A Pilot Without a Ship

Started by Izak Archer, October 08, 2017, 04:59:54 PM

Izak Archer

"You got to be joking, no one mentioned that when I asked to hire you," said the man sitting across from him.

Izak shook his head. This was the third guy in a month. Clearly not all of his clients were making known that he was on the only pilot in the Black that had standards as to what types of jobs he would do. Or that he preferred to use a client's ship as it kept his skills sharp.

"Nope. I never joke about my work; ships are too expensive," he said with a smirk. "Not my fault that your issue is that the best guy for your money has standards that don't flex based on alcohol." He finished his drink. "Plus I'm a pilot, not a shipping company." He watched as the man tensed up, clearly not getting what he bargained for. Izak signaled for another drink, and paid for a plate of food.

"Look, mister...you never did give me your name," Izak said

"Boras," the man replied.

Izak smiled. "Thank you. Boras, I don't mean to offend but I don't move the kind of garbage that you are talking about. I never move anything I could get slapped with a conspiracy charge for." The man slowly turned a dark red, getting angrier by the second. "I know you want the best, but I only became the best because I'm as picky about the jobs I do as the women I spend my nights with. and I can set you up with any of another six pilots who will move your rather...exclusive...product."  Izak took out a small slip and place it on the table. He pushed it towards Boras. They may have been sitting in the corner of a bar, but Izak always sat here for the simple reason that he could see the whole bar. That and he could keep his large shotgun propped up on the wall next to him. It was a very effective deterrent. Boras took the slip and slid his chair back. As he stood up to walk away, Izak said, "Just remember, I never charge for a consultation!" He smiled out from behind his drink and placed one hand on his shotgun. Boras shook his head and left in exasperation.

Izak always knew that he was a rather eccentric pilot. No military experience, but he still trained at the best possible flight academies he could get into. He was right though about one thing, and one thing that most peopel got wrong: if you want to be the best, you need to have a set of standards you don't flex from for anyone or anybody. Period. It's how he built a reputation.  The smuggler with morals, he was called.

...But more awkwardly, the pilot without a ship. Flying a variety of ships kept his skills sharp as the edge of a fine blade. That said though, that meant that unless he was working for a private hauler or a small shipping company, he wasn't behind the controls of a ship. Most of his present income came from working as a mechanic. Being a good pilot meant you had to be good at knowing how to fix just about anything. Engines, generators, cockpit electronics, it didn't really matter to him so long as he could make rent and eat. Not to mention save up a little money too. He eventually did want to start his own shipping company, and that certainly required a ship, and for that he had his heart and mind set on a Fenris...

You aren't going to get that ship if you keep stuffing your face tonight though, he thought. Time to call it a night. He reached into his pocket, and left his payment on the table. Gave the waitress her tip and with a smile, slung his shotgun over his shoulder and walked out into the dusk-lit street. Merchants crowded under the overhangs of the few buildings on the town center, hawking their wares before closing up for the night there were kids playing catch in the middle of it all, there mother's hollering for them. That's when the ball almost took of Izak's nose, passing right in front of him. On the next throw he caught it and threw it to one of the kids.

"Think fast pal!" He yelled, "And be careful throwing a ball to close to a guy with a gun, it usually doesn't end well for him if he can't shoot it down!" Izak leaned back laughing, and one of the three kids caught on, but for the others took a minute for it to click. He shook his head and walked on back to the small residential building where he had a room. Walking in the front and heading up the stairs to the next floor, he walked to his door and opened it. That's when his data pad chirped. Someone left him a message.

Izak walked past his datapad and opened the message. It was an audio file, so he let it play while he hung up his jacket and place his shotgun in the corner. And started to untie his boots.

<Hey Izak, its Edgar down at the warehouse. I'm guessin' you're out at the bar a'gin for business, so I thought I'd just let you know 'bout the poker game tonight. We start at 9, like usual.>

Izak sighed, "Well, now I know what I didn't remember this morning." He started tying his boots back on as a second message began to play.

<Izak, its Warner. Transit ship came through today, and dropped off a special delivery for you from your sister. Big brown box with two letters attached to it. She ever gonna just send you stuff as files?> The message was broken up by brief laughter. <Anyway, seems important, its after hours, so I can't get it to you until tomorrow, but I'll be at the game tonight at Edgar's, so if you want it early, meet me there.>

Izak's head snapped towards the datapad. A package from his sister? It wasn't surprising, but the question was what was in it. He quickly grabbed his coat and stuffed the datapad in his pocket. He hesitated on leaving his shotgun, but then took it anyway. It was a visual deterrent as much as it was a lethal one. No sense it leaving it at home, especially when walking around in the dark. He was in such a rush that as he grabbed his shotgun from the corner of his room, he heat his head on the overhead cabinet on the wall.

"Gorram!" And with a hand over the back of his head, he ran out the door.
He was still rubbing the back of his head when he got to the warehouse that Edgar ran. Though it was more of a massive, open-floor plan general store than anything else. Well, at least that's how he ran the place. Everyone was out to make some scratch here or there to get by. That's why he ran the poker games. Izak finally gave up on his head and knocked on the door. I do like to make an entrance, he thought.

Warner answered the door. "Well look what just blew in," he said with a chuckle. "Why are you always late Izak? Hell, I thought even that package from your sister would get you here faster."

Izak put a smirk on his face. "Sorry to disappoint," he said as he sidestepped Warner. "Now that I'm inside, shall we keep them waiting? I'm guessing you'll have to deal me in on the next hand."

Warner closed the door and waved for Izak to follow. "Package is on the counter by the table. Feel free to rifle through it while you wait." The poker games were really the only fun Izak had in this small town on this world. It broke up the monotony of the week. Sure there were probably other things he could do, but playing cards with five other guys and making fun of each other worked just fine for him. It felt civilized. As they rounded the stack of crates, Izak could smell the sheriff's cigars and heard them laughing. Then came the fake applause as he rounded the corner. "Thank you gentlemen," he said with a slight bow. "I'll be over here if when you need me."

While they finished their hand, Izak took the two letters and put them in his pocket. He would read them later. The mystery brown box though, that was what interested him. It wasn't anything heavy, which he discovered as he opened the box. There was a note on top.
Izak- I thought it was about time you got these. They were your's to have to start with after all. Here's hoping some music will help your days go by faster.
Your sister,

Finally! Izak thought. Inside the box was a wrapped case with his music, all on one small data stick that he could plug into his datapad and upload. There were hundreds of years of music on that one, small piece of hardware.

"Hey Izak!" Edgar practically yelled. "We dealin' you in?"

"Yeah, yeah," Izak said. "So who's money do I get to take tonight?" He said with a smile.
...Four Hours Later...

Izak never said he was any good at poker, but as a pilot, luck and skill net hand in hand, just like in a card game. Sometimes, you needed one more than you needed the other. He wasn't all that good at bluffing all the time either. He had a tendency to whistle while he played too, which drove most people crazy, but if he was winning, more people complained about that.

"So what took you so long in gettin' here anyway?" Asked Edgar.

Izak didn't even look up from his hand. "Well," he began, "One of my contacts really hasn't been conveying all of the my important information to my potential clients. Today some guy named Boras met me at the bar asking me to move some rather...uh...potent, personal products." He threw a chip on the table from his growing pile. "He had no idea about my standards and policies. That really got 'im fired up." Edgar set the next card on the table. "Gorram," Izak said with a sigh. "I fold." He slapped his cards on the table and leaned back in his chair.

Warner leaned in closer to the table. "Boras?" He asked. "Kinda round guy with a bald head and not that bright? Doesn't take no for an answer?"

"That'd be him," Izak replied. "You know 'im?"

"Just by reputation," Warner answer. "He's a middle man for some of the biggest scumbags you'll ever meet. Hires pilots, merchants, crews. Anything to move something illegal. And not the like the medical supplies you 'helped to expedite' last year."

"Let me guess, I'm gonna see him again tomorrow as soon as I go to the bar tomorrow," Izak said taking a new hand of cards.

Warner nodded. "He might also have some 'help' with him too."

Izak rolled his eyes. "I'll just do my best not to wreck the place."
...The Next Morning...

Izak wasn't really worried about Boras or whoever would show up with him. He got used to people not taking no for an answer in his line of work. It was normal. A hazard of the job sometimes too, and this was one of those times. He couldn't really do much about it though. So he went to the bar and sat down to eat breakfast just like he always did, and searched through his datapad for the latest news. He was there for maybe a whole hour more when Boras came back in the door, with two pieces of hired help.

Boras approached Izak's table and sat down. His friends stood by the counter, trying to look subtle. Boras slammed his hand down on the table and left the slip of paper Izak gave him the day before sitting there. Izak didn't even look up but he smiled a little.

"So," Izak began, "To what do I owe this displeasure." Izak leaned back, showing his shotgun cradled in his lap. "Those other guys turn you down too? If any of them did, I'd be surprised. They move your kind of stuff all the time."

It didn't look as though Boras would say anything, and then he said, "I found you a ship, now you can move my product."

Izak raised an eyebrow. "If I recall correctly, I turned you away. I don't work for you. Actually, I won't work for you. Are you really going to make  an attempt to strong arm me?"

Boras stood up fro m the table and took a few steps back. "Consider this you contract," he said, pulling out a pistol.

"Then consider this my notice," Izak shot back as he threw his plate at Boras. That's when he flipped the table he was sitting at and got behind it.

Then the hail of bullets began as patrons cleared the bar and people started screaming outside. Izak wasn't a big fan of three on one odds, but he only had to even out the situation to win. Aiming his shotgun out past the side of the table he directed his first two shots at the bar counter as one of Boras' thugs ducked behind it for cover.

"Gorram", Izak said as he missed and peppered the wall of the bar with pellets. Sliding into a kneeling position he popped up from the table and shot twice at the thug headed for the door, and hit him. The guy was still alive, but he fell hard and wouldn't be getting up without help.

"That's one," he said rolling his eyes while sitting against his makeshift cover watching bullets take piece out of the wall he was facing.  If they don't kill me the owners will. James and Brin won't be happy about this mess, he thought. "You're gonna run out of bullets soon enough Boras!"

That when Izak saw the second of the thugs come out from behind the bar; wide eyed and without hesitation Izak whipped his gun around and pulled twice on his shotguns trigger. He watched as the thug caught both shells in his chest and sprawled backwards next to the bar counter where he just was.

From the other side of the bar, Boras swore and said "This is why I need to start doing things myself!" He started pulling the trigger on his pistol but soon heard a dead metallic click. He was out of bullets. Throwing his gun at Izak's table he bolted for the door, meeting Edgar's fist right as he made it.

Izak stood up from behind the table and smiled. "Jesus Edgar, what took you so long?"
Edgar through his head back laughing as a deputy handcuffed Boras. "You know," he began. "I had to make sure James wasn't gonna kick your ass for you helping tear up her bar!" Edgar looked around. "I got say you did better than I thought."

Izak started to chuckle, "You do realize that screwing with a guy holding a gun is usually a bad idea right." He slung his shotgun back over his shoulder. Izak walked over the counter and fished around for a glass. Blowing some wood splinters off it he walked around to the back of the counter, and then looked around for a pitcher of the juice James had served with breakfast that morning. Bitter stuff, not like what he could get back in the core, but still worth the small amount of money it cost. After finding the pitcher, he filled his glass to the rim and left the money for two on the bar.

Edgar looked right over at Izak and said, "Really? I mean I know it's not alcohol, but you're going to pour yourself a drink right now and enjoy it?"

Izak took a small sip, then another. "Well yeah," He responded right before he sucked down the beverage. He gently set the class back on the table and looked over at Edgar. James was walking towards the bar. The he asked, "I might as well start paying for the repairs now right?"

The End

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