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Maj And The Outlaws #1 Murder Is A Family Business

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cover art, Murder Is A Family Business

This short story was originally written for the scifi magazine Boundary Shock Quarterly and has since turned into a series of shorts. They will be released here for members to read as I get the rights to publish them indie.


Maj And The Outlaws #1

Murder Is A Family Business

Maj Frost, tiny, offended, and sentenced to exile, tried their best to bite the GSA soldier that held them in two steel-augmented hands. They squirmed, snapping their teeth at the soldier’s pale nose. The soldier just picked them straight up by the arms, like a child. Maj kicked and twisted, they tried to pitch themselves to the floor, then lunged backward without warning.

The soldier just held them out at full arm’s length with a slight grimace. He’d been given the unfortunate task of escorting Maj to the drop pod where they’d be pitched into space and left to crash land on an alien planet with a handful of other criminals. Maj didn’t try to argue about it, they were guilty. Didn’t mean they liked it.

The soldier had to manage Maj with one hand in order to open the drop pod door. Maj tried biting again, twisting around to get a handful of standard issue green uniform in their teeth. They ripped it right out of the seams and had to spit it out. Starchy.

The soldier hauled Maj inside and slammed them hard against a seat set into the wall of the pod. Maj blinked, stunned for a second. Across the pod they caught the curious eyes of a very large, dark man, already strapped in for the ride. He lifted a quiet eyebrow at Maj. Maj hissed and resumed kicking.

A lucky strike caught the soldier in the stomach and his air wooshed out of his lungs. He went to one knee, only a weak hand on Maj’s shoulder to keep them in place. Maj knocked it aside and scrambled for the exit.

They only glimpsed a moment of freedom. The soldier yanked them back by the collar and threw them across the pod. He didn’t even try to strap them in again, just stepped out of the door and closed it with a frown.

Maj lunged for the door, but it snapped shut in their face. They bared their teeth through the polyglass at the GSA soldier. Their serrated points flashed in the polyglass.

He shook his head. “If you don’t want to strap in for re-entry, that’s your choice.”

Maj punched the door. The metal dented outward with a hollow echo, but not enough to compromise the lock. They were stuck.

“If you die in vacuum before re-entry, that’s also your problem,” the soldier added, stepping back.

The second door closed, cutting the pod off from ship life support and power. It also had no window, leaving Maj growling at a blank metal wall.

Maj shook themself all over, throwing off the encounter and the fury that came with it. The bristling dissipated in seconds. Calmed, they took stock of the drop pod.

It contained four seats positioned in a tight semi circle around the door, each with five-point harnesses and minimal comforts. They were meant to keep passengers from bouncing around inside like egg yokes for the short flight, not to provide any perks.

The black man and Maj were its only occupants, and the way the sound of some large mechanical systems were echoing through the pod, it didn’t seem like anyone would join them. Maj had lost their chance to escape into a spaceworthy ship—though admittedly, that plan had been flimsy from the start.

With a sigh, Maj dropped into one of the hard seats and strapped in. Even with the ties pulled as far as they would go, Maj still had room to move, but such was life as the shortest adult they’d ever met. Malnutrition could do that.

Their augments made up for some of their genetics. They could leap twice their own height, had some excellent perks in their vision, and they’d recently installed a skin mod that almost worked like true invisibility. Oh, and the teeth. All of which helped them stay two steps ahead of the GSA for the last six years.

Of course, they didn’t help a wit once the GSA had caught up. And even the most lowly formicida had enough strength and stamina mods to keep Maj’s tiny ass under control.

Still, being manhandled rankled and they wrinkled their nose.

The pod clunked as it disengaged from the ship and lost local gravity.

Maj floated up two inches until they hit the straps of the seat.

Then the pod’s thrusters ignited and Maj was thrown back into the chair. For several seconds, the experience was too loud to think. Maj shook in the chair, rattled by the power of the engine, like a jet turbine strapped to the back of a commuter car. Overkill was an understatement.

Then, abruptly, the engine cut off. So did the noise and the shaking. Maj drifted off the chair again.

“Hey, Piss and Vinegar?” the big guy said in exactly the kind of sub baritone Maj expected.

Maj smiled at him and it wasn’t visibly different than the snarling they did earlier.

“Do you have a plan or should I just stay out of your way?”

Maj twitched one shoulder. “The plan was to not be in the pod. I am now open to suggestions.”

“I see,” he said. “What’s your name?”

“Maj. You?”

“Rune, Formicida medic—well, I guess I’m ex-GSA, now.” His face wrinkled like he was upset, but it cleared a moment later.

Maj wasn’t interested in his emotional state and ignored it. “What are you exiled for?”

Rune cocked his head. “Is it relevant? Why are you here?”

A dangerous chill clenched Maj’s chest at the question. They swallowed hard and looked away. Looked back. “Ok, I take your point, I retract the question. New question: what do you know about this place they’re dumping us on?”

“You didn’t sit through an orientation?”

“Nope.” Maj shrugged. “Was too busy breaking out. Got the elevator twice but they always caught me before I got to the spine. Didn’t get a third chance.”

Rune made a sound in his throat like he was holding in a laugh. Maj narrowed their eyes at him, but he kept his expression expertly neutral. Maybe that was a medic thing. The doc who had tried to give Maj a physical before their trial had been a hard nut to crack, too.

“It’s a barely habitable planet. Gets a little too cold in the winter and a little too hot in the summer so no one wants to settle down. But it has surface access to trinordia, so there’s a pit mine and a ground to space payload launcher. We get sent down, work the mine, GSA sends a supply box every few months in return. No trinordia, no supply box.”

Maj grunted. “Isn’t trinordia explosive?”


“Coolcoolcool, and how do we leave?”

“We don’t.”

“Ah.” Maj shook their head. “Well that’s not going to be fun for you.”

Rune lifted that eyebrow again, a darker slash against his dark skin. “But not for you?”

“If there’s a payload launcher, there’s a way off planet.”

“Being subjected to violent escape velocity pressures meant for inorganic packages isn’t an issue, then?”

“A minor inconvenience.”

“And the GSA ship that picks you up? They’ll just drop you back down.”

“A problem for future Maj,” Maj said, settling deeper into their seat. The pod was starting to vibrate just slightly.

“Oh,” Rune said, smiling. “I think I see how you ended up here. You’ll be fun to watch.”

“I am always fun,” Maj agreed. “No one ever thinks so.”

“I can’t believe it,” said Rune with another one of those medic straight faces.

The pod rattled, then, the shaking evidence of their re-entry onto… Maj didn’t know.

“What’s the name of this place anyway?”

“Ivis Three. Ivis is the star’s name technically, but GSA hasn’t named the planet.”

“Ah, of course,” said Maj. “If there’s no name, there’s no colony. And if there’s no colony there must not be anything interesting here. Nothing to see, just unexplored wilderness on a virgin planet.”

“I see you speak GSA politics.”

“It helps to know your enemy if you want to avoid them,” Maj said with another toothy grin.

Reentry shaking and noise cut off any response Rune might have had. Maj gripped the shoulder straps of their harness, feeling vibrations down to the teeth. Everything sounded like it was burning, a roar of wind and flames below Maj’s feet prepared to consume them both from the bottom up the moment their little pod failed.

Then the pod jerked twice, something clunking heavily overhead, and their ferocious descent slowed to a float. A balloon waving in the breeze.

They came to rest rather gently, the pod listing to one side at an angle.

Rune unstrapped himself easily. He stood at the low end of the pod.

Maj hung in the harness a little sideways. If they undid the straps, they would fall and there was nothing for their little legs to brace on.

Rune yanked the door’s release handle down, shoving it into place to unlock the seal. He had to slam the door twice before it disengaged. Maj’s punch to the mechanism hadn’t done any favors.


He shoved the door open—it popped off entirely, landing heavily to the ground—and stepped out into pleasant, if slightly green, sunshine.

With their landing zone clear, Maj popped the harness open and dropped across the pod, legs and arms extended like a cat. They landed with a thump on hands and feet and scuttled to the doorway on all fours for a better look.

The air smelled like plants. A little wet, a little grassy. Very organic.

The mods in Maj’s eyes automatically adjusted for the intense light, shuttering like sunglasses until they could see without squinting. They crawled out onto the pod’s prone door and squatted to take in the sights.

Three other pods had been fired down with them, two full of people that emerged from their cocoons, blinking and cursing the bright sun, and one much more bullet-shaped object that had half-buried itself on impact since it didn’t come equipped with parachutes. There were eight other people—both pods full—which made Maj grin. Maj had made enough of a fuss that their pod had been sent half empty. Better to get rid of them than risk another escape attempt. Maj was proud of that.

The clearing they’d all landed in was oddly blue. The grass was almost teal, the larger bushes along the edge a darker cyan, the trees themselves, like ferns instead of proper trees, were a royal blue so dark it was almost purple. And overhead, the sky was tornado green with fluffy yellow-green clouds and a surprisingly small sun for how bright it was.

Maj plucked a blade of grass and ran it through their fingers. It stained blue, but smelled like grass. They flicked the piece away.

Two of the eight decided to bail immediately. They ran off into the fern forest in opposite directions, diving into teal and blue foliage and gone in a heartbeat. Apparently it was better to risk their lives alone on the alien planet. Maybe they’d paid attention to the orientation video.

The rest cautiously gathered together in the middle. Still on all fours, Maj trailed after Rune. They poked at the dirt—reddish and dark—and peered suspiciously at the rest of the exiles. They debated activating their stealth mod and decided against it for now. Not while people were looking.

“Is anyone hurt?” Rune asked, projecting his deep voice easily. “I’m a medic.”

People shook their heads. Some muttered. Most looked a little shocked and had a distant cast to their eyes.

Maj flexed an eyelid and the mods in their eyes displayed a few basic pieces of information. Rune’s name hovered over his head, two of the others: Singe and Jace, also had names dug out of the GSA database Maj had swiped during one of their escape attempts.

Singe was ex formicida, a solider in the GSA. Former soldier. Built like an inverted triangle and the tallest person in the group. She still wore her formicida uniform, tightly cornrowed hair, and kept glancing along the skyline as if she expected an attack.

While Jace was some big shot CEO from a private company. How would he have ended up here? He wore a button down shirt and a nice pair of slacks that should have gone with a suit jacket, but that seemed to be missing. His shiny black shoes were already stained blue.

Rune opened his arms in a gesture at the group. “Should we start with names?”

Singe nodded and a few people shuffled closer. Rune probably made a good medic. He made people feel at ease with only a few words.

Maj stayed quiet.

A skinny man with scars up his neck and visible mods set into his skull like a set of racing stripes over his ear, scowled. “Who put you in charge?”

Rune showed his hands in a peaceful gesture.

Singe spoke up. “So we can call you Scarface, then?”

Maj snickered in their head. Singe was a good one.

Scarface grunted. “GSA doesn’t recruit for original thinking, do they?”

“No, they just exile for it,” Singe shot back. “The medic is right, we need to establish injuries, shelter, water, and food in that order. That’s easier if we know each other and work together.”

“I’m Sean,” one of the men stepped forward, raising his hand like he was in class. “I’m a hacker and I’ve never been camping in my life. I’ve never been planet-side until now.” He wore a tshirt with a logo across the front and frayed synthjeans that might have been ripped on purpose.

“Oh, good,” said Scarface. “Dead weight.”

“I’m Harlow,” the woman beside Sean spoke up softly. “We’re here becau—“

“It doesn’t matter.” Harlow’s neighbor put her hand on Harlow’s shoulder. “I’m Zara. Harlow and I have PhDs in zooherbology.” They looked like opposites of each other, Harlow with straight black hair and pale skin, Zara with tightly coiled blond and dark skin. Zara’s hand slid down Harlow’s shoulder and grabbed her hand tightly.

Scarface snorted. “What good is that to us?”

Zara pinned her bright eyes on the skinny man. “When you eat something poisonous I’ll be able to tell everyone else how the neurotoxin works.”

He made a disgusted face, but stopped complaining.

The others introduced themselves: Tone, an agender musician, and Vidar, a man who calmly admitted to murdering four people and had some experience with knives.

Tone had no hair, big gold hoops piercing their ears, and a skin mod that made them glitter a rainbow of colors in the sun. Vidar, on the other hand, was not visibly modified. He wore a simple black shirt and sythjeans—not ripped—had short brown hair that got a little wavy on top, and had the kind of open and trustworthy expression on his face that Maj had never figured out how to master.

Maj decided a small team of themself, Rune, Singe, and Vidar would be most effective given the wilderness. Rune and Singe to organize, Vidar and Maj to kill things. Scarface was right, the rest of these people were dead weight, or close to it. Unfortunately, he seemed to be one of them.

“Ok, we all know each other,” Singe said. “Next is shelter. We need to find a place large enough for most of the group to lay down so we can sleep in shifts. Preferably against a rock or inside a cave.”

“What about the colony?” Harlow asked, her voice barely loud enough to hear even with the group so close together.

“Do you know where it is on the planet?”

Harlow hunched her shoulders. “No.”

“Then we focus—“

“Don’t you worry!” Cheered a new voice from the edge of the forest. A man walked out of the foliage with his hands high in welcome and a broad smile on his face. He wore native-blue homespun—fabrics that had been woven from plants here on Ivis Three. And he lead a small group of people with him. Four others followed him single-file out of the jungle in equally native-blue clothing. Simple shirts and pants with woven shoes. They brought baskets and a dragging sled. “Don’t worry,” the man repeated, his smile still large. “I know exactly where the colony is. You’ve landed in the right spot.”

“Of course,” Rune said quietly. “They would fire supplies down reasonably close to the settlement. And we’re the replacement workers.”

“I’m Hudson,” the man said, putting a hand on his chest and bowing slightly. His beard was a bit scraggly and his head was balding, giving him a bit of a jovial uncle look. The kind of relation who never shows up for holidays, but drops in unannounced with exotic gifts for the kids. “I run security for Ivis.”

Maj was immediately suspicious. The data flickered on her overlay, getting half and quarter matches on Hudson and his followers. Possible identities but not confident.

But the lady in the rear hauling the drag sled looked familiar.

“These are my seconds, Nancy and Owen. They’re here to help me make sure you’re all healthy and help you get settled back home. Is this everyone?”

Nancy and Owen looked more like pit fighters than productive citizens of the colony, but maybe that was necessary on an alien planet. Maj didn’t want to assume, but the flutter in their gut kept them on edge and their gut was never wrong.

“This is most of us,” Singe said. Maj noticed she stayed with the group rather than stepping toward Hudson. “Two ran into the wild.”

Hudson nodded as if that happened regularly. “Penelope, get back to Ivis and let the scouts know to be on the lookout for two more.”

Penelope nodded and turned back to the forest.

Which left only—“Oyana here is going to crack into the supply drop that came with you.” Hudson waved her forward

At her name, Maj stood bolt upright. Oyana’s eyes flicked to her, widened in recognition, and immediately looked away again. With her head down, she pulled the sled to the car-sized bullet-shaped pod that had fallen with the cluster of evacuation pods.

Most of the group turned toward Hudson, Rune and Singe at the front. Maj noticed Scarface didn’t protest this time.

Maj, on the other hand, faded back toward the supply pod.

And Oyana.

She looked a lot different. Maj wasn’t surprised the mod couldn’t identify her. She wore the local blue clothing, barely more than a rectangle shirt with a belt and some pants. Her skin mods were off, which meant she looked unnaturally pale—nearly translucent—and her bright red eyes looked almost black in this green sunlight.

Maj crouched next to Oyana as she dug in the dark dirt for the access panel of the pod. They hissed, “The fuck are you doing here?”

“Don’t draw attention to me, Maj, you do not want Hudson’s attention.”

Maj knew he was a snake, good to have it confirmed right away. “You think I’m not going to talk to you?” Maj bent over and helped her dig to cover their conversation. “You vanished three years ago without a trace and now I find you by accident on some exile planet. How did you get here?”

Oyana ignored the question. “Hudson is going to hold all of you in temporary housing outside the village. He’s going to give you a mission. It’s not one you can actually do. His goal is to kill off the strongest of the group so he can maintain control. He’ll let the rest of you in as a gesture of goodwill and sorrow.” Oyana cleared the doorway and popped the hatch open. She needed Maj’s help to yank it free. “Do you understand, Maj? You need to keep your head low, pretend to be useless, and let a couple people die so you’ll be let in.”

Maj looked up over Oyana’s shoulder to see Singe and Rune nodding their heads at Hudson and making conversation. They would be the first to volunteer.

Maj muttered, “Yeah, fuck that.”

Oyana snatched the front of Maj’s shirt with a grip like steel. Technically it was steel on the inside. “Listen to me, sis. Head down, mouth shut or Hudson will make sure you don’t make it.”

Maj gave her a look. One that said, peace was never an option.

And Oyana’s eyes shuttered closed for a moment like she was praying for patience. But she let go of Maj’s shirt and started pulling packages out of the hollow supply pod. “Whatever the plan is, you need to make sure it ends with Hudson’s death. He’s in control, but only through fear. Eliminate him and maybe we can reestablish our council or something.”

Maj was small enough to crawl into the pod and start handing packages out to Oyana. “How long has he been in charge?”

“A year.”

“How long have you been here?”


“What kinds of missions does he ask people to do?”

“I don’t know, but they’re all out in the jungle. Probably kill three panthers or something. But no one ever comes back and if I were Hudson I’d send the scouts out after to make sure of it.”

“Cute,” Maj said.

They emptied the supply drop. The sled wasn’t large enough to carry everything, but by the time Maj handed the last box out, glittering Tone and quiet Harlow had led the newly exiled group over and started handing out boxes. Between eight people and the sled, all the supplies were handled. Maj noticed Hudson and his two lackeys, Owen and Nancy, didn’t offer to carry anything.

The group set off into the jungle.

Maj maneuvered themselves next to Singe and tugged on her sleeve. Singe glanced down, then let herself linger further back in the group, away from Hudson and his enforcers.

“What’s your opinion of Hudson?” Maj asked.

Singe didn’t reply right away, but the wrinkle in her nose told Maj everything.

“Good,” Maj said, “Then you’re not going to call me crazy.”

Singe lifted an eyebrow.

“Hudson has been killing people that arrive in order to keep control of the village. Do we go along with it or do we kill him?”

Singe opened her mouth, closed it, gave Maj a curious look, then said, “Think you can run the town better?”

Maj snorted heavily. “Not on your life. But you could. And Rune. There’s probably good people in town, too.”

“I wasn’t planning on a coup my first day here,” Singe said with resignation. “But I guess I’d be top of the culling list.” She cocked her head. “How do you know?”

Maj grinned full of pointed teeth. “We’ll be taken to temporary housing tonight and assigned some impossible task tomorrow. Watch your back.”

Maj held their assigned package under one hand and dropped to threes to gallop away.


Early the next morning, well before the small green sun rose over the horizon, Maj woke to the sound of muffled voices and scuffling outside the wooden shack the group of exiles had been assigned.

Before everyone bedded down, Singe, Rune, Vidar and Zara all agreed with Maj to take shifts overnight. Everyone selected had an appropriate mod for tracking the time and seeing well in the dark.

Maj trusted their sister that an impossible task would be coming in the morning, but it never hurt to be careful.

Maj scurried out of the shack, shaking Vidar awake on the way, and burst through the door on all fours, teeth bared and eyes wide as the mod adjusted to starlight without a moon.

Singe was grappling with Owen, one of Hudson’s goons, and Nancy had been on her way to the shack, a knife in one hand.

Nancy froze at Maj’s exit.

Then Vidar ghosted into the doorway behind them and Nancy abruptly changed her mind.

But no one on two legs was faster than Maj on four. They scrambled forward, dodging Singe and Owen and using a stacked pile of supplies as a launching point. Maj tackled Nancy from above and behind, bringing her to ground like a panther on prey. Maj bit her wrist so she would drop the knife, sinking every pointed tooth into tendons and muscle.

Nancy screamed.

Maj grabbed the knife and shoved it into Nancy’s throat with augmented strength, ripping it back out at an angle.

The woman jerked as her blood choked her.

Maj scrambled back to Singe, but Vidar had already intervened. Owen lay dead with one shoulder clearly dislocated and his head facing the wrong direction.

The rest of the exiled group assembled groggily at the doorway.

Singe straightened her formicida uniform and assessed the group. Then, unexpectedly, deferred to Maj. “What’s our next step?”

Maj blinked. They licked blood off their teeth and straightened up on feet only. “Hudson still needs to be eliminated,” they said. “Better now while we’re unexpected.”

“That scream will have drawn attention,” Vidar said.

Rune and Tone joined them while Zara guided Harlow away from Owen’s body. Tone hissed at Singe, “Did you kill him?”

“Him or me,” Singe said. “How do we find Hudson inside the village?”

“I can track him,” said Vidar.

“Then Vidar and I will take Hudson,” said Maj.

Rune put his hand on Maj’s shoulder. “The rest of us will ask for help at the front gate, tell them we were attacked and need help. Make a fuss. That should draw some of the scouts away.

Maj nodded. The group split up without further discussion. Maj and Vidar slid out of the makeshift camp in a heartbeat, but didn’t go far before Vidar turned and crouched in the darkness. “Give me the knife.”

Maj handed it over. Knives weren’t their preferred weapon anyway.

“Does this need to be messy?”

“No. We’ll need to show the body to security, though.”

“Good. Cleaner is easier. Keep up.”

Vidar tucked the knife away and prowled into the edge of the forest. Maj activated their skin mod and between the gloomy green darkness and their unusual gait on all fours, they all but vanished. They couldn’t even see their own hands unless they moved too quickly.

They took a position against the rock face that bordered the village, where the upright logs of the front gate met the stone.

Vidar looked back at Maj, did a minor double-take when he couldn’t find them, then something shifted in his eyes and he focused. “Effective,” he grunted.

“No thermal control, though. Was going to upgrade when…” Maj gestured vaguely at the planet around them.

Vidar made a sound of agreement in his throat.

They only had to wait another moment or two when Tone came stumbling up to the front gate screaming for help. They sounded quite hysterical. It got everyone’s attention very quickly.

Vidar shoved his fingers into the gap between stone and log and scaled the wall with expert motions. Maj scurried up right behind him. They both slid down the rock on the other side and moved quickly along the edge of it, away from the gate and toward the darker shapes of buildings.

There were two street lights dimly lit in the middle of town, one along the cobble street toward the gate and the other at the central square. Vidar lead Maj well clear of both, slinking on the far side of buildings and around trees until they came to the curved end of a natural turn in the rock. Set all the way in the back was the only two story building in town, this one lit with dim porch lights and well-groomed bushes bordering the steps.

Vidar pointed up to the second floor balcony.

Maj scaled a tree and threw themself across the gap without hesitation. Vidar climbed the building directly. They gathered themselves outside the balcony door.

Wavy glass panes had been set in a grid of six on two French doors, allowing Maj to see clearly inside. A wide bed piled with pillows and sheets held two figures. Hudson and Penelope.

Vidar tested the door. It opened silently, unlocked.

Vidar crept across the room to Hudson’s side of the bed. Maj staged herself at the foot, ready to yank Penelope off and cause confusion.

On a count of three, they pounced.

Vidar sat on Hudson’s chest and sliced his throat, holding the man down by the mouth with his other hand.

Maj grabbed Penelope by the ankle and hauled her onto the floor. She yelped, but didn’t even kick at Maj, just thumped to the ground and blinked up in confusion. Maj slapped their hand on Penelope’s mouth before she could remember to scream, and watched Vidar on the bed. After a moment he stood.

Hudson didn’t.

Maj looked down at Penelope who was still more confused than alarmed. Not a good survival instinct in this one. “Hudson is dead,” Maj said.

To their surprise, Penelope sagged with relief.

Maj carefully removed their hand.

Penelope glanced up at the bed but couldn’t see anything from her position. “You’re sure? He’s gone for good?” she whispered.

Vidar wiped his knife on the sheets. “I’m sure.”

Penelope closed her eyes. “Thank god. Doing what he said was easier than fighting him but then I became his favorite.”

And Maj remembered what Oyana had said yesterday. You do not want Hudson’s attention.

Maj stood up and offered Penelope a hand.

She took it, glancing away and back at Hudson’s body on the bed. “What about his goon squad? Nancy and Owen?”

“Also dead,” Maj said.

Penelope grabbed their arm suddenly. “You didn’t kill Oyana did you? She’s not part of this.”

“No, but will you come with us to the front gate to help us explain? Oyana said you used to have a council.”

“Yes, yes,” Penelope made for the bedroom door. “We should wake everyone up—“ she paused at the door and turned to look at them both. “Thank you. None of us are innocent here but Hudson was…” she pursed her lips. “Lets get Oyana.”

“Vidar will go with you.” Maj looked at him. “I’ll catch up.”

He didn’t ask why, simply ushered Penelope from the room and closed the door behind him.

Maj approached the bed. Hudson lay on his back, red blood black in the green dawn. They carefully avoided touching the sheets and pressed their thumb against Hudson’s temple.

Data streamed across Maj’s vision. They shunted it to the side, watching only for the download to complete before replacing that data in Hudson’s mods with static and junk.

Then Maj took a moment to scan through the files. History and video footage, a diary of notes, his contact list—ah here it was. The contract to find and deliver one Veres Anita—Oyana’s legal name—back to her father for a boatload of money.

Maj wasn’t sure how Hudson planned on getting her back off this exile planet, but that was one fewer loose end. Maybe he couldn’t seeing as he’d been in charge for a year before Vidar ruined his day.

It was too bad their father wasn’t alive anymore to learn Maj had found and kept Oyana out of his hands once again.

The very best way to stop an assassin—or a kidnapper—was to kill their client. Maj had taken care of their father first, knowing the problem would never end otherwise. Getting back off Ivis and dodging the GSA? Minor concerns compared to keeping Oyana safe.

And who knew, maybe life here on the exile planet wouldn’t be so bad? Especially with Hudson gone. It would certainly keep them both under the radar.

Maj stuck their tongue out at Hudson and skipped out of the room.

It was going to be a beautiful day.


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