“No!” Hannes shot the clone dead point-blank, making Kyle jump, and for a second, Daigo expected that pistol to be aimed at him. Hannes, though, simply paced aggressively.
“No, ain’t just the money, man!” He didn’t holster the pistol. “Didn’t ya hear ‘im?! Everyone’s comin’ for this thing. Everyone. Ya think they’ll jus’ let us split? Sure, less destroy it if ya want, but later! We need it fer leverage.”
“Trust me,” Daigo asked, hoping his pleading would work. “I can’t waste time explaining but I know what I’m doing.”
“Bull,” Hannes called his bluff, “yer scared out o’ yer mind ‘bout this thing!”
“I got an angle! Give me a charge,” Daigo held out his hand, which turned out to be a mistake. It was trembling like crazy.
“Look at that,” Hannes pointed out, slapping his hand away, “yer not right, boss, I’m not lettin’ ya do this.”
“YES!” Daigo yelled at him, allowing his breathing to get heavy and uneven. “I’m afraid! I am damn terrified of this damn weapon that every damn government in the galaxy wants that can destroy entire damn systems and literally blow up suns! I’m scared! Kyle is scared! The doctor is scared! The only people who aren’t scared are the ones who want to use it… and you! So you tell me!” Daigo stepped into his personal space, ignoring the tight grip Hannes had on his pistol, and shoved his stare right next to his chest, looking up at his battle-hardened eyes. “You tell me which one of us is sane enough to make this decision!”
Hannes hesitated, seemingly too angry to say anything. Daigo felt like driving the point home further.
“Your lack of fear’s not an advantage, Hannes, you’re a brainwashed war-junkie and you know it!”
Hannes looked furious but his eyes shifted at that statement betraying the fact Daigo had convinced him. Daigo didn’t look away with his sweating face as he stepped back so he could shove his trembling hand on Hannes’s chest.
Hannes’s face darkened into a huge frown. He could see Hannes’s full set of left teeth through the scar as he slapped an explosive charge into Daigo’s hand. He looked angry, but in a weird way, it came off as if it was more at himself.
Daigo turned around to Wichmond.
“I’ll set this to explode and you’ll lead us back to our ship safely from here.”
“What? No,” Wichmond shook his head, “I can’t just stay here and die.”
“But you said–”
“I told you,” Kyle said from the side, a voice that was thinner and hoarse, “it’s like when you want to run but your legs won’t move. He wants it to happen but he can’t–”
Daigo snarled in frustration, drawing his pistol in a swift movement. He shot Wichmond in the belly. Kyle yelped again and Wichmond reacted in surprise.
Then he keeled over.
Hannes was already walking back to the entrance while Daigo set up the charge on the weapon container.
“You’re going to bleed out in a few minutes. You’ll pass out beforehand. Point is, you can’t be saved, we will lock you in here and you can’t defuse this satchel without blowing it up.”
Wichmond glanced at Daigo, relieved. He was a terrible human being…but clever.
“I’m hoping you’ll want to do one good thing with your stupid life and help us get back to our ship.”
He kind of stuttered a nod. Daigo shook his head, cleaning sweat off his forehead as he stood. He looked at the setup and was immediately relieved, he felt his body returning back to normal now that the weapon was guaranteed destroyed.
“This is insane…but you’re doing the right thing,” Kyle said with a weird amount of effort.
“Shut up, kid,” he complained, unhappy with the whole thing. “Come on.”
They ran back to the entrance where Hannes was waiting.
“Set up the charge?”
He just nodded. Daigo recognized his posture, Hannes seemed to be doing what he felt was right, even if he didn’t like it. The contrast made his actions seem involuntary.
They gained some distance before blowing up the secret entrance, making it impossible for anyone to make it to the doctor, and weapon, on time to save them.
After a few seconds, the dying voice of the good doctor came in through the earpiece. He guided them back to the ship.
For as long as the man could handle it.
“Last hall…they are there…they have boarded your ship…no other way to it.”
“Wichmond,” Daigo took out the earpiece and looked at it like he was looking at the man. He felt great disdain for being in the situation they were in and blaming Wichmond was the only way he had to not blame himself.
The thing was… Wichmond was not the captain of his ship. “Thank you for helping us.”
“There are definitely…worse things I could… be doing. Thank you also for… your courage… smuggler.”
Daigo threw the earpiece on the ground and crushed it underfoot. He looked back and caught Kyle looking prideful of him. Annoyed, he instead peered at Hannes, motioning him to lead on. The man drew his pistol and walked out of cover. Daigo and Kyle followed.
“Kyle, I need to talk to you.”
“Things’re pretty bad.”
“I’m sure they’re safe, it’s our nest, after all, nobody can beat us there.”
“Yeah, I know they’re okay right now.” He saw Hannes turning a corner and immediately opening fire. He took to cover the instant after. Daigo crouched behind him, drawing his own pistol. “I’m saying after we leave this moon, things are…”
“Three of them, cover me, boss.”
Daigo switched places with Hannes and pushed his gun out, blindly shooting into the corridor ahead, which allowed Hannes to toss a grenade. A big flash sounded out, deafening, and Hannes ran in to do the killing.
“I’ll need Sára to be the best she’s ever been. She hesitates for one second and it might mean all our deaths.”
Kyle opened his eyes and both of them ignored the grunts of pain and death Hannes was getting out of the enemy.
“Now this isn’t the time to feed your childish delusions,” Daigo glared at Kyle before he could comment, “your sister has serious issues, but they’re tied to you luckily, and she’s still the greatest genius I’ve ever met. So I want you to stay by her side at all times, and I want you to encourage her, and talk to her, and every time I ask something impossible, you tell her she can do it. You do not let her consider death. Or failure or hesitation. Nothing. You keep her on point.”
“Geez, Captain, why do you always…you really make me feel like the only reason I’m on the ship is because of her.”
“It is,” Daigo said, seeing Kyle’s shoulders fall like he had never seen before.
“It absolutely is.” Daigo ripped into Kyle with the rash truth. “Make sure she knows it.”
At that, Daigo turned and ran, forcing Kyle to think it through.
It took an uncomfortable amount of time for them to reach the ship. Hannes and Daigo had to kill two more Centaurians that were guarding the stairs up into it.
“Why are they lowered?” It was Kyle who asked but it was a good question, Daigo had expected to see the ship broken into, not just…boarded.
They went inside with guns raised, Kyle pulling up the stairs so they would close. They came to find Sára and Kiyin dragging a Centaurian towards the garbage disposal room.
Sára released the man, allowing him to unceremoniously head-butt the floor. Completely ignoring it, she embraced her brother who in turn hugged her.
“Are you okay, Kyle?”
“Of course, sis, I’m glad you’re safe too.”
“Oh if you had gotten hurt, I…I wouldn’t know what I–”
“What’s going on, Daigo?” Kiyin thankfully interrupted, “who’re all these soldiers? Centaurians?!”
“Explanations later, we need to go now, is Spinz alright?”
“He’s cleaning the engine room,” Kiyin informed,“one of them bled out in there.”
Daigo nodded, he knew what Spinz was capable of. He pushed through them all, already heading to the cockpit. “Sára, check on the weapon’s targeting. Hannes, get to a gun. C’mon, Kiyin.”
“But how are we lifting off without a transport shuttle?”
That was Kyle, of course, which meant Sára never actually told him.
“We have a thing for emergency lift-offs. It’ll only work once, though,” Daigo told him, running off.
He ran to the cockpit and the first thing he did was call the engine room.
“Return welcome, Captain.”
“We need to lift-off asap. Get it rolling.”
Kiyin sat next to him and turned on the overlays.
“What happened in there? I’ve never seen you like this.”
Daigo glanced at her worryingly and then switched on the general communications.
“Alright people. We’re about to lift off on our own. As if that wasn’t a bumpy ride by itself, I doubt the Centaurians came in needing a transport shuttle. The plan is to get to space, Sára cleans our presence using the satellite’s connection, then we run for a gate. And we shoot down anyone that’s following us.” He paused for effect. “This is about as deep into trouble as we’ve ever been, but they think we have something they really want so we have that advantage, and that’s how we’re going to survive. Focus on your jobs…”
Daigo wanted to say something else but he didn’t think of what it was. He switched it off.
“Something they really want? And we really don’t have it?”
“It was a weapon that could make stars go supernova.” Daigo pulled on the belt of his chair to do something he never did. He strapped himself in tight.
“I destroyed it.”