The Outreach lay still amongst the stars.
Swoob had just worked out a deal with Captain Allarias. He and Jazo were to deliver the neurostim dealers, and in return, Jazo and Swoob would receive their full bounty of two million quinlars.
“Meet us at the space station Mu’azadi,” Swoob had said. “We’ll make the exchange at 2400 hours. Bring the quinlar chip with you, and come with only one operative of your choosing.”
Jazo always did like to take risks. But Swoob was entirely sure that his friend still had control of the situation.
He checked the universal time indicator on the control array. The clock read 2356. Jazo was supposed to have contacted him at 2300 hours. Swoob tried to think nothing of it, imagining that Jazo was probably just taking his time. Of course, everything was fine. It wasn’t as if the odds were against him.
Swoob punched in the frequency for Jazo’s holocomm.
He tried every syscheck he could think of – restarting the system, reopening channels, running diagnostic routines, diagnostic subroutines, subdiagnostic subroutines. But it was all to no avail. No signal was coming through.
Swoob mulled over what to do. He and Jazo needed to work together to pull off their plan. If Kalthrax and his lackeys had broken free and taken control of the Mu’azadi, Swoob could be walking into a death trap; if Swoob left Jazo to turn in the Remians alone, Allarias would make good on her threats to arrest him as well.
The holocomm panel began to blink.
Swoob cleared his throat. “Swoob here.”
“Swoob,” a feminine voice rang in.
“We’re beginning our approach to the RSA Mu’azadi. This is the space station you provided coordinates for, is it not?”
“Yes, of course. That’d be the one, sir, uh, er… ma’am…” Swoob gave a forced smile.
Allarias lowered her eyebrows. “Don’t try to bull us, Swoob. If you’re leading us on a wild turanian chase, I swear, I will personally – ”
“No, no, really Captain, that won’t be necessary. The intel is good. We’ll be there.”
The Captain closed the channel without saying a word.
Swoob sat for a moment at the pilot’s seat. He slapped his hands across his thighs and hoisted himself out. If the traffickers had overpowered Jazo, Swoob was likely to meet a similar fate. But at least it’d be fast, and it was sure to be better than having to deal with Allarias again.