ARC: Under Nameless Stars
Yes. No doubt about it. This Liam was a friend who she was very glad to see once more.
    “I can’t believe it,” he said. “You got away, in the cargo hold. I thought you were pinched for sure. What in Nine Hells are you doing down here?”
    “We heard about the fight,” she said, raising her voice above the noise in the room. “I came to try and stop it.”
    “We?” Liam looked Jules up and down. “You with this guy? I can’t wait to hear this story.”
“He sort of… bailed me out,” Zenn said. “He’s letting me stay in his cabin.”
    “Really? Nice work. I thought they’d have you on a ferry headed back to the surface by now.”
    “What about you? How’d you end up down here?”
    Liam dug in his pocket, then held up a credit relay. “Just call me Victor LeClerc.”
    “You stole Vic LeClerc’s credit relay?”
    “Victor, Victoria, who’ll know the difference up here?”
    “But how’d you get it?”
    “I ‘borrowed’ it when I took the lease papers from Vic’s ranch. Figured I’d need it. I knew I was gonna have to make myself scarce if I blew the lid on what she and Graad were up to. Pretty much maxed it out to bribe the first steward I met after you slammed the door on me back there. But it was enough for a discount ticket to the cheap seats down here. Not exactly the lap of luxury. Hey, it’s off-planet; that’s what counts.”
    “But what are you doing in here? This is wrong, and someone needs to…”
    A particularly raucous shout went up from the crowd, and Zenn looked over to see Thrott preparing to release his slug into the makeshift arena.
    “We have to do something,” she said. “Those animals will cut each other to ribbons. We have to stop this.”
    “But you have already attempted this,” Jules said, leaning down so she could hear him above the din. “These gamblers are not concerned with statutes governing this sector.”
    “Yeah. What a shock,” Liam said, looking around at the motley crowd of bettors. “This way.” He nodded at her to follow, then shouldered his way out through the crowd. At the far wall, he pulled himself up onto a tall container, pulled a small square of metal from his pocket and held it up to the ceiling. Zenn saw then what it was: an old-fashioned cigarette lighter. She heard a clicking sound as Liam held the lighter up, now with a small flame rising from it. “They don’t give a damn about the law, do they? But ya know what? I’ll bet they give a damn about this. ”
    He played the flame across the surface of the ceiling. A moment later, the room was filled with a cloudburst of water, streaming down like a heavy rainfall from invisible openings in the ceiling. The shock of the cold water hit Zenn like an icy, wet blanket – but Liam was right:
    the crowd responded as a single organism, breaking in a chaotic surge for the room’s two exit doors. Shoving and pushing, they slid crazily on the water-slick floor, colliding with each other in their haste to leave, as a digitized voice from somewhere intoned loudly: “Emergency. Unidentified combustion detected in storage room 9, sub-deck 3. Emergency…”
    Thrott went by, wheeling his caged slug in front of him. As he passed Zenn, the Skirni shot her a withering glare.
    “This is your doing.” He pawed water from his face, sodden robes clinging to him. “You meddle in affairs of which you know nothing. And yet you meddle.”
    “This is incorrect,” Jules told him. “This person here is an exovet of the novice rank and knows much about slug types and all variety of creatures.”
    “I care not if she is exovet master rank! She meddles. She cost me my winnings. Thrott Larg-Skirnik will not forget.”
    Zenn recoiled at his venomous rage, then found her voice.
    “It’s against the law,” she said. “And it’s cruel.”
    “Bahhg! Law. In the mother-void? What law? You will pay. Thrott will not forget.” Then he shoved the cage through the door and was gone.
    “Come on,” Liam said as

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