â€œBut what do these shapes mean?â€, asked Franks, tracing the bulkhead arch with his gloved finger.
â€œSome sorta hieroglyphs,â€ said Gantry. The overweight salvager waddled down the service corridor ahead of Franks, the pool of light from his helmet-torches almost eclipsed by his suited bulk. â€œAlien language. I don’t know, and I don’t care. Knowing don’t make me no money, kid.â€
It could do, you fat fool, thought Franks. â€œAre there other ships with the same characters?â€
â€œGuess so. The belt’s full of ships; pretty sure I’ve seen others like this one. Most of them had as little worth salvaging as this heap, too. Now, pick up that cutter and move your arse â€” I didn’t hire you as a xenohistorian.â€
â€œI wouldn’t have hired out for the rates you pay if you had,â€ grumbled Franks.
As Gantry turned the corner at the end of the corridor, Franks slipped the locator beacon into a baroque recess in the corridor bulkhead and activated it. His real employers would be pleased â€” the old scavenger had led them straight to a dormant Re’angth tithe-vessel, and seemingly had no idea of its true value.
Franks hefted the laser cutter and its bulky power unit, and grinned to himself. He headed down the corridor after Gantry, looking forward to dispatching him once they were safely clear of the belt.
[This is an opening extract from a longer work-in-progress. The longer I work on it, the more I feel it’s just too horribly cliched for words … but I figure I may as well finish it anyway. Selah.]