A Deal with the Devil

October 2941
Unmarked Idris - Approaching Spider
Cathcart System

Photeus awoke from his bed and he climbed out and stood at full attention. Was that a dream? Was it real? I need to find Gedion.

He never remembered getting into the bed in his confined quarters. He barely remembered touching the crystal. Looking toward the floor of the room, he saw the artifacts spread out over it, the crystal lying abandoned next to its casing.

He picked up the crystal and traced each of the runes with his finger. He shook it. He even knocked it lightly on the desk in the room. His attempts proved futile, the crystal did nothing more. He decided then he would keep this one, selling the rest if possible.

He packed up the rest of the artifacts back into his satchel and threw the strap over his shoulder. He sat down on the bed and tried to remember every bit of the experience he just had.

A knock came swiftly to the door. He did not respond, as ordered, and the door opened. The two men from earlier stepped in, motioning for him to stand up, "Time to go."

"Do I have to wear the bag?"

Not amused they grabbed him and turned him about. They cuffed him and darkness cut off his vision as a bag was dropped over it and secured. Photeus' annoyance was audible.

He was marched out of the room and down several corridors. This time the trip took longer than before as they seemed to be leading him in circles to confuse his sense of direction. After several minutes he entered an echoing room, the hangar he was sure.

He was shoved roughly up some steep stairs and they fumbled him into a pilot's chair. They removed the cuffs and gave him a final command, "The ship is set to autopilot you back to the Spider. If you're lucky, you'll make it to the dock we programed. Once the ship stops, then you can take off the bag. Any earlier – and we'll know, so don't try us – and your burning carcass will light up the black. Got it?"

Photeus nodded, but the man continued, "Last thing. Go back to where you met the old man. You'll meet the contact there. Only respond to his third question. Answer: Pain and Suffering. Feel free to speak free after that. Off you go."

A button was punched on the main controls and the men left the ship. Photeus felt he ship liftoff and head out.

-Some time later-

As soon as the ship stopped Photeus tore off the bag and tossed it in the back. He recognized this ship. It was the Ursimare. As he got out he looked it over. It still had some burns and plates gone, likely from Drake, but was relatively unscathed. Some of the engine components looked new and polished. He assumed the Idris located it and fixed it up enough to get him away from them.

As he walked into and around Spider his head swam with questions. It was too much to really comprehend them all right now and he focused on the task at hand. However, he had a good question for the contact.

When he approached the location he saw a lone woman leaning against a wall. Dressed like a local call-girl, he didn't assume much as he walked past her. A few more feet he entered the hull of the ancient Merchantman from when he spoke to the old man months ago. The prostitute had followed him in.

"You looking for some fun tonight, baby?"

He looked at her, and perhaps because of the last couple days he wasn't used to speaking and just shook his head at her.

"Are you sure honey? You look like you've been on a long trip. I'd give you a discount," she cooed at him and got closer, starting to enter the sparse light.

He almost spoke up then, telling her to get lost when he realized she looked a little familiar to him. He stayed quiet.

"Come on now, don't make me beg. Do you know what's in store for you if you spend the night with me?" she was basically hanging on him now and he could see her clearly.

"Pain and suffering," he responded, looking into her eyes.

He felt the barrel of a laser pistol tap against his head, "Ding ding, that's right, sugar. Show me the artifacts."

He nodded and stooped down and opened his satchel. He spread out the artifacts on the ground. She was still standing over him, pistol pointed down at him. Emotion lacking in his voice he queried her, "You going to kill me?"

"Not planning on it. A girl can't be too safe in these parts." Her voice was unmistakable to him. It was the woman who gave him the commands on the Idris. While this all didn't make much sense, high-end Pirates rarely did things logically.

She then pointed at three separate artifacts, one was the 'wooden-ball', the so called trinket, "Those three, push them to my feet."

He did as instructed and she then lowered her weapon and pocketed the artifacts. He decided he would risk it and asked, "I have some questions, mind answering a few?"

She smiled. It was pretty smile of a young attractive woman, but he could sense the poison within it.

"Since you've been such a good boy, go ahead. But I don't have all day."

Photeus had to make these count, "Why are you the contact? Shouldn't you be aboard the…"

"Stop right there. Don't finish that sentence," she had raised the laser pistol back to him, "But, to answer your question: I'm not exactly who you think I am. My sister isn't as sweet as I am."

Photeus nodded in understanding, "Can I stand? They took my sidearm. I'm no threat to you." She smiled again and dropped her guard, "Go ahead. Oh and I know you're no threat, but again a girl can't be too safe."

Photeus stood up and knocked some dust off himself, the remaining artifacts still on the ground, "What about the rest? And will you keep your end of the deal? The miners?"

Her smile dropped back down, the business talk not as amusing to her, "You can sell the rest or cram them somewhere. I don't care. It's your problem if they get traced back to you. Paperwork is being forged for the miners to show them as former UEE Marines, so they'll have the care they need. We are not paying for any 'cures' for the condition." She then holstered her pistol, "Ok, I'm getting bored; One last question. Make it good."

The bomber knew what he wanted, what he needed, "I need to locate a man named Relen Gedion. He used to be a UEE pilot, but he knows things about artifacts. He can help me with the resale of these. Where can I find him?"

The scantily clad woman took an alluring stance and smiled at Photeus, "That is a good one!" She continued, "I have no clue. Too bad, huh?" She giggled like a naughty child.

Photeus pleaded now, "Help me find him. What will it cost?"

She sighed, ending her giggle-fit, "Sounds like fun! I don't know where this Gedion guy is, but I know a man who knows a man who might. I'll keep you posted," she came close and cooed into his ear again, "And let's just say you'll owe me a favor later. Anything I want. See? Told you you'd get a discount."