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Chapter Eight: Dancing Girls

“Boudewyn van Oort,” the small woman said, extending her hand to Rand Hudson, captain of the transport Bluebell.

“We have enough cabins for your troupe, but I’m not sure about your equipment, Ms. van Oort. Our cargo bay is pert well filled between the Flying Doctors’ portable clinic and the meat lockers.”

Van Oort wrinkled her nose, “Meat?”

“We take any jobs we can,” Rand slapped the shiny metal side of a container, stacked five high and ten wide in the cargo bay. “This is frozen beef and chicken for Jakarta Station on Akbar.”

“No smells then?”

“If there is, we’re all in a lot of trouble. If you show us your equipment, we can tell you if we got room to take you along.”

Van Oort led the captain and his preteen son to the site of the theatre. Stevedores were busy packing the last of the tent into a landmule already filled with tightly bound folding chairs and stacks of small tables.

“My troupe pack and carry their own clothing and costumes.”

“Whaddya say, Derry?′ asked the captain.

“No worries, daddy,” the child replied confidently. “But we’ll have to take the medic stuff out and reload it cause they get off before the meat or the ladies.”

The captain grinned at the surprised woman. “Nobody rides for free,” he said his odd blue eyes twinkling. “Derry can do sums in his head faster than any comm.”

The boy’s eyes, the same strange blue colour as his father’s , glowed at the praise.

It took an hour to unload and reload the cargo bay, and Boudewyn van Oort was amused and impressed at how the first mate, a tall woman in her late thirties and the huge labourer who had been introduced as Marco, supercargo, took instructions from the boy.

Her troupe had arrived with the parcelled theatre, all giggles and gauzy fabrics. The big man was momentarily distracted by the girls, but a sharp word from the woman, brought his attention back to the job.

“Get the girls settled will you, Athena?” she asked her assistant. “Keep them away from the bay. One of them will fall and break something.”

“They’ll probably try and do that anyway when they hear there’s a doctor aboard. They’re all looking for a ring and an easy life.”

Bluebell was out of atmo and on her way before supper. Everyone gathered in the commons while the captain gave a safety lecture and an overview of their schedule.

“We’re just two days from Akbar as the system turns. We’ll drop off Dr. Chen and Nurse Commanda,” The girls from the troupe looked disappointed and one slim brunette glared at the women crew members. “That’s just a quick stop and unload at Denpasar Station.”

A tall copper-skinned man with a black plait that hung down his back raised his hand. “David Commanda. If any of you ladies have any medical needs, renewed prescriptions, annual exams, or just the squeems, I’ll be happy to help.” The slim brunette looked much happier that the nurse was not a woman, working intimately with the doctor.

Her pleasure was dashed when David continued,” And if there is anything actually serious, my husband is a fully qualified surgeon as well as a general practitioner.”

“Thanks, David,” said the captain. “For the rest, we usually eat dinner together at 18:50 - that’s Mamie, our mechanic, over there in the galley. Hope is our pilot’s daughter and Marco is willing to help your with any heavy lifting you may need. “ Marco flashed a grin at the women that left one or two a little wobbly. He looked mean and not a little scruffy, but also very masculine.

There were fourteen places set a the table plus a high chair between the captain and the mechanic which held a red-headed baby watching everything silently.

Hope, who was about thirteen, Boudewyn thought, helped serve the dishes on the table, then filled a plate and left. A few minutes later, Dita entered and took a seat. “Hope’s monitoring the auto-pilot.′ she told the captain, who grunted.

Marco had taken a seat between Athena and the slim brunette, who gave her name as Linnet. “Like the bird,” she said, working her big brown eyes.

The crew were so expert at getting the portable building set up and secured that the clinic drop took only an hour the. Pickup date was confirmed and Bluebell flew on to Depensar and Jakarta Stations.

But in Denpasar Station there were problems. The buyer for the fozen meat had not responded to Rand’s comm from Out There.

“Sun spot, mebbee?” he remarked to Dita. “The spaceport is answering fine,” she replied.

“I’ll keep calling .But let’s plan to land the ladies first and get them set up. Won’t hurt either one to change the landing times.”

The troupe was booked at a suburban entertainment hubwith a large parking lot, empty at this time of the morning and big enough even for the 35 metre Arrow C0105. The troupe’s equipment was unloaded and safely sdelivered to the theatre building.

Van Oort was pleased that they would be playing an actual theatre. It makes a change having running water in the dressing room,” she told Rand. “And when we circulate out playbills, theatres get more respect than tent shows.”

Rand was reading the marquee above the multiplex theatre entrance. Several entertainments were on offer, dance troupes like Van Oort’s, a few vids, a concert by Priya Parsons, the current top vedette. What interested him most was that the theatre was owned by Pollard Family Entertainments, Snake’s family concern.

He mentioned to vanOort that Bluebell had had a few run ins with Snake and his formidable wife, Sally Pollard.

“That family is all over the place,” she told him. “Snake I haven’t seen too much, Met him, avoid him. But Mme Pollard is a big deal , They’re taking over on the New Worlds and word is they’re fixin to move into the Centre.”

“Pretty good for a smuggler and a madam.”

“Oh, that family thinks big. One of the other husbands is their talent scout. He says he’s a lawyer but if he hasn’t been disbarred it’s only because he’s fast with a bribe. And two of the other wives are producing and directing vids. Mostly romance so far, cause that can be done low budget, but they’re supposed to be buying production rights. Might be able to sell him some talent.”

“Tough to dicker with.”

“Can’t be tougher than being a travelling dance trouel. Do you know I have to hire and train at least one new girl at every stop? And collecting fees is no picnic.”

“Never is. Nobody wants to pay for an honest day.”

“What do you do about it?”

“You seen the size of Marco? Not very bright but loyal. He’s a mean one in a fight.”

Van Ooort laughed. “I use my whip dance.”

Rand looked amused. “Sounds dangerous.”

“Needs a lot of control. But when I whip the button off a shirt or the rings from someone’s ears, they pay attention.”

Rand fingered his gold and silver earrings nervously. “I won’t ask for a demonstration.”

“You can see it tonight. Mostly I work with two dancers and whip them down from seven veils to their skin.”

“Maybe that’s why they keep quitting.”

“Showing a little skin doesn’t bother them. I hire girls wanting a change from whoring. Less money, but less work too. Athena has stayed longer than anyone and even she sometimes talks about finding a nice House, settling for a while.”

“I can’t believe not one buyer wants this meat.” complained Dita.

“Still not contacted the first buyer?” asked Rand.

“Not on this world. Owner Macharia sez to give him another two four then start offering it around. He’s got a deposit from the buyer but if it don’t sell, he’s out thousands.”

“And we get paid from the payment not the deposit.”

The buyer turned up the next day as the crew was breakfasting.

And refused the cargo.

“Those idiots!” he complained “Gave me the wrong pickup information and now the wrong cargo.”

“All the barcodes match what you made a deposit on,,” Dita said firmly. Marco stood behind her, frowning. He carried a laser whip which could inflict nasty skin damage and a projectile pistol.

“But there were supposed to be clean labels.” the buyer explained angrily. “Kosher and halal. This world won’t take anything else. I can’t sell this trayf. I’m out.”

He turned and marched from the cargo bay, followed by his own crew of loaders.

“Trayf?” Rand called after them.

Hope was tapping her comm. “It’s..... I think it means dirty. The language is Yiddisch from Old Earth’s Europe.”

“What in seven hells? It’s inspected at the abbatoir before packing and we carried it clean.”

“But it’s not ritually clean. This sez the animal has to be butchered.... oh, yuck... anyway, there are rituals, and then the meat is signed off by a rabbi for kosher or an imam for halal.”

“So why not sell it to someone who don’t care?”

“Jakarta Station, captain,” Hope said in that teenage to dumb adult tone. “Most of the opulation here is cultural Muslim with a lot practising and there’s a pretty big orthodox Jewish community too.”

“Shit,” Rand remarked.

The dance troupe was off the ship and settled in their hotel but Marco had invited Linnet for supper before their first show. He told her about the problem with the cargo.

“You could try selling it to Pollard Entertainment “ she said, taking some fried carrots from his plate flirtatiously.

“Them buggers?” he sneered.

“Well, when I worked for them, we got our meals as part of our pay.. The wages wasn’t much but room and board and tips made it okay. We ate from a buffet cause of the shifts, so each house has a cook”

“You worked for Sweet Sally Pollard?”
“Three years whoring. Near made me sick of men. Dancin has improved my opinion mightily. Cept for terraformers. Grabby bunch.”

When Marco returned from escorting Linnet to the theatre, he told Rand about her suggestion.

“Hate dealing with Snake, if he’s even here. Have we met Sweet Sally herself?” he asked Dita.

“No, but she’s that Vicky’s mama, so we might have a chance after rescuin her, when Snake got her ‘n’ Hope kidnapped,” Dita said.

It took several calls for Dita to speak to Madam Sally Pollard. The tiny blonde on the comm screen was waxen, her maquillage almost white, her green brocade business jacket just a little too on trend for style. She took a moment to remember Dita, then gushed, “But of course I owe you my daughter’s life, darling! Anything I can do for you!”

Dita nodded cooly. “My daughter too, Ms. Pollard. You don’t owe me anything. Snake might for putting the girls in danger.”

“Oh Snake! He get such ideas!?” She had a disturbingly tinkling laugh.

As Dita explained the cargo Madam Sally’s expression barely changed. Dita could see a very feminine room behind her, pale blue with pink and yellow rosses on the wallpaper, chairs, draperies. These did not appear to be any windows and Dita wondered if she was on world or Out There.

Sally’s offer was half of the contracted price. “Can’t do it, Ms. Pollard.That don’t even cover our fuel nevermind other overhead.”

Dita countered with a price one third higher than had been contracted. Negotiations settled in, with much tinkling laughter from Madam Sally. Dita was not sure if she had found ultra-femme a useful tactic with male negotiators or if it was meant to wear down a woman.

Certainly Dita was getting annoyed.

“Let’s come at this from a different angle. Your house here can’t use all of this, but you have houses on other worlds.”

“Yes, and more! We have bars and resto-pubs and theatres. It’s Pollard Entertainment not just Sweet Sally Houses now. “ Sally said with satisfaction.

“So the goods are on our transport ship. How about we go to my first price, but we deliver to there locations of your choice? The convenience would be worth it.”

“Five locations.”

“Up to five locations on three worlds.”

Sally rose and Dita saw that she was indeed probably in a ship’s cabin as a drapery swept aside to show an airlock door. Opening the door, Sandy spoke to someone outside. A moment later a nervous young girl brought in a large screen and set it where both women could see it.

“Shoo!” Sally told the child and trembling she dashed from the room. The drapery swung back into place. “The urbanizing worlds are gonna be best for turnover but...” she tapped a small white tooth with an immaculately manicured nail. “We’re opening resto-pubs on ... Well, okay. Give me ten percent off your price and I have five locations on two moons in the same planetary system.”

“Works,” said Dita. “You get good product and I keep my shirt.” She was even more pleased when the contract showed on her screen for confirmation. One of the moons was Akbar where they had left the Flying Doctors clinic.

That evening the entire crew went to hte theatre with comp’d tickets from Boudewyn Van Oort. The show had been advertised as traditional dancing from Old Earth.

Athena opened dressed in a green velvet jacket and very short plaid skirt. She danced with swords, both placed on the stage and swung as props, then juggled knives to great applause. All the girls shrieked and kicked their way through a dance that involved lifting long heavily ruffled skirts. Linnnet was the comic in this act, kicking off men’s hats and shaking her satin clad bottom while the other dancers cartwheeled around her.

Marco murmured to Mamie, “Lil Linnet tells me at the late show the girls go commando.”

Mamie laughed in delight. “Spinnin crotches!”

Boudwyn performed dressed like a temple dancer holding cups of water in thin glass goblets which she balanced on open palms and on her head as she moved sinously. Then the troupe again, dressed in long loose dresses decorated with tiny bells.

“I know that one,” said Derry delightedly.”David showed me. It’s the Rabbit Dance from Turtle Island.” He slipped from his seat and performed the steps. Linnet noticed him and pulled him into their circle for the remainder of the act, to the approval of the audience.

After a short interlude during which Boudewyn played some Old American folk tunes on an autoharp, taking requests from the audience which sang along., Athena reappeared in a long gown with lace mantilla held by high combs with a heel stomping fast dance. Then the troupe again, all swathed in gauzy fabrics and veiled faces performingm what the programme called an Arabian Wedding Dance.

“Think I know what part of the wedding that dance is all about,” Rand remarked as the women rolled their stomach muscles and swept veils around.

Boudewyn and Athena reappeared. Boudewyn with a long braided leather whip. As Athena danced, Van Oort’s whip snapped kerchief after kerchief from her costume until she was left in a jewel encrusted bikini. The troupe whirled around them veils fluttering and the whip snapped twice more. The dancers ran into the wings leaving only a small pile of glittering jewels on the stage.

Dita went over to the bar an bought drinks for the table. The children and Mamie got bubble tea, while the others went for the local ipabeer. Athena joined them a few minutes later, bringing her own drink of mango juice and wrapped in a long blue silk kimono.

“Boudewyn’s losing her touch,” she grumbled. “She hit me with that damn whip, near cut my skin. Better not do that again or I’m gone. And I’m that sweaty.”

“Just a glow, Ms Athena,” said Marco.

“Yeah, well, I’m glowing like a pig.”

Marco stayed behind to escort Linnet to her hotel, after the late show, but arrived home while the crew was still up. “She went off with the ladyboss for a private show for some rich guy,” he complained.

“Girls’ got a living to earn.” Dita pointed out.

“She shoulda tol me though. Went off and Athena was the only one that knew. Still goes to show what she really thinks of me.”

It was Athena who commed Marco next afternoon asking if he had heard from Linnet. “Boudewyn said she was staying with the john, bu she was supposed to be back by noon.”

Apparently van Oort and Linnet had gone to a hotel with their employer and Linnet had agreed to stay for a ‘private show’. Van Oort had taken their pay and left. “Don’t think she’s ever been into the Life. Not a man’s woman anyways.”

Marco promised to let Athena know if he heard anything.

Bluebell delivered some of the frozen chicken and beef to a Sweet Sally some four thousand kilometers west and more to a newly opened pub about the same north of Jakarta Station.

Mamie stayed put with the children, getting some shopping done for shoes, groceries and several reels of various wires and cables.

“Do you know every junkyard in the System, Mamie?” Hope asked. Mamie laughed’

“Everybody know Mummy,” Derrial said, serious.”Daddy says she’s the Notorious Missy Smile.”

“I need books for my astrogation course,” Hope said, “Did mamma tell you?”

“Nope, but keep an eye open for a vid shop. I want some new stories.:

“Me too mummy! One with Mongols!”

The vidshop they found sold novels and learning materials along with a post office and a public comm station. They were able to buy and upload Hope’s coursework as well as several books for the crew.

In spite of all the messages they had to do, Mamie and the children were shopped out well before Bluebell was due back at the spaceport. Mamie commed Athena and asked it they could stop at the theatre while they waited. “We’d go to the park, but it looks like rain.”

“If it was sunny, I’d join you at the park. We’re done rehearsal, such a fuss, that damn Linnet! Come to my hotel, we’ll have tea.”

Once at Athena’s room, Mamie settled the children to read their books, and stretched out on the bed.

“Our bunk is cozy, but it sure feels good to sttretch out on my back steada spooning up..”

“All three of you share one cabin?”

“Yeah, well, I had my own for a while after I joined the crew, but Dita and Hope had the big cabin, and then I moved in with Rand, and then Derry came along and we just never changed.”

“That’s one think I like about the troupe, we always get our own hotel rooms. I think that’s why some of the girls stay.”

“Be tough sleeping where you work.”

“In the brothels? We didn’t sleep in those rooms, unless someone wanted the overnight package. But we was hotbunking since we worked shifts.”

“So what’s with Linnet?”

“Damn girl din’t show up for rehearsal. We hadda reset all the programme around her. Not the first time some twit has wandered off. Boudewyn’s always hiring. Only the baladi’s hard to learn right, but even it can be faked with a lot of veil waving.”

“What happens to those girls?”

“If they’re hired on, Boudewyn puts their back wages into he bank and we leave for the next gig. They’re replaceable. The bonded girls even more so.”


“She’s the original ice queen that one. She can be mean too.” Athena showed a scar on her upper thigh and a cut on her arm.”From that whip dance,” she explained. “Both times she was pissed at me about something. Could be an accident, but I told her ‘Three times? I’ll be gone.’ She’s funny about that routine.”

Mamie passed the story of Linnet’s disappearance on to Marco after dinner as he cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher..

“Guess she found her sugar daddy,” Mamie said. “Sorry Marco.”

“Just a bit of fun,” Marco said but he looked grim.

Two days later they were on Akhbar to pick up the clinic. First they stopped at Pollard Entertainment’s Sweet Sally House, to unload their contracted cargo. Derry took the opportunity to check out a field of horses just down the newly paved road, while Hope read her astrogation book on the wide porch under a pergola heavy with wisteria.

A plump girl sat down beside her. “Do your remember me?” she asked.

Hope looked up startled, her mind still whirling with numbers. Although the girl was only a few years older, her blonde hair had an artificial glow and she wore heavy makeup in the very current

“illuminated” style. But her pale eyebrows said her enhanced hair colour was built on natural blonde, a characteristic very rare outside of a few inbred colony worlds.

“Vicky?” she ventured.

“In one! But I’m Mamselle Victoria here. I’m training.”

“Oh. I’m still studying. Piloting,” Hope said show Vicky her comm. “I have another year of study before I can write my first set of exams. Is whoring easier?”
Vicki made a rude noise. “No training at all. But I’m learning the management side. The kids here are a dime a dozen. Anyway, you have to be eighteen.”

“Oh,” said Hope. She sat silent, having nothing more to say, but Vicky was’t concerned and chattered happily about the logistics of running a house. Hope remembered she had not actually liked Vicky very much when they had shared a trip and an adventure. She was bossy, Hope recalled, and a scaredy cat who had done nothing bu cry when they were kidnapped.

Her mother called and Hope hustled to rejoin the ship, faster than she usually would. Derry took longer, ignoring his mother’s call, util Rand took to the external comm, “Derrial Hudson, get yer ass back here or you won’t be sitting for a week,” he roared. Derry sauntered up the road, cradling an elbow he had fallen on while dismounting from one of the horses.

Michael and David had their equipment neatly packed on a mobile and the Clinic just needed collapsing, a task handled by Rand and Marco, while Dr. Chen gave a cursory exam to a late arriving patient and David dispensed prescriptions from the car’s printer. Mamie counter-signed invoices for illiterate patients so that the medics could be paid.

Their next stop was Sextet Five, called Glitter, three days away according to the astrogation problem Dita set for Hope. But the girl suggested a short cut and they made dirtside in less than forty eight hours Standard. They the new resto-pub and were treated to a steak dinner by the happy manager.

“I’m a better cook that this guy,” Marco claimed but the clientele seemed happy to eat in a bright room with large glass panels set into the walls looking out over a flat sandy landscape.

“And the toilets is clean enough to eat in,” marvelled Mamie.

Rand contacted some local businesses suggested by the pub manger. He was rewarded with a cargo of glass in sheets and bulk glass in solid cylinders ready to melt and form, bound back to Denespar Station.

Mamie went in search of new push plates and returned with gossip. “The cops found a body!” she reported.

“Why would that be news?” asked Marco.

“Denespar is prac’ly crime-free. This is the first murder they’ve had in ten years. And this is a real nasty one. Looks like she’s been tortured!”

“Any idea who she is?”

Mamie said, “It would help if she had a head.” She gave a delighted shudder..

The children goggled. Dita said, “It’s not our business, Mamie. Let’s drop it.”

Mamie laughed and bopped off to check the newscasts for more lurid details.

There were many. The corpse was a small slender woman but she had been badly burned and her hands were scalded until her fingerprints had boiled off. If she had had an identity chip it was gone. The police were running DNA but with no results so far.

The push plates were successfully replaced, but Bluebell had to wait three days in port for the adhesive to cure and the purchase had send a notice to CentraPro Transport for an inspection. Knowing Rand’s propensity for arguing with officialdom, Dita told him to take the children to the zoo.

“There are supposed to be mastodons.”

“Mammoths,” corrected Derry.

“Mammoths and mastodons ain’t the same thing? When you get back explain to me what the difference is.”

When Rand and children boarded the zoo’s visitor train, They were surprised to see Athena, dressed in a fancy yellow silk shirt under denim overalls. Hope immediately sat beside her, while Rand and Derry, cradling his elbow cast, took the bench behind. There were indeed mastodons and mammoths, carefully separated to prevent cross breeding. The tundra habitat also displayed sabre tooth tigers, and cave lions, aurochs and Irish elk. Przewalski horses and herds of bison and caribou.

After the tour, Rand invited Athena to join them at the zoo’s delicatessen for smorgasbord. The adults drank very good ipa beer and the children ginger pop, and demolished large servings of smoked fish, sweet buns, hot borscht, succotash, and as an experiment, a dessert of Arctic ice cream, a mixture of animal fat and berries that all agreed was better than expected but not worth repeating.

The children were given coins for the feed dispensers and went out to the attached petting zoo.

Rand asked if the troupe would be moving on and if they needed transport.

“I might,” Athena replied.”For the rest, Boudewyn has fired all the other free girls. I’m the only one not bonded in the troupe now. And it shows.”

Rand lifted an eyebrow.

“The free girls paid more attention to the dancing. The bond girls just walk through that. They want the private shows where they get tips towards buying off their bonds.

“And I think Boudewyn is pimping them out too. I joined to get away from whoring. And one of the bonded girls told me she though she was only gonna be dancin. She was right upset. But she run off.”

“What did Van Oort do bout that?”

“Nuthin. Which is downright odd. She paid out for the bond, right? Then nuthin when the girl runs off.”
“Who got the bond money?”

“Dunno. Maybe she had debts. Maybe her fam’ly got it . I bonded to get my little brother’s pilot school fees. But that was only a six month bond and I paid it off in three.”

“Dancin pays good?′

“Nope. I was bonded to a Sweet Sally. Didn’t like the work much but I faked it and made lots in tips. Nothin dangerous but there were girls who made really big tips in kink.”

“Black latex and whips?” Rand grinned.
“Doms do okay but the real money is in sub. Can cost in medical bills though and you cant afford insurance.”

“Van Oort must see those kinks with her whip routine.”

“Oh yeah, That was where she and Linnet ....”

Rand waited for her to complete her sentence. The children were feeding a lamb from a bottle of milk. The cool spring sun shone down picking up reddish glints in Derry’s hair and golden ones in Hope’s dreads. Derry was on his knees hugging the lamb, his nose buried in its soft wool. He looked up, nose wrinkling and Hope laughed.

“Linnet was bonded and so was Leah, the new girl. Boudwyn took Linnet for a private date and she never came back. The new girl got picked up for a private show, Boudewyn said.”

Rand was confused. “So?”

“Bonds are expensive, not as expensive as wages, but it’s all upfront. What if Boudewyn sold on their bonds?” Athena paused.

“That’s legal.”

“But the girls didn’t say anything. And they didn’t pick up their stuff. They just disappeared.”

She rose and grabbed her leather satchel. She dropped some bills on the table. “I’m kinda scared. I’m thinkin about that body and how what was left of it mighta been Linnet.”

“You don’t know that,” said Rand.”You wanna get involved with the filth?”

Athena looked confused. “Oh, you mean the police. No, but there’s worse filth in the world. I’m gonna check. I guess the morgue would be the place to start.”

“Pert sure they won’t let just anybody walk in. And you don’t know...”

“I want a friend with me. Could you?”

“I got the kids. Let’s go back to Bluebell. Mebbee Dita or Marco will stand with you.” Rand topped up the bills on the table with coin and called the reluctant children.

Marco went with Athena to the police station. Looming silently behind her while she told her story. The police took them to the morgue.

She recognized a patten of moles, enough to tentatively identify the corpse as Linnet. She took Marco and two constables to the hotel which was holding Linnet’s belongings. The found a pawn ticket and reclaimed good jewelry which had been pawned by Boudewyn Van Oort. Preliminary DNA connected the two.

Linnet had been found.

Dita joined Marco in the cargo bay, working out on the rings, covered in sweat.

“She was a pretty thing, wasn’t she?” Dita said softly.

Marco pulled himself into a handstand on the rings and held there, face scarlet , muscles tensed.

“Athena says she’ll claim her and pay for a cremation ceremony.”

Marco swung to the floor and buried his head in a towel.

Athena turned up the next morning, a duffle slung over her shoulder. “I’m on the run,” she explained. “Boudewyn gave the police the name of Linnet’s date. She told them she had sold Linnet’s bond to him for a fat price and left.”


“She gave his name to the cops and they looked scared. They arrested Boudewyn even though she didn’t do nothin illegal.”

“Evil though”

“I asked if they would be arresting the date as well,” Said Athena. “One of them told me I should get off-world, if I knew what was good for me. And here I am.”

Bluebell left Denpasar that afternoon. The cargo hold was only half full. The did not leave a flight plan with the port central.

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