it through Fatman’s comp, and used it to auto-respond to the ping. In moments he received approval to land and docking instructions.
“Welcome to Vulta, Red Dwarf,” said the controller. “Set down on Yinta Lake landing pad one-eleven B.”
Zeerid tried to let the heat of atmospheric entry burn away thoughts of Oren, of The Exchange, of engspice. He tried instead to focus only on the one hundred thousand credits that should be awaiting him, and what he could do with them.
By the time the ship cleared the stratosphere and entered Vulta’s sky traffic, he had once more begun to distance himself from work and the persona that it necessitated.
But stripping away the vice-runner was getting harder to do all the time. The hole was getting too deep, the costume too sticky. He would be ashamed if his daughter ever learned how he earned a living.
He gave Fatman to the autopilot and went to the small room below the cockpit that he’d converted to his quarters.
His time in the army had taught him the value of organization, and his room reflected it. His rack was neatly made, though no one ever saw it but him. His clothes hung neatly from a wall locker beside the viewport. He kept extra blasters of various makes stowed about the room, and a lockbox held enough extra charger packs to keep him firing for a standard year. The top of his small metal work desk was clear, with nothing atop it but a portcomp and a stack of fraudulent invoices. Integrated into the floor beside it was a hidden safe. He exposed it, input the combination, and opened it. Inside was a bearer payment card with the mere handful of spare credits he’d been able to stash, and, more important, a small holo of his daughter.
Seeing the holo summoned a smile.
He picked it up. He always noticed the same three