Deserter by Mike Shepherd

Book: Deserter by Mike Shepherd Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mike Shepherd
early pioneers and the joy of taming a virgin land. Fun and chance to make it big.”
    “So the people have been lapping it up.”
    “The youngsters, the marginalized, the people who don’t quite fit in . . . and usually don’t vote.”
    “When’s the next election?” Jack asked.
    “They haven’t had an election in nearly five years. The ruling party will have to call one in the next two months.”
    Kris whistled. “That soon.”
    “Lets you know why we Wardhaven types are walking on eggs.”
    Kris shook her head; she was getting that old, familiar feeling back. The one she got when she was halfway across a minefield and the second half looked twice as long. “You still haven’t told me what you know about Tommy.”
    “You want the full-length version, or the summary?”
    “Let’s start with the summary.”
    “Nothing. Don’t know a damn thing I didn’t know when I was ordered back here pronto to chase after Tom.”
    “There’s a longer version?” Jack asked.
    “Yeah. In that one I tell you all we did to come up blank,” the Navy Lieutenant said, looking up at the agent.
    “You know he attempted a phone call from this station,” Kris said. “You have to have something around that. If nothing else, he must have shown up on security cameras.”
    “One would think so,” Penny agreed blandly.
    “But,” Kris was tired of having to pull explanations out of this woman. Maybe a crowbar around the tonsils would help.
    “You may have noticed all the heavy construction on the station. It has doubled and redoubled in the last nine months. Seems the day Tommy went through, the entire security system was down for expansion.”
    “That is not believable,” Kris growled.
    “I didn’t buy it either.” Penny sighed. “Billions worth of business goes through this station every day. They’d lose their shirt if every camera was down for a day . . . but they took them down. I talked to half the security screeners. Every one is either a pathological liar or they really were out on the floor doing eyeball security that day. They swear the central security station was off-line and filled with tech types for twenty-four hours straight.”
    Jack stepped away from the tub and paced for a moment. Before Kris could ask him what had gotten him so riled, he whirled on Penny. “You’re telling me we’re dealing with someone who could close down security on a station this size? Kris, you’ve got to get on the next ship out of here.”
    Abby shook her head and answered instead. “It might not be that bad. He or she need only know the day security will be down enough ahead of time to plan Tommy’s transit accordingly.”
    “I don’t think Kris should be around either option,” Jack snapped, turning to Kris. He looked ready to hog-tie her and stuff her into one of her auto trunks for shipment home.
    Kris casually got up, moved to the other side of the tub, ready to run if necessary, and went on. “What else can you tell me about the search for Tommy?”
    “I have some connections with dirtside police. My old man was a cop, and I speak their language. Some local cops have been moonlighting for us the last couple of days, showing pictures to taxi drivers, folks who hang around the elevator. No luck.
    “I thought the housing shortage around here might help. Occupancy is above ninety-five percent. We ran down every hotel room that changed hands in the last week. Nothing. Then we tried every apartment rental. Again nothing.”
    “The folks we’re dealing with don’t lack money,” Kris noted.
    “So I heard. I also checked out houses, time shares, and condo sales. No dice.”
    “How big was the time window you used?” Jack asked, now more interested in the hunt for Tommy than packing Kris off.
    “We started with the week before the Space Adder left Turantic and went forward. This grab couldn’t have been in the planning stage longer than that.”

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