Beaumonde to Haven to Hera Run and Run In
I agreed to take it on as cargo for 1000 credits, after the crew got their shares, I’d have enough to pay back Qin for the loan for that spare part we needed. Qin has since commenced to argue with me that he don’t need the money right now, and we should keep it in the ship’s money for emergencies. I am startin’ to adore Qin. He does seem to love Tempest near as much as I do, and I might even think about sellin’ him a partnership in the boat. Might help us to stop living on the edge of my teeth, since I never have no money left over after expenses.
Once the poor folk who’d had the monument created, loaded the huge crate into the hold, and paid me we were ready to go. There was a bit of a snit between the crew and me about whether we was going to Haven or Hera first, since Hera was on the way. I told them flat out that the goods goin’ to the livin’ are delivered first, especially since they ain’t exactly legal goods, and the faster we got the job for Brody done, the sooner he’d be offerin’ us another one.
Some skinny kid was sitting in a corner of the dock, and he asked if he could come with to see that his brother’s memorial was in proper order on Hera. I said yes, but all the warning bells and whistles were going off about this kid. I didn’t trust him as far as I could through him. But I had offered to let family of the monument travel with us, so I couldn’t refuse him now. All we could do was keep any eye on the little weasel and hope he weren’t up to no good. Had Wally and the doctor see that our passenger, Chan Chou Wa was set up in the passenger births. Figured the Doctor and Wally could keep a good eye on him.
Qin came back from his shopping trip, laden with package for himself and Tempest. I don’t know where the boy gets his money, but he does seem to always have enough and then some. Wondering if maybe the Companion’s Guild gives you a severance package when you quit? I’ll have to ask someday. Qin was in a snit. Seems the Cascade was birthed next to us. Qin’s got a history with their captain Skipper Monroe. He’s a mean cuss who was on the Alliance’s side in the war, and flies a real nice boat now that he moves drugs from Greenleaf on. He said a purplebelly was laughing it up with him right outside the ship. Monroe had been Qin’s employer before and there was some very bad blood there.
Travis got us out of atmo and back into the Black nicely, then proceeded to plot the most ass backwards course to Haven I ever did see. Would have taken us 5 days for a 2 day trip so I replotted the course. We had a nice dinner that night, since Wally brought fresh pizzas on board from Beaumonde, because the rules about chores don’t specify that you got to cook the dinner yourself. I was happy for the pizza. Hadn’t had any in a damned long time, and I love cheese.
We kept flying all the way to Haven with Travis, Qin and I keeping an eye on Tempest. Got there with no trouble to mention, and Travis set us down a might roughly while I got in touch with Mat Owens over the wave. We were met at the landing by the miner’s doctor and a few other young folks to unload the precious Alliance medicines. Mat had payment for me held up in the town a bit, so I had to head there, weren’t too happy about it, because things had a tendency to go very wrong when you’re smuggling Alliance merchandize so I was waiting for the purple bellies to pop out at any moment and put a bullet in my brain pan.
Matt and his people were right friendly; they’d scored a huge amount of actual beef, and invited us to a big BBQ. I thought about saying no, but the entire crew was drooling at the thought of real steak. Had to admit that I was too, don’t remember the last time I had none. So I headed back to Tempest to tell ‘em we was all getting a nice dinner before we left for Hera. There was much rejoicing except for our passenger who was apparently sicker than anyone the doctor ever saw before. He was in the crapper for a real long time, long enough that she went in to check on his ass, and next thing I know she’s puking all over the floor. Guess she didn’t get the cast iron stomach in the war that Rob and I did. That sort of smell ain’t nothin’ compared to the thousands of rottin’ corpses that we’d been surrounded by for all those weeks.
Left the doctor to clean up her mess, and to deal with the stink bomb passenger as I had no interest in either of them, going back to Serenity Valley had me thinking all kinds of dark thoughts. I was hoping that the party with the miners would help to break the black mood that was coming to haunt me.
The part was damned nice, the food good, and the moonshine could’ve been used to wash parts in the engine. It was some nasty shit, so I only drank a little bit just to be neighborly its bad manners to refuse to drink with folk. Mat said his people sold arts & crafts type stuff on Beaumonde where they had a broker, who turned out to Brody, and they wondered if we’d take a bit back with us for 300 creds. Weren’t a shit load of money, but it was a small cargo and we were goin’ back that way anyway for the rest of our pay for the medical run and to pick up Rob’s new gun. And if there really is a Lord, I would hopefully be able to pay for haircut.
They paid us, and gave us each a quilt. I got a pretty red one for my cabin. Been a long time since I had something new and pretty in my bed, that I hadn’t had to pay for. We all got settled, and Travis took us up. Rob had it in his head that someone had stolen Tempest because he’d heard a ship’s engines. He was more than a might drunk though, so none of us paid too much attention to his mumblings. I did pay attention when our sensors told us were was being followed, and also to Wally shouting for me to come down to the hold where he and the doctor had found something. I ordered Travis to get us out of there, and rushed down to the cargo bay where Wally had his head up underneath the monument.
I climbed down the steps 2 or 3 at a time, and stuck my head into the hole under the monument and let out a string of curses in Chinese and English that would have made Rob blush. Drugs, our passenger had stashed pounds and pounds of high grade opium under the monument. I ordered Wally and Rob to clear the shit out of there, and to stash it in one of our hidey holes. Then I told the doctor that she’d best get the kid talking, but he was asleep or something.
By then Travis was calling me back to the bridge. For some gorram reason we was stalled, and going to be caught real soon. Qin said the engines had stalled, but it wasn’t their fault. She said Travis done something wrong like flooding them. Up there, caught a wave from the other ship. It was Skipper Monroe.
“Hello Captain Perris,” I smiled blandly at the smarky looking black man with his tight little braids sneering at me over the vid. “I do believe you have a couple of things that belong to me on your ship.
“Hello Skipper,” I said my brain already preparing the line of bullshit that I’d be feeding him. “Don’t rightly know what you’re asking about. We picked up a monument for delivery to Hera on Beaumonde and a passenger. Neither one said they was looking for the Cascade.”
“Now is that any way to be. I call you Captain, and you just call me Skipper.”
“Well Skipper means Captain don’t it?”
“Skipper’s my first name.”
”So you’re Captain Captain then? Seems a might strange, but then I suppose when your momma named you Skipper she weren’t countin’ on you becomin’ a captain of a ship none, or maybe she was. Hard to tell since I don’t rightly know your mother.” That’s it Kit, I thought, keep him talking, so they can hide the drugs.
“Quit stallin’ Perris. I want my cargo and I want my mechanic.”
“Qin ain’t yours. He’s been my mechanic for couple years now, and he don’t like you at all.”
“I don’t care what he said. I have papers that say he’s my indentured servant. I’m coming to get what’s mine. First I’ll start putting holes in your shiny, well not so shiny, ship”
“And how you going to do that?”
“Unlike your little Firefly, Perris, I’ve got weapons.” I cut off the wave, and slapped Travis on the shoulder “I don’t care what you got to do, but you get us away from him now.”
Rob and the doctor found me holding our passenger’s head under cold water trying to wake him up enough to talk. I needed to know just who he was screwin’ over besides us. Doc had to give him a shot of adrenaline to wake him up, and we proceeded to pound him about a bit until he told us what we needed to know. Seems he was supposed to be shipping with Monroe, but decided to run with the goods himself. The drugs were being brokered by Lucas Brockington. Brockington I knew about, he was one of the most powerful crime lords on Persephone, and the last thing I ever wanted to do was piss off the man who held the strings on my home world.
I commenced to more swearing as I heard the docking clamps latch onto us. Qin said he’d be able to reverse polarity, and then we’d be able to break free but it’d take time. I dragged Wa down to the cargo bay, told him to kneel there until I gave him over to Monroe. I didn’t ask for this trouble and I wanted it off my boat. Rod, Wally and I were there guns ready for anything as I heard the air lock cycling. Wa just blubbered about trying to make a little money.
First thing through the door was a smoke grenade. Monroe’s people weren’t too bright, why offer more cover to the people who are familiar with the territory. I could dance around every inch of Tempest blind folded and not bump into much along the way. The smoke was stupid. I held my breath as the first shots rang out. I ducted and only got a graze across the side of my head. As I dashed towards the airlock, where they seemed fine to be shooting from, I slid against the wall where they’d have to step out completely to shoot at me again. Wally caught a round in the leg, but Rob’s armor kept him from bleeding too. Rob took out the fist shooter on his own, while the second took all 3 of us to pepper him down to death. Number three got taken care of when I slammed the airlock doors shut again, and we ripped away from the Cascade.
So far we were ahead of the game. Qin said we’d taken out probably half of Monroe’s crew, but he’d be rightly pissed with us. Our only choice was to get in touch with Lucas Brockington and make a deal with him. I sent a wave to Badger, telling him my predicament, and he said he’d try to get one of Lucas’ boys if not the man himself in touch with me. Badger’d already heard that we was in trouble. Sometimes the speed that gossip gets around the ‘Verse amazes me.
Nervous, tired and pissed off, I tried to make dinner. I’d had Wally buy a bit of the fresh meat, and tried to make stew out of it from the doctor’s cookbook. I didn’t do such a good job at all. The bitchin’ and moanin’ was enough to make me cry. I took my bowl of stew, that weren’t bad if you scooped past the burnt parts, and just watched our approach to Hera. From the Black it was still a pretty world, but coming here made my stomach lurch. It would be like walking back into my own death. I landed us down nice and easy near the town of Butterfly. The way Travis had been flying, we’d have landed on our side or something.
Folks on Butterfly were right friendly. We headed to Miss Biffy’s house, it was a big yellow one down the way, and saw a wall of people who had gone missing from Hera after the war. This truly was the planet of the lost. Biffy was a damned pretty woman who’d taken to whoring to make ends meet, but she also took care of the graves at Serenity Valley. Her brother was a soldier and her mother too. I’d even known her momma, a sweet woman, SGT Margaret Waster, she’d been there to make sure we got food in the valley. She’d been betrayed by a platoon of Alliance that she was trying to aide under a white flag. They’d taken the supplies she’d shared with them, and then they’d killed her. Biffy’s sister Vena was one of the missing.
Seems that after the war whole family went missing from Hera, and no body knows where they went. We’d seen one of their missing folks on Haven, and I figure we’ll see what we can do to help out with the situation after going to Beaumonde to get the rest of our pay and Rob’s big damned gun. She offered to house us for the night and feed us, which was mighty nice of us, and I agreed once the trouble was off Tempest. I told her I didn’t want nothing dirty to get out of hand, and had to take care of that mess first and foremost.
When we got back to Tempest, we got a good look at the memorial. It was a damned nice, a 6 sided hunk of real marble with a light on top. I hoped it would give them peace. Brockington himself sent me a wave. I was polite to him calling him sir and all that. He was a jackass, saying it were nice to see a woman who knows her place. I’m now thinking that while getting out of this trouble that weren’t mine to begin with might not be as much fun as killing the jackass. He said one of his men would be by to pick up the merchandise and the boy, and that he would remember what we had done to make things right. I’d remember what he’d said until I could find some way to make him eat those words.
Mr. Smith came a bit later with a small mule to take the cargo. We hoped he didn’t bother to count it, because we still don’t know where the missing packet went. Figure they’ll take that out of the boy’s skin and not ours. Hope it don’t mean that someone on my crew is an addict, although that might explain Travis’ flying lately. Mr. Smith gave us a 2000 credit rewards in Alliance money. I split that up with the crew too, and hid the rest of mine and Tempest’s share.
Now all we had to do was get back to Beaumonde in one piece to collect another 1000 from Brody. And I’ve got to talk Qin into teachin’ me how to cook.