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.But most certainly they don’t want you on a ship headed into the Well—when R2 knows about it.They might come after us.But they damn sure won’t let you take the ride.”It was going somewhere that didn’t sound good.Same song, his mother had used to say—different verse.He asked, in Sunderland’s momentary silence, “So what are they going to do?”“Our rescue? That ship that’s coming after us? —They’ll pull us out.Save our collective hides.But you aren’t going back to R2.They want you: the Fleet wants you.That was the sticking point the last ten hours.We tried.We’ve stalled, but they’re moving now.We’ve no other options but them.God knows we can’t run.And if we don’t turn you over, they’ll board—I have that very clear impression.In which case anything we do is a gesture, we’ve risked the ship, and various people can get hurt.”He had trouble getting his breath.He couldn’t feel his own fingers.“Am I under arrest?”“They tell me no.The fact is, you’ve been drafted.”The bottom dropped out of his stomach.“Shit!” he said before he thought who he said it to—and told himself he was a fool, they were pulling him out of the Well, they were rescuing a hundred plus people, he had damn-all reason to object to the service——to getting thrown into the belly of a warship and getting blown to hell that way.“May not be altogether bad.They tell me they’re interested in you for reasons that have nothing to do with the EC.They want you in pilot training.”“They want me where I won’t talk.They think that’ll get me aboard.I’ll be lucky if they don’t arrange a training accident.A lot of people get killed that way.”“You’re a suspicious young man, Mr.Dekker.”“Well, God, I’ve learned to be.”“And I’m one more smiling bastard.Yes.I am.—And I’m sorry.I don’t like the role I’ve been cast in.I hate like hell what they’re doing.But we don’t have any choice.I risked my crew and my ship getting you away in the first place, because you were that important, I hung on in negotiations as long as I could, and, bluntly put, we’ve gotten as much as we can get, we can’t help you, and it’s time to make a final deal.In some measure I suspect certain offices would rather see all of us dead than you in court: in some negotiations the compromises get too half and half, and sanity can go out the chute.People can get shot trying to protect you.Two ships can go to hell.Literally.You understand what I’m saying?”He did understand.He thought about the kid who’d helped Meg with the vodka bottles.The fool who’d habitually lost his temper over things he couldn’t even remember the importance of, this side of things.Damned fool, he thought.Damned, dumb fool.I can’t even get mad now.The mess is too complicated, too wide, it just rolls on and over people.Like Bird.Like Meg.Sunderland said, more gently, “If they’re not on the level, I think you can put them that way, you understand? What they tell me, your reflexes are in the top two percentile— you don’t train that.That’s hardwired.They tell me… the speeds these FTLs operate at… even with computers doing the hands-on ops, the human reaction time has to be there.Mentally and physically.Whole new game, Mr.Dekker.And I’ll tell you another reason they don’t want to antagonize us.The Fleet’s looking at the Shepherd pilots, the Shepherd techs—as a very valuable resource.I’m not eager for it.I’ll do what I’m doing the rest of my life, and it’s what I want to do.But the young ones, a good many of the young ones— may do something different before they’re done.”He was in flow-through.Sunderland spoke and he believed it because he wanted to believe it.Sunderland stopped speaking, the spell broke, and he told himself Sunderland was a fool or a liar: there were a lot of reasons for the military to want Sunderland to believe that—a very clear reason for Sunderland to want him to believe it.He said, in the remote chance this man was naive: “I’ll be wherever it is before you.I hope it’s all right.” Hear me, man.Watch me.Watch what happens.It’ll be important to you—”I don’t trust anyone’s assurances.Maybe Meg’s.But you have to know her angles.Meg knew a whole lot more than she told Bird.And Sal knew more than she ever told any of us.And Ben’s figured that [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]