Part 6 Chapter 05-Space Port Island

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A message, bleating in my consciousness, overrode my thoughts: Fenria. Come in. This is Space Transit. Fenria. Come in.

The lubber had it all wrong. They weren't even sending in Fenrian. No one would understand it. No one except me. Determined find the idiot responsible, I grabbed my handbag and padded barefoot into the disorienting corridor. Using Wulfie as a reference point, I triangulated to find the communications consol, and opened the door.

"Could you use some help?" I asked brightly, not letting my irritation show. "I'm the Fenrian interpreter. You're trying to contact Fenria. Yes?" The room lighting was glaring. I squinted at the operator's name tag. Peebles.

I pulled the headphones around my ears. "Patch me in."

"How'd you know we were sending?"

"Never mind. Just patch me in." I shut down neuro reception of the channel. Like I really wanted to receive my own message? I sure didn't want to receive with my neuro. A virus just might be tagged onto the Fenrian response.

He handed me a microphone. "Go ahead. Push this button to send."

I yawned and collected myself, trying to recall the words used for this sort of thing. Mama had had me play a game of asking and giving territorial access.

I clicked the button. "Hailing Fennako. Politkofsky of Space Transit here. Aboard Fenrian orbital relay. Request parley with Fennako. Please respond."

I was a member of clan Fennako, so I could have sent: Hailing Fennako, Fennako here. Request parley with Fennako. I was queen, the incarnation of Fenria. So in a sense, I was talking to myself. I suppressed a laugh. Sleepiness made me punchy.

I opened the channel on my neuro and received: blee bleep.

Peebles said, "No response. Try again."

"No," I said. "The Fenrian system has recorded the message and will send it to the right person."

"Maybe it didn't get to the system at all."

"It did get there." I had no patience after Peebles had awakened me rudely in the middle of my sleep shift. "Why didn't you wait until I was awake?"

"We can only send to Fennako City when we're passing over it. Can't transmit straight through the planet."

"Do the Fenrians know that?"

Peebles shrugged.

"They might not know when to send a message back. How long is the window open and how often?"

He pointed to a glowing chart. "Our period is ninety minutes."

I tried to make sense of the numbers. The Fenrian hour was about seven minutes longer than a standard hour, so I converted, entering the numbers, watching them fill columns. I picked up the microphone. "Hailing Fennako."

Peebles touched my arm. "We're past the window."

"Call me when we're in range." I refrained from swearing went back to bed.

#

Tyee, Rothrocki and the rest the crew assembled on Shewolf's foredeck, all men except for Engineer Thoursa-the cook staff wasn't present. Rothrocki's hair, braided into multiple rows, dangled with tiny fish-shaped beads that hung over a band of shaved scalp, showing off scars he didn't have.

None of the men were true Royal Guard. No they were stewards and deckhands from the ferry system with some marine law enforcement thrown in. All of them wore an approximation of Royal Guard kit, green lifevests and hipboots. Amoung them, only Tyee's rendition was flawless. His boot cuffs flashed with platinum details-swirls and Danna stars-woven into the fabric. And while the others slouched, only Tyee stood with the posture of trained Seaguard. The others appeared as what they were, young men pressed into service as Royal Guard. They were imitations. If Tyee stood out it was as counterfeit. He was no more Seaguard than any of the others.

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