Haley walked down the ship’s corridors. The lights seemed to be adjusting for her as she walked as if Carl sensed where she was and changed the lighting for her specific human needs. A little way down the hallways she came to an airlock. She approached it with some apprehension.
When she was within three feet of the door is suddenly sprang open, and what was in front of her made her stop in her tracks. Connecting the Splendid Two and the Splendid One was a long cylindrical tube. It was made out of clear flexible tubing, like a terrifying, but beautiful hamster tunnel. Stepping across the threshold, lights lit up the floor below her, and it seemed to change from a simply cylindrical shape to something with a level floor for her to walk on.
The clear glass was almost completely invisible. Standing directly in the center of the tunnel she could see both ships, and the entire galaxy, laid out before her. The stars seemed to twinkle likes she had never seen before. For the moment she was awestruck until the enormity of the situation settled back in. Oh crap! I’m in big trouble, she thought to herself.
Crossing the clear tunnel and walking through the airlock of the Splendid One, she immediately saw a sign pointing to the ship’s Bridge. Making her way along the corridor, twice she had to duck into hallways to avoid crew members making their way to other parts of the ship. She came to a large door with a small window in it. Through the window she saw two creatures standing face to face. One of them didn’t look happy at all.
Edging closer to the door, she tried to make out what they were saying. She had to strike a balance between standing where she could hear best, but not so close to activate the sensor which automatically opened the door. She knew, from the medical bay doors, that anywhere outside of three feet she was going to be far enough away. Two and a half feet was definitely getting too close. It truly was an art form; one she was going to need more practice with.
A sudden whoosh of pneumatics left Haley standing directly in the doorway of the bridge section. Freezing in place instantly, she was hoping, beyond all hope, no one would notice her. Those hopes quickly evaporated.
“Wait, Trelax,” the larger of the two Bagorian’s said. “Are you telling me that you brought a human onto my ship? You kidnapped a human and brought her here?” He was pointing at Haley with his massive finger.
The smaller Bagorian, identified as Trelax, stood there for a moment, seemingly unable to answer. “Well, I wasn’t sure what to do.”
The larger Bagorian looked at Haley, and said, “Come here please. I really must apologize. Things like this really should never happen. It’s truly out of character. Again, I most sincerely apologize.”
The Bagorians are the current leaders of the Galactic Order. The Galactic Order is a corrupt and ruthless, but efficiently run, criminal enterprise. Headed by a King, called The Chiny’ll, they got to the top by diversifying and investing in their criminal empire. In addition to being cold and precise in dispensing their brand of justice, they were also known to be incredibly polite and pragmatic. Yes, they’d kill you in a moment, if they thought you were an immediate threat. If not, they would likely offer you cup of tea before ending your life. It was the polite thing to do.
Bagorians, without their earth suits, are really ugly. People tolerated them because they had a habit of killing those they found to be insulting of their appearance. They consistently made the top of the list of the universe’s ugliest species. Standing about eight earth feet tall, they had green skin and looked like they were maybe the offspring of some exotic earth frog and bigfoot. On the top of their head were patches of hair that ranged anywhere from orange to a sort of dirty grey color. Most Bagorians were heavy set, around three-hundred-fifty Earth pounds.
“I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude,” Haley said.
The large Bagorian smiled at her. “Non-sense, it’s I who needs to apologize.” The large Bagorian got up from his chair and motioned to Haley. “Please sit down and make yourself comfortable.” He motioned to one of the crew members sitting at a panel nearby. “Trignar, bring Miss, ummm … what’s your name?”
“Miss Haley, some tea please.” Turning again to Haley, “I’m sorry, I have a matter to attend to, before we get to your execution.”
Haley was just getting comfortable in the seat when she heard the word execution. “I’m sorry, did you just say execution?”
“Yes, of course,” the large Bagorian said. “It only makes sense. You met an assassin, and now you have seen the inside of my ship. I can’t just drop you off at the nearest inhabited planet and ask you to pretty-please not tell anyone. Can I?” He turned back to Trelax.
“Now, as for you, Trelax, I’m really not sure what went through your head. Do you know what kind of problems this could cause me? I’m on my way to a committee meeting and now I have to stop what I’m doing to take care of this bit. Do you have any idea how this makes me look? They are going to have to wait on me. They can’t start without me.”
Turning back towards Haley, he said, “I really am sorry you have to witness all of this.”
“It’s okay, take your time. Please, take as much time as you need.” Even though the prospect of her impending execution was a little terrifying, she was watching the discussion with great interest. There was something familiar about it, but she couldn’t place her finger on it.
“She saw the card, and I had no other choice,” Trelax replied.
“Rule number one, no one ever sees the card. You should know that. It’s like the first thing they teach you in school. Were you sleeping that morning or what?”
“But I really didn’t know what else to do. I was in my hotel room, she brought food, and she identified me as Bagorian. I wasn’t sure how much she knew or didn’t know, and I just needed some time to think.”
As the two argued, Haley scanned the room. Everything was either polished steel, black, or brass. The black walls were the deepest black she’d ever seen. Along the walls there was a strip of brass, like the Splendid One, that she could tell had been recently polished. The chair she was sitting in was of the softest leather. It was very comfortable, an irony, not lost on her, given her impending execution.
“… And another thing Trelax. Where’s that card now?”
“Uhhh … oh, man. It’s still in the hotel.” Trelax looked down at his feet. Haley had the impression he was a bit of a perpetual screw-up.
“Trelax, this was your first assignment!”
“Yea, Trelax,” Haley said. “I even know that is a huge foul on the play, and I’m not even Bagorian.”
“See,” the large Bagorian said. “She even gets it, and she’s human.”
“Well, she’s in The Service, so I’d expect she does.”
For a moment the larger Bagorian just stared at Trelax. Haley had figured out why this looked so familiar to her. She recognized the look on Trelax’s face. She understood why his responses were sharp and sarcastic sounding. The large Bagorian had to be Trelax’s father.
“She … you … what?” The large Bagorian stammered. “The Service, so you’re telling me that you let someone from The Service see your card. Then you kidnapped her, brought her onboard my vessel, and now I have to execute her? Do you have any idea what kind of hell I’ll catch from the Earth authorities for this?”
The large Bagorian stood there for a moment. His mouth hanging open at Trelax’s apparent stupidity.
Trignar reappeared and brought Haley a cup of Bagorian green tea.
“Thank you, Trignar.” She took a sip; it was delicious.
“I mean, seriously, what’s the first rule you learn in school, Trelax?”
“Don’t show anyone the card?” Haley offered up.
“Exactly,” the large Bagorian was almost beside himself. “Even the Earth girl gets it.”
“Hey, not nice,” Haley said, taking exception to the insinuation.
“Sorry, I was in a zone there.”
“It’s okay, I understand.”
“So, Trelax, now I have to stop what I’m doing and deal with your nonsense? The clan heads are going to have a field day when I don’t show up, you know. What’re they going to do, organize themselves? They couldn’t figure out a plan if their lives depended on it.”
Somewhere inside Haley’s brain, she’d been keeping tallies on what they were saying. So the big guy is an important man of some sort. He was on his way to some sort of committee meeting when he had to deal with this. The big Bagorian had no issues with killing her, but he seemed to second guess it when he realized she was connected with The Service. It meant he was in charge of some larger enterprise. In fact, he was the head of that enterprise.
Shocked at her realization, Haley absently dropped the saucer holding the small porcelain tea cup to the floor. Both of the Bagorian’s turned toward her. They both looked quizzically from her face and then to the floor where the shattered remains of the tea cup and saucer had come to rest. She took a few steps back and pointed at Trelax and then to the large Bagorian. As she did, her mouth started to form words. “Y … y … you … are him. He’s … no … no … can’t be.” She stammered for a few moments and finally got out something they could understand. “You’re The Chiny’ll.”
The large Bagorian frowned at her and immediately went back to Trelax. “And another thing, young man, you should have called when you got toEearth. Do you know how many calls I had from your mothers, wondering where the heck you were? They were all scared stiff and— ”
“And you,” Haley continued her one sided conversation. “You’re Crowned Prince Trelax, of the Bagorian Empire. I don’t know why I didn’t see it until now. I should have guessed. The Bagorians … and Trelax … this beautiful ship.”
The two Bagorians stared at one another with confused looks on their faces.
“What should we do? I think something is wrong with her,” Trelax asked his father.
“Not sure, maybe the tea was too strong? Hit her on the head again, maybe?”
Trelax made a move towards her and she put up her hands in a defensive posture. She took two steps back towards where Trignar was sitting, who had, until now, been uninterested in their conversation. She bumped into his chair, and he stared at her like she was going to eat him. Trelax stopped moving.
“Don’t want to frighten her. No one move,” The Chiny’ll ordered.
There’s a part of the human mind responsible for slapping the snot out of the rest of the brain when it needs a good thrashing. It was about this time in Haley’s experience aboard the Splendid One when this part of her brain forced the rest of her brain to get a grip on the situation.
“Wait!” She turned to the terrified navigator and studied his face for a moment, a sudden smile spread across her face. She turned her attention back to The Chiny’ll and Trelax.
Bagorians respond particularly well to ego stroking. She suddenly saw a way out, a plan designed so well, that no Bagorian could possibly resist.
“Oh wise, and perpetually fair Chiny’ll, I’m honored to be in your presence. I’m humbled to know that I shall die by your disruptor. However, as my last act, I would like to offer you my services. If, you find them pleasing, then we can come to terms.”
She knew these exact words would essentially force The Chiny’ll to listen to her. It was essentially super ego stroking at this point, but she needed to be bold.
“I find your supplication pleasing, Haley.” The Chiny’ll scratched his chin. “Okay, you’re not Bagorian, or allied specie, but I’m pleased, nevertheless. So, you’re clear to make your case.” He moved back to his captain’s chair and sat down.
“I will offer you my services, as an earthling, to accompany the most honorable Prince Trelax—”
“Too much supplication. He’s an idiot,” The Chiny’ll interrupted, shooting Trelax a stern look.
“Very well then, I’ll accompany Trelax, on his ship, back to Earth, and help him to retrieve the missing assassin card. I’ll then see to it that he makes his way back home safely. In exchange I’m allowed to go free.” She knew that if they could agree on the terms, she could depend on him to keep his word. She was bargaining for her life and knew that she had to offer something that would benefit him. He’d be taking a risk by letting her go.
“This intrigues me. You say, you’ll accompany him, help him retrieve the card, and then bring him back to anywhere I agree to?”
“Location within reason, of course.”
“Naturally, only as far as my wives’ home on Bagoria.”
“Oh man,” Trelax muttered under his breath and rolled his eyes.
The Chiny’ll stood from his chair and regarded Haley for a moment. Suddenly he reached into his belt, pulled out his disruptor, and pointed it at Haley’s head.
Trelax suddenly yelled out, “Dad, what are you doing?”
“Negotiating, son, pay attention and learn. Haley, I’d accept with one slight modification. You must complete my son’s assassination mission. You have ten seconds to decide.”
“But if I assassinate someone I’d be wanted on my own planet.”
“Possibly, but if you don’t, you’d have no skin in the game, as you earthlings like to say. This way, I can be sure you’d never speak of the matter to anyone. Ten … nine … eight …”
“Can I say something?” Trelax suddenly offered.
“No!” Haley and The Chiny’ll both shouted at him in unison.
“Consider the offer Haley. Seven … six … five … four …”