Hunting the Hunter Part 5

For once, there'd been no-one Amieta knew in the Gate.

Not sure if that's a relief or if I should be worried what Cia's gotten up to since I saw her a few days ago. Amieta thought as she walked through the maze of hallways from the Last Gate to the Interbus terminal nearly on autopilot. Her mind turned to the upcoming operation. The last bits of intel had come through, and Amieta knew that at that moment Sarakai's team was probably in place.

Guess you can still get nerves even when you aren't one of the ones holding a gun.

She walked out onto the main terminal concourse, and turned toward the ramp for her shuttle

Studying the vending machine in the Interbus terminal with every appearance of a man unable to chose between the equally unpalatable alternatives of a dry cheese sandwich or a can of Quafe Ultra, Jorion Roth watched the room behind him in the polished metal of the machine's frame.


Instantly recognizable to him after the hours he'd spent studying her picture, even if the long sleeves of her uniform jacket covered those distinctive undisguised prosthetic arms, Commander Amieta Invelen strolled across the terminal.

Jorion punched the button for the sandwich, picked it out of the slot as it dropped and turned, head down as if he were struggling with the vacuum-sealed wrapping. He fell into step behind Invelen, making sure to keep thirty feet of distance and a good number of other passengers between them.

He already had his ticket to Ennur IX - M7 - Impro Research Center. He had a few others as well, to Torrinos and Rens to cover all the bases, but within a minute it was clear that Invelen was heading for the boarding gate to the Ennur shuttle.

Eating his sandwich, the half-peeled off wrapper mostly obscuring his face, Jorion filed on after her. She took a seat near the front of the shuttle. Jorion took one three rows behind her, far enough away to be out of reach of those arms, close enough to be sure he wouldn't miss. Invelen picked a holozine from the rack set in the back of the seat in front of her and flicked through it. Jorion did the same, seeing none of the glossy advertising or the breathless copy, watching the window beside him out of the corner of his eye, studying the view it showed him - stars moving past superimposed on a tiny inverted reflection of the cabin.

Tiny-upside down Invelen read her 'zine. I wonder what Sansha make of these things? Jorion wondered. Do they have their own versions, filled with advertorials about the new improved True Slave relay?

He would have liked to ask Invelen that. I would have liked to ask her a lot of things. But that was not going to happen. The shuttle flashed through the Ennur Gate, aligned, and kicked into warp. Jorion dropped his 'zine and got to his feet, to all outward appearances a man in a hurry to disembark as soon as the shuttle docked.

Clear shot
, he thought, fingers gripping the butt of his gun.

"Don't fucking twitch."

Cool metal touched the back of his neck.

Even as he tensed, every passenger on the shuttle drew a weapon, aiming them directly at him. Every passenger except one.

Commander Amieta Invelen dropped her 'zine and stood up. "Thank you, Sarakai. Your team is to be commended."

Jorion swallowed, looking around at the 'passengers'. The Sansha passengers.

Invelen turned, a predatory smile spreading across her face.

"Mr Roth," she said. "I'm so glad we're going to have the chance to talk. I have a few suggestions about parenting I'd really like you to hear."

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