CB Droege is a fantasy author and poet living in Munich. Recently his fiction was collected in RapUnsEl and Other Stories, and a selection of his poetry appeared in the Drawn to Marvel anthology. His first novel, Zeta Disconnect was released in 2013. He recently edited Dangerous to Go Alone! An Anthology of Gamer Poetry.
Learn more at manawaker.com
Let Me Tell You Something
While the judge considers his verdict, let me tell you something.
It was while I was in the personal guard of the governor of SpinCity Elizabeth, that Miss Elynore and her sister showed up there in response to a job offer. Strike me down if I'm lying. I was there. I was in the room when they made the plans.
You probably heard that Governor Cecil was looking for some official operatives, and that the Francis sisters showed up for an interview. And you probably heard that they threw the governor's hoity-toity bergamot tea in his face and stormed out. Well, that's not really what happened.
First of all, the sisters were raised well, and love their tea. They would never waste it on such a pointless gesture. His governorship left that meeting spotlessly dry, I assure you. More importantly: and this is the good bit: They took the job.
Yes, they stormed out.
Yes, they decried Governor Cecil as a hater of freedom and an enemy to non-toppers.
Yes, they went on a spree of piracy in the wake of the meeting, rousing the ire of the Orbit guard of every major SpinCity and Station.
It was all part of the plan.
"What I need," Cecil told Miss Elynore and Miss Philydae, "Is a skilled crew to investigate the quantum shipping lanes being used by SpinCity Salvador."
"Don't you hate those guys?" Philadae asked.
"They have long heaped insult and debt upon us!" Cecil said, pounding a fist on the table, rattling the teacups. "We need to know what their major operations are, so that we may hurt them back."
"Why settle for just intel?" Elynore asked after a few moments of stillness into which the governor's outburst could be absorbed, "Just have me and my crew take what you want from their tradeships"
Elynore explained to an increasingly furious Governor Cecil that the financial success of SpinCity Salvador was mostly due to smuggling, which they employ to keep the Sol Council from knowing that they are vastly exceeding their trade caps, which Miss Elynore knew because she'd been working for them for several years. The governor's head nearly exploded, I think, but Philydae stepped in and calmed him down.
"We know how to find everything valuable already," She said, voice even, posture unnaturally relaxed. "We can just take it all for you."
When the words sank in, the governor smiled, and the planning began. Everyone always forgets that the beefy guy with the laser pistol by the door has ears, and I heard them lay it all out. The Francis sisters would track where the major operations were going down for Salvador, and target those ships, splitting the take with Cecil and his cronies in Elizabeth. In exchange, Cecil would protect the sisters' actions, including the minor piracy they'd have to commit against other cities and shipping lanes to cover the pattern. The storming out, the outcry against Cecil, it was all invented to make his governorship less nervous about them being connected back to him directly.
I don't know much about Captain Clyde, but mark my words: If you could look closely into the manifests and patrons of the Damned Engine, you'd find a lot of ties to SpinCity Salvador, and with Gamma-Ovantia Station such a close ally with SpinCity Elizabeth, this ruling will be in Miss Elynore's favor. And if you could follow whatever interesting things are in the hold of the Damned Engine, I think you'd discover them on their way to Elizabeth, minus a hefty commission, of course.