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   Chapter 21 No.21

Loderunner By Christina Engela Characters: 5207

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

"See you 'round." Greeted Deire.

"I don't think so." Said Jones coolly.

The two figures and their luggage began to sparkle and fade out. They were gone. Apparently their friends outside had some state-of-the-art equipment in that little ship. Well, that was that. They made ten thousand on the trip, with minimal expenses. He still had around eight grand left in the safe in his cabin and now it was time to move on to their next port of call. To see if he could build on that little nest egg. But there was just one little thing…

"Go ahead." He said to Deire, pointing at the PDA. "Test it."

"On the level?"

"On the level." Said Tim. After all, you never knew when they might need to use that thing – and then it better be working.

Deire shrugged, placed the device on the platform and went round to the control desk. Pressing here and there, he induced a similar effect as when their two passengers departed. After the sparkle effect, the platform was empty. A moment or two later, he brought it back. When the sparkle faded, a small blackened lump on the platform made a muffled, distorted beep that sounded like a distressed whale, and then shorted out spectacularly. They exchanged meaningful glances again. Deire laughed and shrugged at him.

"Guess there was reason to worry!"

* * *

And so the ancient loderunner steadily exited the rings of um, Jupiter, making its way to the inner planets of the Sol System. The rickety old chair under Tim was not much to look at, but it was comfortable. Well-worn patterns had formed in the o

arms of his chair in a stony silence.

"Watch out, they're gainin'!" Deire reported, his eyes fixed on the sensor displays. Tension was running high on the flight deck of the old loderunner. Questions began gnawing at him. Why would Jones and his companions attack them? The P.I. side of Timaset Skooch smacked the rookie skipper side of him upside the head. Because they didn't want any witnesses, you dope! No questions asked, remember? And none answered either.

To say Tim was surprised at the way Bubba seemed to be weaving the old ship between the asteroids was an understatement. The man was doing it like he was playing an arcade game. Only, if they hit anything the view screen wouldn't say GAME OVER. It probably wouldn't say 'splat' either. The other ship was still following, firing at them occasionally but less accurately now. The pilot seemed to be concentrating on not flying his ship into a rock. As it was, the smaller bits were scraping and denting Celeste's hull and Tim wondered how long they could keep this up.

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