Part 4 Chapter 03-Transport Capsule

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I awoke to the rattle of bed service shaking my door. "Check out time is twenty-two hours."

I stuffed Wulfie into my tote. In my sleep chemise, I climbed out of bed and encountered a flurry of attendants stripping mattresses, men pulling up pants and tucking in shirts, women slipping on their shoes. Sanchez was ready to go. Greenwich shift waited at the door from the lobby. Before I could even turn around to get my tote and clock, someone had taken sheets off the bed. I should have changed in the bunk before bed service arrived. Too late now.

I pulled off my chemise-no one seemed to notice my nakedness- and struggled into the taupe dress. I rummaged for toothbrush and toothpaste before stuffing my tote in a storage locker. We set off down the corridor for the washateria.

The showers had a long line so we went to Chow Hall first. Our breakfast was flat square pastries filled with a thin layer of goo, washed down with juice the color of yesterday's sauce.

"It could be worse." Sanchez waved a bit of pastry. "My last assignment wasn't even an expedition. Delayed and delayed. Canceled. Or they don't pay nothing for food and lodging." She popped the pastry into her mouth.

"You used a double negative." I stared at Sanchez. I'd thought her educated. She did know five languages.

"So I did," Sanchez said. "Silly rule of Terranglic to only say no once. How about in Fenria?"

"Yeah. We say no twice."

"Good for you."

#

In the back seat of an esskip, Tyee sped toward Fennako City.

Waves raced under the wings in a blur. Mountains sped by and then disappeared astern. Familiar docks and buildings clustered on islands came into view. The esskip didn't stop at the main ferry terminal, but banked came in behind the palace to a lagoon where Royal Guard had once landed their craft.

A single ship, moored to the lagoon embankment, looked to be about five-dozen meters in length, the same size as a ferry, and sporting Fennako green, but she wasn't a ferry that Tyee had ever seen before, and he'd seen most of them. Flags in the superstructure gave her name as FNS Shewolf.

Two men stood on the embankment. The esskip splashed down on the lagoon and taxied toward them. When the canopy opened, the pilot tossed a line to one of the men. The other man, standing with his hands behind his back, was Commodore Alop Fennako.

Alop touched his cap. "Thank you for coming on such short notice."

"What kind of stunt are you planning?" Tyee scrambled over the wing shoulder and stepped ashore.

"Not a stunt." Alop turned to the nearby ship. "Crew for the royal yacht. She's been in dry dock for a while, then moored."

"A while? Must be a dozen-four years."As grimy as she was, the ship probably hadn't been used since the king's assassination.

"Longer than that. Excuse me." Alop turned to the pilot. "Rothrocki's ready to go. He's aboard the FNS Lupine. Pick him up in Otako."

The pilot tossed the duffle to Tyee before releasing mooring lines and closing the canopy. The esskip floated from the embankment then departed, leaping the wall.

Alop nodded to the man beside him. "You'll be working with Varden here, bosun mate. He'll show you your berth, and assign you duties. We're getting Shewolf ready to go."

At last! Work he'd trained for, ship's engineering. Tyee hefted his duffle.

#

My new wardrobe had arrived at Bargain Bunks. We hurried to the washateria where I put the dress in a laundering unit and took a shower.

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