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We Are Smart

We Are Smart

Exhausted from an over-extended watch, Coates grabbed a chair in Drankum’s and plopped into it, wondering if he had the stamina to stay awake and maybe… just maybe he would eat.  He ordered his usual breakfast, ran his hands through his hair, then crossed his arms to rest his forehead on the table, desperately hoping he wouldn’t fall asleep.

A screeching chair next to him jerked the lieutenant fully awake.  

“Hey, man,” said the voice. “It’s way past your watch.  You look horrible!”

“Thanks Ab,” he slurred, blinking to keep his eyes open.  “Next time you draw the short straw.”

“So I heard,” he replied, leaning back as the barkeep eased Coates’s order onto the table before taking Ab’s and leaving.  “Those Packs seem to work best at night, I guess so they think they can’t be seen.  It’s easier to put towels over their heads, but I don’t think they know about that.”

“Yeah,” Coates whispered into a sigh. “Pakleds.  Why does it have to be Pakleds?”

Lt Hebert—aka Bert—nodded and joined him in the sigh as he leaned forward to whisper, “And guess who’s coming in.”

“Aw gees…. I guess they never get tired.”

One of several undercover security officers, Coates had geared up in worn-out bluejeans and a white jersey with  Parrises Squares Andor Champions embroidered on the front.  Bert looked like he was ready for the gym.  They and the rest of Security had been watching the Pakleds poke around every possible nook and cranny of the station.  Well, not exactly every area, but those areas that they could squeeze themselves into.  They were sneaky.  They were chunky. They were ignorant, and boy were they smelly.   They were difficult to ignore, especially when they entered Drankum’s and squeezed their way toward a table.

“Hey, man,” Bert continued, waving the barkeep over.  “Take it to your quarters.  Stace and Norg’ll be here soon.  We got this.”  

Coats was gone in a heartbeat.  Bert watched him leave and turned back to see the Pakleds settling into the next table and staring at him.  Finally, one gave a proud grin.

“We are smart!”

Putting aside his breakfast, Bert leaned back, knowing exactly where this was going. “Good to hear.  I’ve never seen you on station.  I’m Bert.  Who are you?”

“Gredned.  I am smart.”

“Well, hello Gredned.  Are you here for a visit?”

“We look for things.” 

“Well, There are a lot of things on the commerce deck.” He pointed in that direction.  “You should take a look at what they have.”

“We look for things,” he grinned again, turning to nod with the others.  “We are smart.”

“Um… you said that.  What kind of things?”

“Things we need.”

“Ohhh kay.  What kind of things do you need?” he asked as Stace and Norg crept in and relaxed at the table.  Grebned stared at Stace, then Norg.

“Hey,” said Bert, snapping a finger to catch Grebned’s attention.  “What kind of things do you need?”

“Things to live with.”

“Things to live with because….”

“Things to live with.  Places to live.  We need places to live,” he continued, dumbfounded.

“So... why did you come here to find a place to live?”

“We are smart.”

“You’ve found a place to live here?”

“We are smart.  We will live here.” 

A quick glance at Stace and  Norg, and Bret continued with a slight smile. “You are smart.  Can you tell me exactly where you will live?”

“We are smart.  We will live here.” They agreed wholeheartedly.

“This is a big place. Where... is here?  Can you show me?”

“We are smart.  This is Kirlemod.  He will show. He is smart. I am smart. We are smart.”

Kirlemod eagerly bulldozed through a satchel, pulled out PADDs, tablets, and folders, then handed one to Bert.  “We are smart.”

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