Lura sipped Ollan ale, the Thetan Kat eyeing her cleavages. Bounty said dead or alive. She palmed a cryscharge, deciding on dead.
With a smile, she leaned in. Just enough to keep his eyes busy as her synthleath vest gaped. Just enough to plant the cryscharge under the bar in front of him. They made it too easy sometimes. “Got a cannystick?” she asked. He shook one out of the box with his furred paw, orange eyes politely meeting hers for a micron before diving back into her vest. She took it and leaned back, nodding her thanks.
It amused Lura when they tried to get cozy, especially when they were for practical purposes already dead. Sure, she took some in alive. Client had to insist on alive and offer a damned good bounty. “Alive” allowed a lot of leeway. That Trademaker boss last month was alive. This Kat wouldn’t be so lucky.
So when this one leaned in with a lit flasher, all mannerly, she couldn’t help a little laugh. She lit the stick on it and blew out purple smoke. Lura threw back the rest of the ale. It was time to go. Bag the quarry, claim the bounty and move on to the next one. Just good business.
She felt his eyes on her as she hefted her pack and stood. When he reached for her, she slipped to the side. He just smiled. Nice he took the rebuff well. “Gotta jet, liner’s boarding. Thanks for the stick.” Without waiting for a reply, she was out the door. Lura turned back toward the cantina, remote hidden as she pretended to dig in her pack. A glance to ensure he was there and a thumbprint would earn her a pretty stack of cred.
No sign of him. She gritted her teeth, the hand in the pack clenching. Fine, set the hook again. He was interested, she’d go back in. He’d sit back down. This time she’d just blow the thing while she was there. It’s not like it was a fragger. The crys was precise. Besides, this was a legit bagging. Peacers had his sheet and she registered with them when she hit groundside.
She hated getting her hands dirty. Figure of speech. The cryscharge took them out clean, cauterizing as the shards burrowed in. Lura preferred to finalize a job at a distance after setting the hook up close. A trademark, good for business. Besides, she didn’t like to look at them after. Squeamish? Hardly. Just wanted to remember the quarry’s personality, not the corpse. Call her sentimental.
Lura stood and a strong paw closed on her arm. Instinctively, she flipped the owner of the paw on its back and pressed a boot to its throat. Being small had benefits. She was always underestimated. Good thing it was humanoid, that’s where her killing instincts were best. Lura frowned. It wasn’t just humanoid. It was the quarry. And he was laughing. She pushed the boot against his furry throat until he stopped, paws raised.
“I’m got, you can let go now.” His voice was harsh from the pressure, but his eyes twinkled and a laugh lay behind his words. All she had to do was twist her foot. Her heel would snap his windpipe and she’d have her tag. Too crude, though. She had a reputation. She let go. As he got up, she grunted and shook her head, grabbed her pack and went back to the cantina. Same place at the bar.
He followed. “I’m not sure who owes whom a drink,” he said hoarsely. “I guess I owe you one for touching you when you obviously didn’t want it.” He wheezed a laugh. Mouth a grim line, she turned and finally looked at him. Her gray eyes were flat. His narrowed and his paw clenched. She knew that look. He was about to bolt.
“Make it an Ollan ale,” she told him. He relaxed. His paw rose to signal the bardroid. Maybe this would work her way after all. She bent to her pack, pulling out a couple cred. A glance caught the glint of light off the cryscharge. Sitting up, she checked her chrono. “Have to be a quick one, that liner’s not going to wait for me.”
The droid served her ale and poured him a boursky. She fingered the remote cupped in her other hand, coming to terms with doing this one up close. No sense wasting the ale, though. He lifted his plascup to her and drank. She nodded to him and sipped her ale. Ollan was the best. Her mentor taught her that. What would he think about her botching this? Be honest, Lura, you’re just salvaging a botched job. She took a long drink of the ale. Time to get this done.
“… eight… nine… ten.” Why was he counting? The plascup slid from her hand as her fingers went numb. The other hand was resting on her lap, hiding the remote. Drug in the ale. Clever, must have bribed the cantina owner. She’d be dead already if he planned to kill her. Was just planning to get away.
“You shouldn’t have bagged Joobin Tarsus, Lura.” The Kat shook his head. She startled. Tarsus? Big Trademaker boss from last month. “We have bounties, too. You’re going to miss your liner.” He grinned. “We’ll have time to get real friendly.” The numbness was spreading. Her chest was getting tight.
Her thumb twitched on the remote. The Kat screamed, stiffened, his plascup hitting the floor just before he did. The only sign of the cryscharge was the shredding of his coveralls. That and the unseeing orange eyes. She landed next to him, fighting for air.
“Antidote. 500 creds. Now,” she forced out. The cantina owner hyposprayed it herself. Botched. Got cocky. Bad for business. Still gasping, Lura paid and limped out. The bardroid hit the button to call the peacers.
Inspired by the bold first line, a #storystarter by our heroine herself.
© 2010 Jessica Rosen