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.A glow formed around Braze, coming from a hand lamp.She set off in the direction opposite from where I stood.I waited a moment and then followed, silent and hidden.Braze took a route with no obvious path, making her way between columns and walls riddled with holes.She was a large woman, most of that muscle.Probably she thought she was walking quietly, but to my augmented ears, she sounded like a herd of ruzik, the giant animals ridden by the Abaj Tacalique.Whatever race had stranded my ancestors on Raylicon had also bioengineered the ruzik using the DNA of several Earth species, including an animal called T-rex that died off eons ago.Apparently enough of its DNA survived to make new animals.So I prowled after Braze the T-rex.I expected her either to go home, which meant I had wasted my time, or to meet her contacts in the Maze.She did neither.Instead she kept descending, deeper than smugglers usually ventured.They needed access to the surface to move their products, and we were below the canals now, in tunnels cool enough that my vision showed only the dimmest red.The aqueducts were warmer because they were closer to the surface; the cold here usually kept me from coming this deep.Another light appeared ahead.I stepped behind a tall outcropping and watched Braze approach the light, her body a bulky silhouette against its glow.She stopped and spoke, her voice barely audible.Max, crank up my hearing, I thought.Done.“Twenty-five crates,” Braze was saying.“And they better all be Andorian.I’ll know if it’s cheaper shit.”“Andorian ale?” a woman demanded.Her voice sounded like rusty hinges creaking on an antique door.“That wasn’t in our bargain.”I knew that voice.But from where? It tugged my memory.I couldn’t risk creeping any closer to see better.If either of she or Braze carried biomech in their bodies, they might hear.“If you want the guns,” Braze said, “then get me the ale.”“Fuck this,” the other woman said.“Fine,” Braze told her.“I’m gone.” She turned and headed in my direction.I stayed hidden.“Wait,” the other woman said.Braze paused, then slowly turned.“What?”“Fifteen crates.”“I don’t have time for this crap.” Braze told her.“Fifteen is better than none.”“Twenty-three.”“Twenty.”“Done,” Braze said.“Plus a hundred thousand for the carbines.”So Braze was selling weapons.It didn’t take a genius to figure out who wanted them.Yah, I recognized that rusty voice.Hammer Vakaar was hulking there in the shadows.She’d beaten the blazes out of me when we were kids, and in revenge, Dig had pummeled her into a pulp.Only she could best Hammer.The rancor between them had multiplied over the years, until gods only knew how much they hated each other now.If Hammer was buying carbines, that meant both cartels were armed with the best ISC had to offer, or the worst depending on your view.The war had just ramped up into disaster.Braze and Vakaar talked a few more moments, working out where they would make their deliveries.I knew the place; it was near the Maze.Vakaar obviously intended to make a preemptive strike against the Kajadas, who had no idea their targets had turned the tables.Braze wrested a guarantee from Hammer that no fighting would begin until she left the undercity.After that all bets were off.Damn! That left me less than one hour to get out the warning.I couldn’t turn off my jammer to comm anyone, not yet.The moment I lost my shroud, Hammer’s spy tech would pick me up, and then I was dead.As Braze and her contact parted ways, I caught a better glimpse of the other woman.Yah, that was Hammer, with her thick, short neck and large head.I froze, not even breathing.When they were both gone, I took off.* * *The aqueducts passed in a blur as I ran.Other runners went with me, some visible, some not, but none could keep up with my enhanced speed.They were doing relays, sprinting hard for as long as they could, then passing the job to someone fresh.I headed for the cavern where I had trained the dust knights earlier today.It was empty when I arrived.I slung off my pack, tore it open, and switched off the jammer.The moment I dropped my shroud, I became visible to everyone, including Chief Takkar.It was a risk, but I had no choice, and I was close enough to the surface now to set up a direct link.Takkar was my contact, but I had no time to deal with her.I thumbed my gauntlet comm and paged Lavinda Majda.No answer.Max, I thought.Do I have the right link for Colonel Majda?It is one she used with you, he answered.I don’t know if—A familiar voice crackled from my comm.“Majda here.”“Colonel, this is Major Bhaajan.” As I spoke, two dust knights dropped from the ceiling to the floor.I continued talking.“An illegal transfer of ISC guns is taking place right now in the aqueducts.When it finishes, Vakaar is going to attack Kajada.Both cartels are armed with tanglers and laser carbines [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]