Oh hi there :) This was a really good writing week, and I won't bore you with the breakthroughs, but my muse was working overtime and it was great! My first Nine Oceans novel is starting to look like a completed first draft, which is exciting, and the side novel that's a dark-tinted fairy tale got some traction forward. I also figured out what's been dragging the fairy tale out into being not fun to read or write so, although I have a lot of fixing when I go back and start editing, I have a much clearer sight for going forward into getting the draft written.
Real life is just a Slog Through and Sprint Plan for the time being, as in Slog Through the yuck and Sprint past the icky. "The time being" also seems to be the foreseeable future, so I think I'm stuck with the Slog/Sprint plan for a while yet. It's... not a terrible plan due to having a lot of variation? (I say, hesitantly, as I squint hard looking for something shiny - that isn't lightning - on the edge of that horizon engulfing storm cloud...) (...that could be the anxiety talking.)
Have a great weekend!
5. Double Crossed
Alua Rhe’t stepped off Dorian’s ship gracefully and stopped at the base of the ramp. She was completely healed and glistened softly in the harsh daylight. Dorian stood behind her and still on the ramp, slightly to her left, his right hand gripped the back of her neck possessively. Tarq stood across the landing strip. He had dispensed with the lie that he was related to Alua as soon as Dorian had called in to say that he was returning her. (He had picked a random alias for that contact. Using his standard one would have ruined the ambush.) A group of about forty mercenaries stood protectively around their master. The troops were entirely comprised of the same species of furred people that had tried to break into his ship, and this troop was a mixture of both males and females. The uniforms were the same as what he had already seen.
Dorian could see the double-cross plainly. Even if Alua hadn’t told him to expect it before they’d landed he still would have seen it as soon as he’d looked at the landing strip display. Tarq broke the silence first.
“I thank you for returning my ward, Mr Rake.”
“I’d thank you to first pay me prior to her release, Mr Tarq.”
His words had the desired effect. An anticipation of the fight loomed just under the surface of the gathered troops, and the ripple of it breaking through visibly excited the mercenaries.
“But, sir,” Tarq spread his hands in a gesture of helplessness. “This was a mission of mercy, not of money. You rescued this frightened and confused girl. Is it not compensation enough to know that she is again safe with those who care for her?”
“Bounty Hunters do not work for free. You would do well to honor what you promised.”
Alua’s torso vibrated in her native aquatic language. Dorian felt the vibrations through his hand.
There are two anti-ship bolters hidden in the embankments.
Dorian waited for Tarq to make the next move. It was swift in coming. A second troop of mercenaries approached the ship behind him, the computer alerted him by vibrations in the hull, coming up through the ramp under his feet. The second troop had a portable anti-ship bolter that they displayed openly.
“Please, this is a happy day. Let it not end badly,” Tarq spoke again only once he was sure that Dorian was fully aware of the second troop.
Alua stepped forward once Dorian appeared to reluctantly release her. She walked slowly across the landing strip under the greedy leer of Tarq, her hands appearing tied together so that her palms were against her forearms. Dorian noted the color of Tarq’s scales changing. In the research he had done, Dorian recalled that the new hue was symbolic of a readiness to mate. The troops of furred carnivores smelled of disappointment as they became aware that there would be no fighting after all. Tarq ignored everything but Alua.
Dorian backed further up the ramp and vibrated his orders to the ship’s artificial intelligence. The AI responded immediately. As soon as Tarq grabbed Alua’s arm, he glared up at Dorian. Alua’s fins and crest rippled with disgust in the arid sunlight at the touch of the reptile, but he was no longer watching her.
“Your kind are not welcome in this system,” he pointed his free hand at Dorian. “Take your junk heap of a ship and be gone.”
“So you are saying that our business is concluded?”
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