Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

Why the hell had he gone back for that stupid vase?

Probably because it was a prized possession of this stupid race that was currently in the process of getting torn apart. Probably because the craftsmanship had been pretty impressive for people who hadn't quite mastered indoor plumbing yet. It didn't really matter, as by the time Sam had gotten there it had already been smashed to pieces. Brilliant.

Sam dashed down an alley away from the sounds of screaming and laser fire, almost tripping on the twisted corpse of a man as he rounded the corner. The pain of his ill-fitting boots rubbing holes in his ankles that had been a constant annoyance over the last few days barely even registered now.

All Sam had to show for this trip was a bunch of discreetly taken pictures and the little journal filled with notes which would help form his report on this place. Luckily that was all that was technically required for his job, though they wouldn't do him much good if he couldn't get out of here alive. Shit, shit, shit.

The only things presently keeping Sam alive were his proficiency with his laser gun and the speed of his legs, both of which should not have been a necessary part of Sam's job but often were because he was an idiot who liked to push deadlines. Usually not quite this far, though; he'd already shot seven of the drones, and the more attention he drew to himself the faster they were swarming to him.

He stumbled to a stop in a clearing, assessing it for size and access. Access would have been fine as the sky above was clear, but Sam judged the size of the space to be just a bit on the small size. Damn. Why did this city have to be so cramped?

Sam was tempted to just scale one of the buildings and summon his shuttle from the roof, but that would have left him vulnerable during the climb. Sam craved the wide open streets of the last world he'd visited which had made his escape far more expedient.

A soft whir and click alerted Sam to the presence of an approaching drone, and he darted back behind a nearby crate for cover before it could round the corner.

One of Sam's much hated boots collided with something soft, and he looked down, already knowing what he would find. A body. Lovely.

The body, curled as far behind the crate as it would fit, was that of a young man. A teenager, or perhaps a little older — it was hard to tell with how skinny he was — with fair skin and hair of the reddish blond colour that was common to the area tied up with a loop of dark red leather.

Sam, with his chocolate brown hair and skin several shades darker than that of the local inhabitants, had stood out here. He'd only been sent because the people here hadn't been suspicious of foreigners. That was always good, as even if you spoken their language perfectly it was pretty impossible to erase an accent.

Tragic and gross as the corpse was, Sam had a drone to deal with. He peaked around the corner and was immediately spotted by the drone, its guns whirring to life as it hovered inches above the ground. Sam didn't give them a chance to heat up, using his laser gun to put a hole in the vulnerable central plate of the metal bastard that covered its battery. There were definite advantages to having superior technology to those the drones were designed to destroy.

Sam attempted to leave the safety of the crates and promptly fell to his hands and knees, his gun flying from his hand to clatter a short distance away. Something had snagged the leg of his pants.

Sam glanced behind him and met the wide blue eyes of the corpse, which was looking pretty not corpsey, and which also had hold of the leg of his pants. If Sam had still had his gun, he would have been tempted to shoot the boy. It would have been a death no more unpleasant than what the drones would do to him, and probably a little quicker. Sam wouldn't have, of course, because all logic aside he wasn't much of a killer. But he would have been tempted to. Instead, he attempted to kick the boy.

At the sound of another drone's approach Sam eyed his gun, just a couple of arm spans out of his reach. Just how tightly was the boy holding onto him? A couple of tugs of his leg revealed, yeah, pretty tightly, and Sam opted to jump back behind the crate instead, his body pressing against the boy's as they hid themselves behind the crate. "You little bitch," Sam muttered, but it was in his own language, not the boy's.

For several long moments Sam huddled there with the boy, trying to keep his breathing quiet as he listened to the soft whir of the drone circling the clearing. After a while the sound of the drone faded away, leaving them alone. Had the drone not abandoned its search of the area, had it continued and discovered their hiding spot, Sam was pretty sure he would have died there.

Sam grabbed the boy by the collar of his baggy shirt. This time, Sam spoke in the boy's language. "If you don't let go of me right now I swear on all that you hold holy that I will choke you until you do."

The boy let go.

When Sam had retrieved his gun he found, to his dismay, that the boy was standing behind him, looking very much like he planned to follow Sam. "No," Sam said, clearly enunciating the word, but when he started walking away the boy was on his heels.

"No," Sam said in the boy's language. "No, no, and more no. Also, no. Also— Wait..." Sam had an idea. Maybe the boy could be useful. "Do you know where a wide open space is near here? Like a park or a town square?"

The boy thought for a moment, and then spoke quietly. "The market?"

"Yes, perfect!" Sam hissed, trying to keep his voice down. He'd been to their markets a few times over the couple of weeks he'd been here, and the space they occupied was plenty big enough for his shuttle. She was more than capable of crushing a few shabby market stalls to make room for herself if necessary. There was one problem, however. Sam had no idea where he was. He hesitated for a moment and then sighed. "You lead the way."

He was going to regret this.