As we cleared the atmosphere of Aurora, I felt good. I had been cooped up planetside for well over five months and I just needed to have that feeling of space beneath my feet. The gravitic plates of course compensated but I was looking out the front windows so I could see what was going on and it made me feel good. Aurora orbit however is a busy place so I had to follow flight control’s directions for a bit until I cleared and was simply trying to get some distance between my ship and the gravity well of Aurora. I started calculations for my hyperspace jump to Solax and informed my passengers that jump would be commencing as soon as we were clear of Aurora. For their enjoyment I put up four different views on the vid screen in the lounge area.
The computer eventually said I was far enough away from Aurora’s gravity well. I set the jump program into motion and there was the familiar sense of queasiness as the ship slipped into hyperspace. Then all was the familiar grey-blue of hyperspace. I got up and after setting most of the systems to automatic I went back to my passengers.
The guy was helping himself to a drink while the two girls were holding hands and engaged in a quiet whisper conversation. I decided to follow my telepathic ethics and not do a thing. I didn’t think or feel through my normal experience that any of them was dangerous in the violent sort of way. Still I was cautious as the guy was hard to read as far as emotions. he did however pour me a drink from the same bottle he was using for himself and handed it to me. As we stood there the two young ladies approached me. The red-head seemed to take the lead while the cute little dark-haired one kept slightly back of her.
“So how long do you think it will take to get us to Preston?”
“Well it is a three jump journey with this ship. So there is three weeks there no matter what you do. I figure it will all come down to turnaround at each system. We have to refuel and do routine maintenance before we can shove off again at each system. You’re on at least a month’s journey girls so you better learn to entertain yourselves, especially in hyperspace. Each stateroom has its own computer terminal, the lounge’s vid screen is a lot larger and your welcome to use it. My entertainment library updated right before we took off. There is also of course conversation and for lovers their beds.”
The dark-haired girl blushed. The red-haired girl smiled a little but also turned a light shade of red.
“Sorry girls, I notice things as I am a lot older than I look. I only have one warning, whatever you are running from better not cause me more trouble than its worth. If it does, it will come back on you. Understand.”
Both girls nodded and then I turned to the man in the room who was looking back at me with a wide-eyed look.
“As for you, you seem to be a good guy but behave yourself around all of us female types on this ship. These girls are a little young for you, majority age or no. As for me, I have high standards and one of my standards is only spacemen get touch my girl parts. You scream groundhog, so be advised.”
The two girls giggled and it was the man’s turn to blush a little. With that I downed the rest of my drink and went to my stateroom. For the first leg of the journey that was from Aurora to Solax, it was actually pretty entertaining to me. Most of the time it was the same routine of getting up and checking on potential problems which were not hardly any and then sitting in the lounge talking to the two girls. The real problem I began to have with the guy in the room is that he was overly polite and so just one time I did a surface thoughts scan on him. Turns out he was actually headed home to Solax and even though his ID Card had said he was a merchant, truth was he was actually part of one of the crime syndicates on the planet.
Not surprisingly. Solax is pretty much one of the places I would list as the armpit of the Republic. It is a pretty free and open planet but it is just the right combination of government and law interfering in people’s personal lives and lack of proper enforcement of said laws that allow for a high crime rate. Now this would not normally alarm me but the chief vices of Solax that were run by the crime lords were prostitution, drugs and gambling. With two fresh-faced and innocent girls on board my fear was that they would end up in a brothel somewhere on Solax and that is not something I wanted to see. If my suspicions were right someone would be following these girls and I didn’t want to explain to them how some bad things happened. I have enough enemies already.
I basically told them the truth about Solax and then told a couple of stories of my own experiences which were not good. I also showed them the statistics but I figured going to far might create in them desire and if there is one thing I know for sure is that young people think they are smarter and better than the older generation so they might try it thinking they can get away with it. I was going to have to watch it.
A day before we came out of hyperspace, the gentleman with us sat down beside me and told me flat out who he was. I told him I knew because I had been around. He basically told me that the best way to keep those girls from becoming sex slaves was to keep them on the ship. He suggested that I land in Scout terminals, refuel and get going on my next leg of the journey. Guy wasn’t a bad sort of criminal just one that probably knew no other way. I told the girls a few hours before hyperspace that another contract compelled me to dock with the Scout Base, refuel and shove off to our next stop – Justice III. They seemed slightly disappointed which confirmed my suspicions they had been planning something.
We came out of hyperspace and after a brief encounter with their customs agents, they let me land and my male passenger disembarked. I would never see him again but I was thankful he was a decent sort of criminal. I asked for a quick turnaround when I landed. I was refueled while the cargo of medical supplies was unloaded. There was another cargo that needed to go to Justice III and so I grabbed it up for the 5000 Credits they wanted to pay to ship it. I was getting ready to re-board the ship when a woman came running up asking for passage to Justice III. I looked her up and down and she looked like someone running from the law with her desperate shifting eyes. I was about to tell her no when she offered double the fee for travel.