Day 116 is Western…in space I know, I’m doing them a little out of order, but that’s okay.
Lucky Goldstein thought this run would be easy. Protect a cargo ship through Vregonian space, collect payment on Halo, and spend a weekend or twelve with her toes in the sand. Probably wouldn’t even have to use her gun.
But when an asteroid plowed into the ship, leaving most of the senior crew dead or injured, things started to get difficult. And when the cargo was found out to be frozen Vregonians, packaged for slavery, well, that certainly didn’t make things any easier.
If Lucky’s going to make it to Halo, she better live up to her name real fast…
Lucky made herself comfortable, at least as comfortable as she could given the fact that her cot wasn’t exactly designed for the human frame. At one meter seven she was a little longer than the one meter five pad. Add to that that it was hard and square and at a slight incline and all of that made sleeping difficult.
She chuckled to herself. There was no reason to expect that her “hosts” would have done anything to make her comfortable. The cell that the Vregonians put her in wouldn’t have even been comfortable to a Vregonian. The relative humidity was lower and the temperature higher than the norm for this planet. The amphibioid race wasn’t known for their sentient rights policies. That made her presence here all the more frustrating.
Being busted for slave trading by a bunch of bipedal salamanders whose press gangs were legendary stung more than just a little. Not the least because it wasn’t true. Sure, the ship she was one held a dozen hatchlings in suspended animation. Sure, she was in charge of security. She couldn’t help it that she hadn’t double checked the manifest against the actual contents of the hold. For all she knew the folks piloting the ship were just as ignorant as she was. They were all dead now though.
Shaking her head, which caused her chocolate bangs to bounce, she blew softly into the electronic mouth harp. Sad notes filled the air. All of the excuses for her sloppiness or derision for her captors that she could muster couldn’t change the fact that she was here and wasn’t going to see the beaches of Maynor VII unless she got off this swamp world and back out into warp space.
A triple note from the door clashed with her own music. She tucked the e-harp into a slit pocket of her grey ship suit and stood quickly. Her black boots, tips pointed and steel reinforced, slapped the deck hard. The fact that they hadn’t confiscated those either meant they probably were that afraid of the petite human female’s ability to kick much butt.
When the two meter plus tall guard stepped through the open door, she had to admit that she could see why not. The Vregonian guard class were monsters. They reminded her more of the Komodo Dragons she had seen in a history vid. Their flesh wasn’t any less clammy and rubbery than their smaller overlords, but the ridged plasteel armor they wore and the long blades that they carried inspired a deep respect.
“Come with us, prisoner.” Their Standard was decent, though oddly accented. The wet, rumbling was just as intimidating as their appearance.
Lucky didn’t let it get to her though. She took her place between the two guards and held her hands behind her back to let them apply the spray foam hand restraints. Nasty thing about the ‘cuffs was the local anesthetic that the foam contained. She’s lose most of the feeling in her hands until they had been off of her for at least a half hour.
They walked out cool, damp hallway and she almost tittered when she thought about being from marched by actual amphibians. It may be horribly speciesist, but she didn’t care. Finding the humor in situations like this would keep her sane. She just wanted ten seconds with these guys and Sally, her favorite blaster.
The walk was mercifully short and ended in what passed for a magistrate’s office. They ushered her through the door, this one an iris and she stepped into two inches of muck. The smell of rotting vegetation filled the air. The fat, slimy representative of what passed for law on this planet eyeballed her. His flame red skin was mottled with green. Every square inch of it was visible, as he sat naked on a slightly raised platform.
A holographic image floated in the air to his right. She wasn’t fluent in their writing and naturally it wasn’t in Standard. Her picture was plainly visible. It was the one that graced a few “Wanted” notices that she had seen before. That wasn’t good.
“Greeting Ms. Goldstein. I do have the pleasure of addressing miss Helenica “Lucky” Goldenstein, so I not?” His Standard was flawless though it sounded a bit like sewage backing up into a drain. His breath smelled like it too, even at four meters.
She hadn’t been traveling under her birth name. Riding shotgun on a freighter often meant a fairly close scrutiny of your background, even if the company in question isn’t’ the most reputable. Sometimes it meant that the scrutiny was even closer. Even taking precautions like DNA blockers and facial applications to subtly change her appearance was no guarantee, but so far it had worked. Until now.
Denying it would do little good. They had her. She nodded. “You do. And you’d do well to call me Lucky. No one calls me Helenica or Ms. Goldstein.” A glint of metal caught her eye. Sally was hanging from a brace of hooks behind a stasis field just over the magistrate’s shoulder.
He looked pleased. “Excellent. So now you can tell me what you can do for me that will keep us from turning your corpse in to this sector’s marshal so that we can collect the reward.”
She cocked an eyebrow. She wasn’t aware that she had any “Dead or Alive” bounties on her head. It was certainly possible. There had been a job or two she’d done recently that had involved her working on the opposite side of security and a number of sentients were decidedly unhappy with her continued breathing. “Do you… have anything in mind?” She wasn’t eager to her the answer, since if he didn’t then she’d be dead already and if he did it wasn’t likely to be pleasant.
“Of course.” He nodded eagerly. “If you will help us find the person or persons responsible for the illicit cargo you were carrying then we would be glad to let you walk.” A long black tongue flipped out of his mouth and licked one eyeball.
Lucky shuddered a little. “Like I told the heavy that brought me in, I didn’t even know our cargo contained your people. I admire you for trying to find out who’s kidnapping your people and stop them, but I can’t help you.”
His chuckle disturbed her more than the eye thing. “We don’t want to stop them. We want to make sure it’s not one of our own suppliers double crossing us.” He nodded sharply and she felt a blade’s edge at the back of her neck. “If you can’t help us then I can’t help you.”