Landon Briggs sits at a table, reading the local news reports as he sips his coffee at Fred’s Diner. He offers a smile to the waitress as she refills his cup, smarmy as ever, and says “Thanks. Earth has the best coffee. You just can’t get a good cup out there.”

Briggs has contacts everywhere. Including Consortium government and the Vanguard. None that would betray the government for him, but some that may pass on some unclassified information. So here he sits, awaiting one such contact to ask about the recent bounty on the Queen Anne’s Revenge. He let slip that he may have a lead, but wanted some more info before risking his life.

Not long after, a man in sunglasses and a dark suit settles into the chair across from Briggs at the table. “You’re absolutely right about our coffee.” He nods to the waitress. “Sivad may be second best, though.”

Briggs politely chuckles. “Tea perhaps. The coffee is shite.” He sets his datapad down and offers a smile to the man. “Thanks for meeting me. What’s new here on the Big Blue?”

“Few things are new *here*,” the man in the suit replies. The waitress returns a short while later with the drinks. He asks for two glazed doughnuts and then, conspiratorially, informs Briggs: “I really shouldn’t, but it’s been one of those weeks.”

“I’ll have scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns.” Turning back to his companion he says “So what’s the deal with these marines? I may have stumbled across a lead and that bounty is pretty juicy.”

The man in the suit takes a drink of his coffee as the waitress departs to relay their orders to the cook. He then replies to Briggs. “I am curious to hear more about this lead.”

Briggs rolls his eyes, “Now now. I can’t give away my sources. And I’m certainly not going to give up the info and lose the bounty. But I may know someone who saw the Queen Anne’s Revenge leaving Tomin Kora and has their heading. Tracking them from there is within my skill set. But I need to know what I might face. What you know of the crew. How many brutes I’ll need to hire.”

The waitress returns with a plate of doughnuts for the man in the suit. She informs Briggs: “Your breakfast plate will be out directly.” After she walks away, the suit says, “We know a man and a woman appear to run the ship. We also know more than a dozen special ops personnel are dead, possibly because of them. Take that for what it’s worth.”

“So they think the crew was involved in more than just cleaning up after whatever happened? Any idea of motive?”

The waitress delivers breakfast to Briggs, then leaves the two men to continue their discussion. The man in the suit bites into the first doughnut, then washes it down with coffee. Finally, he shrugs. “You’re after a bounty. Leave the investigation to the professionals. Bottom line is: We really don’t care if they were just the clean-up crew or if they pulled the trigger on our people. We want them, alive if possible, so we can get those answers.”

After thanking the waitress Landon digs into the eggs. With a full mouth “Extra money if alive? Bounty said dead or alive. Dead is a lot easier.”

“The Consortium government isn’t going to openly condone vigilante justice,” the man in the suit replies. Another bite of doughnut, then: “Pay’s the same, either way. Alive or dead, we won’t get our soldiers back. We can safely assume someone on Tomin Kora had a role in their deaths. Lord Fagin may not like it if we decide to bust that dome of his.”

That gets a laugh, “I don’t even think Fagin exists. It’s some rogue AI is my guess.” He finishes on the eggs, barely stopping to chew, then goes after the hash browns. “I’m surprised you guys put up with him for this long. Or is that what that squad of marines was doing on TK?”

The man in the suit smirks. “Criminals can be useful.” Then he says, “Our soldiers didn’t go to Tomin Kora on Vanguard orders. They were participating in a readiness exercise on Sivad before they were ambushed and kidnapped. So, perhaps a caveat you should consider before accepting this…opportunity…is that the people behind this possess the means to take out a spec ops squad.”

Landon finishes his meal, sends payment through his datapad for both meals and stands. “Alright, well I think I know what I need to know. It’ll all depend on how much muscle I can get and if it’ll be worth it. And of course if I can actually track them. Thanks for the info.” He also passes a few untraceable credit chits discretely to the man in the suit.

The man slides the chits back across the table to Briggs, offering a thin smile. “You’re working for the Consortium government, at great risk to yourself. You owe me nothing but results. Good luck.”

By Brody

Leave a Reply