Day 62. 160 pages, 79,959 words.
“Why not do it on the Highroads?” the Spider stood up again, excitedly. “We go out there, stop, and you deconstruct in un-space. As each piece is ready, we can fit it with an engine. When we have a collection of manageable pieces, we’ll be able to convoy them free without any of the problems involved with moving a single giant body. No burnouts, and that means no risk of losing the merchandise or ourselves – or both – on the Highroads.”
“And once we’re all-stop out there, there’s no way the police will locate us,” Gornack mused. “I suppose I could deconstruct in un-space, at that. It’d be just like doing it in vacuum, except I wouldn’t need to wear a bio-suit.”
The Spider was pacing, his glass already empty in his hand. “I’ll get everything together out of soft-space – the original, and the decoys – and rig up a convoy system interlinking the whole lot of them,” he said. “That’s risky, and we’ll likely burn a few out – the multi-engine setup was unfortunately necessary for an item that size. But losing ships out of a convoy doesn’t derail the convoy, not like it will crash-stop a multi-field ship. Anyway, then we’ll jump out onto the Highroads and power down synchronously. Doof dealers do it all the time – two separate ships would have no chance of coming to a halt in proximity to each other on the Highroads, but two ships under one linked field can stop and start in perfect tandem.”
“I’m sure I wouldn’t know,” said Gornack primly.
“Me neither, it’s just what I heard,” Merdokk replied with a twinkle, and tossed the pad back. “Then when we’ve set up each piece with an individual engine, we make a new convoy and head back out the same way, leaving the junk behind us,” he grinned. “I’ll even throw in a little one-man ship for you. The moment you feel things aren’t going to your liking, you just get in and fly away.”
Gornack blinked. “No strings attached?”
“No strings, no questions, no hard feelings. Cut and run. Call it an insurance policy.”
“You’re going to convoy all those multi-engined bodies together for the trip in?” Gornack waved the diagrams. “Bodies of this size?” The Spider nodded. “And you want a hundred-odd pieces from the original? Each with an engine, and then you want to convoy those?”
“Have you made convoys that big before?”
“And navigated them successfully along the Highroads?”
Gornack drained his glass, truly understanding for the first time why the stuff was called Skeg’s Courage. “Would you lie to me if you hadn’t made a convoy that big?” he demanded.
This time, the Spider’s grin was delighted. “Of course.”