“It’s no good, Dirk! We’ve lost power to the starboard plasma jets.”
“Keep trying, Blue!” Dirk urged. “Memo to self: gotta steal a better class of warp-rider next time.”
He left Blue to repair the damage and plotted a course to the nearest wormhole for the Omega Sector. It was too many parsecs away; they wouldn’t get there in time to interrupt the Tribunal and rescue Duchess Omipalone from execution. Without the Duchess, he wouldn’t get the backing of the Infidel Forces, and without them on side, there would be no stopping the Great Boss from taking over Everything.
He punched in the coordinates again, hoping to spot a flaw in his calculations. They were down to their last beryllium crystal… but then, without the starboard plasmas, they wouldn’t need two. It would be pushing this rust bucket of a ship to it limits but…
Oh, fuck it. He sat back. What am I doing with my life? Why does it fall to me to save the bloody universe? I’m a nobody, a jumped-up car thief with a bad attitude and halitosis. Why should I care?
“Starboard plasmas back online,” Blue stood at his elbow. He even saluted, with three of his arms.
“I’m not bothered,” said Dirk. “Sit down. Have a beer.”
“But – the Duchess!”
“Let her get her own beer; she can afford it.”
“She’ll be dessicated!”
“Oh well. Can’t be helped. I’ve never liked her anyway.”
“But, Dirk! Captain!”
“Don’t Captain me. Now, sit down and have a beer. That’s an order.”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
Blue crouched over a stool and accepted a cylinder of Hongoolian bitter.
“Now,” Dirk rubbed the stubble on his chin. “How about a game of dominoes?”
“If you promise not to cheat this time.”
“How dare you! I do not cheat. I’ve never heard such insubordination –”
An incoming message flickered onto the view-screen. Amid the snow and interference Dirk and Blue could just about make out the triangular hairdo of the Duchess.
“…are you receiving me? Dirk! I have escaped from Oblongata Prime. Rendezvous with the fleet at – Dirk? Are you there?” The shadowy figure leant closer to the camera. “Are you drinking? You’d better not be drinking, young man.”
Dirk flicked a switch and the screen went blank. “Oops.”
Blue was aghast. His chins wobbled. Dirk tossed him another cylinder.
“You know,” he said, with a dismissive gesture at the view-screen and the universe beyond, “it’s best not to get involved. Other people will try to suck you in to their problems. Who needs it? Am I right? I am.”
Blue tugged at the fastening on the cylinder and peered at the golden liquid within.
“I mean, we’re all going to die anyway,” Dirk continued, “so what’s the point?”
Blue looked at the Captain, the human he had sworn to follow across the galaxies until the end of time. The man had a point. Blue raised the beer high.
“Cheers,” he said.