Morning. Port Wilmot, just off the Sagreen vector and five days from Langsarik Station, where the freight courier ship Bammers was due in six or seven of them. Brachi Stildyne—not “Security Chief Warrant Officer” Stildyne any more, not missing it—stood with his back to the wall drinking stale over-strong cavene from a disposable pressed-cellulose cup. He took in the early morning light, trying to put a name to the sensations he was experiencing.
He was depressed. That was kind of funny, in its own way; Brachi Stildyne, depressed, just because after having turned down the offered promotion that was the career goal of any sane Security officer once “clock in for thirty and out” was discarded—First Officer, functionally second-in-command, of the Jurisdiction Fleet Ship Sceppan—in order to cleave to his old boss Andrej Koscuisko, he’d then broken ties with Andrej Koscuisko, and would never see him again. Probably never. Rumor had it that Koscuisko was in Safehaven, Nurail quadrant, but Stildyne wasn’t sure he even wanted to see Kosciusko, these days.
As he watched the light change in the loading bay where freighter-courier Bammers was berthed he noted the cargo handler Wilmot Port Authority had sent coming down out of the ship and heading for him. Small ship, for something called a “freighter”; small enough to park on dirt, rather than in geosynchronous orbit, small enough to make escape velocity on its own power. Riggs wasn’t small. She was a tall woman, and something like in “Security shape” in her own right—tough, physical. Relatively junior, as cargo-handlers went, but she was in the right age-bracket, and ambitious.
“A word, Chief,” she said. She had a flat-file docket in one hand, doing a little jog across the tarmac. Yes. He knew he should be in the cargo hold, helping throw crates around. They needed all the crate-throwing they could get. You couldn’t take professional Security troops off their ship and condemn them to vacation for weeks and weeks and not expect a little twitchiness to develop. And there were special circumstances with these particular troops, of course. People. Crew. They weren’t troops any more.
But if she wanted him on shift, she didn’t say so, and he had time to finish his cavene, and it wasn’t easy to do that because Garrity had been at the brewer this morning and apparently relished the opportunity to have his cavene the way he liked it: the consistency of burnt tar, smelled that way, tasted that way.
“Waiting,” Stildyne said, and she came up close, speaking low.