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Smokin'

All alone in the night

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Missy follows Jack to security. "Yeah, that's a danger. But the Chief said he was kinda low in the food chain." Missy shrugs as she's walking along. "Well, guess we'll see won't we."

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The Security officer asks to see Jack Daw's ID card. After inserting and removing it from his scanner, he also asks for Darke's. Having checked Darius is who he says he is, he informs the pair that at present, Jack's Dockers Guild clearance is sufficient to give him access to all the areas Darius can access. He has amended the records to show that Daw has access to Darke flyers shuttle bay, effective immediatly. The pair are free to pass through. Once through the security cordon, there are still patrols and restricted areas but in the labyrinth of metal and machinery it's easy to find a quiet corner to conduct 'business'.

 

Missy and Jack take the slow route down to Security Central, meandering to give Garibaldi the ten minutes he requested. As they enter, the chief is ready for them, and makes a great show of thanking Miss Fletcher for coming down. He invites them to go with him to the interview room.

 

As they enter, they see the familiar sparse furniture of table and 2 chairs - one empty, 1 occupied. A grey-clad guard is standing mutely by the door. The other occupant of the room is slumped in the 2nd chair, head down on his arms which are crossed on the tabletop. He lifts his head at the sound of the door opening.

 

He is a middle-aged man. His clothing looks creased and dishevelled, although his face is clean-shaven and apart from a slight bruise on his cheek, rather more handsome than one should expect a villain to appear. His hair is black, turning slightly grey at the temples and in better circumstance he might appear distinguished. In this room, he seems small and defeated.

 

His look of resignation changes to puzzlement when he sees Jack and Missy follow the chief in. However, his face is the only thing that gives anything away, he says nothing. Garibaldi casually pulls the empty chair toward him and reverses it, sitting himself down stradding it. He leans close down toward the prisoner and stares him out for a few seconds - the other man tries to match his gaze but quickly has to look down at the tabletop.

 

"Briggs, why anyone would stick their neck out for you I don't understand but your employer here has told us you were working for her. You're still going to be charged with illegally entering a restricted area but as of now I don't want your stink in my cells - I'm releasing you, pending trial. Don't try to leave the station. And rest assured Miss Fletcher, I will be thoroughly investigating your claim and if it turns out to be space vapour then both you and your friend Mr Briggs will be back on the original charges" The seated Mr Briggs looks non-plussed at what Garibaldi is saying. He gives Missy a prolonged stare, trying to work out if he knows her or not. As Garibaldi finishes speaking, there is a silence that stretches into several seconds as no-one moves. The chief stands - "Go on, get out. All of you."

 

Briggs decides to take the chance and gets up. He's bright enough not to ask any questions, either of his 'employer' or Mr Garibaldi. Together he, Jack and Missy leave Security.

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Darius continues to wind his way throught the warren of tunnels that make up the docking area. As he goes he points out anything of note to Jack, anything that will help in smuggling items through customs.

 

All the while killing time while waiting for both deliveries to arrive.

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Jack Handy walks down the corridor without speaking, preferring to let either "Fletcher" or Briggs break the silence. As he's trailing them both by about a half-step, neither one can see that his eyes scan Briggs slightly more often than necessary, nor can they read the slight tension in his shoulders that suggests he's ready to move very fast should Briggs be so stupid as to try anything physical.

 

Sometimes I wish I'd taken up a job that wasn't so... "interesting". Whoever came up with that quip about "May you live in interesting times" must have been a bodyguard. Or a soldier.

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Once Missy and her companions have gotten a reasonable distance from Security Central, she casts a look over her shoulder at Jack and then leads them down a quiet corridor.

 

"A nice quiet place please, Mr Handy." She says over her shoulder, in her best 'employer' tone, as she gestures for Jack to take the lead for a moment. "Mr Briggs and I need to discus some business matters and the fewer ears and eyes around the better."

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"Look, I didn't talk, swear to God I didn't tell them anything." gabbles Briggs, quietly but obviously incredibly scared. His eyes flit in panic from Missy to Handy, trying to avoid letting either of them get behind him. When she mentions a quiet area, it seems he might bolt but Jack is quick and moves easily to keep him in place.

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"Don't be stupid," Handy hisses at Briggs. "You're not going to get hurt. Not unless you're dumb enough to try to bolt, anyway. Besides, I think you'll be interested in hearing what Miss Fletcher has to say."

 

"A quiet place? Right." Jack thinks for a second. "This way, then."

 

He leads Missy and Briggs down several corridors. As they walk, the look of the corridors and bulkheads starts getting less business-like and more industrial, and the background hum of machinery can be heard. After a few minutes they reach a featureless corridor with no doors for about a hundred feet. Somewhere nearby, something mechanical is making a loud, repetitive clanking noise.

 

"Not 'quiet', exactly, but nobody's going to be able to eavesdrop on any conversations here," Jack says to Missy, "and nobody comes by except maintenance crew."

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In the corridors of the docks, where both Jack Daw and Darius are so at home, there are still many things to learn. Darius is encouraged by Jack's willingness to learn and his perspective as a docker, having seen the 'trade' from the other side, is very useful.

 

Darius introduces Jack to several of the more 'friendly' security personnel and other contacts. They seem unusually pleasant today, the security on duty. Most wear smiles were usually they would at most grunt a greeting. Still pondering on this anomaly, Darius and Jack meet a familiar black-haired technician coming the other way. Reagan Pallo is carrying his traditional e-pad and quietly talking to himself but stops when he sees Darius. He recognises Daw but it's obvious he's struggling to recall the name.

 

"Hey Skipper, heard the good news? Security collared Willem Briggs last night. Garibaldi was so pleased he's talking about commendations. Could be some business coming your way, huh? Jack Daw! How d'you like working for the man?" he asks, as the large man's name comes to him. Pallo is a man with contacts and he likes to cultivate as many as he can.

 

Briggs is almost shaking in fear as each mechanical clump sounds behind him. He turns, pawing at Jack Handys jacket.

 

"I didn't know you were part of this, Handy. They said you had scruples. They said you were too honest. Tell Mercury I never told them anything, honest to God. Honest to God!" he is sobbing, in fear of his life, as he slumps against the bulkhead, dropping to his knees.

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"Hi Reagan, thanks for all the help yesterday, it may play out quite well if so I will cut you in for some of the action. Briggs hey, well not my kind of business but still I am glad to see that kind of pest put away, explains why the security guards are all so happy. Catch you soon"

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"Briggs, Briggs," Jack says. His voice sounds almost kind. "Of course you didn't talk; you know what would happen if you talked."

 

"No, what Mercury wants to know is, did you finish the job before Garibaldi's clowns picked you up, or is Miss Fletcher here going to have to help you finish it?"

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Seeing Jack take the lead, so to speak, Missy just crosses her arms over her chest and puts a frown on her face... the kind of frown she used to reserve only for intel officers, psycorps and aircraft techs who would be better used as airlock testers.

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"I was just checking the route out - he knows the load doesn't come in until tomorrow. I didn't have anything on me, nothing at all. I can still make the pick-up. I was just unlucky, that's all." He seems to actually notice Missy for the first time, as a little clarity enters his feared-crazed mind. Handy he knows but this is a stranger. "Who are you?" enquires Briggs.

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"An associate of Mercury. Handy is working for me." She replies, putting all the faux-testosterone her years in the company of men, especially fighter pilot men, has allowed her to develop. "You'd better be right that security's not on to you. Cos if they are... well, let's just say Handy's leartn some new tricks."

 

"dang, I hope Jack catches my ploy and get's the gist."

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