled a chair to the table, feeling slightly relieved.
The tauCaptain could
still turn him down, or demand of him an evening of listening and companionship
before casting him
off, but could not, now, laugh and dismiss him in the publicity of
the bar. The seven months since
he’d received his commission had been full of such rejections; to be
turned down by this man, this
probable enemy, would especially hurt. Perhaps, he thought without
much hope, this Kennerin was
a minor one; a distant cousin or a second son. Sandro sat and looked
at his Certificate lying on the
table amid the collection of empty vibraglasses, then glanced at the
captain. He didn’t look like a
The captain shouted an order at a passing shimmer-tray and gestured.
Sandro ordered. The
tray arrived with the fresh drinks, flashed a green acceptance of the
tauCaptain’s thumbprint, and
hovered over the table. The empty vibraglasses snicked out of existence,
and the tray floated into the
The captain peered at Sandro’s drink. “That’s Jel-Watr,” he said accusingly.
“I do, sir. But not tonight.”
“Huh.” The tauCaptain adopted a serious expression. “My name is Jes
Kennerin, and I am
very, very drunk. Remember that. Also remember that I remember, if
that makes any sense. Any
conditions we bind tonight, we bind finally. I don’t go back on my
word. Is that understood?”
“Stop that. This is a bar, not a ship. Call me Kennerin.”
“Kennerin,” Sandro said. The name didn’t choke him. “Call me Marquez.”
The tauCaptain nodded and raised his glass. “A society of families,”
he said. “Marquez.
“It’s not uncommon,” Sandro said, more casually than he felt. There
was a Parallax agent
dead on Marquez Landing, as much a part of Sandro as the paper Second,
as his pride, as the
memory of home. He evened his voice. “Not uncommon,” he said again.
“You’re probably right. Drink. I want to hear about paper training,
Marquez. What in hell
does a paper trainer know about Seconding a tauship?”
“Grab mechanics,” Sandro said, relieved. “Astrogation and binary tauseep,
controls maintenance, invalidation process, invoicing and documentation,
controls port function and
procedures, customs processes - “
Kennerin waved this away with a long hand. “Fine. You know everything
there is to know,
except bow to Second a tauship. Ever been on one?”
“I came in on one, sir. Nobody’s native to MarketPort.”
“I run a class 5b/14 merchant ship, basic 17 sub 5, reconditioned to
a type G rating. Tell me
Sandro talked for half an hour. Kennerin listened, blue eyes bright
in his dark face. At times
he drummed his fingers on the tabletop. Finally he waved at Sandro
“You’re wrong on that,” he said. “She’s got seven four-gee holds, not
five. But that’s a
custom change. Can you ship out tomorrow?”
“I can ship out now, sir.”
“Eager, aren’t you?”
Sandro’s breath caught, but the tauCaptain took Sandro’s Certificate,
skimmed through the
contracts section, and tapped the cassette for writing mode.
“Four-year contract, and I’m starting you as apprentice Second. Full
Second after the first
year, if you make it. Five hundred fremarks the run for the first year,
with a twelve-fremark base for
each month in space. We’ll renegotiate after you reach full Second
- you’ll get crewgains then, too.
You’ll ship with me or any other A-K captain, on assignment. Standard
duties, port leave, all the rest.
Sandro nodded and the tauCaptain pushed his thumb at the Certificate,
then offered it to
Sandro. Sandro unclenched his hands and carefully tapped in his personal
code, thumbprinted the
Certificate, and slipped it into his pocket. The captain twisted in
his chair and waved at a passing
Sandro took a deep breath. “I don’t think you should do that, sir.”
“It’s the duty of a Second to make sure that all officers and crew are
fit for space by end of
leavetime, sir. As your Second, I think you’ve had enough.”
Kennerin’s face hardened. “You’re not a full Second, Marquez.”
“I have the feeling that I’ve made a very bad mistake.”
Kennerin stared at him and pushed away from the table. Sandro’s shoulders
as he followed the captain from the bar he made a rude gesture at the
spacers watching him. Most
of them laughed.
Spacers jostled and roared all along Dullard’s Walk. Most of the light
globes were broken
and the Walk glowed in the lights of the passing colorfloats. The tauCaptain
paused at the bar’s door,
shook his head, and put his hand on Sandro’s shoulder. Sandro looked
at the hand, then glanced up
at the captain’s face.
“Not very tall, are you?” Kennerin said.
Sandro’s face heated. “And you’re not so short, captain. Where’s the
rest of the crew?”
“Somewhere. I’ll find them. You have anything to pack?”
Sandro frowned. His small rented room contained a few extra pieces of
clothing, a borrowed
book, the landlord’s battered, stale-smelling furniture - nothing he
needed, nothing he couldn’t
replace, nothing he ever wanted to see again. He touched his hip pouch;
it seemed sufficient luggage
for an exile. He shook his head and followed Kennerin down the crowded
rowdiness of Dullard’s
Pelican’s Nest was stuffed to the doors; its walls seemed to bulge with
the beat of music that
shook the pavement but could not be heard over the rest of the noise.
Spacers surrounded the Beard
of Kaipha, Lizard’s Revenge, the Frog King, and Scow’s Folly. Seven
different tunes met with a
discordant jangle overhead and the colorfloats shimmered, whispering
enticements to lurid,
fraudulent ecstasies. Jes Kennerin shoved his way down the Walk. Sandro,
trailing in his wake,
pondered the tauCaptain’s broad shoulders and club of black hair, but
they told him nothing. They
reached a public caller; the tauCaptain banged his message into it
and paid with his thumb, and soon
Dullard’s Walk glowed with colorfloats carrying the captain’s insignia
and flashing the boarding
signal. Sandro frowned at them.
“Will that be enough?”
“Yeah. They want to ship out as much as I do. Maybe as much as you do.”
looked over the Walk, his expression unreadable, then shoved through
the crowds again.
Dullard’s Walk ended at the soundscreen separating the shuttleport
from the rest of the
trading station. Sandro paused at the barrier and glanced back. The
Walk seemed hazy and distant,
already a part of his past. Kennerin strode toward the slidebelts,
his hands in his pockets. Sandro
heard his humming but could not place the tune. His lips tightened
and he walked after his captain.
The screen closed behind them.
Kennerin jumped from one slidebelt to another, turned a corner, and
stepped off the belt.
Sandro followed his gesture toward the winged shuttle resting on fat,
battered landing gear. It was
already pointed toward the runways. Kennerin rocked back on his heels,
his hands still in his pockets,
then reached for the port maintenance box. The door slid open and the
tauCaptain extracted a form.
He handed it to Sandro.
“Here, Second. See if we’re spaceworthy.”
Sandro moved closer to the box and peered at the form. Everything seemed
in order. He
nodded, examined the form again, and squinted at the nose of the shuttle.
A merchant ship’s shuttle
generally bore only registry numbers, but this one had a name.
“It’s an unusual name, sir.”
“It’s a ridiculous name. The ship’s called Rabbit.”
Sandro looked blank. The tauCaptain tilted his head and looked at Sandro
rabbit’s a Terran original noted for producing lots of other rabbits
in a very short time. I named it
after my family.”
“Your family, sir? I thought only owners could name tauships.”
“That’s right. You signed on with Aerie-Kennerin, Marquez. I own it.”
I own it. Sandro stared at the ship and at the tauCaptain. “I thought
you, that you might be
a cousin,” he said. When Kennerin didn’t move, Sandro turned and walked
to the open hatch. He
closed his eyes: unwanted visions danced across the screen of his eyelids;
acres of green-black
zimania plantations, a tall, forbidding house set amid gardens, the
noisy bustle of town, port, island,
world - a mocking catalog of all the things that Sandro could have
owned. I own it. That, too? Sandro
thought, and when the captain touched his shoulder Sandro jumped, startled
and angry. He looked
at Kennerin defensively, and the captain stared back at him with that
same infuriating, distant
expression in his eyes.
“You want to back out?”
Sandro’s lips tightened and he shook his head.
“Then you’re a spacer, Marquez. You leave the past right here, you don’t
take it with you.
Not if it gets in the way. You’re my Second now, understand?”
Sandro nodded, confused, and looked away. The captain dropped his hand.
“And that’s what passes for my crew,” Kennerin said. His smile changed
his face. “Haul
yourself in, Second, and let’s get out of here.”
The crew were both drunk. Kennerin herded them aboard with insults and
laughed and cursed back. One tried to hug the captain, but he pushed
her away. Her mouth pinched
down. Kennerin ignored her and swung the hatch shut behind them. Sandro’s
he didn’t know this man at all.
“The tall one is Beryl,” Kennerin said, locking the toggles around the
hatch. “And the short
bastard’s Greaves. This is Alejandro Marquez, new Second. You should
like him, Greaves, he’s
shorter than you are. Anyone in condition to fly this drunktank?”
Beryl pushed red-brown hair from her dirty face and looked at Sandro.
Her lips pinched down
farther. She turned on her side in the webbing and went to sleep. Greaves
shook his head and
fumbled with his straps. Kennerin sighed and dropped into the navigator’s
“Up to you, Marquez. First beam Rabbit and tell Hetch that we’re
on our way, then get us
out of here.”
Sandro sat reluctantly in the pilot’s web. Kennerin slumped in the web
beside him and closed
“Beam’s thirteen, channel four. Rabbit should be somewhere in
sector five, level five, but
check with Hetch. And, Marquez . . .”
“Don’t kill us.”
Sandro didn’t reply. It couldn’t be any different from flying a simulator,
he told himself
without conviction. The board was a standard model. He found
the commiter and toggled it to the
proper channel. It wheezed and burped and the contact light glowed.
The screen remained dark.
“About time, Jes,” a voice said. “Think I want to spend my life orbiting
“This is Second Alejandro Marquez,” Sandro said. To his relief, his
voice didn’t squeak. “I
have tauCaptain Kennerin, Crew Beryl, and Crew Greaves. The tauCaptain
wants to hit grab
tomorrow as soon as we get clearance. Can you give me Rabbit’s
The commiter made a surprised noise. “Marquez?”
“That’s right, spacer.”
“Spacer, hell. I’m tauCaptain Manual Hetch, Second. You can call Kennerin
want, but you call me ‘sir,’ understand?”
Sandro flushed, knowing that he’d been set up and sure that Kennerin
was repressing a smile.
“Yes, sir. Can I have the point?”
“Open your board.”
Sandro plugged into the board channel and let Hatch beam the point into
tank, then read the point back to Hetch. Hetch confirmed and signed
off. Sandro double-checked the
controls, obtained leave clearance, and guided the shuttle to the start
point. He thought an intense,
brief prayer and fired the shuttle. It waddled down the short runway,
bounced three times, and
wallowed into the air.
“That,” said Kennerin without opening his eyes, “will have to improve.”
Sandro ignored him. He poised his hand over the second bank switches,
for the go-light. The acceleration pushed at his body. He fought it.
MarketPort dropped away beneath
them and Sandro’s fingers went rigid.
“Don’t poke it,” Kennerin said sleepily. “Stroke it, Marquez. Nice and
slow and gentle.”
Sandro glared at him, assuming mockery, and the go-light winked. He
set the second bank
switches and Spawn rattled as she turned to the new heading. MarketPort
slid out of sight; the sky
“Better,” the tauCaptain said. “Looks like your board scores were accurate,
after all. Think
you can synch with Rabbit without punching a gap in the hull?”
“Fine. Wake me before we get there. I collect catastrophes.”
This time the captain really did seem to fall asleep. Spawn would follow
the routing until they
approached Rabbit; until then there was nothing for Sandro to
do. He watched the board intently
anyway, rubbing his shoulders. The muffled roar of the donkey engines
seemed far away. He
checked the board again and turned in his webbing to look at Kennerin.
The captain sprawled, utterly
relaxed and utterly mysterious. Long slim body, elegant angular face,
black hair tied at the nape of
his neck with a bright ribbon. His eyelids twitched as he dreamed.
Sandro remembered the
amusement of the bar, the stiffness of Dullard’s Walk, the calm and
terrifying distance as they stood
beside the shuttle, the sarcastic banter with the crew. He shook his
head, falling deeper into
confusion, and wondered when his captain would finally place his name.
Their families had been competitors, back when Sandro still had a family,
but the competition had been a distant, impersonal thing. The Family Kennerin
was far too small to threaten the Family Marquez. But now the Family Marquez
was dead or scattered, their home and planet wrenched from them, and a
Parallax agent lay dead in Cuidad Garcia, by Sandro’s hand. Our families
were in competition, Sandro thought, looking at the captain. Did you arrange
Jes Kennerin murmured indistinctly in his sleep and turned over. Sandro
shook his head. If
Kennerin had any hand in the death of Sandro’s family, he’d have placed
Sandro’s name the moment
he saw it. And he would not have turned his shuttle and his life over
to someone who had reason to
kill him. Would he? Kennerin’s expressions tumbled through Sandro’s
memory, and he could not
answer his own question.
I own it.
Sandro pushed the bitterness aside and turned to the controls again.
There would be time
enough in space, he thought, to consider who he was and where he was,
and who slept beside him
in the small lights of the shuttle’s bridge.
When Rabbit clarified on the screen before him he woke the captain
and brought the shuttle
into the bay as smoothly as he could. Jes Kennerin rewarded him with
a cool nod of approval,
cracked the shuttle’s hatch, and ushered Sandro Marquez into a complex,
THEY SLID THROUGH THE GRAB THE NEXT day, Beryl and Greaves riding
the suits in the
engine room, Jes guiding Rabbit through the grab’s complexity
of coils with smooth, practiced grace.
Sandro expected and rode with the sudden feeling of disorientation
and imbalance as the coils
shimmered to life; he watched the screens as stars were replaced by
blackness, and blackness by the
chaotic glory of tauspace. Rabbit hummed solidly and the three
men on the bridge were silent.
Sandro looked at Hetch, to his right, and found the old tauCaptain
staring at Jes Kennerin. Kennerin
sat motionless in his webbing, gazing at the dizzying images of tauspace
with an almost supernatural
hunger. Sandro blinked.
Then Hetch freed his webbing and the snap of locks broke the moment.
Sandro glanced at
him and when he looked again Kennerin was relaxed and turned from the
screen. His lips quirked.
“Think you can do that next time?”
“No, sir,” Sandro said. “Time after that, maybe. Not before.”
“He’s learning already,” Hetch said. He passed his hand over his bald
head, rose, and winced.
His hand touched his hip and, part of the same movement, rose and patted
his round belly with
affection. “All that hard work makes me hungry.”
“Anything makes you hungry,” Kennerin said. Hetch looked indignant and
left the bridge.
Kennerin touched the clasps of his own webbing. The cables slid into
the seat and the tension
locks opened. He swung the seat around to face Sandro.
“Does that bother you?” he said, waving a hand at the screens. Sandro
glanced at them,
watching the curious complexities of that alternate universe in which
time had no meaning, in which
all events happened simultaneously and never, and through which the
tauships skipped and skimmed,
launched from the grab at their startports, caught by grabs at their
stopports and translated into
realspace again. Tau seemed to him an insubstantial, never-ending light
show, far too chaotic and
fierce to be real. He shook his head.
“Good. This trip will take about four months standard, and you’re going
to be busy every
minute. You’ll learn to be a spacer first and a Second second. You’ll
start in the engine room under
Greaves, then drive mechanics with Beryl, and finally controls with
Hetch. Greaves and Beryl are
damned good and Hetch is the best in the system. Remember that. If
you have any questions or
problems that they can’t take care of, bring them to me. I’ll answer
the questions, but I expect a
minimum of problems. Understood?”
“Fine. You start now. Beryl has first shift, so Greaves should be unsuiting.
You know how
to find the engine room?”
“Yes, sir.” Sandro rose and crossed to the round entrance of the passageway.
“Sir?” He turned, his hand on the frame. Jes sat unmoving, his expression
“Do you have anything to tell me?”
Sandro’s belly cramped. He stiffened and looked across the bridge, feeling
the hatred build
“No, sir,” he said.
“All right. Get on with it.”
Sandro got on with it. The first month in tau was exhausting. Greaves
seemed eager to push
the entirety of engine systems and controls into his head immediately,
prodding him and exploding
with impatience when Sandro lagged. Questions about the captain were
treated with contempt.
“Irrelevant,” Greaves would snap, and proceed with the lesson. Sandro
disciplined himself to learn
and discovered an increasing fascination with the practicalities of
taudrives, the beginning of a feel
for the engines and their characters which, he knew, would never be
as great as Greaves’ feel, but
which seemed to please the stocky, brown-haired spacer. One morning,
peering into the speckled
mirror above the clensor basin as he scraped depilatory from his face,
he discovered a thin red line
that would, eventually, become his first webscar, and surprised himself
by feeling an enormous
pride. He finished quickly and rushed down the passageway, grinning
and fumbling with the clasp
of his utility belt.
“Look what I’ve got,” he said when he came into the engine room. Greaves
put a test unit
down and inspected Sandro’s face, then grinned back at him.
“Another year and you won’t look like a knocker at all,” the spacer
said. His own webscars
curved over the planes of his face and disappeared into the collar
of his suit. They came from
working in the pit engines, and spacers carried them as a badge of
professional pride. Sandro touched
his cheek and felt the thin ridge of the scar under the pads of his
“The captain’s got a lot of them,” he said, and for once Greaves didn’t
glare at him.
“Captain’s a good one,” Greaves said, picking up the test unit. “You
get some, they’re too
busy sitting in the bridge playing Tri-Captain to come along here,
don’t give a damn about the
engines. You can always tell a good captain by the scarring, Sandro.
Pick the ones with lots of it, it
means they pay attention to stuff. Look at Hetch. He’s got scars on
the soles of his feet, and he’s one
of the best in the Federation.”
“The captain spends a lot of time down here?”
“As much as he needs to, maybe more. Here, pick that up and follow me.”
Sandro slung the toolkit over his shoulder and followed Greaves into
the donkey engine
housings. “What’s he like, the captain? I mean, when he’s on-planet?”
Greaves looked disgusted. “You are a goddamned long-nosed knocker. That’s
captain’s a spacer, understand? From one end to the other, and there’s
nothing to say about it. Now
get your ass over here and pay attention.”
Sandro bit his lip and hurried over. Greaves looked at him sideways,
grinned, and touched
Sandro’s scar. “Big deal,” the spacer muttered genially, and they bent
their heads over the tattletales.
Although Sandro got on well with Greaves, Beryl treated him with
a cold contempt which
first alarmed, then angered, him; even their minimal contact was abrasive.
She was the only person
Sandro had ever met who could produce a silence as quick and vicious
as her words. He began to
dread the ending of his time with Greaves.
On the fortieth day, Greaves buckled him into a drive suit and he filled
his first engine shift,
hooked between the controls of the bridge, the computer, and the huge,
thrusting engines. The drive
suits hung suspended over the silent intricacy of the engine room control
banks; Sandro discovered
that once fastened in place and secured the suits were very comfortable.
He looked at Greaves
standing on the deck below, looked across at Beryl hidden in the half
opacity of her suit, and felt a
growing excitement. Then Greaves touched a switch and the engine room
disappeared. Sandro was
overwhelmed by the vastness of the ship. He picked through the sensations,
recognizing them by
their simulator counterparts and from Greaves’ precise descriptions,
and slid into his work. The ship
responded, delicately, to his touch.
When Greaves brought him down at the end of the shift, he was disoriented
and too weary
to feel surprise at the presence of Hetch, Jes, and Beryl in the engine
room. He braced himself
against the bulkhead and listened without comprehension to the voices
“He’s fast, then.”
“Fast, and likely to be good. He’ll take more when he gets used to it.”
“First time I did engine shift they had to carry me out. You done with
“Give me one more day. I need some help on a repair.”
“Double-time it, Greaves.”
“You’ll get him, Beryl. Don’t get too hungry too fast.”
Sandro raised his head, but Beryl wasn’t looking at him. She and the
captain stared at each
other, Beryl with her chin tilted, Kennerin wearing his expression
of cool distance. Hetch, watching
them from the side, touched his hip and Sandro felt suddenly insignificant.
He shivered and let
Greaves lead him from the engine room.
“She’ll freeze you first,” Greaves said the next day. “Then she’ll needle,
then she’ll spite.
And if you can take it all without breaking, she’ll open and be a damned
good mate. But don’t break,
Sandro. Don’t lose your temper, don’t plead, don’t retaliate. Just
take it cold and leave it cold, or
she’ll run you until you shatter.”
They were down in the pit engines, amid the heat and stench of oil and
metal. Sandro wiped
his forehead and readjusted the sweatband, wondering briefly about
“Is she the reason you lost your Second on MarketPort?”
Greaves shrugged. The gesture made lights run crazily down his scarred
arms and stomach.
“It’s not the first time, and probably won’t be the last. She was a
full Second, too, and good at it, but
Beryl broke her. Took her three runs, but she broke her.”
“If she’s that much trouble, why does Kennerin ship her?”
“She’s good. She’s reliable. If you can get through the ice, she’s a
damned good mate.”
“Must be true of other spacers.” A lock of curly brown hair escaped
sweatband. He put down his tools and pushed the hair into place again.
“That can’t be the only
reason. Kennerin must have more sense than - ”
“One more thing,” Greaves said, deliberately interrupting him.
“Don’t sleep with the captain this trip. You’re new, and Beryl’s around.”
Sandro took his hands away from the patch on the cooling tube and looked
across it at
Greaves. “Am I supposed to hear more than what you said?”
“About Beryl, maybe. What the captain does is his own business.” Greaves
gave a last twist
to the patch jacket and gathered his tools. “Done, Sandro?”
“Almost.” He let pressure seep into the cooling tube. The patch held.
He stood and wiped his
hands on his pants. “Any more good advice for me?”
“Yep. Get yourself a good night’s sleep. You’re going to need it.”
AS SECOND, SANDRO HAD HIS OWN cabin but had to share the common
clensor. He made sure that Beryl was on duty and not likely to bother him,
stripped, and stepped into the sonics of the unit.
The last time she had shared a clensor with him she stuck her head
out of the unit, glanced between
his legs, and laughed as though his penis was the funniest thing in
the Federation. He felt too
ambiguous in his position as apprentice Second to challenge her, and
too new aboard to retaliate, so
had controlled both temper and pride and pretended to ignore her. But
he had no wish to repeat the
experience. He finished quickly and returned to the privacy of his
Sleep evaded him. He dressed and prowled the small galley, picked out
a tube of juice and
a meatstick, and took them with him to the bridge. As he hoped, Hetch
was alone on watch. The old
man sat before the secondary bank, playing games with the ship’s computer.
He gestured Sandro to
a seat and finished his move, watched intently, and cursed when the
computer flanked his move and
put his ship in jeopardy.
“Damned electronic smart ass,” Hetch grumbled. He put the game in stasis
while his eyes
drifted over the tattletales on the main board. Satisfied, he began
swinging his feet up on the bank,
grimaced, and put them down again. Sandro wanted to ask what led to
Hetch’s occasional winces
of pain and his increasingly pronounced limp, but felt that the questions
would be unwelcome. He
sipped his juice instead, wishing he could do something. After a time
Hetch relaxed and turned back
to the control bank.
Together the old captain and the new Second stared at the grid display
that Hetch preferred
to straight-vision mode. The sight of tauspace, Hetch claimed, gave
him a headache.
“Greaves finished with you today, right?” Hetch said after a long pause.
“You’re pretty fast,
Marquez. That’s a good sign.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“And you’re headed to Beryl tomorrow. Nervous?”
The old man nodded and said “Beryl” again. “One of the joys of being
a useless old
spacejock is I don’t have to put up with her. But you do, at least
for now. Greaves fill you in?”
“Yes. It didn’t make me any happier.”
“Not your business to be happy, Marquez. It’s your business to learn.
Do that, don’t get
scraped, and you’ll be out of it by the end of the trip.” Hetch grinned
and faked a shudder. “Holy
Mother, to have to go through training again. . . . How old are you,
“You look younger. I trained Jes when he was a year younger than you
are. It was easy for
him - he wanted to be a spacer so bad that he could taste it. Even
stowed away with me once when
he was just, what, eleven? That’s right. I’ll tell you the story someday,
it’s a good one.” Sandro tried
to envision Kennerin as a child and failed. Hetch leaned forward, took
Sandro’s juicetube and
squirted juice into his mouth. “Took him on six years later,” Hetch
continued. “And he only had to
put up with Tham, Merkit, and Bakar. Wonder he got trained at all.
You, though . . .” Hetch looked
at him speculatively and handed back the tube. “You’re a spacer because
you had to be, right?”
Sandro nodded and stared at his hands. “I had enough for a one-way flight
and the farthest
it took me was MarketPort. And from MarketPort, there’s only one way
“You could have done it different. Could have taken a dirt job.”
Sandro looked at him. Hetch smiled.
“It’s all right, Sandro. You chose the best, but you chose because you
had to, not because you
wanted it. It makes a difference. You’ll be a good Second, maybe even
a damned good Second, but
you’ll never be a great one. That bother you?”
“Yeah.” Sandro put his feet on the ledge below the control bank and
slumped back in the
webbing. “Yeah. If it’s pride to do your best, then it’s pride to want
to be the best, too, isn’t it?”
Hetch nodded. “And is it pride to feel mad because you’ll never be
“That too. You won’t get over it, but you’ll get used to it.”
Sandro licked the taste of the meatstick from his fingers and thought
about that, then thought
about Beryl. He frowned, trying to phrase a question.
“Um?” Hetch was staring at the screen again, his eyes half closed.
“Yesterday, after my first engine shift, when everyone came to the control
“I thought Beryl and Greaves were arguing over me. But when I looked,
Beryl wasn’t looking
at me at all, or at Greaves. She and the captain - do you remember?”
Hetch nodded, looking at
Sandro. Sandro licked his lips. “Today, Greaves, he said that I shouldn’t
- he said not to sleep with
the captain, because Beryl’s around. He said that she lost him his
first Second, the one before me.
And when she looks at me, I feel like she’s not looking at me at all,
she’s looking through me, or
she’s looking at what she can do to me, how she can use me.” He took
a deep breath and looked at
Hetch. “I don’t know why.”
“Damn,” Hetch said. He put his hand over his eyes for a moment. “Sandro,
forget about it.
It’s not your fight.”
“But, that day in the engine room . . . I don’t want to be a . . . a
pawn in Beryl’s fight.”
“It’s not Beryl’s fight, either. It’s Jes’. And as such, it’s not your
business,” the old man said
kindly. “Forget about it, Sandro. Do your job, get your training over.
We’ve all got secrets, and
you’ve no right to ask into this one.”
“But if I get stuck in the middle - ”
“Sandro,” Hetch said and Sandro bit his lip. The old man looked at him
with speculation and,
for some reason, a hint of pity. “Marquez,” he said, as though to himself.
“Enough for a one-way
ticket to MarketPort. I’d like to hear about that, someday.”
Sandro’s belly went tight again. Secrets. He remembered Jes saying,
“Do you have anything
to tell me?”
Jamás, Sandro thought. Instead he said, “How long am I
“Until you learn what you need to know,” Hetch said, accepting the change
of subject. “She’ll
tell you when she’s done with you.”
Hetch grinned at Sandro’s sarcasm. “Get some sleep, Second. It’s almost
Sandro nodded and walked to the doorway, expecting the old man to call
him back. But
Hetch leaned forward and resurrected his game, and Sandro moved into
It had been dangerously easy, these past four weeks, to forget who he
was and who his
captain was, to forget the reason that he, youngest son of Iberia Sector’s
most powerful family, had
fled his homeworld with only enough fremarks for a ticket to a dingy,
prefabricated trading station
orbiting a barren star. I own it. Do you have anything to tell me?
Logic argued that Kennerin was
innocent of any part in Sandro’s past; emotion kept the secret buried
within him, and kept the
suspicion alive. Besides, he thought, anything he could tell his captain
would sound like the stilted
ravings of an old Iberian tale: injured knight, banished heir, son
of a dead father, disinherited
princeling out to seek revenge on a power so big he could barely comprehend
it. Safe in the belly of
a rival’s ship, it seemed that all his giants had turned into windmills.
He twisted in his hammock
while images of Kennerin’s face tumbled through his mind, each one
different and all of them masks,
and if he could only find the true face the answers would spill out
in neat, rows, ready to solve his
problems for him. Kennerin grinned and shook his head. Confused and
dizzy, Sandro pulled the
webbing of the hammock around him. The next morning he rose, dressed,
muttered his family name
like a talisman, and found Beryl.
She spent the first week ignoring him, addressing her remarks to the
bulkhead over his
shoulder and refusing to answer his questions. But she was quick and
thorough and knowledgable,
and Sandro absorbed her lessons hungrily, sometimes so caught up in
the intricacy of Cohen-
Albrecht Effect Drive mechanics that he forgot her coldness, his unhappiness,
the captain’s mystery.
Purely out of self-defense he became almost supernaturally attuned
to her, ready for the times when
she turned on him and fired questions as though they were weapons.
When he answered correctly
she turned her back on him with no word of acknowledgment or praise
and he learned not to permit
himself the time to feel triumphant. When he made a mistake, the chill
of her manner became an icy
edge of contempt. He made increasingly few mistakes. He respected her
knowledge and abilities but
refused to let it show, and she never treated him as anything other
than a tool, a pawn. She’s learning
where my buttons are, he thought during that first week, and took pains
to hide his emotions from
her. She would not use him as she used a tool-drone, or a wrench.
The second week her tactics changed. Now she needled the information
accompanying each lecture with vitriolic comments about his performance,
his abilities, his
intelligence, his stature. Finding the buttons. He held grimly to his
temper, using the knowledge that
she herself taught him to play back her own contempt. Off shift he
fled to Rabbit’s small gymnasium
and worked his anger out, free-fall, on the bars and rungs until he
verged on exhaustion and had
energy enough only to scrub the day from his skin and collapse into
his hammock. His worksuit and
shorts tightened as his muscles grew.
One day he drifted, panting, from a high rung and looked over his shoulder
to see her
standing at the gym’s lock, her green eyes glittering. A skinsuit barely
covered her slim, muscular
body. Caught in free-fall, her auburn hair drifted in heavy waves around
her face, and her expression
was, for once, relaxed.
“Pity you can’t exercise your brains as well as your muscles,” she said.
She launched herself
from the lock and caught a bar, curving her body around it. Sandro
looked away from her, pushed
himself from the rung, and slid to the lock.
“I’ll leave the gym to you,” he said politely. “Is it easy to
take the parallel bars with your
She laughed, surprised. Sandro strolled down the corridor until he turned
a bend, then ran to
his cabin and shut the door, shaking. He thought of her laughter and
her face and shook again,
frightened. It’s another button, he thought, remembering the planes
of her face, the curves of her
sleek body. He felt sick.
Jes Kennerin appeared in the control room two days later. Sandro didn’t
notice until he
turned and saw the captain leaning in the shadow of a far bulkhead.
Disconcerted, Sandro made a
mistake. Beryl turned on him and saw Kennerin; she pitched her voice
to carry and flooded the
control room with venom, looking always over Sandro’s shoulder at the
captain. Sandro honed his
anger in the sharpness of his response, and when she abruptly turned
her back to him he knew that
Kennerin was gone. She always wore skinsuits now, and he thought he
saw her shoulders shake
under the thin fabric. His breath caught. He wanted to touch her, wanted
to still the shaking and run
his fingers along the curve of her jaw. And knew that the moment he
did, he was lost.
In the gym afterwards he moved and twisted with mindless intensity,
hiding from the sound
of her remembered voice, the planes of her remembered face, the terrible
and fatal quivering of her
body. Sweat coated his fair skin, darkened his brown hair and left
it plastered in tight curls to his
forehead and neck. I need sex, he thought, and knew it for a lie. He
spun among the bars and rungs,
driven by green eyes, until his muscles locked and he fell through
the flexible, brightly colored bars.
He tumbled slowly, unresisting, until he felt the thick padding of
the gym’s side. His fingers locked
around a rung and he drifted, eyes closed, lost in the thudding of
his heart. She’d found the button,
and his deepest terror was that she knew it.
Eventually he forced himself to follow the padded rungs to the lock
and he fell through it.
When he’d adjusted to the push of the ship’s acceleration-gravity he
staggered toward the clensor,
unseaming his shorts as he went. He stood in the unit, his hands braced
against its walls, while the
sonics peeled dirt, sweat, and dead skin from him.
Somebody shouted down the corridor and Beryl’s voice, near the door
of the clensor, said
sullenly, “What do you want?” Sandro gasped; he’d left the door open.
His hand drifted down to
cover his genitals. He jerked it away and stood quiet.
Hetch’s voice, still indistinct, said something.
“I want to get clean,” Beryl replied. “Talk about it later. Besides,
I don’t want to talk about
it with you.”
“You’ll have to.” Hetch’s voice was clear now. Sandro peered around
the edge of the unit
but could see only Hetch’s body, facing away from him. He leaned back
against the unit’s wall and
clenched his hands. His discarded shorts lay in full view from the
corridor; he tried not to think about
“. . . bunch of dreck,” Hetch was saying. “And damned close to insubordination.”
“The hell it is,” Beryl said. “I don’t have to do -”
“You haven’t a choice. You’ve a job to do and you’ll do it. There’s
nothing more to discuss.”
“I have a vote,” Beryl said.
“Won’t do you a damned bit of good. It’s not something you can fluff,
damn it. You’ll finish
what you started, and you’ll finish it right. Without any more damned
complaints, and without
ripping things apart.”
Beryl cursed. “Why won’t he talk to me?” she demanded.
“Busy. Leave him alone, Beryl. He keeps you on board, what more do you
want from him?”
“You don’t have to ask that,” she said, her voice bitter. “Hetch, where’s
“You’re assuming there was something to begin with, and you’re wrong,”
the old man said,
but his voice had gentled. “What name do you want to carry? You can’t
have them both.”
“Just do your job. You’re going to hate anyone in Sandro’s position.
You know it, Jes knows
it, I know it. Just do your job.”
“I am -”
“You’re not. Sure, you’re teaching him, but you’re also fucking him
over. He’s a kid, Beryl.
Lay off him,” Hetch’s voice paused. “He took you out of a pit crew,
and he can put you back there.”
“He could take you home.”
“No, he wouldn’t,” Beryl said, but her voice shook.
“Beryl, I could take you home. Or bring Spider up to Rabbit.
What name do you want?”
Beryl made a wordless sound, somewhere between anger and anguish, and
Sandro buried his
face in his hands. Footsteps ran down the passageway. Sandro opened
his eyes and reached for the
unit’s controls. As he closed down the sonics, the door of the unit
swung open. Hetch looked at him,
then held out Sandro’s discarded shorts. The old man’s expression was
“Get out of here,” Hetch said. He caught Sandro’s glance and held it.
“What did you hear?”
Sandro raised his chin, but words stuck in his throat. He looked down.
“Nothing,” he muttered, and took his shorts.
THE TAUSHIP HAD A CREWROOM, BUT IT WAS rarely used. Instead the
gathered in the large bridge when off-shift, talking, working on small
projects, playing games with
the computer. Two evenings later, when Sandro entered the bridge after
his daily workout, he found
everyone save Greaves seated near the secondary bank. They looked at
him as he entered and he
knew they’d been discussing him. He wanted to leave but Hetch beckoned
him over. Sandro took
a seat as far from Beryl as he could: it did no good. Beryl, smiling,
went through her usual cutting
insults, sprinkled now with taunting obscenities. She’d found the button,
Sandro realized through
his growing rage, and was using it now, in what on the Rabbit
passed for public. Sandro felt the eyes
of the two captains on him and held his anger in check, hiding his
hands against the urge to hit, or
touch, those quick, sarcastic lips. Beryl smiled at him, sure of her
power and his pain. He stood and
left the bridge, refusing to let his body shake until he was safely
behind the locked doors of his cabin.
Furious and shamed, he hated not only Beryl but the two captains who,
it seemed, had watched with
an almost clinical detachment, as though Sandro were nothing more than
a laboratory animal to be
prodded and tested and written up as a series of statistics in the
journals of their minds. Footsteps
moved down the corridor, someone rattled about in the galley nearby.
Sandro gathered all his self-
control and sought out Greaves, standing silent before him, unable
to speak for fear of breaking.
With wordless sympathy, Greaves took him to the noisiest section of
the engine hold and Sandro
turned his back to the spacer and screamed until his lungs ached and
the knot in his chest loosened.
Then Greaves took him first to the clensor, then to Sandro’s cabin.
Sandro put his hands over his
face and began crying. Greaves climbed into the hammock and held him
tightly until the sobs
lessened, and Sandro could accept the simple comfort of Greaves’ warm
body. Eventually he slept,
lulled by the rise and fall of Greaves’ chest under his cheek, the
sound of Greaves’ heart. When he
woke, Greaves was gone.
He woke knowing what he would do. Dress, gather his courage, find Kennerin,
to be let off at the nearest stop, be it planet, port, or grabstation
Sal. Numb with the force of his
decision, he pulled on a clean suit, scrubbed his face with the heels
of his hands, and left his cabin,
holding his Certificate in his hand. Hetch stood in the corridor outside
the galley and Beryl, tea in
hand, stood in the doorway. She saw Sandro, grinned, and said, “Well,
knocker, how did you like
your little shipboard romance?”
Sandro put his Certificate on the deck by her feet, turned, and hit
her as hard as he could. He
felt a brief satisfaction at her expression as she fell - she had not
expected that of him. Then he threw
himself after her. Beryl bounced up from the deck, twisted, and kicked.
He evaded the blow
clumsily, catching the impact on hip rather than groin. He grabbed
her foot and brought her down
with him, pinning her to the deck. She went for his throat.
Fat, bald Hetch was stronger than he looked. He hauled Sandro off Beryl
and Jes ran in as
she leaped up, her fist cocked.
“Damn it, Taine,” he shouted. She cried out and twisted to swing at
him, but he sidestepped
and caught her about the waist, pinning her to the bulkhead while Sandro
spit and cursed in the
language of his home, and tried to break free of Hetch. Hetch’s breath
caught suddenly and Sandro,
remembering the old man’s pain, stopped fighting. Then Greaves appeared
at the doorway, and Jes
glared at him.
“Who in hell is running this boat? You get your ass down to engines
and keep it there!” The
captain’s dark face was purple with rage. Greaves backed hastily from
the small room. Sandro’s
breath hurt his throat. He remembered Beryl’s expression, inches from
his face, and shuddered. She
stood motionless now, her eyes closed, body pressed against the length
of Jes’ body. Kennerin cursed
and pushed her away.
“Hetch, get to the bridge,” Kennerin said. “And put this one in detention.”
He pushed Beryl
toward Hetch. She glared at him, shook auburn hair from her face, and
followed Hetch from the
Sandro looked defiantly at Kennerin’s eyes. No mystery here now: the
captain looked furious.
Then the expression shifted; the fury remained, but Sandro was baffled
by the difference. He
breathed and stiffened his shoulders. I don’t care, he thought. Some
shit I will not eat, not for you,
not for your job, not for your ship. He stared at his captain.
“Come with me,” Kennerin said, his voice expressionless, and walked
out of the galley.
Sandro hesitated, then followed, stooping to pick up his Certificate
and put it in his pocket. Jes led
Sandro through the captain’s quarters and palmed a lock along the hull
of the ship. He stepped
through and Sandro, bewildered, followed.
It seemed as though they had walked out of the ship into the astonishing
tauspace. The room was a bubble tacked to Rabbit’s outer hull,
connected only at the scant three
meters around the hatch. The captain balanced on the curved permaglass
and Sandro clung to the
hatch frame, blinded by the colors and the light. Kennerin hauled him
into the bubble and the hatch
It was like stepping into nothingness. Sandro lost his balance and sat
hard on the permaglass,
his fingers spread. He looked infinitely down between his legs and
closed his eyes. Kennerin stepped
over him; he felt the movement of the captain’s feet on the loose cloth
of his suit legs. He tilted his
head, eyes still closed, and waited for the captain to speak. The silence
“Captain,” Sandro said finally. It came out as a whisper. He licked
his lips and opened his
eyes. The captain leaned against the bubble’s far wall, head turned
away, and he stared unblinking
“Captain,” he said again. “I want to know why she made me do that.”
Jes didn’t move. “I
have a right,” Sandro said, and waited until he felt sure his voice
wouldn’t shake again. “She’s been
pushing for that since - She’s a better fighter than I am, she knows
that, you know that - I have a right
to know why.”
Kennerin closed his eyes. “No,” he said.
“Greaves said she’s jealous,” Sandro continued recklessly. “He said
not to sleep with you
because she’s around. And she wasn’t even fighting with me, captain,
I was just a - a something, a
tool, something instead of - and she swung at you, captain! I thought
I was supposed to be the - but
she tried to hit you, captain!”
“She had a right to,” Kennerin said.
Sandro gaped at him. “That’s insurrection,” he whispered. “That’s mutiny.”
The captain’s shoulders moved.
Sandro let his breath out explosively. “All right! It’s your ship, your
crew, your business -
but I still think I deserve an explanation. For what she’s done to
me, captain. For that.”
“Fair enough,” Kennerin said. He sat and laid his hands in his lap and
looked from them to
Sandro, face calm. “You deserve an explanation, but I can’t give you
“She wanted to kill me!”
Kennerin shook his head. Sandro stared at him, unbelieving and angry,
and opened his
mouth, but the captain reached forward and snapped Sandro’s mouth closed.
“Shut up,” Kennerin whispered. Sandro pulled back from the fury in the
captain’s voice and
blue eyes. “Beryl will leave you alone. And you’ll leave her
alone, or I’ll have you blackballed for
insubordination, and you’ll never see the inside of a ship again. Understand?”
“But she -”
“Do you understand!”
“Yes, sir,” Sandro said, frightened.
Kennerin put his forehead against the transparent wall of the bubble
and stared into tau.
Sandro tried not to breathe. Finally the captain gestured wearily,
without turning, and the simple
movement brought Sandro’s heart to his throat.
“I can’t - I won’t pass on secrets. Not Beryl’s, not anyone’s. You’ll
have to accept that.”
Sandro didn’t reply. “I’m making a place for you,” the captain continued.
“I don’t have to, Marquez.
And that’s as much as you’re going to get. I won’t break a confidence,
not for you, not for anyone.”
“Sir. Not even if she tries to kill me?”
Sandro licked his lips. “How do you know?”
The captain was silent. Sandro looked at his weary face, at his tense
shoulders, and suddenly
knew both the answer and part of the reason for Beryl’s deliberate,
escalating hostility. The captain
would buy her cooperation, her sanity, with his body. Sandro remembered
the curve of Beryl pressed
between the bulkhead and the captain’s belly and thighs, and felt dizzy.
Kennerin, watching Sandro’s
face, nodded once.
“And now you know something of mine,” he said.
It seemed to Sandro as though the universe shifted; Beryl now as insignificant
himself had felt. The nub, the center, rested in the man who leaned
against the curved permaglass
across from him, the man with the exhausted eyes. Sandro had been given
part of the secret, yes, but
it only deepened the mystery, only added to the question. He gestured
“I didn’t know that - I - “ he began. Kennerin touched his cheek with
lean, gentle fingers,
pushing his head around to face the bubble’s side.
“Look,” the captain commanded. Obediently, defenselessly, Sandro looked.
Events without time, materiality without structure; the alternate universe
of tauspace was not
even chaotic, for chaos carries, implicit within it, order. If order
existed in tau, it existed on a
frequency that could not be grasped, that could not be comprehended,
and the smeared and shattered
brilliance of tauspace evaded thought.
“We’re like newborns,” Jes whispered. “We don’t even know how to look
at it, we don’t
know how or what or when it means.”
Beyond the thin, transparent shield provided by the Cohen-Albrecht Effect
beyond their half-understood power, there moved such an incomprehensibility
of energy, of force,
of intensity, that Rabbit and all aboard seemed inconceivably
petty. Sandro slid into tau, losing touch
with his body, with any sense other than that of his eyes, lost in
a world he didn’t, and didn’t want
The touch of his captain’s hand on his thigh brought him back, a persistent
looked at Kennerin’s face as Jes leaned away from him again and looked
back from an unimaginable
distance that, suddenly, Sandro began to comprehend. Sandro exhaled
and relaxed against the
permaglass, brought back from tau by the knowledge that he had not
voyaged alone. Words formed
idly in his mind: she shall have his body, but I shall have his peace.
He examined the words and let
them slide away. The captain’s face turned, and Sandro, imitating him,
looked again at tau.
Patterns on patterns, order in chaos, colors and their absence, light
and dark. Tau took on a
new dimension, a seductive, constantly changing promise of smallness,
of irrelevance. Tau did not
care. And in that indifference lay freedom and the possibility of peace.
Sandro felt a detached and
grateful awe at the surcease of pain that tau granted, and understood
that, as his own needs made this
understanding possible, so must the captain’s pain have made this peace
necessary. Amid the
captain’s thousand faces, the one of hunger stood explained. Sandro
accepted the gift and,
unprotesting, prepared a gift in return.
“I was born on Marquez Landing,” Sandro said, and his voice seemed another
face of tau.
“My greatgrandfather had the planet terraformed, years ago. Long time
back. He thought it would
make a good pleasure planet. Lots of water, islands, trees. It was
a pretty place. Nobody came. Off
in a backwash, off the main routes, an awkward journey, and no one
made it. It seemed a lot of effort
for nothing at all. But he was stubborn, my great-grandfather. He hired
the Enchanter labs and they
developed a plant. A bush. Zimania rubiflora. You know about it. Your
family stole it from mine.
It was something entirely new. We processed the sap and crystallized
it to make a superconductive
wire, and that was new, too. Enchanter set up the processing plant
in a neighboring system, and sold
it to a private company. Which was fine, because we were busy expanding
the plantations. We
covered every island on Marquez Landing, and people came to live there,
to work on the plantations,
to build the city. They did well, my grandfather, my father. So well
that it was no tragedy when your
family stole some of our seeds and started growing Zimania, and processing
it, and selling it. There
was plenty of market to go around. It seemed.”
“We didn’t steal the seeds,” the captain said, his voice as expressionless
as Sandro’s. “They
were given to us. It doesn’t matter by whom.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Sandro agreed. “My father inherited Marquez Landing
plantations. We lived a good life, my parents, my sisters, my brother.
A company came and offered
to buy us out. We wouldn’t sell. My father wouldn’t sell. They bought
the shipping line and raised
the rates. We couldn’t ship our sap, and profits fell. People started
to leave. We imported most of
our goods, and most of our land grew Zimania and not food. For the
profits. We couldn’t import
food anymore. Then the company bought the processing plant, and refused
our sap. Everything
died.” Sandro paused, and when he continued his voice held only traces
of emotion. “People died.
My father refused to sell. My mother died. My father - broke. He sold
Marquez Landing, and went
into the fields behind the town, into the oldest fields. He shot himself.
My sisters went to North
Wing, to friends. My brother . . .”
Sandro paused. Jes said nothing. Sandro splayed his fingers across the
watched tau move between them.
“My brother sold himself to the company and stayed on to manage Marquez
Landing. I stayed
too - there seemed nowhere else to go. Then the transition agent came,
and he was all the company
all at once. The one who killed my parents. The one who stole my world.
He was arrogant, and cold,
and I hated him.”
Sandro stopped again, considering evasions. Jes stared unblinking into
“I left Marquez Landing. I swore I wouldn’t go back until I’d broken
Parallax, until I’d seen
it die the way my mother did. And went to MarketPort. And came here.”
Finally Jes turned to look at Sandro, and said, “Parallax.”
Sandro returned his gaze. Jes swung about and irised the hatch again,
and Sandro followed
him into Jes’ quarters. His mind seemed disconnected. The hatch snicked
shut and he looked at the
captain. Jes’ face was cool and, for once, peaceful.
“There can be no fighting on my ship, no matter what the provocation.”
“I’m going to put you in detention and I’m going to let Beryl out. Because
I need her more
than I need you, and because you swung first. You won’t be in for long.
I’m changing course.” Jes
“Parallax tried to take over Aerie, my home, years ago. They didn’t
succeed that time. I want
my family to hear your story.” Jes paused. “Will you come home with
“Do I have a choice?”
Sandro tilted his head to look up at his captain. “I’ll come home with
you. I don’t have a
home of my own anymore.”
Jes turned and led the way to the detention cell.