Soldiers of the Void: Less Than a Friend, More Than a Enemy

Things could be worse, Mick conceded, but not by much.  Lanny remained asleep, bordering on comatose, and the ship’s store of medicines were becoming taxed.  Finding what he needed even on a developed planet will be difficult.  Once again he thought of reaching out to the man, but remained unsure.  How would he react to a reunion after so many years?  Also, after so much time, Mick’s former contacts would all be dead.  He wasn’t above stealing if necessary, but would prefer to find some manner of purchase to lessen the risk.

He could sense that someone was following him before the security sensors in his clothes could buzz.  All the buildings were covered in photovoltaic panels, their mirror polish surfaces making it easy to scan the street behind him.  Six men walked with a purpose, not even pretending to be anything but trouble.  They walked in a grouping suggesting a readiness to move into combat positions in a moment.  There were too many bystanders, he thought, so best to lead them away from here.

Mick looked over his shoulder, grinned, and raced down a side street.  Startled, the men began to chase.  Mick made certain not to outrun them as he ducked around corners.  Although they had been in a more peaceful area of the city, the homeless and outcast can always find a niche of their own and Mick was headed for one that he remembered, hoping it was still there.

They hadn’t been running for long, but the sounds of the men struggling to keep up was clearly audible.  Figuring they had gotten far enough, Mick reaching into his jacket drew the sidearm he had carried for more years than were easily remembered.  The flattened, compact shape quickly unfolded into a bulky pistol, giving out a strange hum as the weapon powered up.  He dropped to the ground, rolling up in a low-profile firing stance.  As the men rounded the corner, they immediately began punching codes into devices on their belts.  Clothes turned into armor and the hood on their coats became helmets.  He gave them enough time to arm before firing.  It would be too close to murder otherwise.

Currently, this planet seemed fixed on energy weapons and their armor was designed for such.  The first explosive blast from Mick’s weapon, though, shattered the armor.  It wasn’t designed to withstand solid projectiles.  The men’s surprise turned to fear, though, when the semi-solid energy within the bullet exploded from their friend’s back.  The fight only lasted a few seconds after that, smoke rising from the gaping wounds in their backs.

Mick heard someone else approaching, struggling to get their breath.  He spun, taking aim, and stopped at the last moment when he recognized the woman from the space port.

“Shorn, is it,” he asked conversationally.

The woman was not dressed extravagantly this time, but wore plain clothes that were more in fashion with younger generations.  She would blend in easily on the street, but would need some way to keep her face from being identified through security scans.  Looking closer, he could see some strange manner of cosmetics on her face and made a note to ask her about it later.

“Yes,” she gasped.  “I thought my physical state was better than this, but it was a struggle to keep up.”  She began laughing between gasps and Mick found himself smiling.  He walked over and handed her a small mask.

“Here,” he said, “this will help.”

She nodded, gratefully accepting without hesitation, and began to breathe through the device.

“You are either too trusting or have considerable trust in me specifically.”

Shorn’s breathing was quickly becoming normal.  She looked at the mask in wonder before handing it back.

“Better,” he asked.

“Very.  Thank you.”

“Now, why were you looking for me?”

Shorn looked at the bodies before replying.

“Well, I was intending on warning you of danger, but obviously that was not needed.”

Mick snorted.  “These were amateurs playing at being killers.  Now, if you will excuse me, I have an errand to run.”

“Maybe I can help,” she said quickly.

“Probably not.  I know where I am going and the Roshara Markets don’t seem like the place for you.”

Shorn looked at him in confusion.

“Roshara?  That place has been gone since I was a child.”

“Oh”, Mick responded, “that’s a problem.”

“What are you needing?”

“A number of things, but particularly medications and chemicals for my friend.”

Shorn looked at him brightly.

“I know a place you can go and acquire most anything imaginable.”

Mick looked at her with scepticism.

“Can I trust you, though?”

“I hope so since I am in as much danger here as you.”

“I’ll ask about that shortly, then.  In the meantime, lead the way.”

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