Through a Glass, Darkly
by Michael J A Tyzuk
“Of course we revere life,” Morgul snapped. “I was taught from the time I was an infant that all life is sacred, everywhere. But I honestly didn’t think that the either the Council of the Wise or this secret benefactor would have had enough time to put together anything like the ambush you faced when you made that strike against the slavers. I assumed that their arrangement was in its relative infancy, that arrangements still had to be finalized to make things happen.”
“Instead you discovered that the Council and their benefactor had all the time that they needed to make things happen,” I cut in. “All right, I can see how and why you made your mistake. What happened then?”
Morgul shrugged. “I did the only thing that I could, under the circumstances; I told Percy what I had learned. Percy immediately came to two conclusions: First, that the secret ally of the Council was none other than the leader of the slaver group, and second, that if you ever found out what happened you’d climb aboard the Moonshadow and head off to give them what for.
“We were in the middle of that conversation when the Sycophant Folly assumed orbit. After we viewed the message contained in her data banks we both decided that it was more imperative than ever that you simply not be told what had happened or why, that some other method had to be devised for retrieving Michelle. Percy was killed before we could come up with something suitable.”
I leaned back in my chair. “I was right, wasn’t I?” I ventured. “The original message did specify where the slavers had taken Michelle, didn’t it?”
Morgul nodded. “You’re not going to like it.”
“I don’t like it now,” I answered.
Morgul nodded again and then took a deep breath. “They took her to Elva,” he said. “She’s being held in the Palace of the Council of the Wise.”
I whistled appreciatively, then closed my eyes and thought for a long moment. “How many people know about this?” I asked.
Morgul shook his head. “Not many. The slavers know about it, as do the members of the Council and the staffers who are charged with protecting Michelle and seeing to her needs. The only reason I know anything is that after I talked to Percy I became suspicious of the orders I had received and conducted an investigation of my own.”
“But the Federation itself doesn’t know about it?” I pressed.
Morgul frowned. The expression does not suit an Elf. “No, they wouldn’t. The Council of the Wise would regard it as a purely internal problem, not something they would trouble the Federation Council with.” Then something clicked in his head and his eyes widened. “What do you have in mind?” he demanded.
I couldn’t think of any reason not to, so I told him.
Morgul’s eyes went even wider. “That’s suicide,” he protested.
“Have you got a better idea?” I challenged.
Morgul shook his head mournfully. “No, I don’t,” he admitted.
“Then I guess this is as good as we’re going to get, isn’t it?”
Morgul leaned back in his chair and nodded acceptance. “What do you need from me?” he asked.
* * *
The next morning Eric met me on the Moonshadow. He boarded just as I was finishing packing my bag. “Where are you going?” he demanded.
“What makes you think that you have to ask?” I countered harshly.
“That Elf knew where Michelle is being held, didn’t he?” Eric persisted. “You’re going after her, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” I answered simply.
“Well, you’re taking the rest of us with you, aren’t you?” Eric pressed.
I shook my head. “Nope.”
“Well, why the hell not?” Eric thundered.
I looked up from my packing and spitted Eric with my glare. “Because this isn’t any of your business, that’s why,” I snapped. “this has nothing to do with you or the rest of the team, this is just between me and the slavers, and by God I am going to make them regret the way they’ve pissed me off.”
Eric took a step back. “Martin, what’s going on?” he asked.
I didn’t have anything to lose, so I told him everything. I wasn’t even part way into the explanation when he felt his legs go out from underneath him and dropped onto my bunk. After my explanation he looked up me imploringly. “Look, there has to be something that we can do to help.”
“There is,” I said and handed him a data card that I took out of my pocket. “I want you to take the Moonshadow and make a trip to the Federation Council Chambers on New Geneva. That data card contains all the clearances you’ll need to get past the Navy squadron that guards the place, and it also contains enough proof to catch the attention of the council. No matter what happens to me I want the entire Federation to know just how far the Elves have gone, what ethical and moral laws they’ve broken for the sake of getting their hands on me. It’s the least I can do to repay them for their hospitality.”
Eric nodded and took the data card. “No problem, but I’ll take the Chameleon instead, leave the Moonshadow for you and your trip to Elva.”
I shook my head. “I’m not taking the Moonshadow,” I said. “I’ll be taking the Sycophant Folly.”
Now Eric was confused. “Why aren’t you taking the Moonshadow?” he wanted to know.
“The slavers will be watching for her,” I explained, “and so will the Elves. They’ll be watching for the Sycophant Folly too, and if they see me arrive on her then they’ll start to wonder where the Moonshadow is, and that will distract them. I need them distracted. I need them to be thinking about where the Moonshadow is so that they won’t be paying as much attention to me. I need that freedom to act, to do what I will need to do.”
“If you’re right then they’ll be watching New Geneva as well,” Eric pointed out.
“That’s why you won’t be going alone,” I countered. “Take the rest of the flotilla with you, but leave them at the edge of the system. When you make your run to New Geneva I want you to take the Moonshadow and fly her alone. When they hear those clearance codes the Navy will let you pass without challenge.”
“That’s all well and good, but what about the slavers?” Eric asked.
“I can’t see them having more than two or three ships at New Geneva,” I answered, “and those will be well hidden. It would be suicide for them to attract the attention of the Navy by starting a fight in the New Geneva system. The most they’ll do is report back to their master where you are, and that will still serve to distract them.”
“With the Moonshadow and the flotilla at New Geneva they’ll be wondering when the heavy end of the hammer is going to come down on them,” Eric ventured.
“Exactly.” I closed my carryall and took a deep breath. “I’ve put my will on that card as well, in case anything happens to me,” I said. “If I don’t make it back then the Moonshadow is yours.”
Eric stared down at the bunk. “I don’t want her,” he said. “Not like that.”
“Then you had better hope that I come back in one piece.”
* * *
Morgul was waiting for me at the hangar where the Sycophant Folly was berthed. He gave me the codes to open the hatch and then came aboard with me. We sat down at the table in the lounge and that’s when he handed me the satchel he was carrying.
“It’s all here?” I asked.
Morgul nodded. “Everything that you asked for,” he answered and produced a data card from his pocket. “this contains all the codes you’ll need to get past the defense net and into orbit. When you make orbit you’ll be challenged by a flight of starfighters. They’re backed up by a cruiser, so I don’t recommend fighting them.”
I pocketed the data card. “I have no intention of fighting anyone,” I assured him. “Well, not until I get down the well, anyway.”
Morgul was silent for a long moment. Finally, he said, “You know, you’ve got a lot of balls doing this. I think it will be the first time in our history that anyone has tried such a thing; and if anyone can make it happen, I think it’s you. Just do yourself one little favor. That lady you’re going after isn’t going to be especially happy if you go and get yourself killed, so be careful.”
I grinned a predatory grin. “Believe me, I’m not the one who has to be careful.”
To be continued...
Copyright © 2004 by Michael J A Tyzuk