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But the guard who stepped from the hidden door had a surprise of his own waiting for him, the kind that makes you wish you stayed home that day.

His mistake was that he grinned and through his laughing, clinging teeth spoke, “Freeze, buster, or I’ll dust your stupid ass!”

Too many words, too much grinning, too much joy, as if he went on some lux vacation after winning a lottery.

He got no answer or a fight from Timothy.

But, his winning ticket came in a way of one of them huge beer mugs Timothy was drinking from just a moment before. It flew like a cannonball through the air, and just as the guard decided to grin even harder and squeeze the trigger regardless of anything, regardless of how frozen Timothy stood there, it smashed against his helmeted head so fiercely that it knocked him right off his feet, erasing that smile and a bunch of teeth from his mouth as it shattering itself into uncountable pieces in the process.

“He’s mine!” the enraged Mith roared from below even before the guard hit the ground. “He’s all mine!” He yelled again and took another mug in his huge hand as a deterrent for anyone ready to stand in his way.

The whole floor trembled as he ran toward the stairs and then jumped them ten at a time. “You wait there!” he yelled after Timothy.

Timothy had a good sense not to wait but ran out as fast as he could, firing the last bit of juice inside his back thrusters to make to one of the troops’ transporters in top speed, using the struggling Captain as the cushion as he rammed him against transporter's side door.

The Captain screamed in pain, but Timothy screamed even harder, “Open up! Your captain is hurt! Hurry!! Hurry, hurry, or people will die!”

Whoever was inside panicked and opened the door instantly which was the worst decision he made that day. Because as soon as the door opened, Timothy fired another coma-inducing bullet right into his dumbfounded face.

He yelled and the Captain wanted to fight, now enraged at how he was being used, but Timothy just banged his unprotected head against the wall of the transporter and then put the gun into his face.

“You want some of that, huh?” Timothy asked, his eyes raging with fire. “You just let me know if you do.” The struggle departed the Captain instantly, ending in his deep breaths and not moving, not even an inch.

The Mith was running now at them and Timothy had a split second to shut the door of the transporter before the mass of 400+ pounds of muscle got through it.

The Mith might have been monster strong, but the Union built its troops transporters right, hardening them for stressful planet landings as well as space combat, and no banging on it could even make a scratch on it.

Timothy decided to take a breath as the door shut firmly and turned to look at the enraged Mith, giving him a nice smile. “Maybe next time, big guy,” he said and then decided to unharness the Captain, throwing him to the floor.

Looking at how deeply his captive was breathing, Timothy decided not to trust his persuasion technique and took out an electric cuff. “On your legs and arms, Cap, and if you don’t want to be electrocuted, you better not move, not even a millimeter.”

He took a trooper still screaming and moved him to one of the five free seats, strapping him in there. “Oh, come on, crybaby. You will sleep in less than six seconds. Can’t you stay quiet for that long?”

“Who are you?” the Captain yelled, but Timothy did not want to talk anymore and picked him up from the floor and threw him in one of the empty seats, harnessing him tightly as well. Then he activated the cuffs, and the next time the Captain moved, he could hear it by his painful screams.

“You’re kidnapping me?” the Captain asked in disbelief, then yelped in pain as he moved his leg a bit. “How much is a millimeter?!?” he suddenly wanted to know.

“You don’t stop talking, I’ll put cuffs on your mouth. Just ask your friend how good that feels?”

“You can’t get away with this!” the Captain yelled in return.

Timothy decided to ignore him as he jumped into the pilot’s seat, noticing to his pleasant surprise that the engines were already warmed up. All he had to do was to raise the power bar a few notches and the ship took off the bar’s roof instantly and effortlessly.

“Let me see,” Timothy muttered to himself as he worked over the controls. “It’s been a while since I ran one of these babies. ful lot of things here look brand new.”

“What are you doing?” the Captain yelled from behind. “You can’t possibly think you can get away with this? Nobody can be that stupid!”

“If you don’t stop screaming right now, I’m really, really going to waste a bullet on you. I have an extra slow one, the one that takes a minute to kick in. Imagine that. You could scream then all you want. For a whole minute,” Timothy talked as he checked all the gouges and the radar, and slowly raised the power of the engines, speeding up his ascent from the ground. Then he picked the target in the outer orbit that the transporter should reach and let the autopilot do the rest.

The take-off was so smooth that Timothy had a moment to look behind toward the big neon sign that was rapidly becoming just a dot.

“Oh, we’ve got a follower,” he said as he noticed the Mith riding the flyer behind them, approaching them swiftly and burning what seemed to be all the fuel as the red flame leaped out of its dual rockets.

"You deserve it. I hope he catches up with you."

“Well, if you say so. Maybe we can even be polite for a change?” Timothy said with a grin on his face and opened the transporter’s back gate and let the ramp roll out.

Instantly the transporter started to vibrate as if it was hitting major turbulence.

“What are you doing?” the Captain asked.

“Didn't you say to let him come in?"

"But... But.."

Timothy snorted. "Besides, if the big fella wants to play, who am I to stop him? Let's see how he does that.”

With the gate wide open, the red alerts started to pop all over the screen, but Timothy ignored them, took the transporter out of autopilot, and overrode all the automatic safety warnings.

“The fucken’ Mith and his flyer,” he muttered to himself through his teeth as he watched the flyer swiftly approach them.

“You can’t make it to space with a gate opened!” the Captain urged them, raising his voice over the noise of the rushing air. “We’ll burn like marshmallows!!!”

“Really? I did not know that,” Timothy said in surprise. “Are you sure of that?”

“You’re fuckin’ crazy!?! Shut the gate, please, just shut the gate!”

“Why? And I thought you like that Mith.”

That Mith was approaching them so fast that in the end, Timothy decided to boost the power to the engines. But it was too late and a crashing noise suddenly alerted the crazed Captain to turn his head around in horror and see their death approaching them fast.

“Why? What are you-” he yelled but then got interrupted as the whole flyer finally found the right angle to get inside the transporter, shaking the whole structure up, ready to tear it to pieces, shredding inside insulation and the flooring. The Captain screamed something out of his mind while Timothy laughed like crazy.

The Mith, on the other side, just shut the flyer’s engines down and left the hoverbike rest gently.

His slow getting off the flyer was proceeded by Timothy finally closing the gate behind. Then the huge Mith picked the slowest possible walk to come toward Timothy, bending his head down to come up to the command center of the transporter.

The Captain’s lips shivered, eyes popped out, breath stopped frozen in anticipating horror of what was to happen next, expecting the bullets and fists to start flying all over. The big Mith passed him by, not even giving him a glance, then just lazily walked to the co-pilot’s seat and slowly lowered his huge body down.

“Thank you,” he said to Timothy after a long moment of tense peace.

“Yeah, I know. When I saw the cargo space empty in the transporter, I figured you did not want to leave your best friend behind.”

The big Mith shrugged his shoulders. “We could have done it on the ground, no problem.”

“Yeah, but wasn’t this fun for you? And I still found the way for you to keep your favorite toy.”

“If you think I will correct you and say something like, but you're my best friend, and that’s what best friends are supposed to do, you’re fucken disillusioned.”

They spoke swiftly to each other, looking at the instruments.

“Okay. I sense animosity.”

"You were late."

"Had to be. You got a good one."

“It’s a good machine. It’s true” the Mith said calmly. “The best I rode in years. I would hate to lose it. With all the junk out there right now, they don’t build them anymore like they used to.”

“Oh, ‘a good machine’. Come on. I know you’re in love with it.”

“So what? Nothing wrong with it… Being in love with a machine.”

“That’s true. I guess I’m just jealous, that’s all.”

“Oh, come on, pretty boy, don’t give me that.”

“I’m hurt, that’s all."

“You, you guys know each other?” the Captain finally came around to ask in a shaky, stuttering voice, not ready to accept that he knew absolutely nothing of what was going on and what is to happen next. He stuttered some more, asking for explanations. But they paid him no attention.

The ship still trembled from the maneuver of getting the flyer in and the extra weight it brought in, and Timothy had to balance the stabilizers and engines out before deciding to go on autopilot again and to speed up their ascent from the planet.

“You’re not a jealous kind, Pretty Boy,” the Mith growled.

“I swear, you call me ‘Pretty Boy’ one more time, I’ll come to you while you are asleep and have my way with you. And don’t say you don’t want it. I mean, the way you yelled back there, ‘He’s mine’, I mean, it gets me all warm and feeling fuzzy inside. Look, I’m even getting goosebumps.”

The Mith snorted.

“You love me, I know you love me - Look, goosebumps.”

The Mith snorted again. “I can’t see through your armor, but I know you’re not getting goosebumps. Besides, don’t you always say about you being straight?”

“I’m very straight. I love women. But non-humans don’t count. And before you start lecturing me about equalities of species, let me just say, in your case anyway, I’d always make an exception. I mean, the way you protected my back? I’m so glad to have you.” There was some sarcasm in there and the Mith blinked his eyes a few times. “Just to let you know, this coat is my favorite,” Timothy added swiftly half upset now.

“My very favorite!?!” he yelled.

Suddenly, the huge Mith didn’t seem so huge. His shoulders slouched. “Your favorite?”

“Yes! And now it has a hole in it. Right in my back!?!” Timothy snapped at him, casting him an angry look, pointing to his back, sweet pillow talk all forgotten.

“Well, that guy came out of nowhere.”

“Nowhere?!? He was inside the room next to the entrance! That’s not nowhere! You were supposed to check on that!”

“It was hidden.”

“Something you should have checked for! That’s why you went first! On your favorite bike! While I rode a death-trap piece of shit again!”

No answer came from the Mith and Timothy continued in a very disappointed voice. “You just rushed downstairs to get yourself some beer. I know you did. I bet you did not even check.”

“I still took care of him.”

“I know. And grateful I am, but… you still owe me a coat. And not any kind of a coat.”

The Mith growled. “I’ll patch that hole, and it will look like new.”

“No, no patching. I want a new one. At Antiquities, they better have another one like it. This is real leather, man.”

“No, not at the Antiquities. The old man will have my skin. You know how much I’m already in the red?”

“Not my problem.”

The Mith growled even louder, the sound of a beast ready to sink its teeth and claws into a prey, any prey.

 

When the growling stopped, he asked, “By the way, what took you so long?”

“A fuckin’ piece of shit flyer! I almost crashed, and not only once.”

“It was working fine when I checked it this morning.”

Timothy“It was a piece of a shit that you decided to leave to me!”

“I’ve built it myself! And if it could carry me-”

“It almost got me killed! More than once!”

The big Mith shrugged his shoulders and raised the palms of his hands, not understanding it at all. “It carried me around Sireen for six straight days!”

“It was a piece of shit, and I can’t believe I trusted you with it, and now I’m glad I dropped it and left it behind. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.”

“Auch!” yelped the young Captain in pain.

“Didn’t I tell you not to move?” Timothy asked him, turning around to see the young Captain’s face in a state of pain. “The electric shocks will only get more painful. How much pain you need to feel so you learn - that is completely up to you.”

“What have you done to Morthy?” the Captain asked, pointing his nose to the trooper who by now lay unconscious next to him.

“Oh, to Morthy? Nothing. He’ll wake up in a few hours with a really bad headache.”

The young Captain could hardly believe it. “You used nerve agent bullets on him?”

“Yes.”

“They’re illegal in Union. They are too inhuman. Now you have committed a high crime against muliple Union soldiers. You're in so much trouble.”

Timothy chuckled. “Yeah, but here, in Dark, that's how it goes.”

“I guess it does.”

“We are, what you call, uncivilized.”

“In the Union Space, you’d get ten years for firing a single round of that ammunition. Imagine how many years you are looking at,” the Captain said. “When they catch you. And they will catch you, sooner or later.”

“That boy should shut up. Don’t they have shackles for a tongue,” the big Mith ellained.

“I do. But it cost a pretty credit.”

The Mith looked at Timothy. “Well, it may be worth it.”

“There’s also something called a duck tape. But I have not used any in a long time.”

“A duck tape?”

“Yes.”

The Mith's face frowned. “Made out of a duck? An actual duck? That's cruel.”

“No. Don’t know what the shit it’s made of. But it’s super strong. We used to tape our armor with it in combat when it started to fall apart on us. It holds shit together. Well, at least it makes you think it holds the shit together, all the way till the EL bullet rips straight through you.”

The young Captain did not like being ignored and did not want to give his mouth a rest. “You guys are going to be so sorry! You don’t go around kidnapping Union’s captain and steal a transporter!? If you were ever a soldier, you should know better. I mean, where do you think you will take it? They’ll find you wherever you go. I bet by now, the ship has already been notified of your stupidity and has already sent someone to look for you.”

“Marv, I think you’re right,” Timothy said as he looked at the big Mith. “We need a duck tape.”

“Maybe I can just tap him a little, on the head you know,” Marv answered. “Save us a credit or whatever duck tape costs.”

“Your little tap might kill him. You want to hit him, Marv?” Timothy asked.

Marv shrugged his shoulders. “A little.”

“But we may still need him. And he looks so fragile. What if you screw up even more stuff that's wrong in his head?”

"He's wearing a blue uniform. Not much worth saving in that head anyway."

"True," Timothy had to agree. "That's hundred percent true."

The Captain heard it all, but his mouth just didn’t want to rest. “You guys are going to be so sorry. I bet they are already sending interceptors. Yes, intercepters. Probably two-seaters, or even a full cruiser to come and get me. Oh, you are going to be so sorry. If you make it out of this alive that is-”

“I have enough of his vocal samplings to do whatever you want,” Marv said. "Can I tap him now?"

“Maybe, but you never know if we still might need him. Besides, I kind of like him. I mean, his mother bought him this position. What is there not to like about a mommy’s boy? They are so soft and tender, almost like a teddy bear. We’ll give him to Sornia as a pet.”

“I’m nobody’s pet.”

“Yeah, well, if you want to keep him, he better shut up because my headache is just getting worse.”

The Captain suddenly had a sharp thought. “Did my mother paid you to kidnap me?? Is that what this is about?”

“Didn’t you hear what Marv just said?” Timothy said, nodding his head toward his Mith companion. “You better keep quiet. If you think you do not like Marv the Mith now, you will like this one even less when he gets a bad headache."

“I never said I do not like Miths!” the Captain protested. “I even defended him down there in the bar!”

“Well, yes, yes you did, now that I think about it. He stood up for me.”

Timothy tried to figure it out, suddenly thinking it through. “Really? You feel ‘defended’?”

“Well, he tried, at least. But damn, that was a damn good beer there though,” Marv said with a bit of regret in his tone.

That brought a smile to TImothy's face. He bumped his friend on the shoulder. “Yes. And did you see how I left a whole mug there just for you? Huh? What a good body I am, huh?”

“Yeah, thank you. Too bad we won’t ever be welcome back there again.”

“Not after you smashed that guy’s helmet with a beer mug.”

“What was I supposed to do? Let him shoot you again? And how would I have known his helmet was just for decoration. Might as well put a piss-can on your head.”

Timothy shook his head. “The way he flew against the wall, the way his skull cracked, I think it did not shield him at all. I think you killed a poor guy.”

“Did not shield him at all.”

“Yeah, I don’t think we’ll be welcome back there ever again.”

They were in the darkness of space now, their breakout from the gravity forces as smooth as if it was nonexistential, and the planet slowly started to disappear into a little bright yellow ball behind.

Marv sighed. “We need to find a recipe for making our own brew, man. Then we can make it on board.”

It was TImothy's turn now to take a deep breath. “You and your recipes. Just admit, you can’t cook for shit.”

“Do you guys ever stop?” the Captain said. “I liked you way better when you pretended not to like each other.”

“I can cook so,” Marv said.

“No, not true. Just tell our Captain here, what did you do last time you cooked. You know what I mean, the eggs you made this morning? Did you forget about them? I mean, if there was a way to burn water, you’d burn it.”

The Mith grumbled aloud for a long second, “You ungrateful bastard. They got a bit dry, so what?”

“You burned the eggs, man!”

“They were just a bit toasty, that’s all.”

“A bit toasty? You ruined the last six eggs we had on board! They were darker than your skin! How hard is it to fry some eggs?”

“You ungrateful bastard. One of these days, I really will take Sornia’s advice and teach you some manners.”

“Oh, don’t get me started on Sornia. Did you see she pulled a blade on me?”

“Can’t blame her one bit.”

Timothy could not believe what he heard. “Can’t blame her! Not even a bit?” Timothy puffed.

“Not one bit. Where is she by the way?”

At that second, the whole transporter shook and Timothy flicked his finger for the back camera to display a blast that hit the transporter's backside, the flame still licking their back cargo door.

“I told you!” the Captain yelled in ecstasy. “They come for me! I told you! Oh, guys, you’re in so much trouble! And this transporter has no offensive weapon. You picked the wrong one! Ha, ha, ha... You're so done!”


"Maybe we are," Timothy said as the next EL torpedo made the transporter tremble worse than the last one. "But, by firing those torpedoes at us, how could you ever reckon that to be a rescue mission?"

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