Jammie did not get to feel good for a very long because as soon as she walked back to the Promenade, her comm rang.
“Kid, you don’t come back fast with the fibs, I might just have to shut Old Betzy down,” her boss groaned with a genuine trepidation in his voice.
But Jammie was out of breath and almost out of politeness. “Mr. Lockman, I’m heading to the Starlight Antiquities right now because they did not have it at the Storage. But… Can’t you at least call them to know if they have them? So we do not waste any time, I mean.”
“I mean, if I knew the Depo did not have it, I would not even need to wasted time going there. There are such things as communicators here, no?” She was rude, she knew. But if time was scarce, let’s not waste it on being stupid.
“You’re right. You’re right. Why didn’t I think about that?”
Did that sound sarcastic?
“Oh… Yeah… the old goat does not like using them, so little good would it do trying to call him. It would just upset him, and then that would be the last of our chance to get fibs even if he has them. Don't you know what kind of bad tempre he has?”
It's either sarcastic, or just plain crazy. So, let's just hope he's trying to be sarcastic.
“So you better hurry. I do not know what’s going to happen if I try to shut Old Betzy down. But whatever it will be, won’t be good for either you or me. So, better hurry.”
Why not shut it down right now? Better than waiting for it to blow up. Certainly, it can't be that hard to restart it.
“I don’t want to go explaining to High-Ups why suddenly everyone and everything started to float around, do you? Do you know how much that would cost us? And you know who would be paying for it, don’t you?”
“Yes, Mr. Lockman. I’m running now as we speak. I’ll be there in a matter of sixty seconds if my comm is right, and I’ll let you know right away.”
None of it was making any sense to Jammie. Not having spare parts that seem essential, net not working, people not using comms, need to run so things can be done on time? Crazy. The station from hell. But what else was there to do but to obey and do what was asked of her? It was her first day on her job after all.
As Jammie was passing next to the Thirty-First gate, there were suddenly a lot of people around her, and she had to break from her run. Most of them seemed to be as confused as she was when she just came, and she almost felt sorry for them.
Almost, because suddenly one of them shoved her from behind. Maybe an accidental bump. But then it happened again. Harder. She was ready to turn. But then someone from behin drove something dull right between her shoulder plates.
She started to turn around to protest, but a strong hand grabbed her shoulder and a threatening voice right behind her neck said, "Don't turn around! I've got a gun to your back. And my finger is very twitchy."
"I-" Jammie started to talk, but the man's hand around her shoulder suddenly moved around her throat.
"Not a sound. Or you're dead," the disgusting hissing voice said and froze her blood. Move to the right, the alley there, and you will be fine."
She instinctively let the man push her to the small alley but then a fearful thought hit her and her step froze. What if this is the end of me? What will happen to my parents?
The assaulter instantly felt her resistance. "You resist me, and I'll blow you away."
The assailant's breath reeked of alcohol and rotten onions or was it a brew distilled from the rotten onion and other veggies.
She tried to look around and call the attention of the strangers, but everyone seemed busy going their own ways. There was a huge Stonian there, and she knew from books how benevolent they were, and she tried calling him with her begging eyes and opened mouth to call, but... the Stonian did not look her way, and, and her mouth could not produce a word.
"Just move, nice and easy, or I'll blast you so quietly that nobody would hear a thing. And trust me, they do not care about another dead outside here on the station."
She got a glimpse of his hand. Very hairy. Too hairy for a human. What kind of creatures had such hair? A million thoughts ran through her head. Maybe if she remembered what specie attacked her, she could figure out how to deal with it.
"Yes, nice and slow, behind that tree, and we'll be done before we know it.
What did the creature want from her? Was this a robbery? Could it be that they were after the fibs?
"I have nothing you need. I have nothing of value to you. I just came here," she said in a trembling and distressed voice that rouse enough so that a young Mith who was passing them by could hear her and understand that she was under the attack. But a young MIth did not even slow down or even turn his head to acknowledge her.
"You are wasting your time. I wrapped you with an invisibility cloak. Nobody can see you. So keep your voice down. Not a single word from you anymore."
That's why everything seems blurry.
She turned around just a bit to see that the creature had a hood on, but before she could see his eyes, he nudged her forward.
Helplessly she let him take her further off the Promenade, and then to some side street, to some deserted ally there, behind some tech shop.
Could this be a kidnapping? Or could this be someone who hates people from the Union? Maybe they think I'm rich or something.
"I'm nobody. You don't want me. I'm void poor."
His hand around her neck tightened hard, his other hand pressing the weapon against her ribs.
“Give it to me now!” he demanded.
“I have nothing of value,” she insisted.
“You stupid, tourist. Better give me your comm and your paycard. Now!”
No! Might as well die!
“And whatever else they gave you at the Depo.”
So I was being trailed? For how long?
“I have nothing!” she protested.
“I’ll take it off your dead body then,” he said and squeezed her throat so she could not even breathe anymore.
She was going to die. Might as well. If she loses her comm and her paycard and her job, might as well be dead. The pressure on her throat intensified and the light started to go out.
“I don’t even need to use a bullet on likes of you. Or maybe I’ll push you in that corner there and have my way with you first. Always wanted to fuck a human girl like you.”
The beast sounded so disgusting she suddenly wished she would blackout and forget about everything that was happening.
The shove came and then the loud crack, right behind her, and she went down to the gray pavement.
It took a moment for her to realize that the assaulter's hand was not any longer at her throat, that she was breathing again, and that there was someone else standing above her, offering her his hand.
“Tirish scum. They come here to steal,” said a young Mith, maybe a few years older than her. First, she noticed about him were his green eyes, a skinny unshaved face, and a scar above his left eye.
Then she realized how humanoid he was, how he was not a full Mith, a half bread. Her eyes widened.
“Are you okay?” he asked as she seemed unable to speak or get up.
She turned around and saw her assailant spread on the floor, obviously unconscious as her helper held a large crowbar in his left hand.
“I work at the Morse Prime Techies Shop. I saw what happened."
"When you passed me by, I thought-"
"Oh, I did see you. His cloak was not wrapped around you so good. But I thought I better sneak at him from behind. Sorry I could not help you sooner,” he said, almost apologizing. “I gave him a good smack though. Hope I did not kill him. Not that anyone would care, but the Council does not like the statistics to go bad. You know, they would like the whole universe to think it’s quite safe here.” The young man kept talking and Jammie was just fine with that as she needed time to pull herself together.
“I’m sorry again this happens to you.”
“That’s okay. Thank you, thank you so very much,” she was finally able to say.
“Are you… from the Union?” the man said, suddenly surprised. “I mean, your accent.”
“Yeah, but I work at the Maintenance-”
“Oh, you’re the new one. I heard you were coming. I mean, Lucky is my mother’s cousin,” he explained.
“I see. Well, your mother's cousin has me running around. We need to fix Old Beatzy up really fast.”
“Well, then you better hurry.”
“I know. I’m late already.”
“Well, you better go then. Just… Don’t splash that fancy comm in front of new arrivals, and you will be fine.”
“Good advice, thank you.” Just, tell me how do I know who the new arrivals are?
“If you need to run, just go. The security has already been called. I have the video of the whole thing. You don’t need to worry about that asshole anymore.”
“Thank you,” Jammie said, still rubbing her soaring neck and throat, and started to walk away.
She turned around once to wave back. Her savior was still standing there, looking at her and smiling.
Only later, after running for ten gates or so, she remembered she did not even know the guy's name.