Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

You can stalk the worlds like death incarnate, should you have the technology and the psychological issues necessary. You might even descend upon worlds in fire and fury in an attempt to become some sort of manifest divinity to the primitive souls thereon.
But you start waving a great big metallic weapon above your head after landing on a mountaintop during a lightning storm and you’re going to have a close encounter with physics. No matter how good you look, lightning doesn’t care. The blast from Numeniaro the Godslayer’s gear going up spread his remains across the mountaintop and down into the valleys on either side.
As if on cue, a deluge commences the moment we touch down.
Porto glares at me: “Didn’t you file a ‘clear skies’ request?”
Sheena beats me to it: “If godbastard the homicidal had nice weather, he’d have caused panic. So no, of course our beloved leader didn’t ask for that.”
Garbin joins in: “Your delicate constitution will just have to cope.”
Porto mutters something and jumps out. We follow.
“Okay, people. Priority is on retrieving any tech too strange for this world. Crispy critter will be regarded as a delicacy by the local wildlife, so his remains are not a problem, unless it’s a big bit. In which case, turn it into little bits and move on.”
“What’s too strange?” Porto, asking a sensible question for a change.
“Everything. Clothes of tiluden.”
Sheena whistles: “Woven spider silk set with bonded microdiamonds. Ostentatious.”
“This maniac had a following, some of them wealthy. Which brings me to the next fun fact: there will be fanatics looking for souvenirs. As this is a closed world, we can shoot them, but they might fight back.”
“Local forces?”
“Leave them to me.”
I hope I’m right about who we’ll encounter.
“Okay, beings. We’ve got a job to do. Move out!”
Four hours of miserable scouring later, a tree next to me goes up in a cloud of splinters and steam. I duck. There’s a loud gunshot.
“Thediru taun.”
I sit up and look toward the woman who spoke. She’s reloading a huge handgun, her dark suit seemingly immune to the downpour.
“English is fine, agent. I thought there was an outpost here.”
She smiles: “We have seven. Still investigating the reason for the outrageous number of visitations this world gets. What brings a Pangalaxus Stability Unit here?”
“Intergalactic technopsycho with a following looking for a world to rule. Met lightning. Got fried, then detonated. We’re picking up the exotic bits.”
She waves toward the five-armed yellow lizard with a sizeable hole between its compound eyes: “A devotee?”
“Or relic hunter. Makes no difference.”
“Hunting party?”
I nod. We move out.
An hour later, I think we’ve about finished when something shoots Porto, then Sheena. We race to assist and see Garbin fall as we arrive. Our opponent is a Sandus in a deflector suit. My team only carry energy weapons to minimise traces. Against that suit, we’re as good as unarmed.
It roars out: “Give me Numeniaro.”
My companion shoots it three times. Each projectile punches a hole in the suit and rips huge holes as it exits. Sprays of alien blood mix with the rain. The Sandus looks more surprised than hurt as it collapses.
She smiles: “Pro tip: always have a cannon available.”
With her help, I get team and remains back on board.
“I’m Thoan.”
“Agent S.”
I grin: “‘Sandra’?”
Laughing, she waves me away: “‘Secret’, but you’re close. Now get off my lawn.”
“As you wish.”
She raises an eyebrow as the airlock closes.