Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chasing Booty

When cops can’t catch the most-wanted criminals, they hire Gaelyn. She comes from a long line of bounty hunters, including her father, uncle, and grandfather. Extensive training in weaponry, hand-to-hand combat, and adverse conditions have seasoned her into a formidable opponent against any contracted hit, whether male, female, alien, or human. She has little fear of the unknown and thrives on adventure.

Only one other hunter matches her status—Reese, a Trøndite from the small planet of Sør-Trøndalag in the Capricornus Sector. And the man has a knack for stealing her contracts. Both cunning and gorgeous, the mix doesn’t seem quite fair. But attractiveness holds little power over money. Reese had beaten Gaelyn out of a half-year’s pay a scarce three months ago, and she will be damned if he outwits her again.

Thinking she’s duped Reese back onto Jupiter, Gaelyn isn’t too happy when she runs into him on Quaoar at the Blue Moon, an authentic hole-in-the-wall bar tucked at the end of a narrow alley in what would be considered the rough part of town; just the place to find her contracted hit. But Reese not only has the information she needs to find her mark, he also has a business proposal that’s too tempting to pass up. And a partnership with Reese just might prove rewarding in a way Gaelyn never expects...


“State your business,” the squeed demanded.

Gaelyn lifted her nose a bit, not in defiance, but in an effort to breath. The creature stank like raw sewage. That alone would make anyone want to jump a ship and hightail it out of there.

“I already told you my business. I’m chasing a contracted hit and I have reason to believe he’s here.”

“Bounty hunters,” the squeed sneered. “You’re just as arrogant as the other one.”

Gaelyn felt her self-confidence wane. “Other one?” She scanned the docking station, searching for the only “other one” she expected to see.

Unless Reese had acquired a new ship, nothing in there resembled his. In fact, the other rigs were far too small to equip a bounty. More likely than not, the personal crafts belonged to some of the elite inhabitants of Quaoar.

“How long are you planning on staying?” the squeed demanded.

Gaelyn shrugged. “As long as it takes to either catch him or determine he’s not here. A few days, perhaps.”

He grunted, then began filling out information on his clipboard.

Gaelyn regarded his writing instrument. Comprised of flawless stainless steel, the long slender stylus reminded her of something she’d use as a weapon instead of a pencil. Small bolts of blue electricity sparked from the tip as he wrote.

I could have used that on my last hit.

She’d gone after a wereling—half werewolf, half earthling—a brutal beast that easily passed for human in public, but turned into a flesh-starved beast with razor sharp fangs and deadly claws in the blink of an eye. Unlike their forefathers, these creatures didn’t need a full moon to call on their hidden form. They shifted at will.

After several moments, the squeed shoved the clipboard in her direction. “Sign by the X.”

Gaelyn scanned the documentation he’d made. There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary. Wanting to get on with business, she took the offered stylus and signed her name where indicated.

Handing the board back to him, she said, “I expect my ship will be safe during my stay.”

The squeed looked offended. His large globular eyes nearly bugged out of his gray gelatinous face and his black pupils constricted so tight, they became horizontal slits splitting his white orbs into two half moons. He pursed his beak-like mouth and puffed out his jowls.

“Of course,” he declared with a click of his tongue. “I oversee all security on Quaoar myself.”

Gaelyn nodded. “I’ll need lodging for a few nights. Any suggestions?”

“Take Elevator A up to Sector 5.” He pointed to a group of elevators along the far left wall, beside the glass enclosed control center. “That’s the entertainment section of the biosphere. I’m sure you’ll find what you need there.”

His tentacles twitched as though he found the mere mention of fun abhorrent.


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Shannon Leigh

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