THE ART OF THE DEAL
Max Eilerson was easily the most intelligent person he’d ever met, no matter that he was Max Eilerson. No one could compare to him in any way. At all. He sometimes wished that he were two people so he could date himself. Seriously, he did.
But Dureena didn’t notice any of these things and he could not, for the life of him, figure out why. She was a thief from some dead backwater planet who’d actually been sold into slavery by her own father.
Yet she had the audacity to look down her lovely nose at him as if he were a Centauri dung beetle.
He stood in front of the mirror and preened. His face was chiseled in a most manly way. His blond hair was perfect. His clothing was first rate, the best money could buy. He even smelled wonderful.
She had a lot of nerve, that Dureena!
A knock on his door startled him from his self admiration.
“Max? It’s Sarah. Can I talk to you?”
He sighed. Dr. Chambers was probably the least insufferable person on this horrid ship. The only unfortunate thing about her was that she knew that he wasn’t always as cool as he seemed. She had seen him weak and caring, something no one else was allowed to see.
“Coming.” He opened the door and the tall woman smiled warmly at him. “What can I do for you, Dr. Chambers?”
“I acquired this bottle of rare whiskey and I thought you might like to share it with me.”
“Let me see.” He was sure that whatever it was, it wouldn’t be anything really good. It was a bottle of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, bottled forty years ago on Mars. It wasn’t only rare; it was exquisite if it was real and not some counterfeit. He found two tumblers and opened the bottle, pouring them both a double. He handed one to Sarah and motioned her to sit.
The whiskey was real. He knew that when he smelled it. Sweet and smooth. He tasted. It went down like liquid silk and warmed him from the inside out. He didn’t realize that he had sighed aloud until Sarah laughed.
“I told you,” she sipped from her own glass.
“Now what can I do for you, dear Dr. Chambers?” He leaned forward slightly as if expecting something tantalizing to come from her mouth.
“Max, I think I am close to a cure for the Drakh plague but I don’t have some of the things I need.”
“You are familiar with the technology used on Robert Black and his group?”
“I need access to the programming used to make them super soldiers. I think I could use it to override the plague programming, something we have not yet been able to do. I obtained several samples of blood from Black’s company and have seen some promising things when it is introduced to organisms with similar nanoviruses. I think eventually Black and his team might cure themselves without knowing it.”
“And you think I can get it for you?” He raised a brow at her.
“Yes. I am certain you can.”
“What do you offer me?”
“Do you know how many credits that whiskey cost me?”
“This could cost millions, if I could get it at all.”
“I’m an Earthforce doctor, Max. I don’t exactly have millions.”
Max stopped dead still for a second then he turned toward Sarah and smiled. A terrible, awful smile. He knew what he wanted.
“I am willing to make a deal with you.” He had to force himself not to rub his hands together with glee.
“Dureena?” Sarah was sure she’d heard wrong.
“I want a date with Dureena, a real date. Dinner, dancing and I want her dressed up. I want to wine her and dine her and kiss her goodnight.”
“I’m not sure I can get that for you.”
“Take it or leave it.”
“You get me what I need and it’s a done deal,” she finally said. She knew she could get Dureena to do it… maybe.
Max held his hand to seal the deal. They shook.
Many years later, school children on Earth would read how Drs. Sarah Chambers and Stephen Franklin had discovered the cure for the Drakh Plague and saved mankind as well as many other races infected by the insidious nanovirus dropped by the Drakh as a final revenge for the defeat of the Shadows.
They would never read how Max Eilerson had a date with a beautiful alien woman and got a goodnight kiss he’d never forget as his part of the deal.