01 Jul Chapter 42: Payment
I’m standing in the Mizem main conference room among a crowd of employees. The excitement at what’s about to take place is tangible. Marcs is here, as well as Laik. Yes, Rills and Laik are fine—Laik wasn’t near the center of the Sojybri floating city when the Oliot sabotage began, and Rills was able to pilot the blimp taxi to safety.
Seven months have gone by since the Bavul destroyed the Oliot invasion force. On returning to Threa I was treated like a hero: parades, endless parties, award ceremonies and the like. I didn’t want all that embarrassing attention but I put on a smile and played the part.
Before my return everyone thought I was dead. The Bavul couldn’t tell them I was still alive, as it might have tipped off the Oliot to the fact that their plan was compromised. I still feel sad that my friends and family had to go through those two gloomy weeks. Since I’ve been back I’ve had a couple of good cries over Domik. I owe him a lot and now that he’s gone there’s no way I can repay him. Come to think of it, maybe I’ll set up a scholarship in his honor…
On a brighter note Binauld is okay and has relocated to Threa. He and a bunch of off-world prisoners the Oliot were holding captive were rescued by the Bavul. It’s been a blast seeing Binauld adjust to freewheeling life on Threa.
Most everything is back to normal now. I’m busy with putting out fires at the office as usual. Home life is the same craziness as always. Gian and I didn’t really need to make peace with each other—it was enough just that we’re both alive. And then the favor the Bavul owe me arrived today.
A few more employees pack into the already crowded conference room. Marcs is remaining stoic but I know he must be buzzing with anticipation right now. I open the briefcase on the table and remove a sealed glass vial.
“Marcs, I want to be sure you’re absolutely certain you’re okay with doing this. You are a valued employee and close friend, and I would be devastated if anything happened to you.” I’ve asked him before but for something this potentially risky I feel I should give him another chance to back out.
Marcs opens his mouth to speak but nothing comes out. He closes his eyes and scrunches up his face. He’s trembling, clenching his fists. I can’t imagine the agony he’s experiencing right now working through this critical decision.
“I, I am… certain.” The words stutter out and then relief spreads across his face.
I hand the vial to Marcs. The drug inside is the payment I asked for from the Bavul—a cure for the affliction. Seven months in the making, it’s supposed to work instantaneously. They claim they tested it, but I don’t know on what or whom. If it works, Mizem will manufacture it in mass quantities and give it out for free.
Marcs removes the seal, and holds the vial up as if he’s toasting everyone. He drinks the liquid inside in one gulp. The vial remains at his lips for longer than seems normal, and he just stands there looking straight ahead for twenty seconds or so. A tear appears in one eye, then the other. He looks confused. He’s crying now, tears are running down his face. He drops to his knees and sobs, his whole body shaking. This is not the reaction I expected.
I kneel down in front of him. He’s blubbering something through the sobs but I can’t make out exactly what he’s saying. He smiles a little bit and I can hear the words now. He’s saying ‘it worked, it worked’ over and over again.
I hug him tight and rock with him back and forth. Of all the thoughts rushing through my head right now, one keeps bubbling up above all the others: I wonder if that beach resort near Jalea and Gavs has any rooms available?