Clalls sat behind a lavish Minky desk, relaxed with his index fingers steepled together, going over loose ends. His birthday celebration was ten days away and yet there was still so much to do, because he wasn’t simply hosting a Demon party.
No, gone were the days of skinclad beauties being used as décor. Gone were the days of tempting the lawmakers and lawbreakers to give in to their reptilian brains and indulge in their deepest fantasies so that he could record it – and blackmail them later.
Blackmail was a childish game.
Hell, building a fortune just to see the numbers grow was just as foolish.
He was no longer that fool.
Clalls had learned that lesson while he sat locked in his Federation-assigned cabin, waiting to die like the rest of the crew on Garna, the starcruiser. None of his millions had been able to save him, none of his priceless relics could console him. Worse, he hadn’t even had a single person who gave a damn about him to call and say goodbye to.
That was when the old Clalls died and the new one was born.
Clalls always believed Seth of Stars hated him, had cursed him, but maybe the Yunkin god did what he’d had to do, to give him another chance, to show him another way, to do what only Clalls had the ability to do.
Sitting in his private office, lording over his empire, Clalls knew this one event was going to reverberate through time. It was going to be his masterpiece.
He couldn’t wait.
Jolting him from his thoughts of grandeur, Clalls’s Minky desk trilled. The hologram illuminated a square image with white letters at the top that indicated it was a non-Federation ID. Under name of owner, it read: Answer the call. Clalls took a long breath and sat forward, wondering what Nova was doing…and where. The last thing she’d told him was that she was going shopping for his gift.
Answering the call, he said, “How long does it take to pick out a present?”
“You’re very hard to buy for,” she said.
In the background Clalls could hear male voices, not shouting or anything, just the normal rhythm of it. Having been stationed on a series of ships, he knew that sound well. The part that almost worried him was why she was on a ship and not at a market.
“I’ll make it easy for you, a case of Quib will work just fine.”
She scoffed. “Seso’s already getting you a case.”
Seso, his head of security, a decent Terran, with good instincts and a simple mind. A case of Quib was a good gift…considering the Terran’s limited creativity.
“Two cases will last twice as long,” Clalls told Nova, hoping she took the hint and got a case. At the very least, he hoped that she didn’t think on any gift too long. She was the one person he had to constantly keep track of. One bad mental health day and she could turn over months and years of work.
“I’m not getting you Quib. Not after I came all the way out here to get you a walking squid for your fish pool.”
“I don’t have a fish pool,” he responded, needing answers to so very many questions.
First things first…how far had she gone?
Reaching over, he tapped the desk where he could open a new program window. He quickly ran a scan to see where her ship was. Narrowing his eyes as he read that her ship was still docked at Drifting Treasures, Clalls assumed she’d figured out that he’d tagged her engine with a location chip.
“Yes you do, it’s the one with the slides.”
His water park?
Hell no, was she that crazy?
“I don’t want any sea animals, Nova.”
“These ones are rare, though. They’re humanoid-ish, the last of their kind. Their planet died and these squids are practically a steal at two million each.”
Nova was mentally broken, with zero ability to feel for the plight of others. As a Demon, he had similar qualities for the masses, but there were a few people he cared about and one he loved.
Nova was in neither category.
She was in a category of her own. That category was labeled constant pain in the ass.
Apparently. Nova wasn’t exactly shopping for him. She was just doing what she loved doing, and that was killing people. As his employee, he’d told her she wasn’t allowed to kill anymore. Over the years, that rule had morphed to she was only allowed to kill bad people, specifically, those who kidnapped and sold people in the skin trade.
“How many are there?” Clalls asked in his business voice.
“I count seven,” she said.
“Alright, get ‘em” he said, knowing that Admiral Rannn would take them in, and send a ship over to pick up anyone else. Clalls had worked out a contract with the Federation years ago when Seso was missing. The contract stated that if he [through Nova’s actions] found a trafficking ring of any kind where individuals were being used and abused, Rannn would take the victims and the Federation wouldn’t pursue criminal actions if some of the traffickers died.
“I knew you’d like them.”
Clalls didn’t comment.
“One more thing, you don’t want them wrapped or anything, right?”
Clalls wiped a hand down his face. “No. Just deliver them to Rannn, as usual.”
“First of all, they’re collared, because they’re deadly. Second of all, none of them speak Universal, and third….these are a gift, not a job. Don’t be a jerk,” she snapped, and ended the call.
Staring at the spot where the call log read ended, he wondered if the reason why Seth had not allowed her to die yet was because He didn’t want to deal with her.