Boilingbrook – Adar/Hinterworlds 0801 A9C9751-D 700 Na G0 II
Well, I may have committed us, or at least me, to something and I don’t know what it is. Yet. I hope I’ll find out later. And hope even more that I won’t regret it.
I checked the net again this morning and we had picked up four passengers. A family of three heading for Kupakii and a solo traveller wanting a High Passage. Nice. With Dr. Korvusar that took up 5 of our 6 slots.
That left one cabin. And that mystery passenger I might or might not have depending on what I did with that disc. I had to make a decision about what I was going to do.
It was a late day so nothing would be happening until evening anyway. I thought a bit longer, then went down to the hotel bar for lunch. I ordered a spioel bowl, which was apparently a local seafood stew. It was OK, but way saltier than I normally liked. Afterwards I went outside, got the first aircab that came by, and headed for the Uptown Downport.
I handed my snub pistol off without being asked then went inside. I went directly to the bar.
Delenda wasn’t there and the guy who was in her place seemed a bit stand-offish at first. I still wasn’t wearing my captain’s jacket, so he probably took me as some random off-worlder who had wandered away from Startown. I ordered a Boil and when he came back with it he asked if there was anything else I needed.
“Yeah,” I asked. “Jestin been in lately?”
“Who?” he asked. He acted confused but I could tell it was that. An act, not confusion.
“Tell him Captain Kodai is here and wants to talk to him,” I said, tossing about twice what the beer had cost onto the bar. “I’ll be over there.” I gestured to one of the tables by the window. “Can you bring me a Vilani Club when you get a chance?” A Vilani Club was a sandwich; cheesy and full of baloney.
He hesitated a bit too long before shrugging. “Sure, but I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
I stood up and headed for the table. “Well… I’ll be here for a while anyway.”
I had been there about an hour or so, had finished my sandwich and was on a basket of tama leaves, and my third Imperial Boil, when Jestin slid into the booth opposite me, frowning.
“I said we would contact you,” he said, waving the waitbot over in irritation. “Don’t go slinging my name around thinking it will get you better service or something.”
“I didn’t,” I said, draining the last of my beer and signaling to the waitbot that I wanted another as well. “I just thought you might want to see this.” I pulled the disc out of my pocket and slid it across the table to him.
He picked it up and looked at it in irritation. “So?”
I shrugged. “Someone asked me to bring it in here and plant it. Offered me a high passenger in exchange. I just figured you might like to know about it.”
He turned the disc over a few times in his hand, then looked back at me.
“It activates when you strip the backing off, so it isn’t active now.”
I shrugged. “I didn’t try to figure out how it worked.”
He tossed it back towards me. “I thought you just did what you were asked.”
I sighed and leaned back. “When there is no reason not to… sure. When I’m apparently being asked to take sides…” I took a drink from my beer. “When I’m being asked to take sides I want to make sure which one I’m on. I’m picking this one.”
He frowned and took a drink of his own beer. “Why?”
I stared out the window at the starport for a bit, formulating an answer. Why was I doing this? Finally, I turned back to him.
“I’m a Free Trader. Have been for… what? 30 years now? Close enough. I get to do that because the Imperium likes it’s trade. I actually think I’ve used that line more in the past month than I have in the past 10 years. But a lot of people seem to think the Imperium may be in danger. I think they’re over-reacting. We’ve been through worse; we’ll get through this.”
I took another drink. “But enough people I know, enough people I trust, seem to think that this time things may be different. And I would be a horrible Broker if I couldn’t read people. I’m not a horrible Broker.” I smiled at that but when it wasn’t returned I continued.
“Maybe I do need to worry. Maybe everyone needs to worry. But if things are as bad as they keep telling me, then I need to know who my friends are.”
He shook his head. “That isn’t an answer.”
I sighed and picked up the disc. “There are people who are looking out for their own interests. I think this belongs to them. And there are people who are looking at the bigger picture. Since that isn’t them, it’s you.”
He looked at me levelly for a long moment, eyes locked with mine. “Stick that under this table in about 15 minutes,” he said finally, indicating the disc. “Go ahead and make your Jump to Kupakii. Once there, go to a place called the Rusty Stanchion. Yeah, I know there’s probably one of those on every planet. This one is in Coverton. That’s a few hundred klicks from the starport but I’m sure you can handle that. There, ask for Elijah Green. Tell him I sent you. He’ll deal with you from there.”
He drained his beer and stood up, turning towards the entrance. “Wait!” I said, a bit louder than I had planned.
He turned back. “Yes?”
“That’s all you’re going to say?”
He nodded. “Yes.” He started to turn away again.
“Who is Dr. Korvusar?” I asked.
He hesitated, then turned back. “Who?”
I sighed. “OK. I’ll visit ‘Elijah Green’.”
He nodded. “Don’t forget that.” He pointed at the disc. He left without looking back.
I waited about 30 minutes. I looked at the disc. Did I want to do this? I figured it was too late; I was involved now whether I knew what I was involved in or not. I stripped the backing and stuck it beneath the table. A few minutes later I paid my tab and left.
An hour later I was back in my room. I thought about contacting the crew, or Dr. Korvusar, but figured that the one would only berate me for involving them in something they wanted nothing to do with and the other would just give me the runaround. Again. In the end I just called room service and called it an early night.