It was 2100 when we met the Vorians. Beautiful, elegant aliens from the Orion cluster. They welcomed humanity with open arms, giving us technology, manpower, and the resources we so desperately needed. And they showed us the Visualization Drive, the greatest scientific breakthrough since we split the atom. But there was a heavy cost for their friendship. We couldn't have known at the time about the Scarecrows. . .
There are six inhabited systems in the Milky Way. Not thousands, as scientists once thought. Only six with planets suitable for the development of life. The Sol system, comprised of the five inhabited worlds loosely united into the Sol Alliance. The Orion Hegemony, made up of the seventeen Vorian worlds, and the four systems of the Callipsaren Imperium. We have contact with two other Galaxies, Andromeda and Magellan. It was from Magellan that the Scarecrows came. It took the six systems of the Milky Way one hundred years to fight off their incursions, and the loss was devastating. Our finest scientists spent the better part of their lives designing weapons designed to combat the unique scarecrow anatomy. In the two hundred years since then, we have made little use of our hard-won freedom. The Sol Alliance is riddled with corruption and graft, with those who give a damn about justice and fairness destined to spend their lives working at the bottom of the food chain. Because you can't make it in this galaxy as a human unless you always look out for number one. The Vorians showed us that much when they turned around and annexed half our colonies at the conclusion of the war. After we spent our bones and blood fighting alongside them. The Alliance had to comply. We didn't have the resources to fight a war against our one-time benefactors. And that's how it stands. Every man for himself, just trying to make enough credits to get by.
* * * *
The scene was oddly familiar. Gunner sat coolly behind the table at the bar, his hand resting lightly on his weapon. He smirked at the bulbous alien in front of him.
"Tell Havva I'll get him his money next week. I haven't been paid for the Hvor run by my employer yet."
"Huuuuuman. You pay NOW."
"I told you, I don't have the money."
"Havva tell me to kill you if you not pay . . . I know what you do to Seedo's brother. I know you kill him for credi . . ."
Gunner rose from the table, leaving a ten-credit note as a tip, and walked out through the colored light forcefield. No one paid the slightest attention to him. This was Mars, after all, not Titan with its tight security and rule of law. It was nearly half an hour before the bartender noticed the trickle of blood coming out from underneath the table. He sighed, and walked over. Seedo had been a good customer. Bad idea of him to take on Gunner Logan. He pulled the alien back, admiring the way the slim blade had pierced the alien's heart, located in its abdomen, at the perfect angle to kill quickly and without much mess. It would take Havva's men at least an hour to get here if he informed them now. The man looked at the clock. Fifty minutes and he was off. He could wait a little while to report the incident to the local crime boss. No one would know the difference.
* * * *
Gunner sat down at the bar of the Jessica Rabbit, a seedy nightclub around a half a block away from the Lucas Cantina he had just left. He sighed. Finding a woman who wasn't a stripper or hooker in this part of town was hard enough by itself, without the added stress of having to replace nearly half his crew. The smuggling run between Mars and the space station orbiting Mercury was a tough one, but he had made it back without losing a single man. Unfortunately most of them seemed to think that one life or death run was enough, and had taken their credits and left. The bartender passed him his drink, a Flaming Susan. Gunner took a sip, examining those around him in the reflective alloyed container. Oho . . . There was something to make his night worthwhile. A human and Vorian woman had just stepped through the door. Gunner waited, a knowing smile upon his lips. They took their seats next to him, just as he had anticipated.
"You know ladies, you really should have picked a less seedy club than this . . ."
Crew recruitment could wait.
Edited by Steel Samurai, 06 July 2010 - 12:25 AM.