The Floating World

Chapter 1 Contact

You wouldn’t think a one-and-a-half meter tall Tabisee would pack enough punch to make an adult Human stumble backward, but Saura does. Don’t get too impressed: Human spacers are such lightweights that a mild shove from a grav-dweller will send us staggering. Part of the reason for that is we don’t resist. Getting punched and resisting can break fragile bones. Tabi don’t have that problem.

I knew she was holding back to prevent a lawsuit, but these guys were apparently tougher than the average station-bounder, who could always take a bit more physical abuse than a spacer. Chairs and glasses were taking damage.

I sipped my beer and watched her throw one of the larger guys over a table. She insisted this was the best way to make our contact for this job, but I had my doubts. When the rest of the gawkers standing around with their mouths open suddenly headed for the exit, I had to grudgingly give her credit for being right. Looked like the bar-owner’s thugs had finally arrived. I set my glass on the bar and turned, preparing to take over contact.

Shit! Eight-foot, spindly-limbed black metal automatons were not exactly what we were expecting in the form of security. I gave a shrill whistle to get Saura’s attention and slid off the barstool, headed toward the door. Metal clamps locked on my shoulder, making my shipskins harden to protect my fragile flesh. It still stopped me cold.

“Ugh,” I said brilliantly.

Saura had just finished putting down her third bounder. At my whistle she looked up to see one of the artificial security ‘tons bearing down on her. I could have yelled “don’t”, but it wouldn’t matter. She was in the air and swarming over the damn thing, spitting rage and slashing with her claws. It sounded like a meteor shower hitting our ship hull. It did about as much damage, too.

The automaton peeled her off with machine disinterest, the back of her gold vest pinched in two of its long, multi-purpose digits, which led to more slashing of claws—without contact now–and spitting of rage.

Not for me. When the pressure indicated I should turn and walk toward the back of the bar I took the suggestion to heart.  

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