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Smokin'

All alone in the night

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Officer Welch gives Darius one of the longest up-and-down looks he's ever had, clearly trying to judge if calling Garibaldi is going to get him into trouble for wasting the chiefs time. Eventually, he seems to decide to be generous with Garibaldi's seconds and calls through on his handlink.

 

"Chief'll be here in a few minutes. Wait in there" he indicates the interview room. In truth it's about 5 minutes before Mr Garibaldi enters, hands in pockets. He seems in a good mood about something and with a simple raised eyebrow he indicates for Darius to speak.

 

Jack Daw wanders away from the docks, temporarily a man of leisure. The station is waking up, the public areas getting crowded and Daw moves through the crowds like a Dreadnought plowing through a cloud of fighters; all fast-moving, criss-crossing each other but avoiding him. When he thinks of a bar the dockers enjoy, Happy Daze is close to top of the list but he figures that a return visit so soon after busting the place up wouldn't be to diplomatic. Fortunately, there is another bar in Red Sector which is closer - a real Workers bar, although small it is often packed full at the end of shift. At this time of the day it is serving breakfast to a few stragglers and men with days off and no wish to cook for themselves. There is a table empty where Jack can sit.

 

He's there for about 5 minutes when he senses someone standing behind him. Before he can turn a voice whispers to him to stay seated and not look round. A figure moves around the table and sits opposite him, a man with dark glasses a moustache and curly blond hair. It's hard for Daw to stifle a laugh as he recognises a ridiculously disguised Frank.

 

"What did you tell security?" Frank asks urgently, without preamble.

 

Jack and Missy return to the casino to discover it is indeed back open for business. It's quiet though, only a few diehard punters trying their luck. There's a poker game getting underway and a couple of gamblers are playing Blackjack against the house. A roulette wheel stands alone and unexpectedly forlorn in the baize.

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"Chief Garibaldi, sorry to disturb you so early in the day but I felt you should know about this straight away. I just had a conversation with a Miss Fletcher and her bodyguard Jack Handy. Well the long and short of it was she was asking me to smuggle dust of the station. She claimed it was to pass on to an Earth based drug company but with all that has happened to Miss Fletcher since getting on station yesterday I smell a rat. Now I know you have met with her once, when she was Miss Greenwood, so I don't know what is going on here. Maybe she is legit or maybe she fed you some cock and bull story."

 

"You know what I do here and as I promised to you before I don't carry drugs or weapons, so after our conversation I wanted to come see you and pass on the info. I also recorded the whole thing. So I leave it down to you, if you can let me know what the story is here then I will go along with whatever you want. Be it drawing her out with a sting operation or if she is legit then doing as she asks. Or just saying no to her and getting back to my job."

 

Darius hands the data cyrstal over to Garibaldi.

 

Having let the Chief know what he knows Darius waits to see what happens next.

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On walking into the casino, Missy/Miranda looks around to see what action there is available. After spending a few seconds looking about she motions towards the Blackjack table and sits down in an empty seat.

 

"Deal me in." She says to the dealer when the current hand finishes.

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Jack Handy follows Miranda/Missy and stands behind her seat, scanning the room. The only way he could be more obvious would be to wear a sign around his neck that says, "Bodyguard On Duty".

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Daw barely keeps his face straight. "You have nothing to worry about. Security was after me, figured I was trying to sell some stolen g-suits. I mentioned your name when I came to in the infirmary, and that twigged them on to you. Now I figure, you must have abandoned me in that bar when security showed up."

 

"Now, either you got stupid and scared and ran. Or you had a reason to run. Either way, you got someone that wants you bad. Me, for running out on me, or security, for whatever the heck you ran for. The thing is Frank, security doesn't know where you are, but I do." Daw leans forwarding, trying to be a little intimidating. "Now, I want to know why you ran Frank, and it better be a good reason."

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The jovial smile fades very quickly from Michael Garibaldi's face as he stares first at the Data crystal then at Darke. "I have no idea what you're talking about. Miss Greenwood? What are you, nuts?" but it's a poor bluff and he knows it. Suddenly, the security chief is a very intimidating man. In Darius' face, the chief is very quietly but unmistakeably threateningly demanding Darius tell him where he got his information about meeting Miss Greenwood.

 

"If you don't tell me everything, don't think Ivanova's coffee will stop me throwing you in a cell for a solar year." This is a different chief of security. Suddenly, it's easy to see why criminals are scared of him.

 

The young croupier smiles attractively at Missy as she sits at the Blackjack table. "You have an account, madam?" At the negative reply, he will ask for her credit chip and identicard and simply plug one after the other into his console. It's a simple procedure that takes no more than 30 seconds. "Here you are, Miss Fletcher." He hands back her items and slides 500CR worth of chips across the table towards her. "New hand, ante up please." Missy's fellow early gamblers are a pair of men. One is older than her, middle aged in fact with grey thinning hair and a crumpled, although still classicly fashionable suit. The other is closer to Missy's age, unremarkable face although he gives her a polite smile and nods his head pleasantly to welcome her. His pile of chips is considerably larger than the first man's.

 

"New to the station, Miss .. Fletcher, is it? My name is Elliott, Elliott Jackson." He offers a hand towards her. "Have you come to share my luck?" as he gently tosses a 50CR chip out in front of him.

 

With the ante's paid, Missy casually looks at her first pair of cards. A 10 & 9, good hand! She is first in rotation and the dealer is looking at her for her decision.

 

Frank is totally unmoved by Daw's attempt to scare him. He removes his dark glasses and there's something there in the eyes that Jack immediatly fears. This isn't lanky, laughing Frank - it's Jack who is leaning back as Frank moves even closer. His voice is icy, steeled and unmistakably intense.

 

"Don't try to frighten me, Daw. You aren't the one who'll be asking questions. How much do those bastards know and what did they ask? Don't lie to me. My friends don't like liars. But don't worry - we wouldn't hurt you Jack. How's your little girl, by the way." There's no hint of mercy in that voice. Jack feels a cold chill of fear.

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"Chief it is basically as I have just said, if you play the data crystal it explains all that I know."

 

"But the long and the short of it is. I saw Miss Greenwood before she arrived on the station ..."

 

Darius then spits out the information that he has on Greenwood /Fletcher for the second time in a morning. "Now based on your reaction it seems Miss Fletcher is a lot more than she seems, otherwise you wouldn't be reacting as you are. I assume she is some bigshot in a drug ring or something. If so as I said I am happy to help you in any way I can."

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As the initial fear of Frank fades it is quickly replaced by a burning anger. It is Frank that's responsible for security questioning him, threatening his job. Not to mention the crack about his daughter, although Daw doubts (hopes) that Frank can touch his daughter.

 

"Hey, relax buddy. Like I said, I don't have a problem if you had a reason to bolt. I told you what I told the cops. I told them I barely know you and that you work in the docks. That's all I told them. What the heck else COULD I tell them?"

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"Stick." Responds Missy like a practiced gambler (evenings in ready rooms during the war were hives of gambling).

 

"Nineteen. Should be enough, least to cover my bet."

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The first hand is played out. The so far anonymous man flops a 4, Elliott likewise is dealt a 6. The dealer reveals the King of spades and the 8 of hearts and declares a hold. Missy keeps her face impassive as she knows she has won the first hand.

 

The man to her left needs another card, but a 7 is too much for him and he folds without a word. He appears resigned to losing. Elliott too has beaten the house, with a Jack and 9 of clubs. He smiles gently, almost to himself as he watches Missy get her winnings and then himself.

 

"So, Miss Fletcher" another 50 chip goes down to form his ante for the next hand "what brings you out gambling so early? And who's the quiet one?" he indicates Jack Handy.

 

The 6 of clubs and 8 of Spades are Missy's new hand.

 

Frank is slightly suspicious of the big man's answer but gives a shrug, as if to indicate that he's prepared to accept it, for now.

 

"OK, Jack. I believe you. I just don't want security breathing down my neck, nothing to worry about." The lie is so poorly told that Jack expects Frank's nose to grow longer. "I have to go - you haven't seen me. Right? Look after your little girl." The threat is back again but this time there's very little real sense of danger. In fact, Jack can tell that Frank is actually the scared one. Frank makes to rise from the table, ready to leave.

 

Garibaldi manages to hide his emotions as Darius speaks. When he is done, the chief strides over to the babcom unit against the wall and puts the data crystal in the reader. He listens to the recorded conversation intently; not one facial expression escapes his stoney gaze.

 

"You happy to help, you say? OK, what I know about Miss Fletcher and Handy is my business but I want you to help them. You tell me the details of the shipments, how much, who from if you can find out, where you're dropping them, who's picking them up - everything. In return I will guarantee you immunity if you're picked up by Earthforce and testify against the pair of them. I can probably swing you clear of any Belt Alliance trouble but anyone else you're on your own. I'll make it as easy as possible to get the shipments through. I find you freelancing, not telling me what's going on or trying to play both sides and you WILL have a nasty hyperspace accident - is that clear? Plus, you can keep their money. You tell no-one, you talk only to me. You screw up, you take the wrap. Is it a deal?"

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Well, Daw thinks to himself, I got what I came here for.

 

Daw keeps sipping at his drink. He doesn't want people to think he's got somewhere to go, so he waits another 30 minutes, goes to the head and sets his watch to beep on the hour. He waits until his watch goes off, then leaves, paying his bill.

 

He's going to head for the new boss' office.

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"Chief if it will help you put dust smugglers where they belong I am more than happy to help out. I will pass all the details onto you, how best do you want to go about that. It wouldn't do if I keep having to pop into security central every so often."

 

Once they have fleshed out details Darius exits the office and returns to his office.

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"Jack Handy," Jack introduces himself to Elliott Jackson, "personal security consultant." He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a business card. It has his name, the title "Personal Security Consultant", and a Babcom number on it, nothing else. "I don't take more than one client at a time, but if you should need my services some time in the future, here's my card."

 

Having said all he needs to, Jack goes back to earning the moniker "the quiet one" and watching the casino for trouble.

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Missy ignores Jack as he responds to the question, then looks at Elliot. "I had some money burning a hole in my pocket and thought this'd be a good way to spend it." Missy throws in another 50 as she looks at her cards. She then looks at the dealer. "Hit me."

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When Darius returns to his office he arranges to get some checks on Jack Handy done. Especially finding out whether he in the past he has bodyguarded for criminals.

 

With that done he checks details on various shipments that are heading in and checks his messages.

 

When Jack Daw returns he welcomes him in and then starts by showing him round the office. Granting him access for the computers and doors etc. When that is all done he asks Jack to take a seat.

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