Daniel and Aimee tensed, however Joseph remained calmed.
“What is going on here?” the shrilly voice of Loretta Gehasa sounded behind them. The sentinels stepped aside. “I see you’re here, as I predicted it.” She smiled malevolently. “Why are you standing there, come on in. Let’s close that deal.”
Daniel hated Loretta; she was so confident that their father was going to sell his flying ship. She was so wrong; he just wanted to tear her face apart. They walked into an office illuminated by pink argon globe lights. The walls were crowded with pictures of different models of airships, each more heavily armed than the next.
“I knew you’d give up your ship,” she said. “When the aviators told me they didn’t see you and your pesky ship last night, I knew it was a matter of time before I see you here.”
“We’re not here to sell our ship,” Joseph said. “There is another matter, which unfortunately does not concern you. We’re looking for Mr. Morgan Shkein.”
Loretta’s mouth dropped open, “what is your business with Mr. Shkein?”
“Doesn’t concern you either,” Daniel snarled, “now, can we see him?”
Loretta shot him a disgusting look, “I’m afraid Mr. Shkein is a very busy man, whatever business you have, you can tell me. I will pass the information on to him.”
“I’m afraid that won’t do,” said Joseph, mustering as much patience as he could.
Loretta glared at them and seethed, “then find your way out. Mr. Shkein is not available to receive anyone.”
“Who are they Loretta?” a hoarse voice from behind them asked. Loretta froze on her spot and gaped at whoever was behind them. The Wilkers turned around and saw a tall man with silver hair, regarding them condescendingly. “I am Morgan Shkein, what can I do for you?”
“Mr. Shkein!” Loretta walked around her desk to greet her employer. “They will just waste your time. I will show them out.”
“Silence Loretta,” he ordered. His eyes fell on the family standing before him. “Who are you and what do you want to talk to me about?”
“I am Joseph Wilker and these are my children, Daniel and Aimee,” Joseph extended his hand, however retracted when Shkein didn’t attempt to shake it at all. “I am here to buy two of your slaves.”
Loretta looked surprised. Shkein was more impassive and cold; he only raised an eyebrow and said. “Buy a slave?”
Joseph nodded. “Their names are Adela and Pablo,” he showed their bronze collars; “here are their collars. I hope you can recognize them through this.”
Shkein gazed at them. “They're my property, however I don’t keep track of their names. I have many of them working for me.”
“They’re from that poor Caribbean family sir!” Loretta gasped. “The sentinels from the factory reported them missing yesterday. They escaped! The sentinel who was after them was unconscious in an alley.”
“Was that your doing?” Shkein asked, mildly surprised.
“It was mine,” said Aimee. “That sentinel was hurting them and threatening to kill them. I couldn’t stand and see him slaughter them.” Aimee was trembling slightly under the imperious gaze of Morgan Shkein, he was definitely a character of strong will. He also appeared merciless and ruthless.
Shkein was doubly surprised when the girl spoke. “Now you want to buy their freedom, because you fear what will happen to them if I snatch them back?”
“Our reasons do not concern you,” said Joseph, “we’re willing to pay the price for their freedom.”
Shkein frowned at them, pensive, as if conjecturing a name long forgotten from the recesses of his memory. “I’ve heard if the name Wilker.”
“They were the local chasers who didn’t want to sell,” informed Loretta.
Shkein raised his eyebrow, entertained. “I see. The price of a slave is a high one. Are you willing to pay it?”
Daniel gulped; he wasn’t expecting to trade the Chaser for their guests’ freedom.
“I am not going to trade my ship,” Joseph said firmly. “That is the heirloom of my children, but I have five chests of Dust for the purchase of two of your slaves.”
Shkein sneered at them. “I have all the Dust I can ever produce, why would I want more? Certainly those two slaves are worth more than that.”