At least during this week in hyperspace all four of us were pretty social. The new guy was a technician that was an expert in gravitics and electronics. He had worked on Justice for a year and got sick of the pomp and fealty crap in about six months but he hung on to finish his year and then resigned. His thoughts were that he was not really made to obey orders without question for long periods of time. He had been in the Republic Navy for eight years but had been forced to leave after a bad term. I think he might be right. At least he was a spaceman so I started flirting with him right away which led to horizontal heavy breathing activities the second night onward.
Preston was a love, hate goal right now. The planet would mark the end of a month-long journey for me and the end of carrying these two girls to their destination so that was something to be excited over. The problem was Preston itself was not to my liking as a system.
Preston was a dictatorship which is not as odd as you would think it is inside the Republic. The Republic is about governing the space between stars and the individual systems govern themselves. The current dictator of Preston had been popularly elected for life. He was the third man to hold the post and that is kind of the point. The third MAN to do so. Preston is considered an extreme law planet which means no weapons off my spaceship and probably being treated like a second class citizen because I have a vagina instead of a penis. Such was the world of Preston. It was also an industrial world which meant wearing a mask or staying indoors most of the time. Independent women who like fresh air like me are not going to fit in.
What puzzled me was why the two girls wanted this to be their final destination. They told me that it really was not their final stop but it was as far as their money would take them. They could work in the factories for a while and then move on to the next world. I shook my head as it was more likely that they would never leave it. It is however not my job to babysit people just take them place to place. I had a cargo to drop off and three passengers to disembark and then I would have to look for more work to keep me flying. So far this was shaping up to be a profitable journey.
We came out of hyperspace and had to wait for an escort vessel to scan us, board us and then question us. Once they were satisfied, a pilot was given to me to fly us in. Paranoid does not begin to cover this police state. The only thing that really kept us all safe is that we all Republic citizens and the Republic embassy on Preston was pretty aggressive in making sure its citizens were accorded full rights. At least as long as you stayed in the confines of the starport. This was the concerning thing for me and the two girls I had taken all this way. They would get swallowed up by Preston if they left the starport. They might get lucky and work in a factory but more likely they would end up on the streets. It caused a struggle within me until I met with them right before we landed.
“Here is your last Mid Passages back. Preston is not a good planet for two young women in love. Take another ship for another jump to somewhere else and don’t leave the starport”
They objected but I told them there were two good options to choose from and that there were Free Traders leaving to both of them in less than twenty four hours. I didn’t really have to work very hard to convince them after the airlock opened and they got a good look at Preston itself. It was dark with grey structures and covered with industrial ash. The pictures and statues of the man who was the current leader of the planet were everywhere. After a quick look around they agreed to do as I asked, thanked me and disembarked. The planet pilot left and that left me and the technician. He kissed me and then after patting my backside took off. He had a ship to catch in about eight hours.
For the first time in a month I was alone. I closed the airlocks, did a security scan and then did a life scan. I was all alone, so I activated my security systems. I stripped down to my skin and headed for the bridge. I put out on my message board that I was once again for hire. I took stock of my profits for the voyage. I had earned seven Mid Passages (nine minus two for the ones I returned) that amounted to 56,000 credits. I had three cargos that had a net profit of 20,000 Credits and I had hauled mail at a flat 25,000 Credits once. Grand total 101,000 Credits for the month. The Scouts had paid most of my expenses for starship operation. I went back to the lounge and toasted myself and The Sabine Hawker in silence. After a long shower, I went to bed.
When I awoke the next morning and after some stretching went to the bridge to see if I had any jobs available. To my surprise there was only one. It was and offer to hire me and my ship for an expedition to do some exploration of a nearby system. The client wanted to get a second opinion assessment of a world in that system to see if there was something profitable to be had. The Republic Scout Service had given it a low rating for potential. He wanted to double-check it and take a closer look. The expedition would be me, the investor and two others. It would last a month and paid 250,000 Credits plus a bonus if we found something. I sent a positive replay and told them I would meet with them the next day on my ship. Today, I wanted to get some extra sleep and practice using my psionic powers.