No one on the Mayfire trusted him, including the Captain. Izain knew so. They had every reason not to trust him, even if they didn't fully know the truth.
The distrust did make things difficult sometimes, especially if he needed cooperation for something odd, like telling Captain Lawrence they should take out the pirate stronghold in this sector.
She sat across the table from him and stared, her hands wrapped around a cup of something that might have been coffee before she bathed it in dairy and sweetener. He had a cup of tea and he sipped, breaking the staring match. And he waited.
"Why would we do such a thing?" she finally said.
"Aside from the fact it needs done?"
"That's true of a lot of things, Izain, and most of them far less . . . Troublesome for the future."
"You'll be heroes."
"I've never aspired to being a dead hero."
He grinned this time and she almost smiled, the corners of her lips turning up and her eyes brightening. They got along well, despite the mistrust.
"Just hypothetically speaking, where would we go to take on this stronghold?"
"Pencaris is a legitimate station! The pirates can't possibly control --" She blinked several times. "Pencaris rents out sections, including bays, to companies. But the companies go through vigorous checks. Are you telling me someone got through? And they're running pirated material through Pencaris?"
"I could give you dates, shipments, tell you what was supposed to be in them and what really was." He looked into her startled face. "You know I was a pirate. There. I've said it. You could turn me in and someone would get the truth out of me. I could tell them about Pencaris Station, too. But if the IWC goes charging in, the pirates will put up the kind of fight that will make people reconsider how badly they want pirates out of their system."
"You know this."
"I sat in on the plans."
"Damn, Izain. How did you ever get mixed up with pirates? You're too smart to --"
"I was born to it," he replied. She stopped, started to say something, and stopped again. "I am -- was -- third generation pirate, Captain Lawrence. My family could have rivaled the Lindy out in the Aquila if they'd wanted to make lengends instead of profit. But things have been changing. Maybe you haven't noticed, but in the last decade there's been worse going on then there used to be. A few groups have been getting meaner, I guess. My family has been holding back, but even they started doing things I didn't much like. So I got out. I should have gone farther."
That was the most he'd ever told anyone about his background and probably the most he'd said to anyone on the ship. Captain Lawrence stared at him, her eyes narrowed. She sipped her drink then put the cup aside.
"What is the name of the company?"
"Singleton Shipping and Consignment."
"The name is familiar. I've spent time on Pencaris." She sat back and she stared at him for a long time before her hand moved as though to whisk away some stray thought. "What would you do in this case, Izain? What would you do to take out these pirates?"
"We can't come at them from the outside. If they think that the station site is going to go down, they'll take out Pencaris with them. That will also warn other ships there is a problem and put them on the alert. This has to be an inside job, taking out the company staff before they can do anything."
"Do we really need to do this?"
"No," he said. He tilted his head slightly. "But I thought it would appeal to you, Captain Lawrence."
"Pencaris is on our usual route. We'll be there in about two hundred days."
"Yes, I know." He sipped his tea again. "I would not be on the ship still by then. I planned to leave a port or two before. Pencaris is not a safe station for me. People know me there."
She leaned forward, the intensity making her eyes bright. "Why have you changed your mind?"
"I haven't. If I don't think you are going to go after Singleton Shipping, I'll leave long before we get there. You can try locking me up if you like. That would make it interesting."
"Don't tempt me, boy. Don't tempt me. You are too much of a smart ass, you know. Why would these people let you sit in on meetings? Why would anyone there trust you?"
"Because my name is Izain Andelis Singleton."
"Singleton." She stood suddenly, as though he had finally given her something important. "I'll think about this."
For the next three ports, Izain considered leaving the ship. They were getting closer to Pencaris and he was not going to let family -- or worse, associates -- get hold of him again. They were moving in on the last station where he would have a chance to break away. He had credits enough to hold him and he'd be able to get a post on an outbound ship soon enough.
Oddly, though, he would miss the Mayfire. The small crew of ten had been just enough that no one was overworked. He'd had trouble with someone early on, but Kanda had been working for pirates (oh, the irony there) and got pulled by station security at the next stop. Maybe he'd get lucky with another ship. Maybe --
He looked up from his spot at the in-ship computer station where he had been transferring control to the station now that they were docked.
"Captain," he said with a bow of his head.
"Come with me. We need to talk."
He handed the work off to Ana who gave them a worried glance. He left with the Captain.
And he knew just from her look that they were going to do something . . . daring.
(This is the third Izain flash fiction. The first was #132: The Key and the second was #142 Hanlet Station)