Adventures abroad the Chen Xing- Chapter 1

I had earlier talked about the story I was writing based on my weekly gaming session and from today I will be posting one chapter of it each month. Below is the first chapter. 

Chapter 1

“You sure this is a bar? Looks like a bookshop to me.” I asked Aurora. 

“That’s just why it’s the new rage here. Because no one expected a bar to look like a bookshop.” 

I thought about it and shrugged. We walked in. I looked over the interior. It looked more like one of these bookshop/cafe combos except for the bar in the middle. The bartender handed us each a menu made to look like a piece of parchment. I looked over the items and raised my eyebrows. Techno. Roberto and Julianna. Hunter. All book titles. This place really runs to theme. 

We ordered. “Want a bookmark to go with it?” He gestured to the sandwich stand. We nodded. 

“Not to ruin our R&R my friends,” Estella began, stirring her rainbow colored drink with a toothpick and watching the colors dance within its depths, “But the Xing is down to about a 1/nth of a tank of fuel, and unless you all enjoy meals from a can the larder could use a top off too.” She softened the news with a slight smile. “On the upside, some fresh melons and star fruit will be ready in the garden sometime the week after next.”

I made a big stretch where I sat. “Time to talk to a few people and see whether we can pick up odd jobs.” My eyes travelled across the bar lounge, trying to decide who to approach. I’ve got drinking buddies aplenty and that often came in handy. I got ready to stand up but was stopped cold by what Aurora said next.  “By the looks of it an old friend of ours has been making a ruckus in the near by systems too,” She slid the newspaper across the table towards me.  “If Theron’s Hand wants to form a militia they might be willing to pay for folks who can help train them, or willing to keep the danger from reaching their doorstep in the first place.”

“They’d probably pay top dollar for shipments of arms and building supplies too.” Estella commented as she read over my shoulder, “Maybe pick some cargo up for resell if we’re headed that way?”

“Sounds like a plan.” I stood up. “Want to head to the market to check out prices?”

Aurora gave an enthusiastic assent.  “Let’s keep an eye out for Jake too, he might be slinking around hoping to find easy marks with all the unrest Faene is causing, If we can take him in the bounty would keep us in the air for a good long while.”

I frowned at the mention of the bastard, he fooled me good at the start. My face reads like an open book, I’ve always known that. So I waved Aurora off when she asked me about it. Estella tried to comfort with a grin and some words. I just nodded. We briefly split as me and Estella went onto the market while Aurora went to take care of the tabs at the bar. 

***

The market seemed particularly crowded on that day. Despite that, a man immediately drew my attention. He looked like a crane amongst a group of chickens, being the single man decked out in a suit surrounded by a group of workmen. A businessman with the usual dodge. “That aetheric converter isn’t going to build itself!” He was yelling at someone as I walked past his shop. I was going to stroll on but Estella suggested we approach him. I shrugged and strode right up to him. “Can we do anything to help?”

The businessman was probably not used to bold women. He looked shocked for a moment before he started sizing me up. “If you happen to know how to build an aetheric converter from scratch, or have an extra lying around somewhere, my employer will make it worth your while.”

“When do you need it by?”

“Considering it’s holding up construction of the new illium processing plant, any day I don’t have it is costing my employer a great deal of money. But I don’t think there’s one between here and Hale Prime.” 

“I think Hubert might be able to throw one together with my help,” Aurora whispered in my ear. I didn’t see when she caught up but it was perfect timing. 

“What’s a good price to charge? I’m going to ask for 50% up front now.” I whispered back.

Aurora shrugged and referred me to Estella, who gave me a minimum figure of fifty thousand and sixty for the situation the man was in a bind. I settled for the in between figure. “Fifty five thousand with half paid up front.” 

The businessman scratched the back of his head for a moment, looking out at the horizon. “I can maybe do 15k now. The rest I can have by day after tomorrow”

“Deal.”

He motioned to one of his workers and whispered into his ear, then reached into a pocket and pulled out three 5k chits. “When can you have it here? And, just to protect my investment, I want Roland here to stick with you until I get my unit up and running.”

“I’m not the one building it, but since you are having someone attend on us, you know we are not going to pull any delay tactic on you.” I let him know, so that his man would not get the idea to stick to me personally. 

“Well, he’ll follow the money until you get whoever is building it to build it.” He walked off and motioned his men to follow him, leaving behind someone who looked as dumb as a donkey. 

“I don’t suppose you have a broken one we can use for spare parts and a refurbishing base?” Aurora gave the man a charming smile while introducing herself. “Aurora Lieos, I’ll be helping oversee the device’s construction.”

I mumbled, “what a great choice for a supervisor.”

Roland furrowed his brow,  thinking hard. “I can show you the broken one.”

“Yes, that’ll be perfect, we take the broken one, use it to make a working one, give that to your boss for money.”

He smiled a lopsided smile. “Yeah, boss’ll like that. Come on.” He gestured and started walking.

“No need to treat him like he’s daft.” Estella cautioned Aurora quietly, “Some people are smarter than they look.”

Aurora nodded, accepting Estella’s point. “By the way, I saw some scruffy looking punk kid checking you two out as you left the bar, he took off out the back when he spotted me eye balling him, so stay alert, whoever he works for knows we’re here.” She whispered to the two of us. I was thinking over this when Roland led us to a beat-up hover truck and gestured for us to crowd in. 

It was at least a 20 minute ride until he pulled up to the plant a little way further outside of town. The building itself looked about 90% completed, not counting the clearly demolished piece of wall that he parked behind. Roland took us through the ragged hole in the wall, easily sidestepping pieces of broken glass and siding. 

The remains of the old aetheric converter glared at us inside. The blast marks around it showed the cause of its demise. “That’s the broken one” Roland stated the obvious. 

“What happened to it? Someone get mad and shoot it full of holes?” Estella asked him. 

“It’s broken.” Roland replied with the shifty-eyed look. As if we could not see for ourselves. 

“We could have Roland and whoever else is around here load it up for transport back to the Xing, or just have Hubert come out here and work on it.” Aurora mused out loud, to change the topic I assumed. 

“He’d have to bring all his tools and everything with him, easier to just do it back on the ship,” Estella pointed out. “Besides, we fix it out here, he can stiff us on the bill and run us off with his group of workers, if it’s on our ship he can pay us before he loads it up to haul off.”

Aurora confirmed with me and I agreed that was the best. I left the rest unsaid. Aurora asked Roland to load the converter up with the help of some of his co-workers since it was clearly a job for more than one pair of hands. He eagerly took up the offer, rubbing his hands together. “I be right back.”

Published by moonlakeku

intermediate Chinese fantasy writer working on her debut series

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