The Show Must Go Offâ€“part seven
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That first week, that ended in my first murder, was a blur of haggling and hacking, honest work and outright thievery. Jenko taught me to use his extra ‘spotter’ for half my ore recovery, calling it a ‘jackhammer’ sometimes. We watched each other for security on supply runs and I pretended to be an expert pilot. His jumper had enough memory that the two days I didn’t get to touch it I ran apps, building a hidden software library until I had a basic Anticollision Program, a Light Touch Override, and a Grace Simulator, not to mention I hacked his SpeedCheck and shaved a few more kmph out of it. Jenko was impressed enough with the flying I didn’t do that I had to make my first Minimum Conscience Log entry (encrypted.) He was becoming a father figure. We bunked together, we mined together, we complained together, I paid him his take, and he showed me what wasn’t on the maps online. He had no idea I was working on other things at the same time.
I made bids and counterbids on my publicly known supplies, built up an online presence of four separate identities, got them trading and bidding, hacked into Enforcer System databases and Robot Arm Controllers, and started falsifying Enforcer data and using Reclamation Robot Arms to start stealing and delivering. All while I kept my hands needlessly on Jenko’s jumper’s control console, pretending to steer. In my off time I used bot shafts, illegally streamed Enforcer cams, and timing to get around, avoiding people all I could. I had to get linens and clothes cleaned, learn some escape routes, wire stolen junk together and test it, hide it–you know–errands. It was laundry that got me in trouble. Three hes and a she were waiting outside Billy’s Service Post, and they almost jumped me before I ducked inside.
I started my laundry and was walking out by the time they’d decided to come in. Billy himself met us at the door.
“No fighting in here!” he belted out.
I GameFaced up an eager expression, “No worries, Billy! I’m just going to follow these people out. I didn’t want any more blood on my new clothes.” I gestured down at my comasuit with its fifteen holes and broken toolclip. “But now they’re in the machine–” And I waved at the cleaner, “Billy? I trust you. Would you hold my stub? This suit has no more pockets.” I handed him my cleaner receipt stub, nodded blandly but respectfully at his surprised face, and walked straight at the four people hesitating. No one wants to risk a looting charge. Merchants just won’t help you after that, and few can live well without. The woman had been listening, too, and was telling one of the guys what I’d said. Bingo. I streamed some data. In a nanosecond, I had begun a major fraud. They watched each others’ backs out into the main hall and gave me some space. I came out blandly, wearing an ‘oh-boy-oh-boy!’ expression. “So, more fighting today? Who’s first?”
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