Blue Sky

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Cassia LaCroix took a sip of her drink. "Ugh. Taste that." She reached the glass over to Nigel, her latest co-pilot.

"No thanks."

Cassia sighed. "I don't get it."

"What's that?"

"Here we are, sitting in a technological marvel -a goddamn hotel bar floating in space- and they can't figure out how to make a drink that doesn't taste like piss."

"Heh. Well, maybe they're not used to serving humans around here. Did you order a monkey drink?"

Cassia stared at the glass and shook it gently, sloshing the yellow liquid around. "Looks like piss. Tastes like piss. You think they drink piss?"

"I doubt it."

"You sure you don't want some?" She extended the glass.

"Well now," Nigel joked.

Cassia set the drink down and looked around. There were only a few other patrons in the bar, most of them baboon-like Mangeroma. It was dimly lit, most of the light coming through the glass floor below. Underfoot, among the stars, Cassia could see the wispy teal sphere of Blue Sky in the distance, an artificial planet comprised almost entirely of atmosphere. At the planet's core, an artificial gravity generator held the surrounding gas in place. Whoever started construction left a long time ago, leaving a series of girders and massive platforms -and more than a planet's worth breathable air. Now the whole place was a magnet for outlaws, refugess, and mercenaries across the galaxy -anyone looking to hide. That made it a good place to do business.

"So," Nigel was nervously looking around, "have you ever worked with these guys before?"

"Never met 'em," Cassia was examining her glass, figuring out whether to give it another go, "but I've heard good things."

Three humanoid figures walked through the bar's entrance, decked out in black combat outfits. The visible skin on their faces, necks, and arms was covered in stylized black tattoos. The largest was an alien over seven feet tall, with hairless, reddish-orange skin that looked like cracked mud, and solid black eyes set deep in his massive skull. He struggled to squeeze in through the doorway. The other two were human. The man was six feet tall, bald shaved head, and an impossibly muscular physique, with thick veins visible over bulging muscles. The woman was short and athletic looking, with long, jet black hair. Both of them sported obvious cybernetic implants -eyes replaced, input/output jacks in their skulls, robotic arms. An assortment of energy weapons were slung over their shoulders and hanging from their belts.

Cassia waved them over from her table, leaning over to whisper to Nigel. "Just let me do the talking." Nigel swallowed air as the trio of mercenaries noticed them and began walking over to the table.

The man looked down at Cassia and extended his robotic arm. "Wojtek," he introduced himself.

"Cass'," Cassia stood and shook his cold, metal hand.

Wojtek motioned to the others at his side, "Zahra and Razz", he introduced them. They nodded. Nigel was awkwardly silent and motionless. They all sat, except for the monstrous orange alien Razz. From up close, Nigel and Cassia could better see the hardened, clay-like body of the reddish-orange alien. Within the deep fractures that covered his rocky flesh, the colour was a deeper red. He stared down at the table with his solid black eyes; Cassia assumed he was looking at them, though it was difficult to tell from the solid black orbs set in his skull.

"You're just gonna stand?" Cassia looked up at the towering alien.

"The seating here," Razz mumbled with a deep resonating boom, "is insufficient."

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