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   Chapter 26 No.26

Loderunner By Christina Engela Characters: 5561

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

"Just – " He stammered, blushing, "Just keep her on the ship. For now. To be safe."

Vic and Jaymie looked at each other and smiled enthusiastically at each other.

"He said 'her!" They chorused. Clearly they were enjoying his discomfort.

He stared at Vic. It looked like they were having a really nice time. All girly-fied. She looked kinda funny with lipstick on. Near as he could figure it, he felt like somebody's wife who came home early and found her husband dressed in her lingerie and wearing her make-up. No, not quite. But at least he had an idea how it might have felt.

"I didn't know you had make-up!" He retorted before he could stop himself. "And… skirts?"

"Well, what do you think of me, Boss? I might be built like a brick shithouse and I might not wear much make-up but – oh… you thought because of my appearance…"

He fled before he tied himself into more knots. Or before Vic did it for him. On Martian soil at the foot of the ramp, he stood looking at the light blue sky and breathed in deeply. The air was so fresh and clean. Much better than the canned recycled air he'd been breathing the last four days. Fluffy white clouds hung high up in the atmosphere. Just like home, he thought. Not Deanna, but just like home. No crabby-grass and no strato-penguins. No Ding or Dong. No Dory. Just Fear and Panic. No, it wasn't home. Not home at all.

Tim and Deire took a taxi to the cattle market at the edge of the tarmac, several kilometers distant. It was a wild-west looking sort of affair, all livestock barricades and cattle pens. The floor of the place seemed to be covered in a mixture of mud or cow dung. Funny furry rectangula

ff the top of the fees Tim received. Curses. Well, he reasoned, he had to spend money to make money.

After that, they left with assurances that a load of wildebeest would arrive at the ship by the following morning. A nice chunk of change in his pocket from that deal, Tim decided the best place for it was in the safe in his cabin.

Back on Celeste, Tim went to his cabin and made good on that impulse, depositing two thousand credits in the little vault behind his headboard. Then he readied himself for the next item on his list, and obtained a picture of Jamie, um –-Jaymie, en-femme. This he took with him when he left again. He also decided to look up an uncle of his he hadn't seen in about twenty years. (Not the one he had to explain to the tour guides at the Astroplex.) The crew had already gone out with the intention of drinking and carousing in downtown Mars City. Vic had decided to stay on board to look after the ship – and Jaymie.

A quick stop at the space port building led him to a public communications center, where he sent an email to his friend and comrade-in-arms, Gary Beck.

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