[Sir Lanka Files 05] The Job

Continued from …

“Oh?” said DaVic, trying to appear nonchalant. “How can I be of service?”

Internally, his excitement levels were so bubbling over that he was ready to burst into song. “Please spare us that,” his inner voice urgently exhorted.

The PI business had never been very good in Sir Lanka. “That’s why you’re the only PI here, dum, dum,” went his inner voice. Of late, things had been even worse than usual. But getting an alien client who would pay big juicy fees in galactic credits — which were way better than the local credits — might set him up for life!

Of course, he had to play it cool and not appear too eager, he decided. So he tried to keep outwardly calm and listend to what Salix was saying.

“We knew about your Thieves Guild when we set up our business. We knew that we could expect them to break in, steal some valuables, and leave a receipt behind. We were prepared for all of that.”

“So what’s the issue? Do you need me to handle the payment to the Guild to get your stuff back?” asked DaVic wondering where this was going.

“Oh no, we haven’t been robbed by the Guild yet.”

“Then what’s the problem? You want me to arrange VIP service so that they can rob you in an expedited manner?”

“No, that’s not it. We’ve received a notification from them saying that they want to inspect the premises first before the robbery.”

“Ah,” said DaVic, light dawning. “That’s the new process. They are apparently backlogged at the Guild. So many places to rob, and so little time and so on. So they’re now inspecting premises before they rob people to decide which places are worth stealing from and which are not.”

“That is logical,” conceded Salix. “That way, I suppose they can prioritize places with higher value items?”

“Yes, I think that’s the idea. The Guild people have become so lazy these days that they don’t want to waste their time stealing worthless trinkets. They only want the good stuff.”

DaVic paused. “But how can I help you here? Maybe expedite the review?”

“I think you’re missing the point. While you seem to have adapted remarkably well to dealing with us — or at least me — I don’t think the Guild will be so understanding of our business if they knew the extent of it. As you yourself indicated earlier, humans don’t seem to like aliens taking human bodies, especially aliens who don’t look human …”

“Yeah, people are funny that way. Long ago, they didn’t like other people who didn’t look, act, dress, or practice religion exactly like them. Now that they’ve got aliens to blame, they’ve shifted all that care and attention to aliens. After all, it’s really easy to tell humans and aliens apart …”

DaVic paused to think. “So you’re saying that you don’t want the Guild to know about your base downstairs or the fact that the Shake and Rake is run by aliens?”


“Well, that should be a piece of cake! In Sir Lanka it’s not what you know but who you know that really matters,” DaVic paused, “Actually, sometimes what you know matters too, especially if you know some dirt about somebody high up, but let’s stick to the former. Knowing dirt can also result in nobody knowing where you are …”

“We were told that too — that you had to know people. We figured that we had to grease the palms of somebody high up in the Guild. That’s why I was hoping that you could help us,” replied Salix.

“Sometimes, it’s not friends in high places who can help you. I’ve got a lot of friends in low places …”

Salix just stared at DaVic as if asking where that particular conversational gambit was headed.

DaVic hastened to explain. “You realize that the high muckety-mucks in the Guild do nothing at all, right? They are as lazy as mud. They just love sitting there, doing nothing, and seeing the credits roll in. In fact, I’m told that they are now starting to subcontract out even the stealing so that they don’t have to get their dainty little hands dirty.”

“And how does that help us?”

“Well, most of the actual work is done by the bureaucrats in the Guild — the peons, the clerks, the janitors, the cleaners, and the guys who man the collection counters. They are the people who actually keep the Guild ticking like the slightly rusty old clock it is. And I know, and deal with, a lot of them.”

“Ah, so you can get them to do something about the inspection of our premises?”

“I can get them to file the inspection as done, or lose the inspection entry from their database altogether, or get the inspection entered as already complete … You get the idea. Nothing moves in the Guild unless the clerical staff wishes it to.”

“Ah, then it would appear that you are the right person for the job.”

“You could say that,” smiled DaVic. “So, about my fee …”

“You mean the PRDF?” asked Salix smoothly.

“Well, the PRDF would be an advance on the job, sure. But since I’m simply borrowing it from you, I was thinking of a retainer for my other services,” replied DaVic just as smoothly.

“How about fifty credits a month?”

“Galactic or local?”


“Let’s make it fifty galactic credits … and expenses extra, and you’ve got a deal,” replied DaVic pushing hard.

“As long as we have a cap on the expenses, say fifty credits a month maximum, then you’ve got a deal!”

“Done,” replied DaVic quickly. He would have been happy with just fifty credits a month — “Or even twenty,” said his inner voice, keeping him honest — but he wasn’t going to quibble when fortune seemed to be favouring him at last.

A new client, a way to hide — at least temporarily — from his pursuers, an expense account that he could pad — “Within reason”, his inner voice warned —, life was looking up indeed!

“So when can you start?” asked Salix, breaking into his gleeful thoughts where he was counting credits that he hadn’t even got.

“What? You mean you want the inspection thing handled now?”

“No time like the present. The Guild has been rather insistent recently and we don’t want them coming here suddenly and trying to force their way in …”

“Yeah, that is kind of their style,” agreed DaVic. He thought rapidly. If it was RaBlu who was after him, then going to the Guild wouldn’t normally be a good idea. But, unlike the hoi-polloi who thought that RaBlu and his advisors were working night and day to improve the city and its conditions — “While robbing everybody blind, of course,” added his inner voice —, DaVic knew that RaBlu and his coterie of hangers on rarely visited the Guild offices. They preferred to stay at their mansions and do all the ruling through intermediaries.

So, there was no place in Sir Lanka that he was guaranteed not to run into RaBlu or his immediate circle of movers and shakers, than at the Guild offices.

Of course, that wasn’t to say that there wouldn’t be a member of the actual boots-on-the-ground cadre who was searching for him who might not be at the Guild offices and might recognize him.

“But that’s a lot of mights,” his inner voice interrupted. “They are more likely to be visiting all the bars searching for you than looking for you at the Guild offices.”

DaVic nodded in agreement with his inner voice. The Guild office didn’t sound like too much of a risk and for a hundred credits — “Only fifty, don’t count your expenses till you’ve made them,” his inner thoughts corrected him — he was willing to take a few risks.

“OK, if you’ll get me that PRDF, I’ll swing by the Guild offices and sort this out right away!” he told Salix.

Continued in …

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