Jet Black - Gold
By Alan P. Ellis
Caelin Day pty. ltd. 2013ã
2013. Copyright in all media and in all forms remains the property of caelin
day pty ltd (aus). Any reproduction in whole or part is conditional on the
written permission of caelin day pty. Ltd.
lay back in the spa. It was decadent to have so much water all to herself,
though in truth it wasn’t just her water, it had been others before,
and many more would bathe in what was to be their own water too. But the
shortcomings of total recycling didn’t make the perfumed bath any
the less enjoyable.
tried not to feel guilty while she luxuriated; she knew Chub was in good
hands. Indigo had an emergency team waiting as they arrived at the space
station, and Chub had been raced to an operating room. She had waited for
hours with Jet to make sure he was okay.
turned out that his injury had looked more serious than it was, and though
the surgeon did his best he said there would always be a scar due to the
tearing. That wouldn’t bother Chub; scars were badges of experience.
leg had been a compound fracture; made worse by Chub who by his own actions
had forced pieces of bone through the soft tissue. It was the possibility
of infection and that he had lost more blood than he could afford to, that
had concerned the medics.
as for Jet, he had taken their last delivery in a spaceship borrowed from
Indigo while the Silver Flyer got a little attention to its bodywork.
in all their delivery had turned from disaster to an adventure, and she
wondered if it had anything to do with the emperors curse: though in their
case it seemed to be the emperors blessing. Chub couldn’t remember
what he had done; but whatever he had, if it hadn’t been for the explosion
things could have turned out far differently. Amnesia was apparently something
that sometimes happened.
reached for the champagne flute and took another sip; She’d have to
get out soon. She smiled thinking of the new frock hanging in the hotel
bedroom: waiting until after her hair appointment, when she would wear it
for dinner at the restaurant. She was looking forward to the meal; apparently
The Pelican did an exceptional spread.
restaurant was everything she expected. She was showed to a table and treated
as if she was the only diner there; which of course she wasn’t; in
fact it had been difficult getting a table until Jet had pulled the Indigo
card, after that nothing was too much trouble. She was browsing the wine
list and mischievously wondering if she could order a shandy, when a waiter
came to her side.
not quite ready,” she replied.
Mr. Indigo has requested you join him at his table?”
was the last thing she had expected. “Indigo?”
madam; he and his companions are in alcove one. If you wish I could show
you the way?”
Well yes… Thank you.”
man pulled her chair back and waited while she gathered her things. Several
of the other guests were looking at her and she felt quite special being
escorted into one of the curtained off dining areas.
feeling of being special evaporated as she saw Indigo was there with two
other men. One she didn’t know the other was Benedict. She stopped
in her tracks and stared at him. “I’m sorry Indigo I’m
afraid I will have to decline your…”
Rosanna,” said Benedict appealingly. “Please don’t go
we would very much like you to join us.”
waiting for somebody…” The words sounded so childish as she
you must, then it is our loss; but if you would like to reconsider?”
stared at him and knew that she could walk away, but that would mean he
had won. “Why not?”
stranger was on his feet in a moment pulling out a chair between him and
waited until she sat down. “This is James Cooper; James works for
the company and of course you know our mutual friend Indigo.”
nodded to each in turn.
hear you have had a little misfortune?”
was sure Benedict was holding back a smile. “Sometimes things don’t
go to plan.”
how is you friend Mr. Hubli; I hear he was seriously wounded?”
as bad as it could have been.”
he is still in the medical center?”
to make sure there is no infection.”
that’s good news.”
was fascinated at how he could show real concern when she was sure he wanted
the reverse; still that was why he was so successful. He could charm as
well as kill.
Jet he is well?” the question was delivered without animosity.
you know Jet, he’s indestructible.” she couldn’t help
laying it on.
the poor old Silver Flyer; I hear it was badly damaged?”
at all,” she said cheerily. “Just a few scratches to the paintwork.”
sad; I was very fond of it; please in future do try to take more care with
wanted to punch his smug face, “Well its been… interesting;
but I must meet my friend.” She went to stand.
stay.” Benedict smiled. “I have a proposition you may be interested
me for saying so, but somehow I doubt that?”
shrugged. “I know we have had our … differences in the past
or perhaps misunderstandings…”
She said sharply to stop him. “I think the message was quite clear.”
voice took on an apologetic one “I think we can all attest that things
have been said: things done that may have been in the spur of the moment,
and regretted later. I am not above making those mistakes. And you have
to admit that much of this bad feeling came about after your friends…
acquired the starship; it was after all was my favorite; and still is.”
wanted to remind him that for a favorite thing he had tried very hard to
destroy it, with her inside: but she was intrigued; he wanted something
and she needed to know what. “I’m sure we would all feel a lot
better if bygones could be forgotten.”
Rosanna, please sit down, and let us start to turn the past into history.”
research station Beta-TelaIV was on a small planet on the very edge of a
forbidden zone. It was larger than Jet had expected, then again as the name
suggested he had also expected it to be a pure research facility.
once had been; created solely to observer its sun; a red giant in its swollen
old age, that would one day in the unknown future collapse in a massive
supernova. When that happened Beta-Tela would vaporize as the shockwave
swept out. Anyone whose misfortune it was to still be there would be spared
the devastation that would bathe planets even light years away. Intense
radiation could erase all life from any within its zone of destruction.
For obvious reasons the authorities wanted as much time to prepare as they
could get, and the research facility monitored what was happening, and acted
as that point of early warning. This had been and remained Beta-TelaIV primary
reason for existence.
nothing is ever what it seems and while its population began as a few dedicated
scientists it had over time accepted their families. With families came
requirements. The medical facility expanded as station staff grew older
or children were born; educational facilities were needed for those offspring.
More tradesmen were needed to create and maintain the wider facilities;
supply agents came to service their needs. Each and every new change created
need for more and the station grew. At some time it became a destination
and people who had no interest in the original purpose arrived to swell
the population; but all the while the research continued.
though one day it would be wiped out of existence Beta-Tela now supported
a city and a sizable community. It was to this place that Jet was delivering
his cargo. This was a replacement load; his original one was abandoned when
they escaped from king Bazil's watchmen.
the chemical was cheap and abundant but there was nowhere on Beta-Tela where
it was made and it was an essential part of the mixture required for the
three dimensional machinery that produced almost all that the inhabitants
used from toothbrushes to engines.
landed the ancient spaceship onto the apron. It was surprisingly maneuverable
and Jet had: halfway through the journey, decided that instead of dumping
junk on him, Indigo had given him a serviceable replacement for the Silver
can have the Tanatalia in exchange for a seventeen and a half percent cut.’
Indigo had said.
a heap of crap.’ Was Jets reply.
on Jet’ Indigo replied in feigned hurt, “Its not that bad; sure
its seen some action. It’s an ex-military surplus that I bought for
spares; but wouldn’t you know it, it has hardly anything of use to
knew that Indigo knew he had no other option. “Ten percent?”
you what make it twenty percent and you‘ve bought yourself a spare
spacecraft.’ Indigo held out his hand.
didn’t think he was on the winning side of the deal, but he shook
on it anyway.
thought you were in for a crash landing?” the cargo manager said as
he stepped into the Tanatalia’s hold.
thought the landing had been fine, he looked at the man puzzled,
heard talk these were going to be scrapped before I left the military?”
smiled, “This could be the last you’ll see of one?”
they were a good old task ship.”
not mine; that’s in for some repairs, but I was thinking the same
thing on the way here. So where do you want this stuff?”
emotions were in conflict, she wanted to distrust Benedict: she knew she
had more than enough reason, but throughout the meal he had been charming
and complimentary. It was all a façade she knew that too, but it
was getting harder and harder to justify the man sat opposite: with his
witty repartee, was the same man who had tried to kill her and Jet any number
of times. It made it harder that the other men had fallen for his act: James
she could understand; he was after all an employee, but Indigo seemed to
be treating him as an old and trusted friend. Was he; or was Indigo being
sycophantic knowing the business that benedict could bring or take from
the space station? She was more than a little disappointed; she thought
Indigo had integrity; maybe he hadn’t after all. Still all the same
she had to keep reminding herself that it was the same Benedict that had
used and cast off her mother: though it did solve one thing; she had never
understood; whatever had her mother seen in the man, now she had an inkling.
was as they waited for coffee that Benedict made the proposition.
want to hire us?” Rosie had not intended her voice to sound shocked
but it did.
what you do, isn’t it?”
we can make so formal agreement?”
can’t,” she stuttered desperately trying to avoid any commitment.
“We run a partnership: I would have to consult… the others.”
course, I wouldn’t want Jet to think I was trying to gain an advantage
in any way.”
wanted to say he wasn’t going to, but she just smiled.
though Chub had appeared to be recovering well Jet still wanted to get back
to the space station as quickly as he could; so he helped unload the cargo
and less than two hours later he was in the pilots seat looking out of the
blister at the cargo master. The engines were humming and Jet gave the man
a thanks and good-bye wave. The cargo master replied with a thumb up as
Jet engaged the drive; but to his utter disbelief instead of powering up
the hum faded away.
quickly did a visual of the instruments and re-started the engines. He gave
an embarrassed wave to the bemused cargo master and engaged drive a second
time. Again the engines died. The cargo master was talking into a microphone
when Jet tried and failed to engage for the third time.
cargo master drew his hand across his throat and pointed to the access hatch.
A minute later he was besides Jet. “Try again,” he said watching
the instruments for the fourth failure. He changed a few settings and a
screen setting. “Again,” he said with less confidence than he
had spoken the first time.
the engine died the cargo master stood upright. “How long since you
last used the ship?”
can’t answer, that but I suspect it could have been sitting unused
for quite a long while?”
cargo master shook his head. “These things thrive on work; it doesn’t
do them any good to stay idle.”
know what’s wrong?’
yea; you’ve got a hardware problem in the mainframe.”
a hardware problem?”
looked at him “Your certain its hardware?”
same thing happened to me. If you pull out the mainframe you’ll find
circuit thirty-nine P has burnt out. Let e’m sit, and they deteriorate;
so when you get it started and it’ll work while its hot; but switch
off and the residual heat burns it out.”
not a major problem?” Jet said hopefully
no; simple fix.”
breathed a sigh of relief. “Okay so who do I see?”
on this forsaken planet that would be me.”
so what do we do?”
actually nothing; we don’t have any spare circuits.”
felt his elation slip away, “But you can get one?”
I can get one; problem is when; I’ll need a courier to bring one in
and right now he’s dead on my apron.”
The word shocked Rosie.
for a kings ransom; as the saying used to go.”
we’re not a high security service?”
but you get the job done.”
last time we tried we didn’t.”
emperors hand was a no win situation; you did what you could.”
a cargo hold full of gold would make us a target for every criminal across
when you have Galactic militia as escort.”
why cant the Galactic militia use one of their own cargo ships?”
my dear: the thin edge of the wedge; if they were to enter into what is
in essence a commercial enterprise they would be required to do a multitude
of other things that would not only take the edge of their primary purpose
and put then in compromised positions; it would also severely hurt private
enterprise; your selves included.”
just pick up the load and take it to central reserve?”
up several loads; I’m not sure precisely how many at this moment,
but yes and then take it to the Federations central storage facility.”
step of the way.”
it’s all legal?”
hundred percent perfectly legal. This is not a trick: it has Federation
approval, Galactic Militia support; the backing of all relevant authorities;
and all permissions and permits: what it hasn’t got is not worth thinking
about. As people like to say every T is crossed and every I is dotted. One
hundred percent approved.” His expression changed slightly and his
voice took on a defensive tone. “I can even show you the gold if you
still think there’s some sort of scam?”
thing was Rosie did believe it was a scam; it had to be, Benedict: no matter
how affable he seemed to be, couldn’t change that much, but where
was the catch? She couldn’t see one.”
and James were looking at her expectantly. “I’ll put your proposition
to my associates.”
nodded. “That is all I ask; so now what next; it’s still early;
well it is somewhere in the galaxy.” He grinned infectiously and looked
about the table. “What about the Rex vs. Regina?”
was only to be expected that Indigo and Benedict would have passes for the
King versus the Queen, it was the most exclusive nightspot on the station.
say yes?” James was looking at her with a pleading expression. “I
wont be able to dance a single step without think it was you opposite me.”
was slightly shocked, she was being chased; what if Jet found … what
would jet say; he had certainly never asked to take her dancing. “Why
not?” she said, not sure why she did.
ankles were aching, the new shoes were gorgeous, but they were far too high
for more than the occasional slow waltz. She considered kicking them off
but the RvR was not the kind of place that you could act that informally.
Instead she had made James take her back to the table. He went off for more
drinks: Benedict and Indigo were talking business and from what she could
overhear other peoples business. She looked around the room at the other
patrons, strangely she felt on the edge; these people led full social lives,
and what did she have? She wondered if it was the alcohol that was making
her morose, she tried to convince herself that she let a wild and intense
life and to reassure herself she pulled the tablet from her bag. To her
joy there was a message from Jet. Eagerly she opened it. It was short, almost
on planet. Problems with the ship. Will be delayed, Jet.’
she thought as disappointments overwhelmed her. “Blond or Brunette?”
that my sear?”
looked up; both Benedict and Indigo were staring at her strangely.
or Brunette what?”
was grinning at her, she decided she would wipe the silly smile off his
face. “Okay It’s a deal,” she held her hand over the table.
“When to we do it?”
took her delicate hand in his all encircling grip. “Whenever you are
ready young lady.”
was sitting in the day lounge when Rosie saw him; another man was there.
She saw the edge of a tattoo below his jacket sleeve.
Chub smiled. “Nice to see you.” He looked at the other man.
“This is Franki: Franki Rosie my saviour, she got me here at breakneck
smiled modestly as Franki stood and offered her his seat. “I’ll
see you later then Chub?” he said.
don’t have to go.” Rosie protested, “I only came to check
up on him.”
its okay I gotta go anyway; see ya chub.”
men saluted each other, before Chub turned to her. “So what’s
much. Jets stuck on some planet: apparently some kind of breakdown?”
Chub didn’t smile as she expected, in fact he looked kindly at her.
“And I’ve got a contract.”
chub smiled. “Great I’ll be out of here in no time.”
she said firmly. “You’re staying here. It was pretty close back
there. Your going to wait until you get a total clean bill of health.”
madam.” Now he saluted her.
mean it Chub; look the contract is easy a couple of pick ups and then Kepha-Prime.”
a Federation job?”
even get a Galaxy Militia escort.”
eyes opened wide. “What the heck are you going to be carrying?”
wasn’t just because of Chubs friends: people like Franki; when it
came to it she didn’t want to mention Benedict. “Ah. Ah. No
work, no details; your on sick leave, you just lay here and watch movies
and let all the pretty little nurse’s look after you.” She needed
to change the subject before he asked any other question she didn’t
want to answer. “So what have they told you?”
knock on the door was hesitant, embarrassed even. Rosie opened it to face
James; she smiled. “Back so soon?”
returned the smile, “I never wanted to leave.” They looked at
each other for a few moments. “Thanks for last night,” he said.
“I had a wonderful time.”
too,” she replied.
pulled his hand from behind his back and handed her a bunch of Roses. “I
hope you don’t mind; I know it’s a bit childish but Roses for
didn’t mind at all.
next knock was untidy, more a dragging of knuckles than a rapping. The smile
faded as she saw Mad Jack.
said to let you know the Flyer is ready to go. Some of them rocks made a
big mess. It’s not finished; too much to do without the right gear.
Your gunna have to get it somewhere for a complete refurbishment.”
felt anxious. “It’s safe is it?’
problem with flying, just don’t give it too much stick; there’s
spots that are not as transitional as they were. You could get differential
heating in the skin; that’s not good.”
I shouldn’t imagine it is.”
then that’s it, I’ve done all I can with what I’ve got
so I’m gunna take some R and R. Jet’ll know where, when he’s
I’ll tell him when he gets back.”
well se ya then.”
third knock was commanding; opening the door it was Benedict. He looked
over her shoulder into the room, but Rosie held her ground.
you mind if I come in, doing business at the door is for necktie salesmen.”
reluctantly stepped aside.
got the feeling he hadn’t expected him to be. “He’ll be
back any minute,” she lied.
don’t have a lot of time so I’ll tell you the details?”
pick ups of Ingots; the coordinates and times of all are in the documents
folder, as is the itinerary, and manifest. All the identifications to get
the bars and to contact the warship: if that becomes necessary, plus passwords
as required are also there. We’ve done this before so the procedure
shouldn’t throw up any odd balls.”
my tax contribution to the Federation.”
case you’re curious, it’s the method of payment to the authorities
for all of my operations.”
really none of our business, we just make the transfer.”
I have to warn you my dear that you shouldn’t try to deviate from
any of the instructions, or do anything that may confuse the warship. Due
to the nature of the cargo you will be carrying they will not only have
weapons at the ready to protect you, but also to disable you if they see
any variation from what they expect. That’s nothing personal but this
gold is destined for the federation treasury, and the warship is there to
ensure that no one, including you if you were so foolish, can take the gold.
If they have the slightest suspicion that you are about to flee; they will
shoot without hesitation.”
I’ll be perfectly safe.”
procedure that once you leave here there are no communications from you
or the ship.”
about the warship; won’t it need the Identification?’
do some don’t wait until the warship asks; we don’t like communications
of any sort as they can disclose your location. As a bullion transfer everything
is kept secret but sometime things leak out, you understand?”
have told no one and I don’t intend to tell anyone.”
well I must go… Oh occasionally there is an amendment or alteration;
I’ll be there when you leave and tell you if that’s the case.”
was in the ready room at the spaceport; she was reading a novel on the tablet
to calm her nerves. It felt strange flying a complete delivery alone: but
waiting for Benedict was more unnerving; probably even more than carrying
the cargo she would have in the hold, after all she had a whole warship
to herself; what possibly could go wrong?
came in. “There’s been an additional pick up, it’s three
tubs of gold dust slurry. Give me your tablet and upload the details.”
looked down at the asteroid; it was pockmarked with excavations over its
whole surface and looked strangely forlorn. She could see no activity, but
that wasn’t unusual, often work continued beneath while the surface
looked deserted. There was no sign of life in the mining camp either, and
feeling a little unsure she settled the starship down. There had been no
sign of the Galactic Militia warship she had been told would accompany her,
but she didn’t have time to dwell as a man was walking over the apron
towards the ship. Behind him were three others, each maneuvering carriage
sleds with large drums strapped to them.
man handed her a tablet, and as each man came up to them he checked the
seal and read out the code. Each time Rosie checked the number and initialed
her acceptance. By the time she followed them into the Flyers hold they
were already securing them to the bulkheads.
four men turned and left without another word. Rosie was stunned at the
nonchalant way the transfer had been made. She had no idea how much each
of the drums was worth but packed solid with a gold slurry that had to be
many millions, yet there was no security, and the galactic militia hadn’t
was nervous and began to wish that Jet and Chub were with her, but they
weren’t and she had to keep going. Rosie headed for the next coordinate
as fast as she could, fearful that every criminal in the Galaxy was waiting
for her to pass by.
relief was immense as arriving at the next coordinate she saw the warship
was stood off the planet waiting. An armed shuttle followed her down: hovering
above as she loaded. Reassuringly this time there were militia everywhere,
and triple the documentation.
second and third pick-ups followed the same format and then they were on
the way Kepha-Prime. They arrived and were met by an entire squad of militia
ready to accompany the containers to the treasury; She didn’t follow;
she was glad to see the gold go, and there were far too many men with guns
for her liking, so she finished the formal handover and left.
arrived at the Galaxy Layby feeling pleased with herself. She called Chub
to find out how he was and to give him a brief rundown on the trip; then
for no good reason she visited emperor Karr-Alle-Ecjek’s temple.
was greeted by one of the followers and welcomed Rosie went through to the
museum and stood in front of the hand as she heard a monk come up behind
be with you daughter.” it was a woman a little older than her.
peace be with you mother.” She replied.
stood in silence for a while until the woman spoke. “It’s beautiful
another situation Rosie would have pointed out that they were looking at
a severed and mummified hand, but she understood what the woman meant. Maybe
it was the silence, or the dark drapes, or the smell of perfumed woods,
whatever it was it was so calm and peaceful; so very therapeutic.
never fail to wonder what the relic is like when just a replica fills me
with so much faith.”
silently asked the emperors forgiveness for not telling the woman the truth.
at peace she went straight to the hotel and had only been there seconds
when there was a knock at the door. She hoped it was James but whoever it
was must have followed her u the elevator, and she hadn’t seen him.
Instead it was several men, some of them in Galactic militia uniform. “Are
you Ms. Rosanna Jane?”
a moment she thought of Chub; or Jet, but it was illogical; if anything
had happened a single caller would have come. They were here for her but
why? “Who are you?”
Truelmann; Federal Investigations Bureau; can you tell me your name please?”
are the pilot of the starship the Silver Flyer?”
you get your things and accompany us to our ship.”
was beginning to worry. “Whatever for?”
have some questions that need answers.”
delivery you have recently made.”
there isn’t a problem I have all the documents.”
is not about the delivery, but what you delivered.”
you will have to see the owner not me.”
is our belief that you replaced the items you picked up; with others?”
ridiculous I had a warship…” But she hadn’t on the first
leg. Suddenly she realized she had fallen into a trap.
are you saying; that there wasn’t gold in the drums?”
we believe that you knew the drums contained a substance other than gold.”
gold. I did not steal his or anyone’s gold; if it wasn’t there
it never was.”
relating to any missing gold will probably be laid later, but at this time
we are not investigating the disappearance of the gold; what we are concerned
with is what you replaced it with?”
she was scared. “Then what are you accusing me of?”
containers that you delivered and signed for contained Aqua Regia. Shortly
after the bullion was deposited the drums you delivered as gold slurry explosively
vented this substance, it saturated a section of the bullion area, at the
same time the whole vault filled with sufficient chlorine gas to activate
the sprinkler system saturating the bullion and reacting with the Aqua Regia.
This is what you are being accused of.”
did not do that.” She said firmly.
will have you chance to explain but I should warn you that as far as our
department is concerned we have all the evidence we need to convict you
of an offence that carries a life sentence in a penal colony.”
went incredibly cold; she could barely breathe never mind speak. “For
saturating a few gold bars?”
solution and atmosphere produced, has corroded the gold and rendered it
soluble. In you act of terrorism you have destroyed a significant percentage
of the Federations Strategic Financial Reserve.”
landed on the space station unaware of what had happened in his absence.
His forced stay had not been as long as it could have been after the cargo
master has scavenged a few components and built a serviceable thirty-nine
ignorance of past events filled quickly when he met up with Chub and Mad
don’t know any more Jet; the Feds are not happy about what’s
happened are have closed all the usual information links” said Chub.
“Indigo maybe does, but the Silver Flyer has been confiscated as evidence,
and Rosie is locked up on the warship: and Jet if your thinking of going
over there to see her forget it. Nobody knows where you have been; the militia
thinks she met up with you to swap the gold for the acid. The only reason
you’re not in a cell with her is because they just don’t have
any evidence yet that will stick.”
did know a little more. “I’m sorry Jet, but they have a strong
case of terrorism against her. She’s way beyond mine; or anybodies
help. There’s nothing that be done for her”
was devastated, there seemed nothing he could do: as the hours wore on and
he sank into a state of depression something occurred to him. The one thing
he knew for certain was that he knew nothing, everything he he’d been
told had been assumption or hearsay. There was not as single fact he could
rely on other than he knew she didn’t do it. He needed some facts
but the only place he could get anything was on the warship…or?”
Jet got back to the Galaxy Layby a stranger was waiting.
you Jet Black?”
looked at him suspiciously; he didn’t look like he was here to arrest
him, but he had to careful. “Yea.”
James Cooper, I’m a friend of Rosanna; I’d like to help?”
you’re in a minority, most people tell me she’s beyond help.”
don’t believe that.” James hesitated. “Look before you
find out you should know I work for Mr. Benedict.”
tell me that and expect me to trust you?”
truth is you cant trust me, or for that matter; anybody, but neither you
cant you refuse my help; at least if you want to get Rosanna out of jail.”
how do you intend to achieve that?”
don’t know yet, but I was the one who worked out the itinerary; and
the route I gave her didn’t include picking up those three tubs.”
why was she there?”
was hoping you could answer that?”
you were wrong.”
maybe the answer is on the mainframe of the Silver Flyer?”
nodded, it couldn’t tell why, but the data logger could tell when
and how. “How do you intend to achieve that?”
why I’ve come to see you; you have the only Galactic Militia ship
that I can use.”
suggesting we rock up and say hello?”
much; there’s no gold around so they won’t be looking for trouble,
and the Layby is a stop off point for any spacecraft, including militia
liked the idea, “And I think I know where we can get a couple of uniforms.”
felt strange wearing the uniform again; Indigo had a number of various types:
apparently they were for fancy dress occasions, but Indigo hadn’t
sounded convincing on that; but approaching the flyer in an ex-galactic
militia spacecraft worked, and they docked with the Flyer without any trouble
guard seemed bored and was happy to chat. James did the best he could to
put the man off with easy banter as Jet made the excuse to visit the rest
room, instead he doubled back to the systems cabin and called up the flight
looks like she entered the information immediately prior to her departure?”
James was puzzled. “That was never part of the contract, I can’t
imagine what reason she would have?”
not good.” Muttered Chub. “The Fed’s would have needed
to know of any last moment alteration. If she altered without good cause
that can only point to guilt?
was at a complete loss, but he still wasn’t prepared to believe she
was guilty. “We can’t start questioning her motives without
hearing her side.”
was quick to show his loyalty. “I know Jet but the whole thing revolves
around why did she go there; if we don’t know that how can we prove
thought came to James. “Looking at it from another angle; why did
they accept something that wasn’t on the itinerary?”
wouldn’t.” muttered Jet. “Those drums must have been on
the itinerary or they wouldn’t have been unloaded.”
shook his head. “But they weren’t; I arranged the documentation
myself before I handed it to… Mr. Benedict?”
had added little to the conversation but now he spoke. “Both can be
looked at him.
don’t have much to day laid up in a bed, so I listened into the chatter
on the web.” He gave a sly grin. “ Not your usual web you understand?”
was someone was planning a heist, a big heist.” Chub had their attention.
“There was no saying why, but they needed a hacker?”
got to be.” James was smiling. “Somebody changed the…”
you guys get too excited,” Chub spoke again. “Were trying to
get Rosie out but it was an anonymous request: it could have been Rosie
herself, at least that’s what the Feds will claim, and there’s
no way of finding out for sure?”
brief feeling of relief died.
tried to sound positive “Whether it was Rosie or someone else there’s
more to it than that, so it’s a staring point, and I think where she
picked up those drums is where we need to start as well?”
a storeroom close to the landing area were a number of containers bearing
warning signs and labeled Aqua Regia. There were also empty tanks of Chlorine:
explosive wrappers, and sleds that appeared newer than the other equipment.
But almost everything they saw was what could be found on any mining site.
Checking the tags everything had one or another Benedicts subsidiary identification;
but the mining camps were awash with pilfering so they could probably never
pin any article down.
followed Chubs somber voice to what once was the canteen. Sprawled on the
floor were three bodies. They had been shot in the face and were unrecognizable.
Checking the bodies there was no identification.
think we can assume these were the men that gave Rosie the drums?”
claims there were four, so there’s another somewhere.” Chub
took them only a short time to confirm that other than the three corpses
the asteroid had been abandoned for some time.
where is he?” Jet thought aloud.
Jet,” James said helpfully. “I’ll tell you one thing though,
he’s a professional.”
looked at him curiously.
entry wounds are all in the same place; right where the recognizable facial
looked at him as James knelt beside one. “Your saying they are known?”
certainly to some criminal organization, and possibly the militia?”
can find that out,” said Chub. “Assuming they’re from
this section of the galaxy?”
believe so, whoever the fourth is he thought they could be identified other
wise why take the trouble to shoot how he has: and…” James
turned the mans hand towards them. “Their finger prints have been
burnt off. Professional or not, I doubt if he would waste time doing things
like he has if he was confident nobody would know them.” Suddenly
James stood and went to another of the bodies. “We could be in luck;
here Jet open his eyelid for me.”
looked down at the bloody mess; he reached his finger down and reluctantly
pulled the flap of flesh up.
we are in luck; see here this one must have tried to turn away; half his
eye is still intact… Hold it steady Jet?”
pulled out a small camera and placed it close to the open eyeball.”
did you get that?” said Chub suspiciously.
this is just something I picked up.”
it isn’t.” said Chub challengingly. “I’ve only ever
seen one of those before and its owner was a Fed agent?”
I said I got it a while ago; hey Chub.” James said affably, “Do
I look like a government agent?”
had been with Chub too long not to know the signs that he wasn’t satisfied.
“So what are you going to do with the image?”
someone with access to the government data banks and run it through the
the crime database be better?”
Jet no; the licensing authorities have a more powerful sensor chips; it
gives high enough resolution that you can use it for retina identification
looked up at Chub, who gave him a told you so smile.
at the Galaxy Layby Indigo met them with more bad news. “You need
to disappear Jet. The Galactic Militia have issued a required for interview
notice for you.”
wasn’t actually a warrant but if the militia needed to talk to someone
bad enough that they issued an all ports directive it was as good as.
I heard I registered Chub as responsible for the Tanatalia.” Continued
Indigo. “So for the moment they don’t know you’re here,
but they do have agents everywhere so be careful, and don’t go anywhere
did as he was told and went: at James’s insistence, to his rooms instead.
The time passed slowly until Chub returned.
right jet.” Said Chub. “Word is that you were involved; in fact
I had a couple of offers to fence the gold if I could contact you. Shame
we haven’t.” Chub looked at him expectantly. “We don’t,
had to smile at his companion’s ever-present practical side. “No
Chub; if we had we wouldn’t go around killing people would we?”
yea… Well just making sure. Oh and the other thing is that Rosie’s
trial is tomorrow.”
Gasped Jet. “Why that quick?”
Feds don’t want her on the warship any longer than they need to. They
recon they have a solid case and will give her the right to appeal at a
later date if she wants to plead innocent.”
happened to innocent until proven guilty?
only for folks who don’t take on the Federation.”
arrived a short time later. He waited until the door was closed behind him.
“Roberto, Graham, Delayne,” he said.
glanced at Chub, as Chub repeated the name and shook his head. “Nope,
never heard of him.”
years old.” Continued James. “He hasn’t lived at the registered
address for over four years and there’s no update. He’s got
several offences related to the transport of illicit materials... I cross
checked those offences with the militia crime data base and it seems he
was involved with the Black Light criminal organization?”
Jet looked at Chub this time Chub did speak. “I know of them. Yea
it fits; they’re pretty secretive and executions are well in the filed
looked at Chub as he described the brutality as if it was just a list of
shopping. He saw James was more than interested.
are not the kind of people who like enquiries being made about them but
I’ll see what I can find out.” Chub left the room.
seemed an amazing coincidence that Beta-TelaIV was the hideout for the Black
Light organization, and as the Tanatalia settled onto the spaceport Jet
got a bad feeling. He withdrew into the inside of the spacecraft leaving
Chub and James to do the arrivals documentation.
had spent some time in the city during his forced stay, but hadn’t
made any mental judgments. It was in a word bland; a little bit more frontier
maybe, but in almost all ways like any of the hundreds he had visited. The
center was brash, and outside there were several districts; families stuck
to one that was probably the quietest; then there was the commercial, and
as there always was, a seedy side where all the goings on that the families
shunned were carried out.
thought about contacting the cargo manager again but something stopped him;
maybe it was that even here beyond the main reach of the Galactic Militia
they would still read all ports directives.
returned with news that Delayne was known, and that he hadn’t been
seen for a while: the last time when he had left the planet in the company
of four others. Chub even had their names, or at least their alias’s,
with the exception of one. He was from off planet and had arrived on a company
was one of Benedicts ships,” said Chub knowingly.
substantiates Rosie’s story,” said jet in excitement.
doused his enthusiasm. “No Jet, all it proves is that one of benedicts
ships was here.”
it all fits.”
it does, but it’s still all circumstantial.”
had more to say. “Jet only one of the four locals came back, and he’s
Jets hopes rose. “We need to talk to him: you have his name?”
you find out where he is?”
exactly… but you need to know he’s one of the Black Lights
key henchmen: ex military special op’s, and a real bad-ass. From what
I’ve been told he’s been known to kill somebody just because
he felt like it.”
was a while later: Chub and James were back in the city trying to find leads
and Jet was in a small cabin trying to think when he heard somebody moving
in the spaceship. At first he assumed it was one of the others, but whoever
it was didn’t come to the cabin instead they passed by and went in
the direction of the hold. Jet thought it strange and was quickly on his
feet following. Turning a corner suddenly he was facing the cargo master.
Jet looked at him wondering what he was doing, but without warning the man
lunged at Jet, taking him off balance and they both crashed to the floor.
Jet was stunned and the man got in several painful blows to Jets face and
of his surprise Jets training kicked in and he began to counter the blows.
It quickly became apparent that the cargo master was far more proficient
than Jet had imagined, and even deflecting some of the punches others still
got through. Jet quickly realized this was no street fighter; this man knew
how to fight: but so did Jet and now he began to fight back. Though Jet
didn’t have time to think too much he knew they were evenly matched;
he needed a tiebreaker. Jet threw his head forwards and smashed his forehead
into his foes face. There was a sharp crack and Jet knew he had broken his
assailants nose. It gave him the few moments he needed to get on his feet
and take a fighting stance.
was pouring from the cargo masters nose as he backed off unsteadily: he
snarled angrily and threw himself at Jet but this time he held a hunting
weapon seemed to magically appear in front of Jets face and now he backed
off, one hand grabbing and holding the wrist and blade away as far away
as he could. Again they fell to the floor fighting with a single hand. The
cargo master had steel capped boots and several painful kicks later Jet
was feeling the pressure. He ached and was loosing strength; he couldn’t
hold the knife away much longer.
the cargo master eased his grip; his wild eyes took on an uncomprehending
look and he slowly rolled over to Jets side to reveal Chub standing over
them: a steel bar in his hand.
looked down at Jet; a mean smile on his face. “I came back to warn
you I found out where Boyde is; but apparently you already know?”
He reached his arm down to help Jet up. “You’ll probably need
that seen to?” he said looking at Jets arm. Blood was pouring from
beneath a slash in the jackets material.
tried to bring his thoughts together. “I don’t know what happened.
I thought it was one of you guys then he’s onto me like a crazed animal
for no reason?”
bent down and opened a small sack. “This is the reason.” Chub
opened the top wide so Jet could see.
Gold, and a fair bit of it too. Looks like our friend here slipped up; he
probably thought us turning up was a bonus, slip a bit of evidence aboard
and that ties you in with Rosie; all neat and done: he should have checked
the ship was empty first: slack, very slack.”
looked down at the cargo master. “That’s if it was, opportunistic?”
can’t be sure but it’s too messy; he’s better than that;
or was: anyway nobody knew we were gunna come here... Except James?”
nodded and looked at the body. “Think he’s dead?”
he’s not he’d gunna have one hell of a headache.”
going to have to tell someone: is there such a thing as a militia post here?”
even think about it Jet. A wanted suspect, a corpse, and a bag of gold dust;
if we ever got off this place, we’d be old men; anyway I’ll
have a hard time claiming self defense, by sneaking up behind.”
what do we do with him?”
can drop him off on the way back.”
didn’t like the idea but he didn’t want to end up in prison
either. “Shame we couldn’t have got him to talk?”
shrugged. “People like him don’t grass.”
dragged the body through to the hold, cleaned up and waited until James
arrived back. They said nothing to him about the fight or consequences,
and took off.
was definitely one of benedicts ships, and as far as I can find out the
mans name was Krinski. I think we have a trail all the way back to Benedict
now; it’s mainly circumstantial, but I think we have enough to shake
a few trees and see what falls out.
was never sure where Boyde ended up, at one point Chub had excused himself
and came back later to give Jet the thumbs up. Somehow it didn’t make
him happy, and they forgot to tell James about the gold as well.
came aboard the Tanatalia He had a bottle of Champagne in his hand. “Whose
got the glasses?” he said holding it high.
produced four ceramic mugs.
success.” He said as he poured out the drink.
freedom.” Said Jet.
long may we enjoy it, and others want it.” Added Chub.
that’s aimed at Benedict your out of luck,”
all looked at Indigo.
haven’t heard have you?”
what, “ said Jet.
got too many friends in high places. He won’t be charged; anyway he’s
got enough high powered lawyers to keep him out of jail as long as he‘s
got to make a mistake he can’t cover one day?” grumbled Jet.
his kind are too slippery.” Corrected Chub.
was James who asked the question. “Krinski?”
Krinski.” Indigo shrugged. “The militia broke into his apartment
to find him dead. Apparently he committed suicide after: very conveniently,
leaving a note admitting culpability, and clearing Benedict entirely.”
news took the pleasure out of the celebration.
at least Benedict lost his gold.” Muttered Jet
was James who spoiled his revenge. “Actually he didn’t.”
looked at James. “What do you mean?”
fed are not revealing how much gold was lost, but they have admitted to
some; its sent the gold price into orbit, and Benedict has made a fortune
with his stocks.”
laughed, “So it’s still a draw?’
raised his mug. "It could have gone a lot worse for us; and that’s
all that really counts to me.”
too Chub. Okay lets get Rosie and get on our way home; to our home amoung