Guy waited for some time. He even lay down on the bench and shut his eyes, getting a bit of rest. He wasn’t sure how much time passed until he was woken up by a light knock, but he felt somewhat groggy. After the last two days, he probably could sleep for the next month, but he still had to bring everything to the finale. He sat up, but he didn’t immediately open the door.
“Guy? It’s me.” A voice finally spoke up after knocking a second time.
“Xara…” Guy let out a breath before standing up and unlocking the door.
The door opened a crack and Xara slipped in. She was still wearing the dress from before, but with her hair and makeup done, it made her look even more beautiful. With her pale skin, long delicate ears, and high cheekbones, she had an extremely alluring face. Guy had originally found her a bit bratty, but now he couldn’t deny just how beautiful she was.
“Guy… are you ready?”
“You came on your own?” He asked, half expecting Ferrin to be with her.
“Yes, the wedding is starting soon, so we need to move quickly,” Xara responded hastily, trying to rush Guy out of the room.
He was full of questions, but as he was rushed out of the room, he could see that the salon was nearly empty. There was only the short woman he had first seen when he arrived who was standing behind a podium. When she saw them come out, she stiffened and looked away, distinctly not looking in their direction. Yeah, what he had done earlier must have been heard. Would it spread to the wedding? Was he in danger as they spoke?
“Where’s Ferrin?” He asked Xara, trying to get his bearings straight.
“I just said. The wedding is about to start. Ferrin is where she’s supposed to be.” Xara declared.
Guy felt a pang of frustration. Was the moment they had shared earlier meaningless? Had she lied to him, and had merely planned to keep him busy while she went about doing whatever she wanted? Was there some other plan he didn’t yet know about?
It felt like he had failed. His best hadn’t been good enough, and now the wedding was going to take place anyway. Xara had done her best by delivering Ferrin on a silver platter, and in the end, he hadn’t been able to convince her to break the wedding off. Yet, Xara was still here trying to help him. He felt a bit complicated. He didn’t like owing people favors. He reached over and grabbed Xara’s shoulders, causing her eyes to widen in surprise.
“I’m sorry about everything. I messed up.” Guy apologized.
After a moment of stunned silence, she lowered her eyes. “Now, you decide to take things seriously.”
Her eyes flashed and she looked back at Guy. “I’ve arranged to have your girlfriend escape. Whether she gets the message and makes it to the rendezvous point or not depends on her!”
“She’s not my girlfriend. She’s just… well… I’m just watching out after her.”
When it came to why Guy was sticking out his neck for Harmony, there wasn’t any reason. She might have been the first alien girl he had ever seen, and Guy might have thought she was cute, but there were plenty of hot women that he wouldn’t risk his life to save. Guy hadn’t even stuck it in. At best, they had only enjoyed some rubbing, yet there were girls Guy had done far more with that he cared far less about. For all he knew, Harmony had some kind of pheromone like Ferrin that caused a guy to want to protect her or something. He’d have to ask Cerisa if there was such a thing.
“Well, either way, she’ll meet us there.” Xara’s voice sounded slightly unhappy, which left Guy a bit confused.
Perhaps she was unhappy he had failed so badly with Ferrin. It was probably better if he didn’t bring it up.
“Alright, let’s go then.”
The two left the nail and hair salon and started heading quickly in a certain direction. The entire station seemed to have quieted down substantially. There were only a few people who were still moving about with business. Everyone was either attending the wedding or made scarce. It was an event.
Guy thought he might still have to sneak around a bit, but Xara was heading forward like she knew what she was doing and he realized he wasn’t in a place to ask her. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, he was dead. To Madame Priscilla, the last place she saw him was under Ferrin’s dress. There was no saying where he went off to. By the time Mr. Dresdon and Madame Priscilla came to terms with his failure, he’d have escaped. Well, that was his hope, anyway.
They heading into a direction that might have seemed familiar. He thought that this was leading back to the dock where the ships were. They took a dozen turns, heading into a rougher area of the station similar to the one where he and Xara had gotten into trouble with the brothel. They finally ended up in a cargo bay that he was confident lead to the prison ship. He passed by her several steps before he realized she had stopped. He turned back to her with a raised eyebrow.
“This is as far as I go. Your ship is set to depart tonight.” Xara explained.
Guy frowned. “You’re… not coming with?”
Xara closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them again. “I’m sorry. I have a wedding to attend. Afterward, I’ll do my best to keep Father from searching for the ship. Just stay low. Your… companions may still sell you out. Once you’ve left though, you should be fine. Take that Cathari with you. If you leave her here, she’ll die.”
Guy hadn’t realized this was going to be a goodbye. He didn’t care for goodbyes. They were awkward. She was also looking at him like she wanted him to say something, but he had no clue what to say. As a result, the silence lingered. She finally dropped her head.
“I must go.”
She nodded, and then turned around and left. What was he supposed to do? She was the maid-of-honor. She kind of had to be at the wedding. If she didn’t show up, it would immediately cause problems. As for Guy, he had failed his mission. The Obsidian family was going to merge with the Cherbyll family.
Whatever. It never had anything to do with him in the first place. These were just four crime families whose problems never should have reached Guy’s awareness. His only goal had been to save Harmony and himself. That was it. Once the rest of the girls returned, the ship would leave and it’d be good riddance.
Guy turned away and headed back into the cargo bay. He was probably going to hit the kitchenette, grab enough food to chill for a week, and then find a cell out of the way of everyone else. However, he didn’t plan to be alone. There was still one person who had to join him. He entered the empty cargo room. All of the girls were gone. Guy had gotten the impression that they were at the wedding as well, although he couldn’t imagine why a bunch of strange prisoners would be invited to such an event.
He walked around quietly in the quiet room, and other than the light hum of the station, he felt like he could hear something else. “Harmony?”
He heard a metal clatter, and then a curse. He was able to hone in on it immediately. He walked over to the source of the sound, walking around a cargo bin to see Harmony on the ground. There was a control panel that was opened and she appeared to be fiddling with the electronics.
Guy smiled, relieved to see that she had made it. Xara had truly fulfilled her promise. He really owed her.
“What are you doing?”
“E-escaping.” She hissed, looking around in a panic.
“I’ve already secured our escape. We can just chill on the prisoner ship until they leave.” Guy gestured behind me.
“You… is that why there was a plasma cutter in my food?” Harmony looked up, her expressionless eyes showing a bit of surprise.
“Yeah…” Guy responded, feeling just a bit defensive. “I had to do a lot to ensure your freedom, I hope you know. That girl we ran into earlier? Turns out she’s Dresdon’s daughter. She’s the one who freed you.”
“Dresdon!” She nearly said the name like a curse, and then lowered her voice. “Wh-why would she do that?”
“Huh? It’s cause I asked her to. Are you coming?”
“I’m not.” She responded shortly.
“Why not?” I frowned.
“You want me to return to that prisoner ship.” She nearly spat. “To return to being a prisoner. Did you forget I’m Galactic Alliance?”
“Ah…” Guy kind of had, reached out to touch her shoulder in sympathy. “Well, I mean, we can try again somewhere else.”
“I’m not going to be a prisoner again!” She snapped, shaking off his hand. “My only option to get away is if I can get onto another ship.”
“What are you trying to do?” Guy decided not to argue with her for the moment; instead, he tried to just keep her talking.
“I’m hacking into the station’s communication relay.”
Guy frowned. “You’re trying to call the Galactic Alliance again?”
She stopped for a second, and then lowered her head. “No. I know they won’t come to save me. However, if I can find another ship, I might be able to convince them to help me escape.”
“How are you certain you won’t encounter someone who will just turn you in?”
“The Galactic Alliance uses an encrypted channel. It’s unlikely that this station would be able to keep the most up-to-date encryption standards. As long as I broadcast a signal, anyone who could hear would most certainly be an ally.”
Guy wanted to refute her words. They sounded a bit too optimistic. However, he didn’t know enough about space or signals or any of that to say anything. He was out of anything he could say. In a way, her words made sense. She had been all but abandoned on that ship and nearly died. Even if she didn’t go back in the cell, she’d be surrounded by enemies who hated her and didn’t trust her. Ultimately, her goal was still to get back into the Galactic Alliance.
As Guy thought about this, she returned to work, distinctly not looking in Guy’s direction. Once again, he felt a bit awkward. Guy should just leave. He had to make himself comfortable for his self-imposed week of exile. Harmony had her plans. Guy had a feeling those plans would just land her back in a cell though. She hadn’t done so well on her own last time. Well, Guy hadn’t either, but at least both of them were freed because of his actions. Okay, maybe it was because of a random acquaintance, but he felt like he had played some part.
He found himself back at that point where he just didn’t want to leave her. So, he stood by, saying nothing. After about five minutes of work, she finally lowered her tool and shot him a look.
“I’ll go with you.”
Harmony blinked, seeming taken aback. “You’ll, what?”
“If you’re leaving, then I’m going to make sure you succeed.” Guy declared.
For a moment, she looked a bit uncertain, but then she lifted a tool. “You can help.”
Why did she suddenly look cute and helpless at a moment like that? Guy took the tool, but he didn’t know what to do with it. So, he kneeled next to her and waited for her instruction. She immediately pointed to some paneling, and Guy realized what she needed. The bolts were too difficult for her to remove a certain panel, and she had been trying to go less conveniently.
At least that was something Guy could help her with. They worked for a bit on the communications. There was nothing else for Guy to do after opening the panel, so he kept watch while she did her thing. As the time passed, he wondered when the wedding ceremony would start. It had to be any second now. There would assuredly be celebrations after. That should give them at least a few hours to finish up. It was probably better that he had a backup plan anyways. Although Guy felt like he could trust Xara, there was no saying what would happen.
“Sig—signal received. Please identify yourself.”
“Ah… it worked!” Harmony seemed as surprised as I was to hear something.
“Harmony X0123322,” She declared.
“Checking code. Confirmed. You’re being patched through to the Galactic Alliance Cruiser Pandemonium.”
“A Galactic Alliance cruiser? Here?” Harmony asked, but instead of a response, she heard a voice that sounded a bit less robotic than the last.
“This is Commander Dirik of the Pandemonium. Harmony, a Cathari pilot, reported MIA. What are you doing on the Dresdon station?”
Harmony let out a breath of relief. “It’s a long story commander. I was captured and kidnapped. I’ve managed to escape. I’m looking for passage off the station.”
“Are you saying you are currently on the station?”
“Yes! I’m trapped here. I’ve hacked into a communication relay. They’re distracted thanks to a wedding but there is no saying how long until my presence is detected.”
“Never mind that.” The man sounded dismissive. “Are you able to get to the defense array?”
“Sir? I’m sorry, I’m a bit confused.”
“There is not much to be confused about.” They responded with a somewhat haughty voice. “Do you have a service pad?”
“Huh? Oh, yes, I do!” She quickly pulled a tool out of the kit she had lifted from somewhere in the cargo hold.
“Plug it in. I will be transmitting a map of the station and your mission.”
“A mission, sir?” Harmony asked, but she still plugged the device into several wires.
A few moments later, data started transferring to the tool.
“Why does the Galactic Alliance have so much information on the Dresdon Station?” Guy couldn’t help but ask.
“Who is that? Is your position compromised?”
“N-no! It’s an ally!” Harmony declared, looking in my direction. “A friend. They helped me escape.”
There was a moment of silence, and then the commander spoke again. “Harmony, your current situation is unknown. It wouldn’t be amiss to consider you compromised.”
“I’m not! Please…” Harmony looked like she was about to cry, showing more emotion than Guy had ever seen before. “Just give me a chance.”
“As you say. Bring down the defense array. When the time comes, you will become a hero.”
“Yes, sir.” The conversation seemed to cut out with just that.
Guy was extremely confused though. Harmony was wiping her cheeks. She seemed both happy and upset at the same time.
“I don’t understand. Bring down the defense array? I may not know much, but I’m going to guess that’s very dangerous. No, I’d even call it suicidal.”
“You don’t have to join me if you don’t want to.” She responded with a tight voice.
“What’s going on?” She looked away so I grabbed her arm. “Harmony, tell me.”
The guy in the communication relay hadn’t said anything. He just gave her a random order, and even threatened her first. It sounded like this order was a suicide mission too. What could bringing down a defense relay be?
“Isn’t it obvious?” She sighed. “The Galactic Alliance is making a move on the Dresdon Station.”
“What? For you?”
She barked a laugh. “Not likely. They probably took the wedding today to be a threat, and after calculating the risk, decided to wipe out the station and the four families. I should have guessed earlier. I tried to do a communication relay before but I got a spike and was instantly caught. It’s because they were setting up a communication block around the entire station. They timed it perfectly too.”
“Mm… and if we can bring the defense relay down, we’d make the task infinitely easier for them. That’s the kind of task that gets someone promoted.” She gave me a side glance. “Or a pardon and citizenship.”
“Are you sure?”
“We’re far from Galactic Alliance space. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Why else would there be an Alliance cruiser this far out, with a commander in charge? No… he took a risk picking up my beacon… or maybe there is already someone else on board who is a spy, and they were thinking it was them. Either way, we lucked out.”
“I see…” Guy’s face must have still looked uncertain, so she reached out and grabbed him.
“Look, the attack is coming whether you do something or not. If you do something, you can be a hero.”
“What about the prison ship?”
“It’ll be captured, they’ll all be put back in their rightful places.” She looked up at me with a serious expression. “In prison, where they belong.”
“Are you in?”
“Y-yes! I’m helping.”
She finally relaxed, letting go of my shirt. “Good then. They gave us one hour to complete it. So the attack is imminent. Stay serious. Follow after me. We might get out of this alive.”
Guy nodded, but deep down he had other thoughts. He didn’t know much about the Galactic Alliance, but from what he did know they didn’t seem all that good. The girls on that ship he owed his life to. Cerisa, in particular, had saved him. Several of the other girls like Trinity he had grown somewhat fond of. He couldn’t stop the Galactic Alliance from attacking the station. However, if he gave them enough warning and caused enough alarm, the girls might just be able to escape.
He had come intending to help Harmony, but now he realized he’d need to stop her! He owed it to them, and he also owed it to Xara.