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   Chapter 47 No.47

Bypass Gemini By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 6064

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

Which raised another issue. He didn't even know what it was that had driven them to such lengths. Lex's eyes turned to the duffel.

Ever since he had learned of Ms. Jones's death, he'd tried to avoid even looking at the silver case, as though her fate was somehow contagious, and could be avoided by minimizing exposure. At this point, though, he was already in over his head. Digging his grave any deeper hardly made a difference. The least he could do was find out what he was dealing with. Bit by bit, he sliced through the strips of duct tape that were holding the battered suitcase shut, revealing the single feeble and damaged lock that hadn't completely failed. Two good shots with the heel of his hand dislodged the twisted clip, and the case slowly squeaked open.

Lex wasn't sure what he had been expecting to find. Half of the time, exchanges like this ended up being blackmail articles--soiled underwear, compromising photos on a data drive, things like that. Judging from the amount of resources being dumped into the retrieval of this particular delivery, it was likely a good deal more substantial. A part of him had been hoping for something exciting, like vials of biological agents or perhaps the launch codes of some globe-shattering weapon. What he found instead, to say the least, defied expectations.

It was a short stack of pages, hard copy printouts with some handwritten notes. They were gathered into two bundles. The first was a thick packet, cluttered with charts and dense scientific language. Lex didn't understand half of what the pages said, but he recognized enough buzzwords and symbols to know that it had to do with stars, a stellar survey or the like. There were a few hundred stars detailed in total. Most of them had the sort of alphanumeric gibberish for a name that would

w other consequences.

Some planets were named after ancient gods--or, at least, the star they orbited and a number. Operlo had gotten its name because the mining consortium that owned it auctioned off the naming rights to a chemical company, who named it after their new floor polish, then promptly went out of business. There wasn't an ounce of romance or prestige in its history. The mines didn't even produce anything particularly exotic; mostly just iron, zinc, and tin. For a long time, the only people who lived there were the miners and a few associated industries, and the only people who visited were the cargo haulers. It was an isolated crevice, far away from anything resembling law enforcement.

Basically, it was the planetary equivalent of a dark alley. It was thus inevitable that it would attract a certain type of person. Operlo wasn't a vacation spot. It was a place to come if you didn't want to be bothered. As such, there wasn't a fancy check-in post monitoring traffic. Likely there had been some attempts, but these days about forty percent of the population was in some way associated with organized crime. That didn't create an environment conducive to administrative oversight.

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