“Okay so, hear me out until the end, okay?”
“Oh, gods,” Kiwin’s voice pleaded from behind her arms. She had crossed them over her knees and hid her face behind them, the tentacles hugging her legs. She was sitting on the bed, looking a bit disheveled under her sheets, “we’re going to Muena, aren’t we?”
“No!” Daigo shook his head and his hands and his voice, “definitely not, it’s not that bad.”
She peeked at him, still groggy from just waking up.
“Okay…what is it?”
“First off, John? Turns out he was a spook.”
“What?” She rose her head. “As in a spy?”
“For Centauri,” Daigo scratched his head, “this all…got complicated really fast. He caught on to the gas, turns out that’s why he had the cape, it had a micro-oxygen supply just in case. He was expecting us when we went to his room. A fight ensued, Hannes killed him.”
“Oh c’mon,” she threw a pillow at him absent-mindedly. He took it off the air and placed it back on the bed, he didn’t feel like getting hit with it, he was tired.
“I know, I know.”
“I keep telling you, take Sará, or me, not Hannes! Sára. Wasn’t Sára monitoring?”
“She tried to tell us apparently,” he smiled awkwardly, “we didn’t notice the intercom’s light.”
She groaned. “Even Hannes agrees we need to fix those things, it’ll get us killed.”
“Look–it doesn’t matter now, just hear me out. We found a tracer on him so we already spaced him. We need to change courses and we need to do it right now. Come on, get ready and let’s go, I’ll tell you the rest on the way.”
She grumbled, taking off her covers and revealing she was wearing little else than a thin-layered t-shirt, which made Daigo react with a leer of delight. That, in turn, led her to notice.
“Wait outside please.”
“C’mon, Kiyin, am I the only one who remembers we’re married?”
“You’re certainly the only one who’s happy about it,” she pointed at the door with a glare, “go.”
He nodded in disappointment and left the room.
While he waited, he considered his past, remembering his wedding day. Why she had agreed to follow tradition, even against the wishes of her father, was something he had not understood at the time. Across the years, however, he had learned that it had all been for the ship. It was always for the ship.
She left the room dressed in her uniform, the jumpsuit with padded shoulders that were actually extra sleeves for her tentacles. It sported some tears but was otherwise intact from the first time she had worn it, all those years ago when they left her planet together.
In some ways, it felt like her real bridal gown, she wore it every time she had to step into the cockpit.
She blew on her bangs and walked past him.
“Ok, so what else?”
“Well, turns out the package he was carrying was a cryo-pod. It has someone inside, I put Kyle and Hannes on guard duty, to wait for him to wake up but we already identified the face.”
“And the bad news is?”
“A human Centauri spy was carrying the frozen body of one of the richest men in the galaxy,” he bluntly put. “Man’s Wichmond Wallace. He owns a moon where he built a small citadel to live in lavish isolation.”
He felt her eyes on him.
“Such big words, have you been reading lately?”
“Funny,” He pulled the lever to open the door to the cockpit for Kiyin, who didn’t break her stride. “You’re funny.” She knew very well his prosthetic eyes could temporarily hold an after-image, simulating photographic memory.
“So we rescued a very rich guy? That seems beneficial.”
“Well, the thing is, he’s bald and has a bar code on the head.”
“Yes,” Daigo didn’t sit down as she did.
“But that’s illegal.”
“What’s that mean to someone who owns a moon?” He raised his brow in a suggestion that transferred to her face. She nodded in agreement. “Anyways, put us on course towards there. I imagine we’ll be delivering a clone back to its owner.”
“That also sounds beneficial,” she switched on the holographics and engaged navigation, taking it out of the passive thrust they affectionally called “auto-pilot”. Her tentacles, smoothly changing color from cyan at the top to her skin color at the bottom, expertly helped her arms. They were long enough to reach a few inches past her elbows, but only as wide as a hand. She frequently used them to gesture instead of her arms and hands, something much more evident when she was piloting.
He scratched his head in consideration of her words.
“A whole lot more than going into lizard space, that’s for sure. System Trifecta, that’s where we’re heading.”
“Oh, figures he’d be close to one of the best resorts in the galaxy,” she shrugged, “and why are you waking him up again?”
“The guy was getting dragged around by a Centauri spy. A human one,” he remarked.
“That is pretty odd,” she agreed, her left tentacle nudging her arm.
Daigo massaged the back of his neck, swallowing dryness. “I need to know what’s going on.” How would he make proper decisions otherwise?
He looked out the window and noticed his vision was a bit unfocused, probably due to how John had hit him earlier. He adjusted his eyes and caught sight of a comet crossing their path, far out in the distance. It was a gigantic piece of rock eternally traveling the cosmos with such an overwhelming presence that it marked space with a trail made out of itself.
The smile lasted him all the way back to the mess hall to grab a bite before going to meet with Hannes. Spinz was there, again reading the book.
He grabbed an apple off a small bascket they kept, as much as possible, filled with fruit.
“I thought you were sleeping, Spinz.” He went to bite the apple.
“No one else sleeps,” he pointed out. Daigo pulled away from the apple.
“Not everyone else is awake, Spinz. Sará’s asleep.” He went to bite the apple.
“She not sleep.” He pulled away again.
“How could you possibly know? You’re not in her room.”
“Kyle too not there,” his ears shrugged at Daigo, “that how I know.”
Daigo sighed and left, biting the apple out of frustration. They were very expensive, but biting into them helped him unwind for some reason.
“I’m senthin’im back,” he coughed his throat free, “you get some sleep, Spinz, I’ll need you wide awake.”
More than any of them, Sará was the one who needed to have her sleep in order. She was so much slower when she was sleepy.
Daigo went back to Hannes and Kyle, sending Kyle back to the room so he could catch some sleep. The kid was excited to meet the clone, but when wasn’t he excited?
Hannes was the opposite of Sará, he was ex-military and had had more than enough skirmishes on no sleep at all. Then again, they did vastly different things.
“So what do you think of all of this?”
Hannes did something Daigo was always surprised he could: he scratched his scar. It always seemed like it should hurt but he never showed any signs of it.
“I think we’re gonna help this guy start some stupid revolution.”
Daigo snorted at the joke. Hannes wasn’t in on it, he didn’t even snicker.
“People in our kinda situation? They never think tha’ what they’re doing’s leadin’ to war. We dun’have the vision fer it. ‘m tellin’ ya, it’s always the little things,” Hannes looked at him with a half-shaven head, balding anyways, and speaking frankly. “Kill someone’s family, steal a wife, enslave the wrong guy, no one sees how tha’ little bit o’ screwin’ over some worthless guy can end up wit‘im leadin’ an entire community o’ pissed off sons o’ violence against whatever power has did them wrong.”
Daigo hummed in surprise. Hannes was even less given to thinking than Daigo as he hardly ever had the first thoughts, let alone seconds. Everything related to killing, however, he seemed to have wisdom about.
“Interesting thought. So maybe John has kids and they’ll be the death of us some years from now.”
“Nah, spook like tha’? He doesn’t exist. N’ his family, if he even has one, sure won’ know what happened t‘im. They can’t know what he was doin’. Know what I mean?”
“Yeah, not even the urh can acknowledge what happened to him.”
“Heh,” Hannes finally loosened up with a half-smile. “Urh. The United Republics o’ Humanity. Acronym sounds like yer tryin’ to figure out a lie. Urrrhhhh…”
Daigo laughed in agreement.
“It’s appropriate, right? It’s the sound all those politicians make all the time. Urrrhh.”
They both did the sound, mocking it. Despite Hannes’s terrible reputation and volatile humor, Daigo found he was remarkably open to comradery.
“Well, I guess let’s try our best not to start a clone revolution. The last one wasn’t very happy.”
“Yah,” Hannes leaned back his head, “us and our ever increasin’ standards o’ success.”