by Lina Munroe
“I want a do-over!” Zira crumpled her opponent’s collar in her fist and twisted it tight around his neck. Glasses shattered against the hardwood floor, spilling drinks at their feet.
Arkady Fabian just laughed. It was a harsh rasp of a sound, mean as sin, that didn’t quite match the sparkle in his left eye. His right eye was bisected by a long scar that ended somewhere beneath his thick brown beard. When he blinked, slow and mocking, the aperture of his right eye spiraled closed over the red glow shining from somewhere deep in his skull.
Zira scowled at the cards. She knew he’d stuck some up his sleeve, but she thought she was good enough to win anyway. She hadn’t accounted for the extras he’d stashed while she was focused on his sleeve. She couldn’t believe she’d fallen for the classic misdirection cheat like some amateur. Now he got to keep that glorious ship of his that she would’ve pushed out to the far end of the galaxy and back just because she could, and she was forced to pick her way through the mess below deck where she’d docked her hoopty starhopper. The old thing had nearly rattled itself to pieces getting her here and then had the nerve to start leaking fuel again when they docked. It was probably still overheated.
He laughed in her face again, the sound scratchy from years of smoking. “Deal’s a deal, Zira. Pay up.”