Hi folks. We're coming up on the release of Heart's Bounty, so I thought I'd let you get a sneak peek.
This bit is pretty much work-safe.
The man on the other side of the battered door looked as out of place as the sleek metal desk and shiny chairs. He was dressed in core-world corporate fashion, a fine high-collared shirt with a narrow starsilk tabard and colorful sash that matched the stripes in his pants.
“Do come right in.” His voice was pure core too, without any trace of the local accent. Miho didn't like his smile. Too cold and narrow, and it didn't get anywhere near his eyes.
“Are you the one who posted the blue-tag job?” He held up his pocket comp with the downloaded ticket on it. His eyes swept the room, trusting nothing about it or the stranger. Working for new people always set him on edge until he got their measure.
“Yes, Cypec Incorporated. We need a certain gentleman retrieved.” The man sat behind his desk and gestured to the chair across from him. He steepled his fingers and studied Miho. The sharp blue eyes pierced right through him, pinning Miho like a bug. He was fairly certain that Mr. Cypec would have no qualms about doing exactly the same thing. He looked as if he might be the type who stuck large needles into beetles to watch them squirm.
Miho nodded and sat, one leg curled under him to keep him on its edge. “All right. Bail runner, hacker, escapee? What’s the MO?” He ran his hand through his hair once, but stopped himself from doing it twice. Playing with his long hair was a bad nervous habit and a tell. The man saw it and his smile widened, but it still wasn't even in the same sector as his eyes.
“Thief. We need him alive so the little rat can point out the holes he escaped through. Then we seal them and execute him.”
Miho held up his hands. “Look, friend. It's none of my business what you do with him when you get him back, just need to know what kind of chase we're looking at. What's your offer for my services, by the by?” The man was openly telling him they were going to kill his mark. Not a good sign. Too much information meant he had little choice but to take the job.
“It's a big galaxy, Mr. Ashar, and he has the money to hide well. We offer the standard retainer, fuel compensation and a speed bonus if you return him inside of a year.”
Miho blinked at that. “A year.” His mind spun a little. His usual marks might make for a month or two of work. More than three months of pursuit was usually inside work, held for a company man. Only the truly talented or very wealthy could evade capture for so long. “I think I may need some time to consider.” The paranoia that had served him so well told him that this job was danger itself.
The man shrugged. “Certainly. You have the card. There are others interested in the job. Consider, but not for too long.”
Miho nodded and stood. He headed for the door, not enjoying the idea of turning his back on the man. “I'll give you an answer by tomorrow.”
“Splendid.” It didn't sound splendid to Miho. In fact, it sounded as if the man didn’t give a damn if he ever showed his face again.
He made his way down the dingy hallway, hands in his pockets, staring at his feet, thinking. The man was too well dressed for this area of space. The job was too good and Miho knew he’d been told too much to walk away from it. Better to walk away if the man was willing to let him. Surely there were other blue tags available.
That job was a red tag, he could feel it. The taggers would have a field day if they knew a Corp man was running reds as blues. False tagging was a good way to get people killed. Maybe that was the point, gathering together and killing off the non-Corp hunters. There had to be an explanation.