Quite simply, Zeb didn’t have enough to pay the docking fees to get his crate off this backward asteroid. Prospecting this far out hasn’t gotten him squat, and he just finished off the last of his inheritance on that doltish whore.
At least he still had the old crate. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. But if he didn’t find a way to get out off of Vesta and away from Dmitri, he was sure to lose that too. Either that or his other hand, and he couldn’t afford a girlfriend.
So here sat Zeb, sipping cheap mushroom moonshine in what barely passes for a bar, 10 million miles from home.
“ZEB! Just the spacejockey I was looking for! How’s the best pilot this side of Mars doing these days?” Jonnie Murdock was like solar radiation. Constant exposure to him meant eventual death. Zeb quietly took another swig.
Jonnie plopped down into the chair opposite of Zeb, fighting a hangnail with his file. “You know, word is you're overdue on your docking fees. You do realize they won’t just let you park here forever, right?”
Zeb looked over at Jonnie with a hard sniff and leaned back. What a sight, Zeb mused, that slicked back shock of red hair was as plastic as his checkered sweater.
“Yeah, who says?”
Jonnie looked around and then leaned in close. “Look, there’s a shipment that a couple of guys want to move-“
Zeb violently shook his head.
“Here me out! Nothing illegal, just something delicate-“
“The situation or the cargo?”
“A little of both- but only cuz it’s valuable-“
Zeb moved right into Jonnie's face, “Jonnie, your little scumbag piece of shit, do you remember why I don’t trust you?”
“Aw… come on! That’s ancient history!”
“It was Monday!”
“Wait, what day is today?”
“Yeah, I see it was the day before the day before yesterday. Who keeps track of all those little details?”
With a disgusted sigh, Zeb grabbed his drink and proceeded to walk out and Jonnie grabbed the sleeve of his coveralls.
“They’ll pay triple what you owe.”
Zeb paused. He looked down at Jonnie and studied him for a second.
“Triple? What’s the catch?”
“They’re desperate. They don’t know anybody around here. It’s the perfect set up.”
Ah. There it is. The perfect setup… but just like anything Jonnie says, there’s always double meaning. Of course, if he does nothing he’ll lose everything and wind up with a one way ticket to the surface without a suit.
And the other thing Jonnie said… they’re desperate. Yeah. Jonnie’s got a good nose for sniffing out the desperate.