THE LOST PRINCE
(or whatever else I decide to call it)
It wasn’t going to be easy achieving a meeting with Haydn Albrecht, the Salt Road Devil. Haydn was a busy man, even busier than when Alaric had known him as a child; anyone could see that. Pilots and customers had kept his inner office door sliding open since Alaric had arrived at sun-up on this forsaken planet, and it was nearing Final Meal.
Despite having sat for a long, long while, Alaric kept his back straight and his knees apart, sweaty hands loose at his side but well away from the weapon strapped to his thigh. Even after so long, Haydn’s secretary kept pointing its eyestalks in his direction. Alaric knew he looked more nervous as time went on, felt the anxiety crease his forehead and weigh on his shoulders. But the physical stress was no great hardship. He’d been trained since toddlerhood to guard himself well, and such habits die hard when one bears a bounty exceeding a standard-year’s officer’s pay in the Junta.
Central Coalition Command, Alaric reminded himself. Loyalists to the military Coalition didn’t use derogatory language when speaking about their stratocratic government, especially when they sat right in the middle of their galactic empire. After two standard-years on the run, Alaric knew better than to even think like a rebel.