So the votes have been tallied and the winner is…
Season of Betrayal!
Thank you all for your votes and your suggestions. And now, the promised excerpt:
‘Minkhoy unlocked a box next to the dashboard and took out her rifle. She peered through the windshield and saw a ship she immediately identified as a bounty hunter ship. Everyone, even those who didn’t know much about ships, knew what those looked like. Her heart plummeted; this was serious. This bounty hunter wasn’t just chasing her around for fun; someone had paid him a lot to get her, and he wouldn’t be satisfied until he got her.
The ramp steadily lowered and a pair of black boots started walking down it. They slowly revealed themselves to be connected with a man in yellow armor carrying a rifle in his hands and a revolver in his belt. He seemed relaxed.
He paused at the end of the ramp and surveyed the Owl. Minkhoy waited to see what he would do with bated breath. Red Galaxy crouched on the dashboard, her ears flat against her skull, her eyes wide, and her tail flicking nervously.
At last he shouted, “Alright, come out with your hands up and nothing will get hurt.” She couldn’t guess his age from his voice; it sounded neither young nor old. But his voice did betray his utter confidence in himself. He obviously assumed he controlled the situation. Well, she’d see about that.
Minkhoy looked at Red for her advice, but she only looked back at her with the same uneasiness. She turned her attention back to the man, but he had done nothing yet.
“I’ll give you two minutes,” he shouted.
She slumped into the co-pilot’s seat, laying the rifle across her knees. She had no idea what to do. She didn’t want to go out there and put herself in his hands, but she didn’t want the Blue Owl to be damaged either. He hadn’t said he would directly, but his words ‘nothing will get hurt’ instead of ‘no one’ implied it. That was, of course, part of his tactic: leaving it up to her imagination.
She finally decided that the best way to delay him from doing anything harmful was to go out and talk to him- armed, of course. That way she could learn more and try to bargain with him, and stop him from damaging something if she possibly could. Hopefully it would also keep the situation somewhat under her control. She wasn’t going down without a fight.
She stood and went out into the parlor. Red followed her. She opened the door to the outside and let the ramp down. She clutched her rifle tighter as she descended the steps.
“I told you not to be armed,” he said immediately.
“Yes, well, you’re not my mother, are you?” Minkhoy answered calmly, trying to play it cool and controlled.
He laughed unnaturally, sending shivers up her spine. “I see you won’t go down without a fight.”
She gave him a sly smile. “You guess correctly. What do you want anyway?”
“You, of course.”
“What do you mean?” she asked irritably.
“I mean what I said. I have been paid by someone to bring you to him.”
“Who is this someone?”
“Gerent Vilnius- perhaps you’ve heard of him.”
Her eyes widened as she realized what he was saying. The bounty hunter seemed very pleased with himself for shocking her. For a moment she was frozen with fear. She couldn’t think. The only thing running through her head was the Galactic Union wants me; the Union wants me. She might not ever come back. The thought roused her and she made a sudden decision: she wasn’t going.
In one single movement, she jumped to the side, twisting around as she did so, and crouched behind the ramp. Almost before her feet hit the ground, she fired at the bounty hunter with her rifle. But he was ready for her. He easily sidestepped and crouched behind his ramp as well.
“I’ve got all day, but you’re coming with me,” he called.
She fired at him again and he gave a shout of pain. She peered over the ramp at him and saw him doubled over, clutching his shoulder. She slowly rose but ducked down again as he threw something at her.
She heard a thud and she turned to see at what it was. She gave a small yelp as she realized it was a time bomb set to go off soon. She didn’t know what to do; she didn’t know how to turn it off or even if she could. She wasn’t sure whether to throw it or run like crazy.
Red gave a frantic hiss of warning and Minkhoy whirled around- too late. The bounty hunter was standing in front of her. She grabbed her rifle but he shot her arm with a stunning dart and the gun rolled out of her limp hand. Black dots appeared in her vision and she fell over, her head spinning with dizziness.’