QI’RA: Chapter Nine

Qi’ra hurried out of the cockpit when she knew the transport was parked in the hangar. She had known the mission had taken a turn for the worse and Nienye’s transmission had said as such. Ventra Dune was injured and judging from the urgency in the top lieutenant’s voice she was injured very badly.

As the door opened her bodyguard, T-38–a fair-skinned human female cyborg whose arms, legs, and one side of her head consisted of silver metal parts–was standing in the doorway.

The human side of her head possessed long blond hair that was plaited and her human eye was a piercing blue while her robotic eye was a searing red. She was clothed in the dark colors of Crimson Dawn’s elite, a sweeping dark brown one-shouldered cape lined with gold finishing the outfit made her immediately seem important. And on her hip rested a golden blaster.

“Qi’ra, the Top Lieutenant–” As Qi’ra brushed past her the cyborg gazed at her with shock. “Well okay then,” she finished before following after Qi’ra.

Qi’ra didn’t want to say it but she had grown a particular fondness for her Top Lieutenant. Knowing that Ventra Dune was badly injured, meaning that he could also be in terrible shape, was mortifying. She just hadn’t realized how much she cared until now.

She burst into the hangar and saw Nienye hurrying alongside a stretcher where Ventra Dune lay unconscious. The young female pilot of the vessel that had rescued Nienye and Dune, Solaar, was pushing the stretcher, her dark brown eyes filled with concern. When Nienye saw Qi’ra he approached her, his gaze still on the bloodied bounty hunter.

Qi’ra watched as Solaar pushed the stretcher past her. T-38, who was right behind Qi’ra, seemed mildly surprised by the bounty hunter’s condition.

“T-38, help Solaar,” Qi’ra ordered.

The cyborg woman looked at her as if almost wanting to defy her command before bowing. “As you wish,” she said, her deep voice augmented by her robotic enhancements.

Qi’ra turned to Nienye, trying to maintain her composure even though her heart was still pounding too hard for her liking.

“So, the diamonds?” Qi’ra asked.

Nienye handed her a silk sack and when Qi’ra opened it she could see the glittering blue jewels inside. She sighed with delight, regarding Nienye with a genuine smile on her face.

“Good job, Top Lieutenant,” she said.

He dipped his head, the smile he gave her back warming her heart. “I tried my best.” And then his expression saddened. “Unfortunately my best wasn’t good enough.”

She placed a hand on his arm. “You’re still here. That’s all that matters.”

His eyes flashed with anger. “Is it? Ventra could’ve died!”

“We can’t save everybody.”

He regarded her for a second silently. “How can you live with yourself?”

She bristled. It was a question she asked herself nearly every day as she sent Crimson Dawn cronies into the galaxy to raze quiet villages on faraway planets, intimidate poor families who weren’t paying their dues, and murder insubordinates who dared to think they could test her syndicate’s might.

Yes, it was a question she asked herself but she wouldn’t let him ask it.

In retaliation, she slapped him hard. “You forget your place,” she hissed.

His gaze lowered but his jaw was visibly clenched. “Forgive me, milady. I will not speak out of turn again.”

With that, he brushed past her, leaving her alone in the hangar with her palm still vibrating from the slap.

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