This is my first story in a new series I'm planning, following the adventures of the once-bounty hunter Kasey Reynolds (to see her first appearance in one of my Aston West stories, check out "Entrapment" over at Smashwords...). Would love to see what everyone thinks of the story, and Kasey herself.
The flesh on flesh impact echoed off black stone. Pain radiated through Kasey’s jaw before she fell to the floor. Torches hung along each wall, painting their light on the vaulted ceiling. Each flame grew with the mercenary’s anger. She jerked her head back toward the Birolian crown Prince, a growl rolling deep in her throat.
Dryden towered over her. An eerie red halo silhouetted his muscular frame, while his eyes narrowed. “You won’t fail us again.”
He was fortunate the scattergun usually attached to Kasey’s thigh was back on her ship. Otherwise, he’d be dead. She didn’t take physical abuse from anyone, no matter how fast and loose they played with their massive wealth.
“Against my advice, Father insists you deserve another chance.” The left corner of his mouth curled as he snarled.
Long blonde bangs clung to her face with the aid of the high humidity. Pushing them aside, she spat a bloody wad at his feet. He frowned, disgust filling his face.
“You think I’ll take another job, treated like this?”
His deep, sinister chuckle echoed. “Of course you will. You’re used to extreme wealth, just as I am.”
She couldn’t deny the money had gotten to her, but it didn’t make pain and humiliation any easier to deal with. Dryden turned and climbed five steps to a platform. He sat in his plush violet throne and crossed a leg over his knee.
“So, it’s your choice. Are you taking this job?”
Her face flushed, despite her attempt at hiding it in the firelight. “I’m still here.”
The Prince grabbed a manila folder from an ornate wooden stand beside him. “We need an escapee retrieved.”
“Scared?” He smirked.
Kasey snarled under her breath. “It helps me plan.”
Conversation ceased a few moments, torches filling the emptiness with snaps and crackles. Dryden tossed the folder to the floor. Papers flew out everywhere.
“Jarvis Fields, used to be with the Birolian Department of Taxation. We discovered him skimming from collections and sent him to prison two annual cycles ago.”
“Regular capture rate? Thirty thousand?”
“I convinced my father such an easy task would merit only a third of that.”
Kasey’s teeth ground together. “Unacceptable.”
“Take it or leave it. To continue working for us, you’ll choose wisely.”
It was hard to believe she’d become such a slave. She bent down to gather the loose documents. “Fine.”
“Our spacedocks were placed on alert when he made his escape last rotation. He hasn’t left the planet.”
“How’d he escape?”
“I haven’t been told.”
She started for an open doorway. “I’m on it. I’ll retrieve him as soon as possible.”