Both Ends Against the Middle

"Mama mia!"

Captain Vince Corleone swore as he looked out the hatch. No doubt about it, he had to have been set up. The filthy pig Borgias had been waiting for his Merchant jumpship to enter the system. Now the fighters were swarming and the shuttles were coming, and here he was with two Mules full of...never mind. He quickly gave orders to his crew not to resist unless fired on; hopefully they would be able to talk this out.

That hope dimmed a bit as laser bursts from the fighters smacked into the engineering section, rattling the fragile KF drive. Vince fumed; jumpships and their crews were supposed to be "protected" by Familia agreement.

As he headed for the grav deck, Vince cast his mind back over the situation. The Borgias and Alighieris had been trying to leverage each other over the world of New Genoa for years. Vince truly trusted either side about as much as he trusted anything except the gun in his holster (damned little) but the smuggling job for the dark Alighieris had seemed safe enough. His own Family stood to profit, as they had for years from this Family feud, feeding both sides equally while sitting firmly on the fence.

As he reached the grav deck, there was the sounds of a scuffle. Several shouts and blows were exchanged before he could bark an order to stand down. Thankfully, the Borgias didn't seem to have come in shooting. One of them, a smiling man with a Roman nose and slick dark hair, stepped forward and looked around as the boarders ushered the ship's crew into the grav deck. He was definitely Familia by his bearing, a head legbreaker or louie of some kind probably. Vince decided to take the offensive.

"Hey, whatcha doin' roughin' me up like this, man? We're just carryin' a load to New Genoa, ya didn't have ta go bustin' up the ship and pushin' my crew around!"

The man's smile didn't waver, even though he clearly knew what Vince was on about; the Borgias were known for occasionally ignoring the Familia rules. But then, who wasn't? The man's voice was smooth, a classic accent. "Just a load to New Genoa, eh? A load of what?"

Vince was about to give the cover story, in the hopes that they hadn't looked in the cargo yet, but the question was answered first by one of the Borgia thugs. He wheeled in a box labeled "TOOLS", that was open to reveal the weapons inside.

The Borgia louie walked over to to the box and picked up one of the machine pistols, making a show of examining it. He looked at Vince, faking being impressed. "Nice tools."

Vince didn't answer. The man walked over to Vince, and spoke at close range, his voice low and serious as he looked up at Vince's face. "You know good and well nothin' goes in and out of New Genoa without our tariff on it, hmm? Now look what we got here, runnin' guns? Who you workin' for, anyway?"

Vince answered without batting an eye. "Nobody."

The Borgia louie nodded slowly to himself. He knew omerta when he saw it. The first rule of the business, don't talk about the business. For some odd reason, Vince felt like he had just gained a notch of respect. Hopefully, this legbreaker would play the game.

"All right," the Borgia louie said calmly. "Let me ask another question then. Who're these guns for?"

Vince brightened a little, and gave a simple answer. "You."

The Borgia considered for a long moment, then slowly nodded to himself as he smiled broadly. "Good. Very good." He laughed and tapped a finger on Vince's chest. "I like that. Grazie."

He turned to his men as he put an arm around Vince's shoulder. "Whatcha standin' round for, you heard the man! Now help get his ship fixed and get this stuff outta here! We're all Familia here, capice?"

And as he walked with his newfound "friend" back towards the airlock, Vince was smiling quietly to himself. The Borgias had played the game, and Vince had won. The Alighieris wouldn't be happy to have lost the guns, but learning that there was a spy somewhere would probably be worth the loss. That in turn would stoke the fire between the Borgias and Alighieris, and the profits would keep rolling in.

Both ends against the middle, Corleone style.