Tio and Destyn, pt. 13/?

Destyn had just put out his smoke when Tio strode back onto the bridge wearing an old red Mars U t-shirt and hole filled sweatpants. He let out a wolf-whistle, which caused an immediate flush to break out over Tio’s face.

“Shut the hell up, will you?”

“Just admiring your taste in ratty clothes.”

“They’re yours!”

“Yeah, well, you picked ‘em.” Destyn laughed again, swiveling back and forth in his chair. Then he stopped, frowning. “Enough joking around. Will you tell me what the hell you were thinking leading the Syndicate to my ship?”

“Aside from the guns, you mean?”

“Yeah. You’re a cop. You should have better sense than to give in to thugs, right?”

Tio lowered his eyes for a moment, then seemed to rally. He sighed deeply, then spoke, “They said they had a lead on an old fugitive I’ve been after since I made rank.”

“That was all it took?”

Tio shrugged, “That and the blackmail files they had on you. You are not a very nice person.”

Destyn shrugged in turn, “Nice doesn’t pay. But you didn’t try to blackmail me. Why?”

“That’s not my bag. It’s,” Tio flailed a hand, “it’s dishonest, you know? Bust them in the act, sure. Track them, stalk them, then capture them. But let them do their time. Let there be some justice.”

“You’re a strange man, Lenz Tio.”

“Blame my parents, they’re the ones that filled me with this stuff. Dad was in the Martian Marshalls, always had an eye on me to follow in his footsteps.”

“Well, it looks like you did him one better, eh?”

“Yeah, he would’ve been proud.”

“Ah, didn’t make it to retirement, then?”

“No.” Tio darkened, his face twisting up. “Some sonofabitch killed him.”

“The same sonofabitch that the Mob had ready for you?”

Tio nodded, silent.

“Alright, I can forgive that much. But that’s your one. You fuck up again, you’re out the airlock, like I said. Besides, no harm done. You just owe me for the ammo and the stress.”

Tio nodded again, slumping a bit in clear relief. “I really am sorry. I didn’t know you had run ins with them before. I just figured they wanted you the same reason they wanted me and G.C.”

“G.C.?” Destyn perked up, leaning forward. “What about G.C.?”

“When we were in the car on the way over, this dwarf of a man with this deep, deep voice was droning on the phone to someone. I finally made out he was talking to G.C. I think it has something to do with our connection to Bartholmè. That’s near as I can figure.”

“The Butcher was a huge target. Maybe whoever it is they’re going after is bigger still.”

“Makes sense,” Tio nodded, looking introspective. “I suppose all three of us there at more or less the same time put us on the map.”

“Well, we can be sure of one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“Whoever it is they’re going after, G.C. is surely already on his trail.”

“He doesn’t seem like the most stand-up android I’ve ever encountered.”

“He’s a real maniac. You saw what he did to the Sisters’. He does that everywhere. Just has his bounty pay for the collateral damages.”

“That’s awful.”

“That’s non-humans for you. They don’t have the same hang-ups us decent, god fearing folk do.”

Tio laughed. “Decent, right. I’ll remember that next time you shoot a nun through the shoulder.”

“Hey, it worked, didn’t it?”

Tio held his hands up in front of his chest in a calming gesture. “Just giving you a hard time. You really did save us back there.”

“I know it. So does my bank account.” He hooked a finger over his back at the vidscreen. It showed bank account information, with a total figure of 500,035.23 credits.

“Well, at least you weren’t kidding about being broke.” Tio glanced over the other figures, then grinned widely. “Maybe spend less time at the Broken Stallion, huh?”

It was Destyn’s turn to blush, and he hurriedly closed the window, leaving a view of the starry expanse of space in its stead. “I was meeting clients.”

“Sure you were, man. Sure you were.” He laughed, dodging a kick. “It’s okay. We all need to relax with some strippers swinging their dicks in our faces now and then.”

“Yeah, well, how do you know the Stallion, then?”

“Patrols. A lot of drug deals go on in back.”

“Oh, well, yeah. Yeah they do.” Destyn said, a bit too guiltily.

Tio sighed and rolled his eyes, “You really are an upstanding citizen of these United Planets.”

Destyn couldn’t do anything but shrug. “Never saw the need to hide my vices. They’re out there for anyone with the ways and means.”

Tio nodded. “That they are. One of the many reasons I joined the Marshalls was to clean up after folks like you.”

Destyn laughed, spinning around in his chair to look out the vidscreen. “Well, you can start with my bedroom if you’d like.”

“Already did, actually. I folded the clean laundry and put it on your bed. Made the bed, too.”

Destyn whistled again, “I’m impressed, Tio. Might have to keep you on board.”

Tio laughed, walking up behind the captain’s chair and looking out into the void. “First thing, though, we’ve got to figure out who the Mob is after.”

“Yeah, they’re sure to have quite the bounty on their head if QM is getting desperate enough to recruit by force.”

“Well, probably. But I was more concerned with getting them into protective custody.”

“Nothing safer than a jail cell. Trust me on that one.” Destyn punched in the coordinates of the nearest fueling station and kicked back in his seat, the autopilot doing the complicated work. “Once we gas up we’ll head out to the usual spots and see if any of my contacts can get us headed in the right direction.”

“And maybe some clothes?” Tio asked hopefully, tugging at a hole in his crotch. “I don’t think my condo is the safest place to be right now.”

“No, you’re right. We’ll do some fancy shopping after we fuel up. Then the interrogations.” He turned to Tio. “By the way, why were you in the shower?”

Tio blushed again, “I was hiding.”

Destyn coughed, covering a laugh, then turned back to watch Mars slowly pull away from them on the screen. The sun was just cresting, a flashing spot of brilliance in an otherwise black sky. Below them, spreading slowly, the brown surface of Mars, here and there spotted with blues and greens under the sheltering umbrella of a massive Atmogen. As the ship turned away from the vista, leaving it behind, Tio couldn’t help but feel that this was the last time he was going to see home for a very long time.

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