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This maybe the last of the FREE published stories that I've won an award for so pay attention! Below is CHAPTER 4 of "Dangerous Gamble".
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Also, because this is a free story it will be doled out in parts. All the parts will be connected so you can follow the completed story.
Last we saw our hero, he challenged Aurellio Crown to meet him at Trevithick Station hoping to find some answers about his new, mysterious and generous employer─because Corran knows nothing in the Federation is free, and there's always a catch.
An Elite Dangerous FanFic
© 2015 S.N.McKibben
“If it isn’t the Jackpot Winner himself.” Dalton, the barkeep at the Star and Garter, had become my number-one fan for some reason. After seeing me meet with Felix a few times, Dalton treated me with more esteem.
“Why do you always call me that?”
“Because…” he shrugged. “It’s true, right?”
Dalton poured my favorite. Potts-dim liquor still quenched my palate even after I’d tried several more expensive types of alcohol. At least now I knew how the top-shelf drinks tasted. Before, I’d never had enough money to indulge in such trivialities.
“So, you do know anything about my patron?” I asked.
Dalton eyed me in warning. “It’s best not to go poking around a patron’s business.”
“I know something about Felix,” a voice from behind me said.
I turned around and saw a cloaked man. His hood covered his face, exposing only his nose, lips and days-old beard scruff.
“Oh?” I said.
“For a price,” the drifter elaborated.
Of course. “How much?”
“I want to hear it.” A blond, blue-eyed jock plopped down a credit stick. I recognized the voice. The blond could only be Aurellio. Mr. Sunshine looked every part of the quintessential rich kid. He wore the best pilot suit money could buy. Toting a dashing velvet red cape—much like Felix’s, Aurellio looked, sounded and smelled like money. Only, I knew his patron chucked him overboard like rotten meat. That must have been a devastating blow. For a guy like him, born with a silver spoon up his ass, coming down to the Federation hell-hole was actually a little dangerous. I never worried for Felix. The old man seemed to know how to handle himself. But Aurellio might get jumped. I’d have to tell him to tone it down a bit around here or risk getting mugged.
Aurellio sat next to the hooded drifter, slid the credit stick towards the man and crossed his arms over the table.
The hooded stranger stared at the credit stick Aurellio had put on the table. The drifter took a sip of his drink, grabbed the credit stick and inserted it into a scanner. From the lack of haggling, I figured he was impressed with the amount offered. Not good. I looked around to see who might notice Aurellio throwing around his credits. Shit this guy was clueless. Money around here brought out the smell of people’s desperation.
“I was here when Felix was talking to the resident CEO.” The stranger’s nose turned to me. “You might know her,” he smirked. Great. For there being no one around during my merciless firing, it seemed everybody knew about my abasement at the hands of Ourora Kingsley.
“It seems you two were just play pieces,” the drifter said.
“Harbinger,” Dalton growled.
The hooded man flipped off the bartender. “As I recall, you won a great deal on the bet.”
“And this is your way of compensating yourself for losing?” Dalton said.
“Bet?” Aurellio scowled. “What bet?”
Harbinger took a sip of his drink. “Don’t you know your ex-patron, Golden One?”
“What were the terms?” I asked.
“You two can’t work that out?” Harbinger stood up.
“Hey, that’s it?” Aurellio lifted his palms as if to say what gives?
Harbinger shrugged. “That’s all I’m allowed to say.” He turned his face to Dalton.
Aurellio strutted over next to me at the bar, eyes glaring at Dalton. “What do you know?”
I watched Harbinger slink out of the bar and fade into the shadows.
“Just like he said, boys,” Dalton said.
“You bet in my favor and he didn’t?” I turned to the barkeep. “Thanks!”
“Does that mean I get free drinks?” I grinned.
Worth a try. “So it involved Felix becoming my patron. Was that why I was fired?”
“That old biddy would’ve fired you anyway.” Dalton cleaned a glass with his white rag. “That’s just who she is.”
“Come on,” I said. “Tell me why you won if you’re not going to share in the profits.”
“I won because you won.” Dalton ran the rag over the counter.
“All I’m doing is making a living,” I said.
“Precisely.” Dalton folded the rag and tossed it under the bar.
“So Felix bet on him and Ourora bet on me?” Aurellio pointed a thumb at himself.
“Not exactly,” Dalton said.
I threw up my hands. “Will you just say it?”
The barkeep rolled his eyes. “Think of it in terms of Federation versus Imperials. It’s the same morals that govern the two factions.”
Aurellio’s forehead hit the bar top.
“Are you all right?” I said.
“I know.” Aurellio rolled his face toward me without lifting his head off the bar. “It was based on our success.”
“Explain,” I said.
Mr. Sunshine lifted himself up off the counter. “Here’s how it would go. Felix would pull me out of my ship, stop being my sponsor, and dump me in some backwater Federation hellhole, knowing I’d get back to Imperial space. Not only that, I’d get up and running again. You can’t stop a Crown.”
“Okay.” I lifted my eyebrows. A little full of ourselves, aren’t we? But it did sound like he’d been shoved into a situation much like mine before I met Felix.
“But you, a space rat, given the opportunities I had, would succeed.”
“So you’re saying he bet on us both achieving our goals? You’d get back what was taken from you and I’d find a better life?”
“Damn it!” Aurellio pounded on the bar top. “And we won him the bet.”
“You reap what you sow,” I quoted.
“Imperials believe you can achieve anything if you’re given a chance and set your mind to it,” Dalton said.
“While the Federation believes no one can do anything without government intervention,” I continued. That belief was all too well implied in everything they did. Screw that.
“What was the bounty?” Aurellio asked.
Dalton pulled a decanter from under the bar. “Care for some Bast snake gin?”
Part 4 END
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