The Draedean Threat

{Year- 3090}
{Place- Selvmatej Star System}
{Planet- Malsolate}

Chapter 1 - The Clepsydra

"Come on jack ass keep movin.." Taylor Hanson mumbled to his next victim, "No damn it! Not left... yeah...yeah, keep it this way.."
His unsuspecting target walked down the middle of the trade center street, having just excited a barbershop and stupidly put his credits in his right hand pocket. He wasn't a big man, but Taylor knew he'd be in trouble if he didn't succeed in grabbing the credits unnoticed. He smiled to himself after that thought. It hadn't happened for a few months, why should it happen now?
Taylor pulled out his holograph projector and pulled up an image of an annelda, a small native creature of Malsolate, and proceeded to ' let it loose' in the path of his victim. He watched with a knowing smile while stuffing the projector back in his pocket as the man spotted the 'animal' too late and stumbled to the ground, trying to avoid what wasn't really there. The small blobbish creature with three legs, a stripped gray hide, and small ears hopped into a planter nearby like its programming told it to and Taylor reached the fallen man.

"Oh whoa. Are you ok sir?" He asked in a false caring voice. His hand held the inside of the other man's jacket open as he pulled the man to his feet. The man never felt the credits leave his pocket.
"Thank you young man, I'm fine. What was that?" He asked, slightly dazed.
Taylor snorted, "You've never seen an annelda before? How long have you been dirtside?" He asked.
"Bout four hours actually. On my way to an interview. Do you know where..."
Taylor cut him off, "I'd love to stay and chat.but uh, I've gotta do something. Watch where you walk next time man." He called over his shoulder, walking away.
He pulled out the healthy stack credits in his hand and smiled. More then ample to get him to the Trade Ship Gheldeth and onto Draedon.... if he got the job.
Taylor Hanson had told his family he was going off to join the mobile infantry. Hardly true. He got to his shuttle right on time and made his way to a settlement he'd only heard about and found what he was looking for. A thief's life but as all thieves do, he soon turned to smuggling in order to get his own star ship. This feat took him three months to accomplish. After that, his skills went from street smart kid straight up to one of the best smugglers the galaxy was yet to see surpassed. He didn't thieve so much anymore, smuggling took pretty good care of those who aren't caught first and his latest victim was only chosen out of sheer boredom.and the lack of credits to get fuel to the Gheldeth.
"Now.... where in the heck is Sankt's office at?" He put a clean hand into one of the few pockets his sleek attire had and pulled out a small sheet of paper, reading it as he walked. He read off the address in his head and stuffed it back in the pocket of tight pants he wore.
He brushed his hands on his rear as if to rid them of the information he just read and he stopped momentarily to gain orientation of the massive trade center he was on. His tight pants cut off the circulation to his left leg as he leaned over on that side and pressed his weight down. He sighed and stood back on two feet. His black pants, made of laser protective tronflex, relaxed around his legs and he then ignored them. They'd saved his ass more then once, but he didn't tend to think of clothing unless he was shopping. His black tronflex jacket hung onto his wiry frame over a tight red cotton shirt. That had cost him a pretty penny, he remembered. Cotton was a rare plant to find these days.... almost as rare as the draeton plants on the Planet Draedon.
He sighed and took a left turn to where the address indicated and stopped at the door. This was a big deal going down, could he handle the pressure it was sure to produce? He set his hand on the hand monitor pad as it read his hand print. If he wasn't on the list, he'd have security on his tail in a matter of moments. The door slid open silently as he breathed a shaky breath and sat down after talking with the receptionist and flashing her a charming grin.
He'd only been sitting for a few minutes when a door near the secretary opened and a Dreadean stood in the doorway, beckoning him in. He stood up easily, stowing away his fears of the giant creature, and made his way to the door that was left open for him.
The office inside was shockingly decorated compared to the dull, boring waiting room. The desk was made from oak and Taylor had to fight the impulse to touch it. Oak was extinct, this piece of furniture would have cost him a moon sized planet to buy! The walls were colored an angry red, the color nearly matching the massive being that occupied it. The chairs were contour shapers, the kind of chair that accepts the body of the person sitting in it and shapes itself to the body. A draeton sat in a planter nearby and Taylor's jaw dropped when he saw it. That plant had to be hundreds of years old to be there, draetons weren't allowed off of Draedon and hadn't been for four hundred years for extinction reasons. The black carpet held Taylor comfortably above the floor as the being before him motioned him to sit. He did so and wanted to groan in relief from the comfort factor that climbed up quite a bit.
The being studied him for a moment before starting, "I am Sankt. You're to call me Sankt, nothing different understood?" He said in a low voice.
"I understand sir." Taylor replied bravely.
The being regarded him for a moment before, seemingly measuring him up before he nodded and in turn became more relaxed, "I understand you are in need of work, are you not?"
"Yes sir I am."
Taylor blushed red and fidgeted for a moment before he realized he had to repeat what he said using the man's name.
"Yes Sankt, I'm in need of some work." He tried again.
Sankt nodded approval, "I have work if you are willing to accept what I have to offer."
Taylor knew this had to be something big. Sankt was a bounty hunter, one of the best in the Selvmatej Star System, and he usually had his jobs done for him and they were always something huge. Sankt himself went after the largest bases on his own to prove he was still able to do so.
"Depends on what you have to offer." Taylor answered coolly.
Sankt laughed loudly, startling the young man sitting opposite him, and changed the subject, "You are young, are you not? I expected somebody older when I was told of your skills."
Taylor didn't know how to respond, "I've been told I'm one of the best Sankt, sir. I'd like to think that's enough for the job."
Sankt smiled slowly, "Yes... yes that is true."
Silence filled the room as Taylor's palms grew heated and sweaty. What was he supposed to do!?
"Uhm.... Sankt, sir..... what kind of job are you offering, exactly?" He finally sputtered.
The giant being nodded approval, "You are to go straight to Draedon. A friend of mine shall be waiting for you with a large case. You are not to know the contents of the crate until you reach your ship. Eh, what is your ship called? I would like it for future reference."
Taylor gulped, "The Clepsydra."
Sankt nodded, "Alright then. The cargo you will be carrying would land you in Star Fleet's prison cells if you are captured. You are aware of this?"
"I am sir.... uhm, Sankt." He corrected himself.
Sankt nodded his head once deeply in acceptance, "Good! You are to leave at once. I want you out of port no later then tonight!"
"Yes sir Sankt, no later." Taylor agreed.
All that was needed was a hand shake Taylor was not looking forward to. Dreadeans possessed a deadly toxin in their palms. The potency was easily controlled by the being who the hands belonged to. A small irritation could result, or a life threatening seizure.
Taylor stood up and licked his soft lips and held his hand out, noting the slight shake it had. He watched as Sankt's hand shimmered in the light from the excretions it gave out. His hand met the giant man's and he was happy to note that only a slight itching was felt.
"You will need the information for docking on Draedon. The women at the desk will give that to you and everything you'll need. Including fuel to the planet."
Taylor closed his eyes and smacked himself hard on the forehead. He didn't need to steal that man's money!
Sankt gave him a confused yet amused look, "Something is bothering you Taylor?"
"No Sankt.... I lifted some credits so I could pay for my passage to your planet. Now I don't need them." He stated simply.
"Well, you are that much richer then." Sankt bowed deeply and pointed to the door.
Taylor still stood in his spot, "What sort of payment will I be receiving?"
"Your ship will be restored to her former beauty inside and out. I should think a hundred thousand credits would also be a welcome payment?" Sankt asked.
Taylor forced himself not to grin and jump in the air like a five year old before stating, "More then welcome sir.... uh, Sankt. I'll be going." He showed himself to door quickly and shut it behind him. He scraped the fingernails of his left hand against his right palm in an effort to quell the annoying itch the poison left behind.
He stopped at the desk and was about to ask for the information when the receptionist held up her hand. She reached into a drawer and pulled out a chip and put it in his palm saying, "I didn't give that to you, right?"
"Right." He nodded quickly. He pocketed the chip and walked to the door. He set his hand over the hand monitor and the door opened up without a sound. He turned the corner and ran right into a Union Officer.
"Shit!" He cursed, seeing his former victim beyond them.
"That's him!"
Taylor turned on his heel and sprinted all out for the docking bays. He pulled the tronflex hood up over his head and zipped his jacket up as a laser bolt shot passed his head. He took a right and felt his knee give out as he slid across the slick floors until a wall stopped him. He scrambled to his feet and risked a look back. The Union Officers had a gained ground with his fall, so he sped his legs up and saw the bay only a hundred feet away. A laser bolt struck him in the back but it did nothing but spread the energy across the fabric's surface. He grinned and slammed his palm on the monitor. A tense moment passed before the door opened slowly and he squeezed through.
The Clepsydra lay in dormant mode as he pressed his jaw, where the internal com-link was implanted and yelled, "Life systems on! Emergency departure! Open hatch five!"
The fifth hatch opened just as a laser bolt slammed into the back of his leg, sending him sprawling inside.
"Shut hatch five!" He screamed.
The hatch closed.
He ran to the cockpit and slammed his body into the flight chair, "Power up Clep!" He called the ship's nickname.
The ship's power turned up fully as he was pressed painfully against his seat and the ship tore out of the spacious hanger towards the open hanger doors.... that were now rapidly closing.
"Clep, chances of making it through the hanger doors?"
A soft feminine voice, though mechanical, answered, "Twenty-five percent."
Taylor ground his teeth, "Good enough for me."
The ship turned onto it's side and skimmed through the doors, never touched by them.
"Hell yeah!" Taylor whooped, "Now....off to Draedon and my fatty pay check."

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