They found him in an abandoned church on a backwater planet. The church was constructed of field stone like many of the headstones in the green fields beyond. The former colony was rather beautiful in Miet’s estimation. A stark contrast to the infamous criminal, Polimus Admesian.
Miet and his executive officer, Ylo, walked towards the church from their landed trans-orbital shuttle . “Should we approach so openly?” asked Ylo. “He might run once again. We should surround him with a company of marines.”
Miet plucked an aerial seedpod from the jet black and jade green piping of his uniform. “No need. He still has the hostages. He expects to make another Bargain.”
“But wouldn’t he bargain to escape again?”
“Of course! This is where the science of bargaining comes into play.”
Ylo scowled. He didn’t like this one bit. Admesian only escaped the first time with the hostages because of a bargain made under Bargain Law. He promised to keep the hostages alive if allowed one hyperspace transit. The bargain was struck and he escaped as agreed. No one, especially not Polimus Admesian, expected the hyperdrives to fail in mid-transit and drop him in an unexpected location off the space lanes. It took six months to locate him once more.
Ylo grew up living under the precepts of Tirisian Bargain Law. It all made sense to him until he encountered other Human cultures. When they failed to abide by the clear-cut rules, he began to doubt the efficacy of Bargain Law.
Admesian ushered them into the rubble-strewn interior of the church with sweeping gestures and shouted compliments. It was the way of the Chivuki people who lived in the outer spiral arm. He gestured at their clothing. “Gentlemen. Please.”
Miet began stripping down to his skivvies. A stern look from him, and Ylo followed suit. It was another custom of the Chivuki. They were the most gracious and generous of hosts, but they insisted that guests removed most clothing to prove they weren’t hiding something.
“Let us complete the Bargain,” said Miet. “You’ve had your transit. Now show us the hostages.”
Admesian grinned within his fiery red beard and said, “The bargain is already complete. I escaped as agreed. They lived. Time for a second bargain.”
Miet didn’t bother to argue. Admesian was correct. “Name your terms.”
“We have three present,” said Admesian. “Per Tirisian Bargain Law, three or more are required to create a bargain: one to offer, one to accept, and one to witness.” He pointed at Ylo. “As witness, do you understand your duties?”
“I do,” said Ylo. “As witness, I am required to execute Captain Miet if he violates the Bargain.”
“Very good. I will present the hostages to you in return for 100 pounds of Neodymium and one shuttle to escape with.”
Here we go again.
Ylo opened his mouth to protest.
“Done!” said Miet.
What kind of “bargaining science” is that?
With a grin Admesian took them outside and showed them the graves of the twenty hostages.
“You bastard!” roared Ylo. “They’re dead. You violated the first Bargain.”
“I did, but then I am not Tirisian,” noted Admesian. “You failed to dispute it when I stated the bargain was complete. Thus, it is complete under Bargain Law.” His brow knitted. “I have completed my part of the second Bargain. I didn’t promise live hostages, you’ll recall. Now I demand you complete your end of the Bargain.”
One day later, after they returned to their starship, Captain Miet called Ylo into his office. Two traditional bowls of Bargain Stew, the food eaten when a bargain was completed, rested on the table. Captain Miet was already eating.
“Sir!” said Ylo. “You can’t celebrate yet. The Bargain isn’t complete. He cheated us!”
“Nonetheless, we must uphold our part, or you must execute me.” admonished Miet.
“We haven’t any Neodymium.”
Miet pointed to the wall screen. “Not here.” It showed a live image of Admesian standing outside the church. “But I found a Nickel-Iron asteroid, about a mile across, with about 400 pounds of Neodymium in it. He’ll be thoroughly paid what he deserves..”
“The promised shuttle?”
“Attached to the asteroid.”
The camera view pulled back to about three miles above Admesian and the island. Light erupted across the planet’s surface. A shockwave ring of nuclear fire screamed away from the mushroom cloud forming above the nuclear destruction of Polimus Admesian.
“I see.” Ylo grinned. “Bargain completed.” He savored a spoonful of Bargain Stew.
It tasted wonderful.
This week in the Mutant 750, The photo at top is the image prompt and the word prompt is: Stew. I was drinking strong ale as I wrote this. Does it show? I hope you enjoyed the story. Look here for more stories based upon the prompts: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-18/