A novella set in the Disappeared universe. It happens during the book The Recovery Man and compliments it nicely. However, it can be read as a stand alone.

Publication year: 2010, first published in Analog in 2009. It’s available at Smashwords.
Format: ebook, pdf
Page count: 87
Publisher: WMG Publishing

Hadad Yu is a Recovery Man; he finds things that other people want him to find. He assumes his clients have lost them or they have been stolen but he makes a point never to ask about it. Now, he has a possibly very lucrative job. A very wealthy woman wants him to find a rare flowering fidelia and bring it back to her still blooming. Yu suspects that the tree the flower is attached to might be sapient but he doesn’t ask or think about it too much. The terms are generous but Yu has only one chance to recover the flower; if the flower withers or something else happens, Magda Athenia will make sure that Yu will never work again in the Earth Alliance.

Things seem to be going well. Yu has trained with specialists so that he knows everything possible about the flower and after three years he has managed to track down the one place they are blooming. He’s approaches the place carefully, manages to secure the flowering fidelia, and smuggle it out of the planet. He contacts Athenia and confirms a meeting. But then a disaster strikes: the mysterious Black Fleet tracks him, breaches his space ship, and steals the flower. The client is furious and makes good of her threats.

Desperately, Yu travels to the alien Gyonnese for whom he has worked before. To his surprise, a high ranking group of the aliens meets him almost immediately and offers him a lucrative job. They have been hunting down a human woman who is responsible for killing thousands of their larvae. The woman was convicted to lose her child to the Gyonnese but the child died. However, now the woman has another child who apparently is a clone and therefore outside the jurisdiction of Gyonnese who care only about “originals” and not clones who, for them, aren’t real. But the Gyonnese strongly suspect that the mass murderer has fooled them and her original child hadn’t died at all. They want to hire Yu to take the child to them and serve justice. Yu is originally skeptical but when he views the case, he become convinced that serving the Gyonnese is the right thing to do, and he accepts.

Yu is the central character in the story and the only point-of-view character. He’s skilled and competent in his job, but a loner. While Yu often doesn’t care if his work is legal, he does have moral code. He doesn’t recover people, until he agrees to this job. He takes care not to hurt anyone but he doesn’t really think through to the consequences of his actions, especially about the possible consequences to other people. He often works alone and when he works with someone, he keeps them at a distance and doesn’t really know them at all. Yet, when he decides that one of the other characters doesn’t really care for their child, he has nothing but contempt of that person.

Apparently, Yu knows the Gyonnese better than most other humans and he sympathizes with them more than the woman he’s sent to recover.

Yu’s side kick/employee is Nafti who might be a comic relief. Nafti is a strong man who is supposed to carry out Yu’s orders but he isn’t very bright. He’s also a hypochondriac who worries about everything concerning his health. He’s cruel which is, of course, less funny. In fact, Yu has to stop him from hurting people a couple of times.

I listened to Recovery Man a couple of years ago but I remembered how it ended. Still, the novella contained enough new stuff to keep me guessing and entertained.

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