Spike started as the radio crackled back to life.
“Takisha? Yeah, she’s got the late shift. And Olav is Graveyard.”
Spike gawped at the radio. So the next round of old geezers is taking over . . . Some of our original Company and some of the first wave of miners. And an old whore. Well, all they need to do is direct traffic and sound the alarm if something looks suspicious.
Not that I’m not going to kid them about it.
“That actually makes sense. Takisha is good at telling people where to go.” Spike checked his course. Coming in a little hot, no big deal. Plenty of fuel.
The next radio message started with laughter. “You better hope she doesn’t replay the records. And stop coming at my station so damned fast. We’ve had enough trouble with this wave of newbies just off of Gany.”
Down to a three minute delay.
“Ah, new blood. Spence didn’t say anything about them.”
Spike turned the ship and fired up the engines. A nice long full power burn and he was down to station maneuvering velocity.
Extra crackles as the minute ice crystals of the exhaust plume messed up the signal. The ice would sublimate in minutes, it was just a brief nuisance. “Meh, three ships, and of course they all had to try and find something useful before they came in, just so they could brag. First one got here the day Spence left, two more today. Total of five warm bodies. Only time will tell if they’re worth the air they breathe.”
Two ladies, a hot tub, whiskey, snacks, and a whole lot of gossip.
Second hand, but it filled in a lot of details the Old Man hadn’t bothered with. Spike shook his head. “I guess I forgot how much Spence could get away with, on pure guts and good luck.”
“Okay, raw ability and plenty of experience. And of course he also says luck is on the side that prepares, but that was still a pretty quick improvision.”
Jasmine wiggled a little bit in his lap. “You just wish you’d been there.”
Felica put her chin on his shoulder and kissed his ear. “What did you do, Spike?”
“Well, I was pretty far out, so I started spinning over toward Ceres. For naught, as Spence got all the glory.”
“Well, he says the Marshal shot his way almost out of City Hall. But that’s just him trying to duck the limelight. Mona said the Marshal said he’d gotten trapped at the highest level, when Spence came along and blew a hole in the deck from above.”
“Umm,” Spike shook his head in admiration. “Trust Spence to have been lucky enough to have just happened to have a breeching charge with him.”
“You’ve known him a long time, haven’t you, Spike?”
“Well, he’s older than I am. I met him in orbital construction, where he taught us young punks how to stay alive. Then he was off to the Belt.” Crap, I need to check the timing again, I think I may look too young for that story anymore. He frowned. “I think that wasn’t the first time he’d been to the belt . . . well, whatever.”
He stretched an arm out for his watch and checked the time. “Uff. Ladies, it has been a pleasure, as always, but I think I hear dinner calling me.”
As he sauntered out, still a little damp, he passed two young men he didn’t know. Pale skin, brown hair, blue eyes, obviously related, they were hard to tell apart. He glanced back. “Hey, by any chance did you two just get in from Gany?”
Defensive bristling. “Yeah, so?”
Spike turned and faced them. “I heard the NorAms actually sent out a Federal Marshal. Is that true?”
The one on the right snorted. “Oh yeah. Big asshole. Talks down at us like we’re disobedient children.”
The one on the left had a pouty face on. “Almost as bad as that Spence person. Bloody know-it-all.”
Spike choked, managed to not laugh out lout. Oh you little green toddlers! “I’m Spike. C’mon, I’ll stand you a Chinese Dinner and you can tell me all about this Marshal.”