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   Chapter 4 No.4

The Time Saving Agency By Christina Engela Characters: 5589

Updated: 2018-06-29 12:02

"Yeah, you were real happy there, weren't you?" He replied. "People spat at you in the street. You want to go back?"

She shrugged, her smile fading only slightly. She didn't enjoy the reminder.

"I have a job here." He added. "If I leave, I'll be dependent on your good graces – and your bank account."

"Your point being?" She grinned, sliding her feet between his. "You think I can't afford it? … Or you don't like admitting you're an old fashioned kind of guy who believes a man should support a woman?"

"Sorry." He smiled. "I'm just one or two bounties ahead of bankruptcy."

"I like old fashioned guys." She giggled, before getting more serious and adding: "I feel safe with you, Gary."

"Well, you should." He said, leaning in to give her another tender kiss. Her lips were soft and so very kissable. He could keep it up all day.

The waiter arrived to take their order, waiting politely as though his tip depended on it. The menu still looked interesting, even though it was the same one they'd seen almost every morning since they'd become involved. The menu was so interesting because as Humans pushed back the boundaries of unexplored space and discovered strange new worlds – and the new life that grew, flew, hovered, walked, hopped, swam or crawled on them – there were chefs behind the scenes figuring out new and interesting ways to eat it.

Mei believed in trying something new everyday. She wanted to catch up on all the living she'd missed in her previous life as Agent Winter, man of interplanetary mystery and mayhem. She'd spent all her life alone, out of necessity, she supposed. Even after the hormones kicked in and she started living as Cindy-Mei two and a half years ago, she discovered what absolute jerks men could be. Lucky she was able to take care of herself. Quite a few of those jerks discovered that while they could dish it out, they weren't able to take it. She had left the Colonial Intelligence Agency – not entirely of her own accord – and after the gender-reassignment procedure, she came to Deanna as part of a holiday she gave to herself as a way to kick-off her new life. It was time to start living. Mei was technically still on holiday. Well, at least she got Gary out of the deal.

She didn't have a job and thanks to some wise investments she made while she still worked for the Agency, was independent financially. If asked about it, she would just wink and hint that "Sometimes diplomacy has its advantages". She had no real time limit or deadline to return home and things were turning rather interesting between her and Gary, so she was in no rush to leave.

"Ma'm?" The waiter greeted, awaiting her pleasure.

"I think I'll try some stewed Kwarracks." She said. "With coffee, white, one sugar."

"Yes, ma'm –" Said t

he waiter making a note on his order pad. "And for you, sir?"

"Toasted chicken and mayo – white bread." He said, before the waiter could still ask. Gary tended to stick with things he knew. Especially early in the morning, when choices required decisions, which in turn required actual effort. Some people were walking past, chatting on their way to work. Shiny SUV's were humming silently by in the street. If only it could always be like this, they were thinking at the same time. Another ordinary day in their lives, another ordinary, uneventful, quiet day.

* * *

Meanwhile, sitting on a modest hilltop in the middle of approximately nowhere, a lone figure was slowly and thoughtfully dismembering a small yellow flower.

"Sshe hatess hme, " the figure hissed deep in thought, "Sshe hatess hme hnot."

Mark put his hat back on and silence ruled supreme once more. He gazed out into the distance, allowing the silence to flow through him, to feel the negative energies of the universe strengthen him. Being the only known Ruminarii alive in the Terran Empire made him something of an endangered species. This also defined him as a wanted ma – um, person. At least, he would be if any outsiders got wind of his existence. That's why he was out in the wild, keeping a low profile while watching the herd for the Grauffis sisters. High above, a thin little vapor trail ended abruptly in a small red silent explosion in the upper stratosphere. Another lone stratopenguin had misjudged its altitude and strayed too high.

Mark used to be called Marsh'k Kluss'ta – a Half-Lieutenant in the Ruminarii military, and the commander of the Black Sunrise, the warship that had tried to invade Deanna two months back – a long time, it seemed. Due to a strange quirk of fate he found this place while fleeing from the spaceport that fateful morning. He met the ranch owner, Jenny Grauffis, who took pity on him and gave him some water. A little later he got the chance to repay the debt by saving her and her younger sibling Danielle from the clutches of some greedy mine representatives. A little while later, these same mine representatives turned up mysteriously dead and crispy in their melted SUV at the bottom of Beggars Canyon a hundred miles away. It was a funny, frustrating and confusing time for them all, he reflected. Funny that nobody had tried to force the Grauffis sisters off their land since. At least not yet.

He was called Mark now. Mark was easier for the humans to pronounce, and anyway, he was glad to find a safe haven here. He didn't look human though, being your typical Ruminarii, a biped reptilian who could be called 'scaly' without taking offense. As a result, he tended not to get out much, or to meet any of the locals outside of the Grauffis household.

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