Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Author:Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers


Breaking Silence

THERE WAS NOBODY behind me. Nothing at all.

“Please don’t discharge your weapon. You might disturb the native fauna.” Nadim’s tone all wrong, too anxious, too urgent.

But I knew damn well I hadn’t imagined somebody behind me.

The wind whispered through my skinsuit mask, tanged with the alien mix of gases. I scanned twice, once with my eyes and next with my equipment. No signs of life popped on the screen and I lowered the weapon. I didn’t put it away.

Beatriz patted my shoulder as she set off toward the ruins. “I never expected you to be jumping at shadows, Z.”

“You’re hilarious,” I mumbled.

In my mind’s eye, I tried to process what I’d seen, but it had happened so fast. Nadim said there was no intelligent life, but Earth-wise, the lines got blurry around whale and chimpanzee. Could be that Firstworld had some native creatures, big enough to shake me. Whatever it was, it didn’t want to get close to us, which did suggest wildlife. Yet—

“Nadim,” I said, low. “Come on, tell me the truth.”

“It was nothing.” Clearly he didn’t want to have this conversation dirtside. Damn, but I was getting tired of secrets. I wanted to trust him, but it was getting harder. Our connection couldn’t change the fact that I’d seen something, and he wasn’t going to talk me out of it.

My skin crawled the whole time we trekked through the golden grass; the suits we wore shifted to a lazy whisper of colors that blended perfectly, but I could still feel someone watching, and it wasn’t Nadim. I kept turning and scanning behind me, searching for any sign of trouble.

I didn’t see anything. Just the alien plants bending in the breeze.

I’d had this exact feeling in the Zone when somebody was trying to decide whether to start some shit or not. No matter which way I looked, I saw only alien landscape, painted in unnatural colors. And then it occurred to me . . . What if what’s watching us blends in too? Like our skinsuits? The thought pulled my muscles tight and my nerves even tighter. If there was something out here, I needed to be ready. I couldn’t let anything happen to Beatriz.

She pointed things out, and I kept nodding, but my attention was on the perimeter, scanning like a bot on patrol. Every so often, she paused to collect samples of plants. I did the same with minerals, but only because Nadim kept murmuring that I had a job to do. The dirt was an interesting mix of colors that probably told a fascinating story to somebody who knew more. I’d analyze it back aboard and let our equipment do the heavy lifting for some professor in Paradise to delight over once the digital information reached his desk.

It occurred to me that where humanity had, back in its late golden days, sent out machines to other planets to drill core samples and wander the landscape of another world . . . that was us now.


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