The officer’s mess aboard the Dechaineux is small but comfortable. Refreshed and dry in borrowed fatigues, Jaxon and I sip tea laced with Royal Australian Navy Submarine Service issue rum. Jaxon begins to tell me about Empty Jets America. “Of course you know about Empty Jets Australia”, Jaxon begins. Of course I do, it was through Empty Jets Australia that Jaxon and I got to know each other. Private corporate flights aren’t as restrictive about what may be included in carry-on luggage; even less so if you know the pilot.
I needed a clandestine ride from Melbourne to Laos for a job, several years and several bodies ago, Jaxon enthusiastically accepted the mission. Most pilots in the E.J.A. programme aren’t willing to jeopardise their careers with false flight plans and shady deals with immigration officials. Since Jaxon is not a licensed pilot, regulations have little meaning to him. Jaxon can fly anything; fixed wing or otherwise.
Jaxon earned his wings in Special Branch as test pilot for some rather, let’s say “unique” aircraft being developed by the Royal Air Force. Since the experimental aircraft’s flight characteristics mimicked both fixed wing and helicopter like properties, Jaxon became well seasoned in all types of flying machines. While he prefers supersonic corporate jets, Jaxon can fly, and probably has flown, anything on the planet.
“The E.J. Australian franchise is a smashing success and I was wanted to open a franchise in America, building on the E.J.A. fame.”, Jaxon continues. A far cry from a get rich quick schemer, Jaxon nonetheless is always looking to secure his financial future. Jaxon’s employers tend to be shady characters with little regard for regulations; preferring to travel under the radar, so to speak. Piloting for underworld kingpins, while lucrative, does not provide retirement or medical benefits.
Jaxon researches all new business ventures thoroughly, and will only present a proposal to me when all the analysis is done; and when he needs financial backing. Now, I do OK in my profession, I’ve got some savings, but I also know that assassins don’t get to just grow old and retire, either we disappear or are assassinated. The former, preferred goal, requires wealth; the greater the better. But things can and do go awry.
We took a beating on a sure thing in Western Australia. The rum distillery operation in Kununurra, was one of Jaxon’s investments. We had a solid business plan and were just starting to become profitable. We didn’t count on fierce competition from an established, family run distillery in town. In a massive blaze, considered suspicious to this day, our operation burnt to the ground. The insurance company determined that the bananas weren’t stored properly and as such, refused to pay our claim.
“Wanted to, but cannot”, continues Jaxon. “There are already several companies providing the same type of service, the competition is too great right now”. The submarine captain enters the room. Joining us at the table, he tops off my cup from the bottle of ‘151’ rum he brought with him. The progeny of Boer and Aborigine parents, captain Rivers Sky was born to be a submarine driver.
“Has Jaxon been telling you about Empty Jets Africa?”, inquires Captain Sky. “I agreed to invest in this venture in exchange for Zeki’s rescue”. Rivers continues “ Zeki is just starting to be recognised on the Top Chef circuit; the man is a magician with Baharat” Zeki had fallen victim to a confidence scheme that left him an indentured servant to one of Casablanca’s more notorious crime families.
Jaxon is very excited about his new venture, with the entire continent, forty-seven plus countries included in the franchise Rivers and Jaxon have me convinced it will be a sure thing. Jaxon illustrated the numbers and market research for me. After which we make small talk and between the three of us, empty the bottle of rum.