"Throob," Algensio said thoughtfully as they left the slaver.
"Yes, you're right, of course," Rudof replied absently. "More trouble than they're worth, probably. But what else could I do?"
"Throob," Algensio agreed with a sigh and a shake of his furry head. A wide red tongue rolled out and licked away a few remaining traces of dinner from his chin.
Cutting their way past the rest of the stalls, they reached the edge of Dome Seven and the ground shuttle airlock.
"Dyll Dome," Rudof said, waving a jeweled hand. The lockkeeper nodded eagerly and escorted them through the triple sets of heavy doors. He ushered them into the shuttle and set the coordinates for them before returning to the corridor, eyeing the huge tip in his hand with satisfaction.
A whirr, a click, and the tiny shuttle sped across its preprogrammed path towards a small pearlescent dome that glistened in the black distance.
The shuttle's path was a twisting one. The surface of Omega Station at first glance resembled nothing more than tumbled piles of boulders, some heaped far higher than the huge domes that spotted its surface. But on closer inspection, clear places were hidden amongst the rocks, of sizes varying from a few meters square to large enough for the placement of sizable domes. In the distance, but crisp and clear through the vacuum, loomed the huge structures of the official docking platforms and trading stations that were the reason for the Rock's existence.
The shuttle beeped twice, gave a last right angle turn, and slowed slightly as its onboard navicomp re-checked the position programmed by the lockkeeper. A few seconds later, it snicked home in one of the Dyll Dome's personnel airlocks.
"Home at last." Rudof Dyll sighed as he unkinked his lanky form from the uncomfortable seat and waved Algensio through the airlock ahead of him, pausing to hit the return button on the navicomp. The shuttle beeped twice politely, and as soon as the inside dome door closed, disengaged and sped back towards Dome Seven.
Algensio stretched all four arms and opened his mouth in a wide yawn.
"Yes, do hibernate a while, dear fellow," Rudof agreed. "I've got to go out again, I'm afraid."
Rudof shrugged. "No, not as Rudof. Not tonight." He patted his huge companion on one arm. "Don't wait up."