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Chapter 18

We dropped into normal space and felt the lander jets engage. The ship spun, and Gateway drifted diagonally down across the viewscreen, lumpy pear-shaped blob of charcoal and blue glitter. The four of us just sat there and waited, nearly an hour it took, until we felt the grinding jar that meant we had docked.

Klara sighed. Ham slowly began to unstrap himself from his sling. Dred stared absorbedly at the viewscreen, although it was not showing anything more interesting than Sirius and Orion. It occurred to me, looking at the three others in the capsule, that we were going to be as unpleasant a sight to the boarding crews as some of the scarier returnees had been for me in that long-ago, previous time when I had been a fresh fish on Gateway. I touched my nose tenderly. It hurt a great deal, and above all it stank. Internally, right next to my own sense of smell, where there was no way I could get away from it.

We heard the hatches open as the boarding crew entered, and then heard their startled voices in two or three languages as they saw Sam Kahane where we had put him in the lander. Klara stirred. “Might as well get off,” she murmured to no one, and started toward the hatch, now overhead again.

Chapter 17 | Gateway | A NOTE ON DWARFS AND GIANTS