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Dog-Star Earth

Dog-Star Earth
© 2014 Jodi Lee, all rights reserved
Written for Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge
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Bounty hunting ain’t for everyone. It’s a lonely business for one thing, and it can be violent. I’ve seen men put their blasters in their mouths and fire for fear of being taken in. Taking their own lives is often an easier solution. I’ve had men ask me to do it for them when they break down at the last minute, too weak of spirit to do it themselves.

I’ve been chasing Bai Wei-Yn for five years. Not actively, mind you, just whenever I happen to have a hankering for some real home cooking.

I won’t turn her in. Every so often though, it helps my pocket if someone wants to hand me a per diem to go after her. The bosses don’t need to know she and I have a side deal. If you could see her, you’d understand. Imagine a petite, curvy Asian chick with black eyes and the weirdest, most unnatural naturally blonde hair you’ve ever seen. A shade somewhere between true yellow and gold. She claims her parents were into the experimental genetics testing in 2205, and that’s where her hair came from. It’s freaky.

I woke up this morning, thinking about her. The feeling that she needed me was strong enough that I had to go out and track down a compo to put in a bid for her case. An hour later, I was a thousand crikes richer, and loading Amphipolis Rising with enough supplies for two weeks.

I’m a loner. It’s just me, myself and I on my rock hopper. I like it that way. Everything on the ship is automated, right down to the flying. All I have to do is punch in the coordinates, and I’m off. This time, I’d have to hit the cryo-chamber though… a little research told me Bai was on a passenger ferry, coming home from Sirius. What she’d been doing there, I don’t know, and I don’t care to know. No one goes to Sirius with good intentions, at least, not anymore. The Siriphi do not like Terrans, and frankly we don’t like them much either. Too much bad blood. If they’d left our ancestors alone instead of probing their darkest innards… well, maybe things would have been different.

So anyway, Bai’s on the Dog-Star Earth. I’ve been on that hulking clunker before. Had a narrow miss of the Moon the last time. I figure I can dock the AR on her, find Bai, and drag her off – probably kicking and screaming, which is how I like it – in a year. Dog-Star was about three years out, on her steam. My little hopper doubles her speed, so… a year.

See you then, Bai-babe.

* * *

The alarm was sounding as I fought my way out of the drugs that the cryo-chamber used to keep me unconscious. I’d thawed about a week ago, maybe a little more or less. I’d set it that way on purpose, so I’d be wide awake and feisty when AR came across the Dog-Star.

Nothing works the way I want it to, when I’m in that damn chamber.

When I finally made it to the flight pit, I slammed the alarm button down, and blessed the silence. I took my seat and had a good look at the charts; before too long, I was pissed. Somehow, I’d managed to slip right past the Dog-Star, and I was now about five days behind it.

I programmed a turn and speed into the computer, and went below for food. As usual, my second reaction to waking (the first being to visit the flight pit) was hunger. I pulled the meal out of the freezer, zapped it in the micro and ate it while I wandered through the rest of the ship.

My cabin was an ever-loving mess. It looked like someone had been in it, dumped everything everywhere, and took off. I couldn’t remember having left it in such a tip before I cryo’d myself, so… the first thing I did was look for my crikes.

All there.

The info on Bai, however, was gone. What the fuck?

I found a note taped to the equipment room. I ripped it off as I listened to some faint banging coming from inside. When I opened the door, I saw Bai, tied on the floor, kicking out with her feet against the wall of the room.

“Bai? What the hell, girl, how’d you get in here?” I crouched down and cut the ties on her legs and rolled her over to cut those on her wrists. I let her pull the tape from her mouth herself, because I’d be damned if I was going to.

“I have no fucking idea, Deck. I woke up in here. I was in cryo on the Dog-Star.”

I helped her up, pulling her close as I did so. Her hair smelled of lemon and strawberries. And sweat. A lot of sweat. “So… you want a shower while I get you something to eat?”

She glared at me. “I’ll get something to eat, then have a shower. I don’t want any of your crap…you got anything good?”

Bai pushed past me, practically sprinting to the mess. After she’d picked through what I had, she threw together a couple things, offering me half. I took it, even though I’d eaten already. Naturally, it was heaven in a bowl.

“So, what now?”

“What now? I have no idea, Deck. You’re not planning on turning me in, are you?”

I had to think about it this time. I had a feeling I was being set up, I just couldn’t figure out how.

Or who.

“Gimme a minute, Bai-bee.”

“I told you not to call me that, Deck. You want a punch?”

“I think we’re being set up, darlin’, and I think we need to make a move. Fast.”

So we tried… but when I hit the flight pit, I saw the looming hull of another hunter ship.

“Fuck,” we said, simultaneously.