“Huh,” I said. “And if you want to make babies, somebody’s got to get fucked.”
She laughed. “You and I will get along just fine, Jasmine.”
I left without further comment. I didn’t want to spend any more time inside the mind of an economist. It was dark and disturbing.
I needed a beer.
I wasn’t the most popular gal around town. I got some dirty looks in the hallways. But I also spotted a few thumbs-ups from my supporters. I hoped the excitement would fade in time. I don’t want fame. I want people not to notice me at all.
I walked into Hartnell’s, not sure what to expect. The regular crowd were in their usual seats—even Dale.
“Hey, it’s Jazz!” Billy called out.
Suddenly, everyone “passed out.” Each patron tried to outdo the others with ridiculous displays of being unconscious. Some lolled their tongues, others snored with a comedic whistle on the exhale, and a few lay spread-eagle on the floor.
“Har-har,” I said, “very funny.”
With my acknowledgment, the prank was over. They resumed their normal quiet drinking with a few subdued giggles.
“Heya,” said Dale. “Since you forgave me, I figure I can just show up anytime and hang out with you.”
“I only forgave you because I thought I was going to die,” I said. “But yeah. No take-backs.”
Billy put a fresh, frosty beer in front of me. “The customers took a vote and decided this round’s on you. You know, to make up for almost killing everyone.”
“Oh, is that so?” I scanned the bar. “Can’t be helped, I guess. Put ’em all on my tab.”
Billy poured himself a half pint and raised it in the air. “To Jazz, for saving the city!”
“To Jazz!” the patrons called out, and raised their glasses. They were happy to toast me if I bought the beer. I guess that was a start.
“How are the hands?” Dale asked.
“They’re burned, blistered, and hurt like hell.” I took a sip. “Thanks for saving my life, by the way.”
“No problem. You might want to thank Sanchez too.”
He shrugged and took another sip. “Tyler was really worried about you.”
“He’d like to see you sometime. The three of us could grab lunch, maybe? On me, of course.”
I bit back the obnoxious comment that swelled up. It was going to be a doozy too. Instead, I heard myself say, “Yeah, okay.”
He clearly didn’t expect that answer. “Really? Because—wait, really?”
“Yeah.” I looked at him and nodded. “Yeah. We can do that.”
“Wow,” he said. “G-Great! Hey, you want to bring that Svoboda guy?”
“Svobo? Why would I bring him?”
“You two are an item, right? He’s clearly crazy about you, and you seemed a little—”
“No! I mean…it’s not like that.”
“Oh. You’re just friends, then?”
Dale smirked. “I see.”
We drank quietly for a moment. Then he said, “You’re totally going to bang that guy.”
“Oh, shut up!”
“A thousand slugs says you two get freaky within a month.”
I glared at him. He glared back.
“Well?” he said.
I finished off my pint. “No bet.”
Sorry for the slow response. I’m sure you’ve read all about the chloroform leak in the news. People around here call it “The Nap.” There were no deaths or serious injuries, but I’m shooting you an email just to confirm I’m okay.
I did spend three minutes sizzling on the lunar surface without a spacesuit. That kind of sucked (no vacuum pun intended). Also, everyone knows I was responsible for the Nap.
Which leads me to my next problem: I’m broke. Again. Long story short, the city took most of my money to bitch-slap me for my indiscretions. Unfortunately, I hadn’t transferred your share of our profits this month, so I’m going to have to owe you. I’ll pay you off the moment I can, you have my word.
I have some legwork for you: There’s a guy named “Jin Chu” (might be an alias) headed back to Earth right now. He claimed to be from Hong Kong and that’s probably true. He works for a Chinese materials research company. I don’t know which one.
He got sent home from Artemis for being naughty. They shipped him out a few days ago, so he must be aboard the Gordon. That means you’ve got four days before he arrives at KSC. Hire a detective or whatever to find out where he works. We need that company’s name.
Because Kelvin, old buddy, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. That company is about to make billions. I’m going to invest as much as I can in it and I suggest you do the same. Long story—I’ll send you a more detailed email later.
Aside from that, we’re back to business as usual. Keep the goods coming. Also, we’ll be ramping up our smuggling volume soon. Artemis is going to have a population boom. More customers coming our way!
We’re going to be rich, buddy. Filthy rich.
And hey, once that happens, you should come visit. I’ve learned a lot about the value of friends lately and you’re one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I’d like to meet you in person. And besides, who doesn’t want to come to Artemis?
It’s the greatest little city in the worlds.