The old steward followed Vironai to the airlock and watched the knight pass through. Once the lock's cycle signaled complete, the steward turned and brushed the side of his nose.
Whipsnade sat up from his prone position on the deck and dabbed at the corner of his mouth with a handerkerchief.
"Marava's mammeries!", the rotound reprobate groused, spitting more red dye into the cloth. "There's got to be a better way to earn a living!"
Fred Ramen laughed and handed him a silver pocket flask. "There is, Whippy old boy, there is, but you wouldn't want to actually work, would you?"
Whipsnade nearly spit a mouthful of Old Overcoat onto the cargo bay's deck. "I'll thank you not to blaspheme in my presence, sir.", the grey-headed, fat man replied in a wounded tone.
"Our Dorothii should have switched the currency by now," Fred mused, "you don't think Bertie will blow his end of things?"
"Hardly. She's got this latest pretty boy pretty much wrapped around her finger. Besides, she was planning on giving him a little jab of something. Vironai should see nothing more than a simple chump writhing in his sleep over the agony of his loss."
"No flies on our Dorothii." Fred chuckled. With suprising strength, the tall, lithe man helped the portly wastrel to his feet.
Whipsnade winced and gingerly touched the breast of his soiled waistcoat.
"Quit mugging, you old fraud," Fred chided, "reduced charges and a falk jacket. You don't didn't a thing!"
"Psychosomatic, my dear sir, psychosomatic."
"Psycho-something, that's for sure."
Whipsnade made a face. "Shouldn't you be..." he tailed off, pudgy hands making a fleeting gesture towards the other two in the cargo bay.
"Of course, of course," Fred answered. Reaching into his dinner jacket he produced two envelopes. "Let's see, Soapy this one is for you. One thousand as agreed, we've covered your expenses."
The weasel-like third gambler snatched the envelope from Ramen's hand, opened it, then turned his back to begin counting.
"And Steward Nottle, this is yours," Fred continued, holding the envelope between his thumb and forefinger. He wiggled it, "Come and get it, I haven't all day."
The elderly steward took a few hesitant steps towards the dapper man holding the envelope. He paused, seemingly to make up his mind, then darted forward, grasping the envelope with both hands and cramming it into his jacket pocket.
Whipsnade coughed down another mouthful of Old Overcoat. "I took the liberty of perusing those snapshots, Nottle..." he leered, "...and it looks like the groat wasn't enjoying itself at all."
The steward went white, then red. Fists bunched, he stepped towards the smiling fat man.
"Temper, temper." chided Ramen. He waggled one finger at the steward and held up a gun. "I think you two best be going now." He gestured towards the airlock with the gun.
Nottle and Soapy quickly exited the cargo bay without a glance behind them.
"All in all, a nice day's work." Ramen opined.
"There's that word again." Whipsnade grumbled.
Ignoring the bulbous boor, Fred continued, "We've close to 30 long of Vironai's money, we've planted the same amount in gaffe currency on him, and, when he tries to use it at the casino onboard..."
"Body cavity searches all around." Whipsnade finished.
"You have a very low mind, Whippy." Fred chuckled.
"It's a gift." Whipsnade retorted. "Besides, the ship's master will have no choice but to hand Vironai over to the authorities at our next stop."
"The Margrave will be overjoyed to have the Chevalier Vironai before his bench on a charge of passing counterfeit Imperial currency. Especially after Vironai put that 9mm slug through his son's head. Everyone knows His Grace is a nancy, so what's the big deal about speaking it aloud?"
"You know," said the portly parasite, handing the now empty pocket flask back to Ramen, "I'm beginning to like this job, even if it was work!"
Fred laughed again, clapped Whipsnade on his sloping shoulder, and our two heroes left the cargo bay.