But do it quick. Someone is going to clean up that mess before long, Id wager.

So how did you manage to kill eight men?

The discussion was about to take a turn for the worse. They were too close to one of the shipping containers full of grenades when it blew up.

Oren paused. One of our shipping containers blew up?

Zeerid swallowed hard. I lost it in the escape. The rest of the cargo is intact.

A long silence followed, an abyss of quiet. Zeerid imagined Oren flipping through the file cabinet of his mind, cross-referencing Zeerids story with whatever other pertinent facts Oren already knew or thought he knew.

This wasnt my fault, Zeerid said. You find your leak, youll find whos at fault.

You lost cargo.

I saved cargo. If I hadnt sussed this out, the whole shipment would have been lost to pirates.

It would have been recovered. It is difficult to recover exploded grenades. Do you agree?

I would have been dead.

You are replaceable. I ask again: Do you agree?

Zeerid could not bring himself to respond.

I choose to interpret your silence as agreement, Z-man.

Zeerid glared at the speaker while Oren continued: At best, you will get paid only half for the job. The amount of the lost cargo will be set against that and added to your marker. It was already in excess of two million credits, if I remember correctly. The note on the ship and some loans against your gambling.

Oren always remembered correctly. The job would net negative for Zeerid. He wanted to punch something, someone, but there was no one in the cockpit but him.

This makes me look bad, Z-man, Oren said. And I very much dislike looking bad. You will make this up to me.

Zeerid did not like the sound of that. How?

A pause, then,

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