Night had come to Waycross on Innish-Kyl. Night, but not darkness or quiet. Bursts of loud talk
and raucous music spilled out through open doorways, and the low thrumming of heavy machinery never
stopped. Beka Rosselin-Metadi-tall and thin, with pale yellow hair tied back from a face too sharply
planed for prettiness-strode through the crowded spaceport with a starpilot’s fine disregard for the
dirtside locals. The locals, in turn, took note of her purposeful air, and of her heavy war-surplus blaster in
its worn leather holster, and let her pass.
In fact, Beka had no goal besides a cool drink and a few hours away from the ship. Claw Hard
had been in hyperspace for two months on this latest run, plenty of time for Beka to grow tired of both
the freighter and her crew. This stop at Waycross was Beka’s first chance to get off-ship since Cashel;
the layover at Raffa, the only other port on this run, had been too brief to allow the crew members any
Osa’s probably afraid he’ll lose the whole lot of us if he lets us out on the town, she
decided as she stepped through the door of the Blue Sun Cantina. If her own duties as copilot/navigator
hadn’t ended when Claw Hard settled into the docking bay, she wouldn’t be here either-she’d be
off-loading and on-loading cargo with the rest of the freighter’s crew. But except for Osa himself she had
the only deep-space pilot’s license on board, and Claw Hard’s captain was getting too fat and lazy to
do his own ship handling.
Beka smiled thinly to herself. If Osa wants to keep his copilot, she thought, he can damn well
let me off the ship for a couple of hours.
The door slid shut behind her, and she made her way through the crowd to the bar. The regulars
at the Blue Sun weren’t exactly the sort of people Beka had grown up with. Innish-Kyl was a frontier
planet near the Mageworlds border zone, and Waycross had started out as a privateers’ port during the
worst years of the late war. Most of the cantina’s patrons probably hadn’t seen a respectable woman
more than once