So writing for me is just a hobby but I recognize that some people like different styles. Mostly I write like the previous story, short and the action keeps rolling but usually it starts as a much longer dialog and I edit then redit then edit some more. My original style of writing is a lot more detailed, heck its snoozville sometimes there is so much description, too much. Sometimes you really need the details and setting the scene to get across an idea. Enjoy. RETIREMENT I took another sip of Algoroc's finest wine and looked across at my dinner guest. To most passers by he looked like an elderly settler with nothing whatsoever outstanding about his appearance. To me, although I feared the man, he represented the very best the stealth profession could achieve, inconspicuous alone or in a crowd and not presenting a threat to anyone. The combination of his skills and hidden weaponry could mean certain death to any that crossed him, I considered that as I offered him another glass of the wine, he accepted and complimented me on the meal. “Thank you, that is outstanding cuisine Tirx, you should have been a chef” I considered the comment and thought whether it was advice to change my career or just a compliment. I settled on the latter simply because both his hands were on the table and I was still alive. Service as a Dominion operative rarely offered any career change, just a very short retirement. “You are most welcome Feilzar, I felt a meeting such as this demanded an extra effort on my behalf” I replied. For certain if our positions were reversed and I was the guest, I would have been too nervous to eat anything, knowing that Feilzar was 'the' master of newly developed poisons on Nexus. As we progressed through the courses I resisted the urge to ask why Dominion command had sent Feilzar to my position and brought the risk of revealing my covert operation. I figured he would present the subject in time. It was well known that Feilzar hated the Aurin species, his family had fought a renegade band several years before and that was when he had received the deep scar across his forehead. I didn't share his hatred and worried that it clouded his judgment. Feilzar spoke after finishing the second course, “You did very well on Tremar Ridge I see” the man gestured to the alien relic displayed on my side cabinet. I responded quickly, afraid that he hadn't been fully briefed. “Yes, command said to keep that one for appearances sake, I've had a few of the Cartel comment and their information has led to more discoveries. I believe one was a particularly useful piece of Eldan weaponry.” “Indeed it was” Feilzar replied “and that's partly why I am here” Pausing from eating Feilzar toyed with his knife and spoke to me, “Your position with the villainous Darkspur Cartel is advantageous and we have benefited from all of the intelligence you have sent to command. But....” he paused to search for the words. “We 'need' to move you to another operation, we have had all that we want from this Cartel. It is time for you to close down the operation and to head to a new location” The consequences of debating the matter with my Dominion superior flashed through my mind for a second and left just as quickly, instead I smiled and thought of an appropriate response. “Of course, as the Dominion orders. I will plan an exit strategy right away” I halfheartedly smiled to Feilzar. The change of assignment would have been routine if were not for my '‘relationship’ with the Aurin Tueshka who worked at one of the Cartel’s warehouse’s and our child that she carried, and the quantity of goods that I had been skimming off the Cartel’s shipments hidden beneath my feet. Add to that the fact that the last four shipments of alien relics I had sent to Command had been hijacked by ‘bandits’ and now resided in my small well hidden cave in the hills nearby. Life had suddenly become overly complicated. “I will arrange a cleanup first thing in the morning” I added. “No need, we plan to do that with a small force in a few hours” Feilzar casually replied. The lightly roasted skipper meat, brazed in Buzzbang honey, froze in my throat as I quickly began to figure a way to save Tueshka without revealing my hand. “In fact we should be able to watch it all happen right through your window” Feilzar smiled, one hand shifting from the table to the pocket of his robe “should be quite a show” he added. I evaluated the situation quickly, I had a fork in one hand and a rather small and practically useless knife in the other, my hound ‘Boorok’ was lying sprawled out across the floor being about as useful as loftite in zero gravity, right in my path to my rifle which leaned up against the wall. Likely Feilzar had his signature dart gun in his pocket loaded with ‘what knows?’ kind of poison, I heard that one poison could turn you into a living dead servant. I considered the old movies where the hound would devotedly carry a message to the heroine alerting her as to the danger, but most likely Boorok would take the message to Nearion the butcher at the first sign of a free run. Besides I had yet to reveal my true identity to Tueshka, true there had been some opportunities, but the time never seemed just right. Feilzar had stopped eating and sat staring at me, expectantly. “Dessert, of course, I will fetch it right away” I said as I reached over the table, I saw his arm tense slightly as I removed his plate with a smile and stepped into the adjacent kitchen. Feilzar calmly rose and walked over to the window, his back to me but affording him a good reflection of my movements in the window. “Sometimes its difficult to let go of an assignment, I understand that, but nothing is more important than the honor of serving the Dominion. In time you will only remember this as a fleeting memory, nothing more.” Feilzar spoke, his back still to me. I opened the drawer to my left as I took the dessert out of the coldbox, my original Protostar G23 “Pioneer” pistol lay at the back. I thought for a second about the nearly two dozen times it had misfired on me and instead picked two spoons from the drawer. Carefully balancing the two plates I went back to the table, setting each in its place. Feilzar returned to his seat. Feilzar continued to idly chatter as he feasted upon the dessert, I barely touched mine as I frantically tried to think of a way to deal with the situation. Eventually my eyes wandered to the condiment pots in the center of the table, I hadn’t cleared them after the last course, one was Darkpepper an exceedingly hot liquid spice. “Not hungry ?” Feilzar questioned as he finished his plate and his hand slipped back to the pocket. “No I have to watch my blood chemistry these days” I smiled as I carefully moved the plate to the floor and Boorok eagerly advanced believing ‘Nexus Colonization day’ must have come early. “So tactical team, four or five dropping in for the cleanup ?” I asked calmly as Boorok noisily gulped down the sugary dessert. “Team Four, they do great work, very precise, literally a kill with every shot, ...... sometimes two with one shot” he added smirking. I resisted the urge to leap across the table and try to strangle him, instead I kept calm as Boorok began agitatedly pacing the room. Feilzar's smirk disappeared as he tried to watch the animal at the same time as me. “Oh no worry, old Boorok gets a little fired up after some foods, I think its the sugar” I reassured Feilzar, placing my hands calmly on the table, one a little closer to the spice. Boorok began his run around the inside house picking up speed with every step and yelping like a crazed beast, furnishings toppled out of the way as he circled through the rooms faster and faster seemingly mad with rage his tongue lashing at anything in his way. I stayed calm as the chaos continued my hand inching ever closer to the spice bottle. Books scattered as he tore up onto the couch and across the lounge once again, Feilzar's eyes twitched from side to side trying to anticipate the next event. Boorok cleared the couch in a single bound and bumped into the cabinet. The alien relic started wobbling in its base, a low hum filled the room followed immediately by the blinding green flash of light the object always emitted when shaken. I closed my eyes and a fraction of a second after the flash I ducked down, as Feilzar's dart shot over my head. I grabbed the spice bottle and I launched its contents at Feilzars face, the incredibly irritating spice seared into his eyes, nose and skin as he took two more shots with the darts in my direction. Diving across the space between us I brought my right fist into his face as hard as I could, dislodging parts of his disguise, splitting his skin and impacting his cheekbone, my left hand knocked the dart gun from his hand as we both slammed into the wall. I saw my opportunity and stepped over to the rifle quickly leveling it at the broken mans chest as he fought to see where I was. The bolt of energy bounced back off Feilzar's reflective chest under armor and hit me in the left arm, burning my skin badly and forcing me to drop the gun. I cursed loudly and ran at Feilzar his right fist swinging wildly over my head, his left reaching for my throat as I slammed him back into the wall again. I felt his left hand closing around my windpipe as I headbutted him square on the nose, the weak cartilage smashing and splintering into the skin around his face. I punched my right fist up once more, dislodging his jaw and his left hand released my throat. It was then I felt the sharp pain in my chest, his right hand had picked the cylindrical toxin release container from his pocket and now held it against me, the tiny mechanized claws had dug into my skin and clothing and it was ready to deploy its lethal toxin payload directly into my chest. His left hand rose to show the deadmans trigger already pressed on the hand held detonator, I slumped to my knees knowing that whatever I did if he relaxed his grip the container would discharge. Boorok had finished his run and lay down again on the floor sleeping off the exercise. Feilzar wiped the blood from his face with my table cloth and sat down, the detonator still held tightly in his hand. “Meliantorin paralytic poison with Reeners nanoticks, you are paralyzed while the ticks devour you inside out, I added Bayok painkillers so you are sure to stay alive until the last bite.” Feilzar stated, a sick smile crossing what remained of his face as he drew a surgical knife from his robe “Course I may need to open you up to see its all working correctly” he added. I knew it was the end, I had nothing smart to say, no clever gadgets hidden around and I faced a man who was renowned for his merciless kills. I had done the Dominions dirty work, furthered their cause and they repaid me only with death, how misguided I had been. My hopes of escaping with Tueshka and starting a family in some quiet Exile town were gone, none of my skills could release me from this situation, tears welled in my eyes as I began to imagine the fate she and our child would shortly suffer. The humans had an expression 'faith of the heart, never fails' but I figured it would not help me here with a million microscopic bugs just inches from my vital organs. Feilzar released the trigger with a simple statement “No-one escapes the Warbringers Wrath, Tirx” he said coldly. The cylinder attached to my chest began to whir and buzz, the vibrations from it shaking through my body, the Protostar symbol on the casing flashed red and it stopped buzzing. The familiar voice of Fileous Rotostar came out of the tiny machine, “Error, please contact customer support, we value you as a loyal customer”. As Feilzar started towards me, I rolled to my left grabbing the rifle and leveling at Feilzars head, without a seconds hesitation I pulled the trigger. At close range the energy bolt vapourized all of the mans head, a landscape picture of Tremar Ridge and a sizable section of the wall. I frantically pulled the tiny claws out of my chest and rested the toxin device on the remains of Feilzar's body. “Consider that notice of my retirement” I said quietly as I patted the sleeping Boorok, administered an InstantMedic pack to my arm and headed for the door. Dominion Team Four were my next problem.