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I've been looking for this story off and on for the past year, to no avail; I think it's pretty recent, published in the past 20 years or so. I read a lot of short story anthologies but I can't find this one.

The main character (a mercenary type) and side-kick (who IIRC is a human who's in the body of a dinosaur... maybe a velociraptor?) are enslaved by some sort of alien hive-mind who's using them to locate a powerful weapon.

They travel around in a stolen ship from some other alien race (IIRC caste-based, maybe crab-like?) that has a space-elevator they use to descend to planet surfaces and conduct deals in their effort to locate the weapon.

The story starts in media res, with the main character + side-kick in the middle of a deal gone bad (their trading partners were trying to rip them off and steal their ship; it doesn't end well for them).

The main character has to periodically contact the controlling hive-mind and endure agonizing psychic debriefings.

In the end (spoilers!) the main character finds the weapon and turns it against the hive-mind, and realizes he's a clone (the original was kept near the hive-mind in some sort of stasis chamber).

Anyway, I really loved the mood of this story and I'd like to reread it but I can't find it no matter how many Year's Best anthologies I scour!

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    This makes me think of Harry Harrison's Bill, the Galactic Hero but it's been a long time since I've read it. . – Spencer Dec 30 '18 at 15:56
  • Thanks! Sadly that's not it (it was only a short story, and I'm pretty sure 2000s). But thank you anyway :) – Raigan Burns Dec 31 '18 at 9:56

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