Home > Pets in Space 6 (Pets in Space #6)

Pets in Space 6 (Pets in Space #6)
Author: S.E. Smith

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Yardell Spaceport:

Present Day

 

 

“What’ll you have?” the bartender called as she walked by.

“Ceran Slammer, no ice, with a twist of Yuckta juice,” Raia answered as she threaded her way through the dimly lit bar to an empty corner table.

She picked the side of the table that would ensure her back was to the wall, and slid her backpack off her shoulder, placing it on the bench seat between the wall and the table. As she relaxed in the seat, her left hand rested on her blaster. The majority of her credits were safely tucked away in a small bag between her breasts.

She took a deep, calming breath and watched the bartender expertly prepare her drink. Less than a minute later, a robot server delivered her beverage. She pulled a couple of credits out of her jacket pocket and tossed them into the robot’s small payment compartment. Leaning back in her seat again, she wrapped her fingers around her steaming drink and thoughtfully studied the other patrons under her lashes.

A heated argument at one of the gaming tables quickly turned violent. Using the distraction to her advantage, Raia reached down and opened the backpack’s top compartment. Through the gap, she noted that Chummy had made himself a comfy little nest. The Chumloo was gnawing on a piece of fruit she had given him before they left the ship.

Pi wasn’t back yet. Raia rolled her shoulders to ease the tension and lifted the glass of liquor to her mouth. She scanned the room, searching for Pi.

“Have you picked up anything interesting yet?” she casually inquired, hiding her moving lips behind the glass.

No, but man at bar thinking bad things. Woman sitting next to him looking for her mate. Tiliqua worry about business, Chummy replied.

Raia lifted an eyebrow. “What kind of bad thoughts is the man thinking?” she asked, warily studying the large male with a row of ridges down his back.

He think you pretty and wonder if he has enough credits, Chummy answered.

Raia curled her lip with disgust. She was not into guys with two tails. Shaking her head, she continued studying the patrons. Pi had foreseen Raia meeting her next commission here. Looking around at the crowd, she was beginning to wonder if her small friend might be losing her touch.

Man at bar coming, Chummy warned.

Raia silently groaned. She hated dealing with jerks—especially those of the big and mean-looking variety. She tilted her head back and warily observed the man as he approached her table.

There always seems to be one in the crowd, she grimly thought.

“Tibash je ta bay emo,” ‘Hey, pretty lady’, the Bisnope greeted with a wide fat-lipped grin.

Raia laid her blaster on the table with the barrel aimed at the man’s groin. She gave him a smile that didn’t reach her eyes and shook her head.

“Maynish, ta ma bay,” ‘Keep moving, I’m not interested,’ she replied.

The smile on his lips faded, and his eyes narrowed. She raised an eyebrow and shook her head in warning. With a flick of her thumb, she increased the power from a slight burn to a heated roast. The man’s gaze flickered resentfully to the blaster.

“Rutahian ki shue lei,” he jeered before turning and striding away.

He not nice, Chummy growled.

Just as Chummy said that, a light fixture above the man’s head broke loose, swung down, and struck the man between the eyes. The man’s head snapped back a second before he fell backwards, knocked unconscious. The crowd paused, then resumed chatting as if nothing had happened. Two of the bar robots rushed over, lifted the man, and carried him out of the building.

And… that’s what he gets for calling me a Rutahian whore, she mused.

She lowered her head, hiding the grin on her face. Hopefully, she was the only one who had seen Pi up near the light seconds before it fell. She adjusted her jacket, lifting one side to hide Pi’s return.

“Thanks for that, but it really wasn’t necessary. I had it under control,” she stated in a dry tone.

Pi sniffed and climbed into her backpack next to Chummy. She placed the blaster on the seat next to her, and affectionately scratched Pi behind her ear. She was about to tell them that she was packing it in when a vision flashed through her mind.

They here, Chummy announced with a satisfied snort.

Raia’s eyes narrowed as she studied the three cloaked figures at the entrance to the bar. The three new arrivals scanned the room before their focus narrowed on her. With a deep sigh, she lifted a hand and motioned to the server. The robot whizzed through the crowd before jerking to a halt in front of her.

“I’d like a large fruit platter with a side of Muza cream,” she ordered.

“Twenty-five credits,” the robot replied.

Raia pulled the bag out from her bra, counted out the credits, and dropped them into the payment compartment. She should have known better than to make a bet with these two furry connivers. She never won.

“You two are going to bankrupt me,” she muttered, stuffing the bag of credits back into her bra.

The delighted snorts were barely smothered when she removed her jacket and dropped it on top of the two gloating creatures nestled inside her backpack. She lay her hand back on her blaster just as the three figures came to a stop in front of her.

“Can I help you?” she casually asked.

The person in front stepped closer to her table while the other two remained a few feet away, studying the surrounding crowd. There was something off about the group. They were dressed like Chazen Desert Dwellers, but the goggles were wrong.

“Beza ja milla en chew EA?” ‘Are you the one who commands the EA?’ the woman asked.

“Yes, I’m the captain of the Explorer Adventure II,” she replied, fingering her glass of liquor. “I’ll ask you again. How can I help you?”

The woman slid into the seat across from her. The shorter of the woman’s two companions pulled up a chair and sat beside her. The other man walked over and leaned against the nearest support post. Although he wasn’t standing near the table and wasn’t an active part of the conversation, she knew he was listening as he surveilled the crowd.

She raised an eyebrow and examined the two sitting at the table with her. They all remained silent as the robot brought the fruit platter and cream that she had requested. Raia finally spoke once the robot had moved on to another customer.

“So… are you going to tell me who you really are? The whole Chazen Desert Dweller get-up needs some serious work. Your accent was pretty good though,” she added.

The woman sighed as she reached up and removed her goggles. Raia stiffened with surprise when she saw the distinctive purple skin revealed underneath. The last thing she needed was to get mixed up with the Marastin Dow. She had been avoiding them—and a lot of other people—over the last ten years.

“Our business is finished,” Raia growled, sitting forward.

“Please… hear us out,” the woman softly pleaded.

Raia scowled. “Give me one good reason why I should,” she demanded.

“Ander Ray,” the woman said.

Raia jerked back in her seat in surprise. Her scowl deepened as she studied the woman’s face—or at least what she could see of it. Anger filled her, and she caressed the safety release on the blaster with her thumb.

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