Cosmic Caper – Part Four
The four impostor U.L.E. agents gazed through smooth featureless black helmets at their lavish surroundings. Transparent walls stretched up two stories, before curving inwards to meet in the center of the ceiling. They could see stars, the anomaly, and the frozen blue glow of Tesup-4 in the distance. The Marbleen stone floor shone with a brilliant green finish. Islands of colorful plant life and artificial waterfalls added an extra layer of decadence to the room.
Deilan whistled, “Whew… fancy digs for a cargo freighter…”
“I guess this is what happens when 99.9% of a planet’s wealth is held by 2% of the population,” added Jorwei.
Cabby had wandered over to inspect a plant covered in large pink and blue polka dot flowers. Jorwei gawked as the Vegemin slid off his helmet, snatched up a flower, and ate it.
“Dude! Are you kidding me right now?!”
“Don’t feel bad,” Cabby responded, “Begonians are dumb spore brains.”
“Keep your hat on,” Jorwei hissed.
Cabby shoved his helmet back on just as the door on the opposite wall slid open, allowing a half dozen Ochreans to enter. They were humanoid from the neck down; skin tones ranging from tangerine to burnt orange. Wide, strong jaw lines rested below a face with no nose. If one didn’t know any better, one could have mistaken their right eyes for scars; seeing as they resembled narrow vertical slits. Ears similar to fish fins pressed against the sides of their heads. The two in front wore the business fashion du jour; mandarin collared shirts and suit jackets that fastened at seams along the left side of the torso. The Ochrean on the right wore a green suit with a horizontal orange pinstripe. The one on the left sported a shimmering hue of silver. The other four wore brown body armor and held fusion autoshots. The menagerie began to approach, and Deilan ordered, “Let me handle this.”
The U.L.E. ‘agents’ and the six Ochreans met in center of the room. The four Ochrean guards hung back, while the two executives stepped forward.
The one in the silver suit spoke, “My name is Raajo Ruun. I am the Head Steward of this vessel. What business do you have waylaying us in such a manner?”
Deilan crossed his arms, “Listen here, Raajo. You’re talking to an officer of the Universal Law Enforcement agency. We got reports of fugitives hopping rides at the Mishinyo Rift waystation. You just came from Mishinyo, didn’t you?”
Raajo scoffed, “I assure you there are no criminals aboard this vessel.”
“You’re sure, huh? We still need to search the ship.”
“Unacceptable. I am a tenured member of the Ochrean Merchants Guild. I don’t have time for these trifling matters. ”
“You see this?” Deilan pointed to the U.L.E. logo on his chest, “Universal. Law. Enforcement. That means if I say we need to search the ship, we search the ship.”
Jorwei jumped in, “I assure you, sir, we will not be long. Our database has the schematics for Class 7 Freight Liners such as this one. We’ve identified only four viable stowaway locations.”
Deilan snatched back the conversational reigns, “You see? Cooperate and we’ll be outta here real quick. Keep dungmouthing me, and I’ll have to file a non-compliance report with the Coalition.”
Raajo sneered, “That would require both of us to undergo an activity audit. Do you really want to subject yourself to such a bureaucratic boondoggle?”
Deilan leaned in, “Do you?”
Raajo glanced to his green suited associated and nodded. He returned the nod, and then headed back the way they’d come. Three of the guards followed him as he exited the lobby. Raajo smiled at Deilan, “Please follow me.”
Raajo led them down a corridor and into an extravagant reception lounge. Plush couches surrounded tables that had apparently been carved from giant gemstones. Luminescent plants resided in golden vases. Standing in the center of the room were two Ochrean women. Unlike their male counterparts, the right eyes of Ochrean females took on the same humanoid oval shapes as their left ones. Silky green hair fell loosely past their shoulders. Each woman held a tray laden with glasses of bright yellow liquid.
Raajo smiled and held a hand out towards the women, “Allow me to apologize for my inhospitable behavior. You are only serving your purpose in an attempt to keep our universe safe. This is our planet’s finest distilled Kavdo. Won’t you please indulge me with a quick drink?”
Before Jorwei could even begin to object, Deilan slid off his helmet and ran a hand through his hair, “Now that’s more like it, Raajo.”
Raajo took two glasses from a tray and handed one to Deilan. He then nodded towards the other agents, “Won’t your colleagues join us?”
Deilan barked, “C’mon you squibs. Just cause we’re on duty doesn’t mean we have to be rude to the man!”
Syl and Cabby turned their heads to Jorwei. After hesitating for a moment, Jorwei set his rifle down and removed his helmet. Syl and Cabby followed suit, and the three of them accepted glasses from the tray. Raajo held his up, “To Law and Commerce. May they thrive in each other’s embrace.”
The “agents” raised their glasses in kind, and the five of them downed the yellow liquor.
“Woooo,” hollered Deilan, “That is some good brain gravy, Raajo.”
Raajo smiled and replaced his empty glass with a full one, “I’m glad you like it.”
The door behind them burst open and a dozen guards rushed in, encircling the ‘agents’ before they could register what was happening. The guards closed in, stripping Jorwei and the crew of their weapons.
Raajo smirked as he swirled the Kavdo in his glass, “Now, why don’t you tell me who you all really are?”
next: Cosmic Caper – Part Five
previous: Cosmic Caper – Part Three
all chapters: Cosmic Caper
more by PATRICK EDWARDS
photograph by tsuneomp