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Jin reached forward to get his coffee. As he did, I got a look at the box. It was white with stark black text that read ZAFO SAMPLE—AUTHORIZED USE ONLY.

“So this couch I’m on is an Earth import, right?” Jin said. “How much did it cost to bring here?”

“That one weighs forty-three kilograms,” Trond said. “So it cost forty-three thousand slugs to have it shipped.”

“What does a typical person make?” asked Jin. “If you don’t mind me asking, that is.”

I grabbed my tea and let the cup’s warmth seep into my hands. “I make twelve thousand a month as a porter. It’s a low-paying job.”

Jin sipped his coffee and made a face. I’ve seen it before. Earthers hate our coffee. Physics dictates that it tastes like shit.

Earth’s air is 20 percent oxygen. The rest is stuff human bodies don’t need like nitrogen and argon. So Artemis’s air is pure oxygen at 20 percent Earth’s air pressure. That gives us the right amount of oxygen while minimizing pressure on the hulls. It’s not a new concept—it goes back to the Apollo days. Thing is, the lower the pressure, the lower the boiling point of water. Water boils at 61 degrees Celsius here, so that’s as hot as tea or coffee can be. Apparently it’s disgustingly cold to people who aren’t used to it.

Jin discreetly put the cup back on the table. He wouldn’t be picking it up again.

“What brings you to Artemis?” I asked.

He drummed his fingers on the ZAFO box. “We’ve been working on a business deal for months. We’re finally closing the deal, so I wanted to meet Mr. Landvik in person.”

Trond settled into his couch and picked up the box of contraband. “I told you, call me Trond.”

“Trond it is,” Jin said.

Trond tore the wrapping off the package and pulled out a dark wooden box. He held it up to the light and looked at it from several angles. I’m not much for aesthetics, but even I could tell it was a thing of beauty. Intricate etchings covered every surface and it had a tasteful label written in Spanish.

“What have we here?” Jin asked.

Trond flashed a shit-eating grin and opened the box. Twenty-four cigars, each in its own paper holder, rested inside. “Dominican cigars. People think Cubans are the best, but they’re wrong. It’s all about the Dominicans.”

I smuggled a box of those things in for him every month. Got to love regular customers.

He pointed to the door. “Jazz, would you mind closing that?”

I headed to the doorway. A starkly functional hatch hid behind the finely appointed wall panels. I slid it closed and spun the handle shut. Hatches are pretty common in upscale homes. If the bubble loses pressure, you can seal your house and not die. Some people are paranoid enough to seal their bedrooms at night just in case. Waste of money if you ask me. There’s never been a pressure loss in Artemis’s history.

“I have a special air-filtration system in here,” Trond said. “The smoke never gets out of this room.”

He unwrapped a cigar, bit the end off, and spit it into an ashtray. Then he put the cigar in his mouth and lit it with a gold lighter. He puffed several times and sighed. “Good stuff…good stuff.”

He held the box out toward Jin, who politely waved it away. Then he offered it to me.

“Sure.” I grabbed one and slipped it into my breast pocket. “I’ll smoke it after lunch.”

That was a lie. But why would I turn down something like that? I could probably get a hundred slugs for it.

Jin furrowed his brow. “I’m sorry, but…cigars are contraband?”

“Ridiculous, really,” said Trond. “I have a sealed room! My smoke doesn’t bother anyone! It’s injustice, I tell you!”

“Oh, you’re so full of shit.” I turned to Jin. “It’s fire. A fire in Artemis would be a nightmare. It’s not like we can go outside. Flammable materials are illegal unless there’s a really good reason for them. The last thing we want is a bunch of idiots wandering around with lighters.”

“Well…I guess there’s that.” Trond fiddled with his lighter. I’d smuggled it in for him years ago. Every few months it needed new butane. More money for me.

I took another swig of warm tea and pulled out my Gizmo. “Trond?”

“Right, of course.” He pulled out his own Gizmo and held it next to mine. “Still four thousand slugs?”

“Mm-hmm. But fair warning: I have to bump it to forty-five hundred next time. Things got more expensive for me recently.”

“Not a problem,” he said. He typed while I waited. After a moment, my screen popped up the transfer verification. I accepted and the transaction was complete.

“All good,” I said. I turned to Jin. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Jin. Have fun while you’re here.”

“Thanks, I will!”

“Have a good one, Jazz.” Trond smiled.

I left the two men behind to do whatever they were up to. I didn’t know what it was, but it sure as hell wasn’t aboveboard. Trond did all sorts of shady shit—that was why I liked him. If he’d brought a guy all the way to the moon, there was something way more interesting going on than “a business deal.”

I rounded the corner and left through the foyer. Irina gave me a nasty look as I departed. I wrinkled my nose at her. She closed the door behind me without saying goodbye.

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