‘Enery looked on taciturnly, with a feeling of mounting annoyance. As if Chick’s incessant scottish whining about the bird flu he had caught, which was sweeping through the crowded mining vessel was not enough, Moe’s delusions were now getting on his nerves.
He was engaging in a pointless argument with a bored looking ships officer, claiming about the charges ‘someone else’ had apparently made on his account, for downloading and viewing upwards of 50 pornographic films while they had been in transit. Idly he looked over the stewards shoulder at the list of movies: he didn’t recognise any of them, though he dimly remembered “Saddle Sore Sluts” as being one Waugh had mentioned during their night of bingeing on Hootmanney Station.Some sort of cowboy movie he dimly recalled.
As it was thanks to Moe they were now pretty much the last passengers stuck on board: they would be waiting hours for a shuttle at this rate. Clearly Clarissa and Anwyn were losing patience, and eventually Clarissa snapped at Moe to pay up, and still with protestations of innocence, Moe at last paid up. Finally they managed to collect their weapons from the purser and exit the John Henry.
As they exited onto the concourse, the first shuttle planetside was boarding. He noticed that the Webb brothers were in line, as was the small mercenary team. Both groups seemed to have a fair amount of luggage, including weapons cases by the look of it: they seemed to be in active discussion with one another about something. Between themselves and the leaving shuttle were at least a hundred mining crew from the John Henry: clearly, thanks to Moe, this was going to take a while. As they pondered their situation ‘Enery noted two men dressed in red monks robes, and, somewhat strangely, fancy cowboy boots searching along the lines-apprently looking for someone he guessed. Clearly they didn’t see them, and went over to one of the Information Desks.
“Oh this is hopeless” said Clarissa, taking off her SD badge and tying a bandanna across her third eye. “Let’s see if we can speed this up.” She too wandered over to the Information desk, and started some convoluted story with one of the clerks about how she had a business meeting dirtside in a couple of hours. ’Enery noticed a couple of Big Ones slipped into a brochure which she waved before handing it across. “Greasing the wheels” he thought to himself.
His attention wandered, and he found himself listening in one the two adjacent Red Monks.
“But I know they were due-a group of eight people. Booked in the name of Mr. Sanders.” said one of the monks. The clerk checked through the boarding records.
“Ah yes here it is. Cancelled at the very last minute” said the clerk.
“Cancelled?! Are you sure?” asked the monk.
“Yes” replied the clerk. “Their berths were taken by two parties of four- a Mr. Webb, Webb, Webb and Webb, and a Mr. Black, White, Brown and Grey. They just left dirtside on one of the shuttles.”
“The two monks looked at one another in consternation. “Webbs!” muttered one. The other nodded glumly.
“Thank you so much for your help” smiled Clarissa to the clerk, and turned round and winked at ‘Enery. "We’ve got a place on the next shutttle" she confided as they moved away from the desk. “I can’t wait to set foot on a planet again, even if it is one of the usual dusty Sh**holes.”