Tilly had unwanted company, of course, but no-one could object to her attending the planetary amateur games, could they?
Except the clean cut, perfectly uniformed lieutenant did. His latest complaint was, “We shouldn’t be doing this!”
“Why not?” Tilly was leading the way through a back route to the pistol shooting’s change rooms.
“We don’t have tickets.”
“We’re not sitting in seats or otherwise watching the competition, so we don’t need tickets.” Tilly was reading the labels on doors now, obviously looking for something or somewhere in particular.
“Getting in the way we did was against regulations!” He was hissing at her now.
“Against service regulations,” she corrected him absent mindedly. “I’m not in the service so they don’t apply to me. As for you, it’s not like I made you follow me.”
“I’m under orders!”
“To follow me anywhere?” She knocked on a door labelled with a male competitor’s name.
“Within certain public decency limits.”
She looked him up and down. “Interesting. We should discuss your ship skills sometime soon.”
The door in front of them opened and a seven foot tall man loomed above them. “Tilly!” He sounded pleased to see her and then, “I was sorry to hear about Killen and the others. What can I do for you?”
“You busy after the competition?” Tilly was keeping her voice light. “I’m hiring for a trip beyond the border.”
“To do what?” The competitor’s pass around the tall man’s neck was in the name of Perrup Ferrisson.
“The guys crossed the border in hot pursuit of Jeredghal after he tried to blow us to kingdom come in a bar here. The ship was found as a cloud of debris a week and a half later. Listed as lost with all hands.” She shrugged.
“And?” Ferrisson was looking at her intently.
“There wasn’t enough organic debris to satisfy me that they were all on board when the ship blew. Jeredghal takes prisoners. There are three places within reasonable travel distance he could have gone to sell off such…acquisitions. I want to check them for survivors.”
“And that’s all?” The big man regarded her with a serious expression and the lieutenant was flabbergasted. This had not been in his briefing.
“On this trip, yes,” Tilly confirmed. “This is reconnaissance and hopefully rescue. Those don’t mix well with revenge. I’m offering your usual rates, of course.”
“Then I’m in,” Ferrisson smiled. “Just let me deal with this competition first.”