The Joneses #2

Dancing in the Dark

Yaldabaoth sat at his now vacant conference table casting a dazed stare at the ice cubes melting in his scotch. Vijeda entered the room, armor jiggling and took a seat across from Yalda.

“You don’t look like a man with cause to celebrate,” Vijeda bellowed.

Yalda shifted his stare to Vijeda and gave a half hearted grin.

“This is glorious,” Vijeda declared, “Earth, the ever elusive piece of your puzzle is finally in place. Is that not cause for revelry?”

“Would be,” Yalda grunted, slumping back “If it wasn’t complete bullshit. Well, not complete bullshit. But, bullshit.”

“Sir?” Vijeda started, “You told the council that Earth would soon be ripe for the picking.”

“I told them that so those idiots wouldn’t mutiny.”

“The election?”

“That’s where it’s not complete bullshit. That election was three centuries ago. No Vijeda, Earth slipped from my grasp with the fall of Simon Vyx.”

“Without Earth your plan is nothing more than that, a plan. Without all three of the original planets of The Galactic Administration, we don’t stand a chance.”

“I’m working on it. I’m working on it,” Yalda groused.

“What could we possibly do at this point?” Vijeda yelled smacking his palms on the table, “Go back in time and prevent the fall of Simon Vyx?”

“On that topic,” Yalda grinned, “I need you to pick some things up for me.”

****

Wolfram and Luna stood with their hands on their heads as Abbadon and Raziel aimed outsized rifles in their direction. Forzen’s Draconian mercenaries lined up behind them. Forzen slithered between them waving his tiny arms.

“Ladies. Gentlemen,” he implored, “This is a place of business, surely we can reach a detente.”

“I’d rather not kill you too, Kahl,” said Abbadon, “But those two aren’t leaving.”

“Abbadon, do not fire that weapon in here,” Forzen scolded, “We’re surrounded by things that explode.”

“Hey guys,” Holly said into Wolf’s and Luna’s helmet comms, “Get ready to go to night vision in ten.”

“Great,” Wolf blurted.

“Something to say, Wolf?” Raziel barked.

“Five,” Wolf replied.

“What?” Raziel looked askance.

“Four, three, two,” Wolf paused, “Holly, dear?”

“One second, Dad,” Holly groaned.

“Oh, enough,” Abbadon aimed at Wolfram and put his finger on the trigger.

The lights in room went dark. Wolf and Luna made quick work of the Draconian’s that hadn’t shot each other in the pitch black chaos. Abbadon and Raziel slipped out of the storage room and ran for the surface.

“Lights, Holly,” Luna said.

The lights came back and Forzen, finding himself alone, began to slowly back away, wringing his hands.

“Joneses,” he squeaked, “We can work out a deal, no?”

“Sure,” Luna said approaching Forzen, “You tell us what we need to know and we’ll leave you and your ‘business’ intact.”

“I won’t reveal the names of my clients,” Forzen said shaking, “Strict policy, you know.”

Luna grabbed a handful of Forzen’s plumage and yanked his head back. An energy blade came from her wrist band and she held it against his neck.

“Deal,” Forzen howled, “What do you want to know?”

“Where’s Yaldabaoth?” Luna asked.

“Yalda, what?” Forzen sputtered, “He’s in Hel, right? Eh? Three consecutive life sentences?”

Wolf gripped Forzen by the neck and squeezed. Forzen winced.

“You know that’s not where my species breathes, right?” Forzen said.

“Uh, yeah,” Wolf said, hesitant, “But it hurts right?”

“A little, I guess,” Forzen replied.

Wolf released his grip and wandered over by the crates.

“Where’s Yaldabaoth?” Luna said, pressing her blade into his flesh and drawing blood.

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him since you two caught him.”

“You sold guns and ships to Vijeda?” Luna leaned in.

“Well, yes,” Forzen whimpered, “Admiral Vijeda had inquired about procuring certain items, but I didn’t know he was still serving under Yalda. I swear.” Forzen’s whimpering turned to sobbing. Luna let him go and he rubbed his plumage.

“What were Abbadon and Raziel doing here?” Wolf said bent over, rummaging through a crate.

Forzen’s expression became pained and he stretched his hands toward Luna pleading.Luna raised her blade.

“They didn’t say and I didn’t ask,” Forzen croaked, “I never ask. Bad policy.”

“What were they buying?” Luna asked.

Forzen’s little black eyes pled with Luna. Luna closed the space between them.

“Temporal resonators,” Forzen’s head dropped and he sighed.

“Temporal resonators?” Wolf said popping his head out of the crate, “Are they entering a science fair?”

“Why would they need to come to you for temporal resonators?” Luna was incredulous, “You get those anywhere.”

“They said the quantity would raise suspicions,” Forzen explained, “They went through me because I’m known for my discretion.”

“How many is suspicious?” Wolf asked leaning his elbows on the crate.

“A couple hundred thousand,” replied Forzen.

“Suspicious?,” Luna said, “That’s just weird.”

“It would net some questions from the Administration,” Wolf offered, “What do two G.A. intelligence agents need with a hundred thousand temporal resonators? Would raise a few eyebrows on weirdness factor alone.”

“What that hell could you possibly do with them?” Luna tapped the side of her mask, “Holly, do you have eyes on Abbadon and Raziel?”

“I did,” Holly replied, “But they went dark. I’ve been trying to get them back up. I tried spoofing a G.A. communique directed at them, to see if I could track them through comms, but they don’t want to be found.”

“Never trusted those guys,” Wolf shook his head.

“We have to go,” Luna said.

Wolf pulled a weapon of ridiculous proportions out of the crate, “I’m taking this.”

“Wolf,” Luna sighed, “Where are you going to put that thing? The cargo hold is already full of shit you never use.”

“But look at it,” Wolf protested.

“Do you even know what that is?” Forzen quipped.

“Yes,” said Wolf, “It’s a…big fucking gun.”

“It’s an Edison JX-16 shoulder mounted neutrino rocket launcher,” Forzen lectured, “It’s intended to shoot down starships from the surface of a planet.”

“Maybe I’ll need to shoot down one of Vijeda’s shiney new ships somebody sold him,” Wolf snarked.

“It doesn’t work without the guidance system,” Forzen said pointed at a jangled web of computer equipment stuffed in the corner.

Wolf dropped the weapon back into the crate. Forzen shuddered.

“Well then I’ll take this,” Wolf said pulling out a metal rod.

“Do you even know what that is?” Forzen groaned.

“I’ll find out when I use it,” Wolf snapped slipping the rod into his belt.

“Fine,” Forzen said, “Since you killed my security staff, I’ll show you out myself.”

Once on the surface they were greeted with a smoking pile of twisted metal that was once the Jones’ ship. Luna and Wolf turned their heads toward Forzen. He stared back at their expressionless masks and shook his head.

“No, no, no, no,” Forzen waved his hands, “I’m not running a charity, Joneses.”

Luna and Wolf turned and stalked towards him.

“Fine,” he said, “Come with me.”

He led them to a hangar that was overgrown with foliage. He pressed a sequence of keys on a pad and an immense door slid to the side. Inside were rows upon rows of starships of varying shapes and sizes. Forzen gestured to a row of small, dented ships.

“You can pick from these,” he told them.

Luna turned the opposite direction as if drawn by a magnet and made straight for one of the larger ships, sleek and shiney. On the side in stylized English read ‘The Starcrossed.’

“This one,” she pointed to the vessel.

“Oh no, no, no,” Forzen protested, “That one is going to send my spawn to university.”

Luna remained motionless gesturing toward The Starcrossed. Wolf leaned to the side to catch Forzen’s eye line.

“Fine,” Forzen slumped and rested on his tail.

Wolf pointed at the ship, “I’m…”

“I’m driving,” Luna blurted.

***

Dispatch from the Galactic Central Authority to all law enforcement of the united and allied planets…

The criminal known as Yaldabaoth, has escaped custody and fled to the outer rim sectors. At the time of his escape he was not armed and should only be considered dangerous to undeveloped worlds. He has been found guilty of violating statute 777 of the Galactic Standards and Legal Codes Charter of 2127: Impersonating a deity on undeveloped worlds as well as several other crimes and misdemeanors. He escaped during prisoner transport to the penal moon Hel. Consider the apprehension of Yaldabaoth to of utmost priority. Engage on undeveloped worlds only if necessary and proceed surreptitiously if such necessity has been assessed. We don’t want a repeat of Sol 3. Any leads should be reported directly to GAI head of criminal investigations, Seraph Raphael. (message set to repeat every hour)

Seraph Metatron, Prime Administrator

Wolf sat in the co-pilots seat sucking on a prodigious joint, drumming his hands on the console.

‘One more time. Let’s do it again.’

“Are you going to pass that?” Luna asked.

“Are you going to let me fly?” Wolf snapped back.

“Oh, you don’t know what you’re missing,” Luna chuckled and ran her hand up and down the flight stick.

Wolf pinched the joint between his lips, open the corner of his mouth and blew a cloud of smoke at Luna. He continued drumming.

“Mom? Dad?,” said a young girl with long blonde hair whose face appeared on a video screen in the center of the panel. She wore a pair of glasses with one dark lens. The dark lens transitioned to clear as she leaned forward and squinted, “What are you guys flying in?”

“A gift from the kindly Mr. Kahl,” Wolf said sipping on a bottle.

“Can’t wait to hear aaall about it,” Holly said, “In the meantime, I found some of those ships Kahl unloaded on Vijeda. About 120 au from your present location. It’s apparently accosting a G.A. science vessel performing fairly pedestrian experiments on gravitational and temporal fields’ effects on one another.”

“Any idea why they would be attacking a science vessel?” asked Luna.

“Well, there are a few items a science vessel would be carrying that can only be acquired through the G.A.” Holly replied, “But nothing really remarkable on their own. Or in combination for that matter.”

“How about in combination with temporal resonators?” Luna followed.

Holly looked off screen and tunelessly hummed as she read through the science vessel’s manifest, “Maybe Rigelian quartz. Could use it as focusing crystal with a resonator and a few other parts to create localized stasis fields. Great if you want to quarantine something, I guess. Or subdue a small crowd,” she shrugged.

“We’ll find out when we get there,” Luna said and pressed an array of buttons like she was playing a piano. The Starcrossed darted forward like it was frictionless.

Approaching their destination, they could see the G.A. science vessel, sparks were erupting from its engines. The Starcrossed sidled alongside the G.A. ship. Luna and Wolf donned their helmets and secured them. They slid open a side panel and stepped out into space, kicking off into the direction of the vessel fifteen yards away. They drifted toward a door that read ‘AIRLOCK’ grabbed onto anything that would afford them a grip. Luna produced a small disk and adhered it the airlock door. After she entered a sequence of numbers she and Wolf pressed themselves against the side of the ship. The disk exploded and the door blew out into space, twirling into the darkness.

They swam weightless into the gaping hole where the door once was, entering into the airlock. Wolf connected a wire to the keypad that was mounted next to the hatch that led into the ship. On the other end of the wire was a box. Wolf turned a dial and a rapid sequence of numbers flashed by until the hatch clicked. He braced himself on the edge of the hatchway and pushed. As the hatch slid to the side a rush of air and debris raced past them. They struggled through the gust, entered the ship and slid the airlock hatch closed behind them. The debris settled around their feet. The overhead lights were blinking in no particular pattern. A distant, muffled klaxon could be heard.

They crept along the corridors stopping at an intersection to inspect the scene. They came upon several bodies strung by their legs hanging from the ceiling over a pool of blood. Each had a jagged wound across their necks and blood streamed down their faces dripping in the coalescing puddles beneath them.

“Oh my god,” Holly gasped over the comms.

“Vijeda,” Wolf muttered.

They stepped light down the hall. From their right they heard a clang from the other side of the wall. Luna began tapping around the wall panel until the sound became hollow. Wolf pushed his fingers under the wall panel and pulled. It dislodged with ease revealing a huddled woman, in a cramped space, on the floor sobbing and sliding her feet in the blood that had seeped under the panel in a vain attempt to scramble away from the Joneses. Luna grabbed her ankle and patted her on the thigh.

“Shh, shh,” Luna whispered, “We’re not going to hurt you.”

The woman stared goggle eyed at Wolf and Luna. A stifled scream escaped. Luna unfastened her helmet and showed the woman her face.

“We’re here to help,” Luna smiled, “I’m Luna. Who are you?”

The woman struggled to gain control of her breathing. Wolf crouched beside her and removed his hat and mask. The woman’s eyes darted between them.

“Carrie,” she said startled at her own voice, “Carrie, my name’s Carrie.”

“Carrie,” Luna said putting her hand on Carrie’s shoulder, “I’m Luna Jones. This is Wolfram.”

“Are you with G.A. intelligence?” Carrie panted.

“Not anymore,” Wolf replied.

Luna rolled her eyes, “Yes, not anymore, but we’re still here to help. You have to tell me what happened here.”

“Arcturians,” Carrie dropped her head, “They disabled our engines, comms systems. They boarded us. They didn’t even say anything. They just starting killing everybody,” she began sobbing.

“Are you sure they didn’t say anything?” Luna asked, “You didn’t hear anything while you were hiding?”

Carrie’s head stared and wobbled her head.

“Think Carrie,” Luna murmured, “Look at me.”

“The leader. I think he said that he needed something for…”

“What, Carrie? Think.”

“For the Demiurge,” Carrie’s face twisted, “Who’s the Demiurge?”

“Equal parts narcissist, megalomaniac and fucking moron,” Wolf grumbled scanning the corridor. Luna slapped him on the arm.

“Did he say what?” Luna asked.

“I don’t…” Carrie’s face lit then twisted back into confusion, “Rigelian quartz?”

Luna and Wolf locked eyes and stood up.

“Connections,” Wolf said tapping his index fingers together.

“You head back to The Starcrossed and call G.A.I. to come get the survivors,” Luna started, “I’ll stay with…”

The sound of heavy boot steps approached from the intersection.

“Right,” Wolf’s head bobbed, “Always leave a squad behind for first responders.”

Wolf replaced his helmet, secured it and pulled his hat on.

“Run, Carrie, run,” Luna said stuffing her hair into her helmet and fastening the straps.

Carrie scurried down the corridor and through a door, closing it behind her. Wolf and Luna activated their wrist blades and waited.
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