Monthly Archives: March 2015

2-5: Festivities

Laurie shifted uncomfortably, recognizing she didn’t have much of an option if they were to see it through. “Of course not. We’d be delighted to come.”

“Good, good,” his oval face split into a broad, toothy grin, which to Laurie seemed entirely insincere. “We may be renounced as traders, but if I do say so myself, our hospitality is it’s equal. We have a banquet hall across the square from here. Meet there in two hours?”

Laurie nodded and stood. “Of course. Thank you for your hospitality.”

They exited the guild hall without incident. Once they were several streets away, Laurie whiled on Scorch. “What the hell was that?”

“What do you mean, Captain?”

“Why do we not trust him? I thought he was our safe contact!” It was times like this, when she was agitated, that her right eye ached under the cybernetic patch.

“He was, but he is not himself. Something seems off. He is usually carefree and easygoing, but he was guarded and quiet. We should proceed with caution.”

“You know,” she said as the reached the Venturess, “I’m supposed to be the captain. For once, I’d like to feel in charge of something.”

“It will work out. We must be on guard, though.” “You’re awfully quiet, Bartender.”

“It seems to me that there is a lot in motion here. He is on edge about something, but that doesn’t mean he’s set to betray us. It could be that he is afraid for his life, if your uncle is attempting to seize control.”

“I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.” Scorch climbed the ramp in front of Laurie. “We should all be armed, just in case.”

Inside, she opened the weapons locker. She carried her usual pistols, slipped a smaller one into her right boot and was just secreting small knives up her sleeve when a voice interrupted her.

“You won’t need those.” Daaman stood at the top of the ramp. “At least, not for me, which is who┬áI assume they’re for.”

“Is nothing sacred to you guys?” Laurie snapped. A confused expression crossed Daaman’s sandy gray face.

“Sorry, your cousin here decided to give me the shock of a lifetime earlier. What are you doing here? I thought we were having dinner later.”

“That’s why I’m here. And why I assume you came to Maciia. Or at least, why he did.” He nodded to Scorch, who had climbed out of his suit. “It’s worse than you think. I am sure your mother is in league with Uncle.”

“Then why didn’t she just take over the guild?”

“Because their designs aren’t on the metalworking guild. They want a shipping guild, too. It would give them almost unlimited power over the other guilds.”

“So what do we do?”

2-4: Contracts

The Bartender looked down at the ground for a brief moment, before meeting Laurie’s eyes. “Captain, I would only be too glad to. But I do have my own concerns that must be attended to. The plight of my people is my chief concern. I need to find some manner of home, certainly, but were I to come, I do request that you allow me to use the flexibility to help my cause.”

“Well, we’re on Maciia for Scorch here, so I don’t see why we can’t help you out. The way the universe is these days, we need all the friends we can get.”

The Bartender regarded the other two in turn. “Small group of friends we seem to have.”

“It’ll have to do.” The wrist computer Laurie wore chimed, and she glanced at the small display. “Our contract is ready to go. Let’s see what we can make happen.”

They walked down the ramp together into the hot afternoon sun. The sand-colored buildings of Maciia stood around them, thick-walled with yawning arched entryways, offering shade from the heat.

Scorch had provided a destination for them, and they made their way through the wide streets, past the myriad trading centers that made Maciia the trading hub it was. The metalworking guild hall was long and narrow, arched ceiling allowing the hot air to rise and turn the wide-bladed fans which hung from it.

Scorch’s cousin was Daamen, occupying a spacious office in the rear of the building. He gestured Laurie and the Bartender into humanoid-sized chairs across his from his desk. His hovered opposite them, the translucent surface displaying a wide variety of information relating to metal trading prices.

“Captain Mack, good to meet you,” he said once seated. “This guild has been trying to establish relations with Haluush for years, so this is a most welcome visit.”

“The time seemed ripe. The mines have been productive this year, and the Maciian metalworking guilds seem in a strong position.”

The Maciian shifted, ever so slightly, yet a wide smile danced across his face. He bore a remarkable resemblance to Scorch, with pale gray skin and large black eyes. “Of course. The Maciian metalworking guild has been established for centuries. I can promise you, without hesitation, that you will receive the greatest return from us, and greater stability in future dealings. We are not so prone to volatility as other traders are.”

“There is no instability within the Guild families?”

He shifted more noticeably this time. “You must be speaking to some disgruntled workers, Captain.”

“You could say that. So it’s true?

“I am curious as to your sources, Captain.”

Before she could respond, her wrist unit lit up, displaying a message from Scorch.

Don’t trust him.

That’s new, she thought. He had never communicated like that before, either due to lack of ability or because he felt it would compromise his cover. She smiled to cover the interruption.

“I’m sorry. It’s surely just talk; one must ask anyway, of course.”

“Of course,” Daaman replied. “But come, it’s growing late. Let us save business for the morning- come eat with the Guild Family and you will see just how strong and untied we are.”

As Daaman spoke, Laurie manged to reply Why to Scorch. She glanced at the Bartender, trying to buy time, but no reply came.

“Surely you wouldn’t refuse, Captain?” Daaman pressed.