L3

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L3 - THE FRIGATE

The third intruder became very co-operative after witnessing what had hap- pened to his companion. Hy said, Our mother ship is hovering overhead.

That's much better, Terrel said. You're not really in the Navy, are you? You have a remarkably better attitude. What's your name?

Karayan. The hashmal was short-handed, I was pressed into service.

So a Jovian civilian? Karayan nodded that Terel's guess was correct.

Lahatiel kicked the chair. Nuriel spat on him. A curse on your beard, Greidi told hym bitterly. That you would do this to your own people.

From the very beginning I had no choice, madam. The punishments...

After Terel learned there were only three more yeng aboard the ship hy said, So that makes your Exiler a corvette?

Frigate. But we came down in the lander, Exiler Sidekick.

Then I see one narrow way out for you, Karayan. You do not have to die like your two friends. All you have to do is fire up your lander and take myself, my wife, my son and my daughter up to your mother ship.

Karayan thought about it for a moment. Lahatiel helped hym along hyz thought process by drawing near to him and tapping his feet. You'll nev- er make it, Karayan said. They'll know something is wrong right away.

That's why I'm hoping you are a very good actor, Karayan. You need to get on visual, ship-to-ship, and give the performance of your life. Immediate- ly. Because your life is at stake.

And then where can you go? The empire will never stop looking for you.

Never mind about that. Will you fly us up?

It'll be crowded. And what about the yeng on the Exiler?

No one has to die. I'll give you the lander and you can all fly away.

Five heartbeats later Karayan said, Then we do have a deal, sir.

On the way up Terel demanded Karayan describe the interior of the frigate with great detail. Then he gave his orders to Greidi, Lahatiel, and Nuriel.

Before docking, the commanding officer of Exiler raised Corporal Karay- an on intership VHF and ordered hym to make his report. Karayan pasted a smile on hyz face and said, Gold, sir! There's so much the ravmalak told me to take a load up here and go back for more. And there were only four locals in the hole. We finished them off easy.

Excellent work, Karayan. We'll get ready to receive you.

So anxious were the other three yeng on the Exiler to see the gold they were all present when the lander docked with the frigate and the hatch swung open. That made things easy for Terel and Lahatiel. They didn't have to go though the warship looking for strays. They did have to hit the yeng with the stunner several times before they were all strapped into their seats, the hatch was closed, and the lander was cast off into space.

Lahatiel never learned what happened to the spaceyeng after they departed. Perhaps the three overcame the one, wriggled free, and killed Karayan when he succumbed to sleep. But Exiler Sidekick never returned to Belial.

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