Dear readers, tonight with us is a female mercenary taking on the odd, risky jobs across the galaxy. She is here to tell us about a planet wide labyrinth of mining tunnels, metal processing, acid waste levels, where abandoned cities are thriving with a genetically engineered ecosystem of predators, prey, and mutant humans.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Geez, I haven’t thought about that hellhole since I left. I grew up in an orphanage on a slum planet. There’s a lot of bad places to live in the universe, and I was lucky enough to born on one of the worst. Mind you, they are good recruiting grounds for the Academy. I was fast and homicidal as a young girl, and it was my ticket off planet before I ended up in a whorehouse. Woulda made more money there than the military, I reckon. But I’m kinda choosy.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

The cook at the orphanage – Ella – she taught me to cook and knocked off a few of the rough edges. Most kids there couldn’t read, so I got lucky with Ella. She was a bit tight lipped about her past, but I learned to read from old weapons manuals, so some sort of past she was probably hiding from. She gave me my first weapon  – a knife that I could hide in my sleeve. Saved me more times than I can count.

What do you do now?

I left the Academy to look after Johanna. She needed me, poor little thing. Abandoned on a planet and trying to feed other kids on scraps from bins and avoid the slaver gangs. She’s done me proud – we run a tight ship as a small mercenary team with Daisy and Jasmine and Jock. We’ve made some money and had some fun raiding the military. Can’t ask for more than that.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, it was no picnic, that’s for sure. Our last job was for Chagar, a mutant human. He’s a good bloke, even if things on his planet tried to eat me! We helped him look for some old treasure, and lordy, we had the richest man in the universe – McAllister – and his team of thugs on our tails the whole way.

And the planet! A maze of critters that want to eat you, acid levels, shark filled lakes, and don’t get me started on rockfalls. Or mention ladders. Nice people, but seriously, I don’t know how they survive, or how Chagar expected us to survive and protect him. It was a hell of an adventure.

What did you first think when you first came to Chagar’s planet?

My first impressions of the planet were good. We had a new job with the potential to earn some serious money. I was dreamin’ of retiring and running my own restaurant. Yeah, sure, the people were mutants, but the universe is full of humans that have been gene engineered to do a certain job, so I didn’t hold that against them. But then Sneedo’s pet shroud, Snuffler, nearly suffocated Jock, and then dinner bit me… well, I started to think we were gunna earn that money the hard way.

What was the scariest thing in your adventures?

Hot damn, the whole thing was scary! But Johanna getting shot, that shook me. I raised her like my own, and I gotta admit, the thought of losing her unsettled me a mite.

But they got things called stomach pools here. Yeah, really. It’s a critter that digests things inside itself, but like the size of a cave. Chagar said they were a bit like old Earth carnivorous plants, but they are semi sentient and some had gone feral. He wanted to see one, being a scientist and all, to compare them to the tame ones they have for helping with childbirth. Yeah, you heard me right. They ooze sleepy and happy drugs, and are all cosy and lovely. Not the feral one in the acid levels though. I’d rather forget that one, so pass me a drink will ya? A fancy one with a little umbrella would be nice.

What is the worst thing about being a mercenary?

Being a female mercenary?  Well, I still get men trying to tell me how weapons work, or what’s a pretty young thing like you doing with that big gun? Ok, I might have lied about the last one, I was never pretty, and I’m getting too old to take that sort of crap. I still get a bit stabby when they try and tell me stuff I learnt before they were a mistake their momma was gunna make.

What is the best thing about it?

I get to set my own rules. The Academy was always on my back, you can’t stab them, you gotta talk first. It’s a nasty universe out there, and I get to make it a better place by offing some bad guys, so that sorta thing makes my day.

Tell us a little about your friends.

Y’all know Johanna. I found her and raised her and now she is a total badass – I am real proud of her. Daisy and Jasmine are twins, they were in my team in the military, and left with me. They look like they could be models, but in action – hell. They share thoughts somehow, so the bad guys get their asses handed to ‘em. Then there’s Jock. He used to be a computer tech manager, but McAllister’s corporate mercenaries took over. He lost an eye, but gained Daisy and Jasmine. I don’t ask how that works. That’s my team.

Chagar, and his sister Sneedo are good people. It’s a crazy planet, and they have been gene enged to be miners – so hard heads, no hair or ears – tough skin, some eye protection that slides over their eyes and inbuilt nose filters. But the best thing is a mental danger warning – for rockfalls mainly, but it saved us a whole heap of times. I did ask, but they can’t tinker with my brain and give me that, sadly.

I suppose Drever is a friend, or at least I don’t think of him as an enemy. He works for the bad guys, but he was a hero. But he was never the same after the debacle of Epison Tauri B, where he lost his platoon.

Any romantic involvement?

Me? Not when I’m on a job, I’ve got my hands full looking out for everyone. Maybe after I’ll find myself a couple of nice fellas and settle down. But Johanna? I am trying to get her a man, I want some grandchildren. I got my eye on someone for her, never you mind who, but he’s a good man.

Whom (or what) do you really hate?

I gotta say, McAllister is an asshole despite being the richest man in the universe. I suppose that might be a given, but spending time with him was painful, specially as I couldn’t off him. Chagar said no, his father would nuke the planet. Payer sets the rules.

But Chuck really gets on my nerves. Ugly and fast, he was always popping up and generally being a bad smell. Jock and me threw hot spaghetti on his head, and I don’t think he was the forgiving type.

What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?

Well, I wanted to spend some relaxin’ time on the rest and relaxation planet. I’d been there when I was first in the military, and I had a blast. Lots of those dusty coloured bottles at the top of the bar got drained that week, I tell you. But sadly, the universe has gone downhill since I was a girl, even the beer was no better than cat’s piss.

But I do love to cook. I reckon I’ll do that if I ever get Johanna settled and I can retire.

What does the future hold for you?

I’ve always wanted to run a restaurant. But if things were different at the Academy, I could teach a lot of youngsters how to survive in this nasty ol’ universe of ours.

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

I almost didn’t get into the Academy. I had to do basic training while I was pregnant with my daughter, and let me tell you, zero G maneuvers with morning sickness… well I’ll not say in case you’re having a snack. By the time they found out I had aced basic and couldn’t get rid of me.

If I hadn’t got in, no telling where I’d be now. Not telling you this story, anyways.

Cindy Tomamichel is a multi-genre writer. Escape the everyday with the time travel action adventure series Druid’s Portal, science fiction / fantasy and romance short story collections. Discover worlds where the heroines don’t wait to be rescued, and the heroes earn that title the hard way. Writers struggling with social media and platform building can get some practical organization help in the free “30 Organizing Tips for Writers” book. Doing NaNo this year? Grab my free help booklet ‘NaNoWriMo Ready’.

You can find Sarge on the pages of Underground Planet.

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