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slick shaft walls. He inched his way in, his broad shoulders making it
difficult to maneuver.
Far below he could hear the elevator coming up again.
"Hurry up!" Joat said, sliding the rock-cutter down the access tunnel and
turning back to pull him in by his shirt.
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545
All she succeeded in doing was pulling it up over his head; his arms were
almost immobilized by the tough febric.
"Stop," he said. "Stop it."
"Hurry up!" she cried and slid backwards to give him room. "Or thaj: elevator
will smear your carcass all the way to the top of the station."
He was most of the way in now, but couldn't seem to get his feet in. He began
to panic, barking his knees on the side walls of the tunnel, the space too
narrow to allow him to turn or pull up his legs. In a panic, he caught at
Joat's legs and yanked. Her palms squealed
on die slick metal as she struggled futilely to keep her place.
The drag was just enough to get him all the way in, the side of the elevator
lifted the soles of his feet gently as it passed.
Kevin dropped his head into his arms and giggled with mild hysteria.
Joat glared at him for a moment, then grinned and whispered, "Hooray! Another
one for our side."
"Yes?" Belazir said, looking up from his notescreen.
It was the medico again. The Kolnari repressed an impulse to kick it. If you
hit messengers, messages ceased coming. On the other hand, his rime was valu-
able. Especially now, with the transports here and loading round the cycle.
The thought restored his good humor. Sixty ships, a fifth part of the Clan's
fleet, under his command. Not only transports, but a fighting platform and a
couple of the factory ships. It was as good as having Chalku proclaim him
successor. Better, since his chances of living long enough to claim it were
much higher. A for-
mal announcement might drive some brick-skull like
Aragiz t1 Varak to desperation.
"Great Lord, there is... a problem."
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AnmMcCaffrry & S.M. Sorting
"Mine or yours, creature?" he said, slightly impatient The loading was going
so slowly.
"Great Lord, we have disabling sickness."
"What?" Suddenly he was looming over the eunuch.
"No, pleasel Don't hurt me. lUfc only old Veskis, the bonesetter. Please, my
Great Lord?"
Belazir's aquiline nostrils flarett "Speak."
"Over sixty ill warriors have sought medical aid, Great Lord. We have never
seen the like." It swal-
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lowed. "Great Lord, we do not know how to cure the illness!"
Belazir had just finished a large meal. Now it lay Hke curdled hot lead in his
gut. Impossible. He tapped at the notescreen, accessing recent files. Yes,
over thirty war-
riors put down or suicided for infection. Not completely unprecedented, but
among the heaviest numerically of instances on record. If another threescore
had reported sick, there must be many who had not
"How does the illness run?" Belazir asked.
"Swiftly in some, Great Lord. Fever, loss of nervous control, debility,
nausea. Others more mildly. Still others recover quickly and are whole. From
the blood of those I may produce a vaccine, in tune."
"Do so," Belazir ordered, "Swiftly." In time to avoid spoiling my triumph
here, he thought "Wait"
He tapped his notescreen again. Most sickness occurred among those on no fixed
duty. Of those, t'Varak's ship suffered the most casualties. Belazir racked
his brain for what he knew of diseases. Not much, since Kolnari were rarely
bothered by disease:
accident, yes. He reflected on this problem, queried the info-banks, thought
again.
"Orders," he said. "Isolate those infected." Those whom they could, that is. A
noble could be killed but not placed under restraint "This may.. ." He
hesitated. "May be related to the disease troubling the scumvermin."
Hideous, that a disease would strike the Divine Seed
THE CTTY WHO FOUGHT
347
more strongly than mere scumvermin. "The infected scumvermin are to be
avoided. Go, post the orders, That such a scourge should arise nowy he
thought, looking back at the notescreen. Loading was moving far too slowly. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]