was making his way through Port Charid's warehouse district when
something caught his eye.
he know that man?
around quickly, Kazmer located the nearest doorway, and ducked into
the man crossed in front of him. Kazmer knew him, all right. Tall
and thin, big-boned, almost gangly, with a fine sharp expression
of intelligence and with and big ears that stood out from
his head, though perhaps it took a friend to notice. Frowning, just
now, and apparently so deep in thought that he didn't so much as
look up until Kazmer spoke.
Shires. As I live and breathe."
out of the alcove Kazmer extended his hand in glad greeting, but
it seemed that the surprise he'd given Hilton was unpleasantly complete.
Hilton took a moment to respond.
Daigule. Hey. Long time, how've you been?"
hadn't seen hide nor hair of a Langsarik since their surrender to
the Jurisdiction. Two years, maybe. "I've got no complaints." Kazmer
took a step or two down the street, encouraging Hilton to walk with
him; but Hilton wasn't moving. If Hilton was annoyed at Kazmer for
surprising him it would be a little over-sensitive on Hilton's part.
It was Kazmer who owed his life to Hilton, not the other way around.
is changed." Hilton made the obvious point so blandly that it was
as though the fact had just occurred to him. "Not like old times
at all, Kazmer. What brings you here?"
if Hilton didn't know, him with his Langsarik colors showing beneath
the collar of his work-shirt. Maybe Hilton felt they were vulnerable
to being overheard, here in the street. They'd be a lot less obvious
if they were walking together, Kazmer told himself; but Hilton had
always had a stubborn streak.TOP
in on a transport job." By Hilton's people, as a matter of fact.
"I hear there's been a lot of activity in Port Charid lately."
what could Langsariks need mercantile pilots for? The Bench had
impounded the Langsarik hulls as a condition of the amnesty. Langsariks
had no legitimate transport requirements. So the only job Langsariks
could offer Kazmer necessarily involved contraband: and Kazmer and
Hilton both knew it.
only made Hilton's resolute play at ignorance more irritating. "Well,
traffic is picking up. That's true. Plenty of work to go around."
And Hilton actually leaned his back up against the wall, folding
his arms across his chest as he did so. "Still. Isn't this a little
out of the way for you?"
it was. "I'm a free agent. It sounded interesting." He wouldn't
have come this far on an offer –- let alone one that involved contraband
-- for anyone but Hilton's people. The least Hilton could do was
acknowledge that fact. "On your way to anywhere in particular?"
course he was. Hilton was here for the same reason Kazmer was; Kazmer
was sure of it. Hilton, however, shook his head, and lied.
really. There isn't much to do out in the settlement, though, and
I got a pass. So I thought I'd come down to watch the shuttle traffic,
kind of get away from it all for a while."
Kazmer was annoyed, and beginning to think about being insulted.
Prudence was one thing, but Hilton was taking this whole secrecy
bit a little too far. If that was the way Hilton was going to be,
Kazmer wouldn’t keep him any longer.
see. Well, enjoy yourself, Hilton. Give my regards to your family,
all right?" TOP
was a thought.
long as Hilton was here in Port Charid maybe Kazmer could go see
sweet little Cousin Modice.
had warned him if only half seriously never to let
him catch Kazmer in bed with his cousin ever again; and him knowing
what the joke was, because it had been Hilton's idea.
wouldn't catch him.
thing," said Hilton. "Maybe I'll see you around. Before you go.
Where are you staying?"
was tired of the game. "Just in, actually, so I don't know yet.
But I'll be in touch. Nice to see you, Hilton."
long as Hilton didn't know where Kazmer was, Hilton couldn’t stop
him from going out to see Modice.
would pay Hilton out for being so excessively cagey with him.
ROC Science Fiction