Time: Two years before Hell for the Company
Verin stared at the institutional gray ceiling of his cell. Why the fuck were the ceilings always a dirty gray? Sometimes they painted the walls green or some shit to be "calming" but the ceilings? Nope. Couldn't be bothered.
It was the first time in a hell of a long time that he'd been picked up and tossed into holding for brawling. Normally, he managed to get the fuck out before the cops showed, but he'd been having too much fun smashing up the furniture. Well, troll shit. Big steaming piles of it. He'd been in here two days now, in solitary since he was dangerous, without any word on a hearing or any message from Shax.
Maybe this time Shax finally had decided to leave him to rot. Maybe it'd been too much trouble to spring him and his highness had gotten the fuck out of Dodge. Not that Verin necessarily blamed him if things had gotten messy, but it still would be a hell of a thing after all those centuries.
The hiss of the door at the end of the corridor unlocking slipped through the silence of the prison's night cycle. It wasn't followed by the tramp of prison guard boots like it should've been. That's not right. Verin got up slowly, easing around to the wall behind the door, just in case something nasty was about to pop in for a visit.
There were scraping sounds on the other side of the door and muffled, whispered curses. When the door opened, a familiar clawed hand thrust through holding out a filtration mask. "Here. Put this on."
Verin snatched the mask up and put it over his face before he asked, "What in all hell's pits have you done now, genius?"
Looking like a giant bug in his mask and goggles, Shax popped his head around the door. "I had to gas the facility, didn't I? No other way to get this far in. Honestly, barbaric place. Couldn't bribe any prison guard to get you out. Couldn't find any official willing to listen to reason. Or cash, more importantly. What kind of prison is this, that they don't know the rules?"
"How bad of a spot are we in?"
"Please. Have a little faith and follow me."
Verin grumbled, but his annoying highness really did have it well planned. He had clothes for Verin to change out of his gray prison robe and transport waiting. They dumped the filter masks down a garbage chute and strolled out of the prison intake office like they had every right to, got in the hover cart and zipped off to the berth where the Brimstone waited. Within fifteen minutes, Ivana had clearance and he was piloting the ship away from the station.
"Not bad, Shaxy." Fine. Verin was fucking glad to be out of that cell and credit where credit was due. Sometimes.
Shax heaved a tragic sigh. "I suppose thank you is too much to expect. But I'll take what I can get. I couldn't just leave you there."
"He was frantic," Ivana piped up.
"That's enough, sweetie," Shax growled. "No need to overshare." His highness leaned back in the co-pilot's chair, looking pretty damn pleased with himself for a few minutes. Then he started to frown. The frown creased his forehead. "What's that sound?"
"What sound, bonehead?"
"That beeping." Shax got up and did a slow circuit of the pilot's pod. Still frowning, he did it again. Finally, he stopped behind Verin's chair and bent down. "Ver, your ass is beeping."
"The fuck?" Verin cleared the last of the station beacons and put the ship on auto before he surged out of his chair, twisting as if he could locate whatever the hell Shax was talking about. Yeah, he heard it too, now. A persistent soft beep coming from somewhere below his left hip.
"Huh. That's different." Shax had tilted his head to listen to the beeping, which might have been funny, his snooty highness listening to someone's butt, if it'd been someone else's damn butt. "What did they do to you, Ver?"
"Fuck if I know. There was this crazy shower/med exam thing. Not sure what in all damned levels happened then."
"Ms. Ivana? Could we have a quick scan, please? Just to make sure we haven't brought, ah, explosives on board?"
The AI gave an offended sniff. "I would never let my hot little captain bring a ticking bomb onboard. That's a tracking device. Probably activated when you took Mr. Grumpy out of his cell."
"Well, fuck me with a chainsaw," Verin grumbled. Now that he was aware of it, he could feel the damn thing buzzing in his ass, a sensation that vibrated nearby bones and set his teeth on edge. "How hard's it gonna be to dig out?"
"No idea if it'll make you hard, big guy." Ivana's tone implied batting lashes. "You'll just have to come down to medical to find out."
"Sooner the better, Ver." Shax took his elbow to herd him into the corridor. "Who knows how soon they're going to recover and come after us."
Spouting steam all the way, Verin stomped down to medical and spent an uncomfortable half hour on his stomach while the auto-doc dug the tracker out of Verin's ass. Shax took it, still beeping, and tossed it out the airlock.
"Well…that was interesting," Shax said as he came back into medical. Maybe to watch Verin get dressed. Hard to tell with the little pervert. "Ms. Ivana, if we can add that to boarding scans, please? Check for trackers?"
"Will do, Captain Tight Buns."
"Just gonna have to be more careful, that's all. No more getting my ass hauled in." Verin let out a cloud of irritated smoke as he buttoned his shirt. "Worst fucking butt call ever."