022-1117 – Fugitak – Adar/Hinterworlds

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

Today I kept looking for cargo. I had more “artists” show up, but I already had enough weird-looking pieces of rock and didn’t see any need to pick up more.

I finally wound up just taking some more general shipments out. I was a bit surprised to find as many as I did; I guess someone was making a profit here. A k-cred a ton was better than nothing though, so I managed to nearly get us to capacity.

I had hoped for another passenger or two as well but no one else showed up. We’d probably be going out with a cabin empty. Again not something I liked, but probably inevitable based on where we were.

As the evening meal approached I closed out my search and looked around. I saw what I now recognized as the usual crowd, probably a large chuck of the local population, but none of my own crew. They may have come through earlier and I didn’t notice. Or maybe they were off doing things on their own.

Then I saw Dr. Korvusar sitting at a table opposite the entrance. I hadn’t seen her all week and was a bit surprised. I wondered where she had been. I went to the dispenser, grabbed a beer and some tama leaves, and headed for her table.

“Mind if I join you?” I asked.

She had been looking at something on her comp, a glass of wine on the table, but looked up as I spoke. “Oh? You don’t get enough of my company on the Grayswandir?”

I sat down anyway. “We actually didn’t speak that much.”

“Ah, you noticed,” she said, somewhat pointedly.

I shrugged. I had more than a few beers at that point. “You didn’t mention that you had been to Fugitak before.”

“You didn’t ask.”

“Kind of an odd place for an Imperial border picket, isn’t it?”

She sipped her wine before responding. “This is just outside the Imperial border. That’s where border pickets go.”

I took a drink of my own beer. “Yeah, but why here?”

“Why not? I could ask you the same question.”

I sighed. “We’re just passing through.”

“So were we.”

I frowned. “What prompted you to leave the Navy so suddenly? You figured out that we checked up on you. So yeah, we know that you were planning on staying in until we offered you a cabin. What changed? And why us?”

She took another drink of her wine then held up the glass, examining it. “You know Captain, hard as it is to believe, I’ve found a wine worse than what you offer on your ship.”

“That isn’t an answer.”

“Ah, you noticed that too.”

I was becoming more annoyed than I should but managed to suppress it. That Liaison training I had gone through paid off sometimes.

“Look, I don’t know what is going on, but I know when something is going on. It’s your business? Fine. It’s your business. But I have to worry about my ship and my crew. Whatever is going on? I don’t care. As long as it doesn’t put us into any danger then we’re fine.”

She sipped the wine again. “There is always a certain amount of risk on any Jump, Captain. And being a Free Trader increases that.”

Now I was becoming angry, despite that training. “That still isn’t an answer.”

“You’re really good at noticing things, Captain. Now, do you mind if I enjoy my wine in peace?”

I stood up. “I could just leave you here, you know.”

She smiled at that. “But you won’t.” She tapped on her comp then flicked toward me. “My passage for the next leg. I’d ask if you could get a better wine selection but I doubt we’ll find one here. Maybe next time?”

I glanced at my comp to see that it had registered her High Passage. Ten thousand credits. That was enough to live comfortably on almost any world in the Imperium for months. I had been living on a starship for so long I sometimes forgot how rare being a Traveller really was.

Which made me think further. TAS High Passages could be sold for about 80% of their face value on almost any planet. They were universal tickets. You could use them to get on any ship going anywhere. And people would buy them no questions asked. From what I had seen, she had dozens, if not hundreds of them. She could have cashed them all in and lived like nobility almost anywhere.

Why was she flying with us?

I looked at her. “You’re going to have to tell me what is going on at some point,” I said flatly.

She feigned interest in her comp. After a few seconds, when it became obvious that I wasn’t leaving, she looked up.

“I honestly hope I never have to, Captain,” she said, her voice softening and showing rare emotion. “I hope not.”

“So there is something going on!”

She smiled. “Another thing you noticed. Well done, Captain.” She picked up her wine and returned to her comp. “Now, would you leave me to my reading, please?”

I stood a few moments longer but when she showed no more acknowledgment of my presence I turned to look around the room and saw Saahna sitting alone. I walked over to her.

“Seen anyone else?” I asked as I sat down.

“Our mystery passenger shut you down?” she asked with a smirk.

I shook my head. “I’m just trying to figure out her game. She’s admitted there is one, more or less, but won’t give me anything.”

She shrugged. “Well, that’s a crisis we can deal with later. As long as her passages are good.”

“They are.” I looked around. “Again, where is everyone?”

“I assume Jami and Varan are with their local crushes. Haven’t seen Do’rex since we landed.”

I frowned. “I tried contacting him the other day and he was kinda annoyed about it. As long as he shows up for pre-launch I guess it doesn’t matter.”

“He’s never been really comfortable off-ship,” she said. “Especially on places like this with so few people around. He’s probably the only Vegan on planet.”

“That’s probably true on a lot of planets we go to.”

“Yeah, but I think the small population on this one has really gotten to him.”

I shrugged. “We’re only here for another couple of days.”

“I’ll be glad to leave too.” She smiled.

“Yeah, I don’t think we’ll be coming back here if we can help it.”

“Ral Ranta maybe not so bad now?”

I laughed. “Yeah, I maybe didn’t think this route all the way through.”

She laughed as well. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.” She reached out and patted my arm, then left her hand sitting on it.

When I realized she wasn’t pulling away, I patted her hand. “So,” I said, squeezing her hand with mine, “you haven’t tried to hook up with one of the locals?”

She smiled. “Are any of them worth it?”

“I dunno. You tell me.”

“If you’re trying to hit on our mystery passenger I’ll assume you didn’t find anything locally that caught your interest.”

I pulled away at that. “Hey!”

She smiled wider. “Hey, just trying to size up my competition here.

I leaned back forward and took her hand again. “You’ve never had any competition.”

She seemed surprised at that. “I thought we were just ‘crew mates with benefits’?”

“And I thought that since I was your Captain we were off-limits to each other?”

She glanced away, then back. “Maybe… Maybe I spoke too soon.”

I smiled, looking at her for a few moments. “So…” I said, finally, “Which of us is less likely to be interrupted tonight?”

“I’m pretty sure Jami won’t be in tonight.”

“Well…” I said, releasing her hand and standing up. “Maybe we should retreat to somewhere more… private?”

She stood up as well. “Is that an order, Captain?” She was smiling as she said it.

“No. Not yet.” I smiled. “But I may have a few orders, later…”

She stepped forwards and put her arms around me. “I’m at your command… Captain.”

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