by David Badurina, Copyright 2022
Oh, Alex and Toshiro! Yet another writing prompt short story and one I was NOT going to attempt until the idea grabbed my brain with two hands and wouldn’t let go. I wrote this one in a single straight shot, with not a lot of editing afterward. I’m no stranger to wacky humor in stories, usually dark, but this story set me free. I had an absolute BLAST writing these two characters, I love how their dynamic turned out, I adored writing ridiculous dialogue and if I’m being totally honest I could fill book after book with the adventures of this odd couple.
I’ve always been a fan of great stories, comedy, and space. I loved Dr. Who (10, please and thank you), Cowboy Bebop, and Firefly. I grew up watching stupid 80s movies like Ice Pirates, Spaceballs and Explorers. Galaxy Quest is an all-time favorite and I loved Star Trek TNG, Babylon 5, and The Expanse. I feel like my influences shine here, along with a little bit of satirical commentary on the current mood of cultural discourse (in the US at least). Plus, juvenile humor. What’s not to love? Another writing prompt, and one I was so grateful I finally gave in to write. Alex and Toshiro haven’t been around long, but they are firmly in my heart after this one.
Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say.
I’d wager that whoever came up with that stupid myth never heard an O-Class ninth generation dark-matter-powered android wail at his altered physiology. Granted, he was screaming because I was forced to repair his genitalia with a few analog hand tools and some loose ammunition components dug out of a rusty ventilation duct.
“Toshiro! Relax! Had I known you’d be so loud when I installed your voice amplifier I would have—”
His digitized voice echoed in our engineering room. “WHAT! WHAT IS THAT? IT LOOKS LIKE AN EARLY TWENTIETH-CENTURY CUBIST PAINTING. DONE BY A FOUR-YEAR-OLD. ON A POGO STICK. IN A CANOE.”
“Would you shut up? I just have one more fastener to—”
“AND THE CANOE IS ON FIRE, ALEX!”
I dismissed his protest, wiping a substance I hoped was grease onto a nearby shop towel. Toshiro and I have traveled together for almost twenty years. We’ve been through a lot, and it occurred to me I’ve never had to spot-weld a power cable ripped from a defunct latrine waste recycler to his groin before. It was definitely not something I’d be eager to do again.
“Listen, you big baby, you got shredded in the cargo hold when the airlock seal popped, okay? We lost half our shit – including most of the medical supplies we pilfered last week. So excuse me if my cosmetic surgery skills aren’t top notch, but it’s the best I could do with whatever was lying around. A ‘thank you’ would be lovely, by the way. Besides, it’s not like you ever use the damn thing. It’s purely cosmetic.”
Toshiro looked down at his kaleidoscopic, misshapen groin. “HAVE I EVER TOLD YOU THAT I HATE YOU. ALSO, IS THAT — THE CASING TO AN ACCELERATOR-RIFLE ROUND?”
I smirked. “Indeed it is.”
He nodded in what might pass for approval. “NICE. EVEN IF THE REST OF IT LOOKS LIKE A BIOLUMINESCENT YARG THREW UP A HALF-DIGESTED STAINED GLASS WINDOW INTO THE SULPHUR PITS ON EPSILON-8.”
I rolled my eyes and let out a long sigh, tossing the defiled shop towel onto the workbench behind me. “There, you dramatic pain in the ass. Done. Now can you help me fire up the S-T? Let’s see if we can make up for lost time.”
“FIRE UP THE S-T, CINDERELLA. STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR CUBIST YARG-VOMIT GENITALIA, CINDERELL—”
I looked up to the ceiling, as if up was a thing in space. “Would you just fucking fire up the ship you ungrateful, sarcastic piece of—”
We’ve been sharing a home in our current spacefaring vessel, the Sotally Tober, for about eighteen of those twenty years. These days we get on each other’s nerves more than is healthy, but he’s not going anywhere, and neither am I. A funny thing happens to personal relationships when you traverse a countless number of galaxies across an incomprehensible distance as a duo – you stop being friends and start becoming something else. A something that’s not altogether pleasant most of the time.
No respite from constant crisis makes for irritated partnerships.
The honest realization I’ve had the last couple of years is that our time together should probably be over. Toshiro wants to move on from my issues, and I have a deep desire to move on from the responsibility of keeping him functional.
I snaked my way through the slender gangways between our engineering room and the S-T’s cockpit. Our ship used to be state-of-the-art, but you don’t put light years of distance through asteroids and radiation belts on a ship without a few screws being knocked loose. I’ve always had this sinking feeling that the S-T would implode in space someday, and I took comfort knowing that it’d at least be over quick.
Toshiro’s digitized sarcasm rang out from the comm speakers, “ONLINE. ENGAGING IMPULSE ENGINES. TAKE A SEAT, PICASSO.”
I sat down in the pilot’s chair and felt the S-T rumble to life with an extended groan. The control panel offered a violent shake, kicking one of the landing gear buttons onto the floor.
I pounded on the comm button. “Gently, you idiot! I don’t want to go floating around out there with the medical supplies!”
The speakers crackled again. “YES. SIR.”
I let out a long sigh, collapsing into the pilot’s chair. Before our cargo accident, we were awaiting a transmission from one of our fixers for our next job. I tried not to get my hopes up, but I knew an opportunity was coming my way. Since I was a child I’ve been among the stars, having never known a home other than the cold Titanium-Kevlar walls of a pieced-together can propelling me from place to place. I’ve paid billions to fixers and con-artists, sifting through lies, fetch jobs, and living the smuggler’s life on my search for one simple place.
My fixer, Benny, indicated that this would be the job that finally gets me the coordinates for my home world. I drove myself to insanity every night trying to find sleep, knowing that out there somewhere, I could have a living, breathing family. I could have brothers or sisters on a distant planet waiting for me to crawl out of the airlock. Sure, I was romanticizing the scenario, but I held hope that it was real and possible.
The comms lit up with Toshiro’s voice once more. “ALEX, WE HAVE A TRANSMISSION INCOMING. HEADING UP.”
I swung the monitor down from the ceiling panel and watched the hazy amber screen blink and come to life. The monitor showed a solid green line from side to side, still and flat.
I heard Toshiro coming through the gangway and into the cockpit. He gave an over-dramatic moan as he sat in the co-pilot chair. He shifted, making a point that he was uncomfortable by moaning with each movement.
“Okay,” I said, shutting my eyes to contain my irritation. “You made your point. You don’t like my patch job.”
“WHAT?” I heard his servos whirr as he shook his head. “NOT AT ALL. I RATHER ENJOY BEING FORCED TO SIT UPON MY NEW PUZZLE CUBE PENIS WHILE IT CUTS OFF THE QUICKSILVER FLOW TO MY ARTIFICIAL NERVE CORTEX.”
I whirled my pilot’s chair around to face him, poking his chest encasement with my finger. “Listen to me, you hunk of greasy carbon fiber. I have spent years zooming all over the place with your cranky, sarcastic ass sitting next to me. Nothing is ever good enough for you! We have put countless light years on this piece of shit ship, and all I get—”
He tried to interrupt me, but I wasn’t having it. “—All I get is your sarcastic, ungrateful, passive-aggressive responses to anything I try to do. Remember what happened in NGC-2770? You were dead. Dead. I pawned literally everything I owned to bring you—”
“ALEX, I’M TRYING TO—”
I held up my finger to shut him up. “I pawned everything for an overpriced crate of wiring and spare parts. I was right about to find home! But no. Like a sucker, I tried to save you instead. I re-built your quantum processing functionality. I became a fucking android brain-surgeon to save your stupid ass! I literally brought you back from the void! And what did you do?”
“ALEX. ENOUGH ALREA—”
“You bailed on me! Bailed! Ran off with some back-alley engineer hack-artist for whatever reason and left me in an empty S-T with no food, no fuel, and no help—”
“WOULD YOU SHUT UP—”
“No! I’ve had it with your bullshit! And now all I have to do is talk to Benny and get one piece of information from that slimy little squirt of a narcissistic diarrhea skid-mark that could very well finally lead me back home. Maybe then you’ll finally be off my back, and I can finally be rid—”
Toshiro stood and slapped me across the face. “ALEX, BENNY IS ONLINE!”
I looked at the monitor. The blinking green line was undulating in waveform across the screen. I pointed to the screen and mouthed the words to Toshiro, “He’s been listening?”
Toshiro nodded, squeaky servos narrowing his pupils as he gestured toward the screen.
“Uh. Benny?” I swallowed and held my breath.
The conical speaker under the monitor crackled with fuzz as my fixer’s voice pierced the now silent cabin. “Yeah.”
I felt myself turn red. Toshiro put his head in his hands. I cleared my throat and attempted to compose myself. “Oh! I didn’t know you were pipelined in here. It’s been a long time! Uh, long time no — anyway, so how — how long have you been listening?”
Benny let a pause linger. “Since puzzle cube penis.”
“Of course,” I whispered.
He continued. “Good to know the bromance rages on with you two. Listen, I’ve been called worse than a – what was that prose – slimy little squirt of a narcissistic diarrhea – something?”
“SKID MARK,” said Toshiro, giving me a sideways glance and a smirk. I smacked his shoulder and gave him a stern look.
“Shut up, Alex. I’m going to give you what you want just so you two can finally stop being a thorn in my side. The fence you’re looking for is in the Euclid, only a short flight time outside of comm range. You should have the comm identifiers and backend encryption key now. I just transferred them to your system.”
The cockpit panel lights blinked from red to blue and a small dot appeared on the navigation panel. Benny was right. It wouldn’t be more than a few minutes of fly time before I could connect with our contact. It was close enough in range that I didn’t have to worry about the S-T coming apart. For once.
Benny continued. “All you have to do is arrange the transfer of that cargo-hold full of medical supplies, and you’ll have your coordinates to home. He has them on hand. Verified. You’ll finally have your location.”
I was glad Benny couldn’t see the pained expression on my face. “Yeah, about the med supplies, we have a problem.”
“Alex.” Benny spoke my name like a disapproving authority figure. “Whatever your current problem is, it is very much your current problem and not mine. And listen, your contact’s name is Symon, and he doesn’t play around. He scores weekly jobs bigger than your career take, and he only speaks Euclidian, so you better learn, because if he detects a New Terran accent he’ll likely just vaporize you before he finishes his morning mug of ionized, quark-augmented tea.”
I shook my head, “Okay, but Benny I—”
“Goodbye, Alex. Don’t call me.”
The line on the monitor balanced straight, then faded into a blank screen. I pushed it back up to the ceiling and let out a long sigh.
“YOU DON’T SPEAK EUCLIDIAN, DO YOU?”
I shook my head. “No. Went on a date with a Euclidian once though. Remember the birthday gala? They were royalty. They hired us to bring that creature as a gift.”
“THE SPACE CAPYBARA!” Toshiro’s eyes went wide. “THAT THING NEARLY TORE YOUR ARM OFF.”
“Who knew something so cute would be so aggressive? Anyway, I learned a few phrases from a Princess later that night, but if I use any of those, we are definitely getting vaporized.”
Toshiro laughed, and I couldn’t help but crack a smile.
“You know, we do have an option.”
He tilted his head at me. I pointed to his throat and raised an eyebrow.
There was a distinct mechanical screech of his servos as his eye shutters dilated. “ABSOLUTELY NOT.”
I spun my chair around to face him once more. “Hear me out. It’s not like I’m doing another groin replacement. Okay? Just a few adjustments to your dialectizer’s circuitry and whammo, you’ll be translating and speaking perfect Euclidian.”
“NO! ALEX, NO! YOU ARE NOT BUTCHERING ME FURTHER!” He held up his hands, creaky hydraulics between his joints flexed as he leaned away from me.
“Put your ridiculous fears aside for a second and think about this logically! We lost half our cargo. Everything needs to go right to negotiate this one. We’re almost out of cash and fuel, and this guy knows where my home is. I’ve rebuilt you from scratch before, okay? It’s one more little tweak. You’ll speak Euclidian, talk to this smuggling leg-breaker, I get my coordinates, and I’ll drop you off wherever you like so you can be rid of me once and for all. Come on!”
“YOUR INTENTION IS TO LEAVE ME BEHIND.”
I shrugged and looked away. “Well, yeah. It’s what you want, obviously. We’re just irritated with one another all the time, anyway.”
Toshiro looked down, as if he was calculating trillions of risk factors and potential outcomes of my proposed scenario.
I kept trying to convince him. “We have like 10 minutes and we’re in range. Plenty of time. I just need to calibrate the external dialect tuner to Euclidian. Easy as pie. Let me do this!”
“Come on. It’s our best chance to move forward.”
I stood and smacked his shoulder. “Atta boy. That’s the spirit! Set our course to get into comm range with this Symon troglodyte, and then meet me back at the workbench.”
I snaked my way back to the small engineering room and started shuffling through doors to find the hand-held unit that would allow me to restructure Toshiro’s language settings. Was I overconfident? Probably. Did I overestimate my ability to complete this task? Absolutely, I did. The hand-held dialect tuner stored information on a quantum level. There were literally billions of potential language options ready to be enabled in that infernal device. Euclidian is one of the old languages, not far off from Old Terran. I just had to zero-in on the general timeframe in galactic history that the language came into prominence, then I’d be able to power-load the entire Euclidian language into an android’s Planck-scaled neural webwork, and I’d be in the clear.
I heard Toshiro’s footsteps shuffling down the gangway as I blew a layer of dust off the external dialect tuner. “I’m almost ready.” The device wasn’t powering on. I had to smack it a few times until the screen flickered to life with a washed-out melodic chime.
He sat down in the infamous groin repair seat. “WHY DO I FEEL LIKE THIS IS MY EXECUTION?”
“Don’t be dramatic. This is the simplest thing ever.” I tapped on the tuner’s screen again as it kept flickering off. It grew brighter, and listed a complex set of coordinates and local time signatures.
“DO YOU KNOW HOW TO USE THAT THING?”
I nodded and tried to feign as much confidence as I could. “Obviously. What do you take me for? You just set coordinates for the local galactic cluster the language is found in, then turn the dial until you target the correct timeline and language.”
“YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO USE THAT THING.”
“Wrong.” I put my hand on my hip and motioned to Toshiro’s neck. “Drop the flap so I can plug this thing in.”
“THAT TECHNOLOGY IS OLDER THAN EVERYTHING I’VE EVER KNOWN. WHAT DOES IT WORK ON, SATELLITE? USB? I DON’T LIKE THIS.” He reached to his throat, pressing his finger pads across the panel on his neck until it flipped open, revealing a dense network of circuitry and pulsing quantum pipelines.
I pulled the connection cord from the device and hooked it onto the dialect cable in Toshiro’s throat. I did my best to tilt the screen away from my companion, as I didn’t need him freaking out about the screen flickering, or me winging it and trying to figure out how to make it work.
“Okay. In a moment, I’ll ask you to say something. I’ve shut off your language temporarily.”
Toshiro opened his mouth as if to speak, but there was only silence.
“You know, I should’ve done this a long time ago. Sweet, sweet silence.”
He held up his middle digit in what I recognized as an old insulting gesture from Terran history. I turned the tuning knob to settle on the proper time span for Euclidian. “Okay, say hello or something.”
Toshiro made a sound that was how I’d imagine a large interstellar-class frigate being devoured by an enormous set of steel jaws. “KKKKRRRRAAAZZZZAAAAARRCCCCHHHHHHHHHHTTTTTTZZZZZZZZ.”
I dropped everything and held my ears. “Shut your mouth! Dammit!”
He closed his mouth and shrugged. I felt cross-eyed from the sound. “Okay, that was the wrong setting, but I’m getting close. Let’s try this one. Say something.”
“I’LL BEAT THEE, BUT I WOULD INFECT MY HANDS, YE FAT GUTS!”
“Huh.” I kept my fingers pressed to the dialectizer’s cord on his throat, balancing the device in my lap as I tuned it. “So we’ve hit sixteenth-century Terran. Shakespeare, I think? That’s pretty cool.” I tuned the knob again.
“UNHAND ME! THOU KNOWEST YE ART A HORNSWOGGLING PIGEON-LIVERED FOOZLER!”
I laughed at him, “Okay, well, I’m going the correct direction in terms of timeline, but somehow still stuck on ancient Terran. Let’s find the right time first, then I’ll get to the right place.”
“I SHALL RUNNETH FORTHWITH UNTO THE VACUUM OF THE HEAVENS! I TIRE OF YOUR PODSNAPPERY, GOLLUMPUS!” Toshiro winced, held up his hand, then continued. “THIS GLOW UP AIN’T WORKIN’ FOR ME BRUH!”
I lit up. “Aha! We’ve made it to late twenty-first century Terran slang! I think they were called millenniums? Millennials? Something like that, maybe?”
“O M G I HATE YOU R N. JANKY-ASS DIALECT IS BIG YIKES. I LITERALLY CAN’T EVEN. ALEX! TAKE SEVERAL SEATS. NO CAP.”
“Shut up,” I said. “I’m working on it.”
“I don’t even know what that means. How did these people ever evolve? I feel like I’m getting close to the right time though, I just need to figure out how to switch to Euclidian now.”
“THIS AIN’T IT, CHIEF. SUS. KEEP AT THIS SHIT IMMA BOUNCE. YOU RATCHET A F. LOW KEY EMBARRASSMENT.”
I checked the timer on the nav screen above Toshiro’s chair. “Alright, we have two minutes. Hold still.” I adjusted the dial once more. “Go on, say something.”
I shook my head. “Who the hell is Felicia? Try again.”
“YOU ARE A GOOD PILOT SAID NO ONE EVER.”
I gave the dial another slight twist.
“YOU ARE PART OF THE PATRIARCHY! I BELIEVE IN EQUALITY AND KARL MARX! NAMASTE! I AM FILLED WITH LOVE, YOU FAKE-NEWS-WATCHING, CONFEDERATE FLAG FLYING, MISOGYNISTIC, HOMOPHOBIC, CLASSIST, RACIST, TEABAGGING BIRTHER! RETHUGLICANS ARE INCAPABLE OF FIGURING OUT THEIR OWN VELCRO SHOES. EARTH IS BOILING, YOU NECK-BEARDED, BASEMENT-DWELLING, DEPLORABLE HETERO-SEXIST CAPITALIST! I AM TRIGGERED, WORDS ARE VIOLENCE, I NEED A SAFE SPACE! OBTAINING A DOCTORATE IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIAN GENDER STUDIES IS A HUMAN RIGHT! YOU ARE INTOLERANT!”
I turned his vocalizations off and let out an exasperated sigh. His mouth was still moving and I’m certain in his neural network he was still hurling devastating insults at me. “Damn. Twenty-first century progressive was extreme. That made about as much sense as deep space travel with oars. This period of history was exhausting, wasn’t anyone nice back then?”
I made a change and tried again.
“YOU ARE A SNOWFLAKE. I LIKE FOX NEWS AND PHARMACEUTICAL MONEY. GET A JOB YOU PRIUS-DRIVING LIBTARD! I AM OLD.”
I shrugged. “Well, we found twenty-first century conservative too, so that’s a good sign.”
Toshiro shouted, “I NEED TO SPEAK TO A MANAGER THIS INSTANT! WHAT IS THIS, NAZI GERMANY?”
I sat back and breathed a sigh of relief. “Apparently, this dialect is called ‘Karen’ or something.”
“MY GENIUS CHILD, BRAXTON PAXTON, IS GOING TO BE A BASEBALL STAR AND A NEUROSURGEON. HE MAKES MOMMY SO PROUD!”
“Wow, that is incredibly irritating.”
Toshiro closed his eyes and held out his hand as if waiting for something. “IT IS ME TIME. I NEED IT BLEACHED WITH A BOB. HAND ME MY LOUIS VUITTON HANDBAG AND A MIMOSA. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I SPEND HERE EVERY WEEK? THIS IS LITERAL TYRANNY!”
I stared at him. I wasn’t sure if I was entertained or horrified. “Um.”
“YOU WORK FOR ME, I DON’T WORK FOR YOU! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY! I’VE BEEN WAITING HERE FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES! I AM OUTRAGED!”
I smacked the dialect tuner one last time.
“GROUGH NEXTURNEY HARFELD MUG SHAPPENURAL!”
I jumped up and raised my hands in the air. “That’s it! Euclidian sounds good on you!”
“BRAPPAXIS MOUGH FLURGLUMP!”
I held up my hand, “I don’t know what you’re saying. High five!”
Toshiro high-fived me, “GLOMP BLURGBLURGER!”
The ship alarm wailed. “And right on time, too. We’re in range. To the cockpit!” I took off through the gangways and planted myself in the pilot’s chair, bringing the comm screen down from the ceiling and adjusting it to the coordinates Benny sent over earlier. Toshiro followed close behind.
“We should be online with Symon in a moment. Can you still translate to Terran?”
“THIS IS AMERICA! I WILL PERSONALLY SUE YOU! MY HUSBAND IS A TRIAL ATTORNEY! I AM A MEMBER OF THE SCHOOL BOARD!”
Panic came over me. “Oh shit! Are you still speaking in Karen?”
Toshiro laughed, his digitized guffaw echoing throughout the ship. “GOTCHA.”
He lifted a hand, “TOTEZ HAD YOU FOOLED BRUH. GLOMP BLURGBLURGER!”
Though reluctant, I gave him another high-five and tapped the comm button to signal our contact. In a moment, the solid line began flickering. That’s when I heard him.
His voice was deep and deadpan. “Symon.”
I whispered to Toshiro. “Okay. You will have to communicate with him on a closed channel. I don’t need to hear Euclidian. Just make sure you’re translating for me with this Symon guy muted, okay?”
Toshiro nodded and stretched a fiber optic cable from his wrist to the comm screen. His eyeball servos twitched in flutters and I knew he was communicating back and forth in Euclidian to our contact. After what seemed like an age, he leaned up in his chair and turned to me.
“HE IS NOT HAPPY ABOUT THE LOST MEDICAL SUPPLIES, ALEX.”
I nodded. “I figured as much. A stray space rock broadsided us, there’s really nothing we could’ve done. We still have half of the supplies. Tell him we can offer him our Nano-Electrokinetic Thruster besides the salvaged medical equipment that wasn’t damaged.”
My companion gave me a suspicious look. “ALEX, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO TRAVEL THROUGH SPACE WITHOUT THE N-E-T?”
I waved him off. “It’ll just be slower. I won’t need it once I get home, anyway.”
Toshiro shrugged and put his head down, communicating with our contact once more. After a moment, he raised his head. “HE WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK WITH YOU PRIVATELY.”
I narrowed my eyes, looking at the comm screen, then back to Toshiro. “Why?”
Toshiro shrugged again. “I GRANTED HIS REQUEST. I AM SHUTTING DOWN TEMPORARILY. AUDIO SWITCHED TO COCKPIT.” With a quick whirr of his servos, my android companion slumped. His quantum pipelines went dim. I’ve only seen him in this state a few times before. He was asleep.
“Symon?” I asked.
The conical speaker crackled to life. “I distaste this language. Old Terran is vile. Terrans killed my family.”
“I’m uh — sorry?”
Symon sounded like a life-form that could pluck my limbs from my torso without too much effort. “I take medical supply. I take android. You want coordinates?”
I shook my head, unsure of what I was hearing. “You’ll take android? Toshiro?”
“No care for name,” he replied. “Dark matter power processing. Worth much as scrap. I take medical supply, I take android scrap. You get coordinates for home. Deal?”
“I uh.” I looked over at Toshiro, asleep beside me. In my mind, I kept telling myself that he was inanimate. A collection of wires and advanced technology. A non-organic life-form created in an engineering bay to assist us organics. While intelligent and capable of learning, they are still only ever a collection of tech. Sure, they had quantum-based processing, but they weren’t actually alive.
Symon’s voice barked into the cockpit. “Make deal. Lose patience now. Is old worthless robot. You want home?”
I nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I want home, it’s just. Toshiro helps me, I — I don’t know if I can sell him out for scrap, you know?”
I heard Euclidian being spoken in the background, and Symon responding to someone else he was with. “Medical supply. Worthless robot. Make deal. Last chance.”
I felt my spine stiffen. “He is not worthless.”
“Worthless robot,” he replied. “Need dark-matter processing array. Need to fix kitchen.”
“You are going to scrap Toshiro to fix your kitchen?”
Symon started shouting something in Euclidian before his baritone voice came back through the speaker. “No deal. I will salvage robot from wreckage.”
Without a second thought, I ripped Toshiro’s fiber optic cable from the comm screen and punched the thrusters on the S-T. The ship rumbled to life as my android companion woke up and looked around. He looked confused.
“WHAT JUST HAPPENED?”
I pointed to the co-pilot nav screen.
“INCOMING RAIL CANNON ROUNDS! ALEX, WE’RE GOING TO GET HIT! WHAT DID YOU DO?”
“Evade!” I shouted, grasping the ship controls and tilting the ship starboard. “Help me, you idiot!”
Toshiro snatched the controls, his hands darting across the navigation panel to list the ship even further. We were turning hard enough that I was being lifted out of my pilot’s chair. Through the window, among the vast emptiness of space, projectiles as bright as a supernova flashed past, rattling the S-T’s hull. It wasn’t the best ship, but with both of us on the controls, we could evade just about anything.
“Yes!” I shouted. “Glomp blurgblurger!” I held up my hand.
Toshiro gave me a high five, though he still seemed confused.
“WHAT JUST HAPPENED, ALEX?”
I shook my head. “He asked for too much. I said no. He fired on us.”
Toshiro looked down at the controls, deep in thought. “BUT YOU WERE GOING TO GO HOME. YOU WANTED US TO GO OUR OWN WAYS.”
I nodded. “Yeah. Well, it’s not happening yet. Guess you’re stuck with me for a little while longer.”
He pressed. “WHAT DID HE ASK FOR?”
I stayed quiet, staring forward as we sped out of range and into the vastness of space.
“ALEX? WHAT DID SYMON ASK FOR?”
I shrugged. “You.”
The cockpit went silent except for the hum of the S-T thrusters propelling us into nothingness. A few minutes went by as both Toshiro and I stared forward.
He turned to me. “I NEVER SAID THANK YOU.”
I gave him a sideways glance. “For what?”
He looked forward. “MY CUBIST, YARG-VOMIT GENITALS. THEY’RE ACTUALLY QUITE NICE.”
I smiled. “You’re welcome, Toshiro. Hey, you wanna get out of this cluster? I’m exhausted.”
I nodded. “Good. Set a course to wherever the nearest galactic hub is. I could use a quiet bar and a stiff drink.”
“YAS GIRL,” he replied, “MOMMA NEEDS A BOTTLE OF CHARDONNAY AND SOME XANAX.”
We laughed, giving each other one more glomp blurgblurger before we sped off toward whatever opportunities awaited us. Maybe, on some planet light years away, I had family. Maybe I’d run out of fuel and die floating through space in the S-T. I was certain Symon had already put a bounty on my head. But for all the catastrophic things that could happen because of our misadventure, it was a good day, and it was ironic that I had a Euclidian mobster to thank for it.
He helped me find my family, after all.