Just inside the passenger deck airlock stood a tall woman in a crisp, dark blue uniform and sleeked-back, straight blond hair that stopped short of touching her collar. She inclined her head as he approached. “Captain.”
“Zoltana.”c. 2008, Keanan Brand
“You didn’t have to dress up on my account.”
Kristoff plucked at his freshly ironed white shirt. “What? This old thing?” He’d smile, but it made his face hurt. “What brings the Orpheus to these skies?”
“Routine random searches.”
“Well, in your case,” she smiled slightly, her hands still clasped behind her back, “more routine.”
“Welcome aboard, Captain Zoltana.” Kristoff stood aside. “My crew will cooperate.”
She turned her head, and the men standing behind her fanned out to search the cargo deck. Zoltana didn’t move from her place. Nor did she watch her men. She watched Kristoff, who watched her from the corner of his eye.
He didn’t play chess—good thing, too, ‘cause he’d probably lose every game—but so far he’d never been outmaneuvered by Zoltana or any other duly sworn constable.
There was a first time for everything.
Wyatt, the little high-strung steward who preferred an abacus to a group of people of any sort, but who still seemed to charm passengers in spite of himself, led one trio of men to inspect the freight lockers while Corrigan, wrench in hand, led another to the engine room. Ezra, cultural liaison and sometime housekeeper, escorted yet another trio up to the passenger deck.
Kristoff stood with his hands resting lightly on his hips and pretended to be interested in the catwalk opposite the airlock.
“You know, captain,” Zoltana’s voice was heavy with sarcasm, “if you lie real still, this’ll all be over in a few minutes.”
“Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
“Never knew a man to turn it down.”
“Ah, I bet you say that to all the boys.”