Return From Port Lansing

By April Randall


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 

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 

"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 

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 

"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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