[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 17
Vic got into his seat next to Argmon. The chase had been fun, but now it was over and it was almost time to get back to business. If nothing else, he could spend a few minutes talking with Argmon. The two of them had shared this same cramped cockpit for, what was it, almost six years? It was another year after that when June had shown up. Boy was that kid, Joey, really in for a shock.
“So what’s the status?”
Argmon growled gruffly.
“Are you sure it was the same ship? The Apprehension. You know they’re not supposed to leave their solar system, right?”
Argmon cocked his head to the side as if to say “Give me a break.”
“Okay, I was just checking. You never know. You know, I think you gave Joey a good scare. That smile was priceless. I thought he was going to piss himself.”
Argmon didn’t laugh.
“Oh come on. I know you didn’t mean to scare him. You didn’t mean to scare me the first time I met you either. Or June. Or Dexter.”
A low, angry rumble came from Argmon’s chest.
“Hey, I didn’t know Dex was going to hit you like that. I was surprised too when he took you down with one hit. Little bugger is quick, you got to give him that.”
Argmon shrugged and nodded.
“Hey you two, mind if I join you?”
“Hey June. How’s Joey doing? Did he go to bed without a fight?”
“Well,” June bit her lip. “He freaked out a little bit. Wanted to call his parents.”
“Sounds familiar. So what happened?”
“Dexter offered to keep an eye on him and well, Joey kind of offended Dexter.”
“Is the kid going to be okay?”
“He’ll be fine. He’s going to have one big headache in the morning though. I really think you should have talked to him tonight though. He’s going to have a real bad day tomorrow. Even if we do make it to port.”
“Oh, we’ll make it to port alright. Planchar is paying us nearly double our normal rate for this shipment.” Vic smirked and half-closed his eyes. He was so good at this shipping business.
June shook her head. “Have you ever thought of getting shipments that don’t have us breaking any laws?”
“We’re not breaking any Galactic laws, so we’re not really breaking the law.”
“Vic, you know how I feel about that answer.”
“Are you trying to tell me this isn’t exciting?”
“At first it was, but now I just don’t know. I’m not getting the same rush when we run from the cops.”
Vic laughed and smoothed his moustache. “The fuzz are never going to catch up with us. We’re too good.”
“That’s the kind of attitude that’s going to get us caught one day and I think that’s what scares me about you, Vic.”
Argmon chortled agreement.
“Oh what do you two know?”
“I know you’re a fun guy Vic, but I also know you don’t want to end up in the GCP Central Jail. Cute guy like you would have a tough time in there.”
Vic sighed. Maybe she was right, but he wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of telling her that. He still liked the feeling he got when he ran from the police. Besides, they had rules to follow and that made it all the easier to get away from them.
Argmon had been checking something and he leaned closer to read a display.
“What is it?” Vic asked.
Argmon shook his head and heaved a defeated breath.
Vic leaned over and looked at the display. “You have got to be kidding me.”
“What is it, Vic?”
“The Apprehension is making a course for the Munchkada system.”
“Our home port?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“Vic, this little game has got to end.” June turned and left.
This wasn’t that bad though. The police could sit there, that was true. They just couldn’t exercise any authority. If they did, they were in direct violation of Galactic Law. That was of course if they hadn’t contacted GCP Central Office and gotten permission to leave their system, but that took days to happen. There was no way they got permission to leave their system in time to come after them.
They had given chase though. Vic had suspected they would and Argmon had done a great job of leaving multiple trails so they just floated out of sight. It still didn’t answer the question of why they had gone to the Munchkada system. Vic had Tootsie change the ship’s numbers.
“Tootsie, did you change the ship’s numbers?”
There was a long pause. “I don’t feel good about doing it, but yes, I did.”
“Did you change them when we went onto Bamda?”
Again another long pause. “You didn’t ask me to.”
Vic pressed his face into his hands. Tootsie always took everything he said in literal extremes.
“How many times have I had you change the ship’s numbers before we land?”
“Almost every time.”
“You didn’t this time.”
“You never gave me a standing order to change the ship’s numbers each time…”
“I shouldn’t have to.”
“I’m only a computer.”
“Do you really need to point that out to me now? Did you ever use any other numbers of real ships?”
“I can’t do that.”
“Why not?” Vic gripped his hair.
“That would be illegal.”
Vic pulled on his hair. That’s why the police cruiser went straight to their home port. All the other numbers Tootsie had used were fake and not even real ships. All they had to do was track down the numbers that gave a real home port and they were there. Now they knew about him, about the crew, everything.
“Tootsie, wasn’t changing the numbers in the first place illegal?”
“Yes, but to use another ship’s numbers is another charge.”
I’ve really got to get a less moralistic computer for this ship.- “Tootsie, I need to give you a standing order.”
“Ready to receive.”
He had to word this carefully. There couldn’t be any misunderstanding. Tootsie was going to take this literally, so he needed to make sure she understood. “Never, under any circumstance, do anything that will upset me.”
There was a beep that resounded through out the entire ship. The lights dimmed. Both Vic and Argmon looked around nervously. Argmon whimpered.
Tootsie’s response wasn’t in her normal sweet tone, but more mechanical and harsh. “Processing. Please stand by.”
“Vic!” June yelled from the lounge. The con was out. That couldn’t be a good thing. Just when he thought he knew all about this computer stuff, something else went wrong.
“Hey Argmon, when Tootsie comes back online, get us out of here.”
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