“You don’t know us. I wouldn’t trust us either. I’m Zya by the way.

They Left a Trail of Cyan

The next morning it’s abundantly clear that Vera is the muscle but definitely not the brains of the bandits’ operation.

“Babe, I know you think we can trust Vera, but look. Are you watching?” asks Aidan.

“Yeah…and?”James’ blind faith usually inspires Aidan to act braver than he actually is, but at this moment he finds him foolish.

“Look, Mizar and Oslo are the ones plotting the jobs. Vera is moving loot to the backroom. As nice as Vera has been, I think her influence is minimal and we still need to watch our back.”

“Please just relax. I cannot be on all the time. I need a minute.” Frustrated by James’ lack of awareness, Aidan stomps off to another corner of the warehouse. The serpent woman, who’s been silently watching the exchange from afar, comes over to join him.

“You’re right. He’s being an idiot.”

“What?” Panic twists Aidan’s insides, unaware of where she’s about to take the conversation.

“You don’t know us. I wouldn’t trust us either. I’m Zya by the way. I like to stay out of the politics but I’m telling you, just because Vera says you’re in does not mean you’re in.”

“Are you going to turn us over for a bounty?”

“Oh no,” she says with a quick flick of her tongue. “But don’t think that last night’s job is all they’ll want from you. It took me a long time to earn my place here.”

***

By nightfall, Aidan and James find themselves two villages over in a sleazier part of Aldra. Laser pistols fire around them as they hunker behind a jagged piece of scrap metal. Oslo finds cover beside them, firing calculated blasts toward their assailants.

“I told you, James!”

“Jesus, Aidan, don’t you think I know that? Is now really the best time for a speech?” Oslo slams down in the dirt beside them, cyan clue blood trailing from her shoulder where a laser just knicked her flesh. She shrinks her neck down, leaving it curled in an awkward position but ensuring her head isn’t blasted from behind.

“Listen, asshats. Argue all you want, but if we hadn’t dragged you out here, you would be dead already.”

“What the Hell is that supposed to mean?” snaps Aidan.

“Mizar went out scouting before the sun even rose today and your marauder buddies plastered the cantina with wanted posters. Apparently you guys offed one of your crewmembers. A blue lady. Her name started with a “C”, I think. Ring any bells?” Orange laser fire disintegrates a passing rodent.

James looks to Aidan, his mouth flat and annoyed.

“Okay, I get it. I was obviously in the wrong,” Aidan snaps, but their argument will have to wait. Oslo is losing blood and she’s falling fainter by the second.

“Come on. You get her under her legs,” says James as he cradles her head, neck, and shoulders. The men lift her as gently as possible in the middle of a laser fight and in the gap of fire, they sprint across the littered street to the safety of an emptied market building. There they wait for cover and extraction by the rest of the bandits and Aidan nurses his bruised ego because for once, he was certain his instincts would be the right ones.

Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.

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