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Chapter Three

Long experience had taught Petty Officer first-class Scott Smith to collect his battered locker from the heap outside the personnel shuttle's cargo tube, activate its counter-grav, and tow it safely out of the way before he did anything else. Only after accomplishing that did he look for the directions board. His searching eyes found it, and he crossed the concourse to it, then kept one hand resting lightly on the locker as he studied the flashing information. There it was: HMS Candice, the same name as on his transfer orders. He grimaced. He still didn't have the least damned idea what a "Candice " was, but he didn't like the ring of it.

Sounds like the candied-apple kind of name that should belong to some damned armed merchant escort, he snorted mentally. Or maybe a tender. A tug? He shrugged irritably. Hell of a name for a warship, anyway. And why the hell couldn't they just leave me aboard Leutzen? It took me three damned T-years to get that slot, and now they yank me out of it for God knows what.

He grimaced again, but orders were orders. He double-checked the display for the right color-coded guide strip and set glumly off through the bowels of Her Majesty's Space Station Weyland for his destination.

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