Click, click, clickitty-clickitty-click. The keys on the antique styled keyboard made a satisfying, almost hypnotic sound as he typed. Some of Sunar’s crewmates had given him a hard time when he’d salvaged the thing, but he’d always preferred a keyboard when entering text. It just seemed so much more efficient than waving his hand through the projected interface, and the tactile feedback had utility over stabbing his fingers through holographic buttons.
The display’s warm glow reflected in the window beside him, and he could see himself out of the corner of his eye. He liked to write letters at this time of night, when most of his shipmates lay sleeping. Being able to substitute short meditations for a large part of his sleep cycle gave him some extra free time when no one else wanted the computer.
A few final clicks finished the letter, and his fingers moved towards the send button in the display as he thought back to his discussion with the Captain. I still have trouble believing that police chief is as corrupt as the Captain suspects, but I have to admit that her arguments are compelling, and the Chief’s behavior was quite strange. If the Captain is right, I probably don’t have anything to worry about, and can send all the emails I want. Mom and Meesha are getting worried: They try not to show it in their letters, but it is there. Still, even if she is corrupt and the higher levels of whatever criminal organization aren’t filtering emails there is a chance that my emails could be traced.
He sighed and hit the save button, rather than send, and waved the screen away. After a deep, cleansing breath he pulled up the list of things he could use all those points on. ‘Pelt the Half Dragon’ had lost a lot of popularity, just because he kept winning. Still, the pot had grown large enough that he still had to fend off an attempt every couple of days. I may have to throw the game. Some have started to grumble about their losses, and I don’t want it causing friction. Still, if they want to throw their points at me, who am I to argue? The list loaded and his eyebrows rose at a pair of new items which had been added to the list. It seemed that the crate of seed they’d picked up at the last stop, and a few bottles of wine, were already listed as ‘unclaimed cargo’ and available to use points on. The seed had no bidders, of course, but the wine was already up to several week’s worth of points. He thought for a moment and placed two bids.
The ship set down the next afternoon, ships time – which had been synced up with local time – in a spaceport at the edge of a large metropolis. Sunar had been impressed by the place as they descended. He’d seen some good sized cities on his trips back home, but few this size. He’d wondered whether anyone would object to him jumping off of some of the higher buildings and gliding down.
Unloading the ship took little time, and he managed to not only keep from anyone getting annoyed at him but to pick up a few compliments at his work. He’d flashed a broad grin at the compliments and bent himself to the task, glad that he’d finally picked up on the rhythm of the work.
With the cargo unloaded everyone gathered on the deck as the Captain made her standard announcements and asked if anyone had any last-minute requests to change their watch rotations. She planned to keep the ship in place for a week, to give everyone some R&R and have some maintenance done. Everyone had begun to shift impatiently when she finally got to the part everyone wanted to hear: who had taken that wine. Sunar quietly worked his way over to his little hidden box, and had just picked it up when the Captain made the announcement.
He turned to see her staring dead at him with a knowing smile on her face as she addressed the crew. “I know what all of you are really waiting for, so I won’t hold you any longer. Those of you who were betting that Sunar was the one who had bid for the wine, well, you can start counting your points. Sunar, come claim your winnings!”
She slapped the case of wine with one hand and gestured dramatically at him with the other as groans and grumbling passed through the gathered crew. He walked forward, his ship mates making room for him and staring with open curiosity at the box in his hands. He stepped up onto the walkway and turned to face the crew. “Thank you Captain! I appreciate the chance to claim such a fine prize.” He saw some eyes roll, and heard a few mutters about ‘grandstanding’ and ‘oh great, a speech,’ along with something about ‘what does a monk even want with wine?’ He set his box down and it made a soft clink as the glass within rattled. He then tore the top off the wine box with one hand, pulled a bottle out, uncorked it, pulled a glass out of the box he’d brought with him, and poured. He then turned to the Captain and handed her the glass. Her eyebrows raised at him as began to pour another glass while he spoke. “Some people seem to think that, just because I am a monk, I don’t enjoy the finer things in life now and again. That isn’t true, I just don’t let that enjoyment rule my life. Now, however, I’m faced with a problem: This case of wine is far more than I can drink quickly, and it seems such a shame to leave it stored away in a locker. So, I have a request to make: Permission to share this case out and get the crew a little bit sauced, Captain!”
The Captain gave him a broad smile even as she gave him a sideways look and shook her head slightly. She then tossed her head back and laughed, took a drink of the wine, and gestured for him to proceed.
The grumbling turned to cheers, and a party quickly began to take shape. Sunar poured the first round himself, and made sure that everyone saw him taking a drink of his own glass whenever he poured. As things started to get rolling the Captain called in food, someone set up music, and then the dancing started. It took them a few hours to get through all of the bottles – it had been more of a box of wine than a standard case – and by that time several of his ship mates had pulled out booze that they’d squirreled away.
The party lasted well into the evening and everyone, even the normally stand-offish chief engineer, got into the spirit of the revel. As the evening wore on crew from other ships began to wander over to check out the commotion, and were invited to join. Few came empty handed. Sunar danced, he sang, he poured drink after drink. At some point he found himself, well into his cups, laughing a little too hard at a joke and knocking over a pyramid of beer cans someone had been stacking.
The music shut off and the dancing ground to a sudden halt as everyone stared at him. He looked around in a semi-daze, and was about to start flushing the booze from his system when a cheer went up all around the party. He ended up demonstrating his ability several times through the evening, always to laughter and cheers. It reminded him of the game, when he was a child, where the other kids tried to find things he could or couldn’t break with his shout.
The next morning he woke in the middle of the cargo deck with a number of unconscious bodies strewn about him. When did it become a contest to see who could out last whom? He took a look around. Well, at least everyone here is our own crew. It seems our guests had the courtesy to leave before they passed out themselves. So, does that make the people who collapsed here with me the winners of the contest, or the losers?
He chuckled softly to himself and shook his head, an action he immediately regretted. He stood, stumbled to the galley, and poured himself a good sized glass of water. Once he’d downed that he sat on the floor and dropped himself into meditation. It wasn’t easy, he hadn’t practiced meditating while impaired in too long. That is something I’m going to have to fix. A small smile came to his face. That is going to amuse everyone: The monk who keeps getting drunk on shore leave. Still, it is an easier way to practice moving toxins out of my system than dealing with real poisons.
After a while he stood and looked at the clock. Over an hour! Yes, I am certainly out of practice. That I can fix later. For now, there are other priorities. He printed out some labels, went down to the cargo hold, and found the large box of seed he’d purchased with the rest of his points. He pulled it open and grabbed a few of the seed packs, put them in a standard Imperial Express Shipping box, slapped a label on the box, dropped a few hand-written notes into it, sealed it, and set it with the outgoing mail. There, that box is small enough to go through the mail portals, and this world is metropolitan enough to have them. Everyone back home should have their notes no later than tomorrow, and they can stop worrying.
That done he moved the crate with the rest of the seed out of the cargo hold to the receiving platform, and slapped a shipping label on it as well. That should get to the charity farm I looked up. Someone said the grain was supposed to be hardy, and I am sure they will be able to put it to good use.
He heard a foot scrape on the deck behind him and turned to find the Captain standing there, a small smile on her face as she spoke. “I wondered what you were going to do with that seed. I have to say I respect your generous spirit. I was planning on donating some of that cargo myself, and selling just enough to break even on bringing it here.” She waved a hand at him as he started to apologize. “No, son, that was a compliment, though I admit the statement sounded better in my head. I’m guessing that small box is going back to that monastery of yours?”
Her smile broadened when he nodded. “Good. I appreciate what you did with that case of wine. You do know that it was my bid that you trumped, and that you did the same thing with the stuff that I planned to do with it, right?” She shrugged. “Well, mostly the same thing. I’d intended to hide a couple of bottles of it away.”
He smiled and handed her a bottle.
Her eyes widened as she took it almost reverently from his hands, then she turned a sharp gaze on him. “When… how?”
“Does it matter?”
“No, I guess not. I still…”
He shook his head. “It isn’t too hard, if you know how to take note of where everyone is looking. That isn’t the only bottle I saved, of course, but mine is already hidden away.”
She laughed again and cradled the bottle in her arm. “I was right, boy. You are going to be trouble.” She took a satisfied look around the cargo hold, and the crew members who had finally begun to stir. “But, I think you are going to be a useful kind of trouble.”