Four uniformed men sidled through the office door, with deadly sabers and even sharper jawlines.  An unnecessary security detail to oversee a routine trade agreement.  One of them looked pointedly at me and lazily placed his weathered hand on his sword hilt.  I widened my stance.  Well, if that’s the way you want to play it.

In one motion I lifted the two-meter-wide gown and unholstered the plasma pistol from my thigh.  While they tried to contain themselves, I dispatched two bright green blasts.  I scampered for the door and disposed of another patrolman before his saber cleared its sheath.  The local businessman sputtered as I kicked a frag grenade into his office and closed the security door on my way out.

The explosion shook the walls just after I stowed my pistol and winced as the hot barrel singed my leg, again.  I snapped my neck to the left to activate my communicator implant.  It was worth any amount of credits as an undetectable lifeline.

“Negotiations disintegrated,” I whispered as I walked calmly away from the blast site as any good noblewoman would.  “They found out and things got noisy.”

“What the hell did you do Marie?  This was supposed to be a recon mission not a bloody assassination!”

“Plans change,” the tarmac road devolved into a gravel pathway leading into the jungle that the locals inexplicably hadn’t cut down.  “The good news is: I got confirmation.”

“They have it here?”

“Enough Uranium to arm the armada for years.  Ten times over.”

“I’m waiting for the bad news.”

“The bad news is: we have to go.  Now.”  A musket-ball shattered the sapling next to me as I whipped around and readied my pistol.  It charged fast so I dropped the lone rifleman before the rest of his squad engaged.

“Alright, when do we need to leave?  The shuttle isn’t quite ready yet.”

“Johnson, get the damn shuttle prepped now!”  I kicked off the useless heels and sliced through the corset laces before darting out from behind an old mossy tree.  “I’m under fire.  I’m coming to you.”

I vaguely remembered the topographical charts as I hopped, slid, and trotted through the old jungle.  Birds chattered and frogs croaked all around me.  They were closing, I could hear their boots, but they never had a straight line of fire.

I burst into the clearing, my feet bleeding, my perfectly sculpted hair in disarray, my disguise dress on loan from the Baroness hopelessly ruined.  The engines whirred and the shuttle lifted a meter off the ground.

“Jump!” Johnson roared over the intercom.  “We’ve got incoming!”

I made the leap and slammed onto the steel floor an instant before another musket shot ripped through the air over my shaking body.  The shuttle sustained light damage from the patrolmen’s attack, and more significant damage from the cannon-equipped zeppelins approaching from the east.  Seconds later, we were out of their boggy atmosphere and within hailing distance of The Dreadnought.  The intergalactic battleship in orbit that I would call “home” for the next five months.

If they didn’t promote me sooner.