The Stars Came Back -071- Paying Passenger

Fade in

INT – Day – Officers mess

Helton, Lag, and Trask sit at the table.

Trask: I can’t just get dumped at the refugee center. WE can’t.

Helton: Right now we have a bunch of people who need to be ferried out of a war zone, and we think we are likely to get shot at, too. THIS isn’t the safest place either!

Trask: You don’t understand. If we get put there, we’ll likely get robbed, or worse!

Lag: That’s a risk for everyone, ANY refugee.

Trask: But most people don’t have what we have.

Helton: That’s right, most of them have already lost almost everything. What HAVE you got?

Trask: I was here wrapping up a deal, and the normal courier got killed, and… Those boxes…

Lag: Contain…?

Trask looks like he’s weighing his options on how much to say. After a brief internal argument plays across his face, he explains.

Trask: The proceeds from the deal. Four hundred million in cash, bearer bonds, metals deposit contracts, and electronic transfer cards. Nothing small enough to be useful in a refugee camp, but big enough to make us targets. If anyone else finds out-

Lag: Considering the typical corruption in the security at refuge centers, that’s likely. That’s enough to get a LOT of people killed in riots.

Helton: Whhooooeeee… that’s a LOT to think about.

Trask: Obviously I can pay you to stay aboard.

Lag: So… why tell US this? Why not make up an easy lie?

Trask: … Lag-how did you know? About the Throwdart accounting problem?

Lag: You told ME you had one.

Trask: I said we had a problem, but I was going to figure it out- I didn’t know the details. YOU said it was two and a quarter percent, and that is EXACTLY what it turned out to be.

Lag: (with a wry smile) I wondered if you’d catch that.

Trask: What did you have to do with it?

Lag: What’d you find out?

Trask: No-one wanted to talk. Vague references to a series of accidents, and 11 union and 11 company managers died, but it was like pulling teeth to get even that.

Lag: How likely is it that eleven union leaders, AND eleven top local managers, both of which were known for increasingly thuggish and murderous tactics and pig-headedness, would all manage to die in a dozen remarkably unlikely accidents within minutes of one another, accidents that did NOT kill any bystanders or family?

Trask: YOU-?

Lag: (matter-of-factly) -settle disputes. (then, with exaggerated casualness) I hear the newly appointed company managers and elected union reps suddenly saw their situation with GREAT clarity. They promptly signed a contract that addressed some legitimate pay and working condition concerns, AND didn’t bankrupt the company. Of course the fatal accidents were tragic and of course UTTERLY freak and unpredictable, but they DID happen to move the negotiations along nicely. Some suspect a grieving widow of a murdered miner might have sought outside council, or perhaps hired a… trouble-shooter. Two and a quarter percent of refined product for five years I would guess might be a reasonable fee for such a … negotiation.

Helton: Holy crap.

Trask: … So, can we stay aboard?

Helton: We can’t really stop anywhere safe to drop you off while we are on this contract, but we can stick you someplace safe as long as we ARE flying. How about you pay us what you think it was worth when it’s over? Fair?

Trask: More than fair! THANK you, THANK YOU!

Helton: Don’t thank us yet – we still have a half-dozen trips with people shooting at us.

Trask: People are shooting at you?

Lag: You got hit by ground fire, didn’t you?

Trask: Well, yes, but-

Cooper: (OC) Helton to bridge – we are approaching the center.

Helton: Gotta go. Your wife can move into John and Julia’s cabin for a bit. You OK to help out? This is an all-hands drill.

Trask: Yes, I’ll see what I can do.

Lag: OK, then. Back to herding the homeless.

Fade to black

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12 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -071- Paying Passenger

  1. Too/to/two issue:

    ” but they DID happen too move the negotiations along nicely.”

    Other than that, nice.

    When do we get the grav tanks mounted as auxiliary turrets? After that, can we paint a big rabbit with a switchblade logo on her nose?

    • Fixed. Thanks, as always.
      Just about everything shows up eventually.
      I’m missing the reference about the rabbit with a switchblade (though the peg-leg bunny with an eye-patch and a hook I’ve seen, and a Kalashnikitty). I’ve played with the idea of nose art. I kind’a figured that shark-teeth, a-la the A-10, would be appropriate.

      • It’s a reference to the character Bun-bun from the webcomic Sluggy Freelance. A manipulative, violent, amoral, easily angered and extremely vengeful mini-lop rabbit that routinely carries (and uses) a switchblade.

        • Interesting, but not very apropos. Amoral and easily angered are NOT in line with Tajemnica.

          • Wasn’t there a pink bunny painted on the battle-mech during the WW1 trench-scene in Suckerpunch?

            One nitpick:

            Trask: I was hear wrapping up a deal, and the normal courier got killed, and… Those boxes…

            ::”hear” should be “here”

      • It’s an allusion to the SheVa mobile artillery piece in Johny Ringo’s “Hell’s Faire”. They end up sticking tank turrets on the nuclear powered tank for close in firepower, as I foresee a certain armored landing craft doing soon.

        Yes, BunBun is amoral. But effective.

        • WHAT!? Why on EARTH (or, Newoz, actually) would I want to stick a herd of grav tanks on a poor lil ‘ol landing-critter? I mean it’s not like they really NEED that much fire-power, right? Unless they are attacking something, of course, I suppose.

  2. Paragraph where Lag is telling story of how he was involved in Trask’s company sorting out it’s shit, you have “window” where it should read “widow”.

    Tip, don’t borrow TOO heavily from Ayn Rand. You weave a great story, but Lag is beginning to resemble the pirate/freebooter “Ragnar Danneskjold” in Atlas Shrugged a bit too much. Many who read that work way back (I read it in high school in the 1950’s) panned her work for making a hero out of the pirate. In class discussion, I remember raising the point that Ragnar seemed to be in his piracy more for the money, less for the revolutionary aspect of his military work. The way you’ve worked up Lag, he has to somewhat parallel Ragnar, but you’ve saved yourself so far by having all of Lag’s counter characters (the Muzzies, Councillor Darch) be utter jerks. In “A/S”, they weren’t necessarily utter jerks, just part of a corrupt, scheming government. Ragnar fought against that government as a patriot would, but he really did it for the loot. I sense that you will lose something great if you follow that path.

    • D’oh! Yes, good catch. Don’t want glass hiring him, unless it’s a silica mine. 🙂

      There is more on why they fight who and where they do planned, here and there, in part later in this mission after Allonia remarks that “war is messed up.” Hopefully most will think it steers an adequately balanced course, and in a lot fewer words than Ayn Rand. Also, in the finale, it becomes QUITE clear that they are not in it just for the money.

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