April 13, 2009
A Simple Job
"Another Vodka, Bill," a tall, dark haired man said as he signaled to his empty glass. Bill, the overweight bartender, hobbled over to the table to pour him another drink. "Old war injury acting up again Bill?"
"Ah, this one?" he said pointing to his right leg. "Always acting up, makes owning a fine establishment such as this a pain in the ass." His voice was tough, like a man who had been shot more times than he could remember. In fact, that is how most people described Bill.
"That you got in the second Mars rebellion right?" the man asked as he drained the shot of Vodka.
"No James, I lost my eye in that war," Bill replied as he tapped on his glass eye. James looked away trying to avoid the eye that had disturbed him since the first time he had met Bill. "No, the leg was from the Miners revolt on Callisto, we had the entire station cleared out and everything was going well, then some bastard pops out of nowhere and shoots me right in the fucking leg!"
"Bill, your stories never cease to amaze me. You would think that after getting shot the fourth or so time, you would leave the navy," James said, the entire time trying not to laugh.
"You wouldn't understand James. You've never been a military man. You are a smuggler; you have no sense of honor and pride."
"You know old man, you're lucky I like you. I'd shoot someone else if they said that to me."
"Fuck you." Bill paused to catch his breath. "Some guy came into the bar yesterday, started asking around for a smuggler. Said he has some stuff he'd like to see gone, said he would be paying quite a lot. Told him you were the best there was, and if he needed something gone fast to look you up."
"Why thank you Bill. Standard ten percent commissioner's fee I am guessing?" Bill nodded. "Well then, I guess I better get going, don't know when this guy is going to contact me or anything." James quickly downed another shot of vodka before grabbing the brown jacket that was on his chair. The jacket was almost as beat up as Bill, with tears and rips along almost every seam.
"You'll finally be able to pay me back after this one," Bill shouted before James could leave. "And buy a new jacket," he finished under his breath.
"I don't owe you anything old man, your memory probably got shot somewhere along the lines. And this is my lucky jacket. Got me through some tight spots in the past."
James sat on his couch, watching the Earth Planetary News. Apparently some farmers had decided to revolt on the Eden Colony of Mars, demanding lower taxes by the United Earth Directorate. "People just didn't understand," James thought to himself. "Rebellion was impossible, at least in today's universe. The government was too powerful, its navy capable of decimating all in its path."
The beeping of the phone interrupted James' thoughts. He looked over to see an unknown number. "Must be the new job," James' said allowed as he pressed the answer button.
"Hello. You must be James," said the voice.
"Yes. And you are?"
"My name is not important, what I am about to say however is. I have a package that I need you to deliver. To the moon of Triton. You are not to open this package, it contains something that would be best left in its box. You are to receive 20,000 credits upon delivery. After that we will never contact you again, and you will never mention this to anyone else. Am I understood perfectly?"
"Yes, But I usually prefer to meet my clients before they send me off on trips with conspicuous boxes."
"We will not be meeting, you will be at your ship tomorrow at 11:30, the cargo will be loaded onto you ship at 11:45, and you will be leaving at promptly 12:00."
"Woah buddy, slow down there. I don't know if you know how this whole system works, but I need at least a day to get everything ready. I need time to book a charter out of here, so that I don't get followed, I need time to check my ship, make sure it's in top condition."
"All of that is done. I suggest you get some sleep. If you are late we will go to someone else." With those last words the strange voice disconnected and James was left to contemplate what had just happened. Resolving to figure it out after he had 20,000 credits in his account, James took the man's advice and went to sleep.
The familiar sound of his alarm clock woke James up at 10 O'clock in the morning. After a quick shower and a bite to eat James headed over to the docking district, where his ship was located. 11:13 his watch read as he entered into the docking bay, just enough time to do a quick check of the Aegis Fate, his ship. It was an old merchant's ship, it's sleek design and spacious cargo hold was perfect for a smuggler. Small enough to get by undetected, yet large enough to hold a good amount of smuggled goods. He had the ship refitted to his liking with hidden compartments, and an increased, albeit illegal, engine. With his final checks done James headed into the cockpit of the ship, and strapped himself in for the journey.
"These guys weren't kidding," he said to himself as he saw his ship was to be cleared at promptly noon. As he was about to enter the navigation data into the computer he noticed that was already there too. "I like working with these people, they do all the work, and I get all the pay."