The Short Fic Weekly Challenge Thread!
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03.17.2013 , 07:17 PM |
: To Market, To Market
: Kirya Bilali, smuggler
: Why I Hate Customs
Ah, Kabe, now you’ve gone and put ideas in
No spoilers. I so need to catch up on replies.
Kirya powered down the ship, “Okay,” she said, turning to Corso, “All we need is the local customs authority clearance and we’re home free.”
Corso peered through the cockpit micrometerorite screen, “Here she comes now.”
“Her?” Kirya glanced at the landing bay platform. Sure enough, a blue-uniformed customs agent was already making her way across the duracrete. Kirya hoped it would be Suree again, he was a sucker for sweet talk and a case of beer. Guess this one would come down to more traditional bribery. “Okay, I’ll get the credsticks, you and Risha contact the GTN listing agent and start moving the horranth eggs.”
“Gotcha,” Corso said, opening a channel. His contact request went immediately to hold and a synthesized, non-vocal version of last-year’s number one pop hit began playing through the terminal’s speakers.
Kirya jogged to the safe in her cabin, swiped a handful of Hutt-Cartel issue credsticks, and proceeded to
’s main hatch. She opened it and met the agent as she passed into the shadow of the ship’s landing gear, “Afternoon, officer...” Kirya quickly read the name badge on her uniform, “Isado.”
Isado looked up from her datapad. Bright horns poked through the Zabrak’s streams of long blonde hair, “Afternoon. You the registered owner-operator of this vessel?”
“Yes I am,” Kirya replied.
Isado nodded, “Your log states you recently visited Terrak Five. You wouldn’t happen to have any horranths among your cargo, perhaps not listed on the manifest?” she asked.
Something in Isado’s voice made Kirya suspect she wasn’t asking because she collected reptiles as a hobby. “Why, no, Officer Isado, of course not,” she said, pumping as much innocence into the statement as possible.
“Good,” Isado said, returning to her datapad, “Horranths are considered a class-one invasive species on this planet. Blasted things breed like the plague. I trust you won’t be responsible for letting more of them loose on our fragile ecosystem.”
Kirya placed one hand on her heart, “Absolutely not, Officer. I have no intention of harming your planet’s ecosystem.” What happened to the creatures after they left her hold was not her fault.
Isado nodded again, “Glad to hear it. The rest of your paperwork looks to be in order. I’ll have the dockworkers string up the quarantine and you should be good to go in forty-eight hours.”
Clearance without a bribe! Darn Suree, costing her beer every trip, what a jerk. “That’s excellent news, Officer, thank--” Kirya cut off as Isado’s entire statement sunk in, “Wait, did you say quarantine?”
“Yes,” Isado said, folding the datapad under her arm.
“Forty-eight hour quarantine?” Kirya repeated.
“Yes,” Isado agreed, “Republic alerts show an outbreak of praxian flu on Terrak Five. Symptoms normally manifest within seven standard days. We’re nine from the Terrak system with a plus-point-three hyperdrive, but just to be certain we’ve imposed a quarantine and mandatory blood screen on all arrivals from that system. No one off or on. I was going to take care of this with short-range comms, but I couldn’t get through.”
The eggs could start hatching within forty-eight hours. “May I see that alert please, Officer Isado?” Kirya squeaked.
Isado handed over the datapad. Sure enough, there it was. Praxian flu outbreak on Terrak Five. Kirya dug for the credsticks in her pocket with one hand, “I’m sure you can make an exception, can’t you, Officer Isado?”
“Negative,” Isado said, “in fact, since I’ve been exposed now, I have to ask you to put me up for the duration.”
“You want to stay? On the ship?”
Isado laughed, “If you don’t mind. I hate to impose, but all your channels were busy so I couldn’t warn you. I’ll pay whatever your going rate is for carrying passengers, but I’d rather not sleep on the duracrete.”
“Heh, heh,” Kirya laughed weakly. She put a few chips on the datapad and handed it back, “Sure you can’t expedite those tests?”
“Sorry, it takes that long to run the culture,” Isado said, staring at the credsticks for a moment before handing them back, “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were trying to bribe me.”
Kirya’s smile was painted on, “I wouldn’t dream of it, Officer.”
“That’s good,” Isado said, “Bribing a customs official is serious business. Officer Suree’s reports on your ship show you’re clean, so this is just a formality. It’s nice to meet an honest shipper for a change.”
“I bet,” Kirya said, “We’re a rare breed.”
“No kidding,” Isado agreed, “You know, you might want to look into upgrading your comm system.”
“Oh, I will, officer,” Kirya said. Right after investing in larger-capacity stasis chambers for perishable cargo. “Thanks for the tip.”
“You’re welcome. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Ever wonder why some Market items are bound to you for a short period of time? Now you know.
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