Igneous passed the numismachip to the red-uniformed porter behind the glass, taking care not to let her arm linger. The desk would probably be fine, but scorch-marks could be difficult to clean. The porter gingerly took it into her hands, feeling the incredible heat pouring off of Igneous’ skin. She put the chip into her computer for analysis.
“I have the van in space ninety-four,” she said.
“Got it,” said the porter. “The scanners already registered you, I just confirm it.”
“Thank you,” said Igneous, turning to walk away.
“Hey, are you okay? You look like you could use a doctor.”
“Thank you,” repeated Igneous, looking over her hulking shoulders. “I probably could. But I’m in a hurry.”
“Don’t you want the chip back?”
“They’re cheap enough, I really don’t-”
“There’s a lot more than you need on here,” said the porter, looking at her screen. “A lot more. Was this the right chip?”
“It was,” said Igneous. “Keep the rest for yourself. It’s a tip.”
“I really won’t be needing it.”
“Hey, wait,” said the porter, rising from her chair and moving to the door of her office. “Don’t-”
“Stop,” said Igneous, turning back to the window. “Honestly. I don’t need the chip. I won’t be dying without a doctor, I’m just… do you know about Pyrhian metamorphosis? I’ve been taking pains to keep it from happening. I can’t stave it off much longer without the right treatment, and no regular doctor can provide that. I have days or hours if I can stay calm, hours or minutes if I don’t. Please don’t give me the stress of being late for my flight.”
The porter stopped unlocking the door and raised an eyebrow. After a moment she returned to her seat.
“My apologies,” she said. “Thanks for your generosity. Enjoy your trip.”
Igneous nodded and walked to the levipad that would take her up to the starport proper. As she lifted through the air and vanished out of sight, another customer, fresh from having parked his car, neared the porter’s station. He smelled brimstone in the air, and could feel an unusual warmth, but brushed it off as unimportant. The porter mentally shifted back into work mode.
“Space eighty-two,” said Vox Cul-Dar, sliding paper money onto the tray.
“Yes,” said the porter grabbing the money. “The computer’s already scanned it, I’ll just confirm it for you.”
“Thanks,” said Vox, his insect-like claws tapping on the counter. The porter seemed agitated, but it wasn’t important right now. All that mattered was Gamma, and the poisonous surprise in his luggage.
“Keep the change,” he added. “How long is it good for?”
“You can rent a week with this,” she said.
“Good. I shouldn’t need that long.”
He walked away from the counter and stood on the levipad. Moments later, he drifted up to the spaceport.