2. Easy Money
If things remained on the same schedule as the past two nights, the target would be ending her shift soon. She would then dart into the back and dress quickly before hurrying to a very small, very ugly residence building four blocks away. Her room was small and barren. The only furnishings were what had been supplied. It looked like she had already sold whatever valuables she may have had when she’d left ‘home’.
Her ‘family’ consisted of an arid habitat reptile humanoid that had a somewhat compatible biology with hers. He had posted her as a confused and mourning orphan and himself as a concerned relative. The reptilian similarity would be enough for most other species to believe it, and he was offering a high enough price for her safe return to ensure that those who did notice the differences wouldn’t care.
A shadow detached itself from the wall close to the target as she hurried past. Dorian watched with disappointment as what looked like a fellow Bounty Hunter grappled with her in the alley, one who apparently was not expecting the target to be adept at resisting capture. He waited in the darkness. The fight would be over soon and either the target or the Hunter would emerge victorious. The target broke loose and ran towards where Dorian was hiding. The Hunter shot her with a net. She entangled in it immediately and fell hard onto the ground a few feet from Dorian.
Her smell was terrified and conscious, but she remained unmoving. The Hunter swaggered forward to claim her prize. As soon as she bent forward to collect the target, the target pushed her left hand against the Hunter’s chest. The fight was over.
Dorian watched silently as the paralysis spread quickly and the Hunter quietly choked to death, her lungs no longer operating to give her enough air to cry out. The needle-thin stinger retracted into its sheath at the base of the target’s palm. She was still fully entangled in the net as Dorian stepped out of his hiding spot and walked towards her. He stopped outside of her reach, raised the dart gun and shot her. The tranquilizer acted quickly.
Dorian moved the dead Hunter to the side of the alley, removed everything of value from the body, and covered her with some garbage. By the time anyone noticed she was dead, authorities would assume she was just another homeless drifter and the body would be removed and disposed of without caring about cause or circumstance. Dorian then pulled a small vial of pungent alcohol from a pouch on his belt. He removed the target from the net, took a single mouthful of alcohol that he spit back out before pouring what was left on her and retrieving her belongings from farther up the alley. He pulled the dart from her shoulder and put it and the alcohol vial into one of his empty belt pouches and collected the target and her belongings into his arms, cradling her lithe form against is chest. As a final touch, he stooped and picked up an empty alcohol bottle that lay nearby.
He slowly surveyed the alley. There was nothing to raise suspicion; even the net appeared as one of many discarded items. Mission complete. By the time he emerged onto the street he was singing to himself and limping slightly, a happy drunken smile pasted across his face as he crooned to the lady in his arms. Slowly he wandered back to his ship.
The plan was simple: deposit the target in a holding cell acclimated to her biology, deliver her to the reptile, receive payment, then leave the system and contact his next employer. The target’s destination was 39 hours away and delivery would take an hour at the most.
He took his time getting back to his ship. With her assumed biology and approximate weight, he guessed he would have a minimum of one hour before she started to wake up, maybe as long as an hour and a half. He stumbled along, making wrong turns and tripping at random, aiming to be back on board in 45 minutes. In a direct route it would have been a twenty minute walk.
Three people and a cadaver were waiting by his ship. The target was becoming restless already, so Dorian decided once he was on board he would have to adjust his dosage for her species in his logs. Three of the waiting group looked irritated, the fourth – bloated and dead – looked like she had died in no small amount of pain. It looked like his security system upgrade was functioning fine. He glanced at the target as he rambled to a halt about thirty feet from the group of strangers. The target was trying to open her eyes.
Why are Authors crazy? I can't answer that, but I can provide bits of my own thoughts so that you can piece together why I may be.