MERCANTILE LICENSE #775-4198B210Y”
So read the words stenciled across one side of the metal container my compatriots and I were hiding in. Over a hundred joja birds kept us company. Filthy, stupid, chubby fowl with big googly eyes.
They’re good eating though. Better than chicken. I didn’t want to tell Mystery Woman that though. She found one of them to be particularly likable, picked it up, and was stroking it like a pet.
Jones and I stood near the door, straining over the constant clucking sounds to hear what was going on outside.
My old pal Guzzy was a pseudo-intellectual, the type of being who never fails to use ten words when two would do. He laid it on thick.
“Officers!” I could hear him saying outside. “You honor this humble star wanderer with your presence. Oh how I thank you for your brave, fearless service. To what twist of fate do I owe this auspicious pleasure?”
“Cut the shit, Sarki,” one officer said. “We’re looking for a two humans, one male, one female, and a Vek. You seen ‘em?”
“A Vek outside the Rakan Collective you say?” Guzzy asked. “Unusual. Unheard of even. No I should say I have not encountered this dastardly trio you speak of, but know I shall be praying to the heavens that you find these reprobates and bring them to justice immediately and without delay. Why, to think such ruffians are out on the streets, offending decent citizens with their odious mischief makes me so…”
“Shut your hole dirtbag,” the officer interrupted. “What you got on board? You got documents for all this shit?”
“Why of course, officer,” Guzzy replied earnestly. “I am certain a thorough inspection by a highly trained security professional such as yourself will determine that everything is in order.”
“Yeah?” the officer asked. “Maybe the boys and I’ll will just have a little look see…”
“Of course, officer,” Guzzy said. “Let it be never said that I stood in the way of law enforcement. Oh and while you are here, will you accept this donation to the Paragon Security Officer’s Charitable Giving Fund?”
A brief pause. “A cred chit?”
“Yes,” Guzzy said. “In the amount of a hundred thousand credits. Untraceable liquid cash. Oh, I hope that’s acceptable. I left my Sen-Pen on the flight deck so I can’t access my personal account at the moment but I have unwavering faith that a respectable individual such as yourself will get it to its intended destination posthaste. Surely you’d never do something deplorable as pocketing it to utilize for your own selfish purposes.”
“Huh,” the office said. “All right, boys! We’re done here! Move out!”
“Yes,” Guzzy said. “Perhaps that is for the best. While there is no end to the joy you bring me with your visit I would feel utterly reprehensible were I to monopolize your time any longer. Go forth and shine the light of justice on…”
“Quit while you’re ahead, dumbass,” the officer said.
“Quitting, good sir, quitting,” Guzzy replied.
I heard the sounds of footsteps clanking across the metal floor, then silence. Moments later, only one set of footsteps clanked our way. Then there was a knock on the door.
I opened up the slit. One and only one enormous eyeball peered in.
“Voss?” Guzzy asked from the other side of the door.
“Yes?” I answered.
“The coast, as they say, is clear. Wait until we’re past the orbital shield and then you and your fellow vagabonds may feel free to roam about the vessel at your leisure.”
“OK,” I said.
“Oh and Voss?”
“Consider my debt repaid.”