WHEREIN Our Hero is Reminded that there is More than One Distraction
The Avadis system wasn’t, at first glance, a particularly interesting place. Its planets had little to mine that couldn’t be found elsewhere—making it an unattractive claim for Trade Barons—and the system sat far enough inside fringe world space that it held little strategic value for the Alliance of Free Worlds or the Radiant Throne. It did, however, have a gas giant that no interstellar power had claimed as its own, and a consortium of concerned interests that were determined to make sure it stayed that way.
Free fuel attracted a lot of interest.
The economy that sprang up around the free fuel depot mostly followed the pitch “as long as you’re here, you might as well buy something.” There was a brisk, thriving trade that focused on the kinds of things people who didn’t like paying for things would buy. Illegal things, in other words: the Avadis black market was so openly displayed it was nearly silver.
Velis Enge leaned back in her office chair, blearily rubbing the sleep from her eyes as she forced herself to finish reading the mission debrief. She thought back wistfully to her days as a field agent, complaining about having to write them. She smiled briefly—relishing the irony—then forced herself to pay attention to her work. When she finished, she placed the data tablet down on her desk with a sigh and reached for the lukewarm cup of coffee on her desk.
WHEREIN Offers Are Made, And Refusal Is Not Up For Consideration
“Captain Vindh!” Yidoc Messhik, crime lord of the Tyrelos Barony and other principalities, beamed through the video link at Grif’s scowling face. More accurately, he appeared to beam, strictly by human standards, though his facial spines—an integral emotive component for every Invagi Grif had ever met—hardly so much as twitched in place. “I confess I didn’t expect to hear from you so soon. On the other hand, I didn’t expect someone to try to assassinate our Baron, either.”
His smile faded slightly. “If you had any dealings in that, Captain, I’m afraid we have no business worth discussing. The Baron was very good for business, and I’ve no interest in rewarding either her brother or Lord Sonim for foolish ambition.”
WHEREIN A Lack of Good Options Makes A Bad One Look Better
“What exactly is going on out there?”
It was the seventh or eighth time Morgan had asked the question. In that space of time, he’d moved from irritation, to anger, to confusion, and had finally settled comfortably into a state of utter bewilderment. Grif couldn’t blame him. The repetition was starting to wear thin, but it was a legitimate one to ask. Station Authority wasn’t making any sense.
“No clue, Morgan. The best I can come up with is ‘general bureaucratic incompetence,’ but I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s going on.”