City of Refuge, Episode 9: Not Quite Clear

Once Jer cleared the atmosphere, he swung around onto the  course that would take him into the planet’s shadow. Once in position, he came to a full stop.

“Awright. Kill running lights, leave the engines on standby, and cut power usage as much as possible.” Jer pivoted his chair toward the others.

“How long are we just going to sit out here?” Ethan drew back a slider that pulled the cabin lights down to barely enough to see.

Jer shrugged. “Probably longer than we want, and hopefully long enough to get the job done.”

“Just play it by ear, Ethan,” Tamar growled.

The engine hum dwindled.

“Is it safe to talk?” Ethan asked.

Tamar snickered. “Sound don’t travel in space.”

“Just askin’ is all.” He glared at her.

“You two go get some rest. I’ll take the first watch and send for one of you later.”

Ethan rushed out, and Tamar followed.

Once they were gone, Jer looked out of the viewscreen at the planet ahead. Only a thin crescent showed. Kane might consider sneaking out other side of the world. If that happened, the court would alert him to Kane’s escape. By the time Jer mobilized and got around the planet, Kane could be well gone, but he couldn’t watch all sides of the planet by himself. Keeping an eye on this part of the planet, the most direct way, would have to be enough.

#

With nothing to do but watch rust form on the ceiling, Kane reclined in his quarters and stared at the green light on the communication board. Either Nahum and Vashti would be calling to give the all clear, or an informant would be letting him know Jer Baruch had left the planet. Kane hoped the first call would come from Nahum. Paying the informant would drain the pocketbook.

When the green light flared, tension fluttered in his gut. Kane reached over and slapped the communication switch. “Say yer piece.”

“You wanted to know if Yireh ever left? Well, they just zoomed on out of here.” The nasally voice and meant Kane would be out a few thousand shekels. “Sending you the surveillance video now.”

The computer’s ping let him know the upload was complete. Seconds later, a new window opened showing Yireh on an outbound course.

“So, when do I get paid?” the informant demanded.

“As soon as you stop transmitting.” The tension in Kane’s stomach worsened. “Can’t send you a payment and keep blabbing at the same time.”

He smacked the toggle to end the call, and then he set up the fund transfer, less a “handling fee.” Let the guy complain. In fewer than ten minutes, Kane would be gone.

He jogged up to the bridge and slid into the pilot’s seat. He slapped switches and turned dials to bring the engines, navigation, and tactical systems online. The communication system demanded attention with an incessant beep.

Kane groaned and flicked the switch to acknowledge the caller. “Yeah?”

“Kane? Nahum. Me an’ Vashti have run into a small problem with security here.”

“What kind of problem?” Kane asked. If you’ve gotten yourself in a legal mess, you’re going to sort it out yourself.

“Can’t get past it to gain access to the priest. I ‘spect it’ll be the same no matter we how we try it.”

“Skip it.” Kane shook his head. “I’ll come pick you up & we’ll get out of town.”

“Wait, wait, wait.” Vashti’s voice  came through clearer, perhaps as she was getting closer to the mic. “You can’t leave Shechem. Isn’t that why we’re this little errand?”

“I can now. Jer’s left. See you at the spaceport soon.” Kane switched off the system & gripped the controls.

He lifted off and headed for space. The communication system beeped again. That would be the control tower complaining about his sudden, unauthorized departure. The radar showed small craft giving pursuit, but if they could get through his shields before he left the atmosphere, they deserved to get him.

With continuous acceleration, Kane left Shechem behind like so much manure in a pasture. The planetary police chasing him gave up.

He smirked. “Knew you didn’t have it in you.”

Kane brought the ship around on the outbound course. The empty space ahead of him lit up and solidified into Yireh.

###

Should Kane try to run for it or fight it out?

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