Jak knew he shouldn’t have tried to open his eyes. He knew that this was when the real headache was going to begin, but the idea of trying to stagger these half familiar, vaguely remembered corridors with his eyes shut wasn’t appealing either. There were so many places where the paneling covering the flooring cracks was half unsoldered that he'd be on his knees again in no time. Leaning back against the wall, hurting everywhere, his ear hairs even hurting, Jak was suddenly almost overwhelmed by nausea. And ohh gods, how he hated to vomit! He always had.The station was old, and even having been refurbished, it was dank and dark and stank of the effluvia of scents the over taxed air exchangers and purifiers could neither exchange nor purify sufficiently. The Don stalked the corridors shaking his head slowly.
“To be honest,” he said in his thick Necian accent, “I don’t want this… stinking… pile of panels and solder. Your old man though was, how shall I put it, sufficiently unwise to use it as collateral on a series of loans from myself and my associates; loans that were, ostensibly, to fix this place up. Very substantial loans they were too I might add. So, since I don’t want this slug sty and couldn’t get rid of it for even a tenth of what is now owed, I’m going to make you an offer you,” and here Tony Marani smiled like a shark, “simply can NOT refuse.” He glanced over his shoulder at the broad shouldered young man being half hauled, half carried in the Don’s wake between tow very large Split warriors. The man’s face was a mass of swellings, blood dripping slowly from a nose smashed far out skew and lips mangled over notched and splintered front teeth. Simply being conscious was no small feat, but in as much as he could the man carried his own weight, pride buoying him more than his legs, all gone rubbery with shock and pain, could have hoped to have done.
“Part one of this, hero boy, is going to cost me, and thus, eventually, you, even more credits. I’m taking the two super freighters, such as the poor things can still be so called, in payment of the interest owed. You’ll keep one of the three Busters and the two smaller freighters. I’m taking the other two Busters and the Express in lieu of this jazuras interest payment and for the remaining set up and cum-shaw that it’ll take to get the sector board to pass this place as a mercantile concern.” Tony smiled again, another cold, frightening grin that promised that what the two Split had begun could be again accomplished at any point. “And you will, whenever you are so called upon to do so, render such …assistance, as you can to any member of my Syndicate who makes himself so known to you. This will usually take the form of clandestine transport, but may be expanded upon later. Now, soak them for everything you can get out of them boy, but you will never turn one of them down.”
Just as the world began to dim and the Don signaled his two bruisers to let the young man fall to the deck, the last words he heard were; “I promised my little girl I’d give you this chance. And Tony Marani always keeps his given word, but do not think to impose upon my goodwill…and if I ever see you within a kilometer of my daughter again I will become really annoyed with you. Understood?”
Slowly Jak convinced his eyes to open again and thanked whatever household god had his turn presently that it was dim, or, more honestly, dark, in this part of the station. Staggering down the unevenly floored corridors towards C&C he finally had to succumb to it, that raging nausea; twice. That was when, not when he was being beaten to a bloody pulp by a pair of massive Split, not when the Don was laying out what amounted to indentured servitude for a lifetime, but when Jak had to stop the second time to vomit, that he decided that one day he was going to track down that floating junk pile of his and torpedo it a time or eight. But that would have to be a distant future time. Right now he was in trouble and knew it.
He hoped the Don’s bean counters would be open to a little bribing. Jak knew he had to keep the one Buster variant that his father had bought right before he disappeared. The Vanguard was almost key to his short term plans and would be a BIG part of his piece of mind. Not that it would do him much good against the Don’s forces, he thought, marshalling his inner strength and pushing himself onwards. Better than a dozen of those nasty new Blastclaws and several Pirate versions of the new OTAS Elite, a formerly Split Dragon, his Marauder and who knew how many lesser craft, and maybe, if rumors were correct, a Galleon tucked away in Red Gamble; all these at least were what the Don could call on.
And Jak? He had his friends. They were short on cash, rolling stock, ships and luck, but they were tight and talented and five of them were damned good pilots themselves, with both Sevie and Brusco being first rate technicians and Poali and her pet AI, 'Cuddles' were a great tandem when it came to running the day to day operations, so it could have been infinitely worse. Poali could likely recruit a few decent dock workers and a good virtuality module could make a swamp bunny or a street rat into a decent factory worker in jig time, so with the unemployment planetside so bad, Jak at least wouldn’t have to worry about getting things produced even if the Board didn’t pass them at first. Again, bribes would get them up and operating if hard work and elbow grease couldn’t, but even so, the kind of money the Don wanted just for interest… that left Jak cold as urine vented out an airlock into the shadowed side of a station.
Still it was going to be up to him to be the main man. He was going to have to find a way to keep it all in the air at the same time, a juggling act with too many balls and plates and clubs to count, and if one slipped… Don Tony had mentioned ‘sleeping with the Boron’ in a completely understandable manner. Jak hadn’t even been tempted, for once in his life, to try to be a wise ass.
A cold compress on the worst of the facial contussions and a few spritzes from the auto doc was enough for the time being. He knew he had to get down to the docking bays and get into his EVA suit and get a look at the off side cowling on the Arizona’s thrust governor before taking her planetside to begin ferrying his staff up to the station. Like his Drill Instrictor used to say back in the Academy; “You ain’t got yerselv time to be sick boy. Y’all gotta be tough and mean and on the ball. Take your rest time after you’re worm food.”. Good advice for the time being. There were so few mazuras in the stazura, so few stazuras in the tazura and time really was profit right now.
And maybe life.
1 ZT followed the three digit number then a point then a single digit number, a point and a final single digit number is read as the standard jazura, followed by the mazura (eight to the jazura), wozura (seven to the mazura) and tazuras (seven to the wozura). Further this would be sub divided into the stazura (seven to the tazura), the mizura (ninety six to the stazura) and finally the sezura (again, ninety six to the mizura); the standard Zuran Time scale.