In an operational vessel the journey home was quickly over. Mike followed the crew out of the life boat and down a long ramp to a queue where others were already lined up.
“What’s this?” He asked Helen.
“Customs check and the payout. Customs to make sure we are not smuggling anything, quick body and ID scan and then we are through. Then the Captain and purser are there to hand over shore leave and bonuses. Captain is an odd duck, likes to see each of us off at ports of call. But I have done some checking. She has one of the lowest turnover rates of crew of anybody in this constellation.”
Mike nodded. “Personal touch will do that.” He scanned the crowd outside the gate and smiled. The ‘professionals’ were easy to spot, rady to help the crew part from their hard earned isk. There were also small family groups there to meet loved ones.
“Name?” Mike stepped forward and faced a bored looking customs agent.
“Mike Azariah” Mike laid a hand down on the scanner and ID was transmitted. A machine to his left quietly hummed as he was scanned for any foreign smuggled items.
The customs face changed colour as his screen lit red for a moment. “Um, sir, there seems to have been a mistake. You are listed as ‘lost’.”
“I was mislaid, not lost. I am back.” Mike frowned as he watched the agent straighten a little and enter information his comm.
“We are going to need you to wait to one side, sir.” The agent looked . . . nervous. This was not how a lost person would normally be welcomed home. Something was not quite right.
“I have been in a escape boat for hours and right now what I want is to go get cleaned up and have a coffee. Name a local hotel and I will wait there. I am not sitting in some waiting room here unless you have some formal reason to hold me?” Mike leaned forward a little as he asked.
The agent was definitely sweating, now. “Um, no, if the scan is clean?” He glanced to one side.
“He is carrying nothing.” The scanning tech to one side put a bit too much emphasis on the last word which did nothing for Mikes state of mind.
The agent game Mike the name of a hotel just off of the docking bay and leaned over the comm as soon as the pilot had stepped past to continue down the ramp.
“Just check out some anomolous readings. Go get the oil from the warehouse in the middle of no where. Damn I have a really bad feeling about this.” Mike walked up to the Captain, his mind racing. “Ma’am I have a pair of favours to ask of you.”
Her eyebrows raised as she waited patiently for him to continue.
“I want to pay for the first night for the crew at the local Hotel. I will book as many rooms as are open. My way of saying thanks.” Mike paused. “I left a small travel bag back on your ship in the cabin that was assigned to me. Could you make it a high priority that it gets found and forwarded to me in Bereye?”
“Are you getting me or mine in danger?” She alsio had the common snese to not take all things at face value.
“I hope not. But tell your people to keep their wits about them for a day or so and that bag is very important to me. The customs folks were very attentive to what I did and did not have and I have no idea why. I mean to find out. Will you do those things for me?”
“Your ship . . . I’ll have a security team deliver the bag. By hand.”
“Oh, about that. Once the techs work through what was going wrong . . . it is not my ship, it is yours, free and clear.” Mike was using his comm as he spoke reserving all the rooms in the hotel. “I have no need of it and you did save my life. I have heard nothing but good things about you Captain from the folks best suited to know. If you ever need a favour you send work and I will be there as quick as I can.” He held out his hand and, after a moment hesitation, she shook it.
“You are a very odd pilot. I heard a few things about you from my people and none of it was bad, either. Your bag will get to you.”
‘Thank you Ma’am. Now I have a feeling I best be hitting the upper docks and getting out of here. I don’t know why but this whole thing has got me on edge.”
“I keep my crew alive by listening to the little voices that say ‘time to go’. Get out of here.” She gave him a shove and he moved into the crowd and soon, off of the station.
Honest, comments are welcomed and encouraged. I am trying hard to make 12 days running of posts but pressies will be going out this evening, my time to a few commenters so far.
fly it like you won it