[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 30 & 31
“Can you believe that jerk?”
“Eep. Eep. Eep.”
“You said it. He expected me to cook and then tells me I can’t go back to Munchkada. That’s just so unfair.”
June felt like she was fifteen again and complaining that her parents wouldn’t let her out of the house. At least she knew she could tell everything to Dexter without a word of it getting back to Vic. Sometimes she went off on him, but she wanted him to think she was tough. If he didn’t think that, she wouldn’t be worth keeping on the ship and there was something about Vic that lingered in the back of her mind that if he found her worthless he’d leave her on Munchkada and then she’d truly be all alone.
“Dex, can you zip me up?”
“Eep. Eep. Eep.”
Dexter never wore any clothes except during security duty when he wore two thick, leather belts across his chest that crossed just under the arm that protruded from the center of his chest. Each came down to his hips where he strapped his blasters. These dragged on the ground due to Dexter’s extremely short legs. For being just under three-feet tall, the little guy was quick. Quick and quiet, a dangerous combination.
The quiet part was what June loved best about Dexter. All he ever said was “Eep. Eep. Eep.” but it was the way he said it that made you know he understood you. And he couldn’t convey that information to anyone else. That was the most special.
Dexter zipped up the back of June’s outfit by standing on a bench. Her outfit was much like all her other outfits: black with hot pink trim. She liked the color combination and it didn’t seem like anyone else in the galaxy put those colors together the way she did.
Her outfit had been special ordered. It was made of similar dura-palsti that made up the ship’s hull. It was impervious to most energy blasts and could also block smaller projectiles. It was very form fitting even though she wasn’t looking to impress anyone while on duty.
Like Dexter, she also strapped on two blasters. Hers were smaller and longer than Dexter’s. Hers were designed for accuracy whereas Dexter’s were for short range shots.
All she had to do was get her helmet on and she’d be ready. She leaned her head back, pulled her hair up into a bun on top of head, and secured it.
“Eep? Eep? Eep?”
“What was that Dex?”
Joey? What’s he doing down here?
“Eep. Eep. Eep.”
“Um, what? Vic sent me down here. Something about helping.”
June sighed. “What does he think we’ve got down here that you can help with?”
Joey’s elated looked faded quickly to disappointment. She felt bad, but what was she supposed to do with Joey? Vic should be the one babysitting, not her. Especially after he denied her to go back to Munchkada.
“I don’t know,” Joey said in a defeated voice.
Dammit Vic. “Look, we’ve only got so much gear. If Vic wants you to help out with security, you’re going to have to order some equipment. We can’t do that until we get back to home port.”
June pulled a vest made of dura-plasti off the wall and handed it to Joey.
“It’s the best thing we’ve got. Put it on and we’ll find you a gun,” she told him, her tone cold and flat.
Joey made a tsking noise. “Why are you so mad?”
She was mad at Vic. It wasn’t Joey’s fault. She just didn’t want to have to watch a new person while she was supposed to be on security duty. Planchar was bound to be a dangerous planet on which to drop this load. The country they’d sold it to had a lot of enemies and the last thing they needed to do was get caught in the middle of a civil war with a load of tonindrium. Of course she didn’t want Joey to know any of this.
“Sorry. Just get that vest on.”
Joey put the vest on. Dexter reached up to help him buckle the sides. Joey shied away.
“Let him help you. He’s good at this security stuff. And you’re the last person who wants to upset Dexter again.”
Joey paled and allowed Dexter to assist with the buckles.
“I don’t think I ever got your last name.” Joey grunted as Dexter tightened the straps on the vest.
“Miller. June Miller.”
June opened a panel on the wall and removed her helmet. It, unlike her outfit, was completely black. It was a dome about twice the size of her head. Inside were advanced electronic sensors that would allow her to scan and monitor everything around the ship without having to move. She’d even made Vic install cameras all around the ship that worked with her helmet so she could monitor everything.
It had taken a long time to get Vic to trust her, but she was paranoid enough after several of their trips. Dexter was good, but she made sure that all bases were covered. Once she was inside her suit, nothing could get to her. She felt like a different person. That’s what helped her through the tough times she’d been fighting.
“Wow! Why don’t I get one of those?”
“Look, you need to earn something like this. You’ve only been on this ship a couple of days now, if that. When you’ve spent as much time on this dump as I have, you can buy your own.”
“Eep. Eep. Eep.”
“See, even Dexter agrees with me.”
Joey frowned. “Do I at least get a gun?”
It took all her will not to laugh. “Have you ever shot a gun?”
She removed her left gun and handed it to him. “There’s a target on the other side of the cargo hold about ninety yards out. Do you see it? I want you to shoot it.”
He stood in the doorway and peered to the other end of the cargo hold. Even if he saw it, she was certain he’d never hit it. Blasters didn’t have the kick of a regular gun, and her father, being a detective, had taken her shooting many times as a young girl. She knew how to handle a gun. Looking at the way Joey held the gun when she’d handed it to him let her know there was no way he’d be able to shoot it.
“That little thing way over there?” Joey asked incredulously as he turned around, gun in hand, and faced June.
She snapped the gun out of his hand. “When you learn how to respect a weapon you can have one.”
His look of surprise was devastating, but she didn’t have time for this. They were going to land soon. She needed to be ready. This little game was over.
“You’re going to stay with Dexter. You don’t stray from his side. I don’t care how much you want to go and look around, this being your first time on a strange planet. This isn’t Earth. If you walk away from the ship, you’re going to end up dead. Do you understand?”
“Good.” June put the gun back on her hip and the helmet on her head.
Displays popped up instantly as the smart fibers in the suit connected with the helmet. She saw her stats. Her heart rate was up. The banter with Joey had gotten her worked up. She was going to have to sit for five minutes just to calm down enough. Joey was going to have to keep himself company.
As she sat down on the one bench in the security room the outside displays came up. The exterior of the ship looked good. Nothing trailing them. Planchar was getting close. Vic should be giving an announcement any time that they were coming in for a landing. She needed all that time to get herself mentally prepared. This trip had drained her and now she wasn’t going to get to relax like she thought she’d be able to. It just wasn’t fair. Not fair at all.
“Sheriff Justice, you’re needed on the bridge straight away, sir!”
B.T. Justice rolled over and looked at the clock on the edge of his bed and groaned. He’d only been asleep for six hours. What were they thinking waking him? Hadn’t he given explicit orders that he wasn’t to be disturbed.
He cleared his throat. “This had better be good.”
“Sir, the SS Acid Rat.”
Justice took a deep breath and slapped his hand on his face. He wanted to be awake for this.
“Where?” he asked as he shook his head and rubbed his face aggressively.
“They just sent their ship numbers to report a landing on the planet Planchar.”
That made a strange sort of sense. Planchar could be in need of tonindrium. He would have to check to see if there was a trade embargo against Planchar that would prevent them from getting a shipment through the normal lines. It was strange for someone to need to hire an independent, and a crafty one at that, to ship a simple load.
“I’m on my way to the bridge. I want to know everything about Planchar when I get there.”
It took less than a minute for B.T. Justice to don his uniform, stomp out of his room, and head to the bridge. They had landed on the second moon of Munchkada and were waiting for something like this. He’d suspected they wouldn’t report the proper numbers and he wouldn’t be able to catch them here when they returned here. This was a stroke of luck he couldn’t have wished for.
“Where are they?”
One of the young officers jumped up. “Sir, they’re landing now.”
“How soon can we take off?”
“I’ve already contacted the engineer. He says it’ll be forty-five minutes.”
“The engines need to be started up. That takes time.”
“I know that. I didn’t order the engines turned off! We need to be ready to jump at a moment’s notice. Who dared turn them off?”
“Sir, I don’t know.”
“Just get them started. Now do we know where they’re landing.”
“They’re landing in the Contaminar province on the main continent. They’ll be on the ground any time. We have no idea how long they’ll be there before they taking off again.”
“I want us off the ground as soon as possible and en route. This is unacceptable and I’ll be reprimanding whoever is responsible as soon as we get back to Bamda. Junior! Hamburger!”
Forty-five minutes to restart the engines. This was intolerable. Justice ground his teeth in frustration and clenched and unclenched his fists. Who’s responsible for this? Who?
Purchase your copy today