She opened her eyes to see Tariq stomping toward her, brow ridge drawn low over his eyes though he did appear slightly distracted. She drew herself to her full height (which, she noticed, brought her to the captain’s shoulder) and dropped her hands to her sides, fingers flexed, while shifting her weight imperceptibly to the balls of her feet. Just in case she had to move fast.
Knozrus were notorious for breaking things and asking questions later. And it wasn’t entirely unheard of for a ship’s captain to toss recalcitrant passengers out the airlock. What crew would argue the point? Besides, Liishi really didn’t want to learn how to suck vacuum.
“Did you need something, Captain?” She asked, trying to gauge how far it was to the nearest wall or stack of crates. Behind him. No sense moving backward if he was coming this way. As he approached, she did notice he’d shifted his holster toward his backside, out of easy draw range. This gave her a sign of hope.
“What?” Tariq muttered, glancing up at her as though he’d forgotten why he was there. “Sorry, lost in thought.” His upper lip pulled back in a snarl; then, his face relaxed and he shook his head. “A couple of things: haveHobbsshow you to your quarters when you’re ready. He’ll also store anything you need kept in storage.”
“Thank you, Captain,” she replied.
He paused as if deciding what to say next.
This is it, Liishi thought, mentally going through the motions to propel herself past Tariq, onto the crates marked Galley, then out the door. Maybe she’d get a shot in on her way past. She knew the bov was somewhere on the other side of the cargo hold as well. She’s picked up his scent right after she’d entered earlier.
“Do you want to tell me why that zeb and his friends were chasing you and shooting up my ship?” No spitting. No growling. No vindictive accusations. No stomping her into the deck plates. Nothing any normal Knoz male would do.
She arched one brow and shifted her stance again, relaxing slightly. Maybe she wasn’t going out the lock, after all. She exhaled a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. “Honestly, I don’t know who was chasing us. Or why.”
He harrumphed and balled up his fists, planting them on his hips, lost in thought again.
“Believe me or not,” she added. “Your call.” And then, the small part of her that liked poking others, the side of her that W.B. always said would get her into serious trouble one day, prompted her: “Are we still on course for Bov space? Or do I need to make other arrangements?”
Tariq took a slow breath, pivoted on his mechanical leg, and focused his good eye on her. “A couple of hours until we arrive,” he said, continuing the pivot until he faced the exit to the interior of the ship. “SeeHobbswhen you’re ready.” And with that he stomped back up the stairs and out the door.
W.B. poked his head around a stack of crates after Tariq had left “You and the captain have a good dance?” He smiled.
“Ha ha,” Liishi growled. “You should take that act to Nuvega. Maybe they’ll like it so much they’ll throw money at you.”
W.B. kept his smile fixed as he leaned back against an uncluttered expanse of wall. “I spoke withHobbsa moment ago. Seems our room is next to the weasels.”
Great, the stench will take weeks to get cleaned out of her clothing. She shook her head and slipped her boots back on.
“Nearest the command center,” her partner added.
“Hey, wonderful. When an asteroid hits us we’ll be almost the first to know.”
“If an asteroid hits us, it probably won’t matter who knows first,” W.B. replied as he gestured for her to precede him out the door. “Any idea who the zeb was?”
She shrugged as she ducked past crates leading from the hold. “Beats me. They’re all crazy. Let’s check in withHobbsthen find out when we eat around here.”