His location was known and it was memorized. He was hidden away on Mercury. Only a decade of life had grown up on the colony. That's where he disappeared, or rather, it was near where he disappeared.
It was there that Captain Kiln knew of a small underground town that would keep her companions for the next month. It was the only one in the colony. They would welcome them and give them a place to rest their heads as long as they needed it.
The air on the ship changed drastically after they had gathered supplies. A feeling of dread filled every room. At that point they were just waiting out their last moments together. As if it would be the last time they saw each other.
Gyllinger spent more time with the captain on the deck but he seemed less tired than before. Holie clung to Pyper every second she could. Pyper didn't seem bothered by Patch's presence as much. Raenya pretty much kept to herself as always.
Vincent watched them from the corner of any given room. He couldn't bring himself to stay in that mindset any longer. It was giving him a stomach ache. They would just be splitting up for a while, not dying.
When Raenya slid down the wall into a sitting position beside him he ignored her. She nudged him with her elbow and he ignored her still. Raenya sighed heavily. Her weight was shifted to his shoulder as she leaned against him, her head cocked to the side.
Vincent still refused to acknowledge her until he caught her staring up at him out the corner of his eye. Her lips parted just slightly and eyes fixated on him. Her pearlescent hair was held up in a messy bun with loose strands falling all over.
"What?" Vincent finally said.
Raenya closed her mouth and tilted her head. "Do you hate me?"
He was visibly taken aback by the question. "Do you care?"
"If I didn't care I wouldn't ask," she retorted.
Vincent was once again taken aback by the lack of attitude in the response.
"Do you hate me?"
"What? Why not?"
"Why do you sound disappointed?"
She frowned. "After everything I've put you through you don't hate me? I single-handedly ruined your life."
Vincent scoffed. "My life was ruined long before you came into it. And no, I'm not going to talk about it."
"I'm sorry, Vincent."
For the third time his heart nearly jumped from his chest. He put a hand over it to keep it inside but the pain from the near escape was still evident. He stared into her unblinking gaze then quickly got to his feet. "Oh no! I'm not falling for it."
Raenya made a face. "Falling for what? I'm being sincere here."
Vincent stepped back. "Raenya is blunt, yes- sincere? No. No way. Sincere is too soft a word to use for her."
Her features darkened as she stood, sending a chill up his spine. "I'm trying to make amends and you're acting like a child."
Vincent turned to run but she was faster and had him on his back with her body wrapped around him, an arm locked under his chin and her leg around his torso in seconds. "Why are you such a freaking spaz?! Gah! Why did I even bother apologizing to you? Idiot!"
"Wait, wait, wait!" Vincent fought for breath as he frantically slapped at her arm hooked under his chin.
"There's no wait!" She tightened her hold even more. "If you don't hate me then why do you always treat me like I have nothing but bad things to do to you?!"
Vincent could only gasp for breath. Tears ran from his eyes and his vision was starting to blur before Raenya released him. A good five minutes of hacking and gasping later he was back against the wall. Raenya was hugging his arm now but he didn't have the courage to pull away.
"You really haven't noticed how toxic you are?" he asked once.
"Considering before you everyone I spoke to either feared me to the point of biting off their own tongues or respected me enough to only say good things about me, no," she retorted. "I was there for so long I forgot how to interact with normal people."
"It's really scary talking to you. I never know if I'm going to say something that'll have me fearing for my life."
"I couldn't tell."
"I guess I'm used to being as honest as I want since it was only me and Yua for so many years."
Raenya snuggled up against his arm. "I really am sorry, Vinny. Even though I didn't put out the hit on you or incure the debt, I feel responsible for the way things have turned out."
Her forehead was hot against his shoulder. Sometimes he did think he hated her. For some reason all of his anger was directed towards her despite her only being the messenger.
When he thought about it like a rational person would, if she hadn't accepted the assignment some other ruthless killer would have come for him. They likely would have killed him without hesitation if he didn't agree to work for them. If anything Raenya coming for him was the best possible outcome. How could he hate her when she saved his life? Again and again.
Raenya closed her eyes just as Vincent looked at her. "There's no way I could hate you."
He let her stay like that, holding tightly onto his arm as she rested her eyes, as long as she would sit with him. Without even realizing it he had fallen back into the melancholy air of the room. It really did feel like the last time they would be together.
Mercury was in view now and those departing for the surface geared up. Holie tucked her hair away into a hat and sported trousers instead of her usual dresses and shorts. She was weighed down by a large bag, supposedly carrying everything she'd need for a month. She had given Vincent a space saving cube so he had the same packing methods.
Holie also gave his glasses an odd but very Vincent upgrade. Along with contacts that functioned the same way, she had to make a whole new frame, but she made his glasses capable of holding and projecting Yua so he wouldn't have to be without his hologram companion. She also duplicated her program and made her own male version. He held her important information and would act as the alert system in case anything happened. Since he was on the same frequency as Yua they could also share information.
Raenya simply packed lightly. Clothes and a weapon or two. Patch would have only brought himself if Holie hadn't reminded him they would be gone for longer than a few days.
Pyper squeezed Patch's shoulders tightly as he looked him squarely in his eyes through the lenses of his sunglasses.
"Ah'm entrustin' 'em to you," he said sternly. "Do whatever you have to to keep those two safe. Got it?"
Patch nodded. "I will protect them! No worries, no worries."
Pyper sighed. "Ah don't know what ah'll do if something happens to them while ah'm on the other side of the system..."
"I already know," Vincent said as he knelt down to tie his boots. "You'll die instantly."
Pyper turned around, knelt down in front of Vincent and grabbed his face firmly. "You are the one ah will hold solely responsible if anythin' does happen to them."
Vincent whined into his hand. Pyper removed his hand from his face. "Seriously, you're the most qualified for this mission and Holie looks up to you. Try not to show her anything pitiful?"
Before reaching Mercury their cruisers got a new paint job. Raenya's was no longer dark blue, but white. Gyllinger's tank was changed from the rustic green and grey to a steel grey. Pyper's from a spritely purple to a calming deep blue.
The war ship wouldn't go into Mercury's pull, Raenya was going to take them to the surface. Kiln handed Raenya the coordinates for the rendezvous.
"Please, try to be your better self while you're staying with them," she said. "They were hesitant to agree to this."
"I'm sure they were. If we slip up and Kuji finds out we're here then they would be raided. We'll try to avoid that scenario."
They gathered for the last time in front of the hanger door. Pyper hugged Holie as if he knew he would not be coming back. To everyone's surprise Raenya shared a kiss with him. Vincent shook Gyllinger's hand firmly.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what this month underground does for you," Gyllinger said.
"I can only imagine it to be like the last time, only worse because you won't be there," Vincent replied solemnly.
"Take care until we meet again."
"Don't let her work you to death."
"Again, I'll try."
The four of them squeezed into the two seater cockpit. Luckily it wouldn't be a long ride. The others watched as they flew further away toward the surface. Once they were out of sight Kiln turned the ship around.
"They will be just fine," she said in response to their solemn expressions. "We will be in contact so it isn't as if we could not speak to them."
"Looks like it's just us," Gyllinger said with a sigh.
"For a whole month," Pyper added. "This is gonna be fun."
Captain Kin shook her head as he ran from the room. I suppose I could not have asked for better company.
Once they were within sight of a landing area, Holie passed around a new device she had put together over the last few days. A pair of earnings, just added decoration for Patch. They projected an altered version of their faces over the skin- a very detailed mask and doubled as a locator. They were free to alter it however they liked by touching the areas they wanted exaggerated or diminished.
Once they landed and scurried from the ship Raenya turned on the cloaking device Vincent and Holie put their brain power together to create. They had to wear oxygen masks to trek the landscape, as they would be entering the city from outside the colony. Raenya led the way to seemingly nowhere. Hours passed in aimless walking.
"Are you sure we're going the right way?" Vincent whined. "We've been walking forever."
Raenya made a slight step to the left and Holie followed suit. Patch, however, walked right into whatever she had been avoiding.
He held his nose as he stumbled back into Vincent, knocking them both over.
"I can't believe we got stuck with these two," Holie groaned.
Raenya just shook her head and returned to the side they were on. She stared at the map, changed the image to a list then leaned forward. She leaned forward until her nose touched something and whispered something too low for the others to hear.
The ground beneath her suddenly opened and she jumped out of the way just in time to avoid a neck breaking fall. "Get up idiots and follow me closely. Watch your step."
They followed her down the stairs and as soon as Vincent was through it closed just as quickly as it opened. Vincent pat his head, checking for any undesirable hair loss. A woman approached them from the long hall with others in tow.
"Welcome, friends of the captain. We have been excitedly awaiting your arrival. Our humble little town is here to aide you however you may need it."
"Thank you," Raenya said. "We will help you and everyone else who have been subject to Kuji's thugs."
She nodded. "Come. I'll show you where you will be staying for the next month."
Holie grabbed Vincent's hand as they started to follow. He squeezed it reassuringly. "It'll be fine," he whispered.
She looked forward as they moved on into the underground town of Cassel.
A/N: And there you have it! The end of this story and the start of another.
Thank you for reading and please do tell me what you think if you want to see the true conclusion to this space adventure. I am already 12 chapters into it and I was thinking of making it at least 30-31 chapters (the length of a month) with maybe some extra after credit stuff. We'll have to see but for now thank you so much to everyone who stuck it out with me to the end and I hope you'll come back when I start their second act.