The Colors of Space (Chapter 8, page 2 of 15)


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Chapter 8

It calmed him to make the routine check of his dials.

"Strapdown check," said a Lhari with a yellowed crest and a rasping
voice. "New man, eh?" He gave Bart's straps perfunctory tugs at
shoulders and waist, tightened a buckle. "Karol son of Garin."

Bells rang in the ship, and Bart felt the odd, tonic touch of fear.
This was it.

Vorongil strode through the door, his banded cloak sweeping behind him,
and took the control couch.

"Ready from fueling room, sir."

"Position," Vorongil snapped.

Bart heard himself reading off a string of figures in Lhari. His voice
sounded perfectly calm.

"Communication."

"Clear channels from Pylon Dispatch, sir." It was old Rugel's voice.

"Well," Vorongil said, slowly and almost reflectively, "let's take her
up then."

He touched some controls. The humming grew. Then, swift, hard and
crushing, weight mashed Bart against his couch.

"Position!" Vorongil's voice sounded harsh, and Bart fought the crushing
weight of it. Even his eyeballs ached as he struggled to turn the tiny
eye muscles from dial to dial, and his voice was a dim croak: "Fourteen
seven sidereal twelve point one one four nine...."

"Hold it to point one one four six," Vorongil said calmly.

"Point one one four six," Bart said, and his claws stabbed at dials.
Suddenly, in spite of the cold weight on his chest, the pain, the
struggle, he felt as if he were floating. He managed a long, luxurious
breath. He could handle it. He knew what he was doing.

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