24 01 10

A short stop on Nusku: Ben and Rory go to inform Gilman's widow of his death and give her his last paycheck. She feels indifferent to his death, takes the money, and they leave.They get some cargo, drop off the crew of the Roald Amundsen, and prepare to head back to Terra. Lucia Cintron, their 2nd Lt., informs Ben that if he wants to, can look her up next time he's in the area, and she ensures him that he does want to. Rory is anxious to get back to Terra and see Megan.

Over Terra they're directed to land on a space station and informed that a new law has passed, basically screwing over the Free Traders. Ben goes around talking to some people about the changes, and finds out that people on both sides of the conflict that has risen out of this have had to hire extra security. The FTA liaison on the space station has her own bodyguard, a man Ben and Rory recognise as Quince (who they met on Inferno). No one makes a fuss about the past.

Julie leaves the Sparrow quietly and for good, going back to Sweden. The crew starts looking for a new engineer and a new cargo handler. There are three candidates for engineer; an old alcoholic, an italian dude who can't speak proper English, and a young Russian girl with kitten tattoos who have never been travelling in space before. Ben cheks their references, and find some disturbing Russian crooks on the girl's end. Even so, the crew unanimosly vote to hire the girl, who Ben had already decided to hire: Maria Ivanovitch.

Ben and Rory go to Ireland to see Megan, but she's not there. Rory's mother can tell them she left a message so Rory could reach her in Spain. They go to see her — Ben keeps his distance, but Megan sniffs him out. Rory works his magic and gets Ben drunk enough to hire Megan as the new cargo chief. Meanwhile, on the space station, Maria's old "friend with benefits" starts harassing her over the fact that she's got a new job and wants to leave Terra, claiming "girls can't be engineers".

When everyone's back on the space station, they get a note from Simon saying they did a good job.

Because of the new regulations, the Sparrow has had to hire a mandatory accountant, and Ben soon finds out that their recommended accountant is doing a terrible job — or just not making an effort: Basically the insurance company want a bigger payment to act as insurance for such a "risky" customer as The Sparrow, and the accountant "can't really help". The whole thing smells of hack job, so Ben plays along with the guy and gets his background checked. He then hires another two accountants independent of both each other and the first guy. The first one seems to work for an Italian politician who happens to be the mother of a man who wants to make trouble for Ben: Bruno Pasquini. Rory discovered earlier that Pasquini had arranged a sexual harrassment charge against Ben, while Pasquini himself had actually been the guilty one of the crime in question. To add insult to injury, Quince advises the crew to keep Megan on the down-low because he just picked up that some drug charges against her from Switzerland just popped back into play.

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