This was all because of a notebook. A small one; fit in the palm of your hand. Black. Hardbacked. Quantum biolock; secure. Rin took great pains to not get involved in her passengers’ business. She’d built a reputation around it, but now, because of that awful notebook she was extremely, hopelessly, inextricably involved.
The notebook belonged to Ioa, a repeat customer whose real name was assuredly not Ioa. Rin didn’t know much about her. She booked private travel—always bought out the whole ship—and rarely went to the same system twice. She traveled light; always a single crate in the hold and a small bag in her cabin. She wasn’t much of a talker, and she was always clean and quiet; kept to herself. The perfect passenger.
Today’s journey brought them to Temsymyr. It was an independent world. Isolationist. Not on the way to anywhere else. Ioa had booked passage here to do some quick business on the docks—a delivery or a pickup, Rin wasn’t sure—and then immediately back to the capital. But on her way off the ship she must have dropped her notebook; Rin found it outside the hold hatch. So she picked it up and ran it out to Ioa on the docks. It was a stupid, thoughtless thing to do.
Rin found Ioa on the docks alright, with her crate from the hold beside her. Open. And inside was a young boy. Bruised, puffy-eyed, and ragged. Far too young for a bounty. Ioa was a trafficker. And now Rin knew it.
Rin had always known that she must be shuttling bad people around, at least from time to time. But the key had been not knowing the good from the bad. It wasn’t so tough to blur the two if that was your goal. Now everything was ruined.
At first, Rin asked to take the boy’s place; the offer hadn’t surprised anyone more than herself. But the buyer had no need of a pilot, and Ioa wasn’t about to lose her payday. Rin could buy them both off, except she didn’t have any money. She ran a tight operation, but anything she made she always invested right back into her ship…
So this is how Rin found herself on Temsymyr, in custody of a young boy who spoke an unfamiliar language, and without a ship, a way back to the capital, or really anything at all in the way of a plan. The money she’d gotten from the sale of her ship would keep Ioa in business for a long time. She’d probably be back with another boy for the same buyer.
But not this boy. Not today.