Tangled Peril, A Jake Mudd Tale
Jake knew he didn’t care for the man standing in front of him when he first talked to the guy earlier that day. The dark-haired heavyset man had insisted Jake bring the package back to an abandoned storage yard on the edge of town. Jake had already flown his beloved ship Sarah across half the galaxy to make the delivery. That much was routine for him, but the guy’s insistence on a last-minute change to the drop-off site was the kind of irregularity Jake tried to avoid. He knew something amiss too often meant he had a good chance of being shot at before the day was over. The fact that he’d already landed his shuttle and trekked through several neighborhoods he could’ve done without made the request annoying, to say the least. Turns out, it was just the start of his troubles.
Standing in the center of the massive pad of cracked concrete, Jake’s opinion of him firmed. The guy exuded asshole without saying anything. Jake stared at him, letting a few moments go by in silence .
The man scowled.
This guy smells.
Jake realized he was making a face too.
Well, I’m not here to make friends. Get the damn credit payment, then it’s so long craphole planet.
He watched the man’s eye twitch. He glanced at the man’s wide jawline and thick neck. No chance he goes down easy.
“You’re not going to get a better offer,” the man said.
Decent leather jacket. At least he’s got that going for him.
The man had a henchman with him. Jake could tell the guy had seen his fair share of action, most likely the kind where someone gets hurt, or worse.
Jake saw three guns, aside from his own. The boss man had one on each hip, and his hired heavy had one too. Wouldn’t be a problem under normal circumstances, Jake thought. Then he turned his glance to the most dangerous part of the situation—the woman standing a few feet past the brick-jawed guy.
She raised her exquisite brow, smiled at Jake, and shrugged her shoulders slightly. Then she widened her eyes before glancing down at the gun on the boss man’s right hip. She looked back up at Jake and slowly nodded her head.
You gotta be kidding me.
Jake shook his head almost imperceptibly just a half-inch to each side.
The woman’s long auburn hair was tied up in a loose ponytail, cascading onto the shoulders of her snug black jacket. Jake thought for a moment how her hair had looked when it was down earlier that morning, draped across her chest as she reclined on a bedding of several thick blankets and furs on the floor. Hell of a way to receive a package, he had thought when he first saw her. But then the call came over the comm device on his belt with word that the drop-off location had changed. Turned out she didn’t have the payment. After a good hour considering the request, he parted ways with her and made his way to the storage yard on the outskirts of town.
The woman continued nodding and smiling.
What is it about crazy makes me keep drinking the brew?
The boss man spoke. “Hand over the goods, Mudd. In return, I’ll let you live.”
“That’s not the way this is going down, Gammon,” Jake said. “I’m not looking for trouble, but I think you should know.” He looked at the henchman, then back to Gammon, “You’re not the first guy to try this.”
“Yes, I heard what you did to my two men posted outside the original drop off spot,” Gammon said.
“I told them I need to pass, to get inside for a meet with you,” Jake said. “They didn’t listen. You might want to do a little better vetting potential goons.”
“I dealt with their incompetence when they brought her to me.”
Gammon glanced over his shoulder toward the woman, not exactly looking at her, but clarifying his next point. “I’m told you are an honorable man.” He turned back to Jake. “I admire that.”
Who the hell told you that?
Jake said nothing, but watched the woman behind Gammon out of the corner of his eye.
She raised her eyebrows and shoulders, and tipped her head slightly to the side. Jake also noticed her hand poised to move.
“But you see, Mudd, I’m not constrained by such a thing as honor.”
The henchman pulled his gun on Jake.
Jake drew his blaster at the same time.
The two kept each other at gun point, but neither fired.
Jake thought about taking the shot, and whether he could dart out of the way of the other man’s fire.
The woman ripped Gammon’s gun from his side and pointed it at the henchman. “Drop it.”
The hired heavy turned his eyes toward the barrel aimed at his head.
No, not on him, Allie.
Allie cocked her head to see Gammon, her boss, directing his weapon to her. “Shit.” She kept her blaster trained on the henchman, but darted her eyes back and forth from him to Gammon.
Jake panned his blaster to the right, locking in on Gammon. “I appreciate your help,” he said to Allie, “but he’s the real problem here.”
Each of them glanced at the others, all a trigger squeeze from oblivion.
Gammon’s dark curly hair shook as he laughed. “It seems my dear Allie is not to be trusted. And all this time I thought she was such a loyal woman.” He laughed some more. “But she’s full of surprises, isn’t she, Mudd?”
Jake tapped a button on the side of his blaster. The weapon’s hum became more audible. “What’s it to be?”
Gammon looked at the four guns. “I’m willing to amend my offer.”
“Smart man,” Jake said.