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things in the past.
He nodded.  I ve avoided them because there s no way to break the system. Not
from the outside, anyway. I sup- pose we might be able to tunnel beneath it.
 How deep into the ground would the sound penetrate?
 That s a problem, he replied.  Depends entirely on the power being fed to
the projectors and the frequencies being generated. Maybe only a meter, or
maybe a dozen. We could tunnel inside the camp and strike it without knowing
we d done so until we came up into a circle of guns. Even if we made it, we d
have another problem, be- cause the beams probably cover the entire camp. We d
al- most have to come up inside one of the buildings.
 It doesn t matter, she murmured,  because we don t have any tunneling
equipment handy. I m going to hazard a guess that if they have the surface
monitored so intently, the sky in the immediate vicinity will be even more
carefully covered.
 I d bet on that, too. Flinx gestured toward the tower.  Of course, we could
just run the skimmer in on them. There aren t that many buildings. Maybe we
could find Mother Mastiff and get her out before they could react.
Lauren continued to study the complex.  There s nothing more expensive than a
temporary facility fixed up to look permanent. I d guess this setup supports
between thirty and a hundred people.
They re not going to make this kind of effort to detect intruders without
being damn ready to repel them as well. Remember, there are only two of us.
 Three, Flinx corrected her. A pleased hiss sounded from the vicinity of his
shoulder.
 Surprise is worth a lot, Lauren went on.  Maybe ten, but no more that. We
won t do your mother any good as corpses. Keep in mind that no one else knows
we re here. If we go down, so do her chances.
 I know the odds aren t good, he said irritably,  but we ve got to do
something.
 And do something we will. You remember that partially deforested section we
flew over earlier today?
Flinx thought a moment, then nodded.
 That was a trail line.
 Trail line for what?
 For equalization, she told him.  For evening out the odds. For a better
weapon than this. She patted the sling of the dart rifle.  Better even than
that snake riding your shoulder. I don t
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file:///F|/rah/Alan%20Dean%20Foster/Foster,%20Alan%20Dean%20-%20Flinx%201%20-%
20For%20Love%20of%20Mother-Not.txt share your confidence in it.
 You haven t seen Pip in action, he reminded her.  What kind of weapon are
you talking about?
She stood and brushed bark and dirt from her coveralls.  You ll see, she
assured him, . but we have to be damn careful. She gazed toward the camp
below.  I wish I could think of a better way, but I can t. They re sure to
have guards posted in addition to monitoring the detection system you
described. We don t even know which building your mother is in. If we re going
to risk everything on one blind charge, it ought to be one hell of a charge.
 The weapon I have in mind is a volatile one. It can cut both ways, but I d
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rather chance a danger
I m familiar with. Lets get back to the skimmer.
She pivoted and headed back through the forest. Flinx rose to join her,
forcing himself away from the lights of the camp, which gleamed like so many
reptilian eyes in the night, until the trees swallowed them up.
They were halfway back to the little grove where they had parked the skimmer
when the sensation swept through him. As usual, it came as a complete
surprise, but this time it was very different from his recent receptions. For
one thing, no feeling of pain was attached to it, and for another, it did not
come from the direction of the camp. It arose from an entirely new source.
Oddly, it carried overtones of distress with it, though distress of a con-
fusing kind.
It came from Lauren and was directed at him.
There was no love in it, no grand, heated follow-up to the casual kiss she had
given him in the skimmer. Affection, yes, which was not what he had hoped for.
Admiration, too, and something more.
Something he had not expected from her: a great wave of concern for him, and
to a lesser extent, of pity.
Flinx had become more adept at sorting out and identifying the emotions he
received, and there was no mistaking those he was feeling now. That kiss,
then, had not only carried no true love with it-
it held even less than that. She felt sorry for him.
He tried to reject the feelings, not only from disappointment but out of
embarrassment. This was worse than looking into someone s mind. He was reading
her heart, not her thoughts. Though he tried hard, he could not shut off the
flow. He could no more stop the river of emotion than he could willingly turn
it on.
He made certain he stayed a step or two behind her so she would not be able to
see his face in the darkness, still soaking up the waves of concern and
sympathy that poured from her, wishing they might be something else, something
more.
They hesitated before approaching the skimmer, circling the landing area once.
The quick search revealed that their hiding place had remained inviolate. Once
aboard, Lauren took the craft up.
She did not head toward the camp; in- stead, she turned south and began to [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]