Chapter 6:

EPISODE 2: 00000110:SIX

EVERSTREAM01.ribbon


    The Lotus was now just one spec in the trillions upon trillions of other dots in the vast ocean. Quil had watched it the entire time as it faded from a massive moon, to a towering colossal, to a glittering asteroid, to a glowing toy on the horizon, and finally a flickering candle light. With each step that he grew further away from his home he bounced between regret and excitement; reveling in the dream he had always wanted to achieve, regretting a decision with many unknown consequences.
   Once his home was completely out of sight, eaten by the void of space with not even a single ray of light to remind him where his home was, he stood up to wander the ship.
   Even though he had sat and watched his home fade away the entire time, he found it difficult to stand. A heavy exhaustion settled in on him, perhaps all of the peddling, jumping, running, and hiding from the G.I.E. earlier was finally catching up to him, or, perhaps it was that weight of regret that settled in.
   With a little luck, he found he was wandering in the crew's living quarters - emptied because all staff currently manned the ship as it prepared to jump to its destination. He managed to find the metro to take him to another part of the ship - which took a little more of his uniquely ungraceful style of stealth since he did not have a G.I.E. signature to get past the barrier (It didn't really take a lot, just one clumsy jump over the barrier while no one was looking).
   Fortunately, the metro station was uncrowded, and so was the train. Only a few people rode in the cars, most looking relaxed and in no rush to get to wherever they were going.
   Quil found a seat at the back corner of the last car of the train and sat down, clutching his bag close to him - his cowlicks relaxed with his heavy exhale.
   "Dickhead!" A viciously angry voice snapped through his watch.
   Quil jumped a little in surprise, quickly pulling his goggles down over his eyes to see Trisha a little more clearly.
   "It's been waaaaaaaaaay too long since you dumped me in that forest so you could chase your stupid dream." Her venom burned into Quil.
   Quil grimaced, looking away from Trisha.
   "Where are you?" A vicious snarl.
   Though Quil tried to hide his nervousness from Trisha, he could not turn his head any further to hide himself. He didn't want to make eye contact. He didn't know how to tell her where he was.
   "Your mom is calling my mom trying to figure out where you are and I don't know what to tell them. I am stuck in the crossfire here and it's thanks to your dumb, hasty decision, with," a large, quick inhale, "zero thought behind your choice that is going to land me in some sort of all-girls boarding school or some discipline camp," her eyes narrowed, "get your shit together, forget the stupid G.I.E. and come home."
   Quil's eyebrows came together in concern as he attempted to return his gaze to Trisha, ashamed, "I can't."
   "What do you mean you ca-" she stopped.
   There was an ignition poised to explode behind Trisha's glazed eyes. "You didn't, did you?" She spoke flat, a monotone so dull as to not potentially set loose the reaction that was boiling inside her.
   His eyes sank, as did his cowlicks.
   Trisha let out a horrifying scream, letting the ignition strike the fuel, exploding in a vicious growl. She slammed her fists, clipping the microphone and making the camera skip a few frames.
   "I'm not sure where to go," Quil countered her volume with soft breaths of concern.
   Trisha pulled her watch closer, pushing the call out of the way as she flipped through a few pages before finally sending some information, "look, dickhead," that venom still coursed through her, "take the metro line to the transfer station and transfer to the deck-26C metro. Then take that line to the VIP and Guest Landing Port stop. From there, put on your best lost puppy face and maybe one of the pilots will feel sorry enough for you and take you home."
   "I'm not going home."
   Trish knew why, but, there was just that fleeting moment of hope, "Please tell me that's because the G.I.E. already jumped."
   "Not yet."
   Trisha punctuated her dissent with a short and bitter, "Good-bye." The call ended.
   Quil sighed, sinking into his seat as he looked out the rear window of the last car. He couldn't do anything about his choice now. The choice had been made and he had come so far that it seemed beyond just silly to choose to give up and return home. Even if Trisha couldn't forgive him, he reached his dream! He was in space, out to solve the mystery of the fallen space anomaly – but more importantly, he was in space!
   His cowlicks perked up, remembering that Trisha had sent him a map of the metro. Maybe he could get a more clear idea of what stop he should get off at to find the fallen star that the G.I.E. had confiscated.
   He tapped a few times on his watch, bringing up the image of the metro system reviewing the various stops, level changes, and transfers.
   His eyes narrowed as he tried to make it out. The Lotus has a more comprehensive metro system than the G.I.E.'s transit system and the Lotus is thousands of times larger than their capitol cruiser.
   He shook his head deciding the primary junction was the best place to start. From there he was able to transfer to any other line, which was a tough decision to figure out which to take, but judging by the names of the stops, he assumed the best place to go to first was probably the holding cells where they probably kept prisoners and spoils alike.
   It was a short elevator ride, then a brief walk, followed by a short bit of Quil's own unique brand of "graceful-stealth" as he tried to keep out of sight from the security that patrolled the ship - the primary junction, of course, being far more populated than his embarking station. Although his "stealth" might have made him miss the first train, a second train was quick to follow; a well-timed, and well-tuned machine for efficiency in traveling across the massive cruiser.
   The train ride was short, but long enough for him to realize he had no plan once he exited the train. He was going to step into a much more restricted zone than he had previously been wandering around. Sure, on rare occasions, the G.I.E. may have a guest aboard their ship, so some areas will be open to those guests, but they can't just let any person wander freely.
   Not only was Quil not a guest of the G.I.E. but he was also a stowaway aboard their ship, which they could quickly assume that means he is a spy or perhaps he is there to steal their valuables (which is partially true).
   The doors opened at the station. His stop. The stop he had planned to exit at. But it was hard to gain the motivation to lift himself from his seat. He noticed the patrol immediately outside of the train car. They were waiting for someone, anyone – most likely some person like Quil – to step off the train and try to sneak past. They were vigilant; well prepared for any such attempt.
   The doors closed. Obviously, this was not his stop – not any more, that is.
   He sank down into his seat further - at this point, he had sank so low his butt was hardly even in the seat.
   "Dickhead," a slightly less venomous Trisha appeared in his field of view on his goggles. "First; thanks for giving me no choice but to enable your unhealthy obsession. After we're done, I'm going to punch you in the face."
   Quil lifted himself up in his seat a little, cocking an eyebrow at Trisha's return.
   "Second; I can't tell you exactly," emphasis on 'exactly', "where this 'anomaly' is being stored. There are a lot of regions of the ship that are off-limits to foreign personnel, meaning there isn't a lot of information on most of the metro stops." She gave a few taps on her watch. "I can tell you exactly where to buy the best burger this side of C-Quadrant, or I could tell you where to buy the V-6 revision to your goggles and even where to get a gold skin for them, but, information on prisoners, supplies, cargo, and the like are all classified."
   Quil narrowed his eyes shrugging.
   "The point is, I have a waypoint for you. Your watch should be updating that information now. None of this information is one-hundred percent accurate, but I think I found the first place you will want to check for the 'anomaly'."
   Quil shook his head, mostly surprised at her help.
   "The holding cells - I'm certain you already figured that was the best place to go." She didn't look Quil in the eyes, instead focusing on something else on her watch (and, in truth, she was just pretending to browse something more important, but there wasn't anything there). "But you can't just waltz right into a secured zone without permissions granted first."
   Quil raised an eyebrow, but Trisha didn't see his reaction, she was still busy browsing the more important 'nothing' to avoid Quil's eyes.
   "Permissions aren't something I can get you," her focus remained distracted, "but, an alternate route I can." She paused her very busy nothing-browsing to return her attention on Quil.
   Quil's eyes were soft, although still lit with a bit of that surprise - or perhaps it was the excitement that his journey will continue. Regardless, he certainly had a slight amount of energy now thanks to Trisha's efforts.
   She could only grimace at Quil's delight - as little of it he displayed physically, she could feel the amount of energy welling up inside of him.
   Quil's head darted to look ahead so that he could see the distance counter on his goggles count down as he approached the first step of the waypoint that Trisha had uploaded.
   Trisha shook her head, speaking softly. "That's all I can do for you right now, I'll contact you with more information as soon as I can." A brief pause followed to allow the venom to drain and to lower the volume of her voice to a sincere whisper. "I'll help you come home, okay?"
   Quil turned his head back to his watch to look at Trisha, "What?"
   "See you later, Quil!" And with that, Trisha disappeared from his watch.
   It was fortunate he had decided not to get off the train at the last stop. Two stops ahead of the holding cells was where the waypoint lead him.
   The information Trisha had sent talked about how each floor of the ship is divided into maintenance quadrants, and every room is interconnected to these maintenance quadrants. So with some careful, quiet timing, Quil can slip into the maintenance quadrant, sneak through the back halls, and arrive on the other side of all that security that stopped him from getting off the train last time.
   The maintenance halls were certainly much less forlorn than the Sanction of the Lotus. It definitely felt more alive. It was possible to hear the occasional chatter of worker models that diagnosed and maintained the integrity of the ships infrastructure.
   He followed the waypoint making sure to avoid being seen by any of the worker models. He wandered the dimly lit halls until he eventually found the section of the halls that would lead him to the holding cells.
   They were tightly packed together, with various sized cells for holding people and objects of various sizes. Most of the cells seemed to be stocked with outdated equipment and spent munitions making the holding cells seem less like a possible prison for captured anomalies and more like a very large closet to stuff forgotten or useless crap into. A place where they would remain until the ship is scrapped and replaced by a more modern design (for the record, they are multi-trillion credit ships, they don't get replaced often - if ever).
   Judging by the pile of crates and cages that almost rose to the ceiling, the room had become nothing but a warehouse for the G.I.E. aboard. If the anomaly was in here, it would take him hours of searching, but judging by how messy the place was maintained, it seemed like this was not the place it would be stored. Why would they store such a valuable object like a piece of junk?
   It didn't make sense for it to be here. Quil found a pile of crates along with other miscellaneous junk to droop down onto, letting his head fall into his palms, grasping his temple to try to squeeze a little more juice out of his brain. He squeezed harder as he tried to see if he might be able to think where the fallen star could be stored.
   Nothing came to mind except that looming regret of his choice. He had tried to push it away, and during his excitement of traveling to the possible location of the star, he was never distracted by the weight of that regret. It was the brief moment between searching and sitting on the crate that gave an opportunity for that regret to sink back in. As he sat there, he wished he could think about the layout of the ship and the possible location of the star, but instead thinking only – and always – lead him back to that regret.
   In particular, it was Trisha that was there in his mind. The friend - the only friend - that he had left behind to take responsibility for the action he had made.
   And yet, she had continued to help him, even after he had been a complete dickhead to her. Was that what a real friend would do? Or did she just have some sort of mental problem that made her reliant on aiding his fanaticism?
   "Hey," a rough and rebellious voice attempted to penetrate Quil's thoughts, but it was to no effect. Quil could only linger on that regret as he thought about those last words he had told Trisha back on the Lotus. He didn't want to believe what he said to her, but that was all he could think about.
   "Hey, Kid."
   He had made his choice, he couldn't go back on it. What is done, is done, and the best thing he could do was try to move on, right?
   "Hey, shithead," the voice shouted.
   Quil jumped, his cowlicks standing on edge. He looked around to see where the voice was coming from. As far as Quil could tell, he was alone in the warehouse holding cells.
   "This way, Kid," followed by a whistle and a single arm outstretched pointing towards the variable piles of crap it extended from.
   Quil's cowlicks relaxed as he raised an eyebrow at the mysterious arm.
   The arm disappeared for a moment, "It's just a kid." A pause, followed by a little more of a pause. "Fine." The man answered in an eagerly staccato annoyance after a few silent seconds had passed.
   Quil peaked around some of the crates to see a fairly small cage, seemingly intended for filthy animals rather than prisoners. Wrapped tight in metal walls to contain the anger of whatever ferocious beast was contained within. The only light was let in from the bars that sealed the interior from the external junkyard of the G.I.E.'s forgotten trash.
   It was all of that forgotten trash that blocked the exterior lights from casting brighter rays into the dim cage, making heavy shadows conceal the back of the cage from Quil's view.
   A single arm swiftly reached out, grabbing Quil by the collar and pulling him into the bars of the cage. After he was done wincing at the pain of metal bars being slammed into his face, he was able to focus a little more clearly on the rough looking man. The stubble shaded his jawline, drawing out the intensity of his red eyes that stared Quil down.
   The man's eyes danced between Quil's own eyes and Quil matched each step of the dance, confused at which eye to stare at. Should he look into the 'ripe-apple' rose eye, or should he stare into the 'emergency-order' ruby eye?
   The man leaned forward with his teeth bared, trying to sound intimidating. "The store ran out of my favorite brand of optical implant," he growled in retort to Quil's staring before tossing him back to the floor.
   Quil dusted himself off. "Then buy two of the same brand."
   The man crossed his arms with a puzzled and dissenting stare. "You're not from the G.I.E."
   Quil looked left for a flash to try and prepare his best acting job to try and fool the man. "I am from the G.I.E.," his voice monotone.
   The man leaned down, sizing up Quil, "Kid, you're not going to fool me."
   Quil stood robotic. "I am from the G.I.E."
   The man shook his head as he stood up straight, arms still crossed. "You aren't very good at lying."
   Quil pivoted his head, his cowlicks lowered. "I am from the G.I.E."
   The man rolled his eyes. "He's broken. This was your idea." He grumbled unto himself.
   Quil kept his robotic stare as he watched the baffling man have an equally baffling argument amongst him and his shadow. Or perhaps he was arguing with one of the many particles of floating dust contained in the grand G.I.E. closet. He wasn't really sure who the man was arguing with.
   The man, with rather ferocious energy, slammed his body at full speed into the cage, gripping the bars with all his strength to pull his face as close as he could to Quil. "Look," his words a bitter shank between the bars, "You get me out of here, Kid, or I'll tell the patrol they have a rat problem."
   Quil looked across the floor, at the boxes, crates and other stuff around him,
   The man spat at Quil to get his attention back on him. "Smart-ass, I don't mean there are literally rats." He dropped his head into his hands. "Look, fine." He briefly returned his attention to his shadow – or was it the dust particle? "Kid, why are you here?" The man refocused on Quil.
   Quil narrowed his eyes, shaking his head, scrutinizing the sudden change in attitude.
   "What? Did the G.I.E. kill your puppy and so you are seeking a grand quest of revenge? Maybe they took your parents? I can tell you that I'm not the parent you are looking for."
   "No, I abandoned my home." His cowlicks lowered with the weight of regret.
   "Yea-yea-yeah, I've heard it all before." He pulled away from the bars to wave off the potentially incoming story. "Mommy didn't love you enough, daddy is too busy to play with you, and all your friends think you are weird. I get it, I don't have time for -"
   "No." Quil interrupted him with one swift jab, followed by a brief moment to allow the warehouse dust to settle upon Quil's head. "I made a mistake."
   The man relaxed, shaking his head. "You can't run away from home and then decide you have made a mistake. Grow some balls, Kid, and man up to the choices you made - take it from me, I've made dumb choices before." The man shrugged as he looked across the cage he was stuck behind.
   One of Quil's cowlicks perked up - just a little (a very, very tiny amount). "I left someone behind."
   The man shifted his focus somewhere else. No, it wasn't on his shadow or a particle of dust. He shifted his focus somewhere far away. "Yeah, isn't that always the problem? It's always 'someone'," He stepped forward, grabbing at Quil to bring him closer, "Sometimes you just have to be selfish and think about yourself. Once you start letting others dictate your actions you let them dictate away your dreams."
   Quil took shallow steps away from the cage. "I think I've made plenty of selfish acti-"
   The man - quite violently - fought back against Quil, gripping his collar again and bringing him close to the cell, "Holy crap, Kid, I don't care about your problems. Just get me out of this stupid cage."
   "Let go of me, first." Quil managed to choke out through the suffocating grip wrapped around the collar of his shirt.
   With a very sincere and piercing stare, his weird eyes darted back and forth between Quil's eyes before he finally sighed, "fine," letting Quil go.
   Quil immediately stepped back away from the cage, sticking an arm out to ensure he was far enough away from the cage to make sure the man didn't try to strangle him again. "Why would I let you out?" He asked with scrutinizing eyes and cowlicks.
   "Because you'll piss me off if you don't."
   "The G.I.E. put you in there with reason." Quil's eyes narrowed further in scrutinization.
   The man crossed his eyes mocking Quil. "Because I'm a psycho murdering maniac seeking little escapee kids to line-up and eat."
   "There is little to believe your sarcasm and a lot to believe you are actually telling the truth." Quil stepped further away from the cage.
   The man stroked his temples. "Shut up, shut up, I know, I know," he spoke under angry breaths. "Okay, how about this: I'll help you reach whatever dream it is that sent you fleeing from your home. I promise." He stuck his hand out with his pinky outstretched.
   Quil looked at his inviting pinky finger and then back at the anxious man. "I am looking for a fallen star."
   He waggled his hand in eagerness to seal the pact. "Yeah, sure, whatever that means, I promise I will help you find it."
   "I don't just want to find it. I want to know what it is."
   "Probably just some space dust, but, sure, Kid, whatever. I promise I will go to the ends of the universe to discover what the space dust is; I'll even go as far as to find the exact composition of that space dust if that's what it takes to get me out of here - I promise."
   Quil took one step forward to close the gap between him and the pinky-promise. "You'll keep that promise?"
   "Well, at the moment I can't exactly run away," he rolled his eyes, his outstretched arm drooping just a little, exhausted from waiting for the promise to complete. "I'll be honest with you, Kid. Once you let me out, I got to make one little pit-stop, but after that I'll take your ‘fallen star’ – we call them meteors in the trade – to the best lab money can buy." He leaned forward to ensure his sincerity met Quil's eyes. "And let me assure you, I have money."
   The man eagerly raised his arm again towards Quil, his pinky finger even more determined than before to complete the pact between them. "I promise."
   Quil took another step forward, making that gap even smaller and bringing the promise closer, "You promise?"
   "For the love of-" He shouted in one exasperated breath, "Yes, yes, yes, I friggin' promise, Kid. Just accept the damn promise and get me out of this ca-"
   Quil tightly wrapped his eager pinky around the stiffly anxious pinky of the man, sealing the pact between them.
   The anxious energy of the man was released as he took one quiet, thoughtful step back from the door to the cage. He thought about what consequence this promise would have on his current job, on his current goals. He made a promise, but to keep the promise, a promise had to be made which would interfere with his existing promise, so would that be breaking the promise or just delaying the promise that he had previously made? It certainly was a confusing situation for those who might concern themselves with it, but to this man, these thoughts were swiftly pushed to the rear of his head. There was only one, very simple, very loud, and very clear thought in his head at the moment: freedom.
   Quil opened the door, the shadows of the bars receded like ocean waves. The cage became just a little brighter, lighting the hope in the man's eyes and igniting an energy that exploded forth. He lunged out of the cage and into the kid, sweeping him up in a tight, suffocating embrace.
   It wasn't the kid that he wanted to hug - far from it - the kid smelled weird. He smelled musty like he crawled through a dense layer of dust and stagnant air. No, to the man, the kid was simply the representation of his newly (re)found freedom.
   However, to 'the kid', the man's new found freedom was restricting his airway so much he was finding it difficult to tell him to, "let go." (Which he was able to squeak out- just barely.)
   The man dropped Quil back to the floor, which, to the floor Quil did go, resting there to catch his breath.
   "It feels like it's been forever since I got to stand in the open like this," he took in a deep breath. "It really is some of the smallest things you miss the most when you are stuck in a cage for..." a pause, "I don't know - like...forever or something." He paused so he could shift his focus to that same pesky, talkative particle of dust, which, as the seemingly imaginary conversation went on further his reflection became more and more displeased with the conversation. "Time isn't very relevant when you are bored to tears."
   Quil recovered enough so that he could show his quizzical look at the man, hoping that maybe if the man saw Quil, the man would stop talking to himself.
   He lowered his hand to where Quil had collapsed. "By the way, you can call me Filth."
   Quil grabbed his hand, leaning his weight forward to let 'Filth' help him to his feet. "Quil Alighieri." He politely accepted the man's gesture, accepting his hand into a firm handshake. Once the pleasantries had ended, so did Filth's aid, causing Quil to – once again – fall to the floor.
   With a shake of his head, Quil lifted himself back to his feet, dusting himself off. "Filth isn't your real name."
   "No, it's not," he remarked matter-of-factly, keeping his gaze away from Quil, "but it's the only name I have given you. So you can either call me 'the man' or you can call me by the name I have given you."
   Quil's cowlicks sank. "Maybe dishonesty isn't the best way to start off our newfound partnership."
   The man named Filth had his pact-fulfilling pinky rammed up his nose as he continued to keep his eyes away from Quil. "You know the air is so dry and dusty in these ships, boulders just seem to appear from nothing."
   Quil rolled his eyes, lowering his head into his palms.
   The man pressed a nostril closed as he tried his damnedest to propel the boulders from his nose.
   Quil could only shutter in disgust at his display, which, during Quil's moment of weakness - his guard let down so that he could cringe and gag at the display of the man named Filth - that filthy man took it as an opportunity to approach Quil. "You know, Kid," he spoke nonchalantly as he wrapped an arm around Quil's shoulder.
   Quil stared intensely at the hand that was wrapped close to his face. "That isn't the -"
   "No, this one is." Filth wiped his other hand across Quil's face, making his cowlicks stand on edge as he instinctively pushed away.
   "Gross." Quil wiped his face.
   "That was some pretty neat techno-wizardry you pulled there." The man (attempted) to approach Quil in a friendly manner again (Quil kept his distance). "You busted that cage open pretty quick. How'd you do it?"
   Quil looked at the lock on the cage and then back at Filth. "It's a low-sec lock. Basic encryption stored locally. The locks are meant for less valuable items, so there is an interface to reset -"
   "Bored now." Filth interrupted the kid.
   Quil's eyes went flat. "You were the one who asked."
   Filth turned away, scanning over the various crates and boxes around them. "Yeah, but I didn't want to know its family history or its life story." He moved his focus from the boxes to Quil for a minute. "I just wanted to know the secret to your little magic trick. Learn some brevity."
   Quil's cowlicks lowered. "I told you, the data is stored local-"
   "Okay, okay." he held up a hand to get Quil to hush as he moved his gaze back to the boxes. "We're past it now, Kid. Don't get hung up on a stupid lock."
   Quil shook his head, lowering it into his hands to give himself a moment to let the 'lock controversy' settle so he could change subjects - which, was pretty easy as he heard Filth's rather aggressive rummaging through the boxes, "What exactly are you doing?"
   Filth grabbed his head. "Ugh," he groaned, "It's like there are two of you now."
   Quil cocked an eyebrow.Bookmark here

"Look, Kid," he turned around to show his sincerity; "I need to know what we are dealing with, okay?" He turned back to his crates and boxes. "Why don't you run me over your little mission while I try to find the stuff the G.I.Asshats decided to take from me?"
   Quil shook his head with uncertainty, "I don't know. It's some sort of object the G.I.E. wanted."
   Filth groaned. "I'm going to need more than that, Kid."
   Quil nodded, he paused to think for a minute. "It's something they pursued after the destruction of S.C. Unity."
   Filth groaned louder, rolling his eyes. "This is the help you decided to pick?" He spoke to himself. "I'm certain if we waited a little longer we could have found someone better."
   Quil's eyes went flat as he listened to the whole one-sided conversation of the psychotic man.
   "Kid," He stopped his rummaging briefly to turn to Quil, "I need the whole story. Give me details."
   Quil cocked an eyebrow.
   "Yeah, yeah," he swatted his hands to brush off Quil's scrutinizing stare. "Unlike the lock, I do actually want family history and life story. Hurry up." he turned back to his work.
   Quil rolled his eyes. "I can start at the beginning if you want."
   "Uh-huh," the man went back to his own business, "but keep it short, if you can, okay?"
   Quil's eyes went flat. "Which is it?"
   "Uh-huh." the man continued doing his own business.
   He could only respond by shaking his head. What was the point? Quil thought back for a minute. "The Galactic Imperial Empire allegedly attacked the Federation."
   "Uh-huh." Filth paid no mind to Quil as he continued to dig.
   "They left the destruction sight seeking an anomaly that was dispatched from the destruction."
   "Uh-huh," his rummaging continued.
   "They traced it back to the Lotus."
   "Uh-huh," and further he dug.
   "It was there they retrieved the dispatched object."
   "Uh-huh," deeper into the piles of shit.
   "They have since left the Lotus, and now we are traveling somewhere with the anomaly in tow."
   "Ah!" he exclaimed. "Good, that boring story took just as long as I figured it would," he kept his view on the far more interesting objects he was trying to pull out from the heavy pile of crap that rested on top of it.
   Quil's cowlicks lowered. "What?"
   "I just wasn't looking forward to the awkward silence given off by the techno-nerd here. I just needed a little story to fill the empty space while I was looking for my stuff."
   Quil sighed. "So you know where to go?"
   "I didn't hear a single bit of your story." He punctuated his sentence with a very audible heave as he pulled harder at the stuff locked under piles of who-knows-what.
   "Not a single bit?" Quil's cowlicks lowered even further.
   "No, I didn't need to," he laughed between tugs. "What, are you kidding me? Why would I need a history to know where the G.I.E. would be storing your fallen comet - meteor - whatever, thing?"
   Quil sighed, wondering if Filth's help was worth the price of the headache.
   "Don't tell me what I should do." he snapped at the air.
   Quil looked at the man as he worked tirelessly on his project, an obvious annoyed look on his face from whatever imaginary friend he argued with.
   Quil rolled his eyes. "So you know where they are storing the anomaly?"
   "Uh-duh," he turned his head from his project to hammer Quil's idiocy in. "They are storing it in high-sec storage. Where else would they keep it? In this shithole?"
   Quil shook his head. "Great." He spoke flat. "But where is high-sec storage?"
   Filth heaved, managing to squeeze out a "trust me," as he pulled, making piles shift as the object he pulled on began to give way. He gave one final pull, his trump card: more brute strength. His trump card toppled a tower of boxes, crates, dust, and who knows what else down as he himself fell back to the floor, a black bag in hand.
   Filth lifted himself to his feet, clutching the bag. "I know where it is, take my word, Kid." And with that, he began to dig into the bag, pulling out various supplies. A red coat - which he swiftly put on – to a fingerless glove for his right hand and a series of bracelets and rings for his left hand. Quil's eyes lit with amazement as he watched tiny strands of wires snake out of the rings until they converged to make one uncomfortable looking metal glove.
   Filth, unable to decide which of his many watches were the most fashionable; he stuffed all of them inside his jacket pocket. Next, he pulled out a belt complete with holsters and utilities, tightening it around his waist.
   The bag was mostly empty, but the dip in the bag showed that there was at least one more final object that was much heavier in weight than all of the objects Filth had equipped.
   Quil's eyes widened as Filth pulled the object out of the bag. The cold metallic shimmer of it giving little but a blurry, distorted, unrecognizable reflection of Quil back into his widened eyes.
   Heavy. Long. Cylindrical. Mechanically impressive, but so intensely cold.
   Filth examined the object closely, running every inch of it past his eyes until he reached the end of the cylindrical barrel where he saw the horrified kid.
   "I was right," Filth spoke matter-of-factly, keeping his eyes on Quil, "it's really awkward when you just stare and not talk."
   Quil stepped away from the man who held the gun, still lost in his fright of the ballistic weapon.
   Filth cocked an eyebrow, following Quil's eyes to what he was focused on. "This?" Filth pointed to his gun.
   "Is it loaded?" Quil spoke in a hoarse whisper.
   "I'unno." He shrugged, pointing the gun up.
   Quil's eyes widened, his heart skipped a beat. A single instant that to Quil always felt like minutes as he watched every action take place. The finger that tightened around the trigger and squeezing it. The hammer dropping, millimeter, by millimeter, by millimeter. As the hammer dropped, the entire barrel rotated, ready to spin the projectile. Each step of the rotation of the barrel letting a metallic, mechanical click out.
   With the hammer about to collide with the spark, Quil dived to the ground, covering his head. The mechanical sounds of the spinning barrel ended with a finely punctuated SNAP.
   "That was pretty impressive." Filth spoke as he walked over to where Quil was shielding himself. "You have some pretty impressive reflexes to be able to dive into cover like a complete fucking pussy." He jabbed Quil in the ribs with the toe of his boot. "Kid," he spoke to get his attention.
   Quil looked up, still shielding himself.
   SNAP
! Filth clicked the trigger again, making Quil let out a single horrified screech as he dived back into cover.
   "What an impressive display of your manliness." Filth rolled his eyes, walking off. "You need to get over your fear of guns. This isn't your mommy's backyard any more, Kid. We're in space. It doesn't matter how big of a budget the Federation, G.I.E., Telkian Union or Telkian Dominion, or logic-forbid any of the other countless small Sec-forces have - no amount of money can possibly secure space. Bad stuff happens here. Get over it."
   Quil pulled himself to his feet, dusting off his shoulders (it's a very dusty place).
   His eyebrows were sharp with anger as he watched the man walk away from Quil without a single care in the world.
   "What about your promise?" Quil spoke just barely loud enough for Filth to hear.
   "Well," his carefree attitude penetrating his relaxed gate, "hurry up."
   Quil sighed before picking up his pace to catch up with Filth.
   Filth smiled deviously as he heard the approaching footsteps. Swiftly he turned around, gun in hand, he pulled the trigger sending Quil diving into a protected position, his inertia of the impressively graceful dive making him roll across the ground.
   Filth laughed. "That won't ever get old."Bookmark here

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