The moment the ship “leveled off” Liishi was out of the seat, patting herself down to make sure everything was still intact. She was aware of W.B. nearby leisurely unbuckling the restraints and standing to stretch.
The bov, Hobbs, passed a moment later on the way to the command center. He made some comment to W.B. about weapons, but Liishi paid it no attention. She was already heading back toward the cargo area, the only place in the ship with ample floor space larger than a one-meter-wide corridor to pace, to . . . think.
She worked her way down the passageway, flinching at too low ductwork and various ship parts protruding into the narrow lane. Braining herself less than half a dozen times between the emergency seats and the cargo hold would be a blessing, she thought as she ducked a bundle of loose wiring. How anyone could work in such a cramped environment, she’d never know. Yet, amazingly, she found the cargo hold with only a battered knuckle to show for it.
Stacks of crates were shoved against the walls, held in place by flight straps or netting. Most of the boxes were unmarked though a few had PARTS scrawled on them at about a meter and a half height. The lizard in the hot suit, Liishi figured. She stalked past the crates and boxes and the lockers that W.B. had hastily clamped down before the sudden departure. A glance at the locks told her they hadn’t been disturbed. She wound her way into a space that had been marked off, possibly as an exercise area. A small part of her wanted to dig through storage lockers to confirm the suspicion (since she had no more to go on than a large square painted in black line) but she shook it off.
Some other time, she told herself.
The engines were louder back here. Their vibration rattling the ship, her teeth. Crates groaned. Retaining straps creaked. Ventilation pipes popped and hissed.
Fists clenched, Liishi started pacing the deck. She and W.B. were going into Bov space to meet a ship and pick up a package, then get back to Feyeed Alliance space and take said package to Markham, her handler. They would get paid the remainder owed and be on their way.
Why was someone gunning for her on some backwater jungle world?
She didn’t have any enemies there, as far as she knew. Trayburn would have warned her otherwise. He was as close to the center of information there as she could find. W.B. hadn’t turned anything up, and despite his being rather hair-brained at times, his responsibility was tracking down old grudges and making sure she steered clear. A job he took quite seriously and had never failed.
Maybe they were actually after him? He had caused the end of more than one military career during the war. Had also put several people in the hospital (or morgue) while operating with her since then.
But the flashily dressed zeb had said, “There she is!” and seemed entirely focused on her demise. She stopped pacing and stretched her arms behind her, spun on one foot, then dropped into a fighting stance, rolling her shoulders to loosen up.
She threw a couple of shadow punches, took two steps forward and threw herself into a back flip. Her boots thunked the plates of the hold floor, the ringing causing her ears to twitch. She kicked the boots off and spread her toes. She didn’t bother extending her claws; they would find no purchase and would likely break. No sense in that.
A short breathing and movement routine later, the sounds of the ship began to fade. She closed her eyes and focused inwardly, blocking away the rumble of the engines, the shifting of crates and thump of boots on the deck plates . . . .