Author : Benjamin Fischer

Basajaun sighed and rubbed the sweat from under his eyes. A shadow had fallen across reflected rays of his private sun.

“What is it you want?” he asked, blinking and groggy.

The shade resolved itself into the slim image of a woman standing over him.

“Mr. Miquel, I am Yasamin Judd,” she said. Mocha skin, some sort of South Asian. Medium of height, medium build, dressed in a generic gray skintight softsuit that could have belonged to one of a thousand extraterran concerns.

“They always send a pretty one,” Basajaun muttered.

“The spa staff granted me entrance,” Yasamin said.

Basajaun grunted and made no attempt to cover himself. Lying flat and naked on a cedar deck chair, he rubbed his belly.

“You are from Palamos?” he asked her.

“Yes, I represent the Pioneer Union of Palamos.”

Basajaun fumbled around at his side.

“Pioneer Union. Hmph,” he said, bringing a bulb of oil up to his prominent stomach and farting out a glob onto his belly button.

“We wish to renegotiate-” Yasamin continued.

“Renegotiate,” Basajaun said, an ugly look on his face like he’d just caught a whiff of something foul.

“Yes,” said Yasamin.

“Have you read the contract?” Basajaun asked the woman. He began to rub the oil in slow circles around his paunch.


“Then there is nothing to renegotiate,” Basajaun said. “The contract explains all.”

Yasamin made to open her mouth again, but he waved her off.

“No renegotiation,” he said. “If you had found nothing on that rock, would you come running to me? No. You would have taken my wages and been happy for them. But now that there is copper and platinum at Palamos and you grow greedy.”

“We are not looking for a higher percentage,” Yasamin replied with patience.

“Bullshit,” Basajaun barked. “I have hired gypsies and tinkers and jews before–you always want more.”

“Sir, the Union remains ever grateful for your employment,” Yasamin said.

“Then be silent,” he replied.

“We are,” said Yasamin. “These negotiations exist purely between us. The Union does not wish to give the appearance of labor difficulties at Palamos.”

Basajaun rotated a pair of beady eyes onto the woman.

“So that’s your threat?” he said.

Yasamin shifted on her feet.

“What to you want?” Basajaun asked.

“Rights to the asteroid,” Yasamin said.

“Minus the heavy metals?” he replied.

“Mineral rights will be maintained per the existing contract,” she answered.

Basajaun shut his eyes and sighed.

“I don’t understand–that rock is worth shit without the platinum,” he murmured. “And that’s all you want.”

“We want a place to call home,” Yasamin replied.

Basajaun shook his head.

“The membership of the Pioneer Union consists mostly of refugees,” started Yasamin.

“I know, I know,” said Basajaun. “Those without hope will work in the worst places for the worst pay. I know this–it is why I hired you.”

He paused.

“Finish the extraction a month before the scheduled time and the rock is yours,” he said.

“Thank you, sir-”

“Go away. I have to tan my ass,” Basajaun said.

Yasamin nodded politely and backed out of the sun booth. Basajaun could see that she was trying not to smile too broadly.

When she was gone, Basajaun looked up at the heavy mirror high above him. There the sun blazed away, its glare beading up the sweat on his cheeks and his chest. Almost hidden in its rays was a tiny sliver of blue and white where the ruins of a flooded Costa Brava fishing village lay blistering under a similar heat.

The deck chair creaked like the worn planks of an old trawler.

Basajaun sighed and rolled over.

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