The unexpected transport came in hot and hard, sweating off heat shield residue as it slowed to not crash. The landing itself was a bravura piece of work that the part-time port master might have applauded, if it hadn’t been preceded by a sonic boom. The fact that the transport had been broadcasting official alert codes ever since it’d reached planetary orbit had the colony’s senior officials waiting for it when it arrived, dressed in whatever they’d been wearing when they got the call. The security chief was in a bathrobe.
The first person off the ship was a tall, lean, grey-haired man dressed in combat leathers. He was followed and flanked by two more men in combat leathers and carrying scanners. Behind them was a squad’s worth more in combat gear: a Scryer, his impregnated tattoos glowing gently in the twilight; a girl carrying a heavy weapons load and with her combat rifle at the ready; a Cybertech with rather more than the usual number of visible prostheses; plus a handful of men equipped as light skirmishers. Whoever they were, they were expecting trouble.
The tall man spoke first. “Colonial Manager Reebz?” He looked around the assembled dignitaries until Parren Reebz stepped forward. “Manager Reebz, I apologise for our hasty and rude arrival. I’m Obermaaster Felidas, Directorate of Public Health and Safety. We’re here about your Ithkarri problem.”
“I’m sorry,” Parren Reebz voiced the confusion they all felt, “but I’m sure we don’t have any Ithkarri on the planet.”
“At the moment,” agreed the obermaaster tersely, “but there’s an Ithkarri trine off of Aled aboard the Illusian Sun, due here in a couple of hours. They slipped through our net there and we had to redline it to get here before them.”
“How bad is it?” Reebz was asking the right questions.
The obermaaster shrugged. “We don’t know. They could still be hiding in the cargo bay, or they could’ve taken over the ship. We’ll stop them either way.”
Nip In The Bud 2 is here.