’So do you like the room sweetheart?’’You are sure this was the only room available? They do not have any others?’‘Only this double,’ said Jan, Lying. But hey, he was hoping to get lucky with Chance.‘What will you do next?’ Chance asked Rimwalker.’I have a meeting with officials from the Monarchy scheduled. Tomorrow afternoon Zardrayan time. Business to take care of you see. But for now we can rest a little and, if you like, we can see some of my types of places this evening.’’Your types of places, she quizzed, her curiousity aroused.‘You’ll find out soon enough, sweetie. I wonder what’s on the visuals.’ He picked up a remote control on the side of the bed cupboard beside were he was sitting and pointed it at the large visual screen. After some button pushing an Arcturian sports match came on. ‘This should be perfect,’ said Jan. ’Hey sweetie. Do you fancy anything to eat? I can order us some real nice Arcturian food.’‘Oh, yes. Alright then,’ said Chance, still a little nervous at being home. She was looking forward to going out that night with Jan to see Zardray a bit more and get to know her new home. And then, in the morning, she could think about finding somewere to live. Munching on some fried chicken, which the Arcturian’s had imported from the human civilization and delighted in, Jan gazed at the behind of Chance Kibb’star, lying on the bed in front of him, eating her chicken, and watching the sports match. It really was a fine ass, and Chance was a fine figure of a woman. He had been thinking on and off about trying to score with her ever since leaving the Ark, and was hopeful. But the lass would probably find somewere to stay and farewell him before he had the chance. Still, that didn’t matter that much. With a Billion Arcturian credits he could afford the finest of Arcturian harlots, something definitely to look forward to.’You liking your chicken?’‘It is delicious,’ responded Chance. ’I never knew meat could be so tasty.’’Hey, you have to live a little. But watch your heart. The cholesterol in this stuff can kill you.’’I’ll be careful.’’So, what are your plans Chance? Will you find somewere to stay in the morning? I guess I should have mentioned it before, but there seems to be a well advanced welfare system on Arcturia. If you start there, they can give you somewere to live and an income for food. Your young so you might want to consider getting a good education after that and look for work. I’m sure you will be alright.’‘Yes,’ said Chance, hesitantly. ’I wasn’t really sure what I would do next, but thanks for that knowledge. If you can help me find a place in the morning to get this welfare, I would really appreciate it.’’We’ll make that the morning’s activity. You might have to disclose your origin, but I personally don’t think that will be a problem. Don’t sweat it, whatever you do.’’I won’t.’They ate the chicken and as the evening passed, despite thinking he might try it on with her, he thought better of it, and simply went to bed looking forward to the billion credits he would hopefully receive in the morning, deciding against introducing his new friend to the nightlife of Zardray. 10 In the morning they were down in the breakfast bar of the Regis hotel when one of Jan’s old adversaries came walking into the bar and, spotting the two of them, came over to sit down. ’Jan fucking Kolby. Do you still have those credits you screwed me for?’’Hey, a bet’s a bet, Dak. Really, though, you should have seen it coming. I had been playing you all night. If you had called my bluff, I would be hassling you now.’’I’ll be more cautious next time, Kolby. So tell me, who is your new friend. One of the ladies of the night I take it.’’Hardly. Dak Bluddhook, meet Chance Kibb’star. Brand new to Arcturia.’‘So you are from Charnay, I take it,’ asked Dak about the Arcturian’s major colonial settlement of a nearby star system.‘Uh, no,’ replied Chance. ’I am from the Ark.’’The Ark? Now what exactly is that my dear?’‘Home to me and my family’, responded Chance.Dak gave her a quizzical look, but did not continue with the line of questioning.’Anyway, Kolby. Are you going to give me a chance to win my money back? Go on. I know you want to. You could never resist a good gambling session.’‘Maybe some other time,’ responded Rimwalker. ’I have business to take care of at the moment.’‘And what business is that,’ asked Dak, carefully seeking the information he needed.‘Important business,’ was all that Kolby would reply.’So you are seeing the Royalists, huh?’Kolby looked at him, a little suspicious, but decided to answer anyway.’You could say that, Dak. Imperial business, you see.’‘So when are you meeting them,’ continued Dak, determined to get the information he needed.‘What concern is that of yours,’ asked Kolby, now annoyed.’Hey, take it easy buddy. Just a friendly question. It’s not everybody who has royalist business. I was just curious ok.’’Yeh, well curiousity killed the cat, Dak.’‘What is a cat?’ asked Chance.‘Small domestic animal. Human’s love em. Look, Dak. I am afraid if you are fishing for information for the guild, you can forget about it. While I may have royalist business, it is of no interest to the guild. I can assure you of that.’ He was lying, of course, but the last thing Jan Kolby wanted was the guild of Draxian piracy snooping into his business, especially with a Billion Arcturian credits at stake.’Relax, Jan. Don’t worry about it. Just happy conversation, hey. You know, just gabbing.’‘Yeh, right,’ said Jan, eyeing his opponent suspiciously. Deciding on a tactic to lose his friend, Jan spoke up. ’Tell you what. How about we meet up tonight. At ‘Rakkos’ in the city. I will give you that opportunity to win your money back that you are looking for.’‘Sound’s good buddy. I will see you there.’ Dak got up and farewelled them, but he would wait outside in his vehicle. He would follow them and notify one of his fellow guildsmen. If they had the crown, the guild would recover it. You could bet on that. When Dak had left, Jan was pleased. He had no intention of meeting him at ‘Rakkos’. It had been a ruse to get rid of him. In fact, thinking on it, as soon as he had converted most of the credits to gold, he would leave Arcturia. Perhaps not the best place to stay at the moment with the guild snooping around. He looked at Chance. ’You ready sweetheart? We will go and find welfare now, if you like.’Chance looked at him, a little sad to be leaving her new friend, but also happy to be starting her new life.‘Let’s go.’ Making there way out of the hotel, Jan gave thought to Dak and encouraged himself to be cautious. It could be a dangerous ride today, and he would probably need his wits about him. 11 In the vehicle they had rented, Kolby had programmed in the nearest welfare office from the onboard directory, and they were cruising through the streets, Chance carefully looking at all the sights of her new home.‘Zardray is amazing, isn’t it Jan?’ said Chance, ever so pleased at the sights she was now seeing.’So you like the scrapers, huh. Yeh, they always dazzle kids.’She looked at him, uncertain what he meant, but looked back out the window.Having thought it over the night before, Jan decided to take the risk on what he was about to say.’You know, Chance. Jan Kolby, the fabulous Rimwalker, always works alone. Always have done and always will. But, you know. Sometimes I get lonely. Especially on long flights. And, you know. If you want. I mean, if you really want to, you could hang with me if you like. I don’t mind paying your bills and feeding ya. Hell, you can do that yourself. But it would give me company and give you someone to hang with for a while. Well, whadda you say, kiddo.’Chance continued staring out the window, but she had heard Jan’s words. After a while she turned to look at him.’That, that is a kind offer, Jan. But I have a new home now. My home. And I can’t leave it before I have really seen it, you know. I just can’t.’‘Hell, of course I understand. Don’t sweat it.’ But inside he was disappointed. When they reached the welfare office, and exited the vehicle, she looked at him. ‘Well, farewell Jan Kolby. Rimwalker. It has been very exciting knowing you, but my life must begin.’ She looked at him for a moment and then awkwardly came forward and gave him a hug.’Seeya sweetheart. If I am ever in town, I will look you up. Ok.’‘Ok,’ she said, wiping a small tear from her eye. She looked at him, gave one last wave, and turned to make her way inside the welfare office. He looked at the office for some time, and got into his vehicle. She had been a good friend in the time he had known her, and he was disappointed to be leaving her. But shit, life goes on. As he was programming in a city diner, a knock came to the door. Looking through the window Chance was standing there. He opened the door anxiously.’What is it sweetheart? Did you forget something?’She looked at him, and finally spoke. ’What is life without a bit of adventure, hey Rimwalker. Yes, I will come with you if you will take care of me. I guess why stop at Arcturia when I can see the galaxy.’He looked at her, came forward and kissed her on the cheek. ‘Why the hell not, sweetheart.’ She got in and Jan finished programming the location for the diner. He was pretty happy now. She was a quiet gal, but suited to him. Someone to enjoy spending time with. Finishing the programming, the vehicle zipped away, oblivious to a red vehicle now following them. As they sat eating in the diner Jan usually frequented when he was in Zardray, he couldn’t help but noticing an Arcturian, dressed in red, glancing at him from time to time. He didn’t know the guy, but guessed he may be a guild crony. They would have to be careful. ‘So what do you want to eat?’ Jan asked Chance.’Whatever is good.’‘Hell, most of it is edible. Take your pick.’ She surveyed the menu and finally ordered an item, Jan also ordering some Arcturian beer which the diner also served. They sat eating and, after a while, the Arcturian dressed in red got up, paid for his meal and giving Jan one last look, left. That couldn’t be good news, Jan thought to himself. They could be waiting outside. Perhaps he should leave quickly.‘Come on Chance. Sorry, we have to go now.’ Chance continued eating her meal, a little reluctant to leave, until Jan yelled ‘NOW!’ He left some Arcturian credits on the counter and waved to the attendant and grabbing Chance left the diner. Out in the port he looked around carefully. The guy in red was not visible. Mmm. Perhaps he had not been guild pirate after all. Still, they would need to be cautious. ‘Were to now,’ asked Chance.‘Now my business. May as well get it over with.’ They got into their vehicle and Jan programmed in the Royalist sector of the city, were most of the buildings the Royalists used as well as the palace was located. The vehicle was humming along when, suddenly, a huge crash brought it spinning and over to the side of the road, colliding with the barriers. Jan was dazed, and so was Chance, and when the Arcturian in red appeared, grabbed Jan’s satchel, and disappeared, he was still too dazed to stop him. Eventually they came to their senses and Jan, feeling for his missing satchel, began swearing profusely.‘Whatever is the matter,’ asked Chance.’The bastards stole it. All that work and they fucking steal it again. Typical for the league, though. Bloody typical. Dak, that bastard. He was behind this, I just know it.’‘Behind what,’ asked Chance. ’The crown. The Sigmorius crown. I was about to return it and claim the bounty of a billion credits.’‘Oh,’ she said.’Yeh, oh. Fucking oh.’’Well, what now?’He thought quickly. ’We will have to notify the rental yard. I paid full insurance, so that should cover the vehicle. But for now we go back to the Wolfklaw. I think I have a plan, but I need some time to think.’’Ok. Whatever you say.’Jan pushed an emergency button on the control panel and soon they were greeted by sirens. He gave his details to the Arcturian police and they gave them a lift back to space-dock, were the Wolfklaw was located. Jan was pissed, but he had a plan. He had a plan. 13 Coming back onto the Wolfklaw, Jan was like a caged cat. He began pacing through the command deck, anxiously thinking on his next move. Chance sat down at the central station and just watched him. She had joined an adventurer, she knew that much. So life, really, would never be the same again. She spoke up, carefully so as not to upset him, ’Well, what is your plan, Jan.’Kolby looked at her momentarily, but said nothing and resumed his pacing. Eventually he spoke up. ’Ok, ok. I know what we are going to do. As I recall from probable guild policy in a situation like this, they will likely transfer the crown to Drax itself for a while. For safekeeping. But they may decide to sell it soon anyway as it has been missing for so long. But, either way, Drax is where we are headed. Drax is where we are headed.’Chance Kibb’star looked at her new provider and, the question coming to her mind, asked it. ’And why are we going to Drax?’’To join the league of piracy, sweetheart. What else.’She looked at him and nodded. Life, it seemed, was about to get a hell of a lot more complicated for Chance Kibb’star. 14 ’Those are Deimonian clouds. They are a phenomenon particular this side of Draxos.’Chance looked at the gaseous bodies floating on the screen in front of her.‘They go on for millions of kilometres in this area of space,’ continued Jan. They are not that common throughout the galaxy, but you find them here and there.’‘They are so bright,’ commented Chance, noting the almost illuminated state of the clouds.’The elements within them react with solar light in a very positive way, illuminating their body structures. Harvesting the elements in these clouds is practiced here and there.’‘Mmm,’ nodded Chance, fascinated. The two of them were closing in on Draxos, home of the Draxian pirate guild. Not all Draxians were in the guild of course, the home in general being a regular type of planet with its own intelligent home species. But Draxians were noteworthy for their ruffian ways, and you could always guarantee a fight in a pub if Draxians were present. ‘So how do we join this guild,’ asked Chance innocently.’We will probably need a reference of some kind, but that might not be a problem. I will use the bastard himself, Dak Bluddhook. I will mention I have had dealings with him and we will see how we go.’’How will we find the guild.’’They will find us, sweetheart. Don’t worry about that.’She nodded, content with that information. ‘Computer. Place Draxos on screen.’ In reply the computer obediently brought up a magnified picture of their planetary destination.‘It looks like Arcturia,’ stated Chance, surprised.’Oh, it is a standard oxygen based planet, of similar size. They all look similar from space. But usually they have their own distinct array of plant and animal life. Every planet is unique in that way.’Chance nodded. ’Computer, what is our estimated time of arrival to Draxos.’‘16 minutes,’ responded the computer.’We should be hearing from Draxos space command shortly. True to Kolby’s words Draxos soon hailed his ship and he was directed to a spaceport on Draxos. Like Arcturia, Quarantine was standard on this planet, as well as a formal customs declaration, unlike the Arcturian’s who didn’t really care what valuables you brought on planet, as long as there were no quarantine problems. They hired a standard Draxian vehicle near the port, having transferred some gold to Draxian currency at the currency exchange at the port. Jan had visited Drax before, and was known to some of the league members here, having had some minor dealings. They would, so his hunch went, seek him out once they were notified of his arrival, perhaps expecting him with goods to trade in. That was what he hoped for anyway. 15 Sitting in a Draxian pub, not far from the spaceport, Jan looked around the room seeing all sorts of galactic travellers of differing races. He even spotted a few humans and was thinking about saying hello, but thought better of it. Best to stay inconspicuous and let the guild find him. Chance was sipping on some Draxian ale, and enjoying the stuff tremendously. In fact, she was part way through her second draft and was starting to feel the effects of the alcohol. Looking at her Jan felt she needed to lie down and instead of returning to the Wolfklaw they would sleep it out in one of the vacant rooms of the pub. He purchased a room, and dragged Chance upstairs. ’Yuu arr sho kinddd, Jannn. Fank yu.’’Your pissed sweetheart.’’Thigs Allleee. Itt was sho ghud.’’I’ll bet.’He manoeuvred her into their room and placed her down on her bed. Fortunately she was out almost instantly. He thought about undressing her to put her into her sleeping garments, but thought better of it. Best to leave her as is. He flicked on one of the visuals and, searching through the channels, found some Draxian sport. He usually preferred sports to any news or drama items. At least sports was generally a universal language, whatever the game. He watched it for a while, sipping on some ale, when a knock came to the door. Getting up and opening it, he was greeted by a male Draxian in his middle years. The Draxian spoke. ’You are Jan Kolby. This is correct?’‘That is me.’ The Draxian looked relieved at that response.’Well, do you have any dealings with the guild while here on Draxos. It is why we assume you have come.’’No transactions, but other matters.’‘If you have no transactions, we have nothing to discuss.’ The Draxian turned as if to leave, but Jan halted him.’My business is this. Me and my partner want to join the League. We feel we can prove valuable members.’The Draxian looked at him for a few moments, considering those words, and then finally spoke. ’Very well then. We will contact you here tomorrow. Be ready to leave in the morning.’’Will do. And I have a friend – a contact in the leaguer. Dak Bluddhook from Arcturia. We are old acquaintances. He can vouch for me, ok.’The Draxian nodded, remembering the name, and left. Jan returned to his bed. So far so good. The morning should prove interesting. 16 Chance awoke to find Jan’s hand on her butt. She pushed it off and looked at him. He was dead asleep. She felt her head and grimaced. Really, it was quite a hangover, one of the few she had experienced. She shook Jan who grumbled, but eventually came to. ‘What the fug is the time, he asked. She looked at the wristpad he had given her, and said 11:24, having been taught how to read it.’ ’Fuck. Now let me see, that is about mid-morning Draxon time as I recall. Our man should be here soon.’’You have contacted someone?’‘Last night, while you were drowning in your sorrows. A guild member showed up inquiring if we had business. He is returning this morning some time. So time to shower and shave, I guess.’ Jan got off, went to the Draxian bathroom and relieved himself, and showered. Fortunately a showering system seemed standard for most galactic cultures he was aware of. Most intelligent life was biped in structure like humanity, and many very similar species to humankind existed, especially in systems of earth’s quadrant. But in the opposing quadrant which he did not visit that frequently there were indeed some bizarre alien cultures. After they had cleaned up and were preparing to go downstairs, a knock came at the door. The Draxian from yesterday was standing there, with another Draxian guild member. He spoke up. ‘Your story checks out. You can come with us now and our head in this city will assess your suitability for league membership.’ Jan and Chance gathered their backpacks and followed the Draxians. The vehicle took them to a central city office block and coming into the underground parking, they took elevators up to the 3rd floor. Coming through the doors of the elevators they were in an office environment with computers and people busily at work. The Draxians lead them to the main corner office of the building, knocked, and told them to wait. They left and Jan and Chance stood there, waiting. After a few moments the doors opened, and they walked inside. Sitting behind the desk was a rather hefty Drax male, with a long scar down his left cheek. He had black hair, not that common for the Drax, as they were pale green skinned, and usually had green or bluish hair, but Jan had seen black occasionally. The Draxian got up from his desk, walked to a side cabinet, and poured a beverage into three glasses. He handed two glasses to Jan and Chance and spoke. ’If you are league material, you will be very rich when we let you retire. But we have a test. Fail it and you don’t make the cut. Pass it and you become a full league member.’‘What is the test?’ asked Jan.The Drax smiled, pleased his new offerings were ready for the challenge. ’Nearby to Drax is a competitor to the league, as it were. But we usually rob them blind. Still, the Tekra have a fortress high in the Drz’Kdl Mountains near the northern pole of Tek, were they have much gold. The test is this – steal at least a kilo of Tekra gold, bring it here, and you are in the league. But be warned, many fail the task. The Tekra fight hard often when challenged.’You’ll have your gold.’‘We’ll see,’ said the Drax. ‘We’ll see.’ 17 ‘What the hell are you doing,’ Chance said, perplexed at Jan’s activities.’Trust me. This is the best way into the complex.’But what is it?’’Parachutes. I have always had them on board. Never thought I would need them, but now seems like a good opportunity.’’So what’s the plan fearless leader?’’If the blueprints Tarkan gave us are correct, the complex is guarded on every side but the northern side which goes up to unclimbable mountains. If we land on the northern side, we can climb down and infiltrate the complex.’’And how do we find the gold.’’I know the room it is located in. And I have ways of getting around security. Don’t sweat it, sweetie. Hey, trust me.’’Yes, trust you. Where have I heard that before.’Jan grinned at her sarcasm, but continued putting the parachute on following the ancient instructions. Helping her fit hers, he spoke. ’Well, I will have the ship hover a few kilometres above the northern slopes and then remote it back out to space. It will come and get us when we need it.’’Well, Chance Kibb’star. Are you ready?’’I guess. You better hope this works.’‘Hey, what’s life without a little adventure, huh.’ She grinned at his reply. After a few minutes the computer spoke signalling they were at the desired range, and so Jan and Chance came to the side docks, opened it up, and looked carefully downwards. ‘Here goes,’ yelled Jan to Chance, and jumped out. Chance watched him descend slowly, made one of her religious hand signs, and jumped out. They shot downwards, ever so quickly, and Chance was shocked and a little frightened at the speed they were descending. Soon Jan pulled his cord, and Chance, noting that, pulled hers. They floated down the final few hundred metres and, coming to a snowy ground, looked around to gain their perspectives. Jan touched a button on his wristpad, which gave a directional pointer, indicating the direction they needed to travel in. ’Come on sweetheart. This way. It should take us a couple of hours, but we’ll get there. Chance started after him and they began the slow trudge downhill towards the Tekra complex. 18 Peering through his binoculars at the complex, Jan was satisfied. All the guards seemed to be on the other sides of the complex. Perhaps they wouldn’t have too many difficulties. He motioned to Chance and they slowly approached a wall, made of thick stone.Chance looked at him. ’Well, how do we get in?’Jan pulled out his phaser, adjusted the setting and pointed it at the lower section of the wall. After a few minutes cutting, a section had been cut out of the wall, and Jan carefully moved away the stone.’You first, sweetie. Don’t worry, there is nobody on the other side. Motion sensors detect nothing, ok.’‘If you say so,’ said Chance, reluctantly getting down on her knees to climb through the hole. Jan soon followed her and on the other side, lighting his torch, they found themselves inside a small room filled with various goods.’Tekra booty, I guess.’‘What now?’ asked Chance.Jan looked around, but sensing no great valuables inside the room, he made his way to the door. Turning it slowly, and looking outwards, they had come to a long corridor, filled with doors. There were steps at the end of the corridor, going downwards. ‘ Hey, we are in luck sweetie.’ He pointed to the near end of the corridor from them. ’The gold should be in that room. It will have Tekran markings, so we could never fool the guild with our own stuff. They want the real article to prove our skills, so Tarkan said. They carefully walked the corridor, coming to the room which apparently housed the gold. Jan adjusted his phaser, and began work on the door lock. Soon the door was opened, and they came inside. There were various piles of currency in this room, and some paintings which may have been valuable. But at the end of the room was a wall safe. ‘I guess the gold is in there,’ said Jan. Chance nodded. He looked at the safe and, deciding to try the old fashioned way, put his ear against the safe and proceeded to pick the lock. It took him a while, and Chance stood at the doorway looking outwards, but eventually he had picked the lock and opening the safe they came into the safe interior and, to their gratitude, piles full of Tekran gold were lying there.‘Bingo!’, said Chance, happy enough. But he was suspicious. It had been too easy so far.Chance looked at him. ’How much do we need?’A kilo. Three bars should be plenty. He looked at the gold and leaning down, picked up a bar. Suddenly an alarm shot through the building.‘I wondered why it was so easy,’ said Jan. He grabbed three bars of gold, placed them in his backpack and they made a hasty retreat back to the room they had come in from. Closing the door he could hear activity on the staircase and realized they had made it just in time. ’Come on Chance. And hurry for fuck’s sake. They could be in here any minute. The two of them climbed through the hole in the wall, and Chance turned to Jan. ’Signal the ship. Get us out of here.’‘Not yet. We are too close to the complex.’ He looked around the range before them and over to the left. ‘There,’ he said pointing to an outcrop of rock. If we get to the side of the mountain, and climb down a little, the ship will be protected from attack by the mountain. As they rushed over to the outcrop, shots began ringing. Jan looked back and spied some Tekran’s shooting at him. Taking aim with his phaser, he shot back and hit the gun of one of the Tekran’s, who dropped it instantly.’Run, Chance. We haven’t got much time.’’Have you signalled the ship?’’It should be right below the outcropping. I set it to quick rescue.’As they came to the outcropping, unfortunately the Wolfklaw was nowhere to be seen.‘What next, bright eyes,’ asked Chance sarcastically to Jan, who was looking everywhere for the ship.‘I think, sweetheart, we are almost fucked. They will be upon us shortly.’ She looked at him, and nodded. It had been a good life, but if this was her time to die, then so be it. Chance looked at Jan, and spoke.‘You know, Jan. There is something I want to say to you.’ But as she continued to speak, her voice was drowned out by the sudden arrival of the Wolfklaw. She turned, saw the ship, and silently thanked her gods. Jan yelled a command into his wristpad, and as the dock opened, laser bolts were blasting into the side of the ship. They hurried inside as quickly as they could, with the hull of the ship being blasted continually, and Jan ran to the command deck.‘Computer, get us the fuck out of here. And make it now!’ he yelled at the computer.‘As you wish, Captain,’ replied the Computer.’The ship quickly turned and, speeding off, Jan looked at the screen noting that the Tekran’s were now swarming over the mountain.’‘Will they follow us,’ asked Chance nervously.’Perhaps. But this ship has good camouflaging and cloaking devices. We can hide and get out to space before they will catch us.’‘Let us hope so,’ responded Chance. As the Wolfklaw climbed the Tekran atmosphere, Jan looked at the screen. Still no sign of pursuit. For now they were safe. They had done the deed and claimed their prize. 19 Tarkan looked at the gold, carefully examined the markings and smiled. ’Yes, this is Tekran gold alright. And you have 3 bars so I am sure it is at least a kilo. I will do you the honour by not weighing it.’‘Thanks,’ said Jan sarcastically. ’So are we in. Are we league members.’’Yes, Jan Kolby. You and Chance Kibb’star are now league members. We have contacted Dak Bluddhook to verify his knowledge of you. He told us frankly you were a contrary type of individual, but someone who would make a good guild member. So welcome to the guild of piracy, scourge of the third quadrant. For this little treasure you may have a few weeks before we assign you some duties. I will get some of my servants to gain you some living quarters, and they can instruct you on what you need to know. I think, yes, Dalok. He will make a good instructor for yourself and Chance.’Tarkan pushed a button, and spoke into a microphone. ’Jella. Could you contact Dalok. We have new recruits for him to work with.’‘Yes Tarkan,’ responded the voice. ’Dalok is currently in the bar downstairs, so I will go down and fetch him.’‘Thank you Jella.’ Later that afternoon, Dalok had instructed Jan and Chance on much of the interior workings of the League of Piracy. Much of it Jan was already familiar with from his dealings with Dak, but inside knowledge was always the best. They had three weeks to settle into their quarters on the northside of the city. After that, they would have some work, so Dalok told them, with the crew of the ‘Black Terror’, running the spaceways further into the galaxy in the third quadrant. ‘Standard piracy business,’ Dalok informed them. Hijacking ships and stealing plunder. That night Jan was alone with Chance and she asked him the crucial question. ’Well Jan. How are we going to get the crown back? And how will we do it without the league knowing?’’Now that we are in the league it should be easier to get inside information from Dalok and the others. If we are careful, we might just find out were the crown is located. And then, depending on the challenge, we reclaim our prize.’’And if it is locked up tight?’’I know a specialist. A Shadrachian thief who can get into anywhere. We hire him and finish the job.’‘You hope,’ replied Chance.’Hey, have a little faith, sweetheart. Have I let you down yet?’She smiled curtly back, but was silently pleased Jan seemed to have a plan. 20 Settling into their upper level unit of a 3 storey complex of flats, Jan in one room, chance in the other, Jan was sitting one day, watching the visuals, familiarising himself with Draxian culture. Chance was sitting over at the side of the room, looking into a mirror and brushing her hair. Jan felt it an opportune time to ask her some questions which had been on his mind. ’You know, sweetheart. The last few weeks have been really kind of hectic for you I guess. I mean we are from one place to the next, and we have never really had an opportunity to settle for long. Fortunately we have some time now. But one thing has been on my mind. You are young for an Arcturian, Chance. Only 20 human years in equivalent. And you must be, I guess, eager to find a partner or a mate to, you know.’She looked at him. ’You know what?’’You know. Mate. Couple. Have sex.’She looked at him, a little shocked, but after a while nodded, returning to look in the mirror.‘Yes. Yes, that is important to me Jan. But I have lived my life without a partner so far, and I can wait a while, I guess. Besides, I am with you now, and like you as a friend.’ She turned to him. ’In fact, I am very happy tagging along with you Jan.’’That is good. But don’t you get the desires. I sure as hell do.’’Oh, yes. Occasionally. But believe me I can cope with them. All Arcturian’s can. I will mate, in time. But for now I am with you, and am happy with that. Please believe me. You offer me something in life which I really can’t get elsewhere. Action, adventure, real drama. It is something I only read about in Arcturian stories growing up. But you are the real deal. So don’t worry about me Jan. When the time comes for me to find a mate, I will let you know, ok. So don’t sweat it sweetie.’Jan smiled at her last comment. ‘Thanks Chance. That is a load off of my mind.’ And, silently, he was relieved. He knew the girl would need to mate one day, but the fact that she had chosen him as a living companion for the time being was a solace to his somewhat lonely life. And, as the week passed, he grew to know her, learning of her upbringing on the Ark, and the mundane life she had grown accustomed to, apart from capturing the droids which had always been something of a thrill. It seemed, despite his own very obvious flaws which he occasionally rebuked himself for, that Jan Kolby, the fabulous Rimwalker, may have been the best thing to happen so far in the life of Chance Kibb’star. And, whatever else, that was at least something positive.