Black Honey Wings, Part XIV

Day 9. 47 pages, 21,076 words. No shit done this weekend.

Barducci had time to wonder, as the enormous Noro Metak female thundered towards him, whether Dool had gone off-script enough to have more than one Noro crewmate. It didn’t really matter, of course, because a Noro Metak wasn’t much bigger or nastier than a big, nasty human. They certainly weren’t as dangerous as Molranoids, all things considered. If there were more of them on the ship, it’d be better than having Molren, Blaren or Bonshooni on board. Drago knew what he’d rather fight. What it might mean about the efficacy of the Noro Metak goodwill ambassador program, or the level of meddling and preferential interference taking place at the hands of agencies like the Halfmoon throne, was another matter … but not one he had the opportunity to worry about now.

He did have time to consider, fleetingly, the possibility that Dool might have sent him to the hold on purpose, knowing his fellow buccaneer was in the area. Maybe what Barducci was looking for wasn’t here at all.

But he was out of time to worry about it. The Noro reached him at avalanche speed, and the quarters were too close for him to avoid her entirely. So he rode the charge, ducking to one side and throwing himself backwards to lessen the impact. The great horned head – tighter and smaller than the sweeping longhorns of Captain Dool, but thicker and heavier too – missed his face but the shoulder caught him a glancing blow. It was enough to hurl him against the wall, grinding something in his own shoulder but not breaking anything.

He scrabbled for his gun as the Noro broke her charge and rounded on him with a crash of boots. Then he realised he wasn’t carrying a gun, and spent a valuable half-second calling himself names. Had he even taken one from the Nope, Leftovers? Surely he would have. Had he tucked it into his belt and then lost it diving through the exchange?

Shit, if he’d lost his gun on an exchange dive, he deserved to get creamed. He was losing his-

He vaulted to his feet and turned to face the Noro Metak.

Then he realised that she had a gun.

He wondered if he had another half-second to spare.

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