The Servants of the Storm by Jack Campbell
Author:Jack Campbell [Campbell, Jack]
Publisher: Jabberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.
“There are two fuel oil tanks there for any Guild ship that needs filled up right away,” Banda explained. “Located near the end of the Guild pier. Not huge tanks, but each would have more than enough fuel to top us off. It’s not that far beyond Palandur to Marandur along the river, so that would leave us a lot of fuel for the trip back.”
“But how do we get to the oil tanks?” Dav asked. “It sounds impossible.”
“Are there any Mages helping to guard the area?” Alain asked.
All of the Mechanics looked at him with dawning hope. “Not that I ever saw,” Banda said. “This isn’t something that Mari, Dav, or I could manage. Do you think that you and Mage Asha could provide the edge we need?”
“What must we do?” Alain said.
Banda sketched a rough map in the air. “Sneak in past the Imperial guard towers at the entry, sneak past the picket boats, get past the alarms on the Mechanics Guild pier, either avoid or neutralize the Mechanic guards on the dock, tap into one of the fuel oil tanks, top off our tanks, then get back out without being spotted. Oh, I forgot to mention that the Mechanics Guild pier is brightly lit at night.”
Mari’s and Mechanic Dav’s expressions had grown steadily more appalled as Banda listed once again all the security measures they would face.
Alain took his time answering, thinking through what must be done. “Any spells used by Mage Asha or myself would advertise our presence to the other Mages in Palandur, and there will be many.”
“Even if we could use them, what spells could be used to conceal so large a thing?” Asha asked.
“I do not know,” Alain said. “I do not know how we can prevent ourselves and you Mechanics and this ship from being noticed.”
Dav nodded ruefully. “Especially in the case of Asha. She tends to draw a lot of attention.”
Alain paused, an idea coming to him. “Perhaps that is the answer.”
“Use Mage Asha to distract people?” Mari asked skeptically.
“Use Mage Asha and myself.” Alain felt his plan forming. “Mages will go wherever they want to go. They do not acknowledge the rules of others, and the commons fear to stop them. Suppose that two Mages openly enter this place, ignoring the protests of the Imperial sentries who will not dare halt the Mages? Suppose those Mages go to such parts of the place where they will distract anyone from looking at where this ship and its Mechanics are?”
“Instead of hide our presence,” Banda said, “we’d use you two Mages to make everyone aware you were there? And then slip past while their attention was on you? That just might work.”
“Who tries to sneak into a place by making a ruckus?” Dav said. “It wouldn’t be something that they’d expect. But even though it might work, wouldn’t it place Asha and Alain in some serious danger?”
“Commons will not attack Mages,” Asha said.
“There have been some attacks in the last few years,” Mari said.
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