Avenged by the Alien Bounty Hunter: Chapter Two

Rene

A harsh knocking at my bulkhead door woke me from a dead sleep. Instincts, long honed from my years of being an abducted slave kicked in. I jerked, fists and feet lashing out at nothing… tumbling from my hammock bed straight onto the cold floor. Several holodisks, and my collection of music crashed and scattered around me.

“Ow.” I sat up, staring at my office/bedroom. Right. I was no longer on the slaver’s ship. I was back home on good old Station Four, in the area Phoenix Incorporated rented.

Another bang echoed through my bulkhead door.

“Rene!” Syd’s voice sounded muffled and annoyed through the door. “You dead in there?”

“Wishing I was,” I muttered, rubbing my head. I glared at the door. “What is it?”

“Meeting’s in ten minutes. Don’t you remember?”

Double ugh. “I know, I know!” I lied and got up to scavenge around for something not too dirty to throw on. It was just us ladies in Phoenix Inc, but Syd would not appreciate me coming to work in a t-shirt and panties.

Her evil deed accomplished, Syd backed away from the door. She was the type of person who thought if you weren’t five minutes early then you were late. I… was not.

It was amazing that we got along as well as we did.

Locating some clothes, I pulled them on and then took a moment to give a luxurious stretch.

Then I walked out to face the music.

Phoenix Incorporated had been an active scavenging operation for just about a year now. We were unique as all of us were human

And all of us were female in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Scavenging space wrecks was a hard business, and I, for one, enjoyed sticking it to people who thought I was not up for the challenge.

Unfortunately, it was an industry with a lot of ups and downs, and it seemed that Phoenix Incorporated was perpetually on the financial edge.

Which was why I hated these types of meetings.

Syd gave me an arch look as I walked to the main area we used as an ad hoc meeting hall.

“Long night?” she asked.

I shrugged. “Couldn’t sleep.”

Her expression relaxed a little bit into one of sympathy. All of us who had been abducted from Earth knew that feeling. “Want to talk about it?”

I snorted my answer. Really, she should know better by now.

“I just thought I would ask,” she said, tapping her hollow tablet against the desk in a way I imagine she used to do with a big stack of papers on Earth. Some habits die hard. “So, our first order of business…”

I had not yet set at the table, and I raised a hand to stop her. “Coffee, first. Business, after.”

Syd gave me a look. “One, it’s not called ‘coffee’ out here.”

“Hot brown energy goop first,” I corrected. “Business after.”

“Two, you would have had time to wake up if you actually bothered to set an alarm.”

“Why should I bother to do that when I know you’ll wake me up in time? It’s a self-perpetuating prophecy. Really, you have only yourself to blame.” I quickly poured a few glugs worth of the finest space station energy sludge and tossed it back. It tasted hideous, but it wasn’t as bad as the stuff one of the vendors sold down on the third level, though. I would live.

Other than taste, another difference from good old Earth coffee was that the benefits kicked in almost immediately. By the time I sat down at the table, my mind had kicked back into gear. I smiled suddenly and said, “Okay, I’m all yours. What’s the damage today?”

It turned out, there was a lot of damage. We weren’t behind on rent at the station, but that was only because we prioritized this little living space before everything else… Including food. But our supplies were running low. We soon wouldn’t have enough to feed ourselves and our crew if we did not come by a decent score, and fast.

“What we need,” Syd said, “is something low risk and low labor but high reward.”

“So, basically we need the perfect job,” I said. “That’s not going to happen.”

Syd smirked at me and turned the tablet function to a holo-display. A recent scan popped up between us, showing a floating hulk among the stars. “On the contrary, this space yacht has been parked for cycles. It’s dead in the water. No movement, no power fluctuations. I think whoever was on it had a coronary or whatever the alien equivalent is, and for some reason, the autopilot never kicked in to re-dock it.”

The lines of that ship looked eerily familiar.

A tingle of apprehension crawled up my spine, and for some reason, I had an impression of the dream that I had been trapped in before Syd woke me up. My mouth went dry. “What’s the serial number of the vessel?”

Frowning, Syd brought it up. Immediately, my suspicions were confirmed.

“I know that vessel,” I said flatly.

“You do?”

I nodded. The apprehension had gone to my stomach where it burned low and hot. An old anger that I would never be fully rid of. “That ship belongs to the low-level gangster who enslaved me.”

Syd’s eyes widened, but then they narrowed again. “Are you sure?”

I locked eyes with her. “Trust me, I know that ship inside and out, and I want the pleasure of scavenging it.”

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