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to kill me. I hadn't gone to pieces because I had a plan for getting myself
out of trouble, and my plan had worked. Darkness, I told her, was just the
other half of daylight, and instinct was nonsense for the mortal appendages of
the immortal spirits we all really were. We didn't need instinct.
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Lisle, Holly - Hunting the Corrigan's Blood
But there in the darkness, floating up toward the airlock, the instincts I
insisted I didn't have were screaming that I shouldn't go through that door,
that hunters hid in the darkness and that they waited for me. And my instinct
was to make myself very small and very still and to wait for the return of the
light& which would have been forever because until I went into their ship and
stole their TFN unit and then came back and fixed my ship, there wasn't going
to be any light.
At the airlock, I pulled on my thin, flexible breather suit and waited while
Badger donned his. When we were both ready, I grabbed one half of the manual
handle for the airlock and started twisting. Badger grabbed the other half.
When the seal separated, there was no hiss of air escaping into lower
pressure.
No indication that what we faced on the other side would be the vacuum of deep
space. And as the airlock slipped into the groove that would let us push it to
the left, fight shone through into our darkness.
Little fingers of it at first, beams that shot down the gravdrop and
illuminated the rungs of the ladder we didn't need at the moment. The fingers
grew fatter and then merged as the door opened wider. Light. It looked so warm
and welcoming.
I started to move into the coupler corridor, looking for the enemy: Badger,
right behind me, had his weapon ready.
I found our enemies waiting for me.
What was left of them, anyway.
Chapter Eighteen
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If I looked carefully at the bloody smears on the white walls, at the embedded
chips of bone, at the little gobbets of tissue that clung to the inside of the
coupler, I could make out vaguely human outlines. The gravity shear had left
almost nothing, but what it had left it had left in distinct regions, so that
I could see that these stains and globs and tatters were part of one victim,
and those bone shards and smears and blotches were part of another. Badger and
I counted six distinct bloody stripes where someone had died.
The splotch right against our airlock was the biggest, and the only one with
any sign of human remains.
Pulpy tissue lined with needle-like slivers of bone, a lot of hair in several
colors, a couple of small white objects I realized at last were intact teeth.
Twisted metal that had to have been weapons. Tatters and wads of material that
had the color, if not the appearance, of breather-suit fabric. The scrambled
mess seemed impossible. There wasn't enough flesh there to make up a ten-year
old child, much less six adults.
Then Badger shook his head and his voice crackled over the speaker in my ear,
"It was so strong it
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Lisle, Holly - Hunting the Corrigan's Blood compacted them. When it ripped
them to ribbons, it was also compressing the remains."
I considered the human puree smeared across the moleibond of our airlock and
nodded. No other explanation fit. Still, how much energy had it taken to rip
living human flesh into pulp between one beat of a heart and the next? To
compact that mass as these people had been compacted? If we had scraped up the
remains, they would have no doubt weighed the same as they had when they were
living, but their total body volume had been reduced so much that we could
have poured all six of them into one spacers kit-bag. I was mute, horrified,
comprehending the violence at the moment of their deaths only with difficulty,
and unable to visualize the force that had destroyed them. Six of them.
Badger added, "I guess we can tell Storm Rat his thing worked better than we
expected." Through his faceplate, he gave me a weak smile. Trying to make it
easier.
It wasn't easier. I'd planned on taking these people prisoner. Getting them
safely back to Cantata, or perhaps taking them someplace that would be less of
a threat to me and what I was looking into. I
intended to find out what they knew, certainly. To make sure they were safely
out of circulation so they couldn't hurt me any more& of course. But, dammit,
when I was done with them they were going to be alive. I told myself that was
the difference between them and me. I understood the value of a human life.
No. It was more than that; I more than understood. I
believed in the value of a human life, even when it belonged to my enemy. Even [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]