The moonbase security services were less than effusive that we had done their job for them. They were asking a lot of questions about the licensing of Moonbug, she’s no-body’s fool. I, on the other hand am everybody’s fool, and it was becoming pretty clear that “I won her in a poker game” was not going to cut it when it came to the licensing of my fairy.
“Come on, Son. Either you’ve got the right papers or she’ll have to be put down. Simple at that I’m afraid.”
“You can’t do that…” I began. Blagging it had always been one of my skills, but on this occasion I was, admittedly, struggling.
“Don’t say another word.” A smart woman in a pant suit strode into the room. “You’ve been talking to my client without representation? Totally unacceptable. Come on,” she turned to me. “We’re leaving.” I did not need to be told twice. I moved like a rocket to the door.
“Wait, there’s still the matter of the unlicensed fairy.”
“He doesn’t need a license, he’s in a protected profession. He’s a bounty hunter, on my team.” The woman placed a business chip on the desk and raised her eyebrows daring the men to defy her. They did not.
“Alright, you’re free to go.”
“Not without my fairy.”
“She’ll be released to you at checkout.”
“Wow, thanks,” I said to the woman as we rounded the corridor heading for checkout. “I did not know that a bounty hunter was a protected profession.”
“There’s lots you don’t know, but you’re going to have to learn fast.”
When we arrived at checkout the fairy was chained to the wall by her neck, much the way they chained bears on old Earth, when they would beat them and make them do tricks.
The woman who was with me still was visibly distressed and started pulling at her clothes as if they were the reason this had happened. I was angry.
“Unchain her at once!” I screamed at the man behind the desk.
“She ain’t getting unchained in here,” he said flatly. “I’ll give you the keys you can unchain her when you get outside. You just gotta unhook it from there.” He indicated that the end of the chain was hanging from a hook, just too high to reach.
The woman leapt in the air and unhooked the chain in one move. The fairy could not look at her from what appeared to me to be terror.
“Come on, let’s go.” She said, holding the very end of the chain, like if she got any closer she would catch something. Maybe she was a recovering dust addict.
“Keys?” I demanded of the guard, who handed them over.
“I’m here,” the woman said indicating a huge hover craft which obviously doubled as her office. She opened the door. “Get those chains off her.” As she stepped inside she started to cry. Clearly the strain of holding it together had been too much for her.
Quickly I unchained the fairy and as I turned to ask how she was she ran past me and into the van.
“June, are you OK? That was so brave, you shouldn’t have done it!” She threw her arms around the woman. Clearly I’d missed some sort of woman bond thing. Not having my own gender did make me a bit clueless.
“I’m sorry it took me so long.” The woman, June, cupped the fairy’s face in her hands. “I was tracking the rhinos, how’d you end up with this guy?”
“He won me in a poker game.” The fairy looked across at me and smiled.
“I bet he did. Jackpot. What’s he done with you since?”
I could sense the woman was becoming angry, imagining I had created some sort of sex slave.
“Mostly we played chess,” I said. “So, um, if you’re happy here I will leave you to it and get back to my ship.”
“You can’t go. I said you work for me. You have to at least keep up appearances until the security forces have gone.”
“So, what? You want me to be a bounty hunter?” I said mockingly.
“Yes, we split the take 60/40. 60 comes to me because I have the outlay.” She handed me a deux. “This is your take from those dust dealers.
“Nice…” I eyed the coin incredulously. I’d never scored this well, even in the high stakes poker.
“I will give you a ship and your mission. All quarries are returned to me – I’ll do the paperwork and collect the take. Then you get paid.”
“Do I work with my partner?” I looked at the fairy, who smiled at me. “You know, for appearances.”
“I’ll make sure your ship comes with a chess set.” The woman said dryly.
So, that’s it. That’s how I became a bounty hunter, partnered with a fairy. And these, I guess, are our stories.
So, that’s the final part of Pilot, so let us know what you think, and watch this space for more of Badger’s writings. Visit the Badger’s Books page for more information on already published stuff, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.
Pilot is the latest story by the badger known as C H Clepitt, and is copyright, obv.