“This is how you repay me?” He exclaimed, questioningly. “I give you an easy job, nice and simple and you decide to pilfer things on the way out!”
The other three could hear quite well from the almost empty bar, the only others within as daylight had risen being the bartender and a few milling security guards. Technically the bar never closed, but they didn’t serve SyKaf or its less than legal equivalents, and no one was hauling ass out of bed at 0630 to get out to some scummy club in the backwaters.
“I don’t care bout your extenuating circumstances!” came the voice a moments later.
“So, odds that we get out of this place alive?” Asma asked, turning to face the overhanging office. The windows may have been tinted to prevent regular people from snooping, but a few subdermal augmentations came in handy. She was watching the whole thing through a sonar function built into her rebuilt right eye. Obviously they’d covered it from thermal and x-ray, but no one ever bothered to think sonar.
“70/30” Victor mulled over the glass of bourbon in front of him. Every planet had some kind of whisky production, though he didn’t think much about the local ones. He continued, “Half of that is the fact that I still got this thing and he’d have to fight through all four of us to take it.”
“What the hell is it?”
“A magic booster.” Sitara replied curtly. Her voice was tinged with hate and fury, something not wholly new to her demeanour, though it was usually in reference to a person. She gestured at the little statue hidden in the bag. “If you pry it open, there’ll be body parts stuffed inside gold and magic foci, I can feel it humming from here.”
“There’s bits of humans in there?” Victor asked, surprised.
“Not humans, Selta’Kowar.” She replied crossly. Asma looked at her with pity as she continued, “we have a higher innate magic, and the Soulwell is more spread through the body. Depending on the parts stuffed in there, it helps to focus specific types of magic. Technically you just need a powerful mage, but a mix of superstition and human supremacists means we get sold for parts.”
“Good money in it though, heard of more than a few desperate people selling parts of themselves for money. Though really, if you are strong enough to be a decent magic focus, you can make enough money to support whatever life you want. So, they mostly end up in placebos and low quality foci.”
“Why would someone do that?” Asma said, throwing her arms around a momentarily surprised Sitara.
“Hey, get off me woman!” She grumbled, smothered by the much larger human woman. “I don’t need you choking the life out of me by accident.”
The next sounds that came out her mouth were the half heard grunts and curses of Asma doing exactly that. After a few moments, she released the stuttering green mage with a big grin.
“There, feel any better?” Sitara tried to drown the smile in a spluttered cough, but she couldn’t entirely disguise it from Asma.
“I hate you.” She grumbled.
“Nah, you love me.” Asma replied, smiling.
“Much as I’ve dreamed of seeing the two of you so close, albeit usually without clothing,” That earned him a smack on the arm from Asma, but he continued anyway. “what do you think the next job is going to be?”
“Look at you! Being responsible and shit.” Asma replied, shocked. “Looking at the next job, instead of just enjoying the pleasures of the world in front of you. One day we might make a proper man out of you.”
“Well don’t talk now, but I think I found one of life’s pleasures to indulge in for the moment.” He said, his eyes on the door where a number of waitresses and security guards just walked in for shift change. “Ladies, if you’ll excuse me, while you are by no means poor company, I’d like a change of scenery. Tell the Cap to tell me when he needs me. Don't need to get left behind.”
“Go on loverboy. We’ll wait for word and let you know, earliest flight out is when you’re on it anyway, can’t leave port without a mechanic on board.” Sitara commented, as he waved himself off into the crowd.
“So…” Sitara let the word hang in the air.
“No, Si.” Asma muttered. Her voice was quiet and almost despondent. She was definitely coming down from the adrenaline high of the night.
“I love you, don’t get me wrong about that.” She said. Her hand reached behind Sitara, laying gently on the little knot in the back of her neck that always gave her trouble. She massaged it idly, to the gentle sighs of Sitara. “But I don’t love like that, I don’t need you like that. I don’t mind if you find folk that do want you like that, but I never will.”
“I know.” Sitara replied. Asma bent low and kissed the top of her head.
“C’mon, looks like we’ve got a little longer to wait.” She said, gesturing up to the office. They were still screaming at each other. “Let me buy you a drink.”
Without waiting for a response, her hand flicked up to catch the attention of the bartender.
“Two of your best bourbons please.” Asma said, dropping two dozen credits on the table for the expectant bartender. His eyebrow raised a little, but otherwise he took the money and returned shortly with a pair of glasses and a bottle. He poured a solid finger in each glass and left the bottle nearby.
Asma grabbed the glasses, handing one off to Sitara.
“To a job well done.” Asma started.
“May many more come our way.” Sitara replied, clinking the glasses off one another.
It was almost three hours later and more than a few drinks when the captain finally got himself out of the office. Sitara and Asma still sat at the bar, drinking expensive whiskey and giggling themselves silly. Nik grumbled a little to himself as he walked out of the office. He needed off this rock and out from the clutches of men like Zakhar. The little crime lord who’d spent the last three hours alternating between screaming at him and commiserating with him was a cruel little shit, but he half to owned this pathetic rock, so if he wanted a job here he needed to go through him, or be subject to the punishments he levelled against Yerevin, who’d betrayed him.
Anyways, new job, new place, hopefully to somewhere he didn’t have to worry about this asshole for a long time. He walked over to the bar.
“Drinking already, ladies?” He asked, not entirely surprised. They both looked up at him and burst out laughing. That was a definitive yes.
“C’mon Nik, join us!” Asma cried out. “Have some fun.”
“No thanks,” He replied stoically. “Happy to when I get things organized for the next job, but I got work to do today.”
“Work?” Sitara asked, her voice more level than Asma’s. She was deceptive. Her body was a mystery known only to those who inhabit it, and they would tell nothing. She handled liquor far out of proportion with her size and could marshal strength to match.
“Yeah, we got a job, legal one, or at least semi-legal, off this rock, if you don’t mind a few visitors on the Omen.”
“No worries on my account, and it may stave off Victor’s usual boredom.”
He was currently nowhere to be seen, not entirely abnormal, given his preferred form of entertainment. The Captain just sighed and chuckled to himself. He threw a hand to his hips, just above the level of his holster.
“I doubt it, but I suppose we’ll see. Either way, we’re off this rock next week, get the Omen ready to go and double check that everything is in working order before the week is out and we’ll be on our merry.”
“That easy, huh?” Sitara remarked sarcastically.
“That easy.” The Captain replied, his false sense of confidence hiding the concerns already fermenting in his mind.