SEASON ONE: ENTRY TWO
In the spaceport of Twon-lak-yu, Stassi parked her rocket. She secured it to the hangar’s lift, then lowered the dome that still held the Beirse inside. A couple men decked in protective layers ran about the perimeter, observing and measuring the beast with gadgets whirring, buzzing, and flashing with lights.
A small party of miteons greeted her when she walked out. A squabbling native species with more animal traits than human, and fur that shifted color depending on the light around them, the short midspecies gathered around her legs.
“You can’t take that in with you,” said one of the miteons, pointing at Stassi’s rifle.
She unfolded it and aimed at the miteon, her thumb hovering over an activator switch. “Yes, I can.”
With no argument to her statement, the miteons led her through the hangar and out past the dusty blue sands to a nearby building. At the front door, she was passed over to a snide-faced human. He tried to converse with her as humans tended to. “Did your hunt go well?”
Stassi shifted the rifle at her back, holding onto the strap. She shrugged.
“If you’d like to take off your helmet, we have purified air running through the manor.” He held out his hands, offering to take the protective bubble from her.
“No, this shouldn’t take long. I have other places I need to be.” She folded her emanator rifle, returning it to a holster strapped to her thigh.
They walked through the manor house to a lounge with a few people in it. Stassi recognized her client, Nuaqo, at the bar. She approached the gray-skinned insectoid man. His glossy black gaze slid over her. He bowed his head and his mandibles clicked together.
“That’s unnecessary,” she said in response to his clicking and clacking language. “I’m not here to visit. I’ve only come to make sure I get the amount owed.”
The insectoid gestured to the seat beside him. Stassi accepted the offer, sitting down. A short glass filled with bubbling Lak-yu was set in front of her. Steam roiled off the edges as the iridescent liquid cooled.
“I prefer martinis if I’m going to drink,” she informed him.
One of the men from the hanger walked over and handed a small rectangular computer to his boss. He didn’t join them, leaving the way he’d come. Stassi watched him, then observed the room. Humans and aliens, sitting together and peacefully enjoying themselves. She recognized each permutation of the humanoids and there was nothing out of the ordinary in the small crowd. The majority looked to be native to the galactic sector they were currently in.
Her client’s mandibles clacked before he switched to the universal language. “Only seven tons? At least it’s a female, but I can’t pay you the full amount for something that small.”
“Do you know how difficult it is to transport a Beirse alive?” asked Stassi. She pushed away her drink without a sip.
“Your work is appreciated, huntress, but the deal was as large as possible and this is not that.” Nuaqo laid his computer on the counter. He gathered a satchel from his belt and started to count credit chips, stacking them on the surface near her.
Stassi watched, leaning over to hide the growing stack from the other people in the lounge. She knew why he was counting her payment so obviously in public and she frowned at him. “If you’re going to pay me that little, I should have grabbed you an ailing youngling.”
Nuaqo tapped the last chip on the stack and gestured for her to take them. “You’re free to not work with me again if it seems too cheap to you.”
She retrieved the cube from her belt and activated the toy robot with a tap of her finger. After scanning the chips, Rob started to transfer them into his square torso through a front slot. Stassi considered whether she should give in and ask Nuaqo if he had any other jobs to run. She kept silent though, arms and legs crossed, hoping that the bestiary collector would ask for her services instead.
A telephone rang from behind the bar counter. Nuaqo jumped out of his seat, leaning over and grabbing it without waiting for the bartender. He held the receiver to his flat ear. Another telephone rang across the way.
It was the only warning before a loud voice announced over a speaker from outside: “This is the Intergalactic Bureau Intelligence Agency. We have the place surrounded. Stay where you are and keep your limbs visible, we will fire on suspicion of hostile movements.”
A raid! Stassi deactivated Rob, returning the cube to her belt. She gathered the few remaining credit chips and set them in the safest place for such a situation: her brassier. It was all she had time to do before the lounge door fell down in an energy blast. Throwing her hands up in surrender, she watched thin red lasers scan over the room.
The lights were followed by a team of six agents, looking ready for war despite everyone in the lounge complying with the IBIA’s instructions. There would be no shoot-out here, not today.
Nuaqo’s mandibles angrily clacked, but he didn’t seem keen to get taken out either so he kept his limbs raised. Stassi glanced over at him and said, “I sure hope you’ve got a good lawyer.”
Author’s Note: Thank you for reading the second entry in this development serial. Comment below (or use the contact form) to share reactions, what you’d like to see more of, questions, etc.