49 \ 137

The private investigator was only five games into the poker table at Joe’s pub when he was handed a call from ‘Mr. G’. That was the first time he’d seen the dishes kid, who brought the phone out to Joe. Joe interrupted the deal at the table. “It’s a Mr. G, for you,” he said with a look that didn’t really want to know.

He stroked the grey felt on the card table as he listened. Derringer guessed that one of the other players was an eye for Mr. G, who this time turned out to be General Draig Claymore through a subtle scrambler. Derringer could recognize his thoughtful pause pattern through the bent vowels and inflections. Mr. G had an assignment for Derringer that he could do by himself, and was within his usual range of errands. He was essentially being asked to take an official vehicle out for a joyride to nearby hinterspace.

“I’d like to you to go to this coordinate; there shouldn’t be anything there, and nothing in particular should show on your shipboard. But according to reports, there might be something. If you register something, or anything, I’d like to you tell me. Go now.”

How did they know him so well? Besides being the government. Many’s the time he resisted taking one of their ships for a spin. This was like his reward for being a good boy, in that respect. The point he sought wasn’t that far away – Dalmeera-on-Florin was in nearest vicinity – yet it was sufficiently remote, in a strange direction. Derringer cranked it up and let it out, impressed by the standard specs on a government vehicle.

This zone was nice and clear, and Derringer took a soaring route, to widen his coverage, yes. Sometimes what you’re looking for is on the way to where you think you’ll find it – worth the fuel.

He neared the coordinate after about an hour, and switched from soaring to stalking: creeping paths alternating with observant pauses.

Weird… what is that? Something tiny, dancing in place right where there’s supposed to be nothing. Like a confused fly.

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