Jackal and the Space Slavers by Terry R. Lacy (Jackal #1)
English | 2020| Fantasy | ePUB | 3.0 MB
When Jag and Fancy free a group of slaves rather than sell them, their lives go from boring to endangered. Jag is a small-time, mostly-honest space trader, part-time smuggler. Together with his sidekick, Fancy, a former stowaway, now turned best friend, they make their living flying around the spiral armpit, buying and selling cargo with a little contraband for flavor. When they take a job hauling sex slaves to market, Fancy–who had narrowly escaped that life–would rather die, or better yet, kill, than sell these girls. They steal a pirate’s cargo–then they steal his ship. Now they’re on the run.
Naphthian Rum was illegal in every part of the civilized galaxy, and when he finished his second shot, eyes crossing slightly as the acidic burn travelled down his throat, Jag remembered why. He gave a full-body shudder that reminded him of the time he took his first swallow of whiskey as a kid growing up on Earth—that’s the real Earth, too, not some far away system that some other humans grow up on then claim they grew up on Earth, even though their families haven’t lived on the Big Blue Marble in generations. Anyone who’d ever heard Jag speak of his childhood growing up on Earth had also picked up on his tone of arrogance when he talked about it, but any of those who had heard other stories of Jag’s childhood understood that was because of all the things that happened to Jag in his childhood, growing up on Earth was the only thing worthy of braggadocio. Everything else had been bleak.
The floating lights behind the bar changed shapes and seemed to begin talking to one another, slipping in and out of focus until his eyes slid back into place. “Want another?”
Jag shook his head until the bartender became slightly less blurry.
The entire place had a coating of red dust that looked like a combination of rust and drying blood, and that included the bartender. Human, mostly Caucasian, the dust clustered into the wrinkles around his eyes and across his forehead like tattooed accents, ground in so deep a simple washing wouldn’t get rid of them, and they gave the man a Polynesian, tribal look. He held the bottle poised over Jag’s glass, looking annoyed at Jag taking so long to give an answer to a simple question. “Another?”
What Jag wanted was to unload the hundred cases of the stuff he’d picked up on one of Vesuvius’s outer moons about three months ago. He didn’t mind a little smuggling—in fact, it was how he and Fancy, his copilot, made their living, but he’d learned long ago it was best to unload contraband as fast as possible. Unlike wine, bootleg merchandise never improves with age. He looked at the clock behind the bar. His contact was a Galactic hour late—that was over four hours, Earth. Smugglers lived by a rule that if you were fifty Galactic minutes late—a half an hour—you weren’t coming. Ten minutes ago, he’d made the switch from coffee to something stronger. If he couldn’t get paid, he could at least get drunk, otherwise the trip here would be a total bust.