Writer’s Note: One Last Job: Part Two was published originally in Jump Point 3.10. Read Part one here.
Jonah, for the second time that day, broke into a cold sweat. They were already at the jump point, on their way to drop off supplies to a known criminal with a ship full of passengers that weren’t supposed to be there, and one of them was an Advocacy Agent. Added to that, the Agent was the criminal’s former partner.
Things were not going well.
“Char, I need you to check the cargo,” said Jonah.
She raised a thin black eyebrow. He knew how odd it must’ve sounded. They’d just taken off.
“Just make sure nothing shifted and no one’s been messing with it,” he said.
She pursed her lips and nodded. He could tell by the look in her eyes she didn’t buy it, but she would do as he asked. She gave him a final glance before she left the cockpit. The door clanged shut and Jonah punched the comms.
He’d only used this code a handful of times. It was only for emergencies and this was an emergency.
“This better be important,” a voice growled.
“I need to talk to Mickey,” said Jonah.
“If you’re backing out,” the voice said. It must’ve been Mickey’s second, a man known only as The Second. No one knew his name except Mickey.
“No,” said Jonah. “I have a problem and I need to talk to Mickey.”
Truth was, he wanted to back out, more now than ever. Before, it was the fear of Mickey that kept him going. He owed him money and he was behind on payment. Now, there was an Agent. He was an old fella, but Pietro used to talk about him with awe in his voice, like the man was part god. He’d caught or ghosted so many bad guys, Jonah was surprised he hadn’t known what Pietro was up to.
Silence crackled over the comms and sweat poured down Jonah’s face. His scalp itched and his mouth was dry.
Finally, Mickey came on.
“How big a problem we talkin’, Jonah my boy?” There was an edge to his voice. He wasn’t happy.
“Oh, about six feet tall, goes by the name of Ardoss.”
Mickey sniffed. “Name sounds familiar.”
“It’s Pietro’s partner,” said Jonah.
“Ah, yes, that’d be it,” said Mickey. “Why do you have a passenger, Jonah? I checked your schedule. You had no passengers. It was cargo only.”
He didn’t yell. He never did. He was always calm and even toned. He liked to make you feel like everything was fine. Jonah couldn’t help but remember the bartender’s ruined face.
“Passengers, plural,” said Jonah, trying to keep his voice from shaking. “I have a full flight. Haru changed it on me, last minute. I thought some politician pulled some strings, but now I think it was this Ardoss guy.”
“You think he’s after his partner?” said Mickey.
“I can’t think of anything else,” said Jonah.
Mickey took a slow breath. “I need the job done and Pietro taken care of. We can’t have this Ardoss fella causing trouble.”
“That’s why I called,” said Jonah. “Can we postpone?”
Jonah could practically hear Mickey’s teeth grind.
“Postpone?” he said, his voice still even, but a pitch higher.
“Kick Ardoss off at the next station,” said Jonah. “He’s got to be here for Pietro. He blew up a shopping mall to get him. I don’t want that kind of trouble. When he’s off, I’ll go back and give Pietro his cargo.”
“That’s not what we agreed to, Jonah,” said Mickey. “You deliver your cargo when I say you deliver it. You show up late, Pietro will bolt. He knows things about my organization. I need to make sure he’s happy. Stick to the schedule. Do you understand?”
Jonah’s heart sank. “Yes, I understand. What do you want me to do about Ardoss?”
“Kill him,” said Mickey.
The sweat on Jonah’s face and back went cold and he thought he’d be sick.
“I’ve never killed anyone,” said Jonah.
“The first one’s tough, sure,” said Mickey, his voice softer. “But if he lives, you put the entire job at risk. If you drop him off somewhere, he’ll be back and you’ll go to jail. And if you think sitting in an Advocacy prison will keep you safe from me, I have people everywhere, Jonah. I will get what’s owed me, one way or another.”
“The Advocacy will be after me if I kill him,” said Jonah. “I’ll be a wanted man.”
“You let me worry about that,” said Mickey. “You just think about your family, my boy. They need their father. They need the money.”
Jonah swallowed. Talking to Mickey didn’t make it any better. He was still caught between two impossible choices.
“And how do you propose I go about killing an Advocacy Agent?” said Jonah. “It’s not like I can shove him out an airlock.”
“You could,” said Mickey. Jonah could hear the smile on his lips.
“But I’ve got a much simpler solution for you,” said Mickey. “There’s a gun in the crate for Pietro. It’s in a hidden compartment, no code, just a special latch. It’s loaded, so be careful. Have you ever fired a gun?”
“No,” said Jonah, shaking his head. He’d seen them fired, and heard the awful sound they made. His ears hurt just to think about it.
“It’s real simple,” said Mickey. “Just point it at the fella you want dead and squeeze the trigger. It’s like magic. Hit ’em in the right spot and they’re just gone.”
Jonah’s stomach twisted.
“Anything else?” asked Mickey after a moment.
“No,” said Jonah, “that’s it, I guess.”
“Good,” said Mickey. “I know you’ll do the right thing. Call me when it’s done.”
The comm disconnected.
Jonah stared at his console. Ten years of working for Mickey and he’d never been asked to kill anyone.
But then, he’d never had an Agent on board before.
A knock came at the door and Jonah jerked his head up. Char was back from the cargo hold.
He let her in.
“Jesus, Jo, you look pale as a sheet,” she said. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah,” he said, pushing away from his station. “I need to go check the cargo.”
“What’s going on?” she said.
“Nothing,” he said as he waved her off. “I forgot something. I won’t be long.”
He could feel her eyes on him as he exited the cockpit. She knew something was up. He just hoped he could keep her away from it. This wasn’t her burden to bear.
He spotted the Agent in the passenger area and gritted his teeth. Time to get it over with.