003-1117 – Venad – Adar/Hinterworlds

Venad – Adar/Hinterworlds 0402 A221621-B Ni Po Na 324 Im M0V M6D

I spent most of today searching the job boards. I had posted our Engineering opening and had immediately been inundated by a swarm of automatic responses. A third of them I rejected right away since the applicant involved didn’t actually have any Engineering experience. Another third I ruled out after a cursory search on the nets or a brief discussion with their avatar.

I had what was left down to about a dozen applicants when the door chimed. I frowned. I wasn’t expecting anyone and tucked my snub pistol into the back of my waistband before opening the door.

There was a tall, slender woman standing there. Her hair was gray but I couldn’t tell if that was from age or style. She was wearing civilian clothes but her posture indicated military.

“You are Captain Kodai?” she asked. “Of the Grayswandir?”

I nodded. “Yes. That’s me. How can I help you?”

She nodded once, as if she had just been confirming something she already knew. “I understand you are hiring? I would like to apply for a position.”

I smiled broadly. “You’re an Engineer? Great! Sorry, I must not have seen your application yet.”

She shook her head. “No, I’m not an Engineer. May I come in?”

I frowned at that. “Who… who are you then? And if you aren’t looking for the Engineering position, then what is this about?”

She continued to stand there. “May I come in?” she repeated. “I would prefer not to discuss this in the hallway.”

I hesitated. Smuggler? She didn’t look the part. Of course, a good smuggler wouldn’t. Pirate? I almost laughed at that. Pirates only existed in net dramas and the occasional desperate merchant. So what was she up to?

There was one way to find out. I stepped to the side and invited her in.

She walked in, looking around. I closed the door behind us and put the snub pistol back on the table. She saw me but didn’t react or comment.

“Something to drink?” I asked, heading for the dispenser. I punched in an order and retrieved the beer that it produced.

She shook her head. “Not now. Perhaps later.”

I shrugged and twisted open the top, gesturing towards the chair. She shook her head and continued standing, so I leaned back against the edge of the desk.

“OK,” I said, taking a drink. “If you’re looking for a position on the Grayswandir, we really aren’t looking for anyone at the moment outside of an Engineer. Our last one just retired.”

She nodded. “Percival Jacobs. I checked your crew manifest after you landed. He left with your Captain Anna Martin, did he not?”

I frowned at that and started to get a sour feeling in my stomach that wasn’t the aftermath of the stioshi pods. I looked at her over the bottle as I took another drink.

“OK…” I said slowly. “So you’ve done some research on us. But you have me at a disadvantage. You are…?”

“Milansa Korvusar,” she said flatly. “Dr. Milansa Korvusar. I’m a Medic.”

“Oh,” I said. “We aren’t looking for a Medic.”

She frowned for the first time. “I’m sure your low passengers aren’t happy about that.”

I shrugged. “We don’t have any low berths. We took them out a while back while we were upgrading the drives. We added a few cabins instead.”

“Ah!” she said. “I suppose I should have wondered how a Free Trader got to Venad when the nearest system is two parsecs away.”

I nodded, smiling a bit. “Yeah. We can’t be the only one but there aren’t a lot of Beowulf-class Far Traders out there.” Inwardly I was a bit surprised. She had researched our crew but not the ship?

She nodded. “Very clever. I’m sure that comes in handy from time-to-time.”

I smiled a bit more. “We have confused a few people.”

Her expression changed to a slight smile. “Then perhaps I have found the right people. I still wish to apply for a position. Even without low berths, you still don’t have a Medic.”

I shook my head. “We get by with Percy.”

She frowned at that. “Percy? I did not see anyone with that name on the manifest.”

I laughed. “Oh, we just call her that. P3RC-Y3. Our medbot.”

Her frown deepened. “You trust your lives to a medbot?”

I shrugged. “I can’t remember the last time we’ve used her for anything more than routine injuries and making sure everyone’s universals are up to date before landing. It isn’t like we’re out looking for trouble.”

Her face had returned to its neutral expression. “Sometimes trouble comes looking for you. But that is a digression.” Her brow furrowed as she thought.

“Captain Kodai, I will be honest with you. I am recently retired from the Imperial Navy. I am tired of a formal, structured life. I wish to see the galaxy. And, to be honest, I am afraid of what may come of the events that have begun in Core.”

I sighed at that, shaking my head. “That. Yeah, look… Strephon’s death was… is a tragedy, but…”

“But it could be the initial pebble that starts an avalanche,” she interrupted.

I shook my head. “Fine. I can understand you being concerned. But still, we aren’t…”

“Looking for a Medic, I know.” She paused. “Very well then, if you are not interested in me as a crew member, then how about as a passenger?”

I tilted my head looking at her. “Going where?”

“Where ever you are going.”

I frowned at that. “That could get expensive.”

She pulled up her comp and tapped on it. The holographic logo of the Travellers Aid Society appeared between us, followed by a scrolling list of ticket vouchers. Dozens of them. Over a hundred or more.

“I believe these will work?” she asked. “Don’t worry, I will not make any undue demands on you or your crew. And if you need my services…”, she smiled, “don’t worry about that either. I will not withhold aid if you need it.”

I took another drink of my beer as I thought. She was playing a game of some kind, I knew that, but I couldn’t turn down what seemed like a guaranteed passenger for the foreseeable future. Plus… I was curious. What did she want and why did she specifically want *us*? Well… there was one way to find out.

I looked back up at her and nodded. “OK, that I can work with. Transfer the first voucher over so we can hold the cabin and I’ll let you know when we’re ready to depart.” I hesitated. “Which depends on us finding an Engineer still, so I can’t tell you when that will be.”

“That is acceptable,” she said, nodding in return. She flicked at her comp, transferring one of the vouchers to mine, then entered something and flicked it over as well. “Here is my comm code. Let me know when everything is ready to leave.”

She walked back to the door and stopped, waiting for me. I opened it and she stepped out then turned to face me.

“Thank you, Captain,” she said, offering her hand. “I understand your hesitation but I believe that this will turn out to be a beneficial arrangement for both of us.” With a final nod she turned and left. I watched until she disappeared around the corner to the lifts then closed the door.

I shook my head. I still had no idea as to what she was up to. I wondered if Captain Anna had ever had things like this come up. I sighed, then went back to the desk and started going through applications again.

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