Balance Point

Balance Point by Robert Buettner Read Free Book Online

Book: Balance Point by Robert Buettner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Buettner
But it all starts with you. If you can’t find the small fish . . .”
    “It’s been thirty years. And the woman, if she’s even alive, isn’t in a fishbowl. She’s in an ocean along with thirteen billion other fish.”
    Cutler smiled. “But Max, that ocean and all those fish are your jurisdiction.”
    Polian nodded, smiled in spite of himself. “True.”
    “Then we have a deal. You take it from here, Max.” Cutler patted his shoulder, drifted back and left Max alone at the tip of the enormous ship.
    Polian knew he wouldn’t see or hear from Cutler again until and unless the plan succeeded. So very Trueborn. Cutler cajoled someone else to do the heavy lifting, then would step in to rob the spoils. Or keep his distance if the weight collapsed and crushed the gullible unfortunate. But the spoils for Max Polian, and for Yavet, were worth the heavy lifting and the risk.
    Polian stared into the blackness, as though he could see the first jump, days away even at the unimaginable speed at which they already moved. Beyond that jump lay seven more jumps, and a transfer at the Ring to a downshuttle, before he reached home.
    Even weightless, he felt sore and tired. Yavet to Rand and return was a long journey even for a man half his age. Just as well, though. He needed time to plan his fishing trip.

SEVEN
    Three days after l’affaire Mort, I slid down the electric’s driver’s side window and waved my invitation toward the gate guard, who didn’t stand up inside his stucco box when he saw me. To my left the orange Sun sank into the Gulf of Mexico. Ahead, a half-dozen private tilt-wings nested on the ground between the wrought-iron fence and the main house, and beyond them row upon row of parked limos gleamed black on the emerald lawn.
    The gray-haired guard peered in through the Florida twilight at my dress whites and medals and whistled. “HSLD, Captain Parker!”
    I smiled at him. “We’ll see, Leon.”
    “High Speed Low Drag” was the buttoned-down configuration adopted by terrain-independent extralight armored fighting vehicles when maximizing forward progress. Applied by one hovertanker to another, the acronym implied a sleek appearance likely to maximize progress with the opposite sex.
    I eyed the sea of tilt-wings and limos.
    Their male passengers had surely arrived dressed not in brass-buttoned uniforms worn by persons for hire, but in tuxedos. And not tuxes rented from some storefront next door to a fried chicken place, at that.
    Leon wrinkled his nose at the bugs spattered on my four-year-old electric’s windscreen. HSLD my Chyota was not. “The Colonel’s Dad would have sent the plane for you, Captain. Or at least one of the cars.”
    “Tankers drive themselves, Leon.”
    Especially if the alternative required me to accept an act of noblesse oblige from Edwin Trentin-Born. The Trentins and the Borns had been oblige -ing the less-fortunate classes since long before the hard freeze that followed the Blitz had chased Philadelphia’s society main line permanently to Tampa.
    Not that Kit’s father disliked GIs. On the contrary. Leon hadn’t stood when I pulled up to his guard box because he had lost both legs to an Iridian IED, back before subabdominal regrows.
    Edwin Trentin-Born simply liked GIs who knew their place. Which was in his guard boxes and mowing his lawns, albeit for above-market wages and benefits. But since Edwin’s wife had died and left him only with Kit, one place a GI didn’t fit was alongside Edwin’s daughter, except in a professional capacity.
    Ten seconds after I slid out of my car beneath the porte cochere , a bow-tied valet I didn’t recognize chirped my clunker’s tires and sped it away to invisibility around the side of the house.
    He wasn’t regular staff, because this wasn’t a regular evening with my significant other’s family.
    The fine print on my invitation disclosed that the valet, and everything else about this event, was paid for by The Bradley Weason

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