3rd story: Mor Isil's Stag Party

This is the third story in the Vendetta Universe.

You can download it here, or simply read it below

Any large scale military operation has to be planned meticulously. For especially large operations, planning can go on for months, with many people involved on many levels, and enormous sums of money and resources being utilised. After the extensive planning cycle, the plan is put into effect, and the order to GO is given. Off course, no plan ever survives contact with the enemy. 

Hortan entered Mor's office, his rage apparent on his face. He was so mad, that he had even forgotten to wear his propeller cap. 

"Hello Hortan, what is wrong?"

Hortan stopped dead in his tracks, his anger dissipating like the darkness before the rising sun. He had an absolute inability to be mad around Miharu.

"Oh, hi Ms. Miharu. Oh it is nothing really, but I need to speak with Mor Isil right away, is he in?"

Miharu knew Hortan enough to know that only one thing could upset him enough to forget his cap; somebody had been tinkering with his roids.

"He is in, and I don't think he is busy right now. So you just go right in Hort." Miharu beamed a ten billion watt smile at Hortan and motioned for him to enter Mor's office.

Hortan's mood had already lifted quite a bit, but when he entered the office and saw the holo's of "his" heliocene roids, he remembered why he had come. Mor looked up as he came in, his desk buried in paperwork. As councillor in charge of mining operations, he was immensely busy. Only Surbius could measure up in workload and responsibility, being 2iC and in charge of trade operations, but for some reason Surbius's desk was always clean and his office exuded an air of calm detached order. Hortan had a secret suspicion that Surbius was not really human, but at least half computer. Or the Dark Lord of Forms.

"Hi Hortan, finished with the roids already? That must be a new record mate."

"No, I am not finished. Matter of fact someone heated Lillyblack and Annabelle to 250 Kelvin. The damage wrought to their beautiful surface was immense. The mining beams wrought swathes of destruction right across. It took me an hour to clean up, and I didn't get a single crate of Heliocene. I thought that it was an isolated incident, but then it turned out that Helena, Ariel and even Trinity had been heated as well. Nobody knows Trin apart from the guild." Hortan was once more fuming, the incident too horrible in his mind.

"Easy now Hort, nobody in the guild heats your roids, we know how much you care for them. It is surely someone outside the guild that did this."

"I tell you, nobody outside the guild knows of Trin, she is so far away from the roid field that you either have to be insane to look so far from the roid fields for ore, or have purchased the information. The latter is by far more probable."

"Okay, so let us assume for a moment that it is someone from the guild, why would they do that? And who?"

"I don't know, but that is why I came to you Mor." Hortan pointed to the holo of Helena, "I mean, who would ravage such a beauty?"

Mor really did not have time for this. His already 16-hour workday was enough, but he was acutely aware of the fragile mindset of Hortan. He had to do something.

"Okay Hort let's suit up and go look at the damages. Maybe we can find a clue or something, okay?"

Hortan was feeling better almost immediately. He was certain that Mor would find out who had done it, and punish him for the misdeed. Together they walked down to the launch bay, where Ms. Miharu had called on ahead and asked for Mor's X-1 to be ready. They arrived to find Hortan's Certain Death IV ready along with a green moth.

"Where is my X-1?" Mor asked the dock master.

"Ah wars told ta redy thise faine ship Sir," his thick Verasi accent slurring the words almost to non-comprehension. 

Mor was about to tell the dock master to change it, but then he saw Hortan's pained expression.

"Very well, I'll fly the moth then." He made a mental note to make Miharu check why his ship had been switched, and settled for the extremely slow speed he would have to endure.

The duo launched, and moved at the, for Hortan at least, comfortable speed of 160 m/s out to the 3k mark. 

"Jumping for Helios," Hortan came on the radio. Grumbling something in reply, Mor activated the warp engines and followed.

They entered Helios B-14 and immediately Hortan boosted towards Trinity, Mor in tow. 

"And you say that there are marks on the face of the roid still?" Mor enquired of Hortan.

"Yeah, like someone had put a message there for us to see. To taunt us maybe. I could not decipher it."

After the 42k flight, they orbited the roid slowly. The damage was not really all that obvious to Mor, but he knew that Hortan's knowledge of this roid was borderline insane. He noticed what looked like a small yellow marker.

"Did you see that marker when you were last here?" Mor asked Hortan.

"No, it was not there before."

"Stand-by, I am going EVA," Mor was going to get to the end of this.

He exited the Moth in his EVA suit and moved towards the roid cautiously. It had been a while since he had been EVA, and he knew how easy it was to hurt himself. Miha would kill him if he broke a leg, especially the week before they were getting married. He landed on the surface and went to the yellow marker. Plastic, with some black writing it seemed. He took it in his gloved hand, snapping the small string that attached it to the roid. He looked at the letters.


Hard radiation swamped his visor, the amount of power so great, it was visible even if most of the particles were Tau neutrinos.

Three green TGFT ships and two VPR ships appeared around the roid. Mor's radio crackled in his ears. John Eldritch.

"Mor, Welcome to your stag party. Please stay where you are."

Mor looked at the ships and nodded. Aye, it would have taken something like this to get him out of his office, and trust John and Waldoze to plan efficiently for something like this. If only they would put as much effort into the guild duties.

"Was it you that heated my roids?" Hortan's voice came over the radio.

"Yeah, sorry little dude, but we had to get Mor out for the stag party. You can mine my roids until yours are nice and cool again. And I'll take you out for pancakes, okay?"

"Guess so, okay. If you say so John." Hortan sounded very unhappy, but he trusted John 100%.

A line was extended from the cavernous bay of the green Behemoth XC with the name "Jolly Green Giant" on the side. Mor grabbed it and was hoisted into the hold. He went through the airlock and faced the mob. They were quite a crowd, Lambin, Vard, Pasquel, Fluffy, Zathras, Creyn, Rowan, Neagoth, Gramps, Jaylyn and Ato. Behind them John and Waldoze were standing with something behind their backs, immense grins on their faces.

"Miha is going to kill you when she finds out," Mor said.

"I don't think so mate, she is filling in for the rest of us with Mercy, Obs and some of the new guys, Tufan Oreminer and Riddik Willenium back home. Now, lets get you dressed." John moved towards Mor with a bag of something. The Moth started moving towards the jump point with the other four ships behind it. 

The ships docked at Daltas hold, and the party walked outside. Mor was now dressed as an old school pimp, with garishly coloured trumpet pants, rhinestone studded white jacket, pink shirt with frills, rhinestone Dame Edna glasses, and three rings on each finger. They had been pouring Helio Mists on him ever since leaving Helios, and he was starting to feel a little wobbly. The other pilots joined him, Surbius, Hortan, Hank and Ifor from TGFT and Strat and Vehement from VPR. They dragged him over to a small machine shop where several hollowed out Orun miner bots were lying. He looked up at the sign above the shop.

Crazy Elmo's Racing bots

Guaranteed hours and hours of fun.

Mor smiled. He could see himself crashing bots by remote right now. That would be fun. An old man with a huge chaotic beard, and an even more chaotic hair, dressed in the dirtiest jump suit Mor had ever seen approached them. The twinkle in his eyes was unmistakable. He was quite and utterly insane.

"So, here be the target yarr?" Mor rolled his eyes. And an old pirate on top off the madness. John nodded enthusiastically and shoved Mor forwards. The mad man chuckled continuously and dragged Mor with his left prosthetic hand over to an armoured EVA suit. Indicating that Mor should get in, he helped strapping Mor into the suit. It slowly dawned on Mor that he was not going to be remote piloting. He looked to his left and saw Vardonx, Lambin and Waldoze get into suits as well, all grinning like madmen.

"Here be them rules yarrr. Ya will all be in yonder fine ship," he indicated an old battered Atlas decorated with rust and damage streaks from multiple plasma shots," and from this I shall be launching ya all in the Sedina H5 racetrack yarrr. Ye must attempt to finish in ya'll best time. Yarrr. Ach, me be forgetting the most important thing. Ye be flying them fine Orun collector shells, yarrr."

Mor could not believe what he heard. It sounded immensely dangerous, but the others were looking forward to it, or so it seemed. He got strapped into the Orun collector; his feet dangling out between the twin plasma drive exhausts. His Orun was loaded along with the others, and the Atlas launched along with a specially window fitted Moth full of the rest of the slightly intoxicated TGFT members. The ships jumped to the racetrack, escorted by Strat and Vehement in their official VPR ships. Grey space is never safe, so the two VPR pilots had agreed to provide safety for the flights. Besides, as friends of Mor, they were a natural part of his stag party.

They arrived in H5, and the Oruns were dropped from the Atlas towards the racetrack, the speed from the Atlas hurtling the small collector shells at 200m/s. Mor engaged the small plasma drive on the Orun shell. Normally, the Orun is designed for slow and methodical movement, and is somewhat hampered by the mining beam, the large armoured cargo hold and the machine innards. All that had been taken out, leaving a vessel that was 90% lighter than standard. The ship accelerated to 225 m/s, and Mor steered it towards the opening, bent on making the most of it. He was just about to enter the track when he was hit on the rear right by Lambin's collector, and this sent him tumbling into the wall. He smacked his head into the suit controls and cursed mightily. The collector had crumpled in the left side, and the thruster on that side was no longer functioning. The others boosted past him, and he turned 270 degrees left with his remaining thruster and followed. The laughs on the radio were only slightly disturbing. He would show them still. Turning the plasma drive on to full, he accelerated very fast towards the entry point. He noticed a small flutter on the left engine, but deciding that luck favours the brave, he jammed the boost button tight and concentrated on missing the sides of the tube. 

Mor came in second, behind Lambin. Vardonx limped out of the racetrack with no engine working, and only the right truster still functioning, courtesy of a ramming by Waldoze, who in turn had crashed into the side catastrophically and had to be towed out. After getting picked up by the Atlas, they celebrated with some more Helio Mists, before boosting towards Daltas Hold again. 

The radio crackled from Vehement's Vulture, "Ion Storm in progress, suggest detour. I'll scout ahead." The Behemoth and the Atlas slowly boosted towards the 3k mark, with Strat circling slowly in front.  

"Single pie rat here, engaging," Vehement's voice came over the SSCU.

"Roger, inbound," Strat engaged the jump drive.

Vehement's Vulture was busy chewing holes in the lone Warthog Mk II that was circling around the wormhole. Swag Man, the notorious CLM pirate had been lurking for helpless traders. Swag Man expertly fired a flare that chipped most of the armour off Vehement's left wing, and sent his ship tumbling. Sensing a kill, Swag Man moved closer and aligned to kill the Vulture with the Mega Positron beam, a weapon normally used against very large armoured targets. Vehement rolled to avoid, managing to dodge by meters, and sent more neutron fire across the Warthog. Swag Man tried to turn the heavy fighter for another flare shot, but Vehement's vulture out-turned the larger ship, and managed to get the engines in his sights. Plunging his finger on the trigger, the twin neutron beams that Vehement fired into the power coupler was enough to explode the warthog.

"Clear, but probably not for long. Boost for Daltas, I'll hold here," Vehement's voice came over the radio. Hard radiation swamped the area as three jump entry points disgorged fighters. More CLM rats.

"I have your six," Strat moved his Centurion into guard position. The IFF from the pie rats were translated, Sharingan, Tramshed and Hajos. Strat grinned and engaged, the day was just getting better. 

The TGFT ships docked at Daltas Hold, and the members stumbled out. All gathered around the somewhat battered Mor. He was sporting a nice blue eye. 

"That was fun," Waldoze grinned; his collision with the wall had cost him a tooth and broken nose. 

"I have your rewards here," John indicated three small glasses and one large one.

"First prize will get a full glass, second will get three quarters full, third half full and Waldoze will only get a quarter glass o' Helio Mists." John passed the glasses, the largest going to Mor. He looked at the glass; it had to be at least a third of a litre. Mor drank as much as he could, but as he was never the heavy drinker, he choked halfway through. Waldoze snapped the glass from Mor and finished it, winking to Mor and belching loudly.

"What have ye done ta me darlings yarr?" The old pirate was wailing at the sight of his crushed Orun Collectors. Mor looked closer at the old man. 

"Ye cannae be handin me these auld hulks back. D'ya kenn how long t'is taken tae find yon collectors?"

"Ecka?" Mor looked closer.

"Hehe, aye lad, that it be." The old man took the wig and beard off, and smiled at Mor. Ecka grabbed the bottle of Helio Mists and took a deep swig. "Ah wanted tae join the fun now." He turned and looked at John. "So, where tae next lad?"

"Not sure really, it is Waldoze that arranged the next thing." 

"Bout time too," Waldoze shouted. Waldoze had found two more bottles of Helio Mists, and was enthusiastically pouring to everyone. One for them, one for him.

"Pasquel, lead the way mate," Waldoze shouted, and grabbed Mor around the shoulders. He was going to make sure that Mor didn't bolt nor went thirsty.

The entire left side of The Priggly Pear was lavishly decorated in TGFT green, with flowers on the tables, and a very large buffet along one side. Just to make sure that Mor wouldn't miss a thing, Waldoze and Pasquel handcuffed Mor to the front chair with a pair of pink fluffy wrist cuffs. Lily and the girls were ever present to ensure that nothing could go wrong. The stage was closed, it was still too early for the regulars. Suddenly the music picked up a note, and the lights on the stage came on. The tallest girl that Mor had ever seen came on stage, very big boned too. She started dancing while taking her clothes off, and Mor realised through his by now heavy stupor, that is was either a female gorilla or a very ugly woman. The hair on her bosom was more than he was wearing on his head. Either the slow dancing was making Mor nauseous, or something else was at play, but Mor suddenly felt a compelling need to investigate the breakfast he had eaten so many hours ago. The gorilla woman stripped to a yellow G-string bathing suit and veil, and moved over to Mor and sat on his lap. 

"Congrats Mor. We figured that you are not entirely a man until you have tried both sexes." With that, Buzz planted a wet kiss on Mor's cheek, rose and bowed to the howling TGFT members. Mor was stunned, he had just been kissed by the abominable snow-woman. Buzz grinned madly, got a jump suit on and joined the fun.

Pasquel moved over to Buzz. "How the hell did you manage the implants?"

Buzz winked, "BioCom nanotech. It'll dissipate in an hour or so they told me. Otherwise the seller will have a quick and fatal meeting with Ole Painless." Buzz clapped his calibre 45 heavy-duty revolver resting comfortably in his shoulder holster.

John leant back, the party was going like planned. The degree of planning was less the further along on the evening they came. They could not control it anyway, with the large amounts of alcohol they had consumed. The last hastily arranged thing was Ms Lily and her make up girls, who were treating Mor's eye along with Vehement, who was getting treatment for the blue marks where the restraining harness had kept him down in his seat while fighting.

"I promise, tomorrow nobody will be able to see it. We have done it many times before." She smiled at Waldoze, who was sitting with a giggling girl on each side, chatting away about some fight or other. The bottles in his hands were almost empty by now.

The rest of the club was slowly filling up, but it was looking to be a slow day. Just as John wanted it. And then a young girl walked into the club. The sound seemed to become muffled as all attention focused on the new arrival. The young woman was wearing a short black skirt with a black lace bodice that was entirely cut away in the back. She had her raven black hair in a braided ponytail down the right side of her shoulder. On her bare back, she was sporting five red marks on the white skin, like whip marks. Across her chest was written "WORSHIP" in white gothic letters. 

"All right!" Waldoze exclaimed, "New girl Lily?"

John looked at her, and then muttered "Shit" under his breath. He had spotted the tattoo of a Vulture with the CLM logo superimposed on her left shoulder. 

"Azumi?" Hortan half rose, and then stopped as Sharingan, Hajos, LNH and Swag Man walked in after her, all heavily armed.

John repeated himself twice, and put a hand on top of Buzz's that was going for the revolver.

The girl scanned the room, let her gaze run coolly over the TGFT members and stopped at Mor.

John looked at Hortan, who was standing still, like a deer in the headlights. He was not going to get into a fight with these pirates, not today. "Hort, try and reason with them, we don't want a fight. I know you can do it little guy." With that, John pushed Hortan up in front of Mor towards the rather threateningly looking pirates. 

"Ehm, hel, hi Ms. Azumi," Hortan managed to mumble with usual eloquence. She looked past him through the low haze at the TGFT members, and only slowly did she turn her head and look at him. The hard lines around her eyes relaxed the slightest, and her mouth turned ever so slightly into a very small smile, that disappeared as soon as Hortan had seen it. 

"Listen Ms Azumi, we don't want any problems. We are just here to have some fun, okay?" 

Azumi smiled her predatory smile at Hortan, the one that always made him nervous. She extended her left index and used it to gently move it down Hortan's cheek.

"And what is the occasion for so many tasty traders in one location?" she asked in a husky voice, almost whispering.

Hortan swallowed visibly, and croaked "Mor is getting married, and so we are having a stag party for him. Please Ms. Azumi, we don't want any trouble." 

Azumi looked past Hortan squarely at Mor. She pushed Hortan gently aside, walked over to Mor, and sat on his lap, facing him. "This is the party boy?" She looked back at Hortan. The pirates behind him started snickering.

Azumi grabbed Mor's face in her hands and looked him straight in the eyes. He was immensely drunk, and was not really able to see or realise what was happening. She bent over and kissed him hard on the mouth, biting his lip at the same time.

"Goddamn, I want a stag party," Waldoze's voice slurred, his eyes fixed on the pirate vixen. Azumi kept Mor's lower lip between her teeth and pulled back, drawing blood. She smiled at him, then at the TGFT members, got up and walked over to Hortan. She wiped the small drop of blood from her lips with her index finger, put it in her mouth and smiled at him. 

"Sure, we'll behave. You can party all you want. When lover boy wakes up, wish him best of luck from us." She dragged an arm across Hortan's chest and swaggered over to the other pirates.

"You just too bad." "Ha, let him explain that back home." "Maybe I shuuld kiss him tchoo?", the pirates was laughing as Azumi came over, Sharingan making some secret hand clasp with Azumi. They found a table as far away from the TGFT members as possible, but kept the group under surveillance.

John looked at Vehement and Strat, the other two semi-sober persons in the TGFT company. Vehement was staring at Swag Man, who in turn was staring back. No love was lost between these two pilots, especially now Vehement had exploded two of Swag Man's ships in short order. John decided to call it a day. Mor was so drunk anyway that he was heavily leaning to one side, only the wrist restraints kept him on the chair. John leant across the table to Pasquel.

"Hand me the keys Pas, I'll take Mor home."

"No can do mate," Pasquel slurred, the bottles of Helio Mists showing their effect. "Dozer swallowed the keys. Said he needed the iron." Pasquel took another dram and started laughing in the middle of drinking, effectively snorting the whisky out through his nose. "And I have forgotten the extra keys in Dau."

John cursed once more. No way were they going to be able to drag Mor out of here without opening the handcuffs. 

"We can cawwy him" Lambin suggested, slowly swaying from side to side. Behind him, Ifor, Ato and Vardonx were likewise trying to look sober and serious. To the right, John could see Vehement get up and go to the bar, his gaze fixed on Swag Man. Strat looked at John, and nodded at Mor, and in the direction of the door. Strat left his chair and walked over to the bar and Vehement. This situation was going to go to South very soon, and John decided to take the drunken quartet on their word.

"Okay, then you have to carry him and the chair as well. Get him up and let's go." John nodded to Surbius, who moved on ahead with Ecka. The rest of the TGFT gang except Waldoze, Buzz and Pasquel rose as well, and helped to move the semi-conscious Mor to the Behemoth. The group moved out of The Priggly Pear in no order whatsoever. Hortan helped by ensuring that Mor's head didn't hit anything on the way out.

"John, where is Mor's necklace?" Hortan looked worriedly at Mor's neck where the silver necklace used to hang.

"I don't know mate, I didn't even know he had one." John was breathing heavily as they moved Mor down the corridor. The TGFT members were very willing, but also very drunk, and so it was primarily him that was carrying Mor.

"We have to find his necklace, we can't send him home without it." Hortan stopped John. 

"Listen mate, what do you want me to do? I mean, I have to carry him to the ship and all. I can't do it all myself mate. If it is so important, then please go and find it Hort, okay?" John picked Mor up and started moving again.

Hortan almost swore, but didn't. Mostly because he couldn't really remember any swear words, and even if he could, it would be strange for him. He knew how much trouble they would be in if Mor woke up tomorrow without the necklace, and even worse if it was sent to Miharu with The Priggly Pear's return address. He tried to remember where he had seen it last, and found that with reasonable certainty he could remember that Mor was wearing it when they arrived at the club. Oh well, back to The Priggly Pear.

The meat puppet outside stopped Hortan when he wanted to go inside again with an impressively massive arm.

"ID" was the only word coming from the small food intake on his lower face that doubled as speech dispenser. Hortan looked confused at him.

"But, I just came from within."

The massive head rotated slowly to face Hortan, and the small mouth moved again. "ID or you don't come in." The arm across Hortan's chest extended one finger and pointed to the "Must Be Above 21 To Enter" sign.

Sighing, Hortan provided his TGFT pilot's license, and after the brute had scanned it, he was allowed inside. 

The music felt louder than before, the mood grimmer and the air more smoke-filled. Hortan coughed involuntarily, and moved over to the table that Mor had been sitting near. In the darkness of the alcove behind, he could unfortunately almost see Waldoze and Buzz enjoying themselves with a couple of the girls, Fluffy caught somewhere in the middle. Hortan blushed immensely, he was not sure that the rubber-thing that Waldoze was blowing up with his nose while wearing it on his head, was intended for that use. Hortan got on the floor and started searching for the necklace. Nothing, well, no necklace. He found several things, at least one of which would give him nightmares he was sure, but no necklace. In despair, he got up and slumped on the chair. He felt a large hand on his shoulder from the rear.

"Whelchume back wittle buddy. Whay don'tya go fixs ush shome drinksh?" Waldoze was already immensely drunk, but apparently not enough. Hortan sighed, got up and went to the bar. He shouted the order for a couple of pitchers of margaritas, and turned to look out into the room as the barkeep mixed them. His heart stopped. Waited an unpleasantly long time, and then started beating mightily again, this time very fast. Azumi was slowly playing with a silver chain while looking directly at the bar. No, wait. She was looking directly at Hortan. His heart galloped even harder, and his fight or flight reflex went directly into FLIGHT!. It was just going to be to bad, no way was he going to get it from her. He would have to explain to Miharu that..

"EIGHTY FOUR" the barkeep shouted into his ear, distracting him from his thoughts. He shuffled a hundred credits across, and walked over to Waldoze and Buzz with the drinks. That should keep them for a while. He sat down again on his chair, and looked in the direction of...those eyes that pierced into his very soul. Azumi was looking at him intently. Something stirred inside of Hortan, he felt almost nauseous with the sensation in his stomach, and his palms started sweating. Maybe he was getting sick? 

She got up and walked slowly towards the exit while occasionally directing her gaze onto Hortan. When she was almost at the exit, Hortan got up and walked after. How could he not?

"Dozher, did you jusht shee what I djid?" Fluffy slurred.

Waldoze disengaged from Rose and looked at Fluffy. "What? Shaw what do you shay?"

"Never mind," Fluffy said, and got up on his wobbly legs. He would go and look after the little guy, and make sure that the pirate wench behaved.

Azumi turned left outside the Priggly Pear, and went into the small maintenance corridor some ten metres away. Hortan followed like a dog on a leash, his fear overcome by the strange sensation in his stomach. Azumi turned inside the corridor and waited for Hortan. Hortan walked around the corner and was startled to see her. So startled that his flight reflex came right back. He half-turned and attempted to move back, slipped in some trash and fell face first towards Azumi. She bent low in her knees and intercepted him before he hit the deck with his face, but miscalculated slightly resulting in both of them falling to the deck.

Fluffy saw Hortan legs move from standing to falling, and moved fast to help Hortan. He skidded around the corner to see Azumi sitting on the deck, with Hortan lying flat on his chest and arms, head between her knees and her dress over his head. Fluffy could not believe his own eyes, but here it was, right in front of him. Realising that Hortan did not need any help, he chuckled and turned to walk inside again. Just wait until Waldoze heard about this!

Hortan got up as if he had been stung in the butt by a hundred bees. Ms. Azumi had caught him, and thus avoided most damage, but he had still hit her knee on the way down. His right eye was going to be a large bruise tomorrow, the pain was already bad. She grabbed his hair with her left hand and moved his head away from her. She used his body mass to propel herself up, effectively, but necessarily grating Hortan's chin on her steel studded high-heeled boot. She gathered her calm and waited for Hortan to scramble up. He was a mess, small trickles of blood were surfacing on the graze, and his right eye almost closed. Azumi extended her hand and wiped a tear of blood off his chin with her finger, and then moved one step back. She got a small white lace scarf  from around her wrist and wiped the blood of his face.

"Here, take it. Now, what do you want?" Hortan accepted the scarf and held it to his chin.

"Did you take Mor's necklace?" he asked her, astounded that he actually dared ask her so directly.

"Yeah, so what of it. Is this Miharu person jealous?"

"I don't know, but I am not going to find out. I need it Ms. Azumi, please let me have it back."

She laughed, he was so refreshingly honest. 

"So, what do I get in return?" she smiled to him. He got confused again, the feeling in his stomach that had disappeared with the pain from his fall returned, and he managed to stammer.

"What, what, ehm, whatever you you arh, whatever you want Ms. Azumi."

She grabbed the necklace and held it from her hand in front of them both. "I'll figure something out," she said and dropped it into his hand. She moved in closer and put her hands behind his back. His heart beat so fast, he thought he was about to faint.

"I am sure I'll figure something out." With that, she let him go and moved towards the dock area. Hortan was left standing with the necklace in his hand, the writing "Return to Miharu Sena Kanaka" very clear. He was going to get it onto Mor before he was delivered to his home. He ran down to his Certain Death IV and started the dock procedure. He was just about to launch, when the dock fee appeared on his screen. 

"Please interface your cred stick with the station AI for payment of 275 credits."

The standard docking fee. He fumbled for his cred stick, but couldn't find it. Crap, first Mor loses his  necklace, and now Hortan had lost his cred stick. He got out of the ship and ran to The Priggly Pear again. This was getting tiresome. He had his ID out immediately for the meats outside, and was let in with no fuzz. He ran over to the table where Waldoze, Buzz and Fluffy were sitting. Fluffy looked at him and grinned.

"Hort, You, Are, The, MAN!" he yelled, and laughed loudly. Waldoze and Buzz got up and started shaking Hortan's hand, while admiring the black eye and the large skin graze. 

"Ehm, guys, I need to borrow some money for the usual expenses. I can't find my cred stick." For some reason this only made them laugh even louder, Fluffy bending over with stomach cramps. Buzz got a small stick out and handed it to Hortan.

"Just tell her to be more gentle next time, okay mate?" Hortan was thoroughly confused, and looked at Buzz who had to sit down again in order not to drop from laughing. 

"Yehm, sure," Hortan said and bolted out of the door. He was not sure that he understood the trio, but that would have to wait. He ran to the Certain Death IV, and engaged the launch sequence again. He paid the fees with the borrowed cred stick and engaged the turbo to Dau K-10. With the slightest of luck, he would be there at the same time that Surb docked the Behemoth containing Mor.

He didn't make it, and so he chose to make a turbo crash-landing. Impacting with the docking bay at 200 m/s smashed the entire front of his Atlas. Only the fact that he expertly fired the retro thrusters upon entry ensured that his EAPRS didn't fire. It helped that the ship was empty too. As it was, he completely smashed bay area fourteen, and had to exit via the emergency hatch. The dockhands were shouting for blood, but he ignored them with unusual coolness and ran as fast as he could towards Mor's apartment on the station. He dodged between a group of Ineubis merchants, ignored the shout from his usual Xang Xi trade pusher, and managed to make it all the way to the group of intoxicated snickering TGFT members that were standing outside Mor's door. He saw with horror that Ato pushed the call button, and realised that he was too late. He started pushing his mates aside, and moved up to Mor. Hearing the click of the door lock being worked over the protests of his mates, he hugged Mor, and tried to put the necklace on him. The door opened and Hortan closed the lock.

"Hello boys. I see you bring my fiancée home in one piece" Miharu's melodic voice filled the corridor, and Hortan relaxed. He made it in time. He turned and saw Miharu in a deep blue Kimono with a dash of cherry blossoms down the right side, her hair in a bun held with a single wooden stick. 

"What on Eo happened to your face Hortan?" Miharu moved forward and moved her hand to his battered face. Hortan winced and moved his head back a bit.

"It was an accident, I fell and Ms. Azumi grabbed me with her knee, and then after that I slipped and hit her boot." The silence following that particular sentence was deafening. The nano bots in the waste recycling container twelve floors below were noisy in relation. Miharu smiled at Hortan, the smile she reserved for this innocent sweet very confused man.

"I am sure it was my friend, I am sure. Now, you go down and get that treated, I am sure these fine gentlemen" she indicated the TGFT members" will assist you. In the meantime, I'll put my fiancée to bed. Come inside, darling." The TGFT members looked at each other. It may have come out as a suggestion, but in reality there was no question as to whether they would do it or not.   

Mor looked puzzled as he shuffled forward. "'Darling'? What do you mean, 'darling'?" his voice got smaller as he entered the apartment.

Miharu bowed slightly to the TGFT members as Mor passed into the room and she closed the door quietly behind him.

"So Hortan, care to elaborate on that story of yours while we walk to the medics?" John grabbed Hortan around the shoulders. 

"Sure, but we have to go past my room first. I seem to have lost my cred stick when I fell."

The laughter started up again, and they moved towards the bar area, except Hortan and John. The party wasn't finished by far. Besides, once Hortan had been treated, John would take him to the bar too, and then they would pry the story out of him for some more laughs.