“Absolutely, under strictest orders, is no one to go to co-ordinates 65 mark 34 mark zz alpha phi gamma. There is a strict no fly policy in effect, and no shuttle is to leave this ship. No-body is to go there. No one is to check out the strange energy signal that could be the karma field generator that is there…. That is all. Captain out.” 

There was a moment where they all looked at each other and tried to work out if they had all understood exactly what the message implied.

“Does that mean we should take a shuttle?” Talon asked.

“Yeah, maybe” Plisken shrugged “Do we want to be heroes?”

Cass shook her head.

She had kissed him.

She felt sick.

Why the fuck would she do anything so stupid?

That wasn’t her, she told herself; she’d never dream of going anywhere near a man as old and repulsive as him. It was so out of character, it was ridiculous.

“We’d be doing ourself a favour by disobeying a direct order from the Captain” Plisken observed.

Cass glowered at him, unable to believe what she’d just done. That beard; the wrinkles; the stench of the cheap liquor he’d been drinking... Unbidden, a welter of memories came tumbling back from her traumatised past. Her stomach lurched.

“What do you think we should do?” Plisken asked her.


“Oh, charming”

Cass wanted to tell him to fuck off, but it was too much effort. Instead, she turned to dash away, but managed only a few paces before she doubled over and vomited; spattering the floor with a frothy mixture of carrot and bright blue cocktail “Oh, fuck” she gasped as her stomach spasmed again, heralding several more colourful cascades.

“Cass?” Jade hurried over in concern, clutching her clammy trench coat around her, her bad mood momentarily forgotten.

“Shit” Cass managed. She spat, clearing the drool hanging from her lips “Oh, shit”

At least it had taken the taste of Plisken away

Wide eyed she gazed unsteadily around her.

It had to be that cocktail, she realised; there must have been something in it. Drug use was prevalent here, so that had to be it. It’d explain pretty much everything: The heady rush of abandonment she’d felt when Jade had kissed her, and her willingness to play the dominatrix and thrash a near-naked stranger, in what could so easily have degenerated into a sex show if that fight hadn’t started.

She spat again, and wiped her mouth on the sleeve of her jacket. “Fuck”

Even the fight had been exciting; she’d enjoyed both hurting people and in turn the delicious rush of endorphins from the injuries she’d sustained.

And what the fuck had she been ranting about, asking Plisken why he was back? - Chances were he was just another parallel lookalike, so what was she even thinking, risking everything like that?

“Are you alright?” Jade asked, hovering nearby.

“Just... Yeah” Cass shook her head and moved away to slump down on a nearby bench “What was in that cocktail? A dopamine stimulant? That was weird kick”

“I dunno” Jade took a breath. Was that it? Blame it on drugs? Convenient, but perhaps for the best. It still didn’t stop her feeling like she did “Maybe...”

“Can I get you anything?”

Cass glanced up at the sound of Talon’s voice and immediately wished she hadn’t; the chaps he was wearing didn’t conceal a thing, and the thing they were most conspicuously not concealing was dangling uncomfortably close to her face.

“You can get that thing away from me” she grumbled under her breath, before adding “Just a drink” after a moments reflection “I could do to rinse my mouth”


Cass laughed at this “Gin's my normal poison; but no, water will do”

Shaking her head, she watched Talon’s bare arse for an amused moment as he moved away and busied himself, trying to find a bottle of water in the detritus surrounding them. The Promenade was a mess of debris and broken glass. As always, it seemed that humans were their own worst enemies.

Plisken cleared his throat “I think, perhaps we should move...”

“There they are!” Claude Balls pointed the group out to the heavily armed squad of security troopers, accompanying him.

“Thank you, sir” the sergeant said, and flicking the safety off on his assault rifle, he approached Plisken and the others “Morning all” he began, amiably “You’re all under arrest on the suspicion of murder. How about coming quietly, eh?”

“It was him” Cass pointed at Plisken without a moment's hesitation “He did it”

“You...” Plisken’s eyes widened in shock.

“Yeah, so I understand” the sergeant said, tiredly “But you, were seen enjoying a romantic tryst with the suspect, immediately thereafter. You’re an accessory”

“I was drugged!”


Jade opened her mouth to say something, but the sergeant cut her off “Witnesses name you as an associate, and you as well” he nodded towards a surprised-looking Talon “You’re all under arrest”

For a moment, Cass considered both fight and flight. She’d probably be able to flee, or disarm the sergeant and use his rifle on his cohorts, but to what end? - even on a ship as big as the Dwarf, there were only so many places to hide.

“Go on” she stood “Let’s get this over with. It was all his fault and none of us had anything else to do with it. Check the sec-feeds with Holly.”

“Nice one” the sergeant smiled, relieved not to have any more hassle this morning. He turned to the rest of the squad “Get this lot rounded up and bring those two tossers over there” he pointed over at Tanaka and Jamie, stumbling out of the burning garden centre “I don’t care what they’ve done, and I don’t want to know.”

“I’m sure we’ll get this all smoothed over in no time” Cass gave him a gracious smile, while studiously avoiding Plisken’s murderous glare.

“I don’t give a toss” the sergeant retorted “Whether you like it or not, I’m escorting you all down to the shuttle bays and shipping you off to investigate the karma field. If any of you are lucky enough to make it back alive, then we’ll see about looking into who the murderer is”

Stitched up like a kipper...

Do we go for this deal, or do we stand and fight this sort of corruption and clear our names?

Assuming we head out on a shuttle, what’s at 65 mark 34 mark zz alpha phi gamma?

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