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They say on Kirillion all your dreams can come true.
A planet of trillions, one unending sprawl of a metropolis as diverse as it is old. There is no other known place like it in all the galaxies. It was old when the oldest of the space-faring races took their first steps amongst the stars.
Kirillion is a city of dreams and nightmares, of angels and monsters basking in the latest tech and scientific inventions. A place that doesn’t know the word ‘impossible’.
I don’t remember coming here, but Kirillion took me into its arms and never let go. I’m part of its underbelly: where neon signs flicker, cops don’t patrol, and you don’t need hovercars to get around. I know Kirillion’s dirty secrets, and I love every single one of them as much as I love its flashy face and intoxicating pace.
Purple Gravity is a slice of it all: neon lights, crowds as diverse as their fashion is eclectic, and the ever-present promise of danger and thrill. The anti-gravity dancefloor takes centre stage: dancers whirling to the music, painted in flashing lights. Three floors of lounges with more bars than I can count selling more alcohols than I know the names of. Everyone comes to Purple Gravity: from the workers of the lower levels to the children of the elite in their floating glass domes; from the businesspeople in search of a good time to the outlaws who call this place home.
I’m still nursing my first drink, leaning on the bar whilst my mark is on his fifth shot. He’s not even close to tipsy yet: Kundar-Human hybrids are a resilient bunch. Hybrids are what happens when science takes over, mixing DNAs that would not naturally work together and creating life out of it—a common sight on Kirillion.
My mark is in his twenties, male—implying a mostly Human physiology as Kundar are genderless–with Human-shaped eyes that are entirely fluorescent purple, the block colour and lack of pupil of the Kundar and Shinarians strange on his face. His skin is a pale off-white, a stark contrast to the black scales that wind down his arms, climbing up his throat to line his jaw and accentuate his cheekbones. He lacks the horns and extra two arms that the Kundar have, but no-one would mistake him for a full-blooded Human.
He makes me wish this wasn’t just a job.
He takes notice of me, slamming his eighth shot down and getting up. He’s tall, over six foot five, nearly a whole foot taller than me, wearing loose pants and chunky boots with a cropped tank that shows off the scales at his hips. It’s easy to forget he’s an executive director for Saion Corp.
“You look like you could use the company,” he says in the local Human dialect. I lower my eyes, playing coy.
“Just been a long day,” I shrug, looking up from beneath lowered lashes.
He meets my eyes, takes in their chemically enhanced gold—a recent birthday present—and then his eyes move down to trace the rest of me. Kundar eyes are hard to track, but I’ve had practice.
“The kind of long day that leaves you feeling lonely?”
It’s almost too easy to get him where I want him, but that’s exactly why Zoon sent me on this job.
“I guess,” I take a slow drink, dragging my tongue across my lips. He watches every second of it. “I’ve got a pretty lonely job…”
“Do you now?” He leans forward slightly.
He’s moving fast, but he’s hot, the beat is deep, and this is the perfect setting for my little game.
“Yeah. So many hours spent all by myself,” I say, playfully sad. There is something dangerous about him, and that draws me in.
He motions to the private booths at the edges of the club. “I could alleviate all that loneliness,” he purrs, and I close my eyes to collect my thoughts. There is something about his voice that makes me tremble. He must have some top-of-the-line vocal augmentations, which would be dangerous if I wasn’t well versed in recognising the effects of such things.
“That doesn’t sound like a bad idea.”
His hand finds my wrist and he yanks me to my feet. He’s strong, the muscles of his chest firm against my hand as I steady myself.
This is always a game with risks, but as my heartbeat ticks upwards, I’m smiling.
No-one notices us as he pulls me after him, his own smile feral. No-one would see even if I struggled to free myself from his grip.
In this city of trillions, we’re all tiny, insignificant, grains of sand.

The Kundar all but slams me into the padded back wall of the booth, his lips crushing mine. It’s a startling kiss, deep and passionate and his hands are roaming up and down my body, searching.
When he pulls away, I’m panting and almost miss the small device blinking in his hand.
“What’s that?”
“Needed to make sure you weren’t chipped or recording.”
“Chipped? What?” I wasn’t prepared for him to be expecting trouble.
“I’m someone who has to take precautions. I have enemies in high places,” he says with a wolfish grin and an arrogance that suits him far too much.
“Do I look like a threat?”
“Whether you’re a threat or not doesn’t mean you couldn’t be used as a spy.” A pause as his eyes rake over me again, undressing me with a glance. It’s definitely getting hotter in here. “Sorry if I scared you.”
“You did,” I admit, keeping my gaze locked on his. I know there is danger to these jobs, but I always feel in control behind soundproof curtains and with my smile as my weapon.
Around us the beat of sensual music pounds in rhythm with our hearts.
“I can make it up to you,” he promises, and I want to melt into him.
“I wouldn’t mind that.”
“What’s your name?” he asks as he pulls me to him so that I’m straddling him. He’s the kind of guy that makes me want to just have a bit of fun before I finish the job. It wouldn’t be the first time in a curtained alcove like this one.
“Làhn. You?”
He slides a hand through my hair, kissing me again. I run my hands over his chest and down to his hips, slipping down over his pockets. He’s too distracted by the kiss and where my other hand is headed to notice, and I can feel the tiny data chip beneath the fabric.
My target.
I know nothing about this chip save that Zoon wants a copy made for a client. The rest was on a need-to-know basis and apparently, I didn’t need to know.
Shi’lu’Fan is kissing my neck now, one hand in my hair, another running down my back. I can feel all of him under me and I’m almost too distracted to slowly reach inside his pocket. He’s so warm under me, like a fever taking over my body.
“Are you even old enough for this?” he asks, laughing softly. My fingers are closed around the chip and my heart is racing.
“Yes,” I playfully snap back, feeling a creep of heat on my cheeks. This is, also, not a first.
That wolfish grin on his face again, almost disguising his loneliness. It’s the problem with being grains of sand, sometimes it’s easy to feel adrift. Only I’m not here to make connections. Not tonight. But as I trail my tongue along my lower lip and allow a soft, mischievous smile to unfurl, it’s hard not to want to. I’m not lonely but being close to people like this makes me feel so alive. I move to kiss his neck; he leans back and offers me the perfect angle to pull the chip out. I kiss my way down the scales on his collarbones, even as I slot the chip into the reader in my back pocket.
I slip one hand under his top and he mirrors the motion as his other hand pulls my head back so he can reach my neck again.
A few more seconds and the chip will have copied and then I just need to get it back in his pocket. Easy. What won’t be so easy will be leaving. I wouldn’t mind letting things run their course, but there is always a risk to lingering.
His lips are trailing down my jawline when the sound from the club pours in. My stomach drops as Shi’lu’Fan’s eyes grow wide with surprise.
He pushes me off him, toppling me onto the cushions. In the doorway stand four people in full combat suits and visored helmets.
The only distinctive feature is a circle surrounded by flames emblazoned in gold and red on their chest plates.
“What do you want?” Shi’lu’Fan snarls.
“Give us the chip,” one of the people says, their voice distorted.
“Password,” Shi’lu’Fan demands, unflinching even as the merc raises their gun.
And fires. The laser leaves a deep gouge in the plush upholstery. I yelp, clamping my hands over my mouth too late, and they turn to me, another gun lifting. It’s the opening Shi’lu’Fan needed. He charges the mercenaries, pushing them back out into the club.
I take it as my cue, and bolt to freedom.

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