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   Chapter 30 No.30

Loderunner By Christina Engela Characters: 5343

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

"Got any money there, guv?" Nurse quipped in a quasi old-Terran accent.

"Not enough for tickets back home." Tim replied. "Why?"

"I meant it as a joke." Said Nurse dryly.

"Oh. Right. Ha-ha. Forgot to laugh. No, really. Very funny."

The novice loderunner skipper part of him was way out of his depth, but the P.I. part of him knew somebody somewhere must have answers. He looked round at the tall light masts that were everywhere around the tarmac. Bright light cascaded down from them, flooding the expanse of concrete and myriad of non-Celeste's surrounding them. But they were also more than just lights, he knew. This was a space port and space ports had security systems too. The P.I. part of Timaset Skooch shushed the novice loderunner skipper part of him to a waiting chair, stuck a box of popcorn in his hands and told him to be quiet and watch the movie.

"Hey, where're you going Mister Skooch?" Deire called as he turned and started walking away.

"To the Spaceport." He called back. "I'm going to find out what happened."

* * *

Enquiries at the Harbormaster's Office only resulted in more questions. Sure, the ship took off three hours earlier, and funny enough, the pilot had followed correct coms-procedures and everything seemed to be above board as far as the spaceport authority was concerned. Sure there were visual records of the ship leaving, pretty good clear videos too, but they just showed Celeste taking off into the sunset. Not much help there. The destination was also a puzzle. For the record, it was a rather nice sunset.

The Celeste had taken off an

few thoughts about that too.

* * *

By the time they arrived back at the parking spot by taxi, Celeste had already landed and the ramp was extended. Bits of metal on the hull were pinging as they cooled. Steam was rising from the drive section and OMS and landing thrusters. Jonn Deire stopped alongside him and rubbed his beard thoughtfully.

"Wee-ell, at least the skids're still on." He grinned, relieved. Tim hadn't noticed. He was fixated on the figure striding down the ramp and wearing a broad grin. It was Vic, looking very pleased with herself.

"Where the hell have you been?" Tim demanded.

"Come on in and I'll tell you all about it!" She bragged.

Enough was enough. They were all tired out and relieved to see their ship again, so they bundled up the ramp. He made a quick visual inspection. No sign of Triple-J – or his takeaway dinner either.

"And where's Triple-J? Not under one of the skids, I hope?"

"No, I brought him inside just before you guys got here." She explained, still grinning. "He's in the lounge sleeping it off."

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