Whoever she was, she didn’t know how to swim. She coughed and sputtered, flailing her arms wildly as she struggled to keep her head above water. I locked my arm around her but she panicked and slapped me furiously.
“NO!” I shouted.
Her reply? You guessed it. “NO!”
“Stop! Don’t fight it!”
“Stop! Don’t fight it!”
I whispered a “Shhhh” and she whispered one back and I managed to either get her to practice taking deep breathes, or she was just mimicking me. Either way, I got her to calm down.
A mile out, the Star Streaker’s beaten up shell was taking water and going down. The visible part was on fire. It exploded, sending parts and shrapnel all over.
I clicked my Sen-Pen on.
No transmission. It all happened so fast. I grabbed the girl and jumped. I didn’t see if he made it out or not.
Then I saw it. A little green body floating towards us. It was still. Quiet. The current was carrying it but the body itself was immobile.
“JONESY!” I shouted.
Mystery woman joined in. “JONESY!”
I’m not sure she even understood what she was doing. She was staring at the sky and trying not to look at the water. But what the hell. I needed an extra set of lungs. We both called out to him for awhile.
“JONES!!!” I yelled. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
Sure enough, the woman called out the same words. “JONES!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
Slowly, Jones lifted his head. “The backstroke, you a-holes. What does it look like?”
“You’re alive!” I said, as my companion said again, shortly thereafter.
“I wish I wasn’t,” Jones replied.
“Come on, man,” I said. “Don’t say stuff like that.”
Mystery woman chimed in. “Come on, man…”
I put my hand over her mouth. She mumbled “donttphh sayth stuff likth dat.” She then licked my hand till I removed it.
“I used to have a personal staff of over a million Vek who answered directly to me,” Jones said as he gazed at Malostet’s twin moons. “They all referred to me by my title, ‘The Esteemed Brainy One.’ I had powers, bestowed upon me by the Mighty Potentate. I could read minds. Make force fields. Levitate. Now that’s all gone. Now I have to make my living chauffeuring an a-hole around the cosmos until the day I die.”
I didn’t say anything. I knew the little dude was depressed and there wasn’t anything I could say. Plus, I didn’t feel like hearing my new friend repeat it.
Jones switched to a doggy paddle position and looked at the final piece of the ship disappear on its way to the ocean floor.
“There’s no way Kendra is getting her deposit back,” Jones said.
“She is going to be pissed,” I added.
“She is going to be pissed,” my personal parrot felt the need to say.
An hour’s worth of swimming later, with me towing mystery woman the entire way, we were on shore. As we rested, we spotted a pair of ships fly slowly overhead, shining spotlights the entire way.
They were marked “Paragon Security.” Malostet was owned and operated by the Malostetian Gaming Commission, which had hired the multi-species mercenary outfit to be their personal muscle. Keep the tourists happy. Keep them dropping their creds. Remove the undesirables.
I felt a three fingered hand reach into my pocket. He pulled out my Sen Pen, snapped it in half, and tossed it into the ocean.
“Damn it,” I said. “I just upgraded that!”
Mystery woman’s teeth were too busy chattering from the cold to repeat me.
He reached another hand into my coat, retrieved my Mac Daddy 7, popped out the clip, and tossed it into the briney deep.
“What the hell are you doing?” I asked. “Will you stop?!”
Jones paid me no mind and reached for my coat again. I slapped his hand away.
“NO ONE TOUCHES THE DUSTER!” I shouted.
Mystery woman perked up long enough to repeat that, which I have to admit, made me happy. She then returned to huddling in a ball to keep warm. She wasn’t wearing much to begin with and her robe was all in tatters. Not that I was checking out her goodies or anything. I’m not some kind of intergalactic pervert I’ll have you know.
“Fine, you do it then,” Jones said. “Guns. Explosives. Anything electronic needs to go into the ocean or you know who will use it against us.”
I nodded. “Right.”
It was painful. My entire arsenal. My spark whip. My collapsible spark stick baton. My detonators. My back up hand cannons. I tossed it all. Don’t worry. I disarmed everything. There isn’t going to be a little kid that will find this stuff one day and blow himself up.
I had an old school revolver strapped to my leg. Bought it an an antique store. Seemed cool. A good backup in case my e-weapons failed. Never thought it would happen but there we were.
“Wait,” I said. “You and I both have translator chips and cochlear implants.”
“That’s a problem,” Jones said. “As soon as we’re safe, I’ll need to swap them out. I’m pretty sure Sourcemind can’t use them against us since they rely heavily on our brains and he can’t hack organic matter but I don’t want to take the chance.”
I was about to put my duster back on when I noticed mystery woman was still shivering. Jones looked at me then nudged his head towards her.
“What?” I asked.
He nudged his head at her again.
“Oh come on,” I said.
He nudged again. I swear, sometimes Jones and I were like an old married couple with the way we could communicate without talking.
“Fine,” I said as I wrapped the woman up in my duster.
“Don’t let anyone touch this,” I said.
“Don’t let anyone touch this,” she replied.
The city was a half-mile walk through thick brush away. We started hoofing it.
“We’re stuck here,” Jones said. “We’ll never get off world with this much attention.”
“Relax,” I said. “I know a guy.”