The Bull and the Hyena, Part 1

A lone starship cruised through the great black void of space, silently pressing on toward its goal. It was a small ship, designed for a crew of six, but there were only two people on board at the moment. One of the two was asleep in a small compartment located directly behind the cockpit, while the other sat in the cockpit and watched the instruments to make sure the ship stayed on course.

The pilot was a young woman, about 25 years old, with wild, bright pink hair and a mischievous twinkle in her green eyes. Those eyes were barely open at the moment, though. She opened her mouth wide in an epic yawn and rubbed her eyes vigorously to help keep them open. She’d been awake for almost 24 hours, and her duties were exceedingly boring at the moment, but they still needed to be done. It would be her turn to sleep soon.

A buzzer went off suddenly, and she jerked her head up and looked around wildly for a second before she realized where she was. She must have dozed off, but fortunately that buzzer meant her shift was over and it was her partner’s turn to take over. She yawned another tremendous yawn just as he entered the cockpit. He was a tall man, about 15 years older than her, with curly brown hair and a smirk permanently affixed to his ruggedly handsome face.

“Ugh, it’s about time you showed up,” she said, pretending to be disgusted, “Another few minutes on this duty and I’d have set a course for the nearest star, just to have something interesting to do!”

“You know, you could have woken me earlier,” he said, reaching over to ruffle her hair as he sat down in his chair. She slapped his hand away, half playfully, half angrily.

“Yeah,” she said with a smirk, “and listen to you whine about missing out on your precious beauty sleep? Pass.”

“Oh, I do not whine,” he said, affecting a wounded air. She just rolled her eyes in response. “So, what’s our status?”

“Same as its been for the past week,” she replied, “Still on course. No anomalies. No problems. Nothing to report at all, except my butt is lame from sitting in this chair for too long.”

“Deal with it,” he said, “A few more days and you’ll be in such magnificent comfort that your butt’ll never be lame again.”

“I can hardly wait,” she said sarcastically, “After all this hype, you sure better deliver.”

“Me? Deliver?” he said incredulously, “When have you ever known the magnificent Treben Holkas to not deliver?”

“Hmm,” she mused, “I can think of at least a dozen girls off the top of my head who would be happy to tell me all about times that you’ve over-promised and under-delivered.”

“Lies!” he yelled, “Lies and scandal! Those women heard things in my words that I never intended to be there! Treben Holkas always keeps his promises!”

“Is that so?” she replied, raising an eyebrow, “Well I certainly hope my contract doesn’t have things in it that you ‘never intended to be there’.”

“Kyla, trust me,” Holkas said, “when we’re done on Midigal, you will have no cause for complaint ever again.” Kyla eyed him skeptically, but they both knew that she was in too deep to back out now, and he just smiled complacently back at her. Finally, she sighed and stood up.

“I have no idea why I let you talk me into this, but I’m too tired to worry about it now,” she said with another yawn, “I’m going to bed.”

“Sure you don’t want company?” Holkas asked with a wink. Kyla rolled her eyes and made a rude gesture at him. He chuckled and turned to the instrument panel. “I’ll wake you in twelve hours.” She waved dismissively to him and left the cockpit.

Once inside her quarters, she made sure to lock the door so Holkas couldn’t get in. He wasn’t necessarily the sort of man who believed that “no” actually meant “yes”, but it sometimes took a great deal of persuasion to convince him that she really was saying no, and she was too tired to play that game at the moment. Despite her exhaustion, it took her awhile to fall asleep. She was too busy replaying in her mind the events that had brought her to this point.

When she had met Holkas in a seedy bar on Minisca, a few weeks ago, she already knew him by reputation. Even before the war, Treben Holkas had been the most famous smuggler in the outer provinces, and the last four years had only added to his legend. An aspiring smuggler herself, Kyla Vertrane had been instantly smitten by him, and when he proposed partnering up on a job inside the Empire, she couldn’t turn him down.

The problem was, she still didn’t know what the job was. She knew they were going to Midigal, and she also knew there were rumors floating around that a group of provinces were about to secede from the Empire and form a new kingdom centered around Midigal. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the two were connected. But how, she had no idea.

Holkas was making grandiose promises of untold riches, but those promises seemed a lot more real in the context of dim lighting and loud, pulsing music than they did after a dull week of slowly traveling through space. Kyla wanted to believe that she had gotten into something that would jumpstart her career and push her into the upper echelons of the galaxy’s underworld. She wanted to believe that the legend of Treben Holkas was for real, and not just built on a foundation of smoke and mirrors. But it was hard to keep those dreams alive when Holkas refused to tell her what they were doing. She couldn’t help but think that she was involved in something that would be very bad, both for her, and for everyone connected.

To be continued…

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