The Uninvited - Part 2 (Day 1 - Late Evening)

Leo’s smile became wolfish. “I shouldn’t call it that. A one sided affair as I’m told, with Serena practicing her skills upon Elle’s face, while Jat chose to finish his breakfast.”

“Not tha first time deckhands have had tah resolve their differences with fists,” the medic shrugged. Still, Elle’s recent concussion gave Dorian concern about the blows she’d received aggravating the headwound. He made a mental note to bring her in for a followup exam.

The passenger cast an appraising eye upon the doc. “You’re a man who appreciates history,” he observed. “You’ve demonstrated impressive knowledge of Earth-That-Was.” He sipped his drink. “What does the name ‘Josef Stalin’ mean to you?”

“Stalin,” Adler lifted his hand. “Ah conjure where this is goin’.” This time, he offered up his own bourbon, which Leo gratefully accepted. “What say we stop dancin’ about an’ get tah tha heart of tha mattah?”

Leo offered the comic frown of a man amused. “Pity,” he said as the glass touched his lips. After a brief quiet, the smile returned to his features. “This is excellent. But, as you wish.” After another luxuriant sip of Adler’s bourbon, he spoke. “If you were to give my profession a title, the best description might be “facilitator.” I travel the ‘verse on behalf of a select clientele, seeking that which they wish me to find. I negotiate prices, arrange shipment, and then collect my fee. It’s been very lucrative,” he smiled. “Lunar Veil has been the perfect platform from which to operate, until…”

“Until yah photography hobby found light of day,” Dorian interjected.

“I am successful at my trade because I have no compunctions regarding my clients’ requests,” the passenger replied in a matter-of-fact tone.

The doc laughed. “Now Ah’m tah believe that yah ‘bathin’ study’ was taken at tha behest of a client?”

Leo regarded his drink, then lifted eyes sparkling with amusement. “I mean no disrespect, Doctor, but frankly, what you believe is of little consequence. If I may continue?”

“Please,” Adler raised a palm.

“Over the course of my profession, I’ve taken passage on a good many boats,” Leo said. “My business interests tend to flower in a symbiotic environment, one in which I can rely upon a captain and crew to support my clients’ needs. For his many faults, Colton Keller understood that. His understanding was rewarded handsomely...and like clockwork.”

“Ah’ve seen tha result.”

“Indeed you have. However,” Leo gently swirled the liquor in his glass, “he was recently emasculated by the lieutenant, who then further contributed to the leadership vacuum by hiding herself away until the sheer need for crisis management was called for. Effectively,” he tilted his head to regard the light passing through his drink, “abdicating all leadership duties to an insecure psychopath.”

Dorian sighed. “Tha word yah lookin’ fah is ‘delegation.”

“Oh, true, true,” Leo pursed his lips. “And if this were an Alliance cruiser...but it isn’t.”

“Yah promised me there was a point in there somewhere?”

“This. When I overhead the ‘Great Beaumonde Tirade,” Leo offered with a chuckle, “and then learned that both the mechanic and yourself were leaving the boat, I began packing my bags. Had the lieutenant not intervened, I’d have joined you both on the tarmac and offered up the same business proposition that I’ll present now...with your permission, of course.”

Adler leaned forward, reaching for the man’s glass. “This sounds like a refill is needed.”

“Permit me,” Leo said generously as he poured again from his decanter. “My client base has expanded...so much so that in order to serve their needs, I must grow my own operation. I require a dedicated boat and captain,” he said, “and stationed on that boat, I need a partner...a person who can face my clientele and meet them at their respective points of need with both decorum and discretion. Doctor Adler, I can assure you a lucrative future.”

“Ah have a job.”

“You do,” Leo nodded, “and I’m not asking you to relinquish either of your chosen professions, as both would be of value to our clients. On Highgate, I’ve got connections to a semioperational Firefly. At the very least, I’ll compensate our dear Marisol to conduct an inspection and offer up her repair estimate. Should you both accept my offer, the boat will be hers to maintain, and yours to direct...”

“Ah’m not a captain.”

“No,” he shook his head, “but you can hire one, as well as a pilot, deckhands, crew as you see fit.”

“Have yah broached this topic with Marisol?” Dorian asked.

Leo smiled. “Thought I’d test the waters with her best friend, first. "

<To be continued>

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