Sair pulled open the plain steel door of the Post, his gaze sweeping the dim interior as he slipped inside. From the nearest seat, a Parol swung his head around and snarled, exposing sharp orange fangs. Sair’s heart skipped. If he hadn’t seen a Parolian smile before, he would have jumped back.
He glanced down at his thigh sheath and frowned. Going for one of his weapons had never crossed his mind. He’d survived his brief walk through the dusty streets of Eliptis, but it proved to be an unsavory experience. Focused on his destination, head up and sunshield in place over his eyes, he ignored the rough-faced crewies and hangtown beggars that moved aside as he approached. Being Rathskian offered that advantage. His subspecies’ reputation got him to the Spacefreighters Trade Post in one piece. Now he had a slim chance to escape.
Sair allowed his eyes time to adjust to the low light of the large, gloomy hall. He spied no towering Ithians or fellow Rathskians milling about. No shoulders or hats bore the purple hexagon of Ithis, the blue four-pointed star of Rathskia or tri-tone triangle of the Ithian Alliance. He removed his eyeshield with care. It was a risk exposing his face, but leaving the device on indoors might bring unwanted attention.
Sair avoided the row of dispatcher’s windows, looking for the spot where less official transactions might be conducted. Spying a door in the back, he moved toward it. A large sign in Dartian script hung on the wall: Spacefreighters Lounge.
Sair walked through the connecting passageway, turning his face aside as figures stumbled past in the darkness. He halted at the entrance and scanned the room. Inside, pilots and crew of many subspecies hulked over the bar or carried on quiet discussions at a number of booths and tables swallowed in gloom. Pirates and privateers, from the look of most. And no doubt more than a few bounty hunters. Thick smoke hung in the air, a pungent mixture of Dartian tobac and contraband. Sair choked back a cough, glad to have the extra concealment of the dark haze. When no one glanced at him, he moved forward to prop a foot on the floor rail of the bar.
Pressing a coin to the counter, he slid it across to the attender. “Billins, if you have it.”