We agreed to help Fox get Hawks down to the planet. We had the ice and we knew that Bailey Sackett was our contact for delivery.
“I know old Bailey!” Fox was expansive over dinner. “Runs the finest hardware store in this part of the ‘verse. People comes from miles and miles to rummage through his wares.”
Miss V could sense me fidgeting. “Yes, Swei. We’ll stop and let you look around. Draw up a list for me to authorize. A reasonable list of necessary parts and items to stock pile against the Black.” I scrambled off the couch and scurried to the engine room. She needs lots a little things, does the D-VA. And I would not be caught unprepared for a trip to a hardware store!
I was working on my list when I had a thought that brought a possum right acrost my grave, as they say. I grabbed the comm. “Miss V? Come in. You there?” Her voice crackled. “Yes, Swei? What’s wrong?”
“I uh, I just remembered something. I need to see you for real. Can I meet you in the bay?” There was silence. “If this is about the hardware budget….” “No! No ma’am.”
She came to the bay. I was staring through the port hole at the ice. “Miss V, did you know that it is illegal to bring ice to Regeena?”
“‘Ra-jEYE-na’ Swei. And what are you talking about?” I grabbed her hand. “It’s the Alliance, those damned…. bastards! They keep a noose around Regina’s neck and it’s made a ice. We ain’t getting through there with this ice. They’s check points and customs and the like.” I realized I still held her hand. I dropped it quickly.
Roark can be a persuasive guy. He stepped into the mayor’s cabin and spoke a few words too low for me to hear. Next thing I knew the mayor was on the bridge.
“Mayor Fox, I need you to talk with the fine Alliance folk and make sure that we’re cleared through customs and get our landing chitty. You know that we can’t be boarded. Not with this cargo.” The mayor nodded silently. He cleared his throat. “Quite. Quite right, madam. Where is your communication station?”
Within a few minutes we had our landing clearance. “Won’t you join us for dinner, Mayor Fox?” Miss V poured on the charm like it was cane syrup.
Prudence figured that the mayor was our key to getting the ice unloaded in the smoothest way possibly. “He says he’s purt-near engaged to Miss Scarlet, so he’s gonna want to make sure it’s a clean hand off.”
The Doc frowned. “I don’t entirely trust the mayor. There is something…. cagey about him. He sweats too much.” Miss V waved her hand. “Glandular.”
“All I know is I’ll be happy to have that damned ice off the ship. Damn, I wish I’d remembered before we took this job. I’m supposed to know stuff like this.” I turned to Miss V. “I’ll get my stuff together and be ready for planet fall. I ain’t saying you’ll find a good mechanic on Ra-jEYE-na (I glared at the Doc), but you’ll get someone who can keep her in the air.”
There was silence. “Swei, what are you talking about?”
“I failed you and the crew, ma’am. We took this job and I shoulda remembered that ice is illegal out here. It’s minin’ and that’s my thing, my specialty. I think I was just damned glad to have something to do. I’s bored stiff at that lake house. It clouded my judgment, as the politicians say.”
“I am not accepting your resignation, if that is what you’re trying to do.”
“Well, but –”
“No buts. End of discussion. Get back to work. Or sleep, or something. Go!” She shooed me away. And I was relieved. I like my work and I love the old girl….. D-VA, not Miss V. She ain’t old.
Little did I know that I was about to get some quality time with D-VA. But that, as the old folks say is another story.
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