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Wanted Man

By Leia Fee
Page 1 of 4

Wanted Man

Wanted Man
By Leia Fee

“So now we are a taxi service are we, Blake?” Avon asked, the coolness in his tone not quite masking his irritation.

Vila, who had been half dozing during the start of the argument, now stretched in his chair and looked at Blake.  “Eh?  Who are we taxiing?”

“A rebel called Morval.  He was captured by the Federation a few years ago.  A message came in that he had escaped and needed transport off planet.  I agreed to help get him safely off Telnos and to the rebel base at Tana Four.”

“And you agreed this without consulting the rest of us,” Avon said.

“It will take four days at most.  Did you have something particularly urgent you wanted to do instead?” Blake asked in his most carefully patient and reasonable voice.

“That isn’t really the point, is it?”

“No, Avon, the point seems to be that you question every decision I make.”

“Maybe I just question your right to be making the decisions.”

Blake sighed tiredly.  “If you have any concrete reason why we shouldn’t help Morval reach the rebels then let’s hear it.  Otherwise, get back up to the flight deck and tell Jenna to set a course for Telnos.”

Avon stood staring a Blake for a moment longer then turned and left.

“Four days is going to be four days too long if Avon stays in that mood,” Vila muttered under his breath.

 *

The pick up at Telnos went smoothly and Blake and Morval reappeared in the teleport section within minutes of Blake teleporting to the surface to meet Morval.  Cally smiled a greeting as they stepped forward.  Blake turned to Morval to introduce him and found him staring at Vila, a strange look on his face.  Blake looked back at Vila who had gone suddenly pale. 

“Restal,” Morval began but didn’t get a chance to say anything further.

Vila leapt from the teleport controls, almost falling in his haste, and all but ran from the room.  Morval made an aborted move to follow him and whispered almost too quietly to hear, “I’m sorry.”

The two men had avoided each other ever since and neither had volunteered any explanation.  Vila had been unusually jumpy, even for him, and Blake was becoming worried.  He finally decided to raise the subject and sought out Vila who was napping in the rest room.  He awoke with a start when Blake sat down beside him.

“What’s going on, Vila?”

“Going on?”

“You’ve been jumping at shadows ever since Morval came aboard, and every time you come into a room, he makes an excuse to leave it.  You clearly know each other.  So what’s going on?”

Vila sighed.  “All right,” he admitted, “I do know him.  It’s because of him I’m here.”

---

Vila polished off his last drink of the evening as the barman began bellowing at the remaining customers to shift themselves so he could close.  Laughing, Vila staggered giddily after Josie and Niall.  The streets outside were crowded with homeward-bound drinkers and, even drunk as they were, Vila and his friends managed to lighten them of a handful of credits and the occasional piece of jewellery.  Light-hearted rivalry prevailed as they counted up their gains while the streets cleared of people.  Vila crowed as it became clear that he’d made the best profit of the evening.  Josie gave him a gentle shove.  “Show off,” she teased. 

Vila gave a sweeping bow and nearly tipped himself into a gutter. 

Niall grabbed the back of his tunic to keep him upright.  “You,” he announced, “Are drunk.”  Vila drew himself up straight.  “Thank you very much.  You’re quite right.  I am drunk.  So?” 

Niall laughed and clapped Vila on the shoulder.  “Well done you.  Sure you can get home okay?” 

Vila nodded indignantly.  “Course I can!  Find my way blindfolded.  What d’you think I am?  Some Alpha that can’t tie his shoe laces without one of us to help him?”

Niall laughed.  “See you tomorrow then.  If any of us can stand upright that is!”  Niall and Josie headed away down a side street and Vila continued towards his small flat.

It was dark now, the minutes allotted for people to get home between kicking-out time and curfew already spent.  Still he knew the way so well that, as he had told his friends, he could have found his way blindfolded.  Confidently, he made his way through the narrow passages between the girders and pillars that formed the underpinning of the dome.  In the areas allocated to the higher grades such fittings were hidden behind smooth, clean decor but down here no one bothered with such details.  Most of the residents would have felt uncomfortable in the harsh light and sharp lines of the upper sectors anyway.  The unadorned structure was symbolic of their essential role in society, or so preached those loyal citizens who dutifully accepted their allotted rank.  For Vila and those like him who preferred to make an easier living through their wits and light fingers, the alcoves and tunnels, alleyways and crawlspaces provided an ideal environment for them to practise their illegal lifestyle in relative safety.  None of this was on Vila’s mind though, as he wandered slowly home, humming a fragment of an old drinking song to himself.  Abruptly he was interrupted by a sudden sound from behind him.  He spun round to see who was there, and yelled in protest as hands grabbed him and he felt a sharp sting at his neck.  He peered through the dark at his assailant as his vision grew blurry and he crumpled to the floor.

He woke with a pounding headache.  He sat up, holding his head and looked round.  He was in a small room that looked as though it doubled as both office and bedroom for its owner.  The only other person present was a tall, dark skinned man holding a small gun.

“Sorry about your head.  The sedative is still wearing off and I gave you an alcohol suppressant.  I needed to talk to you with your mind clear.”

“What’s going on?”  Vila laid a bit more confusion and fear into his voice than he actually felt.  Mostly he was curious and he doubted his assailant would have gone to this much trouble just to shoot him now. 

“I have a job for you.”

“A job?  I don’t understand.”  Vila put on his best baffled expression.  He was, after all, a simple Delta with no idea why he’d been grabbed in the middle of the night.  There was no reason to assume this man knew of his particular vocation and Vila had no intention of volunteering the information.

“Don’t play games.  I know who you are, Vila Restal, and I know you are a rather accomplished thief.”

Vila thought about denying it but the confident expression on the man’s face deterred him.  “All right then.  You want something stolen.  What makes you think I’m interested?  I don’t make a habit of working for hire.”

“I think you’ll want to make an exception for this job.” 

His curiosity thoroughly aroused, Vila said, “I’m listening.”

The man smiled.  “Good.  I’ll come straight to the point then.  In the Alpha sector there is a government office building.  In that building is a safe.  It contains a rather large amount of currency as well as the item I am interested in.”

“Now hang on just a minute!”  Vila interrupted.  “A government building?  No way.  That’s not just a trip to a prison colony if I’m caught.  I’m more likely to get shot on sight!  Or sent to a readjustment centre.”

If you get caught that is.  I have every confidence in your ability to get through their security.”

“Oh do you?  Well that’s nice to hear.”  The thief didn’t bother to hide the sarcasm in his voice.  “Sorry, no amount of currency is worth ending up in a Federation brainwashing clinic.” Again, he added to himself.  Once was more than enough.

“Over a million credits.”

How much?”  Vila yelped.  “What’s that kind of money doing in a government office safe?”

“It’s used for bribes, black-market deals, similar unpleasantness.  You’d be doing us a favour by relieving them of it.”

Vila looked at the man suspiciously.  “And all you want is this one item?”

“A data recording.  You can keep anything else you can carry out of there.”

“This is political stuff isn’t it?”

The man didn’t answer.  Vila sighed.  “I’ve always made it a rule never to get mixed up in political stuff.”  He paused.  “But a million credits…” He hesitated a moment longer.

“All right.  I’ll do it.”

“Good.  And one more thing, you’re not to tell anyone else about this.  The more people know, the more risky it is.  For them as well as us.”

Vila nodded.

“Here’s a plan of the building’s location and floor plans of the interior.  The location of the safe is marked in green.  Known security checkpoints, locks and alarm sensors are marked in red.  That may not be all of them.”

“I’ll manage.”

“I don’t doubt it.  Once you have the recording bring it here.”  He handed Vila a slip of paper with an address scribbled on it.  “I’ll be waiting.”


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