Quills wanted me sellin’ arms to the Tenno. Back in Fortuna. Not bloody likely. Quills. Shady, side-mouthed, doubletalking ambidexter-feeling muckers. Never trust anyone who don’t speak plain. Told ’em thanks, but hop it.
I’d a previous commitment: a contract to extract a Corpus defector, name of Jubb Lott.
Quill smiled that smile. The smile I hate the most. The smile of a body who thinks he’s two steps ahead.
The more I think about it, the more I know he was.
Pratoo. That was his name. Quill Pratoo Secondary-Sahd.
[sounds of gunfire]
Jubb Lott: “Today?! I didn’t know you were coming today!”
Little Duck: “That’s how hostile extractions typically work, Jubb! [blam] Unless [blam] you’d like [blam] to pencil me in [blam] for a two-thirty next week! [blam] Maybe copy in your supervisor and half the security team?”
Jubb Lott: “AAGH!”
Little Duck: “What is their problem?!”
Jubb Lott: “I MEAN ALL MY FILES ARE STILL IN MY OFFICE! YOU KNOW: THE WHOLE REASON YOU’RE DOING THIS?”
Little Duck: “What files? I wasn’t told about any files!”
Jubb Lott: “That’s because I didn’t tell them!”
Little Duck: “Tell who? Tell who, Jubb!”
Jubb Lott: “The Quills, alright? The Quills!”
And that’s when it all made a cruddy kind of mucking sense. I’d been set up.
It was hairy, but I managed to get us behind a sealed bulkhead, into Lott’s office.
[sounds of gunfire, muffled]
Little Duck: “They don’t fight like this for mid-level pencilnecks! Who are you?”
Jubb Lott: “Jubb. Lott. Secondary Sub-Architect of Nef Anyo’s Venusian Restoration. I… have information.”
And then he said it.
Jubb Lott: “For Solaris United.”
And then he got killed.
Jubb Lott: [sound of bullet hitting flesh] “Unf!”
So, Solaris United was on its feet again. I’ve got friends in Fortuna. The first time SU tried to knock the crown off Nef’s head it almost got every last one of them killed. Some of them, it did. Biz once told me how he survives atrocity. “If there’s a fire on Deck 12, you seal off Deck 12. You don’t go in. That’s how you burn up. You wait ’til the fire’s starved of oxygen. That’s where you go in, assess the damage and clean up.” I can’t seal off Deck 12. Deck 12 is where I live.
Little Duck: “What information? Tell me now!” [blam blam]
Jubb Lott: “Nef. Vallis. Orb Mothers…. It’s been developed….”
Little Duck: “What? What’s been developed?!”
Jubb Lott: “Shielding… satellites…. The Orb Mothers… cannot be….” [death groan]
Little Duck: “Jubb? What? The Orb Mothers cannot be what? Jubb!”
Biz saved me from a life of swabbing latrines on Phobos. He made me what I am. But only because I left before I became what he was.
Now… now I have to go back. Everything Jubb knew… Biz had to know. Eudi had to know. They, and everyone in Fortuna, could be proper beached if I didn’t. Pencilnecks like Jubb don’t risk their hide unless they mean it. Whatever Nef was doin’ with those Orb Mothers would be a hammer on the head of SU. Had to go back. If I didn’t, if something happened to Fortuna, I’d never sleep proper again.
So. No more treasure hunting for LD. No more rescues. Back to where it all happened, and the hope that this time it wasn’t burning, and me along with it.