A ways back, I trusted someone I shouldn’t have, and I went against my own best judgement. Now, with every step I take, I am paying for that mistake. No one trusts me anymore. I have done the unforgivable. I’ve finally decided that I don’t care anymore. I did what I did because the Red Collars, our minnie rebellion, are becoming as bad as the corporation that dictates us.
The only thing holding me here is my sister. She cares for me, but she still sees what I did as an act of treason. She looks at me sometimes, as if she pities me for not being mentally sound. I don’t like it. No one really wants me here.
That’s why I’ve decided to leave for good. Keemi wouldn’t understand, so I didn’t tell her. She would probably see that as another act of treason and lock me in my room. Please! They want me gone. They didn’t hesitate to put me on a suicidal mission as soon as they had the chance.
Apparently some smugglers had kidnapped a guy with a wheelchair for us, caused a commotion, and led them right to our sector. Spotlights were dangerously close to the Red Collars base. We were very close to our whole operation getting compromised, an operation years and years in the making..
Like most smugglers, they didn’t come close to understanding the gravity of the situation. I was going to accompany them to another sector and have them hopefully caused enough of a ruckus that they would move away from our sector. So I said a last goodbye to Keemi.
I hugged her goodbye, which surprised her, because we hadn’t hugged since we were kids. She told me she was worried the Collars were trying to find a way to kill me, and this was their way of doing it. Of course it was, I knew that. They’ve never put me on a mission like this before.
“You know why I did what I did!” I said. Keemi stared into my eyes “Would you trust you if you were in their position?” The elevator doors opened and I stepped in. I looked back at Keemi, “Of course I wouldn’t,” and the doors closed.
Raak was in the elevator with me. He’s my boss, and the last time I saw him he… wasn’t too happy with me. Thankfully he didn’t seem to feel the need to talk to me anymore… ever. When we got to the top, I saw the people I’d be with for the future. My future didn’t look too good.
The smugglers looked sort of dark and twisted. Like they had ulterior motives within their ulterior motives. There were two humans and a Klatooinian, whatever that is. ( I only knew because someone told me) One of the humans was clutching a broken pipe tightly, the other one had some sort of healing apparatus on, and the Klatooinian just looked plain dangerous. We began the mission brief.
I stopped paying attention after about ten seconds of Raak’s talking, because I had already had heard this, oh about twenty times, but I tuned in just as he mentioned my name. I was to escort them, blah blah blah…
Apparently they were angry they weren’t getting paid for their hospital breakout, because of all the problems they caused. I listened for a while, and I finally understood their reasoning. Raak decided to give them payment like promised. One catch.
Their new payment was 500 credits! After listening to all they’d gone through, they only got 500 credits!? They started to get angry. Broken Pipe Man looked ready to blow, but enough was enough, I decided to step in. “Didn’t you offer the last group 5000 credits?” I asked nonchalantly.
There was silence. Raak looked like he wanted to catch me on fire, but he relented. He started loudly complaining about how certain smugglers think they’re the greatest, and he said if they really wanted the dumb money, he’d give them a whole 10,000 credits and be done with it. Then he sent the injured guy to the infirmary, including Mr. Broken Pipe. He then gave me one last dirty look before stomping out of the room.
Someone assured the Klatoo-whatever-ian that they would be OK, and how great our nurses are. I should know, Keemi’s one of them. When they got back, I realised the injured guy looked a lot tougher without the machinery in his chest, and Broken Pipe looked like he had gotten a new pipe.
I finally introduced myself to them, but they seemed to be in a hurry, rightly so. They collectively decided they would go to the university sector to distract the authorities. It was near enough that they we could get there fast, but far enough they would stop looking in our sector. We left the secret base and went out into the city.
When we got to the sector we found a bar they thought would be good to find someone to cause a distraction. I recommended this one guy I had seen around,all grizzled and tough, but the smugglers chose a group of college kids. Kinda made more sense, because they were drunk and probably would do anything for money. I guess I was just rattled from speaking to Raak like that. I had to remember that that was in the past.
They told the kids to run around the streets in doctors clothes with a guy in a wheelchair. They got paid and left to cause some ruckus. I turned to the smugglers. “I don’t think that’s going to work. Once they catch them and see they’re fakes, it will actually strengthen their searching of our sector. They’ll know we’re trying to redirect their attention on purpose!”
The smugglers didn’t look happy, but this was my job. They discussed alternatives and so on, until they came to another solution.
So we then found the nearest bank and the smugglers pointedly walked in and out of the security cameras outside, trying to look suspicious. I still didn’t think it was going to work, but who cared about the stupid base anyway.
We called the police, and the tough human, Gav, used some sort of connection to the police to convince them to go to the bank. He says he has no connection to the espos when I ask but he literally went right back to talking with the group about how he could use his connection with the espos, right after. I don’t even know why he bothered. Man, I hate espos, but Gav seems different. A lot different.
Anyway, we got to their ship and left and my, oh my, what a ship! The thing actually looked like they plucked it off the moon, and our moon is our planet’s junkyard. It had arms sticking out of places that didn’t make sense to have arms on a ship, and it looked like a mutant spider scorpion combination made entirely out of rust and dirt.
We made a lift off and we headed for the meteorite mines.
Naz, with his new pipe, was the captain. He piloted the ship, and the cockpit was completely filled with smoke at all times. You’d need a gas mask to be in there! The crew didn’t seem to mind. Much.
Stumpel was the last member I haven’t mentioned the name of yet. Hes the Klatwantoon or whatever, and he looked like one of those aliens that are slaves to the hutts. Maybe he is the same species. He was the toughest member, and he had the big guns.
Halfway through our journey a intercom crackled out a message, they needed help with a engine failure, and their ship was running out of oxygen! The group’s think tank started working again, “We need to help them!” “Why should we?” “What if we’re in a situation like that one day?” “How do we know it’s real?”
Naz turned the volume up to hear the person better. That’s when the volume thing broke off. Oh dear. Naz ignored it. “They’re lying.” he said. Stumpel asked ”How do we know that?” “They have air coming out of their ventilation duct, that means they’re letting air out… Get to your stations everyone, we’ve got some pirates on our hands!!”
Gav was at the main arm. He took control of it and moved it towards the ship that was “crying” for help. He then promptly ripped open the whole back of their cargo bay with the big metal claw. People were flying out into space! Then Stumpel blasted the open area of the ship with the big gun, reducing the ship to shreds. Everything was gone.
Gav instantly grabbed this one guy with an electric sword with the arm, the others getting on the arms, and getting to work, keeping on catching everything they felt they could use before it flew out into the void. I noticed those objects included gas masks for the cockpit, go figure.
Naz was like “Good work team. Show those pirates!” and scampered off, leaving a snake of smoke in his wake. Gav stretched and went back to his room, Stumpel walked off to the “Living Quarters”, and I was incredulous. OK then…
We got to the meteorite mines. Sort of. Turns out we weren’t going to the mines, we were going to Quandobars Folly. We dropped off, made a few quick errands. Stumpel needed a gun, so I got him a bargain. Easy. People are really easy to manipulate. The brain is supposed to be super complex, but it can be predicted, and analyzed. I’ve been doing it since my childhood. That’s why they let me join Collars…. and kind of why they kicked me out. We got back on the ship.
The intercom crackled again, this time it was an angry call from the smugglers real boss. “HEY NAZ!” We all jumped and hit the ceiling. “WHERE ARE YOU!?! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO GET HERE DAYS AGO! I SAW YOU HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO THE SPOT! GET THERE NOW!!!” My ears were digging into my brain. It didn’t help that he was also yelling. Yay. Another psycho boss. Gav scrambled to put tape over the speaker.
“We’re almost there Anatta, we got attacked by pirates. Sort of.” strained Naz. He was holding his ears. “Well, hurry up! I here there’s some other people looking at the salvage site now. SO GET THERE!” crackle crackle
So, we finally got to the salvage place. It was an asteroid with a science base on it. Gav flagged the area using some machine so any others would know we got here first. Of course, that’s not the way it works in these parts. Crackle Crackle “Hey Naz!”
So there’s this tradition among salvagers, that it doesn’t matter who got there first, whose job it is, or who starts loading the bags, if you want that site, it should be yours, not theirs. This guy was one of those tradition types.
This guy, another salvager, explained if we wanted the site, he would fight us for it. Suddenly we saw his ship zoom past us down to the landing pad. He was going to get there first. Naz responded by making the executive decision to go STRAIGHT DOWN.
We hit the landing pad at top speed at the same time as the other ship. Thankfully, the other ship was the one that broke, not ours. Still, they technically landed first. crackle crackle “We landed first, it’s ours.” Naz shouted into the intercom “That’s not how it works!” But the guy was off the mike. Soon we saw men getting out of the other ship.
We had to move. “You know the drill!” I didn’t, but I rolled with it. “You don’t have a gun do you?” asked Gav. I said no. “Grab one from under my bed.” I went and grabbed one. It was a corporation standard. No connection with the Espos huh? When I come back the others have already left. I stay in the cockpit.
The other crew has more men than ours, but Stumpel and Gav are pretty intimidating. Then I see the captain of the ship exiting, following my crew.
I can still hear what’s happening through my com, not the broken ship’s one but the com that we each have on our person. They’re yelling at each other about the flag, apparently the other crew were filling bags of stuff, and the other captain comes in and yells at Naz about last time and so on.
Eventually it seemed they’d reached a conclusion. We would get a third of the stuff, but we’d get first pick. Everyone seemed pretty happy about that option, especially because no one wanted to fight Stumpel. Before everyone broke off, Stumpel cut in. “Also, we’re gonna take a look at the stuff in the bags. Ha! I wished I could see their faces. They had obviously planned this and had put the valuables in the bags first, hoping we wouldn’t notice. Well we did. So there. When the others got back, I gave Gav back his gun.
We made more stops, we had to pick up gas so Naz’s boss wouldn’t know we went down to the planet and back. Apparently they never were supposed to go anywhere but the salvage sight. I negotiated for them with that guy too. It reminded me of my younger days. But those days were over…
See, I didn’t like what the collars were doing, and I’d seen some horrible things they do to people who don’t side with them. So when a Collar woman told me she wanted to see if she could make them a better organisation, so the could do things more efficiently and morally, I complied. I let a mouse droid, specially designed, into the main room, so it could hack the files and see what the Collars were doing behind our backs, the members of the society!
It turned out she wasn’t who she said she was. She was an ambitious young Espo, and I had fallen for her hook, line, and sinker. After they found her out, they punished me and they- They bombed her. They bombed her. With bombs! It only reinforced my hatred of the organisation! Innocents were killed, builings were destroyed, stores were crushed, people were crushed! Just like always.
Nevertheless, it was her, Acantha Saar, that still survived, and she blames me for her scars. She blames me. I know because she tried to ambush me a while ago, but that’s a different story. Anyway, I was the one who told Keemi about her, but she used me! She used me, and ruined my life in the process. She wants to hunt me down? If she comes, I’ll just kill her myself.
I thought about that in a corner all the way back to the junk moon. And I cried.
We got to the crew’s secret hideout thing, and we unloaded everything we had, besides the salvage stuff we had for Anaata. It seemed like we weren’t supposed to take anything for us from the salvage sight, or anything for that matter, from anywhere. Anatta was supposed to have all of that.
Down came the guns, the extra machinery, the loot, the gas masks, and all the while I wondered to myself what I was really doing. Why was I here? I was a smuggler now. Or at least, until the collars called me back up. I had a feeling that wasn’t going to happen.
We were about to get back on the ship, which was pretty sparse at this point, when stumpel turned back towards me. He seemed to finally process the fact that I was still here. “Wait, are you staying on the crew?”
He walked over to Naz and they started talking quietly. “Of course he is! He alway has been!” Naz walked over, still smoking his pipe, kind of smiling actually. I don’t think I’ve seen him smile yet. “I saw his negotiation skills back there. He could get us a real deal one day. Like you did today actually! 10,000 credits… Anyway, you’re one of us now.”
He turned and sauntered back into the ship. Stumpel followed. Gav was already on board. I took a look at the ship. That was my home now. This stupid, ugly, horrid piece of junk was my home now.
I smiled at the thought.