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Now it was up to the droid.

He'd programmed it to observe the loaders, see what

stores they had come to acquire, and quickly mark the
crate containing Ratua so that it appeared to contain the
same items. Once this was done, the droid

"borrowed" a null-g platform and moved the crate onto

the supply vessel.

Nobody stopped it-there was no reason to do so. Even if

there had been a living security agent on the cargo ship, a
mechanical loading a crate of machine parts would be
what he expected to see, and that's what he would see.

And since nobody started yelling and trying to open the

crate, Ratua felt fairly confident that his ruse had gone

The hold was airless and unheated, but Ratua was

protected in his suit, and he couldn't imagine the trip to
the station would take more than a short time. If he'd
guessed wrong, he would eventually run out of oxygen,
but few things in life were without risk. And so he settled
down to wait, willing himself into a quasi-dormant state
so as to conserve air.

After a few minutes, he felt the cargo ship stir to life and
move, presumably, away from the warehouse.

Wherever he was going, he was on his way.