You’ve gotta be kidding me. One clip left, and only for my pistol. And I’m still stuck in the middle of this god-forsaken space station. I swear, the fucking stuttle who gave me this is job is going to burn. He called it a milk run, a massive space station with an entire colony of Sproxians and their goddamn genetic experiments is not a milk run. What the hell even are those things? I’ve never seen anything like them, more limbs than I can count, no eyes, and I can see right through their goddamn skin. No matter, the core should be just up ahead, I can grab what I came for and go. Checking around the corner, I push up on my legs to stand up. It takes a moment, but I make it up. Turns out, not even these specialized reflec pants can completely stop a laser. Shouldering my rifle, I make my way down the hallway, the polished metal floor reflecting the low blue lights that stretch in front of me. My slow trip down the hallway is taken in near silence, until there’s a footstep behind me. I whirl around, leveling my pistol at the sound. A small Sproxian boy blinks at me, looking as confused as I feel. Shit, what is he doing here? A decoy? He opens his mouth, and the semi-familiar sounds of Sproxian come out. I can usually at least get a basic idea of what they’re saying, but this is some dialect I know null about. I watch him for a moment, he watches me.
We stand there for a solid few seconds before I hear another few footsteps. These are louder, and coming from where the boy came from. He looks down the hallway, glances at me, and runs towards the sound. Well now I won’t have the element of surprise. This day just gets better and better. I turn and start to jog down the hallway again, towards my goal. But I stop as I notice something. The footsteps are gone, and the eerie silence is back. What’d that kid do? Fuck, no time, gotta keep going. I reach the door, and it opens automatically. They didn’t expect anyone even knew about this place.
And there’s my prize, sitting in the middle of the room, the gray and blue box I was told about. Not sure what’s inside it, I don’t even bother to ask anymore. But knowing the Sproxians, I bet it’s a pretty glab piece of tech. I snatch it, and an alarm blares. The first audible one of the day, but certainly not the first one. And here comes those footsteps again, this time even more, and louder. Shouting too. In that same Sproxian the boy was speaking. What the hell was he doing here? Whatever. They’re coming in the far door, from the way I need to go. And I need an exit strategy, no goddamn way I can take more than a couple Sproxians with just one clip. I search the room, but everything is sealed, or so unfamiliar I don’t even know what could be an exit. The footsteps come closer, and voices start to become distinct. Two, one deeper, one higher. I consider the door I came from. The far door opens, and I catch a sight of a Sproxian, a big one. I duck behind a table, only thing I can think to do. “We know you’re here!” Echoes through the room in a deep voice, the big one I saw, I assume.
The voice has that weird way of saying words that Sproxians do, all sing-songy. I consider this as I stand, no backing out now. My arms extend, clutching my pistol. I shoot before I can even see the scene fully. At least five Sproxians stand just in the room, all swiveling their heads towards me. My Duo-Sendai wafer kicks in, and the whole world slows down. Second shot. The pistol is a custom .45 D&E Autopistol. Third shot. My wafer “told” me to move my aim just a bit to the left, I obliged. Fourth shot. The custom-fitted Mattoth tusk grip moves slightly in my hand. Fifth shot. The Sproxians have gotten over their surprise, and I watch their guns start to point at my chest. Sixth shot. Each shot costs me a credit, I’ll just put it on the tab. Seventh shot. I call her Ophelia. Eighth shot. I drop back behind the table. Two hits, one fatal. Far as I could tell. Then the lasers begin wizzing over my head, making a loud bzzzt sound as they strike the back wall. If I got my math right, twelve bullets should remain in Ophelia. And that won’t be enough. But I don’t have much choice.
I sit there for a few seconds, listening to lasers wizz, Sproxians yell, and my adversaries move forward. I take a quick peek, six Sproxians now stand in the room. One clutching her stomach as she fires. Another lies on the ground, motionless. My wafer gives me optimal strategies. But I really only have two, die, or surrender. Surrendering has never been my forte, and if I die, at least it’ll spite that fucker who wanted this thing. I wait, the lasers subside, just for a moment. And I rise from my prone position, body turning, arms extending, eyes forward.
As I stand, their eyes are not on me, every head is turned towards the door. The boy is in the door. What the fuck? What is going on on this goddamn station? Whatever, I know an opportunity when I see one. I squeeze off seven quick shots, watching as they turn their heads towards me. Well, the ones who don’t get a bullet in the headcase. The final shot lands straight in the shoulder of the big bastard, and I get a better look at him. He’s got those Sproxian war paints all over his body, red and gold, which if I remember my schooling, don’t mean much. He falls, clutching his shoulder. His laser rifle skids a few feet away from him, colliding with his comrade’s leg. He seems to be down, and I see no need to waste a shot I don’t have to take.
The boy is still in the doorway, and he ushers me over. As I near him, he jogs off down the hallway. I’m confused, but this whole mission has been confusing. I follow him. He leads me down a few hallways, taking turns whenever he sees fit, it seems. And we end up back where I ‘docked’ my ship. He stands in front of the hole I cut in the station. Looking at me expectantly. “Who the hell are you?” Is the only thing I can think to ask.
Terran comes out. “I am just a helpful guide.” The voice sounds wrong, it’s got some sort of digital edge to it. Creeps me out.
“And what the fuck does that mean?”
“Mr. Kepple, it means that I didn’t think you could do this job on your own.” The voice is deep, and the boy barely moves his lips.
“Fucking obviously. But wait, who the fuck is ‘I’? Are you saying you, a kid, hired me?” A fearful tone creeps into my voice.
“Ah, so you are a good judge of yourself. How useful. It is not important who I am, but I am not this child. He just happened to be available.”
This guy must be messing with me, maybe it’s some kind of android.
“Mr. Kepple, you can call me M, though I suspect next time you see me I will not be in this body. Or any body, for that matter.”
My jaw fucking drops, what is this guy talking about?
“Good luck, Mr. Kepple.” At this, the boy’s eyelids fall close, and he collapses to the floor.
Speechless, I move into my ship. I have no fucking clue what just happened. And I’m not sure I want to. I was told this biz led to some strange experiences, but I think this one takes the cake. I sit at my control panel, and began gearing up to leave. Who the hell is M? What was with that boy? And most importantly, what the hell does he want with me? I have no goddamn clue how to answer those questions, so I fire up the J-Drive and go to get paid.