by H. A. Titus -
Reeder kicked a stray red pebble across the waiting area. It skittered over the uneven metal floor and under the railing into the docking bay. A few seconds later, he heard it plop into the ever-present puddles of water that the pumps never seemed to siphon out. The plop echoed around the empty metal cavern.
He was about ready to go look for customers elsewhere when he heard the loud, hollow click that indicated a ship had come into harbor. A whine of old hydraulics, and a loading disc came up through its tunnel, a small, dripping ship nestled in its middle.
Small meant private, and private usually meant no messages because they could afford to use the 'nets. Still, there was a chance. Reeder watched the passengers disembark and make their way up the ramp to the waiting area. Two men. One young, with expensive-looking clothes and a carefully disheveled, devil-may-care attitude. The other was older, with grimy-looking hair and clothes and red-rimmed eyes.
Probably a grit-breather, Reeder thought.
The young man blew past without even looking at him, but the grimy man stopped and held out a square of folded paper.
"Can ye take this to the wizard Raminoff?" he asked.
Reeder cringed. He hated delivering to wizards. Hated going through the labyrinthine passageways of their quarters in Zirconia, hated trying to find the right wizard's study, hated seeing them with their potions and bubbly pots and the steamy feel of the air that made your skin itch.
But he hadn't earned anything so far today, and there was his brother to think of.
Reeder took the message. "Two creds."
"The wizard'll pay. Scurry off, now."
Great. Reeder sighed and scurried off.