020-1117 – Fugitak – Adar/Hinterworlds

Fugitak – Adar/Hinterworlds 0602 C5A027A-5 Lo Ni De A 125 Na F2V M3D

Varan didn’t get back in last night, so I assume he patched things up with his local friend. I never saw Jami at all.

I barely saw Saahna. She was in the common room watching something on her comp when I passed through, so I stopped long enough to talk.

“Anything interesting?” I asked, gesturing towards her comp as I sat down.

“Oh, hi Captain!” she said, shutting the comp down. “Just checking up on the latest news. An X-Boat came through last night and dropped a download.”

“Anything interesting? Or anything that affects us?”

She shook her head. “Not really. Archduchess Margaret has activated the reserve fleets in the Old Expanses but that’s about it.”

I frowned. “That doesn’t sound good.”

She shrugged. “I’m surprised she didn’t do it earlier. The Solomani may think they can try something while we’re distracted by the assassination, so she’s probably just wanting to make sure they know that we’re ready for them.”

I sighed. “Galactic politics as usual.”

“Yeah. In some ways it makes me glad we’re away from there for a while.”

I nodded. “Yeah. Can’t hurt.”

“So how’s the wheeling-and-dealing going?”

I shrugged. “Not bad. Got a line on some raw minerals; not the best profit margin but any is better than none. And some art pieces, of course. That’s all they seem to produce here.”

She nodded. “Yeah, not my favorite place we’ve been to.”

I paused, then smiled. “You told Varan you and I were back together again.”

She hesitated. “It was the nicest way I could think of to tell him I wasn’t interested.”

“As long as it isn’t a problem.”

“No, I don’t think it will be. He’s never tried to cross the line. I think he just thought with you out of the picture he would see how things were.” She shrugged. “They weren’t.”

I smiled slightly. “So am I out of the picture?”

She smiled slightly back. “Maybe. We’ll see how it goes.” She held up a hand. “But don’t get any ideas anytime soon.”

“I’ll be good.”

Her smile widened slightly. “There’s no fun in that.”

“Ok, I’ll be fun instead of good.”

She laughed. “Don’t worry, we’re good.”

I nodded. “No problem.”

I leaned forward, turning the conversation back to business again. “I suspect that we’ll have less than a full passenger complement this time around.”

“You should have expected that. There’s only like 30 people here.”

“Here specifically, yeah. But there’s a few thousand on planet.”

She frowned. “The data says there are a lot less than that.”

“They’ve got a lot of ‘temporary workers’ here.” I shrugged. “None of my business.”

“I wish Survey would do a better job on their ‘census’ numbers.” She paused. “Back when I was with the unit we landed on more than one planet where we expected light resistance, only to find they had a few thousand ‘temporary mercenaries’ that no one had bothered to count.”

I nodded in sympathy. “Well, in this case let’s hope it translates to a few extra passengers hoping to get the hell out of here.”

She frowned at that. “Don’t say that too loud. They have penalties for that.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, it falls under their ‘spreading dissention’ laws.” She hesitated. “Oh, we may have a few more fines on our tab.”

I sighed. “What happened?”

She looked away. “I’m not sure. I just got tagged on it.”

I sighed again. “OK, we’ll figure it all out when we get ready to leave.”

“Sorry, Captain.”

I shrugged. “Who would know? Don’t worry about it.”

“Heya crewies!” I looked up. Jami had just come up to the table, her arm around the woman I had seen her with the other night. “Everyone having fun?”

I laughed. “All of you get time off when we’re at downport. Some of us have to make all the deals that keep us flying while we’re here.”

She laughed. “Yeah, and you get the week off on-board.”

“OK, then you get to do the navigation planning next time.”

She laughed at that again. “Hey, I’m just watching what you do.” She turned to look at Saahna to share the joke, but Saahna just looked at her levelly. Jami’s smile faded.

“So how are things going for you?” I asked.

She smiled again. “Great!” She gestured to the woman with her. “This is Amada. She’s one of their computer techs. Keeps all the starport beacons and everything running.” Amada smiled weakly and gave a slight wave in our direction. “She’s been showing me around. I never thought about how complex it was to keep a settlement active on a planet like this!”

I nodded. “Yeah. It’s easier when you have breathable air outside.”

“Yeah, but I never thought about that. And thanks, Captain!”

I frowned. “For what?”

“Captain Barikus was big on us not interacting with the locals when we landed. Glad you aren’t like that!”

I shrugged. “Yeah, it helps when you’re carrying legal cargo.”

She frowned a moment and Amada looked sharply at her. “Oh, we didn’t do that that much smuggling. Well, not too much.” She smiled. “But that’s behind us now, right!” She pulled Amada a bit closer.

“Well, anyway, just passing through. Later!” She and Amada left, heading towards the landing pads.

I looked back at Saahna. “What was that all about?”

She shrugged. “It’s a really small settlement. We’re all going to run into each other if we go anywhere.”

“I guess.”

“Anyway, maybe you’re right. Some of these ‘temporary’ workers may want to leave. We may pick some of them up.”

“I hope so. We aren’t making a lot on cargo this time around.”

“Thought about putting the low-berths back in?”

I shook my head. “No, even here we’ll make more on the cargo space than the low passages. And we’d have to hire a Medic then.”

“You could hire Dr. Korvusar.” She smiled at that.

I sighed, shaking my head. “Hey, we definitely make more from her as a passenger than we would get from that. Let’s not get carried away here.”

She nodded, then stood up. “I guess you’re right; you were way more involved in the financial side of things than I even want to be.” She gestured towards the exit. “I’m going to grab a nap, then see if they have a firing range or something around here. Or I’ll go outside and shoot at some rocks. Need to get some practice in.”

“Have fun.”

She looked at me. “You could use some range time yourself.”

I held up my comp. “I’ve got to finish negotiating their regulation labyrinth here to see what I can pick up. I’ll make it up. Sometime.”

She shook her head. “You won’t. See you later.” With a final wave, she left.

I gave a vague wave back then went back to my comp. It really looked like the only thing I was going to be able to pick up were those raw minerals. I hoped someone would respond to our passenger offer. Eventually I gave up and headed back to my room.

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