“So what are we looking for?” Tia asked soon after the motor was cut and the craft carried forward on its own momentum.
“Small craft,” said Jenny. “Vessels about our size, slightly larger. Those are the ones that move the goods between the US and Canada, the stuff that’s not supposed to still be traded.”
“What kind of goods?”
“Mostly the small stuff, the things people on both sides of the border used to get all the time before the border closed up and they found they couldn’t live without. Cigarettes, specialty booze, movies and shows, things one side can’t get but can’t do without.”
“Just smallstuff like that?” Tia asked.
“Hey, you don’t think people living on the border make as much as people in Toronto do, do you?” Jenny asked. “They’d love to get things the big cities have, but they can’t afford to buy. Down here, even on your side, not everyone has a great job, and they’re all willing to pay a little to someone able to pick up for them something that’s hard to get, if not illegal thanks to the war.
“And that’s what we’re after, a piece of the small goods trade. The travel trade, we don’t touch that. You want to cross to try and get a better job or away from the desert, that’s for someone else. That’s a lot of action for too small a return.”
“Do you know anyone who works the… travel trade, as you call it?”
“Those folks mostly sail out of Ohio. A lot easier to find someone there willing to work in that line; most folks hailing from too close to the border, they think the RCN is looking at them too closely to make it worth the try. And going after boats moving people, you get one of those, what are you going to do with the cargo, y’know? Why, you thinking of going on to Cleveland to talk to one of the Pikes?”
“Wait- What?” Tia asked.
“Pikes, we call them. Try to stay to the bottom, out of sight, nasty as hell. Lovely people if you can talk them when they’re not pissed off.”
“And when’s the best time to talk to them? When aren’t they likely to be pissed off?”
“Hmmmm…” Jenny looked up into the predawn darkness for a few moments. “Well… never.”
“Why?” Georgie asked. “Thinking about how to get home?”
“I suppose that’s an option. I also heard some spots in Quebec, in the Mohawk region, it’s a lot easier to walk through there.”
“I don’t know,” said Jenny. “It’s a lot closer to Cleveland from here, but not having to deal with Abe Harker’s people has a few pluses to it, so maybe th…”
She stopped speaking as she slowly stood up.
“You see that?” she asked.
“Glow over that way?” Tomo asked.
“Off the port bow?”
“I’m seeing it too,” said Charlie. “That’s too bright to be anything simple, ain’t it?”
“We’re going in slow,” said Jenny as she started up the motor.
“What is it?” Tia asked.
“Looks like a boat going down. Everyone, keep your eyes and ears sharp, and make sure your guns are ready.”
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