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Smokin'

All alone in the night

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Looks like she's taking the "bad cop" role, Jack thinks. Don't want to be too obvious about it, though...

 

"I don't think that'll be necessary, Miss Fletcher," Jack says. "I'm sure they didn't have anything on Briggs. If they did, they wouldn't have let him go like that. Garibaldi was just trying to sweat some info out of him, that's all."

 

"By the way, Briggs, I hope you can get that shipment. I've got nothing against you, but if Miss Fletcher tells me to take you down, I'll do it. I don't want to end up as breakfast for the Pak'ma'ra like the last guy who crossed her. She's the most scary person I've ever met, and I've met quite a few."

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Briggs' fear-fuddled mind is screaming inside his brain, trying to call his attention to the anomaly in this situation but he is not listening and the adrenaline that swamped him at the thought of death is still in charge, blocking all higher powers of evaluation.

 

"Sure I can make the pick-up, you know I'm good. Is that what you want me to do? You weren't sent to space me?"

 

There's nothing left to investigate in the loading bays for Darius and Jack. The big man seems confident of his role and the only slight cause for concern is the reaction of security to Briggs' arrest - Will they relax, confident they're doing well or will they gird for even more caution, seeking more approval from their chief? Darius hopes the former, and his experience of their workings would indicate that he may be right. In any case, his 'acquaintences' should smooth things out.

 

The pair move to leave the docks.

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"Sure I can make the pick-up, you know I'm good. Is that what you want me to do? You weren't sent to space me?"

"Yes, I was." Responds Missy, doing her utmost to retain the hard edge to her tone and manner. "But only if you've proven to be a weak link. So far, I'm not certain, but making the pickup as planned would certainly not hurt your case, or your life expectancy."

 

"Am I laying it on too thick? No real way to tell I guess."

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Darius heads over to his shuttle and once on board makes sure it is ready for use the following day. Once done he tells Jack that the rest of the day is his own but to keep his comm-link on. Then Darius wanders back down to red sector and heads for a bar.

Edited by SOldcorn

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"Yes, I was." Responds Missy, doing her utmost to retain the hard edge to her tone and manner. "But only if you've proven to be a weak link. So far, I'm not certain, but making the pickup as planned would certainly not hurt your case, or your life expectancy."

"Ok, I'll make the pick up tomorrow. Do I still deliver it as planned, or bring it to you?"

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"What do you think would be prudent?" Responds Missy in her most menacing tone as she leans forward and gets right in Biggs' face. After a few moments to allow her comment to sink in, Missy backs up a little and allows Biggs' some breathing room. "Which one do you think will save your life?"

 

Missy waits for Biggs' mind to start going a mile a minute again, then she turns to Jack, and making sure Biggs is distracted, she cocks an eyebrow in a questioning manner.

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"I guess I bring it to you? Where?" Briggs is still intimidated, but probably not as much as Missy would have liked. His professionalism is reasserting itself.

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Missy crosses her arms over her chest again and waits for Jack to jump in and asnwer Biggs' question. How'm I supposed to know where's safe on this station?!?!

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"I'd suggest that maintenance corridor outside the docks on level 5, Miss Fletcher," Handy addresses "Miss Fletcher" respectfully. "They've been having trouble with the lighting, but with the list of high-priority repair jobs they've got, they won't get to it for at least a couple weeks. Dark corridor, hard to see a face until you're close. And someone wearing a maintenance uniform could easily pop open a panel, say the fifth panel down from the intersection, and place something behind it for someone else to pick up."

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"Did you get that Biggs?" Missy asks the man in her most authoratative tone. "Because it might be a wise idea to do as Mr Handy suggests."

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Darius looks around to see of the are any regulars, station security, trouble or contacts in the bar. Then having an idea of who is where orders an ale for himself and a drink for Jack. "This is the time I hate waiting between shipments, sometimes I just head out in the vagabond and fly round the system. But with the cost of landing fees and the like I have to really need the break."

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The day draws on. Briggs, after nervously gulping that he knows the place and will leave the package there, scuttles away, looking relieved to still be alive. Jack and Missy can only trust that he is as hooked as he appears to be.

 

For the rest of the afternoon they have nothing to do, except plan amongst themselves any further steps they will take after tomorrows events. Sitting back in their quarters, having retrieved the message from Darius advising them that he can courier any Dust they obtain, Missy falls asleep with Briggs final words in her mind.

 

"30 minutes after the Drathund'e docks, it'll be there"

 

"The vessel is the Drathund'e, Mr Darke, docking at 13:00. The package will be left in a small packing crate, marked machine parts, in the corner of the bay. You may open the outer crate to retrieve the package. If you open or attempt to open the inner package our contract is terminated." The voice over the babcom unit is the same calm, measured tone of before. "On the outer crate is a 6 digit code; that code is the location in Brown sector to which you will take the package. However you must read the code in reverse order. You will have 1 hour to deliver the package from the time the shuttle docks, or our contract is terminated. When you signal your understanding to me, I will deposit half the fee into your account as before. The remainder upon completion, as before."

 

Darius confirms that he understands the instructions he has been given.

 

"Very well, Mr Darke. I look forward to your succesful completion of the assignment." Babcom 283 disconnects the call and Darius is again alone in his office.

 

Darius slept well, the sleep of a man whose business and credit account is booming. These guys, Shipton coming in, Garibaldi's sanction to help Miranda Fletcher and get well paid for it, they all add up to a busy but profitable few days. He had only been in his office a few minutes before the call came in, even before he'd had a chance to check on the punctuality of the Asimov. Call over, he does that now and sees it's on time, estimated arrival 12:30. Daw shouldn't have any trouble, Shipton's a decent guy - mmm, I hope he isn't scared off when I don't turn up. Will he take Daw's word?

 

Jack Daw didn't sleep so well. Usually crawling into his bunk after a heavy day's work, the day's light activity leaves him strangely unable to drift off. At least his back is less trouble than usual, the pills completely eradicating any pain. Usually they leave a slight discomfort - perversely, the strangeness of being pain-free also helps keep him awake. Eventually however, he does doze off, a picture of a pretty little girl held tightly in his hand. The morning alarm is still painfully loud but it does rouse him eventually. And then he remembers, today is his first day as a smuggler.

 

Time crawls on slowly. Morning coffee and breakfast use a little of it but it still seems an age. In Command & Control, Susan Ivanova has the watch. She isn't really needed, as the well-drilled watch staff keep everything running smoothly. The view, however, is never dull. Stifling a yawn, she is about to ask the duty tactical officer to run a regular systems check when the familiar high-pitched tone indicates that a vessel has activated the jumpgate.

 

"Vessel coming in, Commander. It's the Asimov, right on time, as always." Her finger stretches out to the panel, activating the comms system. It isn't her duty to welcome incoming vessels but it's always nice to speak to another human. She wonders which of the regular captains has the vessel on this run.

 

"Starliner Asimov, this is Babylon control. Please proceed to point 14 for disembarkation. And welcome back."

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Darus gets up late in the morning and checks in quickly with Jack Daw to make sure he knows the details of his run. Before going to bed the previous night Darius had given kack the funds to pay Shipton for the goods he was bringing in. Once he is up and has checked the comms system and done his other morning activites Darius heads to the docks he heads initially for the vagabond. He then starts to move backwards and forwards about the docking area giving the apperance of doing some maintenance on his ship. As he does so he carefully notes who is on security detail or other bits and pieces that will make his route out of the docks easier.

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Just as the Asimov pilot (the tall one, with the cute moustache and the blue eyes, she hopes) is about to reply, C&C is suffused with the sound of alarms triggering. Warnings come from all around - "Unidentified Vessel in sector 9", "Commander, something just appeared right on top of us" as at least 4 vessels appear in the vacuum around the station.

 

The station rocks violently as incoming energy slices through the upper sections of the infrastructure. In the wake of one vessel, the Asimov disintigrates like tissue in a thunderstorm, shedding steel and aluminium behind it, dying like a comet in the night until a major part of the reactor core is destabilised and the dying vessel erupts in a corona of energy.

 

Ivanova has no time to notice. Another burst of purple energy slices into grey sector, like the proverbial through butter and she knows, before the technician even confirms it, that the reactors are going to disintigrate the station. The order to abandon station is pointless but she issues it anyway, knowing that no-one could possibly get out in time and it's a question of which will kill them first - the loss of stable orbit or the exploding reactors. Already the station is 3 degrees off axis, the geo-synchrynous orbit alarm lost in the cacophany of all the others.

 

All she can do is stand, stunned and bewildered and watch the big, black spider-like spacecraft as they slaughter the waiting merchant ships trying to flee until, as the screech of tearing metal tells her that the support struts, hundreds of tons of metal, are being broken like winter kindling the erupting blasts of the runaway reactors reach the end of the station, vapourising the entire C&C staff.

 

As the chaff of the station sprinkles slowly into space, already being drawn down to the planet Epsilon, Ivanova's final thoughts, protected for a brief moment by her latent telepathy, emit throughout local space.

 

"They weren't due till series three!"

 

The End

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