Feb 6

The Banu Boner

MISC Freelancer

“This is the last of it, Clay.” Sanders Monroe said as he leaned against the crate of bottled water and shoved it into place, stepped back, and activated the rear cargo door of his dusty old MISC Freelancer. The ship, named Aquaduct, was filled to capacity with identical crates marked with the Comet Water logo.  Outside the hangar door, a vast, shining sea sparkled majestically in the late afternoon sun, some 200 kilometers below, on the surface of Nero.

“I can’t believe you’re giving me this Freelancer, Sanders.” Clay looked up at the older man with wonder in his eyes.

“I’m not giving it to you buddy.  I’m loaning it to you, so you can keep Comet Water in business.  Remember?” Sanders leaped clear as the cargo door swung up and closed with a deep clunk. “I’m taking time off to explore, but I don’t want to lose this business. If we don’t keep the Comet Water flowing, we’ll lose our permit to trade with the Banu.”

Clay looked confused.

“Look Clay, this is a simple business. You get water from the surface on Nero and then mix it with the powder I keep in the back room. Then you bottle it, and sell it to the Banu. After that, come back to Nero, take a week off and repeat. Couldn’t be any easier. Do you remember how much of the compound goes in each load?”

“Yeah, two scoops… per load. Um… why do we mix the water with sugar again?” Clay asked.

“It’s not sugar, Clay, it’s MSG, and we mix it with the water because the Banu like it that way.” Sanders grinned sheepishly at the thought of his buddies poking fun at him. Ever since he’d started the business, they’d been calling his delivery ship the ‘Banu Boner’ instead of her real name.  Sanders laughed it off all the way to the bank.

He thought back to the first time he explained the power of Comet Water to his buddies. “There we were,” he said. “Just me and and this Banu named Jankins. I had hired him to help me out with a long haul delivery. He was hungry when he came aboard the Aquaduct, so I gave him some leftover General Xiao’s Chicken. Within minutes Jankins was in his bunk, furiously humping his gol darn pillow!”

Sanders’ buddies were falling off their bar stools and doubled over with laughter at the thought of this.

“He didn’t come out of there for days and I knew I was onto something… though it wasn’t until I burned his blankets and pillow that I thought of mixing MSG with Nero water and marketing it as a virility potion. You wouldn’t believe what the Banu will pay per bottle.”

“Like I said Clay, real simple. Just keep doing what we’ve been doing every month for the last five years and you get to keep your salary while I’m gone. In fact, I’m giving you a promotion and a raise. You are now the Captain of the Banu Bone… er, I mean the Aquaduct… and that means you’re getting a ten percent raise plus a bonus for every on-time delivery.”

“Seriously?” Clay’s eyes started to get watery.

“Yeah, Clay. Seriously. Now don’t get all choked up on me. Just deliver the water, like we’ve been doing for the last five years.” Sanders thought about how much he’d rather be in his Revel & York hangar on Terra right now, gazing down at the shiny new fleet of exploration ships waiting for him. On the one hand he felt a little bad about leaving Clay behind, the guy really has been loyal. But the truth is, Clay is just too simple for the next chapter of Sanders enterprises.

“I will Boss. You know I will.”

“I know you will, Clay. You’ve been a loyal employee this whole time buddy. You deserve the Aquaduct.” Sanders patted Clay on the shoulder. “You’re going to need an assistant. We’ll hire a temp until we can get someone full time.”

“Can’t we just hire my Banu friend Wollister? He LOVES Comet Water!”

“Sorry, Clay. We can’t have any Banu on this delivery. It’s just too much trouble with…ahh… immigrant work visas and what not.  Yeah.” Sanders turned away so Clay couldn’t see him snickering…

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