Read Andre Norton: The Essential Collection Online

Authors: Andre Norton

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Anthologies, #Genre Fiction, #Anthologies & Short Stories

Andre Norton: The Essential Collection

BOOK: Andre Norton: The Essential Collection
ads

ANDRE NORTON

THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION

Copyright 2014 Digital Papyrus

All rights reserved

www.DigitalPapyrus.org

ISBN-13: 9781456622916

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

P
UBLISHER
'
S
N
OTE

Thank you for your purchase of
Andre Norton: The Essential Collection (Bonus Audiobook Links)
by Andre Norton.

Andre Norton: The Essential Collection
includes fourteen of Andre Norton’s works:

Science Fiction Novels & Short Stories

The Defiant Agents

Key Out of Time

The Time Traders

Plague Ship

All Cats Are Gray

Star Born

Storm Over Warlock

Star Hunter

Voodoo Planet

The People of the Crater

The Gifts of Asti

Historical Fantasy & Fiction

Ride Proud, Rebel!

Rebel Spurs

Ralestone Luck

Audiobook Links:
Links to download free, full-length audiobooks for
Andre Norton: The Essential Collection (Bonus Audiobook Links)
can be found at the end of the book.

About this
Digital Papyrus
edition

“Experience the Digital Papyrus Difference!”

We are devoted book lovers and formatting fanatics. Our team has experience producing thousands of ebooks since 2011 for discerning authors and readers alike. We know what readers expect from their ebook purchases. We avoid distracting formatting inconsistencies and annoying glitches too often found in ebooks.

We adhere to the highest standards in producing our ebooks—regardless of the sale price. (Low or value pricing should never be an excuse for second-rate work!)

We want readers of our ebooks to get lost in the story just as easily as readers of print books. Our promise is a pleasant reading experience.

10% of all Digital Papyrus profits are donated to charity every month.

Digital Papyrus

www.DigitalPapyrus.org

T
ABLE
OF
C
ONTENTS

Title Page

Copyright Page

Publisher's Note

Science Fiction Novels & Short Stories

Plague Ship

Voodoo Planet

The Time Traders

The Defiant Agents

Key Out of Time

Star Born

Storm Over Warlock

Star Hunter

The Gifts of Asti

All Cats Are Gray

The People of the Crater

Historical Fantasy & Fiction

Ride Proud, Rebel!

Rebel Spurs

Ralestone Luck

PLAGUE SHIP

P
LAGUE
S
HIP
: T
ABLE
OF
C
ONTENTS

Chapter I: Perfumed Planet

Chapter II: Rivals

Chapter III: Contact At Last

Chapter IV: Gorp Hunt

Chapter V: The Perilous Seas

Chapter VI: Duelist's Challenge

Chapter VII: Barring Accident

Chapter VIII: Headaches

Chapter IX: Plague!

Chapter X: E-Stat Landing

Chapter XI: Desperate Measures

Chapter XII: Strange Behavior of a Hoobat

Chapter XIII: Off the Map

Chapter XIV: Special Mission

Chapter XV: Medic Hovan Reports

Chapter XVI: The Battle of the Video

Chapter XVII: In Custody

Chapter XVIII: Bargain Concluded

Chapter I

PERFUMED PLANET

Dane Thorson, Cargo-master-apprentice of the Solar Queen, Galactic Free Trader spacer, Terra registry, stood in the middle of the ship's cramped bather while Rip Shannon, assistant Astrogator and his senior in the Service of Trade by some four years, applied gobs of highly scented paste to the skin between Dane's rather prominent shoulder blades. The small cabin was thickly redolent with spicy odors and Rip sniffed appreciatively.

"You're sure going to be about the best smelling Terran who ever set boot on Sargol's soil," his soft slur of speech ended in a rich chuckle.

Dane snorted and tried to estimate progress over one shoulder.

"The things we have to do for Trade!" his comment carried a hint of present embarrassment. "Get it well in—this stuff's supposed to hold for hours. It'd better. According to Van those Salariki can talk your ears right off your head and say nothing worth hearing. And we have to sit and listen until we get a straight answer out of them. Phew!" He shook his head. In such close quarters the scent, pleasing as it was, was also overpowering. "We would have to pick a world such as this—"

Rip's dark fingers halted their circular motion. "Dane," he warned, "don't you go talking against this venture. We got it soft and we're going to be credit-happy—if it works out—"

But, perversely, Dane held to a gloomier view of the immediate future. "
If
," he repeated. "There's a galaxy of 'ifs' in this Sargol proposition. All very well for you to rest easy on your fins—you don't have to run about smelling like a spice works before you can get the time of day from one of the natives!"

Rip put down the jar of cream. "Different worlds, different customs," he iterated the old tag of the Service. "Be glad this one is so easy to conform to. There are some I can think of—There," he ended his massage with a stinging slap. "You're all evenly greased. Good thing you don't have Van's bulk to cover. It takes him a good hour to get his cream on—even with Frank helping to spread. Your clothes ought to be steamed up and ready, too, by now—"

He opened a tight wall cabinet, originally intended to sterilize clothing which might be contaminated by contact with organisms inimical to Terrans. A cloud of steam fragrant with the same spicy scent poured out.

Dane gingerly tugged loose his Trade uniform, its brown silky fabric damp on his skin as he dressed. Luckily Sargol was warm. When he stepped out on its ruby tinted soil this morning no lingering taint of his off-world origin must remain to disgust the sensitive nostrils of the Salariki. He supposed he would get used to this process. After all this was the first time he had undergone the ritual. But he couldn't lose the secret conviction that it was all very silly. Only what Rip had pointed out was the truth—one adjusted to the customs of aliens or one didn't trade and there were other things he might have had to do on other worlds which would have been far more upsetting to that core of private fastidiousness which few would have suspected existed in his tall, lanky frame.

"Whew—out in the open with you—!" Ali Kamil apprentice Engineer, screwed his too regular features into an expression of extreme distaste and waved Dane by him in the corridor.

For the sake of his shipmates' olfactory nerves, Dane hurried on to the port which gave on the ramp now tying the Queen to Sargol's crust. But there he lingered, waiting for Van Rycke, the Cargo-master of the spacer and his immediate superior. It was early morning and now that he was out of the confinement of the ship the fresh morning winds cut about him, rippling through the blue-green grass forest beyond, to take much of his momentary irritation with them.

There were no mountains in this section of Sargol—the highest elevations being rounded hills tightly clothed with the same ten-foot grass which covered the plains. From the Queen's observation ports, one could watch the constant ripple of the grass so that the planet appeared to be largely clothed in a shimmering, flowing carpet. To the west were the seas—stretches of shallow water so cut up by strings of islands that they more resembled a series of salty lakes. And it was what was to be found in those seas which had lured the Solar Queen to Sargol.

Though, by rights, the discovery was that of another Trader—Traxt Cam—who had bid for trading rights to Sargol, hoping to make a comfortable fortune—or at least expenses with a slight profit—in the perfume trade, exporting from the scented planet some of its most fragrant products. But once on Sargol he had discovered the Koros stones—gems of a new type—a handful of which offered across the board in one of the inner planet trading marts had nearly caused a riot among bidding gem merchants. And Cam had been well on the way to becoming one of the princes of Trade when he had been drawn into the vicious net of the Limbian pirates and finished off.

Because they, too, had stumbled into the trap which was Limbo, and had had a very definite part in breaking up that devilish installation, the crew of the Solar Queen had claimed as their reward the trading rights of Traxt Cam in default of legal heirs. And so here they were on Sargol with the notes left by Cam as their guide, and as much lore concerning the Salariki as was known crammed into their minds.

Dane sat down on the end of the ramp, his feet on Sargolian soil, thin, red soil with glittering bits of gold flake in it. He did not doubt that he was under observation from hidden eyes, but he tried to show no sign that he guessed it. The adult Salariki maintained at all times an attitude of aloof and complete indifference toward the Traders, but the juvenile population were as curious as their elders were contemptuous. Perhaps there was a method of approach in that. Dane considered the idea.

Van Rycke and Captain Jellico had handled the first negotiations—and the process had taken most of a day—the result totaling exactly nothing. In their contacts with the off world men the feline ancestered Salariki were ceremonious, wary, and completely detached. But Cam had gotten to them somehow—or he would not have returned from his first trip with that pouch of Koros stones. Only, among his records, salvaged on Limbo, he had left absolutely no clue as to how he had beaten down native sales resistance. It was baffling. But patience had to be the middle name of every Trader and Dane had complete faith in Van. Sooner or later the Cargo-master would find a key to unlock the Salariki.

As if the thought of Dane's chief had summoned him, Van Rycke, his scented tunic sealed to his bull's neck in unaccustomed trimness, his cap on his blond head, strode down the ramp, broadcasting waves of fragrance as he moved. He sniffed vigorously as he approached his assistant and then nodded in approval.

"So you're all greased and ready—"

"Is the Captain coming too, sir?"

Van Rycke shook his head. "This is our headache. Patience, my boy, patience—" He led the way through a thin screen of the grass on the other side of the scorched landing field to a well-packed earth road.

Again Dane felt eyes, knew that they were being watched. But no Salarik stepped out of concealment. At least they had nothing to fear in the way of attack. Traders were immune, taboo, and the trading stations were set up under the white diamond shield of peace, a peace guaranteed on blood oath by every clan chieftain in the district. Even in the midst of interclan feuding deadly enemies met in amity under that shield and would not turn claw knife against each other within a two mile radius of its protection.

The grass forests rustled betrayingly, but the Terrans displayed no interest in those who spied upon them. An insect with wings of brilliant green gauze detached itself from the stalk of a grass tree and fluttered ahead of the Traders as if it were an official herald. From the red soil crushed by their boots arose a pungent odor which fought with the scent they carried with them. Dane swallowed three or four times and hoped that his superior officer had not noticed that sign of discomfort. Though Van Rycke, in spite of his general air of sleepy benevolence and careless goodwill, noticed everything, no matter how trivial, which might have a bearing on the delicate negotiations of Galactic Trade. He had not climbed to his present status of expert Cargo-master by overlooking anything at all. Now he gave an order:

"Take an equalizer—"

Dane reached for his belt pouch, flushing, fiercely determined inside himself, that no matter how smells warred about him that day, he was not going to let it bother him. He swallowed the tiny pellet Medic Tau had prepared for just such trials and tried to occupy his mind with the work to come. If there would be any work—or would another long day be wasted in futile speeches of mutual esteem which gave formal lip service to Trade and its manifest benefits?

ADS
15.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
READ BOOK DOWNLOAD BOOK

Other books

Conan the Rebel by Poul Anderson
Bright Star by Grayson Reyes-Cole
Managing Your Depression by Susan J. Noonan
Shifters on Fire: A BBW Shifter Romance Boxed Set by Marian Tee, Lynn Red, Kate Richards, Dominique Eastwick, Ever Coming, Lila Felix, Dara Fraser, Becca Vincenza, Skye Jones, Marissa Farrar, Lisbeth Frost
The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro
Gentlemen by Michael Northrop
Sacred Dust by David Hill
The Color of a Dream by Julianne MacLean
Twice a Texas Bride by Linda Broday