Next Time, Scales
By John Moran
“You’re too restless,” the lizard whispered into my brain.
“And you’ve been at the reactor fuel again.”
Marla slapped her prehensile tail onto the table, cracking its surface with her paralysing stinger and rattling the chess pieces. The blow echoed through the control room.
“I hate it when you do that, Steven.”
“Think you can read me.”
I smiled. “Your underarm scales are pale, which means a supercharged diet or zero-gravity. As we haven’t been off-planet, it must be the
food. Plus, your breath stinks of sulphur and your claws have white rings.”
Marla pointed one crimson eye at the table, but kept the other on me.
“Your move,” she said.
“Give me time. Why do you think I’m restless?”
“Because you’ve spent the last three weeks researching Loris, and done each patrol fully armed.”
I glanced through the window, as if by chance I might catch our thief creeping up in plain view, but all I saw were two huge moons glowering over the ruined planet, its civilisation long-dead, part-excavated and full of secrets.
I couldn’t let Marla know the site had me spooked, though. Her people had been hunters for a thousand years, and, through a quirk of fate, she believed in me.