"Humanity can survive, my friends. But it will take effort and it will take sacrifice. But first, we must rebuild the wheel to study these assailants from beyond. Any piece, any fragment of the Deus Pinnae that rears its head will be ours. Yamata 16 can no longer afford to linger in the shadows. If we must, we will take all of Bastion space in our grasps and ravage it until every metal sliver of the Pinnae is revealed... By any means necessary."
Once again, here he was, with a broken ship and a time budget. He needed to get moving, but first, there was the issue of fixing his vessel. It wasn’t like he could just take another ship, because he didn’t trust most people as far as he could throw them. Shaking his head, he approached the terminal and started to run through the market display.
No, no, no… wait a second.
He found the parts he needed? But that was a bit cheap, whatever. He could get out there and if push came to shove, he could show someone how to really shove. The mercenary shrugged and looked back to his ship. Touching his wrist, he activated the comms. “Be right back JEM. Try to not get stolen, while I’m away, alright?” The turned off the outbound comms and just waited for the response.
He knew what it was going to be, and as he walked away, was swinging his arms and mouthing the words ‘I am a ship, I can not promise anything.’ For an AI, JEM was really slacking on the learning human idiosyncrasies. Whatever, she kept the ship from getting attacked and moved it out of danger when he was too busy shouting at something that was breaking.
One of the most advanced starships he could buy, and it is always breaking. Someday, he’d get the cloaking systems back online.
Right, where did it say the parts were? The Dregs? Fine.
Nicole didn’t know squat about flying a ship, but the Chimera knew her spaceship parts alright. It was her business to know about what folks needed here in the Dregs. That’s why people came to a hellhole like this, right?. Radar consoles. Deflector dish parts. Warp drive motivators. She even had a gas liquid separator pump for a Waste and Hygiene Compartment. Or as she called it, a thingamajig for a space toilet. That was one part of your ship you didn’t want breaking down in the Undiscovered Country. If the young woman didn’t have the part on her or stashed away in her sleeping compartment, she knew where to get it. Nik always “knew a guy,” and sometimes that guy even “knew another guy.” The important thing was: all her guys could get you the goods.
Giving folks what they needed for a price had always been her thing. It was how the Chimera survived in a place like this. There was just one thing that some folks needed that she couldn’t give. No way in hell was she gonna do that no matter how desperate it got in the Dregs.
But today? Nik was feeling pretty damn desperate. She hadn’t eaten in a few days and was cranky as hell. And for a Chimera with a bad augmentation package, cranky usually meant that someone was going to get clawed. Today Nik was doing the usual. She set up shop in a roving black market that changed its location every day, sometimes twice a day, in order to evade the authorities when they deigned to come around these parts. Just her luck it would be today that SLED would storm in, shut the place down, and throw her ass in a holding cell.
The young woman stood among her assortment of various and sundry wares: illegal BURN implants, a plethora of spaceship parts, some high tech and some ancient, and some containers of F9B6, the real shit, not that fake stuff that her competition was selling. Her radiant blue eyes studied the crowd. Her looks usually drew them in, but today most seemed to pass her by.
Shit. It was going to be a rough day here in the Dregs. Nik could just tell.
This was a bit of an odd area, it wasn’t to say Kyle wasn’t okay with the dredges of a space station, or the slums of some world that failed to take off, no. He was great with all of that. It was how he made his living. Lately it hadn’t been, lately he was taking respectable jobs by people who were buying off local enforcement teams and making runs for them. It was the same kind of work, delivery, and blockade running, it wasn’t glamorous work, but sometimes the people really needed the goods he had and that was important, right?
Sometimes he cared, not often, mostly it was for the pay out, but he could at least reap the reward of being a ‘freedom fighter’ and going against the man by some lonely widow, or other such point. He knew he’d be gone by the morning, but he never told them that. How long would they expect someone with a ship to sit planet side? Nope, but for some women? He’d stay a night, hell, maybe even two.
He much preferred to be on his ship, or someone’s ship, or a station. Life was easier that way, he understood how it all worked and he would make it work for him. Besides, most of the time, it was deliveries to bribed customs agents that he was making. They would ensure that the cargo got to the proper parties. And then there were the times where they just needed a small ship to run the blockade and get planetside, and that was where he came in.
Smugglers and the like really didn’t like blockades, and if you wanted to get something through a blockade, you just told someone there was one. Then they’d work together.
Humming to himself, Kyle was on the lift, heading down to where he was told his parts were waiting.
The market began to teem with people, but no one wanted a damn thing Nik had for sale today. Or they wanted something for nothing. A frustrated sigh came. Another day, another paltry sum of UD. What she really needed to do was to get off this hunk of space debris and do something else with her life. If the whole damn space station fell into a black hole, it would be no less than what the place deserved.
Nik saw him before he saw her. Black leather jacket. Short dark hair. Kind of scruffy. Humming a tune. Who hummed in the Dregs? People here weren’t happy enough to hum. The Dregs were a big place, but Nik had never seen him before, so she guessed that he maybe wasn’t from around here, and that meant that he was probably a spacer. He had that look about him anyway. So she stood to reason that if she swindled him, he’d probably be light years away in a few days, maybe even a few hours. He wouldn’t be hanging around, on her ass constantly, like Pierce. Someone needed to throw that Pythian out an airlock already.
Nik raised her voice, craning her neck over the forest of bodies and pinpointing her blue eyes on him like twin laser beams.
“Hey! You look like you need something.”
With a wide, toothy grin, she lifted up a small flimsy package and shook it.
“Space condoms? You look like the kind of guy that needs space condoms. There’s a nasty thing going around right now that’s drug-resistant. Not that I would know from personal experience or anything.”
So many people here. That was really what it was. Kyle was fine with the way things were, he wasn’t afraid of small places, nor open places. What bothered him was the sheer amount of people. He wasn’t afraid of being called out, so many people sporting BURNs, that even with his being ‘black market’ and sometimes, having unforeseen consequences from his mental state, he knew he was fine. Mostly.
What wasn’t fine was his ship.
And that was why he was humming. He had to, or else he’d just start cussing at everyone. Not really an anger issue, but Kyle liked things to go according to plan. And when they didn’t? It was bad for him. It cost him UD, it cost him time. Not that his time was going to go anywhere else, but it was the thought, right? He was hoping to just get in, out, and on with life.
Where were the parts again?
He turned, pulled from his reverie by a pair of intense blue eyes.
Him? He looked back over at her. What was she peddling now? Oh, space condoms. Right. He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Yeah, you have good luck pushin’ those.” And he laughed, a little. Not uncharacteristic, but this was a really dry laugh. “And yeah, I’m sure you’re super clean.” Girl had looks.
Nicole had the guy’s attention now, and as he turned to face her, she gave him the once over. Not bad. Not bad at all. The ruts and bumps on his forehead told her he had BURNs, some good ones from the looks of them. Probably thought he was some kind of space wizard or something.
“I’m the cleanest damn thing in the Dregs, believe it or not,” she told him with a shrug. Sure, she might have been dressed like she’d fallen off the whore tree and banged everything on the way down, but Nik didn’t like people enough to sleep around. After she threw Spike out on his ass, Nik found it easier to steer clear from physical relationships altogether.
Of course, that meant that she could really, really use a good screw. Mister Spacer looked like the kind of guy she might consider breaking her self-imposed celibacy for. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his physical assets she was after today.
Nik's bright blue eyes narrowed into slits.
“Heeeey, wait, aren’t you that guy that needs the thing?” She waved a gloved hand at an array of ship parts that sat on a bunch of crates cobbled together to form her makeshift display table. Sometimes spacers like this guy prearranged their purchases. She was taking a chance on that anyway.
“I’m your contact, Amanda.” She stuck out her hand with a saleswoman grin.
Well, of course she was going to have his attention. One, she called his name, and two? He wasn’t blind. Sure, Kyle might be a spacer, but he wasn’t dead. He’d recognize a warm body that had the right look from across a station. He was just a man on a mission at the moment. And he wanted to get back to doing his job. As for him thinking he was a wizard? Nah, honestly, he tried to keep his skills under wraps, so when it did happen, people would be shitting themselves.
Same as Kyle liking to not acknowledge his ship had missiles until it was really the time for it. Tactics and all, or something. Whatever, she was doing the same thing, right? Get someone’s attention when they weren’t paying attention and then sell.
“Yeah, was looking for parts. Intranet said you were the person to come to? For the price, how … broken are they?” Sure, it was rude, but you know what was worse? Breaking down light years from a station and hoping someone comes by and will give you a tow without shooting you.
He shook her hand. “Alright, Amanda, impress me.” He was here now, how bad could this go?
Chances were good that she was undercutting some other dude’s sale, but the Chimera couldn’t bring herself to care about it. If she could jack up the price of this space junk, maybe she could eat a solid meal a day for the next few weeks. As if on cue, Nicole’s stomach audibly growled, and she cleared her throat to drown out the noise. When Spacer mentioned that some of her wares might be broken, the young woman arched a perfectly-tweezed brow.
“Broken?” scoffed the Chimera. “I wouldn’t sully my good name in this fine establishment just to sell you a busted up acceleration compensator.”
She hoped that the spacer would find her humor charmingly ironic enough to overlook the fact that yes, half of the parts she was selling were completely non-functional. Not that he’d be able to put that to the test right here and now. Next, the guy asked her to impress him.
“Impress you? With what? My intricate knowledge of spaceship parts?” The Chimera let out a long, throaty laugh. Sure, Nik knew her parts, the names of them, which whoseit went into which whatsit, but she wasn’t a pilot. Nik was a saleswoman. She knew enough to push the product, but if he was looking for her to lay some kind of technical knowledge on him, then he was SOL.
Her unnaturally blue eyes rolled. “Look, man.” Nik spread her hands, gloved fingers palms up to seem non-threatening. “Here’s my shit. Take what you need and because someone gave you my name, I’ll give ya a discount, k?”
She flashed him a wink and stuck out her chest. When talking didn’t work, Nik wasn’t above using a different set of skills to get what she wanted.
Lucky for Kyle, he wasn’t selling parts. Not today, not really ever. It wasn’t his thing. The pilot was the type of person to fit them to the ship and run them until they gave out, from wear and tear and his crazy-ass flight tricks. What he knew was that he flew the best and that was why he got jobs. Maybe he wasn’t the best pilot, but he knew his ship, and took it through the paces to get a job done. It was simple, it was probably not too safe, but it worked, and he was fine.
Don’t ask JEM, though.
When she took offense to what he said, the pilot looked around the aforementioned ‘establishment,’ and at her competition. Dirty, malnourished, and just a bit out of hope. Right, so she was worried about her name here. Sure, she was. Whatever, he just needed the parts and to get off this rock. The big trick was that the local crime boss was having him shadowed, but Kyle didn’t know that.
Kyle didn’t suspect it at all.
As for impressing him, no, he just wanted to see her sales pitch, and how well she could make something out of nothing for him. The pilot was merely making small talk. Albeit, he was doing a bad job of it. He started looking through the items. “How much of a discount?” Yeah, his eyes were noticing how she positioned her body.
The spacer’s dark-eyed gaze panned across her curves, exactly like she’d hoped. Even though he seemed a tad distracted, Spacer wanted more details about the discount, although saving UDs didn’t seem to be on the forefront of his mind.
“The discount is enough,” Nik answered sweetly, a knowing smile crossing her face. Playing up the cute angle seemed to be working so far so why not keep that up? Nik’s charisma score was high, one of the best weapons in her arsenal. So she was a little bit grungy? In the Dregs, you could do worse. The Chimera was being in deliberately unforthcoming about the prices. In negotiating, you always let the customer throw out the first number. That was haggling 101.
“I’ll toss these in for free,” she snickered, flinging the package of prophylactics his way. Her wide smile faded as she noticed a face zig-zagging through the crowd. She’d recognize that craggy puss anywhere. Pierce was prowling around with a look on his face that said one thing: He was hunting for her.
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
Pierce suddenly turned and saw her, making a distinct beeline for her stall, like an angry bull to a flag. Gah, he must have read her thoughts. Fucking Pythians.
If he could save money? Great. If not? So be it. He’d spend what he needed to spend to keep on flying. The pilot needed off Bastion in the worst way and for now, she was his way to parts and his way off this work. Fine, he could deal with her. As for the discount? He looked over at her and smiled. Sure it was enough. “If you say so.” His smile was, of course, fake. Well, mostly. She was cute, and that could go a long way.
What he was looking for was a stabilizing unit for the warp core. JEM was really good about shutting it down before it got too intense, overheated and then, exploded. He didn’t like exploding, ruined his whole day.
“Expecting them to be used? Need to import your lays, don’t you?” He shook his head and rolled his eyes. The guard from the criminal group? They were out here too, but Kyle wasn’t noticing them. Hell, he wasn’t noticing Nicole-Amanda panicking. He was just looking at the parts.
“So, what are you looking for the warp core stabilizers and the energy management unit?” He looked up at her and rose his eyebrows.
If she were paying attention to the pilot, Nik would have laughed at his joke. Crude humor was by far her favorite kind. But not only was the woman not looking at the pilot anymore, but her wide, blue eyes were staring over his shoulder at figure standing directly behind him. Her nose crinkled up in an animal snarl.
“I’m with a customer, Pierce,” she growled. An involuntary cat-like hiss escaped her. It took quite a bit to scare Nik, but the pistol in Pierce’s hand was undoubtedly not loaded with stun bolts. No one would give her a second glance if she got shot here at the market. In fact, they’d probably just loot her body and pick her stall clean. Yeah, she was scared alright, and when Nik got scared, she got feral. Thanks, black market Chimera augmentations. Her voice was shakier than she would have liked when it finally came.
“Come back when I’m done, and you’ll have it.”
Crater Face. That part she didn’t say aloud.
The Pythian chuckled and raised the pistol, slowly and dramatically clicking off the safety like he’d watched one too many action flicks.
“Not a chance, litter breath,” he sneered. “I’ll take the UDs you owe me. Now.”
The Chimera’s chest rose and fell in double time. Pierce would shoot her in the back if she ran, but she didn’t have his UD. Great. She was going to die right here in the middle of the Dregs of Bastion.
Well, she had wanted to get screwed. Looked like that was happening.
Humor was mostly lost on Kyle. He said things, and people always thought he was being sarcastic, but really, he was telling the truth. He was a bit of an asshole, and when he said something it was because he meant it. And maybe it wasn’t always bad. The girl didn’t seem like she was drug addled and living on the street for any reason aside from bad luck. Maybe he was wrong, maybe he was right. Frankly, he didn’t care.
Now, we remember the criminal hitman that was watching Kyle? Yeah, well, from his vantage point, he was seeing our new Pythian guest pointing a gun, at his own target. And the crime boss didn’t want Kyle dead, not yet anyway. He wanted him off the station, sure, but he wanted to know what was taking him so long on his delivery. And for Kyle, had he heard about this, he’d have laughed.
When had he not delivered on time? Hardly ever, and most of the time it was a war zone.
Anyway, the hitman, who didn’t really have a name, not anything pronounceable in the region’s business language, anyway, saw the gun. And he had to react, a weapon was coming up from his own sheath, and with the bit of training, and implants he had his aim was true and his finger fast as a blast came echoing across the market, aimed for the gun that Pierce was holding.
A dozen heads whipped around in unison as two very dramatic things happened next. One: Pierce squeezed the trigger, firing his pistol at Nik, and two: the crackshot hitman tracking Nik’s customer, unbeknownst to her, blasted Pierce’s weapon, throwing off the trajectory of his beam, which was slated to be a headshot aimed right at the Chimera. Screams echoed through the market as Pierce’s slug lodged itself in durasteel, and traders went running for cover. Then, Nik’s gloves came off. Literally.
In a heartbeat, the feline hybrid was on Pierce like a rabid animal, claws viciously sinking into the soft flesh of his turkey-waddled neck, looking for purchase in a jugular vein. Paydirt. Nik quickly opened the vein and stood back a few paces, letting her antagonist bleed out all over his fake leather shoes.
Oh. That was three dramatic things, wasn’t it?
The hybrid sheathed her bloody claws, and shot a frightened glance at the pilot. Out of the corner of her eye she spied a couple of SLED uniforms. Damn, already? A hand shot out to grab the man’s arm, leaving a dark bloodstain in the creases of his leather jacket.
“Hey man, take what you need. Free of charge. All I ask is that you get me out of here.”
Without a gun, and no real desire to carry one when he wasn’t doing mission work, Kyle heard the gunshot and instinctively dropped to the floor. With that instinct came the shield that he was known for. A runner rather than a fighter, Kyle would worry about protecting himself first, then doing some tide turning damage. Maybe the shield wasn’t needed, but it was definitely a good practice, and something he’d been doing almost instinctively since he woke up with his implants A good deal, right?
One thing that wasn’t bad about his past, the implants and the ability to stop dying.
Not that he had experience with it, but he figured it would be a bad time. Y’know, he had a few thing she wanted to do before he died. One of them was probably the woman trying to sell him broken starship parts.
Apparently, in his run and hide technique, he was missing action. Tits there made her move and took out the Pythian, and Kyle stood up. He looked over at the initial gunman and then back at Amanda. He had to decide. “Right, even been in a space ship?” He was grabbing the parts, this time just all of them.”
He reached out his hand and pulled another stand down, and nodded. “This way.” Hopefully he would slow the gunman down as he grabbed what he could, and pushed the cart down the hall.