Another Flash Fiction Challenge entry!
This time, the challenge was to create a story that would generate the thought of, wow, this is like ____ meets ____, as a description. 20 possibilities were offered and I used a random number generator. I did end up generating three numbers, because I don't feel familiar enough with The Maltese Falcon to do it justice. Not that I'm claiming to do Star Wars meets Batman justice, but at least I've seen/read those particular commercial properties.
More than one pair of eyes watched Tasha as she walked out into the semi-darkness that passed for night in this godforsaken corner of the galaxy. Each pair knew she shouldn't have been alone so late, when all the good citizens of Vega's Station were fast asleep.
A man melted out of the darkness before her and she let out a yelp, putting her hands to her chest.
The point of choice was about to pass. Would they let her go, or would they need a little persuasion? One pair of eyes continued to watch.
"Oh! You scared me." she said.
Another man chuckled behind her and she turned sideways, eyeing them both and licking her lips.
"I've got to go see Sylas. It's a message from Glizer. Needs the personal touch, he says." She forced out a giggle.
"I'm sure you've got a great personal touch," the first man said. The other one only chuckled again, as if he couldn't communicate in other ways.
"I've really got to be going now," she said, her movements falling into dance as she crossed her arms above her heart and then slowly slid them across her metallic halter.
"Later. You're not going anywhere now-" the man stopped talking when his companion's throat sprouted an energy blade. The body collapsed with a crunch.
His eyes hunted the threat, ignoring Tasha, who simply stood still, waiting, observing.
Red eyes glowed in the darkness for a moment before the man was slammed against the alley wall by a man-shaped darkness.
"What do you want? I've got money - take the girl," he said, choking the words out in a harsh whisper.
A deep growl of a voice emerged from the dark creature.
"You've got nothing I want, scum, but I'll take your life anyway. You're not doing anything good with it."
The creature wielded a glowing red scimitar shaped blade and sliced his victim's guts open, dropping him in a pool of his own blood and bodily fluids.
Tasha shifted her pose to face the red eyes.
"Um, thanks. I'll just be going now. I've got an important message to deliver."
The darkness resolved into a man covered from head to toe in black cloth that glittered with inactive light absorbers. The eyes were simple reflectors, glinting, but no longer glowing.
"You should come with me," he said, reaching for her arm. She tensed, then allowed him to touch her without resistance. She shook her head.
"No, I really need to deliver this. My boss, Glizer k'Tabb, he says it needs the personal touch, you know?"
"Do you know what's in that message?"
"Of course not!" She jerked her arm out of his grasp. "I'm not a sneak."
"Then you've got to come with me."
He reclaimed her arm and led her to a closed Burger Bop shack a block away.
"I don't remember this being here," she said.
He opened the door and pulled her inside.
Within, the clean white spaces of a high-end shuttle glowed softly around them. Her eyes widened.
"The message isn't even that heavily encrypted. Play it," he said.
Tasha frowned at him. "I can't play-"
"Compliance. Message is audio only. 'I'll have the money Sy, I just need two more weeks. Take the girl as a token of my good faith.' End message."
"You have a slave AI? I thought only governments could afford them..." Tasha tilted her head, en-shak, a Bissonti technique designed to make her look like a curious animal, a pet. Harder to judge when she couldn't see his face through the cloth, but Tasha knew this was a man, and susceptible to man's foolishness, to the Bissonti art.
"Indentured, actually. You're about to be gifted as collateral to a criminal, and all you care about is my AI?"
"I'm just a dancer. One boss is a lot like another, you know?" She crossed her arms over her chest, letting them fall slowly in the cri-sol pattern. The power cells in her halter were already partially charged from the first scare of the night. This man seemed decent to her, but she couldn't let him stop her. She had taken too many risks making Glizer's money disappear so that he'd have to send her to Sylas.
"You don't know what you're getting into. I can't let you go to that creature." He clenched his hands in fists and stood between her and the door.
"Why not? You hardly know me." She walked farther into the shuttle, then turned to face him, tilting one hip, just a hint of the start of the first dance. A taste. His hands relaxed.
She slid her hands up around her breasts, ki-raz, and then flicked energy stars directly at him.
They fizzled on his shield.
"Valence shielding? You are rich."
His stance grew more cautious. She had lost her chance.
"You are not what you seem, dancer. You meant to kill me."
"You're in my way. Let me go, and I'll call it a draw."
"You're in no position to make demands."
"Aren't I? You don't want to hurt me, do you?" She began to sway in the rhythms of the first dance again, small movements designed to entice him, to numb his rationality.
"No," he said. "But Sylas does. He's a Phagorian. He's not going to watch you dance; he's going to eat you."
Tasha became still for a moment and then shook her head.
"You haven't done your homework at all, have you? Ki-ekras-y Alashnor, aka Sylas, Phargorian, in charge of the largest drug ring on this lousy station, government contracts suspected but, of course, only confirmed by the lack of raids carried out by the Alliance Enforcers. Keen interest in dance; keener interest in money. I'm the only Bissonti dancer in this system, let alone this station. Sylas knows my worth better than you know his taste."
She reached behind her back and drew a gauzy cape about her body; it shimmered, but did not conceal her.
"Do your homework, darkness, and meet me in 39 days at Al'bol's Tavern on Sonnat. Here's a hint: whatever you think you know, the Alliance is lying to you."
Then she turned around and ran through the shuttle wall, the cloak flashing as it wrapped her in a temporary phase shift.
"Well, darkness, that could have gone better. Do you want me to stun her and drag her back? She's still within range of the ship."
"No. What did she perceive when the shadow generation ceased?"
The AI made a sound suspiciously like snorting. "Typical manifestation. Tall, dark and male. That's what you get for playing the knight."
Mika pulled the generator hood off and ran her fingers through her short, sweaty hair.
"She was right though. Take the shuttle home and let's do some homework. I've got a date in 39 days."