Mama's Pride - Part Two
"Her name is Mama's Pride," said one of the fashion-challenged creatures that greeted Alex as he ventured along the halls of the ship. "Word has it the mighty Greegan named her after his mentor Mama--not a far stretch. No. But! Word also has it that the mighty Greegan and Mama were also lovers. Mayhap still are, aye!"
Alex wandered away before any more disturbing images lashed out at his imagination.
The ship dubbed Mama's Pride went on forever. The decaying, cramped quarters of the previous ship--a ship whose name had never been mentioned aloud, if it had a name at all--was merely a shack in a post-apocalyptic world soon to be blown over by a puff of air. Mama's Pride, though, belonged to the rich and greatly influential that managed to sit back and watch Armageddon without a care or worry about their futures. Not only was the ship humongous compared to previous experience, but the crew seemed to be about twenty times as big, too.
Several circus-freak rejects crossed his meandering path. Most, if not all, offered praise to the Goddess Killer, glad to see him up and about finally. One helpful oddity even gave Alex a SoftPAD to replace the one lost on Nelson's Folly after the arrest. The oddity then explained how to access the ship's local net and call up a map.
The map now displayed on the SoftPAD updated with each step he took, leading him on a direct path to the dining hall.
His stomach roared at its lack of attention over the month-long nap as he stepped through the automatic double doors and into a sea of cooking delight. Thick with cooking beef, chicken, and steak, the overwhelming bouquet of savory, mouthwatering, real meat assaulted the atmosphere of the dining hall and nearly floored him; he reached out and grabbed the back of a chair to keep upright.
Gone were the days of canned ham and rations. Dazed, weaving in and out of tables dotted with random people Alex barely noticed, he made his way toward the wall diving the dining area with the kitchen. The closer he got to the long last land of pure bliss, the more reality faded and a primal urge to consume mass quantities of flesh took over.
Gazing through the serving wall into the kitchen behind, Alex stared mesmerized by the rows of ovens, the heaping mounds of flesh in varying degrees of preparedness. So overcome by this heavenly gift, he was ready to eat anything, even if it had to be raw.
A redheaded woman popped her head into the serving window and asked what he wanted. She repeated the question several times before it finally registered.
"Meat," Alex said, practically drooling. "Meat."
The woman narrowed her eyes, then gave a hoot and yelled into the kitchen. "It's the Goddess Killer! And he wants meat!" followed by a chorus of cheers.
That long sleep did wonders. He left a depressing world, tortured to near death and awoke in a heavenly world filled with people that loved him and lots of heart-stopping, artery-clogging meat.
Nothing could ruin this. Nothing.At.All.
The woman behind the counter reappeared out of nowhere with a plate overflowing with pork chops and hamburger patties and honking slabs of meatloaf just to start.
Her arms shot out through the window and grabbed Alex's collar, yanking him toward her. After planting a juicy, unwanted yet not unpleasant kiss on his lips, she said with a grin, "Nothing but the best for you, Goddess Killer!"
Still his day was untarnished. Not even a freakish redhead with tattoos on her tongue kissing him would destroy this newfound serenity.
He picked up his plate, resisting every urge to slam his face into the center of the dish and start chewing, and moved toward the nearly open table with a light, almost drunken step. At the empty table, he dropped his plate down on the surface and pulled out a chair--seconds away from meat-consuming heaven.
Then the world came shattering down around him.
"Franky sees Alex!" cried a voice from behind that halted Alex as his ass hung inches from the seat.
Before Alex could even cringe with the horror that was about to fall on him, thick arms wrapped around him and hauled him up over the back of the chair, spinning him madly around. He dropped his feet, the room a skewed, spinning carnival ride. And before he even had a chance to breathe, another body tackled him, this one smaller and smelling much better.
"Alex!" Bethany squealed in his ear as they both tumbled to the ground. "You're back!"
Out of the corner of his eye, up on the edge of the table somewhere far away, curved side of the plate holding his meat hostage laughed at him as he begged for an impossible earthquake to send it all tumbling down.
A month on this criminal wasteland of a rock in space would drive any Interpol agent crazy. The fact that his career faded faster than a twenty-eight year old actor's hope of starring in any more vids didn't help matters.
He knew he sat on the verge of replacement after the election incident in the Zinar system. It had League fingerprints all over it, yet his superiors told him to continue the investigation on Nelson's Folly. Fifth officer to take over tracking and capturing those involved in the Pure League, Jackson Sedrick didn't look forward to becoming the next trash hauler escort, like those before him.
He looked up from his pile of reports on scattered SoftPADs covering his desk as his secretary popped her head in. "What now?"
"Uh, got someone here that says she needs to talk to you."
"Not interested. Send her away."
"Says you're interested, despite thinking you're not. Want me to call--hey!"
His secretary stumbled away from the door as a figure in a dark cloak and matching hood--Jackson rolled his eyes at the outfit--shoved through the door and slammed it shut.
Jackson tapped behind his ear and told his secretary not to bother with security. Then he looked up at the new arrival and added, "For now. Better be good--"
The cloak and hood fell away along with Jackson's voice. "I thought you'd be dead by now."
"So did the bitch that shoved me off the stage," Kai said. "I'll get straight to the point. You want the League. I want the bitch. The bitch is with the League. I know how to get the League. Dead or alive, right?"
After a month with no leads, Jackson's lack of desire for demotion helped his listening skills expand in new and exciting ways. He motioned with a finger for her to go on.
"Give me one thing and I'll guarantee you the top Leaguers' heads within a month."
Always a catch. A deal breaker. "Well?" he said.
Kai spread her hands and smiled. "Release Xavier Black."
Slowly shaking his head, Jackson said, "Oh, sure. I'll release him. And while we're at it, why don't I just fly into a sun? Cause that's about what my life would be worth if I let that... 'man' go."
Xavier Black was arrested, quite accidentally, ten years ago when Interpol found his ship on a routine patrol. It had been adrift for days, life-support systems nearly gone, and Xavier was found on the bridge unconscious, nearly gone too. Nobody ever really found out what happened to his ship--he certainly wasn't saying. But a gift is a gift. A mass murderer by nature, Xavier had killed over ten thousand people before his capture. Most of those were by hand. He often said during the trial that his victims were nothing more than unlucky bystanders on his quest. Whatever he meant by that. He never bothered to elaborate on what this quest entailed.
Kai's forehead scrunched together as she frowned. "I can make you the most famous Interpol agent ever to live, Sedrick. I know the pressure building on you. Why are you even here still? You should be out there where it's so obvious the League has struck again. Someone else is out there, though, someone that's about to take over your job. Where's that leave you? You have one last chance here. Give me Black and I'll give you the universe."
Tempting, this offer of reprieve--even if they transferred him tomorrow, if Kai did somehow managed to follow through then the accolades would fall to him. He'd yanked off trash escort duty and given some major ranking. Releasing a man like Xavier Black, however, wasn't easy. He'd been shipped to an isolated asteroid with rations dropped in from the sky. A dozen ships held permanent patrol of that asteroid, and anyone going near it was to be destroyed on contact. Why bother, Jackson always wondered. The death penalty outlawed for all but traitors. Someone should have just arranged an accident.
"Even if I wanted to release him," Jackson said. "Which I don't. Even I don't have that kind of authority."
"You're a liar."
Jackson's face burned, nostrils flared. "Xavier Black is top level security. I can't over--"
"I knew the last Interpol agent with the League assignment. I even tried this same deal with him. I am not waiting for the next one. The League is top priority. Has been since before Black's capture. Don't feed me this 'I can't do it' cowshit! With one code you can override any order ever given if it'll lead to the destruction of the Pure League. And that order will go through, no questions asked."
"My predecessor clearly got some mileage out of you with that lie. Always wondered if you priestesses were lesbos or something. Didn't seem to be much male fraternization going on. Guess not."
Now it was Kai's turn to shade red. "It's true and you damn well know it."
"While the order is... semi-true, it's not entirely true. Anything I put on top priority goes through the committee. And they'd hang me for treason if I released Black."
"But you're order will go through and be executed. By the time the committee checks it out, Black will be long gone."
"So you want me to release the worse single killer in the history of mankind, and then get processed for hanging by the committee on what? Blind faith that you'll actually go through with destroying the League? Even I'm not that gullible."
"I told you," Kai hissed. "I have a stake in this too. That bitch working for the League nearly killed me! And that asshole with her, Sterling, destroyed my temple! I want revenge. Anyone and everyone that associates with them will die. And then they will feel the wrath of the Goddess."
Jackson gave her that. Was it enough to risk his life, though? Not normally a gambling man, sitting here at his desk and looking at this fallen priestess, her fraud exposed and her life destroyed, Jackson made a decision he'd probably regret. If this worked, he'd be so rich and powerful the scare of his lifetime would be worth it. If not, well, he was ruined and would probably end up killing himself anyway, so why not let the committee do it for him? Anything to stay away from that trash hauler.
"Fine," he said. "It'll take the committee about two months to process and execute me. You have one month. I don't want to be standing with the rope around my neck when you come running in with the Leaguers' heads in your arms. If there aren't results in one month, I'm going to hand over the entire conversation we've just had. Along with some interesting information I picked up from some people around here about a few of your former business partners."
"Don't worry," Kai said with a grin. "Nothing will stop us."
"What makes you think you can control him?"
Kai shrugged. "He's my brother."
To be continued...