By Andre Norton, Sherwood Smith
The recent novel within the well known "Solar Queen" sequence. Hesprid IV cannot be that undesirable. particularly whilst it holds the sort of large deposit of profitable cielanite ore. Or so thinks Dane Thorson and the remainder of the workforce of the "Solar Queen", and its new sister send, the lately recovered derelict "North Star". The plan turns out simple--make landfall, mine ore, depart. Too undesirable issues are by no means as effortless as they seem.
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The gloom hid the cable where it attached to the top, but the rest of the cable glistened wetly in his hel-met light as his eyes followed it up into darkness. There was a track of some lighter wood along the elevator's path. Wear from friction? He couldn't see what held the box against the trunk when it rose-surely they didn't let it dangle free? Faint washes of light from unseen sources brought tree branches and leaves into silhouette as Dane's eyes adjusted. A sudden gust of frigid wind brought icy, stinging needles of frozen rain, and Dane was glad to crowd into the narrow elevator.
Then he realized that the others were looking at him in silence, waiting for orders. Tau spoke first. "We're cabled down and sealed up. " "Humanoid infrared and carbon dixoide traces, mass at high end of human scale," Ali replied as Tau leaned over to look at the display. " Dane looked up in surprise. "Pirates? " Ali gave an elaborate shrug. " He sent a look at Rip. "So. " "So no one goes out until we have light," Rip said slowly. "Meantime, standard procedure: we'll break out the sleep-rods and set up watches.
He turned-and Dane Thorson appeared in the hatchway, looking tired and slightly apologetic. "One thing we never found out," Dane said, "was whether the Ariadne had its full crew complement on board when she was hijacked by Flindyk's gang. " Ali whistled. " "It makes sense," Rip said slowly. " "If it's so," Ali said, tapping idly at his console, "then we're the pirates. At least, so we'd appear to them. " "So. if they saw the Ariadne in orbit overhead, then they know we have their ship," Dane said.