Read an Excerpt
The music was almost eardrum-shattering loud, but the crowd didn't seem to mind. Neither did Maurra. And as long as she stayed here she could drink herself into mindless oblivion.
Maurra kept an eye on the clientele coming and going from the bar. A ragtag lot, mostly miscreants and petty criminals. The higher-class customers kept their distance from places like this. This late at night there were more people coming in than heading out, which meant there was a greater chance of someone getting pissed and slitting someone else's throat. When that happened, she'd have to step in whether she wanted to or not.
It was much easier to handle drunks when she'd downed a few herself.
The high-pitched squeals that passed for music died briefly, long enough for the performer to quench its six throats. Creatures around her continued their chitter-chatter. Some used electronic translators. Most conversed as best they could with sign language and the occasional grunt, along with a smattering of Varonese, the universal language on this end of the Carbucharon galaxy.
In the near darkness at the rear of the room, away from the door and stage, her deep scarlet uniform looked black. It was the best camouflage she could manage. Several patrons had already spotted the crest identifying her as one of the exclusive Joramansu, the psionic police who patrolled this vector of space. A few moved closer, as if having a JoJo nearby ensured their safety. More sidled to the other side of the bar or left altogether.
It didn't matter. Her job on this planet was complete. She'd caught the bad guys and they were awaiting extradition. The bosses had sent her their congratulations. And she deserved a little rest and relaxation before boarding her own flight back to headquarters.
Sighing, she took another sip of her drink. Potent stuff. She wouldn't need more than one to get ass-over-elbows drunk.
There was a sudden loud squalling at the opposite side of the bar. Maurra squinted to clear her vision the same moment a loud and irritated roar cracked the nearby mugs. It was an Ellinod and what looked like two Par Mattas. She grunted. This should be good. The Ellinod was at least two meters taller and a goodly number of kilos heavier than both Par Mattas bolted together. She'd watch and step in if she was needed.
The slimy Par Mattas were squeaking up a storm and waving their tentacles in the air. Maurra wondered how the Ellinod fit in. The beastly looking creatures were loners. They didn't do business with other species outside of their mining operations and rarely ventured away from their home world. When they did, it had to be for a damn good reason.
She frowned. The Ellin system was a good two dozen or more light years from here. What in the world would one be doing on Cura-Cura in the first place?
Now her internal alarm was going off, warning her that too many variables weren't adding up properly. What had the Ellinod done to piss the Par Mattas off? And why were people giving them a wide berth? Slowly, almost nonchalantly, she unhooked her ankles and lowered her booted feet to the floor. She sat up straighter, never taking her eyes away from the scene.
The Ellinod's gnarled face was gray. From the little she knew about the creatures, that gray was a sign the alien was angry.
Correction. He was furious.
If he reaches out and grabs one of those