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Last Resort, Part 8 – Astra Nullius

Last Resort, Part 7 – Astra Nullius
Last Resort, Part 9 – Astra Nullius


Another week passed, and nobody died. Weyland found this surprising.

He was sure that the crew was being followed now, and he thought he recognized one of their pursuers. He had shaved his beard since the last time Weyland had seen him, but once in an unguarded moment he’d rolled his long sleeves up to try to relieve the sun’s relentless heat, and Weyland had seen that his arms were covered in tattoos of flowers. He’d been Buddy’s second in command, the one who’d arranged to have the crew transport a shipment of concealed artwork. Weyland hadn’t fully understood the concept of art then, and he was still working on his grasp of it now, but he knew that Captain Dysart had given away something immensely valuable.

He had tried to explain his observations to Sera, but he’d only gotten as far as, “I think someone’s trying to kill you.”

She had brushed it off with, “Yeah, they can take a number.” Weyland wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, but she seemed almost as distracted as Jianyu these days, so he let her be, and he kept watching her back.

Their pursuers had gotten canny, but the island they were on was so small that there were few places to hide. Weyland was a small man, easy to overlook in a crowd, and he’d spent his whole life practicing the art of being overlooked. It only took a few days of observation to figure out that they liked to meet at a certain bar, and the day after that, he found a corner where he could sit and turn his face away while he watched them in the reflection of a conveniently placed mirror. He arrived in time to sit down and order a drink, something huge and tropical so he wouldn’t look out of place.

Flowers, the blonde man, got there first. He found a table, conveniently close to Weyland, and sat with his back facing the wall. First he looked around the bar, and Weyland had to look down at his drink to keep his face concealed. After a few minutes he relaxed and rolled his sleeves up to his elbows, and Weyland was free to study him. He had a new scar on his face, above his right eyebrow. It wasn’t fresh enough to bleed, but it was still bright red. Hypertrophic, Weyland thought, and he wasn’t doing much to treat it cosmetically.

The Minervan woman came in next. Weyland hadn’t seen her much since their unexpected chat. She wasn’t alone this time. She had her arm hooked around another woman’s, one Weyland hadn’t seen before, with delicate features and bright blue hair. This one looked human at first too, but her hair was cut short at the back, and the lump at the base of her skull showed through the stubble.

They might have their arms linked, but Weyland didn’t think they were friends. The brown-haired Minervan was scowling, pulling the other along as she walked. The blue-haired Minervan was looking at the ground, her expression closed off. Halfway across the room she stumbled over her own feet, and her companion yanked her forward with a jerk that almost made her fall.

Weyland watched them in the mirror as they found their spots at the table. The brown-haired woman sprawled in her chair, one arm thrown over the seat back. The blue-haired one sat with her shoulders turning inward and her eyes fixed on the tabletop. When the first woman spoke, Weyland missed part of what she was saying, but he caught, “I’m tired of getting stuck with babysitting duty. You should take a turn.”

Flowers said, “I wasn’t the one who almost tipped them off. You need lay low.”

“Connor’s not laying low,” she said. “He’s laying something else, if you know what I mean.”

Flowers sat back in chair and folded his colorful arms across his chest. The angle of the mirror meant that Weyland couldn’t see his face. During the tense silence, he studied the woman who hadn’t spoken yet. Even in the low light of the bar, he could tell that she had delicate features: a snub nose, a little rosebud of a mouth. She was dressed like the other two, in drab and durable clothing, but she didn’t have a vest and her white shirt looked cleaner. Her blue hair was parted in the middle and longer in the front, coming down to two points framing her sharp chin. She brushed one side back behind her ear, and something metallic on her temple caught the light.

“Is Connor even coming?” the brunette asked at last.

“He’s occupied tonight,” said Flowers.

“This whole thing is stupid,” she said. “I think it’s time to–” She didn’t finish her thought in words, but straightened her thumb and index finger in a gesture Weyland didn’t recognize at first. When she poked the blue-haired woman’s ear, and that woman flinched and shrank away from her, he realized that she was imitating holding a gun to her head.

“Not yet,” said Flowers.

The woman jerked her hand up to point at the ceiling, mimicking the kickback of a plasma pistol. Her target was trembling.

“No,” said Flowers. “I told you, I don’t kill kids.”

Weyland didn’t see any children. Both of the women looked the same age to him, maybe in their late twenties, although Weyland wasn’t good at estimating.

The brunette jerked forward, reaching for the other woman’s head. She recoiled, slamming one elbow into the table with a painful-sounding thud, but her tormentor only mussed her hair. “You do whatever Buddy tells you to do,” she said.

Weyland pulled out his com screen to send a message to the rest of the crew. He wrote out the name of the bar, then hesitated, trying to figure out how to explain the situation. Someone’s in trouble, he typed.

“Let’s just finish this up quickly,” the brunette was saying. “I think that little creep suspects something. You didn’t hear the way he talked, Flowers. He pretty much threatened to kill me.”

“Poor you,” said Flowers. He sounded unconcerned.

Get here fast, Weyland added to his message, and sent it.

Just a few second later, his screen chimed with an incoming message. This one was from the captain: Meet me at the beach. Bring weapons if you have them.

The brown-haired woman must glanced over the sound of the alert. When Weyland looked up, she was staring straight at him, and already beginning to rise from her chair.

Last Resort, Part 7 – Astra Nullius
Last Resort, Part 9 – Astra Nullius

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