Tycho let go of the chair Wolf was sitting in and the front legs smacked against the floor. He aimed two pistols at the Seraph Abaddon, who was holding him at gunpoint, in the shadows.
“Please, Tycho,” Abaddon growled, “I’ll kill you where you stand for trying to kidnap a prisoner and returning him for the bounty.”
“Everybody’s thought of that but me,” Wolf barked.
“Because you’re an idiot,” said Abaddon, “And Loony Alice is still trying to convince herself she has a moral compass.”
“See? I didn’t spring Yalda,” Wolf bounced in his chair until it was turned to face Abaddon, “But you did. Right? Then pinned it on us. Trying to kennel your attack dogs?”
“No. Mad dogs get put down. Your wife’s burnt corpse is floating through space as we speak. And after I kill you, I’m going after that abomination you two created. We’ll find her wherever you’ve hidden her.”
While Abaddon was talking, Wolf tapped out a rhythm with shackled foot on the floor. Tycho tapped back in response. When Abaddon mentioned Holly, Wolf lunged at him, pulling taut the chains that secured him to his chair. Abaddon flinched and stepped back. Tycho shot Wolf’s chains, severing them. The newly freed Wolf charged Abaddon and slapped his pistol hand as a shot flew wide. Wolf grabbed his neck and slammed him against the wall. He began searching his jacket and pockets.
“Do you have anything useful?” Wolf asked, “Or just that water gun?”
Tycho tapped Wolf on the shoulder and passed him a large pistol. He pressed the barrel under Abaddon’s chin.
“What’s crazy Wolf gonna do now?” Wolf sang, “Blow the head off his former friend and C.O., who by the way has thrown in with one of the biggest walking sacks of shit in the galaxy? Or does he follow his moral compass and let him go? Too bad for old Abaddon, Wolf’s moral compass is floating in space.”
Wolf pulled the trigger. The laser emerged from Abaddon’s crown dragging a burning crimson-grey blob of humors and bone that exploded into a splatter on the wall. Dark smoke drifted from his nostrils and mouth. His body became like a rag. Wolf let him slump to the floor.
“Thanks for the assist,” he said to Tycho. Tycho chattered back.
“The nuclear option seems like our only option at this point,” Luna sighed, “What’s your plan?”
“Overload the sub-light drive,” Holly replied in a sheepish tone.
“Won’t that cripple us as well?”
“The EM shockwave will emanate just outside our shield radius. You’ll be the only thing in a few hundred kilometers with power. But no sub-light drive. And that's providing it doesn’t rubber band and crush the Starcrossed like a tin can.”
“Here goes,” Luna opened the engine panel to a keypad embedded in the center of a performance display. “What’s the security code?”
“Well, since I’m sure neither of you bothered to actually set the code, it’s probably 1234567, like all new vehicles.”
“Watch the sass, young lady.”
“Is this really the time for reprimanding?”
Luna entered the code and a touch screen lit up. She tapped and fiddled about and a humming started. It grew louder, until it was thunderous. White bands radiated from various points on the hull and crawled along the surface of the ship. They increased in frequency until they became so bunched together that the ship emitted a solid glow. The glow flung off in an expanding sphere centered on the Starcrossed and swept the area around them. The GAI vessels stopped firing and all lights went dead. They began to drift in all directions. The GAI corvettes began colliding. The science vessel snapped the moorings that linked it with the GAI capital ship.
“Computer, lock targeting on remaining GAI corvettes. Shoot to disable,” Luna said.
“Targeting. Firing,” cooed the computer.
A spray of lasers fanned out from the Starcrossed, scorching engines and generators on the corvettes.
“Now let’s get your father and that poor girl out of there before they get the power back up.”
As Wolf and Tycho skulked the corridors of the science vessel back to Tycho’s ship, the emergency lights went black. The display on the inside of Wolf’s helmet flickered off and the air inside became close and stale. They began to drift off the floor and float. Wolf unfastened his faceplate and opened it. He jabbed at buttons on a cuff around his wrist. Tycho chattered, but his translator remained quiet. He pulled out a small plastic tube and bent it until it made a cracking sound and handed it to Wolf. It began to emit a green glow. He produced another tube and did the same.
“Always prepared,” said Wolf.
“T’chu qwa,” Tycho replied.
“I’ll assume that’s some form of agreement.”
Tycho made a sound like a cat blowing a raspberry.
“Fair enough. Would you be willing to help me find Raz so I can blow the shit he calls brains out of his head too?”
“I’tchk,” Tycho patted Wolf on the shoulder and gave himself a couple jabs in the chest.
“I’ll assume if you follow me, that was a ‘yes’.”
They sailed down the corridors propelling themselves along the walls. After what seemed like miles of black, empty hallways, they reached a door labeled ‘Control Center.’ On the other side they could hear Raziel yelling.
“Get the power back online and find Wolfram Jones. He can not be allowed to leave this ship.”
Wolf and Tycho drifted around the corner and waited for the peons Raziel was dressing down to exit. They could hear the door slid open and the heavy, pounding steps of mag-boots clanging against the metal floor panels. The steps receded into the distance and Wolf and Tycho entered the command center. Raziel was flailing in vain, trying to kick or punch something in anger and released a primal scream. In the commotion, Wolf kicked off the wall and launched himself at Raziel. Wolf braced the back of Raz’s head as they careened to the other side of the room and his face collided with the banks of controls. Wolf grabbed a hold of a metal protrusion and held Raz’s head to the wall.
“You found me,” Wolf growled, “Now what?”
“You’re not going to stop this, Wolfram,” Raziel grunted as he struggled, “The Demiurge is too many steps ahead of you.”
“You’re even calling him the Demiurge, now? He must have given you one hell of a blowjob to get you to sell out like that.”
“I believe in him. He’s going to bring glory and honor back to the G.A. Bring law and order back to this galaxy. Metatron’s leadership has been weak and permissive.”
“And what do you think you’re getting out of this? Yalda will blast you into space as soon as he done with you. He hasn’t forgotten the War and he doesn’t forgive. That Seraph can hold a grudge.”
“The only grudge he holds is against you and your wife. When he takes control there won’t be a crack in this galaxy you can hide in. He’s going to..”
Wolf jabbed his pistol into Raz’s temple, “This is for Luna.”
A crackling sound emerged from Wolf’s helmet. The emergency lights were lit again and their feet hit the floor. Raziel took a swing at Wolf and Wolf slammed his against the wall and stuffed the barrel of his pistol in Raz’s eye.
“Wolf?” the crackling resolved into a woman’s voice.
“Luna?” Wolf replied turning from Raziel.
“Yeah, where are you?”
Without, glancing, Wolf lowered his pistol and shot Raziel in both his legs, “I’m in the command center.”
Raziel slumped to the floor wincing and groaning, smoke wafted from his charred thighs. Wolf kicked him in the ribs, “Shut the hell up, I’m trying to hear this.”
“I’ll move the Starcrossed around to the cargo bay,” Luna’s voice fizzed and buzzed, “And find Carrie. I don’t want to leave her there with Raz and Aba.”
“Aba’s dead,” Wolf patted Raziel on the head, “And Raz is on borrowed time. Do you even know where she is?”
“Holly is getting a life sign in the cargo bay. Under the deck.”
“Oh, and we have no sub-light drive.”
“What?” Wolf bellowed, “We just got that thing.”
“The choice was between the drive and getting blown up.”
“I cannot argue with that.”
“Now get to the cargo bay. The power is coming back on Raz’s ship.”
“On my way.”
Wolf and Tycho sprinted from the room. Wolf poked his head back in.
“Hey, Raz?” Wolf whispered.
Raz looked up panting in pain. Wolf shot him in the chest and Raziel expired. He continued on his way to the cargo bay. Wolf and Tycho were able to traverse the corridors to the cargo hold using the chaos of the GAI agents running and shouting as the power came back to the rest of the science ship in slow fits and starts. When they arrived there still wasn’t enough power to open the entrance to the bay. The jogging of GAI agents could be heard approaching and they appeared to be more organized. The general announcement system began to crackle.
“Commence a ship-wide search for Wolfram Jones. We suspect he was involved in the murder of Captains Raziel and Abaddon. Consider him dangerous and we have reason to believe he has an accomplice. Repeat. Ship-wide search for Wolfram Jones and possible accomplice. Proceed with caution. He is armed and dangerous,” the message was delivered in a staccato as the power wavered.
Tycho shot a panel on the side of the door and pulled out the wiring. He began cutting wires and twisting them together in different patterns. He took the twisted ends and slotted them into the grip of his pistol. He pressed the button the open the door. It remained dead. The agents drew closer.
“You could probably do that faster,” said Wolf.
“Haste is inefficient,” Tycho replied, “Criticism is unproductive. Monitor the corridor for agent incursion.”
Wolf sighed and stepped toward the intersection. He lit his wrist blades and waited as Tycho continued his engineering project. As the agent approached Wolf flattened himself against the wall. He let the first agent pass. When the second crossed into the corridor he grabbed him from behind and slid his finger into trigger of the agents rifle. He aimed it at the first and fired hitting him in his rifle causing it to explode. The explosion left the agent with jagged bone for hands and a burning flak jacket. Wolf ran his blade through the other and pushed him toward the wounded agent piercing him as well. He removed his blade and they both fell in tandem and draped over one another. He could hear more steps approaching.
“Do not neglect my previous advisement.”
As Wolf ran over to join Tycho, the door slid open. Tycho made an alien gesture, but the sarcasm was clear.
“Great. You do good work. In, in, in,” Wolf rushed Tycho through the doorway and smacked the control button on the other side, closing the door. He jammed his blade into the control unit. Agents could be heard shouting and banging on the other side, followed by the plink of laser fire against the door.
“Carrie? You in here?” Wolf called, “We have to move, kid. This door isn’t going to hold.”
Tycho began calling as well, but given his translator had no volume control it sounded more like he was reciting a mantra. Carrie emerged from her hiding spot, shaking. When she saw Wolf, she appeared as relieved as someone could be knowing your only way out was with a guy in a black leather and a raven mask, splattered with eviscera. She seemed to regard Tycho with curiosity, in spotless, flowing white linen and a reflective orb for a head. And his feet weren’t touching the ground. Did he even have feet?
Wolf began scanning the racks of scientific equipment as the door began showing signs of penetration.
“Previously, you were advocating for haste. At this point I concur,” Tycho said to Wolf.
“Wait, wait. They gotta have something here,” Wolf sprinted along the shelves reading the tags as he went, “Here!” he pulled a large cylinder from the shelf and it thudded to the floor, “We’re taking this.”
He pushed the cylinder along the floor and rested it in front of the cargo bay hatch. The door to the corridor began to glow and buckle.
“Alright, kiddo,” he offered Carrie his hand, “Now when I count to three, you need to exhale as hard as you can, close your eyes and hang on to me. Tight, okay.”
Carrie nodded vigorously. The door buckled inward and the agents began kicking at it.
“One.” The door fell in and hit the floor.
“Two.” Agents began filing into the room and readying their weapons.
Wolf hit the release for the cargo bay hatch. It slid open and the atmosphere of the room began to evacuate. Carrie exhaled, closed her eyes and hugged Wolf tight around the waist. Tycho, Wolf and Carrie were sucked out the door, Wolf towing the cylinder in one hand securing Carrie with the other. The agents who were unable to secure themselves were launched out behind them. Luna was waiting with the side panel of the Starcrossed open. The three of them shot into the side of the ship and slammed into the inner wall and hit the floor as the artificial gravity grabbed them. Luna shut the panel. The unfortunate agents smacked into the side of the ship. Carrie rolled onto the floor gasping then erupted into an involuntary laugh.
“Computer,” Luna said, “Take us anywhere but here.”
Wolf hopped to his feet and embraced Luna.
“They told me you were dead,” he sighed.
“You know me better than that,” she whispered as she rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes, “Plus our daughter is a nerd who actually reads manuals.”
They continued their embrace until Luna opened her eyes and saw Tycho.
“Tycho Hall?” she said looking at him askance.
“He tried to kidnap me so he could collect the bounty later,” Wolf explained.
“Tycho?” she jabbed him in what was probably his shoulder, his linens billowed, “What is that like the hot, new move now?”
“And here we are trying to do it legit like suckers,” Wolf groused.
Luna crouched down and put her hand on Carrie’s shoulder. She was laughing and crying as she hugged Luna.
“Right,” Wolf grumbled, “I do all the work and who gets all the hugs? Shit never changes.”
“Quiet, Wolf,” said Luna.
Wolf made a demonstrative gesture, “Literally shot myself out into space.”
“Dad, you shoot yourself into space like once a week,” Holly chimed in, “Sometimes for fun.”
“My family, Tycho,” Wolf shook his head and he and Tycho walked into the cockpit.
“Are you okay?” Luna asked Carrie.
“I am now,” she said, “Though some sleep would be great.”
“Sure, there’s a cabin in the back.”
Wolf re-emerged, “...Not only shot myself into space, but dragged this bitch back with me,” Carrie looked back wounded and Wolf caught himself, “I meant the light drive, Carrie. The light drive.”
“Hold it up, let me see,” Holly said rattling with excitement.
Wolf frowned and turned Holly’s monitor toward the floor.
“Holy Hawking,” she blurted, “That’s an experimental X-87. Barring catastrophic failure it will make the Starcrossed the fastest ship in the galaxy.”
“Shot myself into space AND got us an experimental X-69 or whatever,” Wolf gloated, “Hooray, Wolf.”
“X-87,” Holly corrected.
“Whatever, fastest ship,” Wolf said throwing his hands up and walking back to the cockpit.
“Get it back here and I can install it for you,” Holly said.
“Hey, hon,” Wolf called from the cockpit, “Where’s Tycho’s ship?”
“About that,” Luna said in a plaintive tone, “Raz’s capital ship sort of blew it into spare parts.”