Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey

Book: Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne McCaffrey
Sallah told him, sliding into the chair at the navigator’s position. “The
smack dab on orbit.”
    “The duty officer really should have remained here until I officially took over,” Boris muttered. Then he exhaled. “But I suppose she was afraid that they’d leave without her. No harm done, at any rate.”
    Boris began calling in the other manned stations, confirming the duty personnel from the roster he had been given. Avril Bitra and Bart Lemos were assigned to Life Support, and Nabhi Nabol was in Supply. While Boris was involved in roll call, Sallah began some discreet checking of her own from the big terminal. She initiated a program to discover who else had been accessing the mainframe. That sort of internal check was a function of the bridge terminal and not available on any of the others, except the one that had once been in the admiral’s suite. By the time Sallah left the
she would know who had asked for what, if not why.
    “D’you know if they’ve got all the library tapes down below yet?” Boris asked, relaxing in the command chair once the calls had been completed and logged in.
    “I think General Duff said they are, but why not get your own copies while there’s tape left?”
    “Well, I’ll just do a few for private consumption. After all, my hide has been flayed to produce power to run ’em.”
    Sallah laughed, but she could not help but feel compassion. Poor Boris’s face was raw with sunburn, and he wore the loosest possible clothing. She regarded him casually until he became absorbed in a perusal of the library; then she turned back to the computer.
    Avril was asking for figures on the remaining fuel in the tanks of all three colony ships. Nabol was inquiring about machine parts and replacement units that had already been landed. He was accessing their exact locations in Stores. So he won’t have to ask to get them, Sallah thought. More worrisome were Avril’s programs, for she was the only fully qualified and experienced astrogator. If anyone could make use of available fuel, it was Avril. And where were the liters and liters that Kenjo had scrounged?
    Avril requested the coordinates for the nearest planet capable of sustaining humanoids. Two had EEC reports that indicated developing sentient life. They were distant, but within the range of the admiral’s gig. Just. Sallah could not quite see why Avril would be at all interested in those planets, even if they were within reach of the
Granted Avril could calculate her way there, but it would be a long, harrowing trip even at the maximum speed the gig could achieve. Then Sallah remembered that the gig had two deep-sleep tanks: a last resort and not one she herself would undertake. If she were in deep sleep, she would prefer to have someone awake and checking the dials. The method was not as foolproof as all that. But there were two tanks. So who was the lucky one to go with Avril? If escape from Pern was what she planned. But why would anyone escape from Pern when she had just got there, Sallah wondered, mystified. A whole new sparkling world, and Avril was not going to wait until she had given it a chance? Or was she?
    Sallah continued her surveillance throughout the three-day stint and took hard copy before she erased the file. By the time she boarded the shuttle to return planetside, she understood why the crews had needed shore leave. The poor old nearly gutted
was a depressing place. The two smaller ships,
Buenos Aires
would be claustrophobic. But the stripping was nearly complete, and soon the three colony ships would be abandoned to their lonely orbit, visible at dawn and dusk only as three points of light reflecting Rukbat’s rays.

    D ESPITE HER PARENTS’ tacit disapproval of Sean Connell as a friend for their daughter, Sorka found many reasons to continue seeing him, once he had relaxed his natural suspicions of her. Curiously enough, Sorka also noticed that his family was no keener

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