• published in Quiet Knives: Adventures in the Liaden Universe ® Book 9
  • also in A Liaden Universe Constellation volume 2
  • see The Books (and other stories)


  • about 1392, concurrent with the novel "Carpe Diem"
  • set on ship Skeedaddle and on Shaltren (Cessilee), and elsewhere


  • Captain Midj Rolanni, Skeedaddle
  • Sambra Reallan, Juntavas big-wig
  • High Judge of the Juntavas, not named
  • Kore / Korelan Zar, courier pilot for High Judge


"Once more, Mr. Zar -- where is the High Judge?"

"I told you -- on evaluation tour."

"Where is Natesa the Assassin?"

She was trying to throw him off. He gave an irritable shrug. "How the hell do I know? You think a courier assigns Judges?"

"Hm. What was the destination of the lift you did not make?"

He shook his head. "High Judge's business, ma'am. I'm not to disclose that without his say. If you want to 'beam him and get his OK...."


He was sorry he wouldn't be on hand to see the finish of it, since he'd been in on the beginning. It had been a grand, beautiful scheme, so logical. So -- simple. Introduce a justice system into Juntavas structure. Feed and nurture and protect it and its practitioners for twenty, thirty, fifty Standards—they hadn't been sure of the timing, but hoped to see results within their lifetimes -- easily that. Lately, he thought they'd been optimistic -- and not only of the timing.


"I've been reading history, Captain Rolanni. The vengeance that these two beings may visit upon the entire organization if their petition is mishandled -- and there is no possibility that the chairman will not mishandle it -- doesn't bear thinking about. I -- Action needs to be taken. But I must know what the High Judge is planning."

"And you think Kore knows."


"But Kore's been taken by the chairman," Midj pointed out, trying to keep the thought —- and its implications -— from reaching real nerve endings. "If he's as ruthless as he says, he's already cracked Kore's head open and emptied out everything inside."