by Greg Mitchell -
“No,” Dressler said for the fourth time, now folding his beefy arms, hoping to add to the effect.
Yulaura crossed the room, releasing an exasperated breath. She flopped in the seat across from him in Meryl’s crowded living room. At their feet, five children played and rough-housed, except for Edilyn. Dressler’s daughter sat next to him, stiff and serious. She was more hunter than child now.
“Dress, be reasonable,” Yulaura groaned. “We need this.”
“We? Or you?”
“Me! You!” She gestured to the cramped quarters, shouting to be heard over the lawless kids. “How long can you possibly stand to live here?”
An especially sharp cry split Dressler’s nerves as one of his nephews pummeled his squealing niece with a pillow. Yulaura had a point.
Only last week he and Edilyn had taken in a stranger who’d run into a spot of trouble. Turns out that trouble had followed him to their home. There had been an attack. Edilyn had kept her cool, and Dressler had never been prouder of her. Together they’d defended their home and kept their haggard guest safe—but the house was destroyed. His sister Meryl had graciously offered them a couch for the last few nights, but he and Edilyn were used to their quiet. Their solitude.
A stray pillow sailed through the air, smacking him in the face. He scowled.
“What’s the job?” he grumbled. “More importantly, what’s it pay?”
Yulaura’s bright eyes lit with excitement against her tanned face. Her teeth beamed white in a wide smile. “Big. This is the big one, Dress. My contact says that it’s a huge infestation. Biggest one they’ve ever had. Hunters from all over are coming, but there’s room for everyone. And money for everyone, too. Lots of money.”
He squinted at her, apprehensive. “Well, there would have to be, considering where we’re going.”
His stomach flopped, just at the thought of it. A wave of queasiness settled over him as he rolled the word over in his mind: Avenir. There was a damn bug invasion on Avenir. The thought of breaking orbit, going into space…
Dressler swallowed hard, his weathered hands feeling damp.
After his little “adventure” down in Eclectia’s oceans, Dressler was determined to keep nice, solid earth under his feet at all times from here on out.
He looked to Edilyn, heaving a sigh. “What do you think?”
His daughter leaned over and hugged his arm. “I don’t want you to leave again.”
He patted her curly, dirty blonde locks. He didn’t want to leave, either. Last time he’d left her, he’d followed his last partner on some harebrained scheme. That turned out badly, to say the least. He’d nearly died down there in those waters, facing off against that thing. Now he was thinking about going up into space and fighting the monsters up there?
Yulaura continued to grin, nearly bouncing in place. “Come on, Dress. We need this,” she repeated. “Think of Lyn. You guys can’t stay here.”
She was right. As usual. He didn’t now why Yulaura was so excited to leave the planet. Maybe it was just the lure of adventure. Yulaura certainly liked to live on the wild side, getting them both into their share of trouble during their partnership. But he trusted her. She’d not let him down yet.
Dressler looked to his daughter, apologetically. Edilyn rolled her eyes and let him go, realizing he’d made his decision. “Oh, alright. But hurry back. If I have to stay here much longer, I’m going to go out of my mind.”
Dress chuckled and gave her a playful smack in the face with a pillow. “Be back before you know it. Maybe I’ll even bring you a souvenir.”