INT – DAY – Eridani Parts Depot Office
Helton is in a modest office at a space-port / bone-yard, which is cluttered with various machine parts, electronics, shelves, and ship-related oddments. There are two desk, only one is occupied by a young man in plain cloths eying the e-reader in his hands. Helton sits opposite.
Parts Clerk: This is an unusual list.
Helton: It’s just things I need to fix my ship.
Parts Clerk: It’s just that many of them are flagged as RESTRICTED.
Helton: Restricted? Meaning?
Parts Clerk: Well, we have them, but they are only for transfer to military authorized personnel, because they are being pulled off decommissioned military ships. I’m going to have to ask about this.
Dissolve to same office
A middle aged woman in uniform stands behind the young parts clerk.
Parts officer: Irregular. MOST irregular.
Helton: Yeah, I know, I know, my paperwork needs more fiber.
Parts officer: (looking darkly at him) This ISN’T a joking matter, Mr Strom.
Helton: Irregular has pretty much defined my life for the last month, so I guess there isn’t any reason the think it’ll stop today.
Parts Officer: Why do you need these parts?
Helton: To fix my ship.
Parts Officer: What kind of ship?
Helton: Old… VERY old… Very old and VERY not-flying.(she glares at him, clearly implying she wants more specific information) A pre-blackout surplussed military transport that I’m renovating to use for training, and eventually hauling cargo.
Parts Officer: (thoughtfully) These parts are quite specific in their uses, but they do not SEEM to be particularly dangerous. Especially on a ship that old.
Helton: They why are they restricted?
Parts Officer: Because they are coming off a military ship. I see nothing listed that is a weapons part, or unusually radioactive, or hi-grade computers or comm, but your credentials are NOT the normal military contractor type. Or any OTHER normal type we see here. Why would a diplomatic attache come HERE for them?
Helton: Well, that’s the list that Stenson said we-
Parts Officer: Stenson? Henery Stenson?
Helton: Yes. That’s the guy I have working on my ship.
Parts Officer: I know him – but he’s Plataean military. Why’s HE working as a private contractor for YOU, if you’re a diplomat?
Helton: Well, I’m not really a diplomat, just acting as a courier for Colonel Lag.
Parts Officer: Lag?… A colonel, now? So you ARE military?
Helton: Well, no, I’m a private citizen of… Well, nowhere right now, but I-
Parts Officer: You are NOT Plataean?
Helton: No. At least, I don’t THINK so, but their rules on citizenship are a little fuzzy-
Parts Officer: You are NOT SURE of your citizenship? Are you here for parts for your ship, or as a courier for Lag?
Helton: Correct, sort of. Yes. Both.
The parts officer and the Parts Clerk look at him like he’s a loon. Helton leans back, puts on his most ingratiating voice and smile.
Helton: It’s a VERY long story. Short version: I’m here on Eridani for Lag as a courier, and I’ve already delivered the package. I am ALSO here, in this building, for myself, at the request of Stenson, to get parts for my ship that Lag thinks might be useful. Lag fired Stenson, but only sort of… He’s technically sort of working with me, but unofficially Col Lag calls a lot of the shots. My money, my ship, mostly his people and orders. I’m carrying Plataean diplomatic ID in order to work for Lag, but my official citizenship is currently uncertain because of a legal issue on my previous home-world.
Parts officer: Very, VERY irregular… Just like everything else Lag does. Can’t fault his results, though. Hmmm… The ID checks out, and they are not universally restricted parts, and the letter of payment checks too. I’m going to let you have the parts, but I’m also going to send to Stenson for a confirmation, and even the Lord can’t help you if you are pulling a fast one using his or Lag’s name.
Helton: Whew. Thanks. You are MUCH more understanding and patient than an acquaintance of mine… By the way, since I’m planet-side… Can you help me track down a few other things?