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been trying to recall. It seems to me that there have not been any casting-outs listed in The Gazette this
relumma, and I don't think they can have been on the Port longer even granting them extraordinary
She sighed, settling her shoulders against the metal wall. "They're no older than Sinit," she murmured.
"And to be without kin on Liad, and no hope of going elsewhere& " Her mouth tightened. "Will Jon be
angry? I hardly know how I dared, except that Binjali's is so safe and I had thought& But to put
Jon's melant'i at peril that was ill-done."
"If Jon considers you've put his melant'i at peril, he shall not be shy of explaining the matter to you. In the
meanwhile, if they go to him and present you as their patron, he's certain to keep them by until you can
explain the matter to him."
"If they go," she repeated. "You think they will not?"
"They may," Daav said gently. "Or they may not. That rides upon their melant'i."
She was silent for a moment, her eyes on his, before reaching out and taking his hand.
"It is the custom," she said, as much perhaps for her own benefit as for his, "to shun the clanless and
withhold any aid."
"Merely custom and not law," he returned calmly. "The Code, not the Council."
"Ah," she smiled, very slightly. "Yet another concept to master." She squeezed his fingers. "It was kind in
you to feed them."
He returned both her smile and the pressure of her fingers. "Little enough to do and not the first time
Varl has had the feeding of my stray puppies. Scouts, you know& "
Aelliana chuckled; raised her free hand to cover a sudden yawn.
"Your pardon," she murmured, and then, more strongly: "Now, tell me what was in that pod, if you
He laughed softly and settled back in his seat. "Why, only a comet."
"A comet!"
He smiled at her disbelief. "You've heard of Losiar's Survey? Not many have it's ancient history, and
Terran history, at that." He shook his head.
"Mr. Losiar, you see, was wealthy, of scientific bent, and quite, quite mad. Over time, he became
convinced that the how did he have it? that the 'building blocks of the universe' might be discovered
in the hearts of comets. Convinced, he acted, and outfitted hundreds of drone ships to go forth and
capture all the comets in the galaxy, or near enough, and bring them back for study." He sighed.
"Alas, Mr. Losiar died testing an anti-gravity machine he had invented soon after the last drone left
Terran space. His ships full of comets are still found, now and again. Most use them for target practice."
"So there was ice and particles in that pod," Aelliana said slowly, "and when you blew it open "
"The children found themselves flying through the center of a comet. Disconcerting."
Her laugh turned into a second yawn, and that yawn became a third, belatedly covered with a languid
"I do beg your pardon. I cannot think why I should be so tired."
"After all," Daav said ironically, "you have only been flying since Solcintra dawn, not to mention a Port
walk and an engagement with pirates."
She grinned, eyelids heavy. "True. I had " another yawn interrupted her.
"Sleep, if you like," Daav said, knowing it was scandalous and out-of-Code. Yet why should she struggle
to stay awake when she was so tired and there was her co-pilot at hand to guard her?
"I think I shall," said Aelliana, rather muzzily, and without further ado released his hand and settled herself
closer into the chair.
Snug against the bulkhead, with himself between her and the aisle, Aelliana slept.
Seen thus, without the great green eyes sparking fire, she seemed astonishingly frail a mere bundle of
bone shrouded in the golden velvet of her skin, carelessly wrapped in rusty black and shabby silk. Daav
knew a desire to gather her up and hold her against him, head tucked under his chin, as if she were one
of his small nephews. He shook the feeling aside: Aelliana was no child, but a woman grown, and none of
Korval, beside.
He wondered anew at her clan, who seemingly placed her value so low it cared nothing if she ate or
starved, went clothed or naked.
Not permitted to grant a comrade courtesy of the house, is it? he thought with a recurrence of anger,
and sighed. Well, and perhaps her kin misliked Scouts. There were those, in sufficient plenitude, though [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]