I stare at the spectacle before me in utter disbelief; a part of me thinks ‘udder’ disbelief but I quash it.
“You have got to be kidding.”
Sooki chews her lower lip. “I don’t know, Chief. The brochure says vodimorphs can be trained to do a number of tasks.”
“It also says if you squeeze their breasts you can get milk. Fresh is one thing, but I don’t drink straight from the cow, especially not if she’s a member of my crew. Tanni, on the other hand, would be too busy sucking to fly the ship.”
Sooki laughs. She’s been pretty morose since Rissa’s death, especially since they were best friends. Unfortunately, as captain I have to bury my grief and think of my ship first. That’s why we’re here at the slave market.
A man with a predatory smile oozes up and stands too close to me.
“Good morning, Miss…?”
“Captain Stefani Danger. I’m a bit confused by your demonstration. Why do you have your cow-people riding bicycles?”
“It shows off both their power and their agility. A vodimorph is strong, graceful, and of an even temperament. And unlike other morph species you can even breed the females.”
“With other vodimorphs, I assume.”
“Or with humans if you prefer. Of course the offspring will be sterile, but it allows a single vodimorph to assist in many ways.”
“And allows multiple generations of slaves, which is against the law.”
“They are not slaves, Miss Danger; they are livestock. That’s what Imperial law says about all morphs. Otherwise it would also be illegal to eat the offspring.”
“Yes, they’re an excellent source of protein and are unable to contract or transmit any human disea… urk!”
I lift him to tiptoes by his lapels. “You are talking about eating sentient creatures?”
“Ah, you’re one of those.” He pushes away from me. “It’s all perfectly legal, Captain. If you can’t live in this century it’s your problem, not Morphco’s.”
Sooki drags me away before I pull out my bolter. This guy desperately needs a 20-gram low-velocity slug in the head, but it wouldn’t be worth the legal hassle. I’m about to turn back and do it anyway when she pulls my face down and kisses me.
“What’s that about, Sooki? I thought Tanni was the only one into girls.”
“Tanni’s into anything breathing. I just did it to get your attention. Focus, Chief; we need a new navigator. This is not the time for a crusade.”
I sigh. “You’re right. I can’t solve all the galaxy’s ills in one day, can I? Well, back to business. My online search showed an eleven-year old human Coreworlder with her Level One Navigator certification, name of ‘Enna’. Let’s see if she’s still available for purchase.”