Coins by Keith Kitchen

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SUMMARY: Janov has made a discovery that could change the face of the galaxy, a discovery that his father-in-law has arranged in an effort to destroy his son-in-law. Betrayal, however; can cut both ways.


"You're a fool, Janov," the older man snapped as he walked into the spare, unadorned room. In the corner, at a desk which was not so much an antique as it was ancient, sat a small, unassuming, balding man bent over a small microscope which was the only thing on the desk. Glancing around the room, the older man noticed that Janov had still not added anything else to the room—not a couch,chair, nothing. It was simply a large, nearly empty box that would have blown away had it not been part of a large building.

Janov looked up from the microscope and took a second to allow his eyes to adjust to the soft, white light that was barely brightening the rest of the room. Finally, his eyes focused on the tall, commanding presence that had entered the room. It was a large, older man with a shock of long, white hair that seemed to erupt from his head. His large nose more than dominated his face, separating two cruel eyes and resting above a thick, white mustache.

"Ah, Deram! Welcome to my lair!" Janov jumped out of his chair and ran to the man, looking for all the world like a little boy running to his father, or, perhaps, his favorite uncle, ignoring the man's remark that he was a fool.

"Is that what you call this place?" Deram's voice dripped sarcasm like acid.

Janov was taken aback for only a second. "Why, yes, I do. It's merely my office for my part-time job. The one I told you about."

"Oh, yes, the one you said could possibly pay off all the debts you have wracked up over the last year."

"Err, yes," Janov agreed, suddenly uncomfortable.

Gesturing around the small room, Deram smiled a smile that appeared to be genuine, yet made Janov all the more uncomfortable. "My young fool, Janov, I cannot believe you. You have a fine job, making more credits a year than most people in the sector, yet you spend your spare time here, trying to pay off foolish debts, rather than spending the time with your wife, my daughter. I understand your desire to pay off these debts and your effort is honorable, but why?" Deram shook his head sadly. "Why didn't you come to me? I would have helped you. You, of all people. My son-in-law. I would have helped you in an instant. Why didn't you ask for help?"

The discomfort became more apparent. "I wanted to, but Enya wouldn't allow it."

Surprise crossed Deram's face. "Why not? Why wouldn't Enya want you to tell me about this debt? She should have known I would find out about it!"

Defiance crossed Janov's face for a brief instant. "As you have made it so painfully clear to me, even thought I've been married to Enya for fifteen years, I don't know her anywhere near as well as you do, Deram. My first thought was to ask you for the funds, but my lovely wife said ‘No' and that was the end of that. It didn't matter to her that in all our years of marriage I have never asked you for one credit. She said I would have to find some other way of paying the debt, so here I am."

A trace of fear crossed Deram's face, then he was quiet for a moment and shook his head sadly.

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