“Oh, this is so much faster than the hover,” Liishi groused, then sniffed the air, thick with the odor of decayed vegetable matter mixed with dirt, lizard droppings, and some other acrid scent she couldn’t place. “And so much more pleasant smelling, too.”
The porter rotated his eyes back toward her and whispered, “Tannery nearby. Draft animals don’t do their jobs, that’s where they wind up.” He flashed a mouth full of very pointy teeth and shook the reins.
The lizard groaned in protest, slapped its over-sized clawed feet on the packed dirt road, and lumbered forward a few feet then stopped. The porter half-stood in his seat to peer over the back of the beast then glanced at Liishi, ducking his head in apology. “Road block ahead. Looks like construction on new pedestrian bridge. Several vehicles backed up here.” He cocked his head to one side then added: “Not in the route guides for this week.”
Liishi glanced at W.B., ears twitching.
W.B. nodded slowly and slipped a pistol from his jacket into one over-sized hand, the weapon practically disappearing from sight. “Go down the alley to your right,” he muttered to the porter.
The porter’s eyes rotated that direction though his head didn’t move. He clicked a couple of times in irritation then said, “Not sure Izzy can go down there. We try though.” He flicked the reins that way and the lizard, after a couple of false starts, turned toward the side alley and squeezed into the opening.
A pile of crates blocking the way were trampled, splinters flying. An open back door to a shop was slammed into the wall, the shop owner stepping out after they’d gone by, his cries of indignation following them. They cut across two other streets heading toward the starport before several quin blocked their path.
The quin in front was big, dun-colored. A streak of yellow jagged his dark mane. “You not supposed to be here with that thing,” he commented, gesturing at the other three behind him, and they spread across the opening onto the main street beyond the alley. “You stick to the big streets. This area belongs to us.”
The porter’s eyes rolled and he flashed those sharp teeth again in a nervous chuckle. “So sorry.Mainis closed for construction. Not on guide books this week.” His eyes flicked from one quin to the other.
Liishi and W/B. both sat back in their seats, looking as though they didn’t care about the interruption. She saw the four quin before them but also noted the fire escapes overhead hid at least half a dozen others who had arrived moments after their PM had stopped. Several were breathing hard.
This was more than a gang protecting its turf, she realized, then wondered what else was going on.