Caught by Menace(3)

By: Lolita Lopez

to your family or friends again.”

“I don’t think that’s true. I’ve heard some girls have

contact with their families. And the Artist has a sister that

does some work for the Red Feather now. She was one

of the last ones we successfuly smuggled out of Harper’s

Wel. I guess she figures she owes us a debt so she helps

Wel. I guess she figures she owes us a debt so she helps

us place single or widowed mothers and their children in

safe houses on Jesco colony and Safe Harbor.”

“She does owe a debt. Every one of us that takes a

favor from the Red Feather owes a favor in return.”

“There you go with your honor code again.” Dankirk

shoved two pieces of chewing gum into his mouth and

winced as he bit down. “Anyway, the sister in the

colonies told me that the Artist is happy with her new

husband on the Valiant and living the kind of life we can

only dream about here.”

Naya’s gaze narrowed suspiciously. “Sounds like

some kind of bulshit story to hide what’s realy going on

up there in those sky ships.”

“Believe what you want. I choose to believe the

woman is happy. The moons only know that she

deserves it, especialy after being arrested and publicly

humiliated for drawing that newsletter for us.”

She remembered the horror of learning the woman,

just a teenager back then, had been arrested for her

crime of disseminating information. They had sentenced

her to a public shearing, the same sentence given to

prostitutes, and had shaved her head in the Harper’s

prostitutes, and had shaved her head in the Harper’s

Wel town square. It was such a cruel thing to do to

someone so young.

Naya noticed the way Dankirk winced as he chewed.

“That tooth bothering you again, Danny?”

He nodded. “Damn thing is kiling me. The chewing

helps. There’s some kind of herbal oil in the gum that

numbs the area nicely.”

“You should see someone about that tooth before you

get an infection and die. Go have Griff pul it.”

He growled. “I am not letting some drunken bear of a

bartender jerk a damn tooth out of my head, Naya!”

“Quit being such a crybaby! He did my wisdom teeth

when I was like, sixteen.”

“Yeah, wel, you’re a different breed, kid. My

ancestors were wimps. I’m quite fond of the analgesics

they offer in more civilized places like the colonies and

The City.”

She roled her eyes. “Wel, unless you plan to bribe

one of the licensed dentists in The City just to get an

appointment and then pay the exorbitant fees for

pharmacy access and medical exemptions, you don’t

have a lot of choices. Just suck it up, get drunk and have

it yanked.”

Dankirk shuddered. “I’l suffer until I can see someone

in Safe Harbor next week. There’s a sick kid in

Grogan’s Mil that needs some kind of major surgery.

The hospital on the Harbor can help him so I’m

smuggling them out.”

“Are you taking the whole family?”

He shook his head. “Just the mother.”

“Is it too expensive for the whole family to travel?”

“Hardly,” he said in frustration. “It’s just mom, dad

and the kid, but the dad is one of those no-intervention

nutters. It’s crazy. This kid wil have a totaly happy,

healthy and productive life if he has the surgery but his

dad is ready to start digging a grave and lighting memorial

candles. I just don’t understand it.”

“Different cultures, Danny. That’s why our people

settled here in Connor’s Run. They sure as hel knew

they weren’t going to find the kind of freedom they

wanted in places like Harper’s Wel or the Mil.”

“You ain’t lying.” Danny’s head snapped to the far

wal of the warehouse. “I think we have company.” He

pushed her toward a dark corner. “Hide behind those

boxes until I give you the signal.”

boxes until I give you the signal.”

Naya didn’t argue. Silently she crept to safety and

crouched down. Controling her breathing and listening

intently, she experienced such a surge of sadness. It

wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Al those centuries earlier, when her ancestors had left

Earth for the promised land in the stars, they’d believed

they were going to a place of peace and prosperity. After

their generational ship limped into this end of the galaxy,

the Harcos took pity on them. They’d been given a

beautiful planet by a race of sky warriors to start their

new civilization—but it had al gone pear-shaped.

Religious disagreements, corruption, a famine and an

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