The twin suns of Commodus may have blazed an angry orange across the red dunes. The sands often kicked up when a fierce wind came in from the north. Choking sand, blinding sand, and if hurled fast enough cutting sand. A Humanoid could go blind if they did not wear protection and the wind was strong enough. The world may have been completely hostile to life, but the colony continued to flourish. The world was not so bad, not as long as you had a shield screen and a navicom to keep the environment clement and allowing the hovercraft to practically fly itself in most cases. Karl leaned back in his seat, watching the monitor as the ship navigated itself.
Karl Jenkins was the son of spacer colonists who had eventually settled, out of the countless worlds, the colony of Commodus III within the star cluster that Humans had called Longlegs, like an astral spider. Each leg a star, and around those stars were drifted many marble-like planets. There was a variation of red in the color, in Karl's case, the planet was near absolute in its redness. If there was any blue, it was mere dots that required heavy magnification of an orbiting satellite. Most of the blue was somewhat artificial in creation. There was water under the planet, very few had managed to dredge it up.
Karl had a hand resting on his chin as housing unit after housing unit passed him by. He was born with light tan skin which only darkened to a light brown after years under the bright orange sun overhead. His skin, toughened by the conditions, required a light layer of ointment application to provide any softness. He gladly paid the price, the last thing he wanted was to take on the traits of a true native to the planet. A tough, wrinkled skin miner or moisture collector. His hair was light brown and cut short so the sand had less to cling to. His clothing on the day was a light shirt, dark pants, and a oxen blood duster that was stuffed in the back of his craft. As he drove out to the housing units that bordered the space port and city of Raygun Heights, he felt partially relieved. Little street crime occurred out in the units. It was too hot for the punks to try and rob you. There was always a threat from the desert, of course. Scorpions that could be as big as the hovercar that he drove, or black-and-orange striped Saurians who protested what they saw was an invasion of their planet. He still felt relief, at the end of the day he carried two blasters. A short barrel pistol tucked under his arm, and a long barrel pistol laying on his coat. He looked up when he felt the craft slow down.
The black-and-red craft was a two-seater repulsor that hovered above the ground when in idle mode. The body of the craft was a permanent, physical object, while the roof and windshield was a tinted energy field that formed over the passengers mid-flight. Karl fixed a long brim hat and goggles on his eyes before using a push button to deactivate the field. The pointed rays of the sun were quick to flood the compartment and bear down, angry that they could not strike him dead. He could feel the dry wind on his cheeks and lips, causing him to instinctively tuck his lower lip into the moistness of his mouth. He hopped out of the car and lifted the flat gray data pad to his mouth. When he said, "Shield," the tinted energy returned to the top of the car. No point in shutting down, allowing sand to get back in, he thought to himself.
Both in front of him and on either side were prefab units. Colonization may have begun by laying down a spaceport near the middle of the planet, but the workforce were relegated outside the commercial hub. The units were half the size of a standard shipping crate. Made of smooth gray metal with a dark gray roof. There were a pair of viewing ports with a thick, translucent material that served as windows. Sometime back, when the colony began, a ship had hovered over the world, lowering each of these units to the ground. The colony board spruced the package with a rock garden that bordered the concrete walkway that ran down the length of the houses. Despite the nature of the planet, the colony board had tried to make things accessible for walkers. As if any humanoid, the exception being Saurians, would want to walk out of doors.
On the second ring which sent a chirp that he could through the metal door. He was greeted by a sliding door and the slim, feminine figure of a bipedal feline. Her fur was golden brown, with short muzzled face and a small pink nose. She had two rounded ears on top of her head and a pair of golden eyes that regarded him with barely suppressed dislike. She said, her voice low, "He's getting breakfast," She hesitated and said, "Would you come in?"
Karl smiled and stepped past her. He knew her as Narzli Fife, a Tigran woman who specialized in working a shift behind the counter of a diner. Her hips swayed with every step she took. It was an unconscious action, he knew her true feelings by the way she glanced at him and frowned. He was led from the main hall to the slender alcove where a small metal table was tucked into the corner with a set of cushions surrounding it. At the table was another Tigran. This one had more masculine figure and would have stood taller than her and roughly the same height as Karl. He was leaned over a slab of dark red meat, cutting it with utensils to minimize the grease and juice stains that welled up from the meat with each cut.
"Morning," Karl said as he entered the room.
Tangiers Rajpar nodded and said, "Moring. You have breakfast?" He paused and leaned his head forward so that he could nuzzle his girlfriend. Their embrace was long enough that Karl looked to the side, his cheeks red. He said, "Nothing for me, thanks. I was hoping we could get our job done early."
"We're not doing collections?" Tangiers asked. Karl saw him lift a dark gray cloth to dab his jawline with. The Tigran was not overly fastidious, but he kept a clean shop. As clean as one could in a desert environment.
"No," Karl glanced towards Narzli and said, "We're paying someone a visit."
Despite his attempt to hide it, Karl noticed the way her cheeks redden and her eyes narrow. She looked from her boyfriend to Karl and said, "You're not going to hurt anyone are you?" Karl wondered how she got that deep into the relationship and still appear breathless and hurt when they talked about their job. Did she not know she was dating a debt collector?
"Not going to hurt him," Tangiers mumbled, "As long as he pays his debts, nothing bad will happen." He reached out and patted her hand. She seemed to relax for the moment. She stood from the table and said, "I have to get ready for my shift. Tangiers," she breathed. Her voice soft and Karl imagined her hands were electric as they slid around her lover's neck. The way Tangier's stiffened and shot a glance to Karl, narrow eyes, a hint of threat if he did not look away. Karl had obliged by turning and only listening to the faint touch of lips meeting lips. The soft rustle as fur touched fur. When he looked back again she had scampered into the bedroom and closed the door behind her.
"Who are we visiting?" Tangiers asked. Making out with his girlfriend had left him with a mellow red glow to him. His eyes had a dreamy look as he asked the question and looked upon Karl with a renewed sense of affection for his friend and partner.
"A Saurian space port worker. You know a Tular Fek?" Karl asked.
Tangiers shook his head slowly and said, "No. But tell me about it on the way, I don't want her to hear."
YOU ARE READING
Raygun HeightsScience Fiction
On a distant world, sometime in the future, a group of criminals are about to get way over their head with a mysterious shipment locked away in a Spaceport. Some might see it as a bad idea, some might see it as a great adventure, most see it as anot...