59.3 \ 241

“They’ve been helpful!” Wendel said with perk. She was still looking to Gretz, open for suggestion.

“Yes, I see,” replied Gretz, collecting his thoughts to address Wendel’s overhanging question. “So, I got a recent call for hire that didn’t sound right for my ship. It might work for yours, though. Just came in yesterday, and I was going to ignore it. I’ve been doing what I can with people in distress here, but I recognize a special opportunity when it lines up.” His eyes surveyed the supermarket chaos, refraining from questions like how they would get out of there, since they seemed unworried. “The job’s with a private company, which is rare right now. Weird location.”

“Weird, but known?” Wendel inquired as though unknown locations had been common recently.

“Known… yes.”

Wendel beckoned Gretz and Leiv with her shop-talk gesture. Gretz retrieved his calendar disc from the foreman’s clipboard held by one of his associates. Leiv came out from inside the hatchway, not naked. They huddled, and muttered through the terms. “And with Skyfather, I think we could negotiate a really good rate,” Wendel concluded.

“I’m along for this,” nodded Leiv.

Gretz sighed and scratched the back of his neck. “I know how to cut my current contract. My neighborhood friends can hang onto my cab. They know what to do.” He went back to the patient co-conspirators and had a talk with them. They appeared to be prepared for this. Handshakes went around, and they kept the clipboard after Gretz removed a couple personal items. He returned to his Starweaver friends. “I’m along, too.” They grinned and clapped him on the back several times.

Wendel Harper composed her posture and approached Rosy Glow, Greezmo, and the Jiggler. “It may be, kind folk, that we will not need your assistance going forward from this point. Then you can attend to your own understandably complex matters. Drift X’s augmentations should be able to get us anywhere we need, as long as we know where we’re going. I consider our favors returned in kind.” The Kao-Sidhe curtseyed.

“Hey uh, before everybody goes, can I just look at your ships one more time? I haven’t even gotten to see the classic outside, but I could hear it. You could say my ears are tuned,” Greezmo asked, making grabby hands. Wendel nodded vigorously to Gretz, and Gretz shrugged and nodded to Greezmo. They pranced out to have a look, gloved fingers wiggling.

“One more gift I can give,” volunteered the Jiggler. “If you will allow me to discern the most amenable moment for a graceful exit for all involved, I can do so. The nearest timing of intentions with the least likelihood of unpleasant confrontation.” Wendel nodded with two-handed go on, go on motions.

The Jiggler jiggled things around meditatively, and Greezmo shuffled around Kinetryx and Drift making cooing noises and satisfied grunts, politely and expertly checking compartments. Dusting their hands, they walked back to the Starweavers. “Thanks for letting this gremlin do its worst. Remember, if there’s trouble you can’t handle, just Give It A Little Mo.” Greezmo pointed at their ballcap which read that exact statement on the front. “Your vehicles should depart in the best of moods!”

The Jiggler opened their eyes, smiling peacefully in a moment of stillness. “Go now, at your pace.”

Gretz went and bid farewell to his group, which left the store one at a time to Kinetryx 2. The guys started off toward the Drift with some of that team job excitement. Captain Wendel Harper remained to ask, “What about you three?”

Rosy Glow swished her raiment. “We’ll dance off in our own directions, as we do.” Releasing each other’s regard, they parted. The Kao-Sidhe were the only ones present to watch in wonder as Drift X’s one-of-a-kind science charged itself under command. With a crescendoing burble, the spaceship disappeared into its own molecular echo on the note of a reverberating ping, a boat turning into the ripples beneath it.

As if by silent agreement, each of the Kao-Sidhe sampled or examined a piece of the human food. Then they each danced as befit their character, and as they danced they receded into some form of distance yet remaining in their points of space, until they disappeared.

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