Engaging the Enemy

Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon Read Free Book Online

Book: Engaging the Enemy by Elizabeth Moon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elizabeth Moon
as this one; as long as you don’t prey on their people and spend enough in port, they won’t care.”
    â€œBut if Slotter Key—”
    â€œWhy do you care what they think? They turned on your family, right? Let ’em howl. You have a good fast ship and a letter of marque. You’d be crazy not to use it to the hilt.” The others, Ky noted when she glanced around, were staring at Rafe as if he’d sprouted extra limbs. He looked around, too, then back at her, a look as challenging as the flourish of a sword. “What—you haven’t gotten squeamish, have you, or stricken with remorse or anything? After the way you killed Osman?”
    She shook her head. “No…I’m not stricken with remorse. Osman needed killing. It’s just—”
    He interrupted. “It’s just that you’ve always been a good girl, Stella says. Law abiding, rule following, all that. Well, look where it got your family. Dead, most of them. I’m not saying turn into a vindictive pirate like Osman, but if you want to do the survivors any good, you can’t be too worried about what other people think.”
    Ky was aware of a tense stillness; the bridge crew’s attention was palpable. Her mouth was dry; she felt as if she were about to jump out of the ship into vacuum and free fall. A trickle of humor worked its way through—she had done that already. With a bungee cord. And she wasn’t the nice rule-bound girl she had been—if she ever had been. She had killed more than once, and she had enjoyed it…something she hoped no one else would suspect.
    â€œI suppose,” she said, drawing the words out, “if communications come back and Slotter Key tries to withdraw the letter of marque…I’ll deal with it.”
    A faint sense of relaxation. She took a deep breath and let it out. “All right. I’m not putting my head in anyone’s noose just to see if they’ll yank it tight. But I do need to talk to Stella and the Mackensee escort, and as many captains as I have time for.”
    No one said anything, but there was a collective gust of breath let out.
    â€œWe’re well stocked for any ordinary voyage,” Ky said, as if to herself. “We can’t air up the whole ship yet, but there’s plenty for us and we have the power to warm up Environmental and let the tanks start producing. Plenty of water, right, Mitt?”
    â€œYes, plenty. We can go to electrolysis if you want, but it’s safer to go slow.”
    â€œWell, then. We need to find a destination, within two jumps, and in the books as being relaxed on regulatory operations.”

S tella, when Ky contacted her aboard
Gary Tobai,
stared out of the screen, eyes wide. “You’re going to leave me behind? What if they lock me up?” she asked. “Why wouldn’t they?”
    â€œYou weren’t in command when Osman attacked us; you didn’t make the decisions or even participate.”
    â€œI had a bag over my head and was tied up—” Stella said. “If that’s not participating…”
    â€œI know that and you know that, but they don’t. And they don’t need to. You’re my cousin; you’re a Vatta—or a Constantin, I don’t care which name you use here—and you did what you were told. I can name you my agent for financial matters—collecting payment from the others in the convoy and paying off Mackensee. Mackensee will speak up for you, after all. You should still have enough to get where we’re going…”
    â€œIf they don’t put me in jail,” Stella said gloomily. “It wouldn’t be the first time a government punished the innocent because they couldn’t catch the guilty.” Then, in a different tone, “Sorry. I didn’t mean you were guilty, of course. Just what they think, or may think.”
    â€œThat’s all right,” Ky said. “But

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