Mick barely felt Lanny’s weight bearing down on him. The experiments created a fighting machine, but his skeletal frame weighed little. Carrying him was not taxing, especially for his friend.
There was little difficulty slipping back into the hanger where the ship waited. Mick noted debris scattered about. Fragments of metal, strips of cloth, and bits that smelled of charred meat. Someone had tried to steal their ship. The thought spread across the man’s face in a mocking grin. They tried, the poor souls.
The ramp was lowering as they approached, settled as soon as Mick’s boots touched the ground, and raised silently behind him. It was but a moment to get Lanny into his quarters and settled down to rest. He had been barely conscious the whole time, not even flinching as Mick injected him with various medications before leaving his friend to rest.
Issa did not speak until Mick was in the flight room. Her voice was soft, seemingly hesitant to risk waking her crew member.
“Mick, how is he,” she inquired. He knew the Issa wasn’t hugely fond of Lanny, but gave him respect for the sake of her pilot.
“He’s just worn out. The degeneration is apparently accelerating. At this point all that can be done is allow for time to enjoy the time remaining and to rest.”
Mick’s voice was soft and Issa could detect the slightest crack in her old friend’s voice. It was unnerving to hear him distraught, but they had been placed on forced leave after their team members were slaughtered. She adjusted the climate and lighting to the comfort levels he preferred while the soft notes of Berlectian strings began to drift through the room. Mick reclined in his chair and sighed.
“So,” he said after some time, “there was a spot of trouble?”
A hologram of the ship’s A.I. appeared on the console and snorted.
“Not even a speck. For a society that has made so many technological advancements since we here last, some of it remains crude or so specialized that they cannot even comprehend our technology. It seems as though these people have pursued technology simply for its own sake and do little thinking of their own.”
Mick nodded agreement. He had seen security patrols wearing some form of ablative armor, presumably specialized to counter the current stage of energy weapons employed here. His own sidearm could easily punch through it from kinetic energy alone. A length of steel pipe could probably shatter the stuff.
His thoughts were interrupted by the soft tone that alerted him to people approaching. Issa pulled up the image and there were at least a dozen individuals standing at the hanger entrance, but shadows implied that there were more in the shadows. A number of them were well-dressed in the current styles. It was impractical to Mick, useless in poor weather and the draped fabric must need some practice to keep from getting snagged on everything.
The others, though, must be private security, decked out in the planet’s notion of high-tech armor. Their weapons were held at the ready, but it was apparent that their training must be as specialized as the armor. He could easily cut them all down with little effort.
As the group of peacocks approached the ship, Micj nodded and Issa opened the external speakers.
“What is your business here,” he asked.
The man in the front gave a waxy grin. There was something odd to his skin and his eyes looked off. Possibly on narcotics, Mick mused.
“My name is Aristes,” the man stated, and Mick could see that he had a slight tremble. “I have a business proposal for you.”
Mick sighed again, and retrieved his sidearm en route to the ramp, pausing to opened a weapons locker and took down a compact firearm, loading and drawing the charging handle on the way down the ramp. The group stopped pretending to be civil at the sight and their guards began to raise their weapons.
“Speak your peace,” he said, “before this deteriorates further.” At that, two anti-personnel cannons emerged from concealed bays. “Also, any poorly chosen movements would not be prudent.”
The visitors became tense, but Aristes face turned red with anger and he spoke with deep held arrogance.
“You dare to threaten me,” he roared, “I, who am among the favored! You do not know the danger that has been called down!” He was panting with the effort of screaming.
Mick’s words were sharp, cutting through the tirade before the peacock could get his breath back.
“State your business and leave before your heart is over-taxed.”
A woman stepped up, further interrupting the possibility of another tantrum.
“You have a most unusual ship, sir, and we are interested in purchasing it from you at a good price. My name is Shorn, by the way.”
Mick’s face went flat.
“This is our ship and will stay that way. This is only a lay-over before moving on. There will be no bargaining,” he said quickly, “and no possibility of a deal. I recommend that you leave.” Turning on his heel, the ramp raised swiftly as he re-entered the ship. Before it sealed, Aristes could be heard starting a new round of screams.
Issa’s hologram fell into step beside Mick, this time having the height of a petite woman.
“This will be an issue, old friend,” she said. “They look the persistent sort and Aristes petulance indicates he is accustomed to getting his way.”
“Well, disappointment is good for growth. I will not sell you off as a possession, Issa, and if it’s trouble he is looking for then this is the right place to look for it.”