"Cat got your tongue, partner?" Sam Raymond piloted the Manhattan (named after the drink, not the borough) with casual ease through the space debris and erratic traffic that littered the lower atmosphere of the backwater planetoid. He didn't recognize this district, but his investigation led Sam and his partner, Rachael, to this unexotic location.
"No, my tongue IS cat," and Rachael Eight Kills stuck out her tongue to prove her point. Her tongue appeared feline enough, but it was the only physical evidence of her Tri-Omega heritage. Her other gifts were hidden... And useful; as co-pilot of the Manhattan (a brown colored fighting yacht with cherry undertones), her reflexes allowed Sam the casual ease he enjoyed on this anxiety-induced excursion through dangerous space, among all their off-system cases.
"You've been quiet," Sam remarked. "something troubling you?"
"It doesn't add up, Raymond," Rachael answered with the briefest of pauses. Her green eyes scanned the horizon, what she could see through the detritus. "Why would our clues lead us here?"
This worried Sam, partly because he had the same concerns, but mostly because Rachael called him Raymond, which, historically, she did only when he was in mortal danger.
"Well," Sam murmured, as he sent the authorization codes for final descent to the spacedock, "That's what we're here to find out."
The air on Witche's Fibula was cold, stale and thin, but breathable. This is where the Cevlis outcasts went to die, Sam thought remotely. Pain shot through his upper right arm, and for a split second, Sam thought he was having a heart attack, until he noticed Rachael gripping his bicep.
"Let's turn back, Raymond." If Rachael had hackles, they would be raised.
"I don't sense anything," Sam lied.
Upon further reflection, Rachael switched her hold-out blaster for a plasma cannon and a vibroblade. Sam noticed this.
"What do you know, partner?" Sam picked up a rather nasty looking old fashioned shotgun, but left his hold-out in his holster.
"We need to be armed," Rachael cautioned. "This is a bad cop, bad cop situation."
Internally, Sam agreed. Reports on this planetoid suggested that it was not a resort. The heavy armament seem excessive and perhaps a little paranoid, but he trusted his partner's instincts.
They entered the saloon (The sign that hung above the door had deteriorated, due to a combination of exposure and blaster shots, read "OON") and were immediately underwhelmed. It was a pauper's repast after the funeral services of a watering hole at best. The bartender was dead; or as close as you could come to death without dying. He looked to be about 400 years old.
The patrons (to be generous with the term) were less than a dozen and all Fextorians. They all looked up with their shark eyes at the two unwelcome strangers and gradually shifted back to their desiccated glasses and non-conversation.
"This is the datapad definition of "dead end", Raymond. We need to leave... belay that; we should be on the ship."
"Relax, partner," Sam said with a confidence he didn't feel. He picked a Fextorian at random. "Investigations. We're looking for a datachip reader that was sold to someone in this region... do you know anything about it?
This Fextorian didn't look dead, but he was.
"That one doesn't talk much, never did," It was the dead bartender. His voice was like an ice cream headache in one's stomach. "Why are you really here?"
Sam felt Rachael bristle, but couldn't quite understand why. "Like I asked the gentleman here," gesturing to the corpse, "a datachip reader was sold..."
The hum of the vibrablade was all the warning Sam had, and it was not enough. Fortunately for him, he was not the target. Sam Raymond couldn't tell if the Fextorian in pieces at his feet was dead before, but he was sure dead now.
"Sorry, Sam," Rachael said. "He flinched."
"I have it," said the deadtender, "but it will cost you."
"We don't want it," blurted Rachael.
"Rachael, what -"
"It was part of a crime we're investigating," Rachael continues. "We won't need it until we know if it is really evidence or not. Just let us have a look at it."
"Well," said the deadtender, "I'll show it to you, but you are not going to like what you see. At least..." gesturing to his patrons, "none of them did."
The headache in their stomachs became more severe.
Sam and Rachael exchanged glances.
"What do you think, Sam?"
"Either everything means something, or nothing means anything. Or, it's a combination of the two. What the hell..."
The deadtender placed the reader on the bar, and pressed the EXECUTE button.