The Impossible Adventures of Jet Black and the Starship Crew



Jet Black - Gold #13

By Alan P. Ellis

Copyright Caelin Day pty. ltd. 2013ã

Copyright 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.


Rosie 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.

She 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.

It 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.

The 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.

And 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.

All 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.

Rosie 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.


The 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.

Madam…” he began.

I’m not quite ready,” she replied.

Madam; Mr. Indigo has requested you join him at his table?”

It was the last thing she had expected. “Indigo?”

Yes, madam; he and his companions are in alcove one. If you wish I could show you the way?”

Oh… Well yes… Thank you.”

The 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.

Her 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…”

Please Rosanna,” said Benedict appealingly. “Please don’t go we would very much like you to join us.”

I’m waiting for somebody…” The words sounded so childish as she uttered them.

If you must, then it is our loss; but if you would like to reconsider?”

Rosie stared at him and knew that she could walk away, but that would mean he had won. “Why not?”

The stranger was on his feet in a moment pulling out a chair between him and Indigo.

Benedict waited until she sat down. “This is James Cooper; James works for the company and of course you know our mutual friend Indigo.”

Rosie nodded to each in turn.

I hear you have had a little misfortune?”

She was sure Benedict was holding back a smile. “Sometimes things don’t go to plan.”

No; how is you friend Mr. Hubli; I hear he was seriously wounded?”

Not as bad as it could have been.”

But he is still in the medical center?”

Only to make sure there is no infection.”

Then that’s good news.”

She 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.

And Jet he is well?” the question was delivered without animosity.

Very; you know Jet, he’s indestructible.” she couldn’t help laying it on.

But the poor old Silver Flyer; I hear it was badly damaged?”

Not at all,” she said cheerily. “Just a few scratches to the paintwork.”

So sad; I was very fond of it; please in future do try to take more care with it?”

Rosie wanted to punch his smug face, “Well its been… interesting; but I must meet my friend.” She went to stand.

Please stay.” Benedict smiled. “I have a proposition you may be interested in.”

Excuse me for saying so, but somehow I doubt that?”

Benedict shrugged. “I know we have had our … differences in the past or perhaps misunderstandings…”

Misunderstandings?” She said sharply to stop him. “I think the message was quite clear.”

Benedicts 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.”

Rosie 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.”

Then Rosanna, please sit down, and let us start to turn the past into history.”


The 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.

It 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.

But 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.

Even 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.

Thankfully 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.

Jet 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 Flyer.

You can have the Tanatalia in exchange for a seventeen and a half percent cut.’ Indigo had said.

It’s a heap of crap.’ Was Jets reply.

Come 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 me.’

Jet knew that Indigo knew he had no other option. “Ten percent?”

Tell you what make it twenty percent and you‘ve bought yourself a spare spacecraft.’ Indigo held out his hand.

Jet didn’t think he was on the winning side of the deal, but he shook on it anyway.

I thought you were in for a crash landing?” the cargo manager said as he stepped into the Tanatalia’s hold.

Jet thought the landing had been fine, he looked at the man puzzled,

I heard talk these were going to be scrapped before I left the military?”

Jet smiled, “This could be the last you’ll see of one?”

Shame they were a good old task ship.”

It’s 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?”


Rosie’s 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.

It was as they waited for coffee that Benedict made the proposition.

You want to hire us?” Rosie had not intended her voice to sound shocked but it did.

That’s what you do, isn’t it?”

Well… Yes.”

Then we can make so formal agreement?”

I can’t,” she stuttered desperately trying to avoid any commitment. “We run a partnership: I would have to consult… the others.”

Of course, I wouldn’t want Jet to think I was trying to gain an advantage in any way.”

She wanted to say he wasn’t going to, but she just smiled.


Even 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.

Jet 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.

The 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.

As the engine died the cargo master stood upright. “How long since you last used the ship?”

I can’t answer, that but I suspect it could have been sitting unused for quite a long while?”

The cargo master shook his head. “These things thrive on work; it doesn’t do them any good to stay idle.”

You know what’s wrong?’

Oh yea; you’ve got a hardware problem in the mainframe.”

It’s a hardware problem?”

Hardware definitely.”

Jet looked at him “Your certain its hardware?”

The 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.”

It’s not a major problem?” Jet said hopefully

Oh no; simple fix.”

Jet breathed a sigh of relief. “Okay so who do I see?”

We’ll on this forsaken planet that would be me.”

Great so what do we do?”

Well actually nothing; we don’t have any spare circuits.”

Jet felt his elation slip away, “But you can get one?”

Yea 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.”


Gold?” The word shocked Rosie.

Enough for a kings ransom; as the saying used to go.”

But we’re not a high security service?”

No but you get the job done.”

The last time we tried we didn’t.”

The emperors hand was a no win situation; you did what you could.”

But a cargo hold full of gold would make us a target for every criminal across the galaxy.”

Not when you have Galactic militia as escort.”

Then why cant the Galactic militia use one of their own cargo ships?”

Politics 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.”

So just pick up the load and take it to central reserve?”

Pick 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.”

With an escort.”

Every step of the way.”

And it’s all legal?”

One 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?”

The 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.”

Indigo and James were looking at her expectantly. “I’ll put your proposition to my associates.”

Benedict 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?”

It 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.

Please 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.”

Rosie 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.


Rosie’s 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 abrupt.

Stuck on planet. Problems with the ship. Will be delayed, Jet.’

Problems?’ she thought as disappointments overwhelmed her. “Blond or Brunette?”

What’s that my sear?”

Rosie looked up; both Benedict and Indigo were staring at her strangely.

Blond or Brunette what?”

Benedict 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?”

Benedict took her delicate hand in his all encircling grip. “Whenever you are ready young lady.”

Chub 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.

Rosie.” 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 speed.”

She smiled modestly as Franki stood and offered her his seat. “I’ll see you later then Chub?” he said.

You don’t have to go.” Rosie protested, “I only came to check up on him.”

No its okay I gotta go anyway; see ya chub.”

The men saluted each other, before Chub turned to her. “So what’s happening?”

Not 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.”

Now chub smiled. “Great I’ll be out of here in no time.”

No,” 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.”

Yes madam.” Now he saluted her.

I mean it Chub; look the contract is easy a couple of pick ups and then Kepha-Prime.”

It’s a Federation job?”

I even get a Galaxy Militia escort.”

His eyes opened wide. “What the heck are you going to be carrying?”

It 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?”


The knock on the door was hesitant, embarrassed even. Rosie opened it to face James; she smiled. “Back so soon?”

He 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.”

Me too,” she replied.

James 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 a Rose.”

She didn’t mind at all.


The next knock was untidy, more a dragging of knuckles than a rapping. The smile faded as she saw Mad Jack.


Jet 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.”

Rosie felt anxious. “It’s safe is it?’

No 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.”

No, I shouldn’t imagine it is.”

Well 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 ready.”

Okay; I’ll tell him when he gets back.”

Good, well se ya then.”


The third knock was commanding; opening the door it was Benedict. He looked over her shoulder into the room, but Rosie held her ground.

Do you mind if I come in, doing business at the door is for necktie salesmen.”

Rosie reluctantly stepped aside.

Jet’s not here?”

She got the feeling he hadn’t expected him to be. “He’ll be back any minute,” she lied.

I don’t have a lot of time so I’ll tell you the details?”


Three 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.”

That sounds fine.”

It’s my tax contribution to the Federation.”


In case you’re curious, it’s the method of payment to the authorities for all of my operations.”

That’s really none of our business, we just make the transfer.”

Quite: 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.”

Then I’ll be perfectly safe.”

It’s procedure that once you leave here there are no communications from you or the ship.”

What about the warship; won’t it need the Identification?’

Some 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?”

I have told no one and I don’t intend to tell anyone.”

Good 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.”


Rosie 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?

Benedict 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.”

She 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.

The 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.

The 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 appeared.

She 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.


Her 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.

The 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.


Rosie 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.

She 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 her.

Peace be with you daughter.” it was a woman a little older than her.

And peace be with you mother.” She replied.

They stood in silence for a while until the woman spoke. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”

In 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.

I never fail to wonder what the relic is like when just a replica fills me with so much faith.”

Rosie silently asked the emperors forgiveness for not telling the woman the truth.


Feeling 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?”

For 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?”

Captain Truelmann; Federal Investigations Bureau; can you tell me your name please?”

I am Rosanna.”

You are the pilot of the starship the Silver Flyer?”

I am?”

Would you get your things and accompany us to our ship.”

She was beginning to worry. “Whatever for?”

We have some questions that need answers.”

What about?”

A delivery you have recently made.”


Very recently.”

Then there isn’t a problem I have all the documents.”

It is not about the delivery, but what you delivered.”

Then you will have to see the owner not me.”

It is our belief that you replaced the items you picked up; with others?”

That’s ridiculous I had a warship…” But she hadn’t on the first leg. Suddenly she realized she had fallen into a trap.

What are you saying; that there wasn’t gold in the drums?”

Precisely, we believe that you knew the drums contained a substance other than gold.”

Benedicts gold. I did not steal his or anyone’s gold; if it wasn’t there it never was.”

Charges 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?”

Now she was scared. “Then what are you accusing me of?”

The 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.”

I did not do that.” She said firmly.

You 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.”

Rosie went incredibly cold; she could barely breathe never mind speak. “For saturating a few gold bars?”

The 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.”

Jet 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 P circuit.

His ignorance of past events filled quickly when he met up with Chub and Mad Jack.

I 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.”


Indigo 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”


Jet 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?”


When Jet got back to the Galaxy Layby a stranger was waiting.

Are you Jet Black?”

Jet looked at him suspiciously; he didn’t look like he was here to arrest him, but he had to careful. “Yea.”

I’m James Cooper, I’m a friend of Rosanna; I’d like to help?”

Then you’re in a minority, most people tell me she’s beyond help.”

I don’t believe that.” James hesitated. “Look before you find out you should know I work for Mr. Benedict.”

You tell me that and expect me to trust you?”

The 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.”

And how do you intend to achieve that?”

I 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.”

Then why was she there?”

I was hoping you could answer that?”

Well you were wrong.”

Then maybe the answer is on the mainframe of the Silver Flyer?”

Jet nodded, it couldn’t tell why, but the data logger could tell when and how. “How do you intend to achieve that?”

That’s why I’ve come to see you; you have the only Galactic Militia ship that I can use.”

Your suggesting we rock up and say hello?”

Pretty 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 ships.”

Jet liked the idea, “And I think I know where we can get a couple of uniforms.”


It 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

The 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 plan


I 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?”

That’s 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?

Jet 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.”

Chub 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 anything?”

A thought came to James. “Looking at it from another angle; why did they accept something that wasn’t on the itinerary?”

They wouldn’t.” muttered Jet. “Those drums must have been on the itinerary or they wouldn’t have been unloaded.”

James shook his head. “But they weren’t; I arranged the documentation myself before I handed it to… Mr. Benedict?”

Chub had added little to the conversation but now he spoke. “Both can be right.”

They looked at him.

You 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?”

They did.

Talk was someone was planning a heist, a big heist.” Chub had their attention. “There was no saying why, but they needed a hacker?”

That’s got to be.” James was smiling. “Somebody changed the…”

Before 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?”

The brief feeling of relief died.

Jet 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?”


In 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.

Over here guys.”

Jet 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.

I think we can assume these were the men that gave Rosie the drums?” said James.

Rosie claims there were four, so there’s another somewhere.” Chub reminded them.

It took them only a short time to confirm that other than the three corpses the asteroid had been abandoned for some time.

So where is he?” Jet thought aloud.

Anywhere Jet,” James said helpfully. “I’ll tell you one thing though, he’s a professional.”

Jet looked at him curiously.

The entry wounds are all in the same place; right where the recognizable facial features are.”

Jet looked at him as James knelt beside one. “Your saying they are known?”

Almost certainly to some criminal organization, and possibly the militia?”

I can find that out,” said Chub. “Assuming they’re from this section of the galaxy?”

I 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.”

Jet looked down at the bloody mess; he reached his finger down and reluctantly pulled the flap of flesh up.

Ah… we are in luck; see here this one must have tried to turn away; half his eye is still intact… Hold it steady Jet?”

James pulled out a small camera and placed it close to the open eyeball.”

Where did you get that?” said Chub suspiciously.

Oh this is just something I picked up.”

No it isn’t.” said Chub challengingly. “I’ve only ever seen one of those before and its owner was a Fed agent?”

Like I said I got it a while ago; hey Chub.” James said affably, “Do I look like a government agent?”

Jet 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?”

Find someone with access to the government data banks and run it through the licensing department.”

Wouldn’t the crime database be better?”

Actually Jet no; the licensing authorities have a more powerful sensor chips; it gives high enough resolution that you can use it for retina identification after accidents.”

Jet looked up at Chub, who gave him a told you so smile.


Back 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.”

It 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.

When 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 your known.”

Jet did as he was told and went: at James’s insistence, to his rooms instead. The time passed slowly until Chub returned.

Indigo’s 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, do we?”

Jet 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?”

Ah yea… Well just making sure. Oh and the other thing is that Rosie’s trial is tomorrow.”

Tomorrow?” Gasped Jet. “Why that quick?”

The 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.”

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

That’s only for folks who don’t take on the Federation.”


James arrived a short time later. He waited until the door was closed behind him. “Roberto, Graham, Delayne,” he said.

Jet glanced at Chub, as Chub repeated the name and shook his head. “Nope, never heard of him.”

Twenty-seven 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?”

Again 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 of expertise…”

Jet looked at Chub as he described the brutality as if it was just a list of shopping. He saw James was more than interested.

They 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.


It 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.

Jet 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.

Jet 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.

Chub 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 spacecraft.

It was one of Benedicts ships,” said Chub knowingly.

It substantiates Rosie’s story,” said jet in excitement.

James doused his enthusiasm. “No Jet, all it proves is that one of benedicts ships was here.”

But it all fits.”

Maybe it does, but it’s still all circumstantial.”

Chub had more to say. “Jet only one of the four locals came back, and he’s still here.”

Again Jets hopes rose. “We need to talk to him: you have his name?”

A Pietre Boyde.”

Did you find out where he is?”

Not 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.”


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 stomach.

Shaking 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.

Blood 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 knife.

The 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.

Suddenly 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.

Chub 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.

Jet 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?”

Chub bent down and opened a small sack. “This is the reason.” Chub opened the top wide so Jet could see.


Yep, 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.”

Jet looked down at the cargo master. “That’s if it was, opportunistic?”

Na; 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?”

Jet nodded and looked at the body. “Think he’s dead?”

If he’s not he’d gunna have one hell of a headache.”

We’re going to have to tell someone: is there such a thing as a militia post here?”

Don’t 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.”

So what do we do with him?”

We can drop him off on the way back.”

Jet 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?”

Chub shrugged. “People like him don’t grass.”

They 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.

It 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.

Jet 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.


Indigo came aboard the Tanatalia He had a bottle of Champagne in his hand. “Whose got the glasses?” he said holding it high.

Jet produced four ceramic mugs.

To success.” He said as he poured out the drink.

To freedom.” Said Jet.

And long may we enjoy it, and others want it.” Added Chub.

If that’s aimed at Benedict your out of luck,”

They all looked at Indigo.

You haven’t heard have you?”

Heard what, “ said Jet.

Benedicts 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 alive.”

He’s got to make a mistake he can’t cover one day?” grumbled Jet.

Na, his kind are too slippery.” Corrected Chub.

It was James who asked the question. “Krinski?”

Ah… 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.”

The news took the pleasure out of the celebration.

Well at least Benedict lost his gold.” Muttered Jet

It was James who spoiled his revenge. “Actually he didn’t.”

He looked at James. “What do you mean?”

The 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.”

Jet laughed, “So it’s still a draw?’

Chub raised his mug. "It could have gone a lot worse for us; and that’s all that really counts to me.”

Me too Chub. Okay lets get Rosie and get on our way home; to our home amoung the stars.”

Click here for more of the Jet Black and the Starship Crew series