2010.03.14 "Where's the fun in that?"

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"Where's the fun in that?"

I stop trying to find any survivors from the killing scene 250 meters away. Anyone stealthy enough to have avoided my gaze this long, and smart enough to not expose themselves to my sniping filament rifle by trying futilely to render aid to fallen companions... well, that zarker is gone. Rising as slowly as I'm expected to be capable of, I turn my red squinty gaze blankly to the abnormally-large Felinid gnashing its teeth beside me.

His wild, tawny eyes fail to see me. "You could have at least let one of them get closer. Close enough to tangle!"

"My instructions did not include providing you entertainment."

The Felinid shows me his fangs. "You weren't told to hog all the fun either."

There was a time when it wouldn't have even occurred to me not to bare my fangs back. Now I have to fight down a smirk, to avoid goading the proud young professional ass-kicker into doing something unseemly.

"I dunno. Seemed pretty fuckin' beautiful to me." The voice of the old Hylosus rattles even more than mine, and I'm pretty sure he never had his throat torn out. His voice is thick with authority; when he talks you can almost hear the fact that he's usually got a pair of NST429 blasters clutched in his fists.

"What's so pretty about watching a handful of idiots panicking and dying?"

The big man's jowl heaves to the side as he does his combination smirk/sneer. "First, those weren't no idiots - I knew that crew. Three of those big bastards were some no-shit badasses, and I don't like to think about how much pain they could have caused if they had got in range."

The cat bridles.

"Not that we wouldn't have laid some hurt if they came within our reach. It just would have been an unsure thing, if you get my meaning. But that's not the beautiful part, because it might have been somewhat badass to mix that shit up and feel all alive and shit - if we lived. No, what's beautiful is that our spiney sniper here, pissed off those bastards, to lure them out into a trap." The bloodshot eyes of the Hylosus are weighing heavy on the Felinid, maybe seeing if he'll fill in the blank. He doesn't. "The wimpy support lackey got it first. Like killing their mascot or some shit. And left the sharp shooter scout long enough to get a bead on our direction, and even let the weasel wing him with the laser to get their hopes up."

The Felinid looks utterly confused now, and swivels his head at me. "You let the rodent hit you?"

I arch one spiney brow. "He wasn't an assassin; he wasn't going to kill me with one shot."

"Exactly. When he shot the Takolee, the Grotens were already charging. It took them a moment to realize their long-range combatant was down, and by then another one of them was down too. The pause for the rage to wear off showed them how far from cover they had come, and how impossibly far they had to go to get within range with their pistols. The last two tried to retreat. The faster one died first. The slow one died last."

The cat looked like it had swallowed a sour vegetable. "So, not only did I get to have no fun, you're saying that couldn't appreciate what was going on. Great."

"Don't worry, young-un. Sooner or later, we'll find ourselves jumped in close range. Then you can show us what you're made of, and maybe I'll be able to explain it to silent-rifle-boy here what exactly you did."

The Felinid smiles at that. And I try to twist an innocent bend of a grin. Judging from the knowing twinkle in those bloodshot Hylosus eyes, I have doubts about how effective it is.

I should have known better than to sign on with a slave trader who doesn't use slaves.