the smuggler’s bible

Pluto Vespasianus

He hands over the money—exorbitant, to be sure, but it’s good luck that anybody’s even taking it. The man tugs down a few ancient rations from the shelf behind him.

“Nutritious,” the man says. “And they’ll keep.”

“Sure. By the way, any word about, uh,” Pluto Vespasianus grimaces and jabs a thumb skyward, “you know.”

“Hell no. Total blackout the last two weeks.”

“Well, thanks anyway.”

“We have ample supplies,” Aoi says when he returns.

“And now we have some information to go with them.”

“I suspect equipment failure.”

“That’s sweet,” Vespasianus says, “but my money’s on political schism.”