Penny sat with her feet up on the table in the Ravenwing‘s communal living-room and kitchen, a scowl on her face.
“I’ll have his job.” She growled.
Hae Lee, over at the kitchen bench, looked up from the tea she was pouring. “Huh?”
Penny drew in a long sigh and blew it out. “I’m going to have that captain fired.”
A puzzled look came over Hae Lee’s features. “You can do that?”
Penny turned her gazed towards her. “If I put my mind to it.”
Hae Lee poured another mug of tea. “You can’t win all the time.”
“No.” Penny shook her head. “But you can at least do your job. I gave that idiot a photograph and he searched for a name. The idea that a man fleeing from the law might not use his real passport to get through customs never occurred to him.”
Hae Lee nodded at that. “Well yeah, but he’s a soldier, not a cop.”
“I found him in five minutes, Hae Lee.” Penny growled. “All you have to do is put the image in the search engine and the pattern recognition does the rest. A damn kid could do it. That idiot put the name through, came up with nothing, shrugged his shoulders and left. And now Lin’s out in the void somewhere. I’ll have the idiot’s job.”
Hae Lee put the mugs onto a tray and carried them over to the table. She took a cup and set it down next to Penny.
“Here.” Hae Lee said. “This will make you feel better… and… thank you. For everything.”
Penny softened and looked up at her. “You’re going to be okay kid. It wasn’t your fault you got mixed up with them.”
Penny picked up the mug of tea and took a whiff of the steam. Her nanomachines analysed the particles and checked them over. When Penny was satisfied Hae Lee wasn’t trying to drug her, she took a sip.
“Oh that’s nice, what is that?”
Hae Lee smiled and her whole face brightened. “It’s Oolong.”
Penny looked suspiciously at the mug. “It’s better than any Oolong I’ve ever had.”
Hae Lee winked at her. “I know a guy in Star City. He hooks me up.”
Penny took another sip. “You’ll have to give me his details some time.”
“Sounds fair.” Hae Lee said, taking in her surroundings again. “I give you a line on some top-quality tea, you give me the ship I’ve always wanted. I may have to change the name though.”
Penny shrugged. “You’ve earned it. It’s better than letting it go to federal auction.”
Hae Lee smiled again. “I’ll take Wu his tea.”
She made her way out of the room slowly, careful not to let the tray spill.
When she was gone Penny sighed again and opened up her nanoputer.
Penny opened her eyes and she was lying among the sunflowers. The smell thick in her senses.
The vidwindow with Seera’s face appeared in front of her. Seera brightened, but it lacked the genuine warmth of Hae Lee’s smile.
“Hello Ranger Dreadful, how may I help you?”
“Hello Seera. Just concluding my report.”
Seera nodded. “Go ahead Ranger.”
“Final casualty reports have reached ten. Macrae McCarty died of asphyxiation before care could reach him. Subject was rendered unconscious through blunt force trauma and then paralysed through illegal nanomachine manipulation. The resulting combination prevented him from moving and allowing his airways to open normally leading to asphyxiation and death.”
Penny took a deep breath of the scented air and continued. “Since I began this report I have gained transport on the Jumpship ‘Solar Light’ and am now en route to Mars. ETA is estimated at six weeks.
Confirm I still have Wu Gang Shu in custody. Though he is certainly not happy about it. I will not be pressing charges against Cho Hae Lee, it is my determination that she was forced to become an accessory to her crew’s criminal activities under duress. She has no prior convictions or encounters with law enforcement prior to her involvement with the Ravenwing crew and committed no offences directly. However, I am a little worried she may be developing an attraction to my charge. I will have to watch the two of them and intervene if necessary.”
Seera nodded again. “Understood Ranger Dreadful. Were there any further additions you needed to make?”
“No Seera, that will be all.”
Seera nodded and her screen folded into itself and disappeared.
Penny lay amidst the virtual flowers for a moment. She looked up at the sky and saw the first hues of pink bleeding into the colour. Back home on Bast the afternoon was starting to swap shifts with the evening.
Penny enjoyed it a moment longer and logged out. There was work to be done.
All right, you’ve made it this far, I deserve at least something right?