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Smokin'

All alone in the night

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"I never thought you were a smuggler, Miss Fletcher. Funny you should mention that you're not, straight out like that." He eyes Handy in a strange way, almost visibly re-appraising his new gambling partner and her bodyguard. "I'm strictly legitimate - life's hard enough." Something in his body language has changed, Elliott seems less open. In fact, he even turns a little in his seat, away from her to face the table again.

 

For the first time that morning, she see's him bust a hand.

 

Jack Handy sees a waitress approach the table with a single drink borne on a tray. Careful not to let himself be distracted he is surprised when she comes straight to him and offers the tray. On it, besides the drink is a small piece of paper with the handwritten word 'Handy' on it. The waitress simply says 'Your drink, sir'.

 

Darius receives an acknowledgment that his message has been stored for Miss Fletcher's perusal. A few moments later, before he and Daw can really begin strategising he receives an incoming call. Voice only, the computer tells him, sourced only as Babcom 283. A moment's muzziness is displaced as Darius recognises the address of yesterday's employer. "Accept Call?" queries the Babcom voice.

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"My apologies Elliott." Responds Missy as she see's Elliott's discomfort. "It's kind of a habit. The vast majority of the time, when you say pharmaceuticals, people simply assume that you're a drug smuggler or something equally nefarious. It's like trying to ice skate up hill some times."

 

Seeing the waitress, Missy cocks an almost imperceptable eyebrow at Jack.

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Jack scoops up drink and note with his right hand, palming the note. He then reaches into his pocket with his left hand, coming up empty, and transferring the drink into his left hand before reaching into his pocket with his right hand and extracting a five-credit coin, which he hands to the waitress saying, "Thanks. Keep the change." Meanwhile, the note has disappeared into his right pocket.

 

Jack continues to scan the room. If he sees that nobody seems to be paying attention to him, he'll pull the note out of his pocket, read it, and return it to his pocket again.

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The same voice as before comes through the Babcom unit.

 

"Mr Darke. I was gratified to observe your performance on our last job. I have some more work for you, if you are interested?"

 

Darius replies "Sure I am interested."

 

"I understand you have abilities in the area of ensuring certain items can be brought on board with the minimum of interference. We seek such abilities. Again, you will be well rewarded. If you do well, we may seek to retain your services on a semi-regular basis. Your answer, Mr Darke?"

 

"Well the same stipulations as before would apply. There are certain items I won't carry, namely drugs and weapons, so as long as that isn't the cargo I don't see a problem working with you. However I would like to see some form of assurance that I am not carrying these kinds of materials." Darius answers.

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Jack finds a quiet moment and unfolds the note. It's quite short, just a single sentence.

 

Chief wants to see you.

 

As Jack returns the note to his pocket, he notices that the two security guards have left.

 

Jack waits for the end of the current hand, then speaks. "Miss Fletcher? You wanted me to remind you of your apointment at eleven hundred hours? It's about time."

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Not even looking at her watch in an attempt to appear as if this is a semi-regular occurence she turns to Jack Handy. "Ah, thanks for reminding me Jack." she then turns to Elliott. "If you'll excuse me, I have to leave." She then makes to stand and leave, collecting her chips as she does so. Turning to Jack she smiles at him politely. "Glad you're able to keep track of time when I'm gambling."

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"Oh, well, goodbye Miss Fletcher. It was very nice to meet you - let me give you my card. In fact, do you have any plans for this evening? I wondered if I could ask you to join me for dinner? We could even discuss business, if you wanted to, although I'm sure we could find something else much more enjoyable to talk about"

 

Elliott's card shows a Babcom number and an address in red sector with the simple moniker 'Jackson Imp-Exp - Specialists in LoNAW trading since 2247'. His smile of enquiry seems genuine enough, with just the trace of fear in case he has offended her.

 

Behind him, Missy can see the other, anonymous man at the table looking at her strangely, although he quickly looks away when their eyes meet and pretends to concentrate on the cards being dealt to him.

 

*************************************************************

 

"Mr Darke, the items I refer to are, you may be assured, of no danger to you or anyone on this station. You will bring them aboard and hand them over to my associates. A simple task for a substantial amount of credits. Again, these credits are buying your professional services and your silence." The voice is very calm and steady and Darius can detect no trace of dissimilitude. "We require your services rather urgently, in fact tomorrow. I need your answer swiftly, Mr Darke, so that I may investigate your competitiors if it is negative. If it is negative, we will not be able to offer you any further business."

 

Darius remembers he has another shipment coming in tomorrow, one that includes Commander Ivanova's coffee. What if they clash? Perhaps his new employee could handle one of them....? Jack Daw is still in his chair, the straightforward docker looking a little dazed by the messages innuendoes and subtleties.

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"OK well I see no real problem, how long will the journey take ? In fact you better run through the details so I know where I need to be and when." Darius replies.

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Missy smiles her most disarming smile and accepts the card. "Dinner sounds lovely." She responds, her shock at being asked out not fully concealed. "I'll contact you later today to arrange where and when."

 

Missy then turns to Jack. "Okay Jack, let's get to this meeting."

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Jack falls in a step behind "Miranda Fletcher" as they walk out of the casino. Once they're strolling along a relatively empty part of the Promenade with nobody in easy earshot, he mutters to her, "Garibaldi sent a message. He wants to see us."

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"Where? Security or someplace else?" Asks Missy as she continues walking along the promenade.

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"No journey, Mr Darke. The package will arrive by freighter tomorrow afternoon. A shuttle will dock with the station. You will be waiting to meet the shuttle and will take delivery of the package - it is small and easily carriable. You will get it through Customs by whatever method you choose and deliver to a contact in Brown sector. The package will have the exact details marked on it."

 

"Is this something you feel able to accomplish?"

 

Without needing to check his schedules, Darius realises that his other package is arriving on the Asimov in the afternoon as well.

 

Missy and Jack's stroll has taken them back to and half way across the Zocalo which is now very crowded. So crowded, in fact, that Handy is hard pushed to watch all the possible threats so he falls back on his bodyguard instinct. He spots the security guard who was in the casino and sees that he is very deliberatly not looking at him but just as purposefully is moving to intercept the pair. Tensing for action, he is made slightly more at ease by the fact the guards hands are visible and empty. The guard moves across in front of them, and whispers 'Follow me' as he passes. No-one else could have heard. Handy is actually impressed - the guard has done a tricky job with great skill.

 

The security officer walks away toward a ramp leading up to the bridge across the marketplace, not once looking back or indicating that he expects anyone to notice him.

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