Last Week’s FFF: Indecisive
The veil of darkness was lifted from Steel’s vision, as the hood was removed. He breathed in the fresh oxygen. He had been sucking on his own recycled breath for over an hour. He stretched his neck and studied his new surroundings. There were two other men standing beside him. Their hair was tussled. Hood hair. For a moment, Steel forgot the situation, and contemplated the condition of his own hair-do. He combed the dark strands with his fingers. The product in his hair allowed it to easily return to its proper pompadoured state.
One guard stood to the side of the three men, holding three hoods. This confirmed Steel’s suspicion that the others had been brought here against their will as well.
Before them, in a grand chair, sat an older gentlemen. He wore a white suit that matched his hair. His face was gentle, but his eyes were menacing. Next to him stood a man wearing only a thong. His muscles sagged with middle age.
“Welcome, gentlemen,” the older man said in a southern drawl.
“Who are you?” Steel asked.
“Just an old prospector,” the man said.
“Why have you gathered us here?” Steel asked.
The man sized up the three before him, and took his time before answering the question.
“Seems to me that these days, many folk are leaving this rock, hopping over to the next one to find their riches. Can’t blame them really. If I were thirty years younger, I’d be inclined to be digging in the sand right next to them. But alas, I am not.”
He stood. As he did, the barely clothed man offered a hand to help him stand.
As the bare man moved, so did the one standing next to Steel. He stepped forward, concerned by the motion of this person. The man next to Steel was of Asian descent. He stood five inches shorter in Steel. He was lean, with anger in his gaze.
“Who is that?” the Asian asked.
The prospector let out a long sigh, stood the rest of the way, and caressed the nearly naked man’s face.
“This is just my gigolo. The fact that you had to ask who he was just confirms my decision. We’ve been together fifteen years. But all the stem cells in the world can’t keep him the way he used to be,” he stopped talking to the crowd and talked directly to the man, “You can come with us to Mars, Jeffrey, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to just be a stallion in my stable. You’re not a show pony any more.”
“What does any of this have to do with us?” Steel asked.
“Walk with me, gentlemen,” the prospector said.
They did as instructed. They walked down a short hallway, and found themselves in a room that looked like a laboratory. The prospector entered first and picked up a red rock from a table. He held it up for the men to see.
“Do you know what this little devil here is, gentlemen?”
Steel and the Asian shook their heads.
“It’s technodicarbonate,” the third man said, nearly whispering. He stood back from the others, and didn’t look directly at anyone, but he had identified the mystery material.
“That’s correct, my smuggler friend. Technodicarbonate. Or Techno as it’s known for short.”
“That’s Techno? That rock there, that’s got to be worth fifty thousand at least,” Steel said.
“That’s right. Don’t you get any idea’s there, bandit. This is mine. Thing is, there’s plenty more up there on that red planet. More than you could imagine.”
“Smuggler, bandit, I’m guessing firey here is an assassin. If I’ve got this all correct, you want us to do a job for you,” Steel said.
“Clever boy. I will fly you all up to the surface. There, you will find the people with the best scores, and liberate them from said Techno. Our smuggler here will get it back to Earth where it will be sold as legit.”
“That hardly seems like prospecting,” Steel said.
“It’s a newer business model. And who’s to say you boys can’t find some freelance work once we’re up there? So, what do you say. We have ourselves a team?” the old man asked.
The there looked at each other. There was no trust nor honor amongst thieves.
Steel kept a poker face as he stared down the other men. No one innocent would die on his watch. He’d take this job. He’d even help steal the rock. That was, after all, what he did. But this prospector picked the wrong bandit. Steel didn’t steal for himself. The riches these rocks would bring would go to the people who deserved it.
He looked at the gigolo. That would be his way in. He’d seduce this man. Win his bias, promise him a future that Steel could tell he feared he wouldn’t get in the prospector’s employ. He could pay the smuggler more than he would get from the prospector for his return trip to earth. Yes, this would all work out just fine.
“I’m always looking for a challenge,” the assassin said, a little too eager.
“I suppose, maybe. Yeah. Okay. I’m in, too,” the smuggler babbled.
Steel, with his plan composed, inhaled deep and smiled. With a face like a coyote, he spoke.
“Why not. Could be fun.”