Destyn wasted no time in launching himself off the hangar bay magrail, firing his ship into the path of the three oncoming Syndicate vessels. Immediately, in unison, the three ships banked and veered off course from the Honeybadger, instead turning to focus all of their attention on the D-GAF. Destyn’s control panel lit up with warning lights: lock ons, range warnings, collision warnings, the works. There was even a flashing light showing they were trying to raise him on comms. He was having none of it.
The day had started off so well, he thought, turning hard to starboard in an attempt to get some of the enemy flank. He fired the dual machine guns mounted on the underbelly of the D-GAF, and managed to seriously injure the closest of the triad of ships. It fell back immediately and turned away from the others, its engine billowing sparks. The other two, however, returned fire of their own. Rockets were incoming, five each from the ships, and Destyn was sweating. He pulled up hard to escape their immediate vector and fired his chaff cannon, exploding aluminium debris in a trio of glittering novas. The rockets corkscrewed helplessly past the D-GAF, exploding on timers a safe distance away.
Destyn banked again, the leader in his sights. Punching in a complicated series of commands, he brought his rear mounted plasma cannon online. It loomed up and over the back of the D-GAF like a scorpion tail, its tip glowing blue as the energy mounted. Once his console green-lit the weapon, Destyn fired, and the discharge lit up the black sky in a dance of charged particles. They criss-crossed and arced like a bolt of lightning, striking the foremost ship and sending it careening as the impact detonated the engines. It spun off helplessly into the darkness, but not before firing its remaining missile payload. Destyn fired his machine guns into the cluster, taking out three of them, but two remained, and he was out of counter-measures.
Thinking quickly he brought the D-GAF behind the remaining ship, unloading what remained of his ammunition into its backside. He blew out the right engine, slowing it enough to allow him to gain considerably. Right when he was about to make contact with the ship in a head-on collision he dove straight down below it. The missiles did not have enough time to correct course, and the two of them impacted spectacularly with the QM ship, blowing it apart in a pyrotechnic display that, even with his blood rining in his ears, Destyn couldn’t help but appreciate.
The three ships destroyed or otherwise disabled, Destyn set the autopilot for an automated docking proceedure, and finally answered the hailing signal that had been flashing for his attention throughout the short dogfight.
“This is the D-GAF. Who the hell are you and what do you want?”
“Mister Wu,” intoned a deep, sonourous voice, “It’s been too long.”
Destyn’s brow furrowed. The voice seemed so familiar in its menacing tones. It was at the tip of his tongue, scrambling about in his forebrain, but he couldn’t quite place it. “Never too long to stay off the radar of the Syndicate.” He lit his last cigarillo, exhaling a cloud that filled his small cockpit. “To what do I owe the pleasure of sending your boys to hell?”
“Yes, that was quite the unfortunate encounter.” There was a sigh from the other end. “I suppose it was too much to hope that you would come quietly.”
“You’re damn right about that. I got off Ganymede for a reason. I don’t need to step in whatever shit you’ve got brewing down there on Mars.”
“Oh, but you do, you see. You have every reason.”
Destyn scoffed. “And that would be?”
“We have certain information regarding the whereabouts of an old colleague of yours. A Mister Ioannes Blackwell.”
Destyn’s eyes widened in shock, and he almost dropped the cigarillo from his lips. “You know where to find that sonofabitch Ioannes?”
“Yes, Mister Wu.”
“Well if you can find him, what do you need me for?” The ship docked, and Destyn climbed out and into the hallway leading back to the bridge. He punched the intercom to transfer the call. “Don’t you have enough thugs to do what you need done?”
“Oh, be assured, Mister Wu, we are a capable organization. However, you possess a certain set of skills, along with a certain history, that cannot be overlooked when it comes to this particular person of interest.”
“Me and Ioannes parted ways long before I left Ganymede. I doubt he’d be that happy to see me.”
“We were hoping that, considering your area of expertise, he wouldn’t be seeing you for very long.”
“I’m out of that game. Have been for some time now. I only take them in alive anymore.” Destyn stepped into the bridge, looking for Tio, but found it empty. He shrugged to himself and moved to sit in the passenger seat. He took another drag on his cigarillo. “You’re really barking up the wrong tree, pal.”
“I’ve forwarded contract details to your ship. Do look them over, and please, be in touch. We would hate to have to send another party to come and collect you.”
“I’d hate to have to send them back as scrap. Fuck off.” Destyn killed the uplink, and there was blessed silence. Except, it wasn’t completely silent. More than just the constant thrumm of the engines there was a certain watery noise that it took a moment for him to place. Then it clicked. The shower.
He hopped up and jogged down the hallway to the shower room, and found it closed, but definitely in use. He banged on the door.
“Tio? What the hell are you taking a shower for?”
“N-n-ot show-showering. Locked i-in.” Came the stuttered reply.
Then Destyn remembered the auto-clean function and laughed. “A little cold and soapy, are we?”
“J-j-just a t-touch.”
“Hold on, I’ll get you out.” He took his time, but eventually entered the last of the seven digit unlock code and the door slid open. A decidedly more disheveled Tio stumbled out, completely soaked from head to foot.
“Don’t mention it.” Destyn turned and grabbed a towel from the hallway rack and threw it over Tio’s head. “Why don’t you go dry off in my room? I’m sure I’ve got something that’ll fit you. Just rummage through the pile.”
Tio nodded and walked across the hall into Destyn’s room. There was a moment of shuffling as he toweled his hair. “Wait, which pile?”
“Smell ‘em, I guess.” Destyn laughed, walking back to the bridge. He was always in a better mood after a fight. Something in his blood sang out to him during those tense moments of life-or-death. It’s part of what drew him to being a bounty hunter, he supposed. Sure, there was justice to be done, but the huge risk-reward system was where his focus lay. The more risk, the more reward. Sitting at his console, he flicked on the vidscreen to the bedroom, grinning as he watched Tio undress.
“Cute butt,” he said over the intercom, causing Tio to snap upright, flinging the towel around his waist.