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.Taken off guard, Kisho floundered, then latched on.“Aff.It will take vast time without working HPGs to contact your far-flung troops.”“Yet I can begin immediately.”The words fell with conviction into the fire, as though a benediction to their meeting.And yet something still seemed off.The words rang true, yet some shading marred their perfection.“You will be in The Republic for some time?” Kev continued.Kisho stiffened, then relaxed at the obviousness of the statement.He can see as well as any what is going on here.And likely divined where we are going next.“Aff.”Kev abruptly stood, shattering the meeting as cleanly as a booted foot through a stained-glass window.“Then I shall be about it.” He inclined his head and swept away without another word.Kisho sucked in hot, humid air, taken aback by the sudden departure.Eyes going unfocused, he ran through the meeting once more, and the few spoken words, and the implied meanings coating everything.Despite talk of revealed truths, we keep so much veiled, quiaff, Galaxy Commander? Aff.He slowly stood, clenching and unclenching muscles, forcing a full-body stretch.Of a sudden, what bothered him dropped into focus as his eyes happened to catch on the data cube on the other side of the flames, the surface bubbling, the structure slowly collapsing under searing heat.You will be off to tell your people.But what will you tell them?21Kaona IslandWandessa Chain, AthenryPrefecture II, The Republic of the Sphere23 October 3136Captain Josef Yoland caressed the Marx XX laser rifle’s worn butt as though tracing the contours of a Capellan courtesan.He jawed for another moment on the wad of juicy bacco, then spit quietly to the side while lips stretched crookedly.Not that I’ve ever had that particular pleasure, he groused.Only ten-stone women for me.But he let his imagination run in quick, exciting circles anyway, before letting go with a soft sigh.Snuggling further down into the newly turned loam, next to a particularly large tree of some type (his mother would drop a few stones into the poor box at the meetinghouse before he’d recognize one tree from the next), he pressed leathery skin firmly against the rubbed-smooth high-impact plastic and sighted in through the scope.Like a god looking at mortals, the distant encampment leapt forward, the gnatlike figures scrambling around vehicles just over a kilometer away.A ’Mech, a dozen or so quick-fab buildings, and a DropShip zoomed into sharply defined focus.He beaded in on one person after another.You’re dead.You’re dead.You’re dead.Finger itched to make it so.The image of a haggard woman, trying to retain her beauty behind a putrid mask of smeared makeup and a miasma of cloying perfume, ghosted across each, crosshairs dead center between angry lines and loathing eyes.His finger cricked until pressure verged on tripping the electric connection, then eased again as he remembered the plan.Eyes refocused momentarily to the small timer taped to the side of the rifle, digital read-out counting down.He tongued the bacco directly, tears smarting at the acidic flavor, juices ballooning to almost overflow, then he spit and slid on the crooked smile once more.Not gonna beat me this time, you old hag.Taunt me all you want, but I’ll cap you when I’m good and ready and not before.I sure as hell ain’t gonna spoil such a splendid trap.He sighted once more on numerous individuals—an obvious tech here, warrior there, and grunts for the dirty work all around—waiting for the arrogant one to show.How many times I got to tell someone? Never get into a routine.I learned that when I was nine, ’cause a routine gets you beaten.Gets you killed.And here you are, so high and mighty warrior and you fall into a trap I would’ve avoided before I grew hair on my nuts [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]