Monday, February 13, 2012

The Orpheus Machine 1 - Ray Aldridge

""We'll have to leave most of the dope," he said regretfully. But he swung one small satchel over his shoulder--perhaps it would be well to carry some form of trade goods.

Then he led the way down to the main deck. Molnekh and Nisa supported Dolmaero between them, and they only fell twice.

He made them wait in the shelter of a companionway while he crept out into the storm. To his great relief, he saw that the lifeboat still hung from its davits. The two crew members waited, their white faces swiveling back and forth inside the hoods of their jackets, as though they could not understand what was delaying the rest of the crew.

Ruiz hefted the splinter gun. It contained a minimum charge; he would have to spend its power frugally.

For some reason he felt a dangerous reluctance to act. The two had done him no harm. Perhaps he'd even played a few friendly hands of kanterip with them. But they stood between him and survival; what real choice did he have?

Ruiz sighed. He steadied his wrist against a pipe. He waited for the pause that came at the end of a roll, and then he put a splinter through both unsuspecting heads.

They dropped unnoticed in the chaos that filled the deck. Ruiz sprang forward and reached the bodies before they could roll to the rail. The two had been armed only with nerve whips, which were useless to Ruiz, but he stripped off their foul-weather gear. He waited for the rail to lift again, and then boosted the bodies over into the sea.

Under the companionway, he thrust the smaller man's garments at Molnekh. "Put these on." He donned the other set, then explained his plan. "Molnekh and I will pretend to be guards; Dolmaero and Nisa will board the boat and look like early-arriving crew. When the next group shows up, we'll take them with us. I'm no sailor; we'll need their expertise."

"Will we live through this?" asked Nisa.

He felt oddly cheerful, as if he had returned to familiar, comfortable terrain. "Why not?""

3.5 out of 5