Saeera’s PDC started to beep, and she jerked up out of her nap, hand tight on her gun. After a moment, she remembered where she was, and she released her grip. All of the patrons she’d seen before had now cleared out, and now an elderly bearded man sat alone at the bar. He stared into his drink like most others she’d seen at the bars in this town. The bartender had been replaced by a young woman with short blonde hair. She stood behind the bar, cleaning glasses, and looked up at Saeera only when she left the bar.

Back outside, the lights had dimmed. The artifical day was coming to an end. Saeera crossed to A16, hooked the PDC into the console, and opened the door. Once inside, she unlocked the hangar doors and threw them open. Rix’s hulk of a ship was already waiting. It sat thirty-feet tall, a beat-up salvage craft, probably older than her father. She waved toward the front window, and she heard the hydraulic hiss as the main bay door opened. The ramp folded down at the front of the ship, and the large, metal, retrieval claws extended towards her ship. After it was loaded inside Rix’s craft, she shut the hangar doors and used the PDC to check out of the hangar.

The pilot nodded toward Saeera as she came aboard the ship. The Quetel were the dark-skinned desert-dwellers of Byrgius, the world on which Rix’s family had set up shop. The Quetel were well-suited to extreme heat, and thus were the only race that could withstand any sort of physical labor on the scorching world of Byrgius. They were a polite, but not particularly outgoing race. Even is Saeera and the pilot had spoken the same language, the ride back to Byrgius would have been silent.

The salvage craft lifted off, and headed toward the main exit to the north. They passed through the airlock at the edge of the domes, and out into the natural icy expanse of the planet. The rest of the world was as-yet uncolonized. It had an atmosphere and gravity, but was far too cold to support any form of life.

Saeera sat down in the co-pilot’s chair on the bridge. It would be a long two hours before they reached Byrgius.


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