Hornet’s Nest – Part 4

To Part 3

Space really never failed to make him emotional which in turn caused him to forget all about the turbulence caused by the lack of the gravity disruptors.

“You are cleared for detachment.”

“Hornet’s Nest acknowledges. Thank you for the lift and have a very nice day. Over and out.”

“Why can’t you always be that civil, Daigo?”

“Because civility’s insulting to those close to you,” Daigo undid the belt and got up out of his chair, “I’ll go check on the passenger, set up our path and get us moving, okay?”

“Sure. Where are we heading?”

Daigo stopped mid-stride. He smirked back.

“I’ll check with our passenger.”

He walked out of the cabin to the sound of one syllable laugh.

He passed by the bathroom, hearing Hannes suffering through his usual barfing, he couldn’t handle the lift-offs that well.

“Captain,” a young voice called out in chorus with the opening of his cabin door. “He’s… in the room.” He winked at Daigo.

“Good work, kid, please don’t do that.” He was the most obvious con-boy in the galaxy, “how about preparing us a meal? I think it’d be good to eat in about an hour?”

“Sure,” he smiled warmly, “I’d be happy to!”

“Great then.” Daigo closed Kyle’s door shaking his head.

Proceeding along, he found John sitting on his bed, uncomfortable. His large cape almost functioned like an over-sized coat, he was even sitting on it instead of directly on the bed.

“John,” Daigo called out.

“Are you sure this ship’s spaceworthy?”

That’d come off as rude if it weren’t so understandable.

“Of course.”

“Will it need a shuttle to land, too?” He seemed concerned.

“Yes, but don’t worry, we have escape-pods in case you need to drop into a planet without one.”

“Escape pods?”

“Yes?”

He glanced around with a doubtful look. “Doesn’t sound safe.”

Daigo shrugged.

Man with smuggled secret cargo doesn’t think it’s safe. He wouldn’t say anything, though, it was always better to tread a bit carefully with clients. Especially when they look so intimidating. And even more so when you plan on screwing them over.

“I need to know where we’re heading, I forgot to ask.”

“Muena three.”

Daigo couldn’t help but shudder away his smile, it was hard to keep it when his heart kicked him in his chest.

“Sorry? Did you say Muena?”

“Three,” he added, “yes.”

“Well now…” Daigo crossed his arms and shook his head, “I am really sorry I didn’t ask before. We actually have a very strong policy about messing with the lizards.”

“Yes?”

“Never. That’s the policy, it’s pretty straightforward, it’s the simplest of our policies.”

To his credit, at least, the man seemed to be understanding. He had a moment of reflection where he nodded as if he had seen the worry coming and seemed to know just what to say to dissuade it.

“It’s okay, they’re expecting me.”

“Ah.” Daigo said sagely with a calm nod.

That didn’t dissuade it at all.

“Friend…” Daigo said the word as politely as he could, “my perception’s that there’re only two things they really expect of outsiders: to leave them alone and to die.”

“This is different.”

“Usually in that order.”

“Daigo, don’t worry. I can’t discuss it without explaining the cargo, I paid good money so I wouldn’t have to, but believe me, it’s safe.”

Daigo raised an eyebrow, or, at least, he felt he did, and gave the matter a few seconds of silence. Good money? Either that guy was just not used to smuggling dangerous good, or he was heavily insulting him right now.

However big his hesitation had been as far as knocking John out so he could check what the cargo was, it utterly deflated right then.

He smiled. “Well, righteousness of clientele and all that, right? You paid us, we’ll sure deliver on that, Muena 3 it is.”

John nodded in agreement and relief.

“Thank you, really.”

Daigo gave him a mini-salute, “Not a problem. You’ll get your money’s worth or my name isn’t Daigo!” He winked and left him behind, running back to Kiyin.

He gave her the summary of what he was planning to do, he always checked with her first on his decisions.

“Daigo, how many times can we betray our clients before we get a reputation?”

“Hey,” he leaned back on his chair and clicked through the holographic buttons to fully open the blast windows. “If we get the reputation that we’ll screw you over if you try and get us killed, then good. It’s not a bad reputation to have.”

“I’m not sure that’s the reputation we’ll get.” She shrugged, visibly unconvinced.

“Look, we already lift off and that puts us at an expense, we need him to come through but we’re not going to no Muena 3. So that leaves only one thing to do.”

She didn’t say anything back, which he had learned was the only way she had to show she either agreed with him or just simply liked what he said. She blew on her bangs dismissively, “okay.”

He had Sará keep tabs on the video feed from John’s room, the only one who had a video feed, of course, he wasn’t into spying on his own crew. And went to eat.

Too many hours passed before John finally went to sleep and they were very strenuous to wait over.

During the middle of the night cycle, he went and turned the knockout gas vent on. Then he waited in the mess hall with Hannes, both tired and yawning.

“I’d complain ‘bout bein’ bored,” Hannes pointed out while scratching his armpit, “but at this point, I know better.”

Daigo nodded. “Yeah, let’s not jinx it for once. See what happens.”

Hannes sighed.

The anxiety built alongside curiosity, to every passing minute. So much so neither Daigo nor Hannes really gave it even an hour, they just made sure that enough time had gone by to knock out anyone if they happened to be holding their breath.

After twenty minutes, he went ahead with purging the room from the gas so that they could finally go inside and find out the contents of the cargo.

What followed was more unexpected than it was surprising, very little surprised Daigo those days.

When he pressed to open the door, he was met with a red blur. His vision went dark and his head hit something, or something hit his head, the exchange was a bit too abrupt to discern. He did hear the sound of a roar, however, followed by Hannes cursing. Then his head most certainly was the thing to hit something else, behind him.

Finally getting his bearings, he found John dodging a jab from Hannes. His cape had been fashioned into a scarf that was covering his mouth.

So that’s what it’s for.

“You rat bastards!”

He grappled Hannes and threw him on the ground so hard that the gruff mercenary had all his air pushed out of him, and still managed to spit a profanity back.

Daigo figured he had about a minute before John was dead.

“We just want to know what’s in the box! Please calm down, we won’t kill you!”

“Liars and thieves!” John took a gun out and aimed at Daigo, who jumped to the side to avoid its shooting. It missed him to the sound of a very painful grunt.

Daigo rolled and looked back to see Hannes tackling John down to the ground, he noticed John’s left knee was dislocated, Hannes must’ve kicked it to make him miss the shot.

John brought the gun to Hannes’s face but he swiped it to the side with his right hand while shooting a left palm at John’s head, smashing it against the ground. Daigo winced at the sound of a breaking skull, which was clear despite the gunshot that wheezed across the corridor, lost yet still noisy.

Hannes kept punching.

“Hannes! Stop it, man!”

“He tried ta kill me!!!”

“Well look at it from his point of view,” Daigo pushed Hannes off, “what do you think he thought we were doin–”

Daigo frowned. He had seen worse, and John wasn’t dead right that second, but he sure wasn’t going to survive what Hannes had done to him.

“Eesh…”

“’m sorry!” Hannes rose his hands in protest and then brought them back to his hips to look at what he had done, a bit regretful. “You know how I get.”

“Tsk.” Daigo looked at Hannes as an excuse to look away while he shot John in the head, hoping to spare him from the pain he was lightly moaning about. “I’ve told you to get a better grip on these things.”

“He tried ta kill me,” Hannes mumbled in complaint.

“Well, what would you do if someone gassed you in the middle of space?”

Hannes didn’t say anything in reply. He’d most likely go with the gun right off the bat was what he was thinking.

“Crazy that he noticed it, though. I wouldn’t have.”

“Yeah,” Hannes agreed, “he was good.”

Daigo then regarded a blinking light alerting them to a call coming in on the intercom, just outside the room. With an eyebrow raised, he went and pressed the button.

“Yeah?”

“You better clean that mess up,” Sará voice requested, bored, “I don’t want Kyle seeing that.”

Daigo paused.

“Wait, you could see inside! Why didn’t you tell us he was up?”

“I tried.” She shut the call, and he started at it with every intent that she would feel it.

“Hey, why didn’t she warn us?” Hannes asked.

“Apparently she tried. I guess we just didn’t notice the intercom was on?”

“I keep tellin’ ya to fix this junk, man. I keep sayin’ it’ll get us killed, but no.”

“Let’s just check on the damn box,” Daigo walked into the room, angry that it had all gone so wrong.

He really hoped it had something valuable enough to justify murder, he didn’t like going around with a heavy conscience. It upset his sleep, it made him more susceptible to Kiyin’s quips, it was an all-around hassle.

The box had a security system that used prints, so on top of it all, they had to drag John’s body back into the room and use his hand.

“This guy’s freakin’ heavy, let’s just cut his hand off.”

“Shut up and pull, Hannes.”

When they finally unlocked the box, it didn’t simply open. Instead, it ominously pumped out a whisper made of vapor. They watched as some cold gas was gently blown in their faces. Hannes was waving his hand to clear it but Daigo was already beset with a bad feeling.

“The hell kind’a package is this?”

“You know what it looks like,” Daigo said, forebodingly. Hannes looked at Daigo with a tinge of hesitation.

“Well.” He looked back at it. “It isn’t.”

Daigo looked up at Hannes.

“Knowing our luck?”

Hannes’s face contorted, his teeth showing through his scar. He spat and cursed an exclamation. Then he curses without any kind of punctuation other than the sound of his protesting footsteps carrying him out of the room. Daigo took a deep breath and steeled himself, looking on at the dissipating vapor, waiting to be proven right.

And he was. He closed his eyes, or whatever that really meant since his eyes didn’t physically close, and massaged his forehead.

How was he going to explain all that to Kiyin?

To Part 5

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Hornet’s Nest – Part 4

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