"Commodore Harrington! Commodore Harrington! "
Honor looked up and turned quickly. Her missing arm left her unable to help very much with most of the tasks required to keep Camp Inferno’s small community alive, but she’d discovered that she had a much better eye for color than she’d ever realized. It wasn’t, after all, a subject she’d had a great deal of time to explore prior to her trip to Hell. But since her arrival at Inferno, she’d begun helping Henri Dessouix and his assistants experiment with the dyes they used on their handmade clothing. As Ramirez’ exec, Harriet Benson was in charge of managing the camp’s manpower pool, and she had detailed Lieutenant Stephenson, late of the Lowell Space Navy, as Honor’s assistant. Stephenson had no color judgment at all, but he did have two sound and brawny arms to man the mortar and pestle in which Dessouix crushed roots, berries, leaves, and anything else he could find to provide dyes. He also had a cheerful disposition, and he and Honor had been experimenting with new dye combinations for almost three months now. They were close to producing a green which was almost identical to the dark jade Honor had chosen for the tunics of her Grayson armsmen, but she forgot about that in an instant as she saw the expression on Ramirez’ messenger’s face... and felt the other woman’s jagged emotions.
"Yes?" she said sharply, and heard Andrew LaFollet’s feet thump on the ground as he slithered down out of the tree from which he had been keeping watch over his Steadholder.
"Commodore Ramirez... says to come quick, Ma’am!" the messenger gasped, panting hard after her dead run through the afternoon’s searing heat. "He says... he says Grandma is inbound!"
Honor’s head snapped around, her good eye meeting LaFollet’s, and felt the sudden explosive excitement ripping through her armsman. He looked back at her for a second, then unhooked the small com unit from his belt and held it out to her without a word.
She took it and drew a deep breath, then punched the transmit button. It was one of StateSec’s own security coms, and they’d chosen a frequency as far as possible from those the SS here on Hell routinely used and set it up for burst transmission. But they hadn’t encrypted it, on the theory that if anyone else happened to pick it up anyway, it would be better for Camp Charon to hear a random scrap of chatter which might not make any sense but had to have come from one of their people rather than start wondering why someone was encrypting his traffic.
Not that she intended for the transmission to be long.
"Wolf," she said calmly into the com. "I say again, Wolf."
There was an instant of silence, and then the startled voice of Sarah DuChene came back to her.
"Copy Wolf," DuChene said. "Repeat, copy Wolf."
Honor’s fierce half-grin was more of a snarl, baring the teeth on the right side of her mouth, and she tossed the com back to LaFollet, then scooped Nimitz up into his carrier, wheeled, and ran for the main camp as hard as she could.