A Colorful New Crew
A day of hot travel through the desert leaves Aidan and James parched and exhausted, but as the caravan pulls into the village of Aquila, nestled quietly in the mountain range, they are greeted with a bustling cantina. They can smell the fragrant fruit from outside and waste no time in seeking refreshment.
After ordering two glowing green beverages and a platter of fruit that looks more like earth’s most exotic sea anemones than anything they’d previously eaten, they settle into a dimly lit booth. James draws circles on Aidan’s hand and they rest, enjoying each other’s company, both praying to every god they’ve ever heard of that Captain and his trained snakes don’t find them.
“Move over earth jerk!” Startled from the brief moment of peace, James follows orders and scoots, nudging Aidan along with him. The towering woman slides in beside them, apparently tired of the rickety barstools lining the rusty metal bar top.
“So, what landed you here in this sand oven? I’m Vera, by the way.”
“Um, I’m not sure I feel com━”
“Oh okay, okay. I get it. Just passing the time here. I’ve already worn out my welcome with my mate back there and the one with the eyepatch is mute anyhow.” She points across the buzzing bar to a couple of stools where a purple woman covered in scales rests her head on the shoulder of another female wearing a crude leather eyepatch, accented by a head full of wriggling tentacles.
James is no longer struck by rainbow skin or strange appendages, but her sheer size is something he’s yet to encounter across five galaxies. At least not a woman of that stature. She has to be at least seven feet tall and her biceps dwarf his arms by several inches. Apart from her size, she could still pass for human.
“So what’s the name, or is that sworn to secrecy too?”
“No, sorry. It’s James and this is Aidan. He elbows him in the ribs and Aidan obliges with a nod and a half-wave.
“So…you travel with those two?” James asks.
“Yeah, that cheery pair and a couple more, but they’re back at the nest.”
“Nest?” asks Aidan, gripping James’ thigh under the table to let him know he’s unsure about their new conversation partner.
“Uh, yeah. It’s our base basically. Aquila is quiet. Off the radar. It’s perfect for people in our line of work.
“And that is?” asks James, leaning across the table.
“Oh, I saw all your gear and I thought━Sorry. We’re in acquisitions…of other peoples’ things.” Vera looks down, aware of how most people view bandits.
But the moment is broken as the purple woman hurries over and whispers something in Vera’s ear. “Well boys, gotta go. Mizar just got word from a lookout that some nasty marauders are headed this way. We’re thieves, but we don’t mess with pirates like that.”
Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.