Hazel

She’d been here before, she realized, taking a long drag from her cigarette. It was a long time ago, but she definitely remembered this place. Fargo’s been here, too, she mused. Still is. I can smell him on the wind. God, what a shithole.

The Shellbox was a shithole. A three-story converted munitions depot from the was of last century, the base that used to surround it had been demolished for hundreds of kilometers in every direction, leaving nothing but this dingy hangout for Europa’s lowest lowlifes.

“You’re gonna need to spit that out, ma’am,” said the bouncer, sneering and leering. Six foot eleven and probably about 400 pounds of steel cable, the black bear watching the door looked like he enjoyed popping arms out of sockets on his off time.

Hazel didn’t flinch, took a long drag off the cigarette in her muzzle, and blew the smoke out her nostrils. She was nowhere near as tall at 5’2, or as bulky at a waifish 111. “This a no smoking facility?” she grumbled.

“No.”

She placed a hand on the push-plate. He placed his arm across the doorway. “You’re not on the list.”

“There isn’t a list.”

The bouncer leaned down to match her, eye to eye. The red wolf could feel his hot breath on her muzzle, nearly choking on how moist it was. “Listen, ma’am. You’re not coming in.”

“Why’s that, lunchmeat?”

“Because I don’t like you,” he growled. “You look like trouble.”

She took her hand off the door. “Tough,” she said. “I’m supposed to meet a client here.”

“Cancel.”

“Get out of my way,” she hissed.

He started to show incisors, a half-formed grin on his face. The smallest chunk of an “oh, yeah?” escaped his maw before her left hand was on his collar. A mechanical whirring came from underneath her shirtsleeve, and before he knew what hit him, she’d thrown him to the ground. In the same motion, her pistol came out and pressed itself directly behind his round ear.

“I do not have time for this shit,” she said, clicking off the safety. The little coil derringer began to charge itself, blue lights flickering to life. She leaned in, snarling. “I’m not here to cause trouble but I absolutely will! Now are you gonna cooperate or am I going to spray your thinkmeats on the goddamn pavement?” she sneered, pushing warm steel even harder into his temple.

The wind was knocked out of him. He struggled to exhale an “okay.”

She spit her cigarette out at the back of his head and threw open the door. By the time he had realized he could get up, she was already gone.