Jopp’s Folly – Part Five
Sci-Fi Serial Fiction
Pa Nui has no atmosphere, as it’s essentially a colossal floating space station, so the buildings are connected to each other by a honeycomb of enclosed walkways and tramlines. In an effort to combat citizen claustrophobia, the average causeway is actually three stories tall and as wide as an eight lane road.
Jopp and Loi were strolling down a causeway that had been designed to resemble a garden. Rows of trees and colorful flowers lined the footpath, and the ceiling was clear, so as to provide a view of the twinkling starscape. Jopp had one arm wrapped around Loi’s waste, and the other clutched a green bottle.
“When do you have to leave again?” Loi asked.
“I have to report for pickup tomorrow at-” Jopp stopped talking when he saw the three Venovans suddenly blocking their way. The amber-haired female and the male with hair like a disheveled mop were new to Jopp. He recognized the other male and plastered on his cheesiest grin, “How’s it going, pal?”
Yirn ignored him, and spoke to Loi, “I told you there’d be consequences.”
“Consequences for what?” Jopp asked.
Yirn snapped at him, “This doesn’t concern you, squib kid. Now hit the skids.”
Jopp tensed, “What the fuck did you just call me?”
Loi rested a hand on Jopp’s shoulder to settle him. “Do we really have to do this, Lanin?” she asked.
The mop-headed male, presumably Lanin, stepped forward, “No, we don’t. Just pay us our cut and you can go.”
Loi spoke through gritted teeth, “Like I said to Yirn, there’s nothing to get a cut of.”
“That’s not what Big Bazz told us.”
“Well, Big Bazz is liar.”
“Humpa shit!” spat the female, “You keep his name out of your mouth! He’s done everything for us! What have you done…” she sneered at Jopp before adding, “besides whore around?”
“Alright, screw this!” interjected Jopp. “I don’t care what the history here is, but you all need to back the hell off!”
Yirn stepped right up to Jopp and leaned down, “What are you going to do about it?” Jopp glanced down to see that Yirn was now holding a knife in his right hand. With his left, he reached out and shoved Jopp’s shoulder while adding, “Squib Kid.”
Jopp took a deep breath and smiled, “Yeah, I thought that’s what you called me.”
Jopp cocked back his hand with the green bottle, and let it fly. Yirn attempted to shield himself, but Jopp hadn’t been aiming for him. The bottle connected with the side of Lanin’s head, and he crumpled to the ground. Before Yirn could process this, he felt Jopp’s shoulder driving into his gut, which sent them both tumbling. After they stopped rolling, Jopp found himself on top of Yirn. Before Yirn could register what had happened, Jopp gripped his collar with both hands, and then drove his thick, flat forehead into the bridge of Yirn’s nose.
Jopp blinked away stars as he climbed up off the unconscious Venovan. He spun around to see that Lanin was starting to get back up. “Can’t have that,” he thought as he raced over. Lanin had just gotten to his knees, when he felt Jopp grab a handful of his disheveled hair. The next and last thing he saw was Jopp’s knee rushing up towards his face.
Jopp let the limp form of Lanin slip from his hand. He whipped his head around, scanning for his third and final opponent. To his surprise, he found her lying on the ground, with Loi standing over her unconscious frame. They made eye contact, and without a word, started sprinting down the causeway.
“So that was fun,” Jopp said as he handed Loi a cooling pack, which she applied to her bruised knuckles. He then walked over to his hotel room’s bar and poured some red liquor in two glasses. He handed her one, and then sat down across the table from her.
“I suppose you want an explanation?” she asked.
Jopp leaned back in his chair, “Only if you want to give me one.”
Loi raised the glass to her lips and downed it with a grimace. “We were thieves,” she started, “The Little Venova district isn’t exactly known for its charm and appeal. You do what you have to… to survive. The four of us survived by running scams, cons, whatever you want to call it. Big Bazz was our mentor. He taught us the trade. Then one day, Bazz tells us he’s got a line on ‘the big one’. You know, the big score you see in every heist story that’s just too good to walk away from. For us, the big score was Taimana gemstones. I was the ‘inside man’, so to speak. The day comes, and we all execute our parts perfectly. Yirn and Lanin take care of the physical security. Tris takes care of surveillance. I get in the vault…” she paused.
“…And?” Jopp was practically crawling across the table.
“And there’s nothing there,” Loi finishes, “No gemstones. No nothing. And the next thing I know, Universal Law Enforcement agents are swarming the place. I was able to slip through a ventilation shaft, and got away. The others got jammed up. The next thing I know, word starts spreading through the neighborhood that I cashed out big and let them take the fall. We all know how that ends, so I scraped together whatever savings I could and bolted.”
“And you think this Big Bazz punk set you up?”
Loi shrugged, “Who knows?” She stood up and went to refill her glass, “It was a mistake… me coming back here.”
Jopp stood up, “Come with me.”
She turned around, “What?”
“Come with me on my run. Screw this place. Come fly around the galaxy with me.”
“How would that even work?” she protested, “You can’t keep sneaking me on every time.”
“We’ll figure it out,” Jopp approached her and took her hand, “What do you say?”
Author’s Note: Thanks for reading! Jopp’s Folly is part of the “Space Tripping” universe. Keep your eyes peeled for the full “Space Tripping” novel in 2015! See you in two weeks for Part 6!
next: Jopp’s Folly – Part Six
previous: Jopp’s Folly – Part Four
all chapters: Jopp’s Folly
more by PATRICK EDWARDS
photograph by tsuneomp