Join Date: Jan 2004
A small, old cargo transport touched down with a rattling groan on the outskirts of the little town. This crew was often tasked to deliver supplies to the less manageable planets, as they had little to do with the government and were better accepted for it. The only thing that made this crew more acceptable than others was that they had once been locals and they still called Andros home.
"Andros," the captain murmured. She was a tall woman, standing short of six feet tall by four inches. "Home, not so sweet Home."
"Could pick another base, Cap'n," a younger woman reminded her. The younger girl's bright blue eyes sparkled with laughter. "Ain't nothin' holdin' us here..."
"Once home, always home, Leila," Captain Elizabeth Cantrell reminded her young pilot. "As much as I may despise Andros, it's always been home and it always will be." She smiled faintly and gestured back toward the ship. "Get Ed and Vince working on the lack of supplies issue. And tell Martha to stop tinkering with the reactor. Works fine as it is."
"I'll tell her, Cap'n," Leila O'Brien answered, an impish grin coming to her lips, "but twon't make a difference an' you know it."
"I can dream," Captain Cantrell sighed. With a tired shake of her head, she strode forward into the town, one hand resting lightly on the butt of her gun, an exact replica of an old Glock .40 caliber pistol, which she'd had custom made after seeing a picture of the gun at an antiques show. In a small pouch on her left hip, six full extra clips were stored, ready in case of a shootout.
Squinting against the sun, Cantrell crossed two streets and entered a small saloon. Though she hated the place, it was the only location the mayor's man would agree to meet. So as she smoothed a stray strand of chin-length, dark brown hair back against the side of her head and tucked it behind her right ear, she crossed the room to where the little balding man sat.
"Welcome home, Cap'n Cantrell!" he exclaimed, sitting up a little at the sight of her. "Got the supplies?"
"Need you really ask?" The captain demanded irritably. "You know full well I got 'em. An' I suppose you know why I ain't happy right about now."
"Sure I do," the man answered cheerily. "You had the feds on yer tail the whole way here, didn't ya?"
"Lost them early on," Cantrell growled. "But I wasn't aware I'd be in danger of a fed escort opposite the way I wanted to go... care to explain?"
"Self explanatory," the little man replied. He grinned. "Lil' Beth Cantrell gettin' uncomfortable about a fed escort to a prison world?"
"Won't take too many more of your illegal operations, Bugsby," Beth Cantrell snapped. "Now, so long as it's justified, you know I don't mind illegal. But I cracked open those crates your men took and gave to me... sedated 'cargo' isn't exactly my idea of justified and you should know that."
"Slave labor's important on Andros," Bugsby retorted. "And you're the most credible importer we've got."
"But I loose that cred if the feds decide to search me and find what I had in my cargo bay these last couple of days," Beth hissed. "I'm not warning you again, Bugsby. No more slaves. Find someone else to do that dirty work."
Bugsby muttered something and kicked a bag of cash beneath the table to Beth. "This is yours... unless you did somethin' to that sedated cargo o' mine..."
"Woke 'em up, let 'em go," Beth replied, kicking the bag back. "They deserve better'n anything you can find for 'em to do."
She rose and moved away toward another table. "Your heart's too big for your own good," Bugsby called after her.
"Your thirst for a profit's too big for yours," she shot back. And with that, she sat down, still within Bugsby's sight, but far enough that he would not speak to her. Applause followed her, for there were many locals who, even if they didn't mind the slave trade, despised Bugsby for other elements of his illegal businesses.
"Same as always, Cap'n?" one of the waiter's asked with a wink and a grin at the young transport captain. Beth chuckled and looked up at him.
"Suppose some things never change, eh Max?" she said softly. With a nod, Max withdrew to bring Beth her 'usual', a cooled beer, still in the bottle. One was her limit today, for she knew she'd have to stay sharp now that she'd annoyed Bugsby.