Jasyn frowned that next morning when he saw them taking a detour and was sure to stop Kevin as he came into the kitchen area and reached for an apple. “Why are we going this way?”
Kevin was personally grateful he was asking this now rather than last night during their actual stop over to drop Zane off back on Halcyon again so he could board the shuttle they planned to raid later. It’d been tricky but they’d managed to without anyone troublesome noticing. That wouldn’t have been so easy to explain. “There’s a part our new mechanic needs to pick up in Brid, pure Geminite so it won’t break easily. It won’t cause us more than a day’s delay.”
Measuring the man’s explanation, a brow rose. “It’s seems like quite a detour.”
The other man nodded in agreement. “I know. I wish Zane would’ve found it earlier but what can you do? Obviously we won’t be charging you for the extra day.”
He appeared to be placated by that. “Good to know.”
It was seeing as Kevin wasn’t really up for deflecting him. It seemed a little too easy but he’d take it and hope for the best later. “I do ask you stay inside while we’re at Brid, it’s not the best of places unless you’re familiar with it. Things get kind of rough.”
Before Jasyn could reply, Cybelle came in a few moments later with Howie, chattering away about different recipes. “Oh, see I wasn’t raised on Earth so most of my cooking varies on the basics like that and…” She blinked at the room being full, missing AJ’s absence since he typically kept to himself anyway. A trait that took no one long to notice. “Oh, good morning.”
Howie grinned. “I was comparing notes with her since someone thinks I need to step away from the books and practice in here more.”
Kevin shrugged. “Not my fault you’re the only one who manages to fix food without burning it or almost blowing up the stove the way Nick did a few weeks ago.”
“Where is Nick?” She asked innocently.
“He’s in town to help get a few things while Zane gets a new part for the ship.” It wasn’t a lie. Over the years Kevin found it best to tell truths while omitting the details. It helped sell the lies he told whenever they were going through a deal. “I was just telling Jasyn about it.” He glanced around. “I’m going to go check on Brian.”
It was yet another half-truth. He was heading up to the nest and try to be sure Brian was alright. What wasn’t said of course was the fact he wasn’t on the craft at all. Like Zane, he was dropped off in Halcyon to rendezvous with Nick once he came aboard in Brid just before the shuttle “malfunctioned”. He slipped on his earpiece as he shut down a few of the engines. The less energy they gave off out here, the more likely they’d go unnoticed. Just in case.
“Go ahead Kev.” He said after a few moments, Kevin thought he could hear a door shutting. “I’m in the restroom, no one will hear.” The sound of water running followed.
“It’d only be that if you heard me flushing.” Brian laughed. “Go ahead.”
He ran his hand down the monitor, checking for his cousin’s location. Each ear piece had a tracker so that if anything changed, anything went wrong, they wouldn’t be lost completely. “You’re almost here. When you see Nick, greet him like an old friend and act like you’re finding a compartment towards the back. I sent Nick an image of what we’re after. He’ll look like a bum.”
Another laugh. “How’s that any different from normal?”
He laughed with them. Despite the dangers of the jobs they took on, there were little joys to be found each day. Ways to find happiness in a ‘verse that was mostly filled with darkness, rather than light. He learned a long time ago to hold on to those moments. They were what helped him through the dark times. The simple knowledge that it wasn’t all bad. He smiled to himself.
“Moving on, once Nick is on there…”
Nick took a deep breath as he walked through the streets of Brid. It wasn’t a clean town by any means. Mainly Geminite miners working as slaves for the business owners. He’d been there for a few hours, having taking one of the two detachable pods on the Firefly so that he could get on Brid and buy some of the local clothes to blend in. He had to get on this job like a commoner looking to move on now that he managed to fulfill his contract. It was a filthy look and he hated every second of it, but he did look the part. And as rare as people like the one he pretended to be were—it did happen.
He couldn’t wait to be back on the boat and taking a much needed shower however.
What they were stealing was far more valuable than Geminite. This time it was a drug, experimental for the scientific community of the Dominion to see what ways it could be used for weaponry. For the Black Market however in small doses it gave an excellent high that was unrivaled by any other. No one knew the true chemical name outside the highest and most elite of circles, but he knew it as Nehan. Sometimes it caused a complete breakdown of the mind, leading to schizophrenia or even multiple personalities but few cared about that in a world of suffering. There were rumors it could be used for medicinal purposes as well but no one knew for sure.
“What’s your location Squirt?” He heard Zane’s voice ask through his practically invisible earpiece.
“Alright.” Kevin confirmed over the line. “The shuttle should stop but be unable to start thanks to his modifications-” Nick fought the urge to chuckle. “Board like normal, Brian should be in the back. He’ll lead your further in after making a scene of recently reunited friends. Zane, we’re stationed beyond the sand dunes when you get off.”
“I should’ve found you years ago. This is making fucking around with superior asshats ships in my shop feel boring.”
“Did you plant the distractions?”
“Obviously. Heh. They’ll go off right about the time the blonde brigade wants to get off.”
Beyond the mountains that were mind endlessly there was nothing but sand like pictures Nick had seen once of the Sahara deserts now long gone. He couldn’t fathom being able to live in such a miserable place. That was where the Firefly was waiting. Because of what was about to happen and the close proximity helpfully hidden by the windstorms, getting back with their speeders wasn’t going to be a very difficult process. The trick was making sure everything else went off without a single hitch.
The transport could be seen not too far ahead. Like everything else funded by the Dominion, it looked highly impressive on the outside. Longer than two of those airplanes he’d learned about in history class as a child, it was a metallic lime color, gleaming under the hot sun. It was closer to this planet than others and it made the weather pretty nasty. Another reason why most people didn’t live here by their own choosing. This rock wasn’t worth the technology that terraformed it centuries before during the Great ‘Verse Expansion if you asked him.
Sliding his pass that he’d used various times before under his forged identity, Nick stepped on the craft and looked around. It was a depressing sight. Though he could see why the authorities chose to ship the drug on this particular route. Who would think that something so valuable would be traveling with the lowest of peasants? Half of these people were homeless, the other half just too poor for a higher class route. Those homeless were more like refugees in the sense that what they saved up to travel wasn’t used for a home but a chance to get to a better planet, higher up within the central ring of the Dominion so that they could start over. People no one would give a second glance at if they all happened to perish. It was low risk in that manner too if the craft got hijacked, the Sultanate could destroy it if they had to. The thought made Nick sick.
Spotting Brian, he headed back, plastering a huge grin on his face. “Tommy!”
“Aaron!” He chimed back. “How’s the family?”
Nick pulled out his small holo and pulled up an image that he managed to block from the view of others after the pair went further to the back. “There’s BJ.” He pointed at the picture of the tiny suitcase they needed to look for. “See where’s she’s at?”
Up front the driver was hitting his console in frustration. He looked at a young woman seated behind him and pointed outside. “Go see if you can’t figure out what’s wrong with it. We’re already twenty kuso-bun yotei yori okurete! I ain’t going to get my shiri chewed out for this! Mai cruisa grendo!” He shouted in a mixture of English, Lycian, and rough Japanese.
“Lucky her.” Brian mused. “Come on.”
Following the shorter man, he made like they had seats on one of the other carts on the shuttle. They kept going; further back where they knew the storage cart had to be. Pausing outside the back door, Nick made like he was rubbing the back of his ear, whispering softly. “We’re in place.”
“Copy. AJ, how’s-“
A huge roaring noise interrupted and answered Kevin’s unfinished question all at once. Not fazed in the slightest, Nick used his holo device to scan the area for the chest in question. The best thing was that as small as it was, it’d be easy to hide when they slipped off the craft. Chaos could be heard going on throughout the ship and what few guards were on board were forced to go see if the commotion outside was local or interplanetary trouble.
“Got it!” Brian said in hushed victory.
“Bring it here.” Nick said as he pulled out what he’d dubbed as his crime kit, cheesy as that sounded. He took out a few tools and quickly got to work on picking the lock. Once he did, he smiled at the glowing vial within. “Perfect.” He locked it back up and tucked it away in his knapsack. “Glad everyone brings all they own around here in these things.” He muttered. “Now let’s get out of here.”
“We’re good to go cous.” Brian said softly as they walked out, completely unnoticed in the ensuing chaos that only increased when another load explosion went off. This one closer.
“Time for me to blow this shit.” AJ’s gruff voice cut in.
Nick smirked to himself before saying loudly. “Forget this! I thought I’d be safer traveling with the Shuttle System!” He shoved by people looking fully panicked. “Come on Tommy!”
Brian followed, his eyes wide and sneaking off before too many people noticed Nick’s sack was fuller than before. Sultanate pushed by them, grumbling in annoyance. As his friend stepped off, Brian paused to hear what they were saying.
“Another fucking political moron trying to make a statement.”
“Heh, cause scare tactics will really do something. What a baka.”
“I think the engine’s finally fixed. I fucking hate this poor excuse for a planet.”
“Let’s go be sure everything’s clear. No need for that shit to get on here…”
Brian hurried off and nudged Nick lightly, nodding back at the craft as they walked. “They’re going to notice we’ve been in there soon.”
“How long you think we have?”
“I’d say about fifteen, twenty minutes.”
The younger man laughed, slipping in and easily getting lost within the crowds as they made a beeline towards the other side of town where they knew the Firefly would be. A glance back told him everything was still as calm as could be and while those inside the ship had been panicked, those in the city were not. It was a sad and telling state of affairs when small explosions were shrugged off when it was seen no one was hurt. (Which of course no one was, Kevin’s firm rule was that no innocents were to be hurt no matter what the job.) While part of the Dominion and not as ignored as Halcyon was, it was more or less a slave planet. There were often mini rebellions that went nowhere and protests that did nothing more than anger those in control even more.
On the edge they could see the path going off between the mountains and while they felt home free, a nudge from Brian brought him out of his thoughts and back to reality. “Shit!” Dodging the gunshots, Nick fired back and hoped they weren’t close enough that their travelers his ship heard and asked questions.
“There’s only two!” Brian sound pretty relieved as he ran, chancing a shot back.
“Good that means they want the Nehan but not for anyone else to know about it.” Another shot. One went down. “That’s right asshole!” His victory was short-lived when a blast hit him in his left shoulder. “Fuck!”
He shook his head. “Forget it, I’m fine.” He lied, his shoulder was filled with searing pain along with the fact his pack was resting on that shoulder. He couldn’t wait to get the hell off this worthless rock. Gritting his teeth he fired again, the shot wild.
Brian turned around and kept firing. Soon, the other Sultanate met the same demise as his partner and the two hurried on the craft. Nick made a beeline for the med wing while Brian rushed up towards the cockpit. He wasn’t too worried. While the wound was somewhat nasty, he long ago learned to have faith in Howie’s abilities. As he walked into the room, Kevin had questions but Brian waved him off as he hopped into his seat and started up. “Is AJ on?”
His cousin nodded. “Got here about ten minutes before you did.”
“Good, cause we’re not staying any longer.”
“Took one to the arm,” Brian’s eyes were focused solely on his task. Soon they were in the air. “I don’t think they had any time to call for reinforcements or tell anyone what was missing.”
“Don’t take any chances. I don’t care if it delays us but take the route with the least amount of people.”
“Where are we going next?”
“Nuada.” He said with grim determination. “It’ll sell the highest there and it’s on the way.”
Brian made a face. “Are you serious?”
“The chances of her finding you there are slim to none.”
He got nothing but grumbled mutterings in response and Kevin chuckled. “Plot it.”
Sighing deeply, he did as he was told. “You’re the boss, Captain.”