Mia boarded the loading ramp with a sigh of relief and entered the sanctuary of the ship. The hatch behind her closed with a soft whirring sound, and then all was quiet. Finally, there wasn't anyone to bother her-- "Welcome back, Mia. How did it go?" Mia opened her eyes, glaring at the engineer. "It went as well as could be expected, Cejac," she snapped. "Imperial and Rebel forces are still at each other's throats after all this time." Cejac nodded, wiping his hands on a cloth. "You wish we'd stayed in our little pocket of the galaxy." "'Wish' is an understatement." She reached down to rest her hand on the blaster that should have been on her belt and scowled. "Where's Brodin?" she demanded impatiently. "He should be here any minute." "Get back to work," she told him. "We're not paying you to stand around and make small talk." Mia stalked towards the door leading to the interior of the ship, hearing her boot heels click and echo on the deck plating. As she reached the door, it opened to the side to reveal Brodin, captain of the Parallax. "Brodin," she said a little too sweetly. "Mia," he replied in turn. Mia dropped the smile from her face. "I want my blaster back and I want it back now." "It's fixed," Brodin held it up and placed it in her hand. Mia quickly inspected it. "I never should have gone to Port Lansing without it." She checked the power cell and then stuck it gently in its holster. "This other blaster I took with me should be used for backup only, not as a primary weapon. It's too big and its rapid refire capabilities aren't even worth mentioning." Mia fingered her blaster of choice. Much smaller and much better. She felt satisfaction at the familiar weight against her hip as she walked down the hallway, letting Brodin catch up with her. "I heard you talking to Cejac. I assume I shouldn't ask how your trip was," he tried to keep a straight face. She glared at him, wanting to wipe the smirk off of his face with a piece of the deck plating. "If one more person asks me how my trip was I'm going to hit them." "I'm sure you would," he replied, trying to hide a laughing smile. After all this time, Brodin still hadn't learned not to make fun of her after she'd had a difficult job. She was already planning her revenge against him. Something mildly poisonous in his food should do it, something that would leave him feeling ill for a few days. Deep down, she really didn't want to kill him. After all, they were cousins. "Was there trouble with any of the cargo?" she asked. "Not a thing," he shook his head. "Was there anything good about Port Lansing?" Mia shrugged. "I made a little money," she informed him casually. "How much?" "12,500," she said as she handed him the credit chip. "I didn't want to seem like a push-over, but you did ask me not to take too much from the Rebels." "The Alliance," he corrected her. She rolled her eyes as he continued. "You ended up helping them, then?" "Just like you asked me to," she shot out sarcastically. "And that came as a surprise to you?" he said dryly. "Not at all. I only resent the fact that your request almost got me killed," she said as they reached the conference room and stepped inside. As captain, Brodin sat at the head of the table and Mia took the seat next to him. "So I assume you still have the package?" he asked quietly. She nodded. "It's safe. I waited for as long as I could, but there was never any message or contact about it. You really should have gone," she continued after a moment. "Not me." Brodin shook his head. "That's how our agreement works, Mia. I'm captain of the ship, and you officially own the smuggling company." Mia scowled. "It's only percentages and figures. I'm the one who ends up risking my neck all the time, not you, and the only reason for that is because I own 51% of the operation. The only reason you're captain is because you paid for 51% of the ship. Might I remind you that I own the other 49% of the Parallax." "And I own 49% of the operation." "Exactly!" She leaned forward. "But you never do any of the trading or dealing with customers. Why is it always me?" "I think the real question is why do you have a problem with it now?" He folded his hands, waiting for an answer. "Because I'm sick of doing all the dirty work and almost getting myself killed every other day. It's your turn now." Brodin let out a mirthless laugh. "And you think we aren't in danger on the ship? Why do you think we keep on upgrading for new weapons and defense systems? So Cejac can have new toys to play with?" Their voices were rising, but Mia didn't care and she knew Brodin didn't, either. "Listen to me for once! I'm saying that I would like a shot at being captain for a little while. And I think it would do you some good to get shot at. In other words, deal with some customers. I'm tired, Brodin. I need a break." "And you think being captain is easy?" he exploded. He had risen from his seat, almost towering over her, but Mia stared him down. "You know that's not what I meant. I just want a change," she said steadily. "If you'd been listening to me, you would have realized that." After a moment, Brodin sat back in his chair, visibly trying to calm himself down. "I'll think about Port Lansing next year," he said guardedly, changing the subject while making it clear to her he wasn't going to consider giving up captainship until then. "Just listen to--" "I'm still captain of this ship and I will order you to go if I have to." His voice rang with finality and he got up from his chair to leave. Mia shot out of her chair. "You can't make me go, Brodin!" He shrugged. "I thought you wanted to go to Port Lansing this time." Where had he gotten that idea? "I wasn't exactly jumping to go." "But you never openly objected." "And that was a huge mistake on my part!" "Look, Tral made a request of us to deliver the package, and we have to honor that." He emphasized his words with his hand. "He was mostly your friend," Mia argued. "Why don't you go? And while you're there, you can help your precious Rebels." "You know, what is your problem with them? Why don't you want to help?" he raised his voice. "And why do you insist so much on helping them? It's going to get us killed!" Silence fell like a blanket over the room. Mia looked away, a humorless smile on her lips. Brodin had always supported the Alliance and wanted to take sides, but Mia threatened to take "her" company off of "his" ship if he did so. She knew it wasn't safe to take sides. That's when you made enemies. For some reason, Brodin didn't understand that. "I think we've said all that needs to be said," Brodin said quietly. "You read my mind. Have you been brushing up on telepathy?" she joked. "Don't get sarcastic again, Mia." Indignation flared. "Whoever said I was being sarcastic?" she snapped. "But I guess, as you keep on pointing out to me, there's never a time when I'm not being sarcastic. I'm going to get some sleep." Mia brushed roughly past Brodin on her way out. The hope that he would have listened to her died quickly, as did part of her faith and trust in his fairness. "Mia, wait. There's some people here who've been waiting to talk to you." Mia turned back with a look of disbelief on her face. "So?" "They've been waiting for seven hours." "And I just spent a week getting shot at in a place I shouldn't have been. Like I said, what's your point?" "They need to talk to you," Brodin insisted. "Why don't you do it?" she replied flippantly. He stared at her. "You're the owner of the operation. They want to talk to you." "If you're not ever going to take me seriously, then why should they?" She waited to see the look on his face before she turned and stalked out of the conference room. Brodin deserved whatever he got. She did admit that she was better at smuggling and he was better at being captain, but there wasn't any reason that she couldn't have a break once in awhile from the jobs. Mia opened the door to her private quarters and turned on all the security systems so no one could bother her. All she wanted was to fall into her bunk and never hear about Port Lansing again.
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