Noam A tall, swarthy Belter with a thick black beard and dark eyes appeared at Henry Noam's shoulder as he maneuvered The Durango to dock at New Providence Station. The man was Damian Slavko, Henry's childhood friend from Ceres. “Finally get to live the good life, eh, kopeng? It's all lining up,” said Slavko. “I wasn't sure we were getting out of that one. Running drugs one way and guns the other maybe wasn't such a good idea. Let’s break as few laws as possible next time, yeah?” Henry replied. He had the physique of a man born and raised on Ceres. His dark Auburn hair was almost maroon, and his ruddy complexion was a close match. Makiyama, the chief engineer, spun his crash couch to face them. “Relax, little brother, you always get us out of the shit. I wasn't worried,” he said. Mack was a Belter too, with a mop of brown hair and almond eyes. “You never have to worry ‘cause you never have to do nating,” replied Henry, jokingly. “Also, we're locked in. Killing the core and pressurizing now.” The trio glided to the rear bay and began removing their EVA suits. “So, Dame,” said Henry. “We give the guns, get the pay, then what?” He popped green disks into his stretched ears. “Then we shack up in a nice motel and wait until something else comes along,” Damian replied. “Thought you said everything was lined up?” said the engineer scratching his long sideburns with both hands. “I said everything was lining up, Mack. We've made a little money, and a bit of a name for our little ship; soon for sure.” “If you say so, boss.” Damian They floated through the docking bay until they came to a tall door labeled “OFFICE.” Damian looked around then knocked on the door. A Belter man with a massive neck opened the door. “Uh, we need to see Spooner,” said Damian, quickly. The man's enlarged head twisted on his enormous neck, towards an ancient-looking man with a bald head and large mustache. “Got my guns?!” he shouted. Thick-Neck quickly shut the door so they wouldn't be overheard. “Yes sir,” Damian replied. “They're on the ship. I left two of my guys there to let yours grab them.” “My what?!” the old man screamed “Uh, your guys?” stuttered Damian “My boys too busy, you do it.” The old man returned to squinting at his monitor and pecking at his keyboard. A second of silence swept the room. Damian looked down, then back up. “Na part of da deal, kopeng.” His jaw jutted forward momentarily. Respect was important to him. “Na milowda job. Money now, keya?” said Damian impatiently. Thick-Neck grinned dumbly. The old man's face remained the same as he looked back from his monitor. Another second passed. Mack and Henry looked at one another. “Here!” The old man pulled out five stacks of poker chips bound together with rubber bands, then lit a cigar that smelled like pot and paint thinner and returned to his screen. Henry took a bag from over his shoulder, unzipped it, and put the chips inside. “Lucky day,” said Thick-Neck with a grin. “Na lying,” Damian replied. Mack Mack watched the back of his two friends’ heads as the three of them moved through the Pit to the Azul Palace Hotel and Casino. It felt kind of good to be back. “Home sweet home, keya?” Damian and Henry gave simultaneous smiles and Belter hand nods in reply. The Azul Palace was a den of pirates, smugglers and other lowlifes from all around the system. High ceilings covered in seizure-enducing lights and carpets with nauseating psychedelic patterns were designed to funnel as many patrons to the tables and machines as possible, like dazed cattle to the slaughterhouse. An aging showgirl with bottle-blonde hair and an improbably high-pitched voice pranced up to them and spoke: “Welcome back boys, everyone make it safe?” “Sure did, Sophi, though not for lack of trying,” said Noam. Mack had only ever seen him be so tender to women and children. “Thanks for asking. Can we get rooms?” “We kept yours for you,” she replied while handing them key cards. “I knew you'd be back.” Mack, Henry, and Damian gave her a poker chip each as a tip. She smiled and tiptoed away. The shipmates made their way through the crowded casino to the bar on the other side. This is where they had picked up most of their jobs, and most likely where they would pick up the next one. “And now we wait,” said Damian. “Now we wait,” said Henry. “Yup,” said Mack.