Daamen stood up from his seat, already-wide eyes bulging in shock and fear. Scorch walked slowly towards him. “You betrayed us, cousin. You betrayed us all. My father’s blood is on your hands, and how many others?”
Daamen bumped into an empty seat, and he stopped and stood straight. He started laughing, or what Laurie assumed was the Maciian version of a laugh, a sort of high pitched squeal.
“You don’t get it, do you? Our whole race is built on money and greed. I just did what I had to do to get my share. I got you out of the way, removed your unambitious father, and would have taken this family to unheard of heights! We would have ruled Maciia!” He pulled a small- even for a Maciian- pistol from his belt. “But I suppose that will not happen now. The universe is a large place; I’m sure I can make my mark elsewhere.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure, cousin.” Scorch nodded to the figure crouched on the table behind Daamen. The Bartender’s long-snouted face spread into a slow grin as he looked down the barrel of his much larger pistol at the Maccian.
“Go ahead, kid. Make a move.”
Daamen’s pistol clattered to the ground and he raised his hands in surrender.
“Almost disappointing,” the Bartender said as he climbed down and grabbed Daamen. “You guys have police around here?” he growled.
Miiram stood. “They have been alerted, and will be here shortly.” He looked at Daamen, and spat. “You are a disgrace to this family.”
Daamen sighed and shook his head insolently. “Disgraced from a bunch of greedy hypocrites. How will I ever live with myself?”
“Hopefully, not for very long.” Miiram turned to Laurie. “I’m sorry you got mixed up in all this.”
“Well, I’m glad we did. It probably saved your life. He was trying to use us to get you removed from the guild. Could have ended a lot worse, though.”
“Indeed it could have.” Miiram now looked to Scorch, who stood opposite his mother, looking awkward. Ashleek stepped toward her long-lost son.
“How could you, Soolmoch?”
It dawned on Laurie that Scorch wasn’t his real name. Of course, until a day ago, she thought he was a robot.
“I had to get away. This is the life you want, that father wanted, but it’s not the life I want.”
“You could have said something. I had no idea where you were, if you were even alive.” With that, she grabbed him and hugged him close as uniformed Maciians flooded the hall, their police coming to take Daamen away. The Bartender came and stood next to Laurie, relieved of the prisoner.
“What now, boss?”
“Not sure,” she replied, watching the reunion. “I think we make ourselves scarce.”
“That’s to my liking. What about him?” He nodded at Scorch, still in his mother’s embrace.
“That’s up to him.” They waited in silence for a long minute, as mother and son conversed in low tones. “You know what,” Laurie said out of the corner of her mouth, “We never did get dinner.”
* * *
Despite Laurie’s intention to become scarce, they remained for three days. Dinner came, and merriment, at the return of the prodigal son. They gave full statements to the authorities of everything that had transpired, about Daamen’s conspiracy.
The time came for them to depart. She had said nothing to Scorch about his plans or intentions as of yet. Aashlek and Miiram walked with them to The Venutress, still perched on the landing platform.
Aashlek saved Laurie the trouble. “Are you staying home, son?”
He looked to the top of the ramp, where Laurie and the Bartender waited. “My home isn’t Maciia anymore, mother. I’m not sure it ever was. I want to travel, to see the universe.”
She nodded in understanding. “Can you at least keep in touch this time?”
He smiled. “Of course.”
Miiram spoke up. “Captain, perhaps you would be interested in working with the shipping guild?”
“I can always use a job,” she replied. “But I have a promise to keep first.”
“Well, if you can deliver something on your way, I have a job for you right now.”