It’s Friday night! Standish Olds and a Snippet of “Traffic”

CGI Rec. Alexander & Hephaestion – Not work safe. Very beautiful and touching, and the lighting is gorgeous

I’ve finally heard from my publisher. The 2nd editor has gone AWOL and whilst I hope she’s OK and not had a major health crisis or something I’m a bit miffed, and worried that she might have buggered off to Japan and sold Standish over there. Mine wasn’t the only manuscript she had, either. *panic* I heard about it happening to someone on ecademy, a friend of theirs went to another country, think it was Africa and saw his friends book on sale there. Of course that’s worst case scenario, but I do tend to waver in that direction when I panic.

So, because I’m nice like that, have a snippet of the latest adventures of Teless and Kyrian, my space-gai boys.

I didn’t take the credit chip, but eyed him warily. “Who’d you sell, me?” I didn’t know how close a guess I’d made.

He laughed. “Like I’d get anything like this for you.” He opened the safe and stashed it away. I didn’t admit I wanted to hold it, just once. “That woman who came on board…” I went to speak but he cut across me and I had little choice but to listen, so I sat on the bed with a beer as he gave me the sales pitch. Seems he’d been contacted by this woman just after he’d logged us into orbit. She needed a cargo vessel and fast. “She said she’d pay us a bonus for being on the spot, and it’s that which is paying for your new system. We get a fixed rate per unit on top of that.”

I frowned and waved my beer bottle. “You’re telling me that that chip isn’t the price? Units of what?” Neither of us were scared of contraband, but I wanted to know whether I needed to be creative in the hold’s actual storing space. “And what the hell is there on Vath that she’d want to get out of there in such a hurry?” I couldn’t see it, even then, with Kyr grinning at me. All I could see was the orange dust and dirt-poor farmers saving every drop of moisture to make their crops grow.

“People,” he said and my jaw dropped open then, literally.

“What? No, No… Kyr – NO! I’ve done some stuff with you, burned the Smuggler’s Arc with you, stolen from Genor Zhee, smuggled kostovite and sold it back to the owners – but – not slavery Kyr, not after everything we’ve seen.” It took a while for me to calm down. He was sitting with his arms folded and his face was furious.

“You think I would?”

“I’m beginning to wonder what you’d do,” I snapped.

“Tel,” he said, more gently. “You know I wouldn’t trade with slavers. This woman…”

“What’s her name?”

“We didn’t swap names.”

“She knew yours,” I accused.

“Well, Venture‘s registered – she looked it up I suppose. Now will you shut up and listen? She’s shipping people off the surface, away from the slavers. She was in the middle of a deal with another ship when the slavers arrived and the cowards took off.”

That sounded plausible, but she still didn’t look like the type to do business with Vath. “Refugees.” I said.

“Yes.” Kyrian sounded like I’d been too stupid to understand. “Exactly that. If we can’t stop the slavers, which we can’t you were right, then we can get some of them out of danger.”

“And this woman is … what, exactly?”

“Negotiating the deal. We pick up the refugees sunset, Western time, some in her ship, some in our shuttle.”

I was more interested, but not as enthusiastic as he was. “All right, I’m in.” (Not that I had a choice, but I liked to make it sound like I was. “It’s good money, I’ll give you that. We need it. I’ve only one more question. Where are you taking them?”

“Eosson 2.”

I blinked at him. “That’s a restricted entry planet.”

“Not our problem,” he shrugged. “Look at it from their point of view, Eosson needs settlers and yet it will only let you come if you’ve got,” he ticked them off on his fingers, “money, equipment, mules.” The land is sitting there waiting to be farmed and most of these settlers are just playing at pioneers. Who better than a Vath farmer to eke a living with nothing? We drop them on the farpoint, south pole – where the land’s not so pretty, and it’ll take a long time for anyone to find them. And anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? Back to Vath – and I don’t think they’ll bother.”

He could always convince me, and I had to admit it was good money. It tasted wrong somehow, but a couple of bottles of brew and Kyrian’s enthusiasm had worn me down. “I still don’t like the idea of dealing with an agent,” I said, finally. “Why couldn’t we deal with the Vathi ourselves?”

“No time. Slavers are moving west. This group is ready to go, and she’s already brokered the deal. If it works, we can do it ourselves next time.

I shrugged, “Fine. Just don’t put me in the position where I can say ‘I told you so,’ that’s all. I’m sick of pulling your arse out of trouble.”

He grabbed me and we stopped talking after that.

© Copyright 2006 Erastes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Erastes
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