Some Assembly Required

“You'll never guess what I just got on the Wire.” Move waved his Wire in front of him. It was a small device, black, a portable computer originally designed to display continuously updating news reports. The 'Newswire' suffered, as many things did, from time and slang, becoming the Wire. Move stopped waving it and tapped his finger on the front. A message displayed. Ricci grabbed it from his hand and flicked the screen. The text rolled.

“Government job, huh? I thought you'd closed the old cargo account.”

“So did I. Whoever sent it must really want me to get back into the shipping game.”

Ricci raised an eyebrow and dropped the device on the desk in front of her. It clattered, the screen wiping as it did so. The greatest technological developments of the last century, she had found, revolved around making sure technology could not be broken. A high-pitched ringing broke their conversation.


“I'll get it.” Move brushed off his shoulders as he moved towards the door. He touched a finger to a pad on the wall. It opened, revealing the slightly harrowed face of Riker Alaxis. He stormed into the room, forcing Move to move backwards to avoid being bowled over.

“Don't accept the job,” Riker finally said, staring directly into Move's eyes. “Don't do it.”

“Suspicious.” Move muttered his words dryly.

“Just a touch.”

“How do you know about the jobs I'm getting?” Move crossed his arms and took a step backwards, putting a more appropriate distance between himself and Riker.

“Who do you think gave you the job? The Urpor?”

“I do have a very high standing within the Kastori community.” Move chose his reply carefully. He trusted Riker, but was perfectly aware of his connection to House Alaxis. Riker laughed, briefly, breaking his intense facade and choosing to sit on Move's couch. As Move himself sat in a chair opposite, he never took his eyes from Riker. His hair, a pointed mop that was a shade of yellow-blonde only ever so slightly lighter than the couch he was sitting on, barely masked a scar across his forehead. War wounds, he had said, a plural that Move took to mean there were others in less visible areas. His eyes were fixed on the wispy strands of blonde that hung over it, just enough that it was still visible. It was there, just underneath. Almost imperceptable.

“My father offered you that job quite deliberately.” Riker intertwined the fingers on his hand, knocking his thumbs together as he spoke. “He means to give the job to me. He knows that if you accept it, I will have to go with you.”

“Have to?” Move raised an eyebrow. He was still studying Riker's face intently.

“I was exiled from the surface for meddling. He's baiting me.”

“Why would he bait you? What purpose would that serve?”

Riker's face remained static. The pair were staring at each other.

“Rethwin's methods are beyond my understanding.”

“Rethwin? The butcher of Kalhor?”

Riker shook his head. “Sorry, old habit. His real name is Rethwin Alaxis, but because of the association with a man who unleashed nuclear armageddon on an entire planet, he's officially changed it to the Runtin we all know and love.”

“Rethwin 'Runtin' Alaxis, huh? I'd always thought that anyone calling him Rethwin was just expressing their dislike.”

“Mostly, it's not too well known.”

Riker's gaze was fairly static by now.

“Are you two done having eye sex or do we have to keep waiting?”

Riker's face broke at Ricci's comment. As he chuckled, Move could see that Riker knew more than he was willing to admit. His laugh was false. He was trying to deflect. It was a rookie mistake.

“I'd better get a crew together.” Move rose from his seat. “We'll need it to transport something of this size.”

“How big?” Ricci asked. She'd skimmed the message.

“The cargo is an Old World Vault that had been transported to Alaxis Prime after the signing of the Heritage World Embargo Act. It is quite literally a large concrete cube cut out of a building that no one's opened since pre-contact times. Everyone's arguing over whether stuff like it should be left alone or opened, for science and all that.” Riker returned his gaze to Move. “You won't reconsider?”

“Nope. Now, are you on my crew?”

“Of course.” Riker stood up. “I spent my days watching and learning from the fairly robust staff of the Alaxis Castle Kitchens. I suppose I'm to be your galley chef.”

“You'll obey the captain?” Ricci smiled, “You'd better hope so. I think the first mate gets first dibs at executing mutineers.”

“Then we'll need... let's say two hired guns, a pilot and a copilot.”

“Don't forget any charters.” Ricci wiggled her fingers in the air, doing some mental math. “We're taking it to New Earth, right? We'd better stop at Kastor on the way. Those are two destinations pretty hot in demand. 400 credits per bunk should be cheaper than any flight on the market right now.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Move stroked his chin, thinking.

“I have one of your guns.” Riker pulled out his wire and tapped a few times. “She's an old friend, goes by the name Mercia.”

Move leaned forward slightly, in anticipation. Riker appeared to be confused.
“Oh, sorry, I was anticipating the second half of the name.”

Riker shrugged and started walking towards the exit. “That's all you get. Call me when you've rounded up the rest of your crew.”

He touched the pad and left quietly. Ricci placed a hand on Move's shoulder, smirking.

“One name. Always a good sign."

The End

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