Jopp’s Folly – Part Four
Sci Fi Series
“Welcome home, Sweets,” quipped Jopp as the glowing mass of Pa Nui appeared ahead of them. A thousand multicolored towers huddled together atop a chrome hemisphere floating in open space.
Loi was awestruck, “I grew up here, and the view still gets me every time.”
Jopp chuckled, “I know, right? It’s like a small planet.”
“Or large moon,” added Loi.
After working their way through the spaceship gridlock of downtown, Jopp pulled them into the massive docking hangar of The Gilded Vixen. His hands danced over the console, powering down the engines, “Rumor has it, this place is owned by some flamboyant crime boss. Mr. Brahnto? Bronzo? Something like that.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Loi said casually.
Jopp stood up and stretched, “Whelp, let’s go check in with the Receivables Rep. Get this junk delivered.”
Loi stayed seating, “Should I come? I mean, shouldn’t I just wait here while everything is unloaded? I don’t want to get you in trouble.”
The fearful undertones in Loi’s words flew right over Jopp’s smiling head, “Why would you want to stay here? Let’s go grab a drink. They’re not going to care if you’re with me. Did you forget the part where I said this place was owned by crooks?”
“Are you sure I can’t- er, I mean, shouldn’t I just stay here?”
Jopp arched an eyebrow, “Yes, I’m sure. We’re done with this ship. We leave it here, where it will get reloaded for another transporter.”
“What about your big job?”
“Tier Nine cargo flies on something much bigger and nicer than this heap,” he kicked the base of the control console, “Now, c’mon.”
They grabbed their travel packs and headed up to the hangar deck, where a uniformed attendant was waiting. She was a silver-skinned humanoid, with ornate blue tattoos covering most of the right side of her face.
“You with Receivables?” asked Jopp.
She replied, “No, I just like hanging out in casino hangars wearing this uniform and carrying this data tablet for fun.”
Jopp held his hands up, “Alright, alright. No need to get snippy.”
The attendant huffed, “Look, I got a dungload of intake today. What’s your delivery code?”
“P. P. I. C. 000039681277.”
The attendant tapped a few icons on her tablet, “Okay, twenty million simchips.” She held the data tablet out to Jopp, “Please sign off that all cargo has arrived in-tact and undamaged.”
Jopp pressed his thumb to the tablet, which flashed green. The attendant pulled the tablet back, and began typing into it. After a few silent seconds, she looked up at them, “You can go now.”
Jopp opened his mouth to say something that would have likely earned him a smack across the face, were it not for the grip of Loi’s hand on his arm. They gave the attendant a wide berth as they circled around to the ramp leading out of the hangar. Jopp spoke up once they reached the lobby, “How about we decompress over a drink? Then you can show me your old stomping quadrants.”
A set of golden eyes followed the pair as they made their way through the swirl of light and noise that was the main gaming hall towards the bar. The body attached to the eyes was an average sized humanoid with steely blue skin and closely cropped yellow hair. He stood up from the tables, hurried into the quieter confines of the lobby, and pulled a mobile commline from his pocket.
“Hey, let me get two Flanisi over here!”
Jopp’s latest attempt to get the bartender’s attention went unnoticed as he was too busy schmoozing a trio of insectoid women.
“Having a little trouble?” Teased a voice from behind him.
Jopp ignored the voice and shouted, “C’mon man! The bug babes aren’t going anywhere! Give me a drink!” Still nothing.
“I might be able to help,” the voice offered.
Jopp started to turn around, “Oh yeah? And how would you-” He found himself staring into the purple cleavage of a particularly buxom Tahl woman. His gaze eventually found its way upwards to the two oval-shaped eyes set amidst her elongated head. She brushed a pink hair tentacle back over her ear and smiled down at him, “Watch this.”
She leaned forward over the bar, putting her chest on full display. Within seconds, the bartender materialized in front of them.
“What can I get you?” He asked.
“I’d like a Cosmos,” she indicated towards Jopp, “and my friend here would like a pair of Flanisi Ales.”
The bartender looked at Jopp as if he’d just appeared out of thin air. He quickly slid two bottles over to Jopp. He then began mixing the bevy of ingredients that Jopp guessed went into a Cosmos. Jopp set a white card on the table, and grabbed the two bottles. He nodded, “Thanks for your help. That should cover the drinks. Have a good one.”
She smirked, “Don’t you want to know my name?”
He shrugged, “Some other time.”
Jopp began to navigate through the crowded bar. He had made it about halfway when he stopped, and looked back at the Tahl woman. He thought, “What the hell is wrong with me?” He turned forward and caught a glimpse of Loi sitting in a booth. He smiled, “Oh yeah.”
The crowd parted a bit more, revealing that Loi was not alone. Sitting across from her was a male of her same race. The Venovan man had steel blue skin, and closely cropped yellow hair. They seemed very engaged in their conversation, so much so that neither noticed Jopp until he set the drinks down on the table with an audible thud. The man glared up at him. Jopp smiled back, then to Loi he said, “Who’s your friend?”
If she was at all uncomfortable, she didn’t show it, “Jopp, this is Yirn. We know each other from the old neighborhood.”
Jopp gave Yirn the biggest smile he could, “Nice to meet you, pal.”
“Yirn was just leaving,” she added. A few quiet moments passed awkwardly, while Yirn glanced back and forth between Loi’s icy stare and Jopp’s exaggerated grin. He slowly pushed himself to a standing position. To Loi, he said, “We’ll catch up later.” He gave Jopp an appraising once over, and then stomped away.
Jopp dropped down into Yirn’s vacated seat. He grabbed one of the bottles and took a long pull. Loi stared at the table, her eyes avoiding his. Jopp finally broke the awkward silence, “So, your ex-boyfriend seems like kind of a dick.”
She laughed, “He wishes. Yirn and I grew up together here in the Little Venova district.”
“Rough area,” Jopp commented.
“Only for outsiders,” she winked, “but I’ll protect you.”
Jopp beamed, “Lucky me.”
Author’s Note: Jopp’s Folly is part of the “Space Tripping” universe. Thanks for reading! See you in two weeks for Part 5! And be on the look out for a full “Space Tripping” novel in 2015!
next: Jopp’s Folly – Part Five
previous: Jopp’s Folly – Part Three
all chapters: Jopp’s Folly
more by PATRICK EDWARDS
photograph by diversepixel