Gideon woke at the knock on the door.
He pulled on his pants and tucked in his shirt. “Coming,” he growled.
He opened the door to see Rille in a revealing dress and leaning coquettishly again the door jamb. “Hello,” she said.
“Come back when you want to talk,” Gideon said and swung the door shut.
Rille pounded on the door. “Open up.”
Gideon opened the door again.
Rille pushed past him in a huff and sat on the bed.
Gideon turned, staying next to the door and keeping it open. “I’m sure you’re used to getting your own way,” he said, “particularly in that,” he motioned toward the dress. “But I didn’t come into town to get in between you and Rodgers. I’ve been fool enough with a dress like that in the past to know it comes with strings attached.”
“Why of all the-“
“Our deal’s off, Ms. Harbinger. I’ll return the guns and ammo as soon as you take your leave.”
A quiet moment passed while Rille pushed down her anger and indignation.
“How did you know?” she asked.
Gideon smiled. “I seen your kind before.”
“So has just about everybody. How did you know?”
“Oh, it was a hundred different reasons, some of which are too instinctual to name.”
“It’s the way you carried yourself. The way you ordered that fool clerk around. The way you measured your words. Moorvats are precise, even the second and third gens.”
“But no one knows. You took one look and-”
“It was also your price. A business woman of your status and connections shouldn’t have a problem with getting off the planet. What kind of person could smuggle munitions in, but couldn’t smuggle one person out?”
“And be on the run all my life?”
“They’ve got an M-coder here don’t they?”
“Installed it shortly after I got here. A shield against Moorvats about thirty miles out-of-town in any direction.”
“Any Moorvat passing through gets their skin turned red permanently; a giant ‘Come get me’ sign for bounty hunters, bigots, and fools.”
“Precisely, but an official like yourself can get it turned off for inspection or something.”
“Why didn’t you just blow it up?”
“The device has its own M-coder shield plus a regular force field. I can’t get to it. And I trust no one with my secrets.”
“What about Rodgers? Does he know?”
“I don’t think he does, but it’s definitely hovering on the edge of his mind. He’s seen too many weird things not to suspect something.”
“Well mores the pity. It’s hard to share a life with someone when they won’t share yours.”
Rille balled her fists but didn’t take the bait.
“All right, I’ll gather the guns and bring them back to you within the hour.”
“I don’t want the guns back. I want you to get me out of this two-bit, dung heap of a town.”
“That’s a much taller order than I can provide, Ms. Harbinger.”
“Then keep the guns. I have no use for them anyway.”
Gideon looked thoughtful. “How good are you with a pistol.”
“Better than you, Mr. Wright. You may be a deadeye but I’m better. Genetic engineering would be worthless if it could only make me as good as a sapien. No, they wanted a lot more for me and my abilities.”
“You up for helping me stop a robbery?”
“Will it get me out of this frabscht hole?”
“One way or another.”
“Then I’m in.”
To Be Continued…