Black Friday #1 - Arthur Ashe

I've been working another project which is why chapters have been delayed, sorry. I'll be back on point next week. For now, enjoy what I've been working on.

Do you know who Arthur Ashe is? Do you know how Magic Johnson changed his life? What about how he helped to change South Africa? Don't worry, we got you.

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1.64 - The Hangover

I wash down a bite of my omelet with a sip of orange juice. The flavor is great, and washes away the dryness of the omelet. Edan seems pained with every bite of food or sip of his drink. Still, he’s doing a lot better than last night. I couldn’t carry him any further and used a coatrack to take him to the hotel room. At least now he can eat properly, even if the hangover is taking a toll on him. At least the café we stopped at to have breakfast is quiet. Tortuga amazes me; this place seems like an endless metal monstrosity, yet there’s always these beautiful spots to feel like you’re on the most amazing planet. A small café with a forest motif, complete with grass carpets and wooden tables made to look like logs.

“Hey, you need to take better care of yourself, I won’t always be around to take care of you,” I sound like Mom lecturing Dad.

“Yeah, I know. It’s just nice that you are right now,” he shifts in his seat to avoid the artificial sun shining through the fake windows.

“Well don’t overdo it. I know we haven’t been in contact for a long time, but we’re not going to lose touch anymore,” I shift my seat to block the light from his eyes.


“No problem,” I take another bite while he struggles through a glass of coffee. “If I’m going to stick with you until this thing is over, I need to know everything. Let’s start with who, attacked us last night. You said Straiv’al. I’ve done my research but I need to know if they were enemies or just a set up.”

“Just a random hit by a flock. I don’t deal with Straiv’al,” he pauses, “don’t think I’m racist or anything. It’s just they tend to stab everyone in the back and rob deals, even their own. As you can see they had no problem going at both sides of our little deal.”

“Unaffiliated guerillas focusing on wealth not political means. Probably think they’re untraceable. Alright. Next question, what was the deal? You all kept your lips sealed but I need to know.”

“You putting together some army plan because I really can’t follow right now. Mentally, I’m just not there yet.”

“Eat your food and drink more. Hangovers can be prevented with proper hydration. It’s funny I have to treat you like one of my soldiers.”

“Whatever,” Edan rolls his eyes, but takes a drink of water this time.

“Alright, the deal. Break it down.”

“We were hired by a client, I’ll call him Phil. Phil’s son was taken. Phil works at a company that has some really groundbreaking tech. He stole it, and gave it to us. We were making a trade for the cash. We’d give the cash to Phil, he’d pay the ransom for his son.”

I struggle to project a display on my wrist comp that I can write on. Edan shakes his head and continues to eat as I lay out my board with the information that we’ve got. I don’t make any connections or try to figure out plots between nations. This is just some criminal stuff, and I’m out of my element. I’ll need his help filling in the gaps.

“We’ve got three goals. Number one, we get back the tech that was stolen. No need for Phil to lose his job. Number two, we get back the cash that was taken so we can pay the ransom. Number three, we go get Phil’s son ourselves.”

“Do I have any say in this? I smuggle stuff, broker deals and steal the occasional item. But, I’m not big on the whole kick in the door save the day thing.”

“No, you don’t get a say in this. But, since you’re the captain, I’ll let you present it all as your idea.”

“Fine, what’s the first step?”

“We need to collect some information on who hit us.”

“How do you suppose we do that?”

“You telling me you don’t know any information brokers, fixers, or anything like that?”

“I know plenty, but I only know one guy around here,” Edan seems disgusted at the thought.

“Sounds like you don’t want to call him.”

“I don’t.”

“Call him anyway.”

“I’ll call Nastas and he can call.”

Edan makes the call while I finish my breakfast. He doesn’t want to eat more, but I make him. It’s the same with drunken soldiers. Make them eat, drink water and give it an hour they’ll be through it. Nastas arrives looking more damaged than Edan. He’s wearing a large curved hat to keep the light from his eyes. The usual neat robe he wears has been replaced with knee high boots, green shorts and a yellow tank top displaying a combination of muscle as well as the stone like structure of Meteorian skin.

“What is so urgent that you felt the need to contact me at a time like this,” Nastas starts one of his long speeches again.

“Nope, got a hangover. Not doing this. We need to go see Tawa.”

“Tawa,” Nastas asks.

“Yeah, Tawa,” Edan places a hand on his shoulder.

“Shit,” Nastas rolls his eyes.

“That’s it? That’s all you have to say,” I ask causing Edan to burst into laughter before the pain of his hangover calms him down.

1.63 - Still Kids

Everyone has been quiet since our grand escape; just went their separate ways on Tortuga. Edan assured me everything is fine, this is just how they regroup. I ended up heading to a nightclub with him. He knows it isn’t my style, but he promised it’s a place where the drinks aren’t watered down. A green light covers the club providing some darker corners for things I probably don’t want to see. I keep my eyes straight forward as we make our way to the bar, avoiding eye contact and any attention it might bring. Hitting a the club after an ambush attack doesn’t seem like the smartest idea but I didn’t want Edan left alone.

As the bartender pours another round of drinks for us, I’m starting to wonder if Edan inherited dad’s alcoholism and is just trying to share it with me. He seems to think drinking is the solution to every problem. I can’t say I’m any better, I have my own issues. Despite all my protesting, I was excited when the flames went up at the docks. I should have been suffering from PTSD or something but the sound of my heart beating so fast filled my ears and it was all I could think about as I was filled with energy. Drug dealers, gang members, splicers nor anything else has been able to give me the same rush. The idea that an enemy’s only goal is to kill you, while you’re willing to do anything to escape is an arousing thought. I don’t know if it’s my childhood or the mentality drilled into me after years of service that makes it so appealing. It’s wrong, and I know it’s wrong but there’s no other high like it for me. I’m an addict. I got addicted to the high of going home and telling stories of war. I’m addicted to the satisfaction I get when I survive a situation I shouldn’t have. I’m addicted to the do or die feeling.

“If you’re going to be on my team, you need to accept that we take risks but lives are more important than any property,” Edan is already slurring his speech as interrupts my thoughts.

“I don’t have a problem with that. I was thinking about civilians. Hearing that you value your life is reassuring.”

“Not you, Nastas. I should have backed you. Someone could have gotten hurt. He swears he knows everything but he’s been to jail more than I have so what does he know,” Edan calls for another drink.

“Are you drunk already,” I quickly finish my drink, it stings my throat and leaves a bitter taste as I try to keep up with Edan.

“No, I took a little something extra,” he gives me an exaggerated wink.

“Drinking wasn’t enough?”

“Couldn’t numb the pain fast enough. Don’t worry rookie, I’m a professional. Don’t let this afternoon shake you up. On this crew, you’ll see all kinds of things.”

“I’m not on your crew.”

“You were on my mission, sleeping on my ship, wearing my armor, firing my gun. You’re on my crew.”

“You abducted me,” I don’t even know why I’m having this conversation again. “We can finish this when your extras wear off.”

“You know why I abducted you,” Edan struggles to stand from the bar. He gingerly makes his way to an empty booth without finishing his sentence as he stretches across the couch.

“Yeah, because I can’t lay low. I got it,” I take a seat across from him.

Edan doesn’t answer me right away. I’m stuck listening to the music, it’s rhythmic, almost similar to club music in Sol but there’s something more mechanical below the surface. Almost as if someone decided to dance to the ambiance of machines.

“You think I want to cremate another brother,” Edan asks me as he stares at the ceiling from his back.

I don’t get the chance to answer his question before he passes out. He knows the answer. Both of us chose dangerous lifestyles, but we’d never want to lose the other. Even when we weren’t speaking for a long time, we still had love. I checked for him in the news constantly, tracked his bounties. I knew every planet and station he crossed in Sol. He sent someone take pictures of me as I graduated. We care, we don’t want to lose one another.

I lift up his limp body, like when were kids and he’d get too tired at the playground. As if by instinct he wraps his arms around my neck and legs around my chest as I piggyback him out of the club. I didn’t even get drunk and he’s high enough to fly to the moon right now. I settle on a quiet little restaurant when I can’t carry him further and order what seems to be edible. I get him to wake up and eat something when the food finally arrives. Some kind of synthetic protein grown on the station mixed with potatoes, peppers and other vegetables. Easy move, protein, potatoes, and more vegetables will always produce an edible if not good meal. I force feed Edan a few bites before tending to myself.

“Like I was saying, if you’re going to be on my team you need to get used to the unexpected,” he doesn’t even realize where he’s at or what was going on.

“I’m on your team, until we get this straightened out. We’ll talk tomorrow, for now, eat your food.”

“Thanks,” he smiles and slowly eats in a grinding fashion.

“For the record, I don’t want to burry you either. That’s why you need to your shit in order.”

“I’m not like this always,” Edan seems satisfied after remembering how to swallow his food. “But, I know you’ll take care of me, so I can let loose.”

“I won’t always be around to take care of you.”

“I know, but I want to enjoy it while you’re here.”

Almost as if on cue he passes out again. It’s going to be hell trying to get him back to the ship, because I don’t know where the ship is. I don’t even have contact information for the rest of his crew. Trying to use his wrist comp is no good because he keeps a lock on there. I guess we’re getting a hotel for the night.