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The Wizard of Karres: Chapter Fifteen

       Last updated: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 23:11 EDT



    Sedmon the sixth, Daal of feared and blood-soaked Uldune, looked at the exquisite little jewel box inset with chalcosites and pieces of peacock-blue Lepida Pua nacre. It was a pretty little trinket—not to mention a very expensive one. But would the intended recipient like it? With that person, it was hard to know.

    And, more to the immediate point, where was she? Where were the rest of them, for that matter? He knew the Venture had had little air, a leaking airlock, and very little fuel when it had evaded destruction at the hands of the Imperial Navy off Pidoon.

    Despite these rather unpromising circumstances, he was fairly certain they’d have gotten away. In the hexaperson’s youth, Sedmon had once made the mistake of taking Karres lightly. Threbus and Toll had given the Daal—and a goodly portion of his space fleet—a polite but firm lesson. Two witches... and he almost hadn’t had much of a fleet left. Ever since, Uldune had bent over backward not irritate the witches. And, ever since, Sedmon had been careful not to underestimate them and to wear his telepathy disturbing skull-cap when they were around.

    It had been made abundantly plain to him that if worse came to worst, the witches could do without spaceships or even spacesuits.

    Hulik do Eldel couldn’t. Neither could his former spy, Vezzarn, though that did not trouble him much.

    And, he privately suspected—although he had no proof—neither could Captain Pausert. But Pausert might be one of the Karres witches. You never could be absolutely sure. Sedmon hoped not—because he was very sure that the little Wisdom with Pausert would not abandon him, which would probably mean keeping Hulik alive too.

    But there was no trace of the blasted ship! If they’d only used the drives inside an atmospheric envelope, the detectors wouldn’t have picked that up. Unless they were dead, or had used some form of Karres witchery.



    Light years away on Uldune, the other Sedmons concurred. They used the House of Thunders’ elaborate astrography equipment to look for possible destinations for ships low on air and fuel.

    Vaudevillia came up on top of probability list. Since they had no better leads, the Thunderbird left for the planet—on the same day, as it happened, when the Pidoon vidcasts were trumpeting the demise of the infamous Nairdoo Sheyan, pirate murderer of Coolum’s world, along with two of her criminal associates.



    The trail might have run cold on Vaudevillia—except that a lucrative offer got a freighter captain to remember that someone had been trying to scrounge fuel and air. The captain also recalled some radio-squalling about a vagabond hitching a ride on a very unwilling lattice ship.

    For the first time in many days, the Sedmons smiled. They were aware of the habit of lattice ships of using old hulks for airtight holds. Such a maneuver would confound most the people pursuing the Venture, sure enough. For a time, at least.

    Sedmon nodded to Sedmon. “Pausert. He’s a cunning one. We’ll need a trace on as many lattice ships as possible.”

    Uldune and her operations had many agents. And subradio meant the news could be sent, fast.



    Two days later, the Sedmons were in pursuit of the Petey B.

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