Short Story by: Kelli Jo
His eyes scan the room, committing every face in the club to memory. It’s something he does whenever he walks into a room, aware of everything around him. A crowd of mixed species fill the space, many sticking with their own kind while others intermingle. Some drink, others smoke. A few transactions of questionable items takes place in the far corner, where it is darkest.
The lighting—or lack thereof—in the club resembles the rest of this planet. Since the loss of both its suns nearly a thousand ages ago Kree has been stuck in perpetual darkness. Many of its native inhabitants keep their buildings dark due to their light sensitive eyes. He doesn’t mind it, since his own eyes do not adjust well to the light. In fact, that is why he chose to come here tonight. He had a rough day and the darkness mixed with a strong drink would be enough to calm his nerves.
Among all of the darker colored species he sees a shock of red at the bar. A smile curves his lips and he makes his way to it, pushing past a group of Larquens, who are currently not fully conscious. It might have something to do with the purplish smoke swirling around them, emitting from a long pipe. Larquens are known for their drug addictions, and he has yet to meet one who isn’t high. When he is past them there is a straight line to the bar. He coolly idles up to the red-haired woman, leans against the bar, and orders a drink from the pale blue alien bartender. All the while he doesn’t look at her.
“I didn’t expect to see you here,” he says. Instead of looking at her his eyes rove around the room.
The woman smiles and, also not looking at him, says, “I have some business.”
Out of the corner of her eye she sees the muscles under his black coat tighten. Her smile grows wider.
“Relax,” she says. “I’m not here for you this time.”
“Good.” He turns to her. “’Cause I am too tired to fight tonight.”
He shrugs. “I had a delivery that didn’t go well as planned.”
She raises one eyebrow and says, “Should I inquire about this delivery?”
“Not if you want to sleep with a clear conscience tonight.”
She rolls her eyes and takes a sip of her drink, a bluish liquid in a clear glass. The sound from the other patrons around them is deafening, but he ignores them. Instead he watches her as she drinks. She is short, barely reaching his chest, but despite her size he has never met anyone as lethal. He thanked the gods that she’s not after him.
“Who are you here for?” he asks.
She looks around the place, squinting her eyes in the dim lighting and shakes her head.
“Some Grock, who apparently raped the daughter of Govenor Azron.”
He sucks his breath in sharply between his teeth.
“Damn,” he says. “That is a piece of ass that carries a death sentence. I’m surprised Azron’s people aren’t crawling around the place right now.”
“You know them. They can’t possibly send their men to this side of the galaxy. Not when they have people like me whose lives are expendable.”
He growls at the word that makes his skin crawl. Expendable. A word the rich and powerful use to describe anyone who is lower than them. She is better than they are, and she grew up on the street. How dare they say her life isn’t worth anything.
“Seriously,” he says. “You have to find a better job.”
“Bounty hunting is a good job,” she says defensively.
“But you have to deal with people like Azron. And you don’t get paid nearly enough.”
She set her glass down.
“Well, we can’t all be second rate smugglers.”
He recoils like he has been slapped.
“I take offense to that. I am clearly first rate.”
The dark alien at the bar slides a glass of golden liquid across the counter toward him. He nods his thanks and takes a deep swig, tasting the sweet and spicy mixture. Ah, now this is what he needed.
“Your bounty sheet showed up on my drive again,” she says quietly.
He sets the glass on the bar, looking at her with a charming grin.
“Are you going to arrest me now?”
“And risk compromising our friendship?” She smiles. “I’m not the one you need to worry about. There are others out there who I’m sure would like the notoriety of taking you in.”
He adjusts the sunglasses he wears that conceal his distinctly colored eyes. One is a demonic red while the other is a pale blue. A defect of his birth. He wears the sunglasses to avoid unwanted attention and adjusts them when he is feeling uneasy. Not that he would tell anyone that.
“I’m telling you to be careful,” she says. “There are many people out there who will come after you. The price on your head is enough to feed a poor man for a year.”
He narrows his eyes and asks, “So why don’t you arrest me?”
“Because,” she says with a smile. “The bounty I’m after will feed me for at least two.”
He laughs. She looks around him and her smile falls.
“My guy is here.”
He turns around and sees the brutish Grock who just walked in. His dark blue veins stand out against his pale skin, and his eyes are the traditional white with only a small blue dot in the center. Grocks are ugly, and they are brutal. He is not surprised that this one is wanted for rape. He is surprised that the charges don’t also include murder.
“Do you want help?” he asks.
She shakes her head and walks with a predatorial gait over to the Grock. When she reaches it she says, “You are under arrest for the rape of Princess Azron.”
The Grock glares down at her. It towers over her and she has to crane her neck to meet its eyes. He begins to feel a little panic for her, but doesn’t intervene.
The Grock smiles, revealing brown pointed teeth and a breath so vile that she almost passed out from it.
“You’re a small thing,” the Grock says. “I could barely pick my teeth with you. What makes you think you can take me in?”
One corner of her mouth twitches and she pulls out the laser handcuffs she carries in her pocket. The Grock laughs when he sees them. She kicks his knee, sending him to the floor, making him eye level with her. First he is stunned, then pissed. Before she can secure his wrists in the cuffs he slams into her, using all of his body weight. She falls back, hitting a waitress, who is carrying a tray of drinks. The sound of shattering glass makes all of the other patrons stop and watch.
The Grock stands up to his full height and swings his arm to punch her. She dodges the blow and sends one of her own into his stomach. Because she is small one wouldn’t think that the punch would make much impact, yet the Grock lets out a woosh of air and doubles over. With a growl of rage he runs at her again. This time she pulls out the blaster that is strapped to her hip and shoots him in the chest. He falls like a boulder.
Smiling triumphantly, she cuffs his wrists. The patrons, who had been watching, returned to their own drinks and conversations. The waitress cleans up the spill on the floor.
“Did you kill him,” he asks as he walks over to her.
She shakes her head. Her hair is mussed and her cheeks are flushed, but other than that she looks serene. As she always does.
“I stunned him,” she says. “This way I can transport him to Azron without a struggle.”
He smiles and says, “I wish you all the luck with that.”
Her face changes. Her amber eyes look at him with something he can’t describe. Concern, he thinks it is, but isn’t sure. No one has ever shown him concern before.
“I wish you luck too,” she says sincerely.
Getting help from a group of aliens, she carries the Grock out of the club to her ship on the landing bay. He watches the crowd again. The waitress has already cleaned up the spill. A group of aliens are playing a game which one of them is clearly winning. Everything has returned to normal.
Suddenly he no longer feels like being surrounded by them. He is too tired. Adjusting his sunglasses again he leaves the club, disappearing into the night.
© Copyright 2017 Kelli Jo. All rights reserved.