Tin Woodman

Tin Woodman by David Bischoff, Dennis R. Bailey

Book: Tin Woodman by David Bischoff, Dennis R. Bailey Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Bischoff, Dennis R. Bailey
14A4b—Section 4C—Computer Partial Text
    Captain Edan Darsen—bridge, Pegasus
    Ensign Ston Maurtan—Mark IV messenger ship

    DARSEN: I don’t know why you have done this, Mr. Maurtan, but I suggest that you co-operate completely.

    MAURTAN: I have a formal complaint, Captain. Why was no mention made in the engineering report on this bolt-bucket that you gutted the goddamned Null-R engine? This will look very bad on your record, Captain, I must warn you.

    DARSEN: I don’t find your remarks humorous, Mr. Maurtan. We are sending out a shuttle to pick you up and tow you back. The motives for your apparent lapse of reason will be discussed once you return. I repeat, it is of the highest importance that you co-operate.

    MAURTAN: I want to call my lawyer.

    DARSEN: Your rights will be acknowledged, Mr. Maurtan—but there are no lawyers aboard the Pegasus.

    MAURTAN: Hey—how come you want us back so badly? It can’t be me. I’m not that important. It must be my fellow passenger here, Mora Elbrun, mustn’t it? It’ll look bad for you if anything happens to her. Is that it? What if I told you that she’s my hostage, and that I expect a good deal of ransom if you expect her back in one piece.

    DARSEN: I don’t believe you understand the seriousness of your offense, Ensign. Your levity will be ignored if you simply signal willingness to co-operate.

    MAURTAN: Screw you, sir.

    DARSEN: What do you mean by—

    MAURTAN: Okay, listen up, Captain. I’m onto you now. Something’s happening. You don’t need need me—but you need Mora, right? Unless you deliver her totally Doped to the Tricouncil, you’re in hot water, right? They’ve got to have their sacrifice. Well, I’ll make a deal, Captain. There’s no way you can stop me if I want to just let all that airless space inside this ship. If I did that, you wouldn’t have much to bring back, would you?

    DARSEN: You wouldn’t do that, damn you.

    MAURTAN: Wouldn’t I? Mora wouldn’t mind. She knows what’s waiting for her back on board your ship—

    DARSEN: I assure you, Ensign, that the psychemicidian treatments will be stopped.

    MAURTAN: You took the words out of my mouth. It’s a deal. I assume this is going into the communications computer, so you’re going to have to stick to it.

    DARSEN: Your little escapade was purposeless, Mr. Maurtan. If you had checked with MedSec, you would have seen that I had ordered the treatments stopped even before you abducted the subject. When you get back, I’ll show you a copy.

    MAURTAN: Oh.

    Ston pointed out a tiny moving star in the mostly black of the vu-plate. “There’s the shuttle. All we have to do is wait, now.”
    She stood by him, her hands on his shoulders. “Your muscles are in knots,” she said, closing her eyes, trying to feel what he felt. Nothing came to her—not via her Talent, anyway.
    “It’s called ‘tension.’ I can’t believe it was all for nothing. It makes me feel pretty stupid.”
    “You mean you really believe Darsen?”
    “I guess so.”
    “Even if he is telling the truth, it doesn’t take away one bit of your heroism, Ston. And it means every bit as much to me.”
    He glanced up at her and changed the subject. “It must be strange to you, not being able to read my emotions.”
    “It is,” she agreed. “But it’s a relief, in a way.”
    “Will it come back?”
    “My Talent? Probably. One injection is hardly enough to dampen it permanently. And when it comes, it comes. It’s almost as though it were a freakish deformity that I’m not able to deal with entirely, but I do accept.”
    Ston’s eyes searched hers with displeasure. “Never say that, Mora. A Talent isn’t a monkey-on-the-back, like you seem to think it is.”
    She smiled slightly, curiously. This was a clue to his motivation in helping her—for his interest and concern with her unique nature. She tried to pry it out of him gently. “Most Normals wouldn’t say that to me. You’ve had other contact with

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