**The story below is a draft **
“So, are you in?”
It had taken Roloth over 5 Taracks to track down the Sheenhunter who currently stood before him and was currently plunging a fusion lance into the back of a felled Hunter-Jacker that he’d taken down just moments before. The automoton creature let out a high pitched shriek before its eyes went dark and its servos quiet forever. Three others lay strewn around it and in their damaged states they tried with no success to crawl away on busted limbs and crumpled supports struts. Zarin plunged the lance into another. A cruel smile edged its way to his mouth as the sound of crumpling metal marked the passing of another hive death machine.
“Let me get this straight”
Kerang went the lance as it pierced the armour of the 3rd prone machine.
“You want me to join you on this little mission of yours to gather intel on a new weapon of the Federation, which you are then going to give over to that jack-ass traiton ex-gunner Joroth so that he can give it to his royal my-ass highness The Red King?”
The fourth hive warrior span in its place on the floor and held hits arm across its face in a vain attempt to protect itself as Zarin brought the lance up high and ready to come plunging down into its neural cortex. The fusion lance passed through the tri-ridium arm like a hot knife through butter and obliterated the computer brain of the creature.
“The Red King, a creature whose bastard army I hate with all my heart, The Red King, a creature that I thought you hated too. That Red King?”
Roloth answered his question with little emotion in his gravelly voice.
Zarin approached Roloth and held at just a foot away, looking for any visible signs that this might just be one big joke or that the old smuggler had finally gone crazy.
“I need to a hear a damn good reason why you’d want to work for them come out of your mouth in the next few seconds or I might have to stick this fusion lance up your granax.”
Roloth held Zarins gaze. The two men had fought together numerous times and there was respect there but Zarin had a wild temperment, too many wars on too many planets had unhinged even this genetically engineered super soldier, and Roloth had to handle him in just the right way.
“My wife. My child. They’ll give them back to me.”
“I know, that you know, how important loved ones are.”
Zarin continued to stare hard at Roloths craggy features, Roloth wasn’t sure if his gambit had worked but Zarin had yet to perform his threat of a fusion lance transplant so he guessed the Sheenhunter had given him a pass, for now.
“How long you gonna hold that over me hunh” Zarin asked, referring to the old debt that hung between them.
“This, this right here, this is quits.”
After a few moments of thought a wry smile eased its way on to Zarins face.
“Quits sounds good to me Roloth, I like quits.”
Behind them something stirred. From the depths of machine hell something had clawed its way back when the second of the death-hunters suddenly reared up, still clinging to functionality and programmed to its last computation to kill humankind. Its proton cannon was trained on Zarin and the chamber was glowing as it prepared to fire.
“ZARIN!” Roloth cried to try to alert the unaware mercenary.
Something flashed in the green midday sun of the backwater planet and suddenly the death-hunter froze before the top port of its metallic skull split into two and slid from its place to kerang upon the floor. The machine tumbled forwards and is it did it revealed the lithe frame of the person who had just dispatched it.
“Calm down Roloth, my girls got me covered… Ain’t that right Taleena?!”
As he shouted to the poised figure they raised their arm high in the air and as if from nowhere something came shooting back to their hand. A Jagerflayer, a deadly machine weapon that could split the atoms of almost any material, now used against the things that made it to disconnect tri-ridium atom from tri-ridium atom.
Taleena walked slowly over to where they both were standing, kicking the dome cap she’d just severed for her own perverse enjoyment before sheathing the Jagerflyer. She pushed her hair back.
“I always got your back lover.”
She grabbed Zarin and kissed him passionately before breaking it off and then turning to Roloth, the scar on the left side of her face stood out now as the light glanced upon its peaks and troughs.
“To what do we owe the pleasure?”
“Never pleasure with you Roloth. You never change”
“Roloth here has a job for us Taleena darlin’ “
“I’m all ears.”
“Oh you’ll be more than that once Roloth tells you all about it.”
“Enough mucking around.” grunted Roloth. Their mission could take them several Taraks, maybe a Lunette or two and he was fixing to being as soon as possible.
“Are you in or are you out Zarin?”
Taleena put her arm around Zarin and held herself against him, she whispered in his ear something Roloth couldn’t hear and which seemed to have an effect on Zarin.
“Well, sure, why not? All the machines on this planet are dead now thanks to us and Taleena here tells me she’s got a few new tricks she learned from a tantric master on Talax 7 so if you’ve got some accommodation on that hi-tech hunk of junk smuggling vessel of yours I suggest we get going as fast as possible.”
“And you Taleena? You in?”
“Where Zarin goes, I go Roloth, you know that. Till the end of time right baby?”
“Till the end of time Tal’”
They started to kiss again and their bodies moved closer. Roloth turned and began to walk away.
“Save it for the journey.” He shouted over his shoulder as he made his way for the Jazz, his own personal stealth class federation vessel which was uncloaked and waiting in a nearby ravine.
Zarin caught Roloth walking away out of the corner of his eye.
“Come on darlin, time to get going.”
“Race you there?”
“Damn you’re always so competitive.”
“I sure am, but you love it.”
He smiled at her and as he did she became a sudden blur of colour.
“Hey no fair, no head start!”
He too became a sudden mess of flesh and cloth tones as he sped after her at super-human speed. The pair passed Roloth, his hair flying forwards as they did, and he carried on walking as if simply a light breeze had just dusted up.
“Damn genomes” he said to himself.
Coming from the distance he swore he heard the broken and faint words of “We.. heard….. That……”