tagSci-Fi & FantasyAn Old Obsession

An Old Obsession

byHetfuntimes©

Damn, I look good.

I grinned and gave myself a look over in the tall mirror. For this particular mission I had been gifted a red hot dress by my benefactor shortly after being given my mark: Andre Casselo, a man who the galaxy would not miss in the slightest. Not that I needed any extra coaxing beyond a healthy sum of credits of course, an outfit that hugged my curves and made me feel like a sexy weapon was just a perk.

The lack of weaponry was a worry though, no blaster on my hip or lasik sword on my back. Hermes was a small moon and, true to its patron gods name, was a lawless place of pirates, thieves and murderers. The entire surface of the moon was a city made out of space garbage, normally I'd fit right in. Not like this though, I chuckled after applying matching red lipstick and tossing the stick away carelessly.

The AI piloted space hopper rocked as it leveled out and hit the ground, I was walking down the ramp before it even finished lowering, my fingertips caressing the long fake nails I had put on. Underneath those nails was Andres demise. The ship was taking off before I cleared the landing pad. It would wait in space for my signal, less chance of it being stolen and made into scrap that way.

Eyes adjusting to the neon gloom before me, I fixed a smile to my face and made my way to the Sin Hole. The route was lengthy, not due to distance but because of all the traps laid out for the unwary. It was all mapped out on my ocular implant, and I trusted it to guide me straight, the map in my peripheral vision until a thought willed it off.

I looked up at the crooked neon letters, then down at the hungry-looking bouncer at the door. Wordless, he opened the door for me and took more than a few moments to look at my ass if I judged by how long it took for the door slam shut. The atmosphere of the bar was cloying: a perpetual cloud of smoke hovered over tables of rough men drinking their poisons, playing cards, and low music thumping from all directions as holographic women danced around poles.

In the time it took for me to approach the barkeep, who matched the image of my mark perfectly, conversations died and eyes wandered. I made especially sure to sway my hips, push my chest out and make my smile wicked, it was a wonder Andres eyes ever made it up past my breasts.

"Uh," he said.

None of these men were on my radar as a threat, but I did take note when a pair of especially broad shoulders turned, their owner looking towards me.

Smiling, I crooked my finger at Andre. Honestly, it should not have worked, every instinct this man had should have been railing against this succubus trap, but my sources were clear: he was a sucker for everything about me. Tall, dressed in red and a pulse were all it took to start his engine.

Placing his dirty rag and cup on the counter top, he leaned towards me eagerly, dim light shining off his large forehead, a question in his eye. I lay my hand over his roughened one, maybe he felt the rough texture of mine, because his brows pinched together in what was perhaps confusion, but it was too late. I curled my fingers and the fine layer of needles beneath the nails pierced his skin, delivering their deadly cargo instantly.

"You can't outrun your debts, Andre," I said lowly. He jerked his hands away as if stung, eyes widening to the size of small moons. Turned sharply and walked away as he let out a shrill scream, the choice of killing concoction had also been my benefactors. It was not a nice one.

People were standing up as I flung the door open, swooping past the bouncer and giving his hand an expert smack as he reached out for me. My pulse quickened when I saw a large form leap out of the door as I turned a corner. Signaling for my ship, I took off at a run.

My heels sunk into my shoes and made the process of running less dangerous, cursing my employer for the over dramatic method of this bounty. If I knew this bastard had guards I would have insisted on something simple. Now by the sound of it I had at least one man chasing me.

Gritting my teeth as I leaped over a passed out, or maybe dead, body, I narrowly avoided one of the mugging allies and felt a glorious surge of adrenaline fill me. The thrill of a kill and a chase, I dared not let out a laugh.

I made it to the landing pad in time to see my ship going back up into the night sky without me. I stared, mouth open in confusion, before furiously signaling it again and again, watching until I could not longer see it. Was this betrayal?

"You killed my meal ticket, bitch!" A voice as rough as a diesel engine snarled.

My neck hairs bristled and I spun around to face the man who had been chasing me. Framed by the crude neon lights, it was Shoulders, who was twice again as broad as me and at least a head taller. It was not a long shot to guess this neanderthal had fists the size of my head too.

A lump settled in my stomach and I took a step back as he took one forward. "Your meal ticket? Not much of a ticket if you're living your life on this rock." Damn me, I regretted my sarcasm the second it came out.

He closed the distance between us awfully fast.

I spun, raising my leg and delivering a kick that had knocked many a man out, only to meet a brick wall. My eyes widened as he stood there with my heel pressed against the side of his head, his eyes narrowing as my shoe landed a few feet away.

A hand reached up, fingers grasping for my leg as my brain began to function again. I stumbled away quickly, slipping away before he could get a hold of me and raising my fists defensively as he laughed. "Pick your battles."

Sensing opportunity, I slowly lowered my hands. Though I was plenty experienced and confident, there was wisdom in these simple words. Especially if he was willing to talk. "You have something else in mind then?" I ventured.

"Like I said, you killed my meal ticket," he said, beady grey eyes narrowed. "You're going to give me whatever you are gettin' paid and we'll part ways."

I nearly snorted.

"Your other options ain't so grand," his fists clenched, "your ship ain't comin' back until I let it."

So it was him. Must be some kind of jammer, I reasoned, watching the patience fade from his demeanor like vapor as the sun rises. Curious, I enabled the overlay and scanned his face. "You seem a little high tech for the body guard of a sleaze bag on Hermes," I said.

"Stars like me don't get the recognition they deserve," he said indignantly, pressing a hand to his heart. The man had an ego.

The hairs on my arm stood up as the facial finished and my enemy was identified. Pirate, thief, murderer, ex-con, ex-military. The rap sheet was cluttering my vision, it seemed to go on forever. "Fenix Harding," I shut it off, knowing enough.

"I am not a patient man," he said, stepping maybe two feet away from me, filling up my vision until I was craning my neck to look at his face. "You give me my due or we're gonna see how much I can extract out of your hide."

"Fine," I said quickly, raising a hand. I knew when I was outgunned. In such close proximity I could see more details of him: clean shaven, short hair, heavily scarred and tattooed, his body was a roadmap of battles won. Gears were turning in my head, weighing options and evaluating risks. "I get paid when I inform my employer that the job is done, I do this in orbit. You will have to let my ship come down and we will have to go to a planet with more...robust banking options."

Mountainous shoulders shrugged, "Time to get off this ball anyway." He looked to the sky and raised his fist up, "call your ship."

I looked up as well, playing my part in the act, until I unleashed the hardest upwards kick I have ever done. The reaction was instant, he folded over so fast he nearly took me down with him as I danced away. He fell to the ground with a gasp.

I kicked his head fiercely with my bare foot, "I am Macey, and you aren't getting a credit out of me or my hide, idiot." I spat, slipping my stray shoe back on as his fist dragged across the dirt.

I took off into the city again, he would never let the ship land unless I managed to get him unconscious, and I did not have enough faith that I could get past his thick skull or corded muscles to do that. I would lay low until I could sneak out. I quickened my pace as a wordless bellow echoed around me, I had made my choice for better or for worse.

Fenix Harding. I sat on an overturned bucket inside a hut made of ship doors and felt a shiver run through me. The life of a bounty hunter did not leave a trail of admirers normally, but this one gave me pause. I had, through use of force, acquired a simple well-worn blaster from one of the natives and its familiar weight gave me comfort.

I had pulled the terrible fake nails off but had not found any suitable clothing, if I wanted something above rags I'd probably have to physically tear it off someone. The red dress would just have to do. The only question now was how long would I wait for Fenix to leave that launch pad alone, he had to sleep at some point.

I waited three days before cautiously venturing there again, during the day time hours when he would most likely be asleep. My teeth were grinding and I held my blaster at the ready the entire time, pulse racing as the ship landed and lowered its ramp. I leaped in and closed it as fast as the machine was capable, feeling the rush of victory and letting out a triumphant laugh.

Falling into my chair heavily I downed a couple bars of generic food as I was safely flown into orbit, tossing the wrappers into the garbage chute and slipping into a food and exhaustion based coma. In time I woke to a strange smell, it filled my nose as I stretched and yawned. Rubbing my eyes I glanced around, it was definitely cigar smoke, which must have clung to my dress in the Sin Hole.

"Hm," I grunted, getting up and heading to the washroom. Time to get out of this dress and back to business. "Norris," I shouted from the bathroom as I stripped down, "let's tell our benefactor the job is done and get back home." Norris, the AI, booped in response and got to work while I jumped into my comfortable pants and shirt.

I walked back in to the cockpit to see the passenger chair slowly turning to face me, and I paused. Chairs do not just move around on a whim. I started thinking about where I put my blaster and lasik sword when the smell of cigar seemed to intensify, sending a shock of adrenaline through me.

The lasik sword was in its docking to my right, but the blaster was missing.

"Bad girl," that familiar voice growled.

"Fuck!" I shouted and dived for the sword, it lit up in my hand with an electric buzz and I froze as the barrel of my own gun shimmered into view against my forehead.

"Drop it," Fenix said as he shimmered into view. Stealth technology. That was not easy to get a hold of.

Gritting my teeth I reluctantly powered down the lasik sword and let it drop with a clatter.

"Better," he said, relaxing into a more confident position, though his gun arm never wavered.

"Seems you'll be getting your way after all," I said, glaring balefully into his beady eyes.

"Sweetheart, I always get my way," he grinned, giving me a look over.

He wasn't unattractive to my eye, which I considered while he gave me the look, but I was not in the habit of losing. "My employer has been informed of my success already and the credits have been sent to my account," I said.

"Good, go sit that pretty ass down," he stepped to the side, cautiously I noted, and flicked the gun barrel towards my seat.

He sat down across from me, dwarfing the seat, and stretched his legs. "Waited there three days for you, thought you decided to just become a hooker and stay," he chuckled.

The discomfort of laying in wait for three days straight gave me a little pleasure, and I smiled at him in response. It also meant he was likely running on little to no sleep.

"I see those wheels turning," his eyes narrowed, "I suggest not getting further on my bad side. Besides," he grinned then with a mouth full of well kept, albeit stained, teeth. "You'll be having me as a guest, and it ain't right to treat a guest poorly."

My stomach turned, we were definitely flying to my home as we spoke. "I'll give you the money, but you sure as hell aren't staying at my home," I said.

His demeanor darkened, but he remained silent.

It would not take long to get home, a few hours at most, the planets and stars blurring past reminded me. "Are you going to have that gun leveled on me the entire time?" I said.

"Yes," he said, getting a bored look on his face.

I looked away from him, that was that. Should have just taken the loss and moved on, now I am stuck with this guy who I have slighted more than a little. I sighed, leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes. "So Andre was giving you money for what exactly?"

"Protecting him."

I laughed, it could not be helped.

"Spent most of my time playing cards and drinking his booze, didn't think anyone was actually after his worthless ass," he said.

"He pissed off someone with money," I shrugged.

"No big loss," he said.

"The amount of cash I'm getting is not going to get you very far, this was not a very high paying bounty," I said.

"You seem to think that's all I'll be getting out of you now," he said.

That put some fire under my ass, but maybe this whole thing could still be salvaged. "The longer you're in proximity of me, the less chance you have of surviving our encounter, you know."

"I could say the same to you," he said.

Norris booped as the ship dropped out of warp, showing the sprawling expanse of my home city.

"This dump? Why am I not surprised," he said with a sneer.

I opened my eyes and sniffed in disdain. Corpella was a massive expanse of vessels and housing connected in space, not a planet or moon. These kinds of cities were common for bounty hunters, mercenaries and guns-for-hire. I swapped the ship to manual and curled my calloused fingers around the controls.

He began to fade from sight, activating his stealth tech out of an abundance of caution.

I guided us into the city with steady, calm hands. We passed the smaller ships and housing compartments into the much larger ones, and I heard an appreciative whistle as we pulled up to my own.

"Not bad," he said "you be sure to sign me in to your guest list."

Damnit. I was hoping he'd just follow me and get vaporized by the home security system, but Fenix knew his stuff. "Of course," I muttered as we docked. I made sure he saw me punch him in.

Walking out of the ship, assuming there was a gun at my back, I took my guest into my home. The door slid open to reveal my comfortable quarters. I heard an approving noise behind and above me.

There were racks of weaponry, cluttered tables lining walls and the general look of a doomsday hoarders paradise.

I got a firm jab when I got too close to one of the tables, leading us into the lounge quarters that lit up as we entered, filled with soft couches and a massive wall mounted stereo and entertainment system.

"You're loaded," he accused.

"I do good work," I smirked. I let out a startled shout when I was shoved onto a couch.

"Stay there," he said. It had to be dawning on him that keeping all this weaponry away from me was going to be next to impossible. As a matter of fact, I grabbed the grip of the traditional pistol under the couch he had thrown me on and flung myself to my feet.

I could barely hear him curse under the shot of the gun as I fired in what I figured was his direction. I barely threw my table up in time for the blaster shot to be absorbed, knocking the table and me back with the force of it. "Get out and I'll let you leave alive!" I shouted.

Silence.

Cursing I looked around wildly, if only I had my motion sensor or heat detector loaded. It was a mistake I wouldn't make again if I got out of this alive. I had to use my nose. Taking a deep sniff, I didn't smell the cigars so he was probably under cover or rifling through my weaponry for something else.

I crept out from behind the table, gun ready and steady, my pulse pounding in my ears. Every few steps I'd take a quick sniff. Just a faint smell of cigar at the door where he previously stood. I considered bolting for the door, but leaving him here in my fortress was the last thing I wanted to do. "The funny part is, you'll never get my credits if you kill me."

Stealth tech was not perfect, if he moved I might be able to see it, but as far as I could tell, he was not. A whiff of cigar and the movement of air behind me was the only warning I had. I spun, both hands gripping the pistol, and used the butt as a bludgeon where I guessed his head would be. There was a resounding crack and the floor shuddered as the mountain fell on it.

Stunned, I did not honestly believe that I had enough intensity to knock him out at the temple, it took a second before I ran for the restraints and shouted at Norris. "Norris! Upload the heat sensor and motion detector!" The AI did as commanded and soon I was standing over the thoroughly bound heat signature of Fenix.

I took him off the guest list and when he had several AI-guided lasik cannons pointing at him I finally felt confident enough to go get a shower. Why didn't he shoot me in the back? I wondered while scrubbing the grime of the mission off.

Maybe he had a soft spot for women? I scoffed as I dried off, if he did he would never have gotten as far as he had. He wanted me alive for my credits, that was it. I walked out of the washroom to hear him let out what could only be described as a guttural growl.

He was laying there, hands and feet bound behind his back, with his stealth tech disabled, glaring hot coals at me. There was a nice dark bruise formed at his temple.

"Looks like you let creds get the best of you big guy," I smiled, considering my prisoner. He was thickly muscled, wearing dark pants and a dirty sleeveless shirt. Pretty standard for men in his line of work, though he was incredibly tall. "Now I'll be collecting for your hide, once I find a buyer."

One of his pockets was standing out a bit more than the others and I knelt down to get a look, fishing into his pocket as he glared. "Ahh, that's the smell!" I pulled out a pack of high quality cigars and laughed, thinking he must have lifted them from someone himself. I ran one under my nose and enjoyed it.

He seemed ready to burst at the seams, but it all smoothed away in an instant, and he spoke in a low tone. "I saved your ass when you were nothing, you know."

I quirked a brow, looking down at him and appraising. "Prove it," I said. There was only one incident where this could be true.

"I was hiding out on a rock called Nomia, waiting for the heat to die down," he said, "there was a fire in the neighborhood."

My eyes widened, "no way," I said, recalling the event. I grasped his face by the chin and faced him towards me, enabling facial recognition and comparison. He gave a roguish smile.

The fire had spread fast, an idiot who fell asleep with a smoke or something I found out later, and I was trapped in my parents garage. I was on the verge of unconsciousness from smoke inhalation when someone tore the door off its hinges and rushed in to grab me. Pause. I saw a more youthful face, but facial recognition did not lie, all the points lined up.

I let out a breath and let go of him, taking a step back as the recalled memory faded from my vision.

"This how you treat your hero?" he chuckled.

I was in my late teens when that happened and had engaged in some serious hero worship, though the man of my affections was gone before I could even thank him. Even now I still had moments of recollection and they were seriously heated.

Maybe he saw the change in how I was looking at him, watching my mind working, he seemed content to wait.

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