The Earthseed Chronicles Free to read science fiction blogfic

19Aug/110

1-2: The Thief

"Explaining this will take some time - would you mind if we got something to eat?" He asked with a smirk.

"Yes, I damn well mind. Sum it up, I don't need an entire bloody screenplay," she grunted. The nerve of this guy!

"Very well. I am a professional thief. I take contracts for all kinds of missions, from industrial espionage to domestic affairs." She raised an eyebrow at the latter, but did not comment. "As you would say, 'Shady Business'. Once in a while, to sate my sore conscience, I take on a contract for a good cause for free. The cypher I need you to decrypt is for one such mission - to be precise, I have to locate and retrieve a lost shipment of supplies for a humanitarian aid organization. It was bound for New Paris on the moon, but somehow it went missing."

"What does the cypher protect?"

"The shipment manifest from the moon customs center in the french city of Lyon. I am hoping to find out who took possession of the shipment."

"Okay, let me order some takeout." She was hooked, she knew it. She would have to verify this before she did anything, but if was indeed for a good cause... He was smiling again, that defiant little prick's smile. For some reason, it really irritated her.

"Stop smiling like you've already won me over."

"Haven't I?"

"Don't flatter yourself. I'm considering it - but I'm not going to take a decision in a rush. I want to verify your information through my own channels first. If this is indeed about a lost shipment of humanitarian aid supplies, I am willing to help. For a price."

"I see."

"Do you now?"

He ignored that. "I trust your inquiries will be discreet? My client does not wish for this to be widely known - otherwise they would not need my services."

"Yes, and that in itself makes me wary. What if that shipment of yours is not made of humanitarian supplies, but drugs, guns or something worse?"

"Remember, I'm doing this for free. I know my trade - I would not have taken on this mission if I had not made sure the contract is legit."

"Conmen have been known to be conned."

He sighed, and let himself slump back into the sofa. "That may be so. I have not seen the shipment, so I do not have any guarantee beyond all the official paperwork that it is indeed what they say. My main guarantee is that I made it perfectly clear to them that I do not like to be, as you say, 'conned'."

"Ah." She said, and looked deep into her tea cup. Deep down she was slapping herself over and over for even considering it, but that adventure-seeking part of her that had been awakened earlier during the discovery of Thorvalds Technologies was bursting at the seams. In the end it all hinged on making sure she wasn't being mislead. She promised herself that she would back out at the first sign of inconsistencies. It had been a while since she had broken a cypher, it was going to be fun dabbling in those forbidden arts again.

"When can I expect an answer?"

"Right now you can't expect anything. We're going to have dinner together, then we will part ways and I will sleep over it. If by tomorrow morning I haven't come to my senses and call this whole thing off, you can assume I'm on board and will verify what you told me."

He smiled, and gave her a polite nod of the head. "Much obliged, m'lady."

"Don't m'lady me, I'm no lady."

"I had noticed." There was the prick's smile again. She had rarely met someone that irked her as much as this fellow. The doorbell rang, probably their dinner.

"Oh, shut up and get the door. Your treat."

He did not object; he merely went to the door and paid the courier. When she smelled the food, she realized she was ravenous. He only picked at his dish, and was obviously disgusted by her eating habits. Screw him, she had no incentive to put up her social restraints with this guy.

"Are you finishing that?" she said, greedily eyeing his noodle pot.

"Uhhh, no." He said, and she had trouble restraining herself from laughing out loud at his expression. He was genuinely shocked. He was a thief and possibly even a  contract killer, but he could not stand to see her eat.  In a weird way that even made sense.

"So how does one become a professional thief anyway?"

"You don't choose to become one - at least I didn't. I just kind of... eased into it. From one job to another, I started hanging out with a certain crowd and my skills fit the profile. I did not envision my life's work to be this, but it's a well paying job." He shrugged. There was evidently more to it, or he would not try to hard to shrug it off. She did not press on - this was turning into an awkward social visit and she needed to be alone to think now.

"I will need a way to contact you."

He handed her a card with just a number on it, apparently eager to finish the conversation as well.

"I'll call you tomorrow if I'm not going ahead. Otherwise wait for me to gather some info, I'll call you to set up a meeting for the cypher."

"Fine." he said, and an awkward silence filled the room. She held out her hand.

"Bye." she prompted, and he shook her hand, then quickly went out through the door.

"At least he knows how to use doors," she murmured.

 

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