Andrew Kearley

There were just two things left now - Blake's death and revenge. Once there had only been Blake's death. Travis smiled grimly to himself. Now he had two ambitions. His horizons were widening.

He moved swiftly through the spaceport. If his information was correct, he ought to find what he was looking for. It hadn't been too difficult. Pursuit Four's onboard computer was still accessing the Federation Security database. There was no reason why anyone should cancel the access codes. Only Servalan knew who had control of the ship, and it was in her interest that Travis was allowed to hunt.

He moved through the crowd that milled around the spaceport concourse. Thrabes was a busy junction point on the very edge of Federation space. It was one of the places through which smugglers operated. It was also the kind of port from which a fugitive would try to get through into neutral territory. For the right price, you could get the necessary exit visas here. There were excellent forgers to be found lurking in the darker corners of Thrabes.

The crowd parted momentarily and Travis saw him. He looked older than Travis remembered. His beard was scruffier and almost completely white. His hair had gone much the same way. He hadn't exactly been in the first flush of youth the last time, but now there was something different about him. He appeared haggard, and listless, his energy drained out of him. Two years on the run did that to a man.

Travis wondered if he'd look as bad in a couple of years' time. Not if he could help it. He had some hope of reversing his fortunes. It was still only a vague glimmering in the back of his mind, but it was the revenge he was entitled to.

He started to move closer to his quarry. Docholli was sitting outside one of the concourse bars, a large drink in front of him. It looked like he'd had a few already. That was probably another reason for his dishevelled appearance. A bad move, Travis thought. If you're on the run, you keep away from drink. When you're drunk, you talk too much. You give yourself away. You make mistakes.

It had been simple good fortune that he'd tracked Docholli down. It was a big galaxy and theoretically the fugitive surgeon could have kept his head down and stayed at large indefinitely.

But Docholli had made one big mistake. He'd been on the spot when one of the Governor's advisory staff had been involved in an accident. He had carried out some emergency field surgery, enough to save the man's limb before the medics could arrive. After that he had slipped into the background. He couldn't afford the publicity.

There had been just a brief news report. A cybersurgeon called Kline saves an important local official. Nothing odd about that. Except that there was no registered surgeon called Kline. A slight anomaly for the security computer to register.

To most people it would mean nothing, but then most people didn't know what to look for. Travis did. He was one of probably five people in the whole Federation who knew about Docholli. This Kline was the best lead he had.

So, he'd left the Pursuit Ship, with orders to retrieve him when he sent a rendezvous signal, and hitched a freighter ride to Thrabes. Looking at the spaceport was a guess - but if Docholli had drawn unwanted attention to himself, it made sense that he would try to get away from there as quickly as possible.

An announcement came over the public address system. A freighter called the Bar-ree was leaving for Freedom City. Travis watched Docholli get slowly to his feet. His movements were a little unsteady, but if he'd been on the hard stuff that wasn't surprising. He started to shuffle towards the boarding ramp.

Travis followed him. He had to find a way of getting onto that ship. He couldn't afford to lose Docholli now. Docholli knew the location of Star One. But more importantly, Docholli had given himself away. It wouldn't be long before Servalan traced the surgeon here - and probably on to Freedom City as well. And Blake, aided by the Orac computer, would almost certainly be privy to the same security reports. Travis knew that he couldn't let either of them get to Docholli first.

Continued in Star Two

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