"So what do you want to do?" Trishka leaned forward waiting for Grayson to get a hold of himself. Wallowing in guilt was not an attractive look for him, but she understood to some degree. Everyone and everything he'd held dear was no more and empty husks on the surface of that god forsaken planet.
Hunt leaned in and stared at his boots, they were caked with mud, plant life and stained with blood. What could he do? He was sitting in an escape pod that had limited thrust and supplies, he could try calling his limited contact list to see if anyone was still speaking to him but even if he got his feet on solid ground where would he go?
"I'm still thinkin' about that." He grumbled, he was unsure of himself and wasn't fond of it.
"Well keep thinking 'cause we've got company." Trishka peered out of the port window and squinted at the odd shape, it was a ship or maybe just a hunk of junk that had gotten flung into the atmosphere. "I think."
Grayson didn't have time to make a comment on the odd mass heading toward them at a steady clip when a voice came over the speakers.
"Well well well, what do we have here? Some stranded Confederate ass snouts." The voice was filled with glee. "You must have picked the wrong fucking for training on this shit hole if your ass is floating around here or did Serrano cut you for being a squish wad? Prepare to be collected, I got a bone to pick with you."
"This is good news." Grayson's mood improved a bit, the voice was familiar.
"What the hell are you talking about, that is grade A confederate hatred coming our way and we're not confederate." She slammed a fist on to the com button. "You hear that? We're NOT confederate!"
"Shut your holes and prepare yourselves." The reply was short and angry.
"Vy! VYOLET, I know that's you. You are a goddamn welcome sight in your shitty ass ship." Grayson leaned over shouting into the intercom, receiving a punch to the chest from Trishka, she would not have her personal space invaded more than needed.
"God you really do need a breath mint" She hissed. "Who the hell is driving that pile of junk?"
"Old junker buddy of mine. She can get us to a port and we can figure something out." With one less thing to have to figure out, maybe he could get back on his feet and pay back all the pain and loss Serrano had caused.
"She better be on good fucking terms with you and that ship better be more impressive than it looks."
"Don't worry, best junker than I know. Sold me everything I ever fired and then some." The confidence was coming back, but either way that ship was a blessing. They'd escaped the DNA bomb but would have been lost to drifting in space for a while.
The collection of the escape pod was quick and simple, the sound of feet could be heard outside and the sight of gun barrels was not a pleasant one.
"You sure you're on good terms with here, because if you ask me that looks pretty unfriendly."
"I might owe her some money but a dead man can't pay you so I figure either way we're good."
"Un-fucking-believable." She huffed.
"Here's how it's going to go, we're going to pop the seal on your pod and y'all are coming out with your hands up and so help me if anyone tries anything stupid you will get shot." A shorter, very ticked looking girl was in the center of the guns trained on the pod with a gun of her own.
"Don't worry, I got this." He stood up as the pod hissed open, all barrels were on the door, hands above his head he stepped out with the biggest shit eating grin he could muster.
"Hey Vy, glad you were in the neighborhood."
"Grayson?" She squinted not believing this battered looking man to be the drunken captain of a bunch of renegades. "What the hell fuck are you doing in this sector? Hiding from Serrano after a failed attempt at his sorry ass?"
"I'd be inclined to talk about it if I wasn't about to get shot." He slowly lowered his hands.
"God damn it, false alarm everyone put your weapons away and get back to work." She waved at her small crew of misfits to stand down, a few of them grumbled about being pulled away from their work and dispersed into the halls leaving the two of them with Trishka getting out.
"I have to admit, I'm surprised you were telling the truth when you said you got this." Trishka snorted and made her way to meet the junker captain. "Trishka Novak, ex Final Echo commander."
"Vyolet Sharrif, junker and captain of this fine vessel." She guestured around herself. "Come on, less talking in a work area. I'm sure you've got stories to tell and I'm interested in hearing a story of anyone who defects from Serrano."
They were lead through a maze of halls and elevators until they came upon a small room that appeared to be the captain's quarters, it wasn't the greatest thing but it had chairs and a table.
"Sit, talk and I'll dig out the drink." Vyolet threw a few things around uncovering a crate and pulled out a large bottle and came up with a few glasses. "You do still drink or did you give that up?"
Vyolet raised an eyebrow, Gray looked more sober than he had in the short time she'd known him. Clearly there was a reason for and he was without the rest of his crew, so something big had gone down on Stygia.
"Yeah I could use it." He sighed and put his elbows on the table. He began the tale of finding Serrano and taking him down on Stygia, Rell and Oliver falling prey to the vicious inhabitants of the world, Ishi's fight with the AI and finally Ishi's last acts. Small victories dotted the long tale, Trishka chimed in on the less clear or exaggerated moments to bring him back down into a healthy orbit all with Vyolet nodding along to the very end of them using the blast to launch themselves into the atmosphere.
"Jesus, all of them gone." She took in their deaths with a long drink from her glass and poured the table another round. "And Serrano's ugly ass is still creeping around."
Dead Echo had been good customers, not only in buying things from her but whenever they raided large confederate ships excess supplies could be easily sold to her. Vyolet had no problem with screwing over the Confederate forces after they raided the medical station that she and her parents ran, claiming they were hiding terrorists. Doctors didn't see sides, they saw people in need and in the end they paid dearly for it. The only way Vyolet had survived the raid was by shoving herself into a vent and praying to whatever Gods that cared that she'd live long enough to see the fall of the Confederate.
"Yeah, we're still in the business of figuring out where to from here." Trishka drained her glass, normally she didn't drink at all but after Stygia and the revelations she was handed it was a blessing to numb feelings for a while.
"I'll assume you're in no position to pay me back then Grayson." Vyolet chuckled softly and leaned back in her chair. "Ah screw it, consider your debts paid."
He smiled, she didn't have to do this but he wasn't going to say no to that. Vyolet was trigger happy with people who owed her money, the only person who could possibly get away with this was himself but only for the fact that he went straight after Confederate forces. He started thinking about the small arsenal that she had on hand and stocked away in stashes spread across a couple different sectors, her crew was decently trained to protect cargo.
"Vy, we could use a hand here." He started facing her finally. "You've got the supplies and the crew, we could go after Serrano. Get pay back for the crew and everyone he's destroyed."
"Oh no, no, no, no." She held her hands up, clearly the booze had gone to his head already. "I'll take you and Trish to any port you want but I am not getting involved in a goose chase."
"Vy, come on after what Serrano has done to you?"
"No, you start bringing that up and I'm going to tell you what I tell every dick for brains that tries to hire me out as a mercenary." She thumped a fist on the table, her glass tipped and rolled away shattering on the floor. "I screw over Confederate forces by stealing their supplies, fucking up their supply runs and generally making life hell for them."
"Vy, you're the only one left that is in any position of power to-"
"No fuck you." She stood up and left the room in a hurry slamming the door on her way out.
"Well that was handled well captain tact." Trishka folded her arms. "What did you mean by what he did to her?"
He briefly relayed her story to Trishka and how they met, at a bar in a space port. She had gotten her hands on a few crate full of peacemaker ammo and was looking to sell. They'd gotten to talking about pricing and finally she'd asked what he was wanting with so much fire power. They'd then discovered their mutual hate for Serrano and she'd dropped the price down to something a bit more manageable and would supply them at a decent price and in turn she'd get news of Confederate supply runs for them to raid.
It had been a great working relationship, they'd meet in crappy bars to trade information and make deals. Joke about her shitty looking scavenger ship and their crazy quest to hunt down Serrano and now it seemed that the only other friend in the universe had just gotten angry at him.
"How'd she ever get into the junker business anyways?" Trishka sat back in her seat.
"Not sure, she just showed up one day with this shitty ass ship and it was full of ammo. You don't question when life hands you a case of ammo at a discounted price." He shrugged.
"Well if she'll take us to a port we can try one of the lesser patrolled ports and see if we can make some friends there." She punched his shoulder. "Time to turn on the good old asshole charm."
"That asshole charm is what made me sell him the shit in the first place." Vyolet's voice came from the doorway. "Your named clicked Trishka, I remember vaugely hearing about a Mister Novak being killed by terrorists and I remember Gray's stories about how he found out Serrano was a scum sucker."
"Yeah so what?" What was this woman playing at?
"Say I do put my arsenal to good use rather than monetary use, what's our next step?" She folded her arms, if he said 'we hunt down Serrano' it would be a no go. He'd still be stuck in that mindless chase for him that got his first crew killed.
"We follow Serrano, we learn what that asshole is up to and corner him." Grayson said firmly, it was still the same plan but he'd learned. Oh how he'd learned from Stygia, there were things he'd never unsee and lessons that would stay forever. "Then we put a bullet in his skull, end things and try to make things right."
"You got yourself a ship, a crew and guns. Now let's see you be Dead Echo again." She'd seen the decline from that original angry man to an angry drunk, this was an angry man with purpose again.
"Screw Final Echo, I'm in too." Trishka grinned "I got business with that crusty old man myself."
They were still soldiers in one way or another, they'd always have to march onwards.