Muramasa

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Wojtek walked across the airlock towards the Muramasa. The second gate opened with a hiss, revealing the interior of his ship. The airlock opened directly into the cockpit, a spacious chamber with five chairs, one of them larger, built for the alien Razz, and two of them fitted with neural link-ups. Wojtek's engineer, Anwar, sat in the third. Anwar was a new member of the team, and he stood out from the rest by looking compeltely ordinary -no implants, bionic enhancements, or tattoos, and no weapons slung over his body. He was inconspicuous, light brown skinned with a small frame. Anwar looked over to Wojtek as he entered the ship.

"What's up, Annie?" Wojtek smiled as he met Anwar's eyes.

"Wish you wouldn't call me that." Anwar looked mildly offended.

"Why not?"

"It's not my name," Anwar answered quickly. "And it's a girl's name."

"It's just a nickname," Wojtek replied.

"But it's not even shorter." Anwar threw up his hands. "You might as well just call me by my real name."

"It's a little easier to say," Wojtek grinned wryly. "Annie. Rolls off the tongue a little better."

Anwar sighed defeatedly. "So how'd the deal go?"

"Well," Wojtek hung on the open doorway, "looks like we worked something out -two month job. Low-risk -maybe. Still waiting to hear from Lujain. She in yet?"

"Haven't seen her."

"Cutter on board?"

"Yea, he's in the shop."

"Alright," Wojtek stepped away from the airlock and towards the hall that extended from the back of the cockpit. "Tell Lujain to come talk to me when you see her."

"Will do."

Wojtek walked down the length of the hall to the rear of the ship, and opened the door to the chop-shop. The room was used for surgery and cybernetics operations. It was a worthwhile investment for the crew -an onboard room for medical procedures and maintenance for all of Wojtek, Lujain, and Zahra's various implants. Wojtek hired Cutter years back to work full-time from the shop on the Muramasa. Cutter was an experienced hacker -he'd spent most of his life illegally modifying human bodies and brains. He specialized in wetware computing and cybernetic systems, and dabbled in bionic enhancements. Most of his work was for the crew, but lately he'd been taking private clients to the shop to earn a little extra on the side.

The door slid open and Wojtek leaned in. "Good news."

Cutter's stubbled face looked up from the screen at his desk. "What's up?"

"We're two months on call -that means you got some time to clean this place up." The chop-shop was a mess. Equipment was lying around haphazardly. A tangle of wires extended from several computer consoles. The surgical table was covered in syringes, vials, and spare implants. Medical tools hung from hooks on the ceiling, some of them grotesquely spotted with dried blood.

Cutter looked around the room. "I've been busy lately."

"I know you're taking on extra work -but try to keep the place in better shape."

Cutter looked slightly offended, but smiled. "Hey, I don't tell you how to do your job."

"Yea, well, when you start paying me then you can."

"You don't wanna get on my bad side," Cutter joked, "I mean, I'm probably gonna be opening your head soon -wouldn't want something to go wrong."

"Very funny. But seriously, I feel like we should keep the place a bit cleaner. I know you're busy, I just thought I should mention it before it becomes problem."

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