Screaming Metal (Part 024)

Priyanka and crew head into town in search of answers.

The wind of the early evening howled as the open-top, 4-seat aircar jetted into the oncoming night.

Equipped with goggles and commsets they sped toward the village Deshel and Suen had frequented their first few nights on-planet.

Priyanka was hoping to find answers as to why the Alley Cat had come under an attack of such excessive force.

After the explosions, the rest of the day had been quiet. No more exoframes, no more detonations. Nothing had stirred.

The warship just sat. If it hadn't been hovering over the gaping hole in the junkyard, it could have been taken for junk itself.

It was time to go on the offensive, even if it was a quiet one.

"Hope you remember who your friends are, Deshel," Priyanka said. She knew it was a low blow, but that was the mood she was in.

Deshel ignored the slight, keeping his eyes forward as he drove. "They're not friends. We shared a few beers. Didn't get to know them."

"We'll have to rectify that situation, because I'd like to get to know them." Her smile was sardonic.

"What if they recognize us?" Suen piped up.

"I'm counting on it," Priyanka said. "Otherwise we aren't going to get anywhere."

"I mean–"

"What if they've figured out we're junk-mercs?" Priyanka's turned in her seat to face Suen in the back, her gaze pinning the other woman.

Priyanka was matter-of-fact. "We're here on delivery runs, no? Why would the locals believe otherwise?"

It was very likely that the locals knew they weren't just on-planet to make the delivery runs they had been paid for.

There was the off-chance that no one had gotten a really good look at Deshel or Suen and didn't really remember them.

Priyanka wasn't counting on it, but she was hoping that the locals didn't immediately recognize the trio as off-worlders. Surprise was always an edge.

Deshel grimaced. "This is a dangerous game."

Priyanka nodded. "Any more dangerous than getting vaporized by a warship?"

She turned back to Suen. "If it gets dodgy, you rely on your fists before you pull it. I don't want anyone dead."

Priyanka was referring to Suen's "buzzkill," an extendable shock truncheon used as deterrent in bars across the galaxy

Though easy to obtain, it held a quasilegal status in some systems because it could be modified and enhanced via a powerchip swap.

Off the shelf, it delivered an effective shock that knocked the liquor buzz off foolish belligerents.

Modified it could deliver a pinpoint shock strong enough to break an arm or a leg… or a neck.

Suen appeared to ignore Priyanka's words by staring off into the night. But Priyanka knew she had been heard.

They shot into a village called Denderhen—population: just under 8,000, mostly folks working co-op farms or the lone cannery in town.

It was late by local standards. The streets were mostly pedestrian-free, and the lights in many of the wooden homes centered around the hearth.

It was idyllic in a way, and Priyanka didn't begrudge these folks their way of life. She understood their desire to be left alone.

What she didn't take kindly to, however, was being shot at.

The junk-mercs proceeded slowly through the village, passing sleepy homes and closed businesses, one after another.

Eventually they reached the far side of town, where sat a brightly lighted tavern with only a single vehicle.

"Here." Priyanka indicated to pull over.

Deshel shook his head. "This isn't the place where I heard the… whatever it was. The noise."

"No, but I want to get a feel for these people first, if possible."

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Screaming Metal (Part 024)
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