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Laurie leaned back in the chair, sinking under the weight of the last few days. “As much as I’d like to stick it to that bloated toad, I only have one crewmember left, so we’ll get him patched up.” The Bartender nodded. “As you say, captain.”
She nodded and addressed Scorch. “Why don’t you head below and power down for a bit?”
She swiveled the chair to face forward, looking out at the stars as they drew away from the Fuesillian sun. She pushed the throttle to its limit and watched the sky fade to a soft glow as The Venturess accelerated. Stars rectified themselves to proper points of light as the ship slowed. Maciia was a hot, dusty planet, covered in shifting sands. The natives Maciian were a small species, rarely even a meter tall, with pale skin the color of the sands which covered their homeworld. They were hairless, and had comically oversized ears, giving them a gnome-like appearance.
They were natural tinkerers and inventors, and in spite of their diminutive stature, had long been traveling the stars. They made strong economic alliances with nearly every race, and Maciia had evolved into one of the major trading centers of the galaxy.
Laurie brought the ship down to the surface, landing on a stone pad in one of the many spaceports. She lowered the rear ramp and descended to her quarters, grabbing a cloak to ward off the dust, and a black goggle which clipped onto the side of her cybernetic eye, protecting her good one. Scorch stood idle in the cargo bay, powered down. Burn marks decorated the reflective metal, the right arm bearing several large holes.
“That was an adventure, wasn’t it, buddy?” His head was squat, recessed into the high shoulders. It looked something like the helmet of an ancient warrior, with a thin ridge running around the crown. She reached up and felt for the power switch at the back of his head. Nothing happened. She swore loudly, and toggled it back and forth. Still nothing.
“What’s wrong?” The Bartender stepped into the bay. “Scorch won’t start…” she trailed off as a dark thought occurred to her. “Is this your doing?” Her hand went to her holstered pistol. He put both hairy hands up, palms to her.
“No! Certainly not! What reason would I have to hinder you? You saved my life.”
“I’m not feeling particularly trusting at the moment.” she tried the switch again. “What the hell is wrong with him?” She circled around in front of the motionless construct and put her hands on her hips, looking intently into the dead eyes. “Maybe he was worse off than I thought. Nothing should have damaged his critical systems.”
She inspected the damage without any result or clue as to why he wouldn’t turn on. Something moved behind her, a brief sound and motion as something tried to hide behind a crate. She drew a pistol and slowly approached the crate. “Come out now,” she said, trying to get a look behind it. She drew near, moving quickly around the side, leveling her aim to where the creature should have been. It was already gone. She scanned the room with increasing apprehension. “Do you think someone came along uninvited?”
The Bartender shrugged. “I don’t see how anyone could have. We all knew who was on the platform, and it would have been impossible for anyone to sneak onto it without us seeing.”
Suddenly, Scorch came to life. Laurie whipped around, pistol aimed at him.
“Scorch,” she said in as even a tone as she could muster, “Is there something you should tell me?”
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