Part Two Point Five – Bits And Pieces


Sometime after Kolt departed for his second expedition.

Bang. Normally I’d repeat that thirty-one more times, but that would be unnecessary, so imagine I did. The gun in Theo’s hands went click when he pulled the trigger again, and he checked the bolt one last time to make sure it was clear. It’s easy to get accustomed to bolt/slide-locks. Holding it by its barrel shroud, he handed the TEC-DC9 to the clone who stood behind him, who removed the magazine and stuck it back into their holster. That gun didn’t feel… right.

“Now,” The clone pressed a button on the side of the booth, “Let’s see how you did.” The vaguely-torso shaped piece of paper down the range was dragged back by the claw on top of it, and the clone slightly nodded, remarking, “Not bad for someone who’s never handled a TEC before. Let’s try something different.” They reached for their opposite holster, pulling out a large-framed double action revolver with a long barrel. “This is a Triple Lock.” Pushing forward on its cylinder latch, the clone loaded the revolver bullet-by-bullet as Theo enviously watched. “We used to be given these as standard issue, back when the surplus shipments were still common, and I got to keep mine. Nowadays, everyone has M1917 revolvers if they’re cheap enough, or those fancy thirty-caliber Automagnums. I prefer the forty-four special.” He clicked the cylinder closed. “Trust it more.”

After replacing the target with a new one, the clone pressed the button on the side of the booth, and the paper flew down the range, flapping quietly. Theo raised the sizable revolver, which was massive in his tiny hands, and lined up the crude sights with the middle of the target. The clone reached over and pulled down the hammer for him, and Theo tenderly laid a finger on the trigger as he held his breath. The gun didn’t kick as much as he thought, but it still kicked more than the TEC-DC9 did. He pulled back the hammer on his own, sending another .44 caliber slug down range, before trying the double-action. The trigger was much stiffer than most semi-autos, but very smooth. When the sixth shot rang out, he pushed forward on the textured latch, ejecting the rounds with the leather-covered palm of his other hand. Short of breath, he turned to the clone and laughed, “I like that one more!”

The visible cheek muscles of the clone pulled up, as if he was smiling under the mask. “You looked to be a revolver kinda guy.”

“Eh,” Theo shrugged as he handed back the revolver, “Kolt is more of one than me.”

The clone nodded before chuckling, “Yeah, Kolt had a tendency to lust over revolvers. Glad THAT hasn’t changed, unlike other things.”

“He just likes mechanical things, guns with lots of fiddly bits.” Theo remembered when Kolt and him argued in Kolt’s house over what was superior; double-action-only, or single-action-only. Theo ended up pelting him with a nearby empty magazine he found on Kolt’s workbench. Kolt responded by flicking Theo in the lip. Theo responded in turn with an unfolded folding chair to the skull.

They fought a lot.

But it wasn’t fueled by hate; they both needed to destress, and beating the shit out of one another seemed to do that just fine. Kolt would always give Theo lovetaps, making Theo almost feel bad for kicking his ass. Almost.

The clone cleared his throat, and Theo was shaken out of his daze. “Well, it was very nice meeting you, Theo, but i’ve got to get going.”

Theo nodded. “Well, thank you, Gray, for letting me fondle your firearms.”

“Hey, heh, no problem, Theodore.”

Theo shook his head. “It’s just Theo.”

“Oh, sorry, Theo.”

“It’s alright. I’ll be heading to a bar now, need to calm my shaking nerves with a drink.”

“Alright, nice meeting you. Tell Kolt I said hello, alright?” The clone saluted Theo as he left, before picking up a rag and starting to wipe down both of his firearms. Theo left his ear-protection in the booth, and promptly walked out of the range. Theo anxiously picked at the ends of his long gloves in the elevator and pushed around his hair as he waited, using the reflective walls as mirrors. He exited the elevator, and followed the glowing signs labeled ‘BAR’, coupled with a neon arrow pointing down a street and around a corner. Soon, he could hear the sound of glasses clinking, projectile vomiting, and laughing afterwards.

The entrance looked like every other ‘building’ in this section of the station; dull, metal walled buildings, some textured to look like brickwork, some painted over with phallic shapes and expletives in a range of different languages by more enthusiastic inhabitants of the station. This one had been glazed over with an extremely glossy layer of royal purple paint, and a trademark neon sign hanging above it. People would sometimes walk in and out, some drunk and vomiting, others dragging said drunk-and-vomiting friends.

The first thing noticed was that the walls were covered in wood, genuine brown wood, and he almost bumped shoulders with a cursing rabbit who had a streak of vomit down his flannel shirt as he ran to the bathroom. A horse walked into a low-hanging light with a comedic *dink*, and they grumbled as they held their now-bruised forehead while sitting down with a group of other equines. Theo immediately scuttled over to the bar, hoisting himself onto a stool, and waved down the bartender.

“Uh, I’ll have the lightest wine you have.” Theo politely asked the bartender, a stout, middle-aged badger with visible bags under his eyes and limbs like beer kegs, ironic considering his profession of choice.

“Coming right up.” He pulled a clean wine glass out from under the counter, and Theo watched in fascination as he quickly retrieved a small bottle of wine from the fridge, uncorked it, and poured it into his glass in the span of only a few seconds. The wine was clear, and when he brought it to his puffy lips, Theo tasted blueberry. He hated blueberry, but alcohol is alcohol. “I can throw in the rest of the bottle for six forands.” The bartender added in a gruff voice.

“I don’t know yet.”

He nodded. “I’ll come back in a few minutes.” The badger placed the bottle in front of Theo, before retrieving a sticky note pad and a marker, writing ‘OPENED’ on one before tearing it off and pasting it to the side of the bottle. The badger gave Theo a small nod, and waltzed down the aisle to help the rest of the patrons. Theo stared into the clear drink, thoughtless and free of worry. Hopefully Kolt wouldn’t get so mad at him when he learned that there was no pay for himself, too; Theo was personally messaged by the doctor to come and help, and, as Theo was a genuinely good person (unlike Kolt, who was an opportunist), he came along.

Kolt was one of the only friends Theo had, and it was the same the other way around. They were both loners, brought together by their loneliness, and had been the best of friends for almost seven short years, as they had met during training. It was almost like they were the stars of some reality/buddy-cop show; Theo could just imagine the corny intro of it, and him and Kolt doing cornier poses, the filming of said intro taking about two weeks due to Kolt constantly fumbling, tripping, or smashing his head into doorways meant for smaller species’ just getting into the production studio. The amount of corn would equal all of Iowa and then some, no doubt.

Having shed his second skin, his coil suit, Theo was quite vulnerable as he was, well, a pathetic little man, wearing just a gray jumpsuit, jackboots, and long gloves that reached up above his elbows; a fashion choice, no practical use. He had barely any muscle mass or fat, and he was only just about five-and-a-half feet tall. He was much more feminine than other guys. In a way, so was Kolt, albeit much less in his mannerisms than his physical body. Kolt would read a lot, even though he would deny it, and he enjoyed to gossip and chat with Theo, or anyone that would listen to him, usually some unknowing clone whose ears would be bleeding by the time Kolt was finished, usually by self-mutilation through the classic ‘put pen in ear, smack end of pen with palm’ method, apparently a common method as three clones deafened themselves this way when Kolt started to rant about random things to them in a stream-of-consciousness fashion.

As Theo finished his drink, the bartender came back along, holding a half-drunk glass of beer. “Made up your mind?” He asked in a creepily-caring-yet-frank tone.

“Yes, I’ll take the bottle.” Theo unzipped one of the pockets on his jumpsuit, pulling out a five-forand and one-forand bill before passing them to the bartender, who ripped the sticky note off of the bottle before handing it to Theo, who in turn promptly pouring himself another drink. After taking a sip, he pulled off his left glove, a boring and long task, and examined his nails, palm stretched outwards. He quickly corrected himself and turned his hand towards him, palm first, curling his fingers down.


Hillary Winter’s phone started to ring as she was pulling off her gloves and just setting her buttocks on her chair, and with a groan, she quickly pulled the phone from its stand and configured it so she could talk into it and hear what the other person was saying, pulling the top half of it upwards and holding the device out in front of her.

And out came Kolt’s nasally voice.

“Winter, I’ve found something and I think you-”

“I don’t want to talk right now.” She groaneded, and was about to disconnect when Kolt added something that made her seize up.

“Please don’t disconnect. I’ve found Gene. Well, another Gene.”

Winter didn’t know whether to disconnect and not believe him, or to listen quietly. After a few moments, Gene’s young voice sounded out from the phone.

“Sis? Is that you?”


A pair of Genes, one pre-ripped, the other folded away and lost, at least, until now. Winter was both elated, and enraged. Enraged that she didn’t look harder, and also that someone had messed with her little sister.

Granted, Winter was adopted, but Gene was still her sister.


“She needs to be arrested.” Winter announced, crossing her arms as her commanding officer sighed.

“We can’t just arrest her. She’s the most trained medical professional on the ENTIRE station, Marshal, out of a population of four hundred and six!”

“She marooned my sister and then made a sickly clone to fake her death, breaking multiple laws and ethics. That’s reason enough to punt her out the airlock, and even if it’s not i’ll do it anyways.”

“True, and, gah, FINE.” The captain said. “Call the two Privateers. I’ll send with you four clones to apprehend her when you decide to arrest her.”

“Kolt Saudwell and my sister will be docking soon, I’ll meet them in the docking port.”

“That’s a good idea.” The captain nodded, adjusting her green cap as she started tapping on the screen inside her desk. “The clones are on their way to the docking bay on the medical deck. Tell them what they need to know.”

“Aye aye, captain.” Winter saluted.

“Don’t say that ever again, now go.”

The captain rubbed the bridge of her nose as Winter stomped out. The mink’s fur flowed over her collar, giving her the impression of having a very thick neck. Her uniform, like most of the GSS’ outfits, was almost entirely a dark shade of green, like Winter’s jacket or Kolt’s donated vest.

“This is not going to end well.” She mumbled as she relayed the clones commands remotely from her desk, typing out lines of text to be displayed to them by their neural implants. Her display showed a top-down view of the blueprints for that deck, and a slider on the side could be used to change floors. The captain watched as the four green hoods that represented the clones left one of the connecting bridges, taking an elevator down a few floors. They slowly entered the docking bay, and the captain rubbed her eyelids, exhausted from working twenty-hours-a-day. At least she had SOMETHING interesting to look forwards to.


Pulling out Gene from the boot of the ship, Kolt turned and promptly jumped; Winter was standing mere inches away, arms crossed but a look of relief on her tired face. “Jesus, don’t do that!”

“My name’s not Jesus. Gene!” She promptly hugged her sister, her wide jacket enveloping the small vixen. Winter pulled away from Gene with tears in her eyes. “Kolt, thank you, thank you so much.”

“For what?”

“For finding Gene you idiot!”


Winter then hugged him too.


Kolt then noticed Theo standing about two meters away holding an empty wine bottle. “Oh………………. hi Theo.”

“You’re… hugging…” His eye twitched, and he leaned forward to get a closer look. “Hugging. Gross.”

“You’re gross.” Winter continued to crush Kolt’s sternum with beefy arms, the beefiness of which was hidden by her sleeves. His ribs would be breaking soon. “W-Winter you’re causing me intense pain, please stop.”

“S-Sorry.” She snifled as she let go of Kolt, having lifted him up an inch or two off the floor with her hug; Gene giggled in the background, causing both Winter and Kolt to turn towards her with confused looks on their faces.

“Are you two, dating?”

“NO!” Both promptly screamed, and Gene giggled again.

“I’ve only kn-known Kolt for, like, a day!” Winter spat, shoving Kolt to the side to show that she indeed still didn’t care about him. “Plus, he’s, not my type.”

“Oh, yeah, you and your ‘types’.”

Theo was just staring blankly at a nearby wall. He was a complete lightweight; things were swirling and his stomach didn’t feel right. Kolt noticed this, and quickly walked to his friend’s side. “You two can reconcile as much as you want, I have to get Theo back to Home to get his stomach pumped.”

Winter cocked her head. “Marbelians can’t drink alcohol?”

“No, they can, it’s just that Theo is going to projectile vomit tomorrow if I don’t.”

“Ah. Well then,” She waved him off, a slight smirk on her face, “Be on your way then, Privateer.”

Gene shoved past her sister, her sleeves now unrolled. “Oh shush you, that’s not how you act towards the man who saved me!” She took Kolt’s hand and shook it, looking deep into his amber eyes. “Thank you for rescuing me, Kolt Saudwell. You’re a great man.”

“No problem ma’am, it’s all a part of the job. Speaking of that, I should inform you two that i’m doing this all out of good will; i’m not being paid to help.”

“Huh?” Winter was taken aback; wait, he found Gene for FREE? “You, went looking for Gene for free?”

“Yes,” Kolt put a hand on Theo’s shoulder, and the Marbelian belched, “Theo here is the only one being paid. I just joined along because I thought I would be of some sort of help. Goodbye.” He escorted Theo to the Marbelian’s ship, and Winter’s mouth was still agape when the craft’s turbines blasted and it lifted off the deck, turning around and hovering towards an airlock. She watched it in amazement; who IS that man? No one saves people for free… As the four clowns sent by the captain approached, she smiled at the rear of the ship as it disappeared behind the metal doors of the airlock.

She was thankful.



Four hours later and Kolt finally was able to go home. He spent the last hour laying on the corner of Theo’s bed; Theo wanted Kolt to sleep with him, not sexually, just because he was scared for some reason. Kolt laid on the lower right corner of the bed as Theo quickly drifted off to sleep, but Kolt wasn’t sure if he was asleep yet, so he just limply laid there, eyes open and staring at the ceiling.

On the underside of Home was an array of ‘tentacles’, flexible hallways that led down to the small circular complexes attached to them. Those were the ‘full-time’ quarters, where Privateers who didn’t already have a home lived. Homes on Home. Kolt lived in Block 14, Theo in Block 11, and travelling between them was quite laborous; only some had halls between them, and climbing up and down the tunnels in zero gravity was laborious to say the least.

As Kolt climbed through the one leading from Block 11 back to the rest of the station, he watched a small, angular cruiser lumber through the cluster of floating buildings, rolling to the side in order to squeeze between two of the Blocks. After it made its way out of the cluster of buildings, Kolt watched two Privateers wearing coil-suits designed for space travel and characteristic Species 1.0 helmet, the triangular ones, crawl from a tiny hatch on the underside of Home and float towards the stalled ship. They wore blue armbands, and the batons on their utility belts blended in with their black uniforms; station security. One tapped on the window of the cruiser, probably wondering why the fuck they were flying a ship between the houses, and the opaque glass cleared, showing another Privateer, this one wearing a simpler, smaller, more rounded Species 0.5 helmet; a Pawn.

The security officer immediately turned around and floated away, and Kolt imagined them sighing deeply inside their helmet. Pawn was the nickname of Privateers who hadn’t even worked a year, greener than a GSS uniform. Kolt remembered his days as a Pawn, days full of pain and learning experience. The majority of his scars were a reminder of that time period. They were to be treated with respect, to be lightly reminded of what’s right when they do wrong, and also treated like children. Because for all intents and purposes, they still are children. Most of them are under 20.

Kolt crawled out of the tunnel into what was called the Cul-de-sac; the entrances from nine more tunnels surrounded him, all positioned in a square. They led to Blocks 9-18, Blocks 1-9 being on the station itself. After floating up and out of the tunnel, he chose the corresponding tunnel to his Block, and climbed into it. He saw through the opaque walls of the tunnel a gray mouse floating through a nearby tunnel, eyes affixed on a tablet as they slowly floated up the tunnel. He looked back down the length of the tunnel, and used one of the padded bars on the walls to pull himself forward, and also began to float. Every few moments, he would grab another bar and would pull himself forward, slightly increasing his speed for a few seconds.

When he got the end, he floated out of the tunnel, into the central room of the Block. Small booths, the entrances of each home, slowly moved around the circular’s rooms walls in a clockwise motion, rotating fast enough to give the people inside some sort of gravity. Just getting into his home was tricky enough, but in the middle of the room was an extendable bridge of sorts, with a console set upon a pedestal. Kolt floated towards it and tapped the button that corresponded with his  room, and the bridge, which was actually more of a ladder, pointed at the door of his home and extended, locking into place under it and slowly turning alongside the booth.

Kolt climbed towards his door and clambered inside the booth, sliding it closed as the bridge/ladder slid back into its central position. He felt gravity begin to take effect, and the pair of metal doors in front of him split open, revealing the living room of his house. Daintily stepping forwards, Kolt sighed and threw his briefcase onto his couch and stretched out his back. The briefcase hit the cushion and bounced off, staying airborne for a second before settling back down. The gravity was weak, but enough to keep things secured to the floor. Across the living room and behind his dinner table was a massive four-paned window, showing the outside void, surrounding Blocks, and far-off stars. Through the window, light blue light shone in, from lights on the underside of Home glistening off of Blocks and passing ships. He yawned, before stretching out his arms as he walked towards his kitchen, grabbing his wrist and pulling the entire arm downwards, before doing the same with the other, and he cracked his knuckles before pulling open his fridge.

All the food inside was meticulously arranged; nothing was uneven, everything was in rows. Neat and tidy, just like how he liked it. Each shelf had its own category of foodstuffs; the topmost one had solely liquids, the one below that vegetables, below that one, microwaveable instant meals, so on so forth. He chose a blank brown cardboard box from the third shelf, reading the instructions and reciting them as he did so.

“Hit top with palm of hand hard enough to activate heating pad, wait twenty minutes, do not remove from box, open side.” Kolt ripped open the side of the small carboard box, the top of which was bluntly labeled, ‘RATION, SOY POTPIE, 700 CAL’, the only other markings being the instructions that he had just read on the backside, before giving it a solid thump on the top. Kolt heard something snap, and set the pot pie on the counter before leaving the room.

He opened the door to his ‘bonus room’, and flicked on the light as he closed the door behind him. The light strip on the ceiling blinded Kolt, so he turned the knob under the wall switch and dimmed it considerably, before walking over to his desk and flicking on a lamp there, angling it upwards. The orange beam from the lamp spread across the ceiling, and the firearms lining the walls were only just visible. Next to Kolt’s desk was a plastic bucket, filled two-thirds with a chemical mixture meant to strip rust. Sitting in his chair, Kolt took a pair of calipers that were sitting on top of a rag and stuck them into the bucket, drawing out a revolver, the Webley-Fosbery from earlier. He reached across his desk and turned on another lamp, angling it down onto the desk itself, and laid the gun on the rag. The finish was almost all gone, but so was the rust. Kolt flicked on yet another lamp, using it to illuminate the left side of the room, then another, illuminating the right. The lamps revealed an odd mixture of ornaments covering the walls; countless firearms and small neon signs.

The signs he got from junkyards, refurbishing them before hiring an electrician to set them up. That electrician was now very rich, as the signs covering Kolt’s walls numbered at least a dozen, and every time Kolt hired them, it was only for one sign at a time. The Aldearian had no idea that, if he just waited, he could’ve saved a lot of money by just having them all installed at once, but he wanted his signs on the walls and he wanted them now. Kolt wiped the remaining chemicals off of the autorevolver with the rag before breaking it open and checking the cylinder chambers, taking a Q tip and swabbing any remnants of chemicals out of them. Snapping the gun closed, he plucked off one of his newly-made moonclips off the raised platform attached to his desk, examining it, before breaking the gun open once again and pressing it into place; a snug fit. He pulled the moonclip out and set it back with the five others he had made, and set down the autorevolver before getting out of his chair.

He chewed on his thumb as he walked across the room, to a short shelf, and fiddled with the radio on top of it. Classical music of questionable audio quality soon sputtered forth from the device, timed to end in twenty minutes, and Kolt pulled his chair up to another desk, this one more of a workbench with a vice and multiple hand-tools covering the top, along with manual machines bolted on. He leaned over and picked up a small tupperware box of cartridge casings, one of many under the bench, and set it down in front of him. Bottles of various powders and bins of bullets and primers covered the top of the desk, and Kolt scooted the box next to his reloading kit, taking a casing and slotting it into place before plucking out a primer and full-metal jacket. He turned a knob on top of the kit, and a clear tube on top, filled to the brim with smokeless powder, dumped the exact amount needed into the case. He then yanked the large lever on the side of the machine, and both the primer and bullet were rammed into place. Letting the handle go, the cartridge tumbled to the side, into an empty bin, and he examined it with his eyes before continuing with another casing, and another, and another.

His inner machine activated, and Kolt began to rapidly slot the parts into place, tug on the handle, and load casing after casing. In twenty minutes he made 418 cartridges, a number given by the LED display on the machine, a rate of almost twenty rounds per minute, around one every three seconds and two below the ‘weed number’; that’s slower than usual. Kolt blew a raspberry and got up from his chair, mumbling, “Just not used to thirty-eight ACP, almost got to four-twenty, almost, hmm…” He walked out of the bonus room, back to the kitchen, and took a disposable plastic fork from a box of disposable utensils and sat down at the table with his pot pie, back to the window, blue light enveloping him. He stared forward blankly, before blinking.

The pot pie was disgusting.

After eating, Kolt spent the next half hour laying on the floor of his bonus room, all lights off but the neon signs turned on, basking him in purple, pink, and blue light. It was so pretty, and he had a smile on his face as he dozed off, back to his happy place.


Whiteness, all around. No buildings, no doppelgangers, just the blank wastes. This didn’t feel right. Kolt began to walk in no discernible direction, until he found himself stopping at random, and putting a hand on his head. An aching had began, deep in his brain, and was progressively getting worse. His heart began to throb, his vision blurring with each thump, and he fell to his knees. Clutching his head, Kolt bared his gritted teeth as his face started to scrunch up in pain. It felt like someone had just teleported lava into his cranium. But he knew it was fake, all of this, because this was just a dream. Fuck, why is my head so broken? Out of pain, Kolt reached back and began to unzip his coil suit, far enough that he could pull his arms and upper body out of it. Without his suit, he looked frail, almost anorexic, and his entire body was covered with varying splotches of scar tissue. He was almost like a pizza, if pizza had scar tissue instead of pepperoni, if that makes sense. I don’t think it does, but anyways.

Kolt felt liquid splash him. Water? No, blood, and it wasn’t splashing him, it was seeping from him, his scars ripping themselves open, his skin too tight. He bled freely and over his mouth from the lightning bolt shaped scar on the top of his head, from gashes on his shoulders that dripped down his arms, and from surgery scars on his midsection; he had lost two feet of his intestine from injuries sustained on the job. He raised his arms and cocked his head back, staring up into the white void as his body ‘purged’.

He wasn’t afraid of blood.

He wasn’t afraid of dying.

He was just tired.


Theo knocked on Kolt’s door, shifting uncomfortably in the booth. The door opened, and a shirtless Kolt greeted Theo with a squinted glare and a Hunk Rump gay porn magazine rolled up in his hand other. Theo glanced down at the magazine and back up at Kolt’s unamused face, and began to silently sweat. {A}

“Did I interrupt something?”

“Yes. What do you want.”

“Well, first to thank you for getting my stomach pumped and taking me back to my house, and second, Winter just emailed me; she and four clones are going to arrest Velent tomorrow, and she wants us there in case something goes bad, as a contingency plan.”

“Alright. Anything else to say?”

“No, not really.”

“Okay. Goodbye.” Kolt attempted to shut the door in order to get back to the important task of masturbation, but Theo stuck his foot between the sliding halves of the door. Kolt looked down at Theo’s foot, and promptly put his foot on top of it, putting pressure on Theo’s foot with his foot. Both of their feet hurt.

“Kolt, please.”

“Please what?” Kolt squinted at Theo from the small slit between the halves of the door. Theo just sighed.

“Want to talk?”

“About what.”


“No, I want to masturbate.”

“Okay, okay…” Theo pulled his foot from the door, and it slammed shut. Left in the darkness, Theo sighed, and turned to leave. The door whooshed open, and Kolt put a hand on Theo’s shoulder, yanking him backwards and scaring the bejeebus out of him. “GOD, KOLT, DON’T DO THAT!”

“I want to talk about you.” Kolt bluntly addressed.

“M-Me? Why?”

“I’ve known you for seven years and I still know nothing about you. I’ve only now mustered up the courage to ask now; I saw an opening when the door closed.”

Theo raised half of his unibrow. “Huh. Okay.” The pair sat on Kolt’s couch, and Kolt threw the porn magazine over his shoulder, it bouncing off the wall and up against the ceiling before coming to rest on the shag carpeting. “What uh, do you want to know about?”

“Is Theo Yanni your real name?”

“Gosh, of course! I never needed a fake name, unlike you.”

“Only my first name is changed, i’m still a Saudwell.”

“True, true…”

Kolt put his hands on his knees, and his bright amber eyes burned into Theo’s single large eyeball which, along with the fact that Kolt was shirtless, made Theo very, very nervous. “Who are your parents?”

Theo’s little blue heart sunk. “I uh, don’t want to talk about them.”

“Fair enough. Why do you always carry around that piece of garbage?” Kolt pointed to Theo’s hip, and Theo glanced down at his shitty pistol, a Beretta M1951, beaten to hell from years of use.{A}

“It was my first pistol, and it works well enough.”

“Theo it looks like it was made by child slaves. It’s so crude it makes me almost want to cry.”

“Hey, your gun is crude too!”

“Yes but not THAT crude.” The M1951 wasn’t shoddily manufactured, it was just super ugly and beat-up. Kolt’s PHP was also kinda hacked together but, damn. “Enough talking about guns.” Kolt opened his mouth to ask another question, but… he had no idea what to talk about.

He scratched the back of his head, grimacing slightly. “Ummmmmmmmm…” Theo crossed his arms, waiting for Kolt’s next question. “Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…”

“U M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M MM M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M –


Theo punched Kolt in the face. Kolt, rubbing his now-sore forehead, sighed, “Yeah I deserved that. I, I honestly don’t know WHAT to ask you.”

“I understand.” Theo rubbed his also-sore knuckle, before trying to change the subject. “Hey, you hear about that new sale Vorhannz is doing?”

Kolt pulled his hand away from his face and cocked his head to the side. “Vorhannz has sales?” Vorhannz was the second largest sporting goods store chain in the GSS, but Kolt preferred it over the largest chain, Richard’s Sporting Goods, because Vorhannz dabbles in surplus military weapons.

“Yeah, buy two handguns and get fifty Forands off a rifle of your choosing.”

Kolt scratched his scarred chin. Well, he DID have money to spend after his teleporter guinea pig assignment. “Hmmm, wanna go there next week?”

“Nah, I have plans; pedicures and yoga class every other day; i’m going to spend some of my vacation days treating myself.”

Kolt nodded. “Good for you.”

And then the awkwardness set back in for the both of them. Theo caught himself taking a few peeks at Kolt’s shirtless chest which, while not much to look at as Kolt was kind of scrawny, still made him feel warm and fuzzy in his nether regions. Kolt just blankly stared at the wall across the room. After six minutes of awkward, static silence, Kolt got up from the couch and walked around it to get his magazine, which he promptly rolled back up. Theo didn’t notice him raise the magazine over his head as he was too busy blushing and trying to conceal his emotions with a hand over half his face, looking down at the shag carpet out of embarrassment. When he saw a weird white splotch and squinted at it, Kolt initiated his attack, thwacking Theo’s afro on the top of his head. Theo slowly turned around and squinted at Kolt.

Kolt thwacked him in the face.

“That’s for looking at my tits.”


The next day, Kolt was in the middle of preparing his gear for the day when his PDA buzzed in his back pocket. Pulling it out, he read Winter’s name as the incoming caller, and quickly answered it.

“Hello.” He held the PDA against his eardrum with his shoulder as he clicked his belt into place and made sure his pouches were secure.

“Kolt,” Winter’s gruff voice pierced through the sound-concealing static, “I need you and I need Theo back on Cerberus NOW. That whore lynx realized that we were onto here and just did something MASSIVE.”

“What do you mean by ‘massive’?” Kolt slid on his vest and zipped it up, before grabbing his loaded PHP off his workbench and leaving the bonus room.

“You know how clones have those pairs of little computer chip thingies in their brains?”

“Yeah.” Clones had two small processors in their frontal lobes; one that ‘pacified’ them, making them very scowly but limiting their brain functions and speech, while the second was essentially a short-range radio receiver, the loyalty chip, telling them who was friend or foe and who their employers were.

“Velent has a device that allowed her to break the loyalty chips of seven clones, and now the entire medical bay has been sealed off by them. And to add to the shitstorm, she hacked a fucking cyborg.”

“Cyborg?” Those were rare, and pretty illegal. “Why does Cerberus have a cyborg?”

“‘Just in case’ i’m told, doesn’t matter now; at least five people are dead and more are trapped in the medbay. I need you guys here NOW.”

“Got it, will be there soon.”

One call to Theo later and the pair had donned their coil suits and climbed into Theo’s ships. Kolt patted Theo’s helmet, and the two took off, coasting through the airlock and out into space. Theo gunned it, causing the ship to lurch forward and sending it hurtling through space at over six hundred miles per hour; an imagine petrol price counter began to tick up in Theo’s mind, and soon he began to grimace at how much money he was wasting.

But in only an hour and a half, they had made it to Cerberus. There was a severe lack of ships floating around the station’s towers, and red emergency lights flashed in some of the windows on the midsection of the leftmost tower.

When they got to the station, Kolt climbed out first, leaping into the air and landing gracefully on both feet. “I have to pee.” Said Theo as he tried to pull himself out of the cockpit, losing his grip and falling over the side onto his back. He groaned but rolled to his feet, and Winter jogged up to the pair.

“Thank fuck you two are here, things are starting to get bad.” She huffed. “I just learned that, hhhuhh, that the four, hhuhh,” She bent over, hands on her knees, and put up a hand. The Privateer’s looked at each other and Kolt shrugged. Winter stood back up straight, exhaling. “Sorry about that, ran a bit fast to meet you guys when you docked. The four clones sent in to apprehend Velent before you guys got here went rogue, along with at least six others. Here’s your instructions,” She pointed to the doors and almost on cue, a doctor limped out, yelling loudly and dragging a bloody leg as they struggled to walk, “Find that fucking doctor, err, geneticist, ugh, whatever she is, other than a goddamn picsa, and drag her out by her face-manes, dead or almost dead. Got that?”

Kolt nodded, and Theo comically saluted.

Winter nodded back at the pair. “Good.” Four not-so-rogue clones ran over to the bleeding doctor and picked him up, carrying him to a hastily-erected field hospital as Kolt simultaneously walked back to Theo’s ship, retrieving a briefcase before crouching on one knee. He popped it open on top of his knee, pulling out his digital inventory and snapping it to his hip before setting the entire briefcase down and picking up the armor plate he had set inside; {A} two articulated plates of heat-treated steel,  one an inch in thickness, the other 10mm, purposely resembling a pair of clone facemasks, the larger one meant to deflect glancing shots under the arms when they’re raised, and the small one protecting the wearer’s sternum and collarbone from shrapnel; it was the lightest metal vest available.


Kolt put his hand on top of the block on his hip. “PHP VM 17.” The block transformed into the Croatian pistol, and with the handgun in his left hand and the handle of the suitcase in the other, Kolt started to walk towards one of the doors to the ward, stopping halfway and saying over his shoulder, “Is it alright if I leave my suitcase here?”

Winter shrugged. “Uh, yeah, sure.”

“Thank you.” Kolt then set down his briefcase and stretched out his arms. Theo walked up to his side, his Beretta M1951 drawn and held at low-ready. Kolt looked down on the shorter man, asking, “You ready?”

Theo smirked. “Like always, shitlord.”

“Alright, pooptickler.”

The doors of the medical bay slid apart, and the pair walked in.






Winter scratched her head. “…’Pooptickler’?”