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four supports. Claudia knew it consisted of a drive, hyperdrive, and
mega-memory.
A minicomputer provided guidance and control. It was the mega-memory that held
whatever secrets had been entrusted to it. At the moment, a maze of
multicolored wires led from the mega-memory's circuitry to some specialized
crypto equipment, which in turn was linked to the ship's main computer.
Blithely ignoring Claudia's pained expression, Chang continued his monologue.
"I guess she gave our Interceptor jockeys a real run for their money. She was
just about to go hyper when they threw some light tractors on her. I figure
somebody's got something real important to say, because unlike our converted
jobs, this baby was really designed to carry the mail. Someday we'll figure
out how to punch com messages through hyperspace and these suckers will become
so much scrap.
Don't get me wrong though, you can't get anything better than a torp from
Techno. I mean that sucker's built. It took me two hours to defeat the
electromechanical traps, and another three to get around all the stuff hidden
in the programming. Still," he added happily, "I showed those Techno types a
thing or two."
The printer stopped whirring, and Chang ripped off the fax. Proudly he handed
it to Claudia. She found herself looking at the words "Wind World," and a long
string of numbers. "There you go, Princess, that's where the torp was headed,
and although we haven't broken their message code yet, you'll notice they
didn't try to encode proper names. For example, 'McCade,' and 'Farigo,' appear
more than once. Does that help?"
Claudia's face broke into a rare smile. "It certainly does, Lieutenant, no,
make that Lieutenant
Commander, Chang. You've been a very big help indeed! Please feed those
coordinates to the bridge, and tell Captain Queet I want to reach the Wind
World in record time."
Claudia watched Chang as he called the bridge, and neither saw Lady Linnea as
she slipped away on an
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errand of her own.
Fifteen
MCCADE HAD NEVER liked hyperspace shifts in general. The whole concept of
leaving normal space for some other reality, which only a few mathematicians
understood, bothered him. But to do it without nav beacons seemed especially
stupid. Oh, he'd done it often enough, one didn't have much choice out along
the frontier, but he didn't like it. He preferred the situation in toward the
Empire, where nav beacons marked all the major trade routes, and were taken
for granted. Once each sixty seconds the beacons automatically shunted from
normal, to hyperspace, then back. Meanwhile each nav beacon broadcast its own
distinctive signal, thereby marking a proven entry and exit point. It was a
very useful system. Unfortunately this was the rim, and one helluva a long way
from any trade route, so they weren't going to run into any nav beacons. Of
course as long as you had good coordinates you didn't really need a beacon.
And they had the coordinates provided by Walker. "Which means we're in good
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shape," the optimistic McCade told himself.
"Sure," the pessimistic McCade answered, "but Walker was under a lot of
pressure when he sent Rico those coordinates. What if he made a mistake? What
if he transposed two digits for example? You might come out of hyperspace
right in the middle of a sun... and that could be a tad uncomfortable. So why
not just forget the whole thing and go home?"
The discussion was suddenly rendered academic, as the computer cut the ship's
hyperdrive, and slipped
Pegasus into normal space. There was a brief moment of nausea, followed by
subtle changes in all the viewscreens as they switched from simulated to real
space.
Rico gave a low whistle. "Well, ol' sport, your friend certainly liked 'em
tight."
McCade nodded his agreement. They'd come out of hyperspace so close to the
planet they were damned near in orbit. Walker liked them close indeed. Most
pilots considered it prudent to leave a little more leeway, even if it meant a
day's travel in normal space. It might be slower, but it was a lot safer.
McCade tapped some keys, and the ship's computer obeyed, taking Pegasus down
into a high orbit. He wanted to look things over before trying to put the ship [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]