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Sector Six

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“So what? You’re just some rich guy’s daughter?”

“Something to that effect. That’s all you need to know, anyway.”

“You’re practically asking me to be framed as a kidnapper, shuffle you off to some hidden corner of the galaxy, and then deal with my wanted status and new life as a fugitive. Meeting you here, now, is already incriminating enough. Any of these people could be watching you.”

She looked around at all the men and women in lavish suits and dresses staring at centre stage. They were focused on a woman in clothes that left nothing to the imagination, pandering to oily men in the front row. She shrugged as if to say she didn’t care, and turned back to the man just as he lit his cigarette.

“I’d be paying you enough to start quite a lavish life in a different sector. Just imagine this part the galaxy had simply stopped existing.”

“How much. Exactly.”

“I’m not saying it here, right now, in this sleezy club Mr Keel.”

He slid a napkin across the table and a pen.

“Just the zeros.”

She slid it back across the table, nine zeroes. Over a billion credits. She meant what she had said, he could buy and terraform half a planet in sector seven for that. Maybe a lavish house in sector 8. A security pass to sector nine?

“Why? There are any number of smugglers here that would do the same for less.”

“None with such a reputation as yourself Mr Keel. The journey will not be an easy one, I expect you to have dirty hands when we come out on the other side.”

“I don’t mind tangling so much with law enforcement, but who exactly will be coming after us?”

“Not here.”

“So I take your job and then get the details? Not normally how I work.”

“Not normally how you get paid either.”

“Touché.” He sat back in his chair, took the longest drag he could out of his cigarette without burning his lungs, and breathed is all out into the open air. She seemed unphased – a filter on her throat. Ludicrously expensive. The best he could afford at the moment was a replacement finger and some costly health insurance on his lungs.

His own planet in sector seven… A house in sector eight… A pass to sector nine…

“Why are you in sector six anyway? Not often we get rich folk down here.”

“Not here.”

“You gotta give me something.”

“On your ship, Mr Keel, after you shake my hand and I give you a down payment of a fifth. “

“A quarter.”

“No.”

“You’re a tough sale.”

“It’s a tough job.”

He took an extra moment to stare at her unflinching face.

“Ship’s out back, near Mackie’s garage. Meet me there.”

“That works for me. Thank you, truly, Mr Keel.” She extended her hand, he shook it, but held onto her for a moment longer.

“Don’t thank me yet lady, the show hasn’t even started.” He let go, and she left with a nod.

The curtains on stage drew to a close, to the dismay of the oily men up front.

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