An abandoned wallet on the sidewalk, drops of blood like a trail of bread crumbs leading away from it down to the mouth of an alley. After a few steps the drops turned to smears, but it was hard to tell if they were crawling smears or dragging smears.
Then I came across his shoe, and figured dragging.
I unsheathed my sword, silly I know to head into an alley with it still in its scabbard, but drawing undue attention to myself was not on the agenda tonight.
Someone dressed in a one piece fuchsia leotard, a polka dot cape, curly shoes and a floppy jingle hat was so very noticeable he was almost invisible at carnival time, but add a thrumming blue sword into the mix and you get some funny looks. I've always been fond of visiting Rombus 5, but some of the inhabitants, despite their open minded attitudes toward things like hallucinogens and orgies in the town square, were none too fond of crooks and scoundrels. Of which, I'm proud to say, I'm both. I'm also a narcoleptic vegetarian, but all they ever seem to care about is the "space pirate" portion of my resume. Citizens who have had their golden idols smuggled out in the dead of night tend to take matters into their own hands and hasten justice with a handy tree and some Vigilante brand rope once someone shouts "hey you!" in an authoritative sort of way. Although, if they're inexperienced hangmen, you could just end up with a sore neck and a really good view of the traditional after lynching celebratory orgy.
So I was sauntering along, projecting an air of saintly good citizenship while neatly concealing under my cloak a backpack full of stuff I had liberated from the royal treasury, when I recognized the shoe. Only my first mate, Eugene "stickyfingers" Tallhammer would be caught dead wearing an acid green high top tennis shoe with the initials ET emblazoned on the side in orange marker. As I got closer to the alley the blood spatters became blood puddles and I began hoping that when I got to him he hadn't been caught dead without it.
I cleared the alley mouth and was greeted with the shapely blue derriere of a very pissed off female cat creature. She was breathing hard and her hackles stood on end down all twelve feet of her spine. Her fury was an impressive sight, but when you added in that she was clothed solely in a green gee string and nine sparkly pasties, it was hard to also focus on the fact that she was holding Eugene down with her right cat's paw while seemingly deciding if he was worth the amount of blood spatter likely to come from ripping out his jugular. She swung her huge head at me and hissed.
I bowed, sheathed my sword, showed her my open palms and reached to open my amusingly oversized codpiece. I dangled the prize from my left hand while remaining steadfastly still. Her nostrils flared, she turned toward me, pasties jettisoning from six of her nine suddenly erect nipples.
She snatched the necklace from me, the diamonds gleaming in the moonlight as she wrapped it around her wrist. It fit her perfectly as a tennis bracelet. She simpered and then frowned down at her state of dishabille. I gallantly swept my cape from my back and proffered it. She did one of those complicated female movements that turn a bit of cloth into a stunning frock and slinked out of the alley at speed with about fifteen thousand credits worth of diamonds on her arm.
"Sorry boss, I was in the middle of negotiations when something broke down, you got a hankie or something? My nose is gushing like a mother."
I reached into my backpack and handed Eugene a hankie then ran a #6 medstick over my bleeding ear, a casualty of one of the flying pasties, and over Eugene's broken nose, very probably a casualty of getting too close to one of the pasties while still attached to the gigantic catdancer. I've known Eugene long enough not to even ask. He has a hard enough time passing up two breasts when they're attached to a fully clothed female, I could easily work out how this situation transpired without any assistance whatsoever.
I pulled a second cape from my backpack, secured my codpiece and helped Eugene to his feet. We repaired to the street to recover his lost shoe and wallet. Now all we had to do was wait here at the rendezvous point a few more minutes and we were home free.
That's when we saw them. Ten big cat women bearing down on us at a full gallop. My narcolepsy kicked in at that second and the next thing I knew I was on the ship pressed into my bunk with enough g force to make my vertebrae snap crackle and pop. Davis came over the intercom and said: "Sorry boss, we grabbed you both, but Eugene sobbed so much that I dropped him back into the thick of things once he explained what was what."
My vid screen lit up and I was treated to a very graphic twenty seconds of Eugene in the town square frolicking naked in a milk fountain with ten giant cat women.
I closed my eyes and shook my head. It's not that I begrudge Eugene the shore leave; I was just a bit worried because he's not as young as he used to be. I shut off the vid feed and took a moment to send out a plea to any gods who might hear me that Eugene's heart would be strong enough to see him through fifteen thousand credits worth of negotiations.