- Author: John Hartness
Book online «Have Spacecat, Will Travel: And Other Tails John Hartness (reading cloud ebooks TXT) 📖». Author John Hartness
Have Spacecat, Will TravelAnd other tails
john G. hartness
1. Have Spacecat, Will Travel
2. Sunset Song
3. Fair Play
4. The Medical Transcriptionist becomes Lost (and found) in her work
5. Don’t Stop Believing
6. Foxglove’s Henna Worshipper
7. On A Hill Far Away
8. Of My Understanding
12. Beer Goggles
13. Dance in the Graveyard
14. Death of a Small-Town Sports Hero
15. Walk the Dinosaur
16. Chelsea (for Gina)
17. Knight of the Green
18. Dancing with Fireflies
19. The Christmas Lights
20. Red Dirt Boy
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Thank you to everyone who has ever taken a chance on my writing, readers, editors, and publishers.
Have Spacecat, Will Travel
A Salvage Universe Short Story
Bek’ah popped open the hatch and flowed out onto the metal grating. The ship’s engines pulsed along contentedly as a kit some fifty feet below the maintenance catwalk where she lay stretching and massaging her cramped leg muscles. Just because a being could fit into a space didn’t necessarily mean that she should contort herself into that space. But she was alive.
Alive, and if the sensations she’d experienced while crammed into the odd storage compartment were any indication, at least one Gate jump away from Tideb, her home planet. Away from Tideb, and away from the Gods-forsaken Gritloth Salvage and Trading Company reps. Salvage and Trading Company her fuzzy tail. Those bilge-sucking lizards were nothing more than slavers, pure and simple.
Whatever, at least she was out of that frying pan. Now to see exactly what kind of fire she’d hopped into on this little beauty.
She picked the hauler out of the Tideb Prime Spaceport for two reasons: it had the earliest departure berth and no guards. That told Bek’ah that either it wasn’t carrying anything worth guarding, or the crew felt like they could take care of themselves. So either they were supremely arrogant, or supremely broke. She could deal with either one, honestly, but she was kinda hoping for arrogant. If they were broke, the chances of them getting out of range of the Gritloth was pretty slim.
She took a good look around the engine room. One primary pulse engine, with a pair of directional thrusters and a small emergency backup engine with a separate battery power source. Smart setup, kept them from floating dead in space if something went sideways. The engine room looked clean and tight beneath her, and even the maintenance catwalk she was on was spotless.
As she glanced around, she heard the whoosh of a door opening and closing, followed by the iridescent purple shell of a three-foot long beetle-shaped being walking into the room. The Smilp stood on two legs, its antennae waving wildly in the air. Crap, Bek’ah thought. The Smilp’s antennae were famously sensitive to scents, and after spending three days running from the Gritloth back home, then most of a day curled up in a space not much bigger than a cubic meter, she knew she was fragrant.
Sure enough, the waving antennae stiffened, and the Smilp looked straight up at the catwalk. “Come down right now and we will not immediately space you. Make us come up there after you and we make no such promises.” The door whooshed open again, and three more Smilp in a rainbow of colors scurried in, two of them aiming laser rifles at her.
Bek’ah was fairly certain they wouldn’t open fire in the engine room, but she didn’t feel like chancing it. Besides, if she went down to the floor, at least she could stand up. So she belly-crawled the length of the catwalk, spun herself around, and lowered her lithe body down to the engine room floor, placing her hands on the sides of the ladder and sliding the last twenty feet. She spun around to face the purple Smilp and gave him a grand bow.
“Silvertooth Shortwhiskers, at your service. Please convey me to your captain so that I may thank them for the kindness of the accommodations.” The name was not only ridiculous, but also fake.
Never having seen a Smilp before, she had no idea if the being smiled at her attempt at humor. But she completely understood the flash of blue light from the muzzle of the nearest laser rifle, and had just enough time to think Well, crap before the stun bolt slammed into her and knocked her, unconscious, to the deck.
She woke in a small room, with a pounding headache. Well, what did you expect, Bek’ah? A red carpet and a bowl of milk? The room was spartan, but furnished, obviously someone’s cabin. All personal effects were gone, but there were a few magnetic picture hangers mounted to the wall, and the small shelf beside the door had several clearer spots in the dust where objects usually sat. A quick look around revealed the bunk she was on, a narrow bed with a basic mattress, pillow, and linens, all designed to flip back up into the cabin wall when not in use. The desk had a chair, but the surface was bare and the drawers empty. There was a bookcase, but it was similarly empty. Either whoever lived her was a monk, or they’d cleared it out in a hurry.
Well, maybe not in a hurry. The more she moved around, the more stiffness she found in her arms and legs. She couldn’t tell how long she’d been out, but it certainly felt a lot longer than normal from a stunner. That reminded her…
“Hey!” she called to the door. “You wanna let me hit the head? I was curled up in that storage compartment for hours, then you knocked me out. I could really use a lavatory!” There was a scuffing of feet from outside the door, and Bek’ah pricked up her ears, swiveling them around to catch any conversation. She could hear two voices arguing, but the words were indiscernible.
After a few seconds and a