“Jek is not trying to be disagreeable—but Jek does not understand the point of this mission.”
“What do you mean?”
“Simply—killing the leader is not going to end their operations—they’ll simply replace the leader and continue their activities.”
“We get paid either way, Gray Face.”
“That does not answer Jek’s concern, Grox—and Jek has told you Jek does not appreciate that moniker.”
Even though the Blood letters were standing in a circle, the focus was obviously pointed toward Reese at all times. She was their accepted leader—even in a group as democratic as theirs, this was never questioned.
“But Grox does have a point, Jek—we’re not being paid to take down the organization—just the leader. No reason to question it—we’re not getting paid for that.”
Jek did not respond—he looked at Reese for what felt like a long time and then gently bowed his head.
Jek’s expressions were difficult for Reese to read. Besides both being bipeds, Quintarians and Humans could not have looked more different. Quintarians stood, on average, a foot and a half over the typical Human—but they also weighed approximately half of an average Human. Their bodies looked stretched—arms extending to the bottom of their knees. They had an extra finger on each hand—what amounted to a second pointer-finger, but only two toes and what could best be referred to as a ‘heel thumb’ on their feet. There were only slits where a nose would be—their mouths and ears were equally utilitarian. Quintarians had no external apparatus to aid in hearing, though Reese had never seen Jek exhibit any limitations with his hearing that the average sentient didn’t also have. Quintarian skin was hairless, gray and leather-like in texture. Their eyes were particularly off-putting to most other species—they were completely silver with seemingly no pupil.
Reese had never met another Quintarian—but she’d been told by multiple sources that they were essentially indistinguishable from each other, barring height differences. Perhaps this was why they’d developed a collective culture in which Quintarians never used their names, instead referring to themselves as ‘We’.
Except, of course, for Jek.
Reese appreciated the Quintarian’s superior intellect—he was easily the most intelligent member of the crew. Then again, she was pretty sure Jek could easily qualify as the most intelligent person on most planets.
That intelligence, it seemed, had been his undoing on Quintar. Reese had never gotten the full story from him, but she did know that Jek was banished from Quintar after being involved in some kind of experiments the higher-ups hadn’t appreciated. He’d wandered the galaxy until falling in with Cappy and his wannabe-pirates and followed Reese and Rab when they left.
Finally, Trig joined the circle.
“What’re we talking about?”
Reese couldn’t help but shoot lasers from her eyes at the young girl. She’d been called just like everyone else to this meeting—and Trig was the only one late.
“Grox, would you mind filling her in?”
“It’s pretty simple—we’re going to some backwater planet to take out a baddie for the GC.”
Trig’s face bloomed into a red flush as the two letters escaped Grox’s mouth.
“The GC?! We’re working for them now?”
“Trig, calm do—“
“No—no—the GC are a bunch of fascist pigs—I’m not doing anything for them, even if they are paying! I don’t care if they’re offering a million currs each—“
Cress crossed the circle and took one of Trig’s hands in his own. It was almost comical watching the little Chig, nearly two feet shorter, comforting the teenager. But Reese knew that if anyone could talk Trig down when she was on a tirade, it was the bulbous eyed pilot of the Downed Horizon. He may have had a pilot’s brain, but he had a beast-tamer’s heart.
Cress looked up at Trig with a sincere expression as he held her larger hand in the webbed fingers of his two.
“Listen, little one—Groxxy didn’t tell you the whole story.”
“Quiet, you oversized pincushion. Now listen—yes, the GC are paying the bill—but they’re sending us after the head of a slavery ring. This group, they’re working on enslaving an entire planet’s worth of near-sentients.”
“But the GC—they must have some kind of—“
“They might have some plans of their own, I agree. But we’ll still be doing something good, you see? So it don’t really matter what those pigs want. We’re still doing good.”
The flush slowly drained from Trig’s face. She looked around, now feeling embarrassed at her outburst.
“You won’t find any fans of the Coalition in this circle, little one, you know that—But we need the money and they’re gonna pay well.”
Cress’ amphibian green face bloomed into an infectious, beaming grin.
“Glad to hear it, little one.”
Cress turned around to face the rest of the group as a way of say, ‘the situation is resolved’.
Anka, per her usual, had kept silent during the group’s discussion. Now she spoke up.
“So—what’s the plan?”
Reese turned her head to look at Rab. He stepped forward.
“We’re going to try to keep this simple—there will be two groups…”
Writing the character of Jek is especially interesting/fun for me–because Jek only refers to Jek by the name…Jek. No pronoun is applicable to Jek and Jek does not use or think of the word ‘I’ to refer to Jek. Good times.