Cobra Gamble

Cobra Gamble by Timothy Zahn Read Free Book Online

Book: Cobra Gamble by Timothy Zahn Read Free Book Online
Authors: Timothy Zahn
Tags: Fiction, General, Science-Fiction, adventure, Space Opera, cookie429
where her team had intended to land."
    "Except that we were shot down," Jin murmured. "But you're right, that was our planned drop zone."
    "And so the Shahni prepared for the next expected incursion," Zoshak said. "There's a military watch station buried beneath the forest floor in sight of the clearing."
    "It's buried?" Croi said, a fresh hope stirring in his voice. "How deep?"
    "Not deeply enough, I'm afraid," Zoshak told him. "Besides which, it's almost certainly too small, and the generators are unlikely to still be functional. The station was abandoned over ten years ago."
    "But it should be a good place to stash the gear while we find out what's going on in Milika," Paul said. "Warrior?"
    [Your analysis, I agree with it.] Warrior gestured to the helm. [The clearing, we will go there.]
    [The order, I obey it,] the other Troft said.
    Lorne took a step closer to his father. "Okay, we stash the gear," he said quietly. "But then what? If they've really got Merrick pinned down in there—and if they know they've got him pinned—they aren't going to be inclined to just give up and go away."
    "Do not fear, Lorne Moreau," Zoshak said, a dark edge to his voice. "We've taken down Troft warships before. If necessary, we can do it again."
    Paul felt a fresh throbbing in his injured leg. They'd taken down Troft warships on Caelian, all right. Two of them, in fact.
    But it had taken nearly the planet's entire contingent of Cobras to do it. And even then, victory had come at a terrible cost.
    But Zoshak was right. That was Paul's son down there in danger. Whatever it took, they would get him out. 

    The evacuation warning was so subtle that at first Daulo Sammon didn't even notice it. He was still lying in his recovery room bed, wondering what the gentle warbling meant, when a doctor hurried in, his mouth moving but no sound coming out. "What is it?" Daulo asked. His own voice sounded odd, deep and strangely distant. "Speak up. Speak up!"
    The doctor came to a halt beside the bed, his hand reaching up to touch something in Daulo's right ear.
    And suddenly the warbling exploded into a howling roar.
    "Ahh!" Daulo gasped, grabbing for his ears.
    The doctor was faster, doing something else with his ear that brought the howl down to something much more manageable. "Apologies," the man said, his voice carrying easily over the din. "Your hearing hasn't fully recovered. That's an evacuation order. We need to leave here at once."
    Daulo frowned. Then, suddenly, it all flooded back in on him. That first, failed counterattack against the invading Troft forces—his own severe wounding—doctors and drugs and foggy images of faces and noise and fury—
    "Come," the doctor snapped.
    With another jolt, Daulo realized that the tubes connecting him to the feeders and other devices by his bedside had been removed from his arm. "Where are we going?" he asked as the doctor swung his legs off the bed and slid wraparound shoes over his feet.
    "To a departure area," the other said, steadying Daulo with one hand as he pulled over a wheelchair with the other. "We're leaving the city."
    "Now?" Daulo looked at the dangling tubes as he settled into the chair. "But I'm not healed yet." A sudden, horrible thought blew away some of the cobwebs still filling his brain. If this was as good as he was ever going to get— "Am I?"
    "I don't know," the doctor said, and Daulo had to grab for the armrests as the chair suddenly took off toward the door. "It all depends."
    "On what?"
    "On how long the Trofts let us live," the doctor said grimly. "Hang on."
    Daulo had expected the corridor outside to be buzzing with activity as doctors and attendants wheeled out the sick and injured. But to his surprise, the two of them were the only ones in sight. Thankfully, the alarm that had been rattling his room was also barely audible out here. "Where is everyone?" he asked, grabbing for the armrests again as the doctor took a corner way too fast.
    "All those who remain

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