It started with a bar fight.
I don’t remember what started the swinging, but I do know that I swung first, and I did it with a double rocks glass in my hand.
Dark liquor and darker blood covered the big man’s droopy, drawn-out face and sharp little pebbles of glass scattered over the floorboards.
He crumpled like paper money set ablaze, and I’m sure he’d deserved it, but he wasn’t alone.
Didn’t take long for his buddies to pin my back against a wall. Someone with a free hand sank their fingers into my hair, grabbed it tight by the roots, and slammed my head back into a framed picture that’d been on the wall since before I was born of two old schmucks smoking cigars in front of a bulky sublight freighter with a retrofuturistic design that never saw as many stars as I did in that moment.
They held me there and their leader sauntered real slow and calm-like out of a smokey corner where most of the light knew better than to visit. She pulled out a coil gun, racked the slide, and jammed the muzzle into my groin.
The bartender disappeared into the back shaking his head, and the other patrons were already finding their ways to the other establishments that encircled the spaceport. Tau Titus B was a frontier world. The locals and the passersby alike were no strangers to a little frontier justice.
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t have my boys here leave you half dead in the alley behind this shithole,” she said.
Her tone was as cold as nitrogen rain, but I didn’t shiver. I looked her dead in the eyes.
“Because only amateurs leave a job half done.”
She squinted and took a little pressure off of her weapon, but not all of it. “Where are you from, kid?”
“Shit, no one’s from here.”
“You ever think about leaving? I’m always looking for people who know how to bring things to a conclusion.” She held my gaze, but her crew glanced sidelong at the guy I’d put on the ground. He moaned and rolled himself into a ball, both hands covering his wounded temple.
“How would you like to go pro?” she asked.
She flipped her coil gun around and put it in my hand. I suppose I could have killed her right then, but it didn’t occur to me. She always had a way of getting you to see things her way.
“Finish what you started,” she said, “and then find me at hanger four. C’mon, fellas.” She left, unhurried, with her gang in tow.
I’d never killed anyone before.
I didn’t expect it to be so easy.
And it only got easier from there.