"Holly cow, did you see me!" Killjoy exclaimed when they were several blocks away from the Free For All. "The Safe Haven being worth two or three million! I can't believe that I pulled that one off with a straight face."
"Your ship?" John asked. The tone of voice was stern, but there was a smile on his face. "Since when did you own that ship? You could have lost it, you know."
"So what?" Killjoy asked. "If I lost it, we'd be out the biggest piece of crap in the entire world. I'd be a lot more worried about what Jacobs would have done when he actually saw the ship. Two or three mil indeed!"
"You sure played the situation well," Angie offered. Though the look on her face during the whole ordeal had been one of terror, she had regained her confident attitude. "You play poker a lot?"
"Hardly at all, any more," Killjoy said. " The salary of a Space Corp Chief doesn't pay well enough for me to be able to afford it. Besides, don't have the time anymore."
"Space Corps?" Angie said, looking accusingly at John. "Then you're the cop."
"Cop?" John laughed out loud. "That has to be the funniest thing that I've heard in a while."
"But you're with the Space Corps," Angie said.
"Yes, and we're assigned to an SM frigate," Killjoy countered. "Do you know what that means?" Angie shook her head.
"It means that we're all criminals of one sort or another," John explained. "We've been court-martialed, found guilty, and sentenced to this duty. It's pretty much a death sentence."
"Because of the crew?" Angie asked.
"Because of the ship," John corrected. "SM frigates are the worst, most poorly equipped pieces of junk in the whole fleet. Pretty much they're bullet magnets that are practically counted as casualties before they ever see combat. SM stands for 'suicide mission.'"
"So you were out gambling for one last night on the town?" Angie asked.
"Not exactly," Killjoy said. "We may be an SM crew, but we don't exactly want to just roll over and die without a fight. The gambling we did tonight got us money to outfit and upgrade our ship."
"You're shipping out soon, then," Angie said. It wasn't really a question.
"Yeah, three weeks," John said. "Who knows how long our tour will be. Hopefully not too long considering the crate that we'll be on."
"If you're leaving, what are you going to do with me?" Angie asked, turning to look at Killjoy.
"What do you mean?" Killjoy asked just before it hit him. He cursed out loud. Angie was a slave, and he had won her in a poker game. This would certainly complicate things. He cursed again as he thought about it.
"It's simple, isn't it?" John asked. "You set her free and give her some money. She'll be fine when we leave. After all," he added with a smile, "I've seen her rustle people at pool."
"It won't work," Killjoy disagreed. "We left the bar without getting her bloody ownership papers. Mr. Jacobs probably still has them. Unless you want to go ask him for them, I don't think that we'll ever see them."
"Worst case scenario, Jacobs puts out a bulletin out on me as an escaped slave," Angie said.
"So we play it by ear, then," John said. "We can tell the captain about it."
"It's hard to say what Cap will do," Killjoy said. "He may not want any part in the whole business."
"Then we smuggle her off on the Safe Haven," John said. "We can't, in good conscience, leave her here to be put back into slavery."
"Hey, we're all criminals anyway, right?" Killjoy said. "Angie, what are you good at anyway? Besides pool of course."
"Angie's the name on my papers, but that isn't my real name," Angie answered. "Mom always called me Gabriella, and I promised myself if I ever got my freedom, I'd go by that."
"Alright then, Gabriella," Killjoy said. "What are you good at?"
"I was trained to do paperwork," Gabriella said. "Anything involving bureaucracy or forms of any kind, I probably know how to deal with it. My specialty was pseudo-legal deals. I can cover the tracks of anyone doing practically anything."
"You falsify documents," Killjoy said. His mind was already working in overdrive. "What about forging documents? Could you do that?"
"Give me the right equipment and I could forge you anything from a birth certificate to a bill of sale or a license to own and operate heavy weapons. Anything you want, I can make."
"And the digital records?" John asked.
"I have access, after a fashion, to every database that is necessary to forge documents," Gabriella answered. "I can cover the tracks completely."
"A paperwork sucker and a forger," Killjoy said. "I think that's a combination that the captain can't refuse, what do you think, Bulldog?"
"I think you might be right," John said. "Provided, of course, that it's okay with you, Ang...I mean Gabriella."
"It's fine with me," Gabriella answered. "Anything to get me off of this hell hole is fine with me."
"Well, let's get you to the captain and get you taken on as a crew member," John said. "I guarantee that with all of the modifications that we're going to be doing to the ship, you'll have plenty of work for the next three weeks."