Fiction Fragment Friday

I woke up this morning and immediately messaged myself the first few sentences of this story. They had nothing to do with any dreams, but still in my sleep I had a spur of inspiration. I had no plans on writing a story set on the space station setting I created last year, but when I started writing it seemed to just fit there.

In space everyone has a different line for what it takes before they kill.  It is a dangerous universe, and some believe that you kill first or end up dead yourself. Others feel that all life in the galaxy is precious and will do anything to avoid crossing that line. Where do I fall on that scale? Let’s just say I’m somewhere between those two extremes and leave it at that. On a good day I’m happy about where I live on that range. On a bad day I have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror.  I can take comfort in being alive to be in the mirror. 

I was hired by a smuggler to provide lock side security for a delivery to Toran Station.  Even by my standards the place was a dump.  The first part of any job is researching the location and I certainly found mixed messages about this one.  The place used to be called the jewel of the galaxy, but now it’s just another aging hunk of metal floating in space.  No regular traffic, no investment in upkeep, and your standard death by obscurity.  It’s a real shame I never saw the place in its prime because as it is now, I felt like I needed a shower just from walking through the hall. 

  “Hey Frankie take a look at this guy.”  The obnoxious chubby man got right up in my face as he taunted me to his friend.  “Thinks he’s gonna intimidate us with his cowl.  Hehe.  Tougher than you have tried cupcake.”  I kept my face as neutral as possible, but it was hard not to smile imagining my fist repeatedly making contact with his face.  “Alright Mary lets see the goods.” 

“You know you are supposed to treat a lady to dinner first before making demands like that.”  There was a smoothness to my employer’s response that I couldn’t help but admire.  She was a woman that could control any conversation no matter how it started and knew how to keep the attention on herself.  With Frankie and Mark now completely focused on her I could lip back into the background again like I liked.  She opened her briefcase and pulled out an encrypted data chip.  “Plug this little baby into any station terminal and by the end of a week it will have wormed its way into every last nook and cranny.  Nothing will happen on the station without you knowing about it.”

  Mark plugged the chip into a palm reader for verification.  “Woohe, looks like she pulled it off.  I only see one problem with this chip.”

“Oh, and what exactly would that be?”  I could see her tense up, but I doubt anyone who didn’t know her as well as I did would have noticed. 

“You would know that we had that access.”  I could see Frankie going to make his move as well.  The microwave gun hidden in his jacket came into view as he reached for it. 

That was the moment I had to make a decision.  Four different non-lethal ways to take him ran through my head.  Each of them would leave Mark time to make a move of his own.  I knew that Mary was more than capable of handling herself, but I had been hired to do a job and giving Mark a free shot at my employer would not be good for my reputation.  A man like me pays his bills based on reputation.  My next moves would determine how many people would survive this encounter.

I grabbed Frankie twisting his right arm behind him and slammed him into Mark pressing the two against the bulkhead.  The microwave gun went tumbling across the floor.  Mary stepped back to give me room to work.  I do like working with a professional.  My fists made a lovely smacking sound as they finally got introduced to Mark’s face.  With a blur of motion, I fought both of them making sure to make it as painful of an experience as I possibly could.  They had done worse than double-crossed us.  That was just something I expected when doing business in the butthole of the galaxy.  What they did was annoy me and for that they were paying the price. 

“Well gentlemen I hope you have learned your lesson.  For the record I don’t talk about my clients so your secret would have been safe.”  She took her payment from the floor next to Mark and headed for the airlocks.  I gave him one last kick to the gut and then rushed to catch up with her.

Once we were out of earshot I turned to her.  “You just going to let them keep that virus after they tried to kill you?”

She stopped and patted me on the cheek.  “My dear boy you are good at what you do, but you just don’t see the big picture.  That worm has a backdoor in it for me.  I’ll know everything they know, and it will infect their systems too.  This payment is just a drop in the bucket to what I’m going to make off them.”  She turned back and continued walking.  “Remember never get paid for a job once, when you can get paid for it multiple times.”

I smiled and shook my head a bit.  Once again I was reminded that as dangerous as I was, I couldn’t hold a candle to that woman.