Six weeks earlier Daniel had been a janitor at Humboldt Sector Hospital.
He took the position because he still blamed himself for the accident at the Cassandra Cloud Facility. He considered the boring, backbreaking labor a fitting punishment for his mistakes.
It was also a good place to hide from a murderous gangster.
Though the hospital wasn't their ideal home, Daniel's friends stuck with him. Trak worked as a security guard, and Rachel-7, who complained the entire time, piloted a hospital shuttle.
She said she didn't leave Daniel's employ because no one else would hire her, but Daniel liked to think she sometimes, occasionally, every once in a while, enjoyed his company.
Rachel-7 said that was rubbish, and that the reason she stayed was definitely the nobody-hiring-her thing.
After Daniel worked at the hospital for about a year, his past came back to haunt him—his past being an SOS message from his former lover and a visit from Alitma with a city-sized dreadnought and an army of cutthroat mercenaries.
That's when Daniel decided to leave.
Six weeks after his escape from the hospital, Daniel now faced Alitma again.
“Give back what you stole, or I’ll call the authorities,” Alitma said.
His crew laughed at the little joke. Alitma couldn’t call the authorities. He was wanted in seventeen sectors.
"You seem like you're in a better mood since we last met," Daniel said.
"I am not!" Alitma said, pounding his alloyed fist against his captain's throne. Cracks formed in the left armrest.
One of the dreadnought’s repair clouds appeared in the air above Alitma, quickly fixed the damage to the chair, and disappeared. Alitma’s temper kept the repair clouds busy.
"Six weeks is a long time to chase a nobody, so quit stalling," Alitma said. "Where is the extract?"
Stuck On: Rosovs
Altima was not the only member of his species who hated being called a snake.
Alitma's people, the Rosovs, are a limbless alien race, and, unlike serpents, they are warmblooded and sentient, as well as amazing cooks.
They have spent many years trying to stop other species from making the comparison—which they consider insulting—between Rosovs and the slithering earth reptile.
It was a losing battle, according to xenobiologists who had studied the situation, because Rosovs really did look a lot like snakes.