Captain Nyram had been occupying his work desk for most of the morning, and his exhaustion was more than its usual magnitude; the reason being was that the soldier's ordinary measure of labor had nearly tripled, because his fellow rangers employed at the Claims Office were on assignment, and the dutiful captain remained alone at his electronic console. He was surrounded by the constant and droll hums of the empty machines that neighbored his own, and his hunger gnawed and groaned at him, which only whittled away his patience, so he determined to take an unscheduled break, hoping to return to his work with a less agitated stomach.

Before leaving the office, the soldier followed the standard security procedures which were drilled into his mind from the copious amount of training he had received during his career as a ranger. With caution he secured his machine, locking the electronic console using his routinely systematic methods.

It is not unusual for military personnel to be neat and orderly, and Captain Nyram was no exception. His picture frames were perfectly sleek and polished; the papers and field manuals upon his work desk were organized with upmost precision; his boots were always glossy and shining with a gleam that measured, above all things, his sole pride of his appearance. He made absolute guarantee that the office, as well as his uniform, was tucked and tidy.

As he quitted his office, the ranger's boots squeaked with every step of his gait, which was being caused by his well polished footwear meeting the frequently waxed floor of the space station, though this sound was commonly heard. The military outpost on Seir's moon is considered 'top heavy,' and the base retains an abundance of high ranking officers, all of them equally diligent in the upkeep of their uniform, including and especially their boots.

Captain Nyram traversed toward the Chow Hall, which was the location where soldiers gathered for their scheduled food consumption. This particular ranger was originally from the planet Anupama, and the dark haired alien resembled the final composite of a heavyset humanoid and fattened swine mixture. The offspring of the planet Anupama are considered to boast an outlandish tolerance for eating beyond one's own threshold, and again the captain was no exception. His physique was corpulent, and his obesity was quiet noticeable; a trademark distinction of his home planet among his species of Anupamans, though his conscription to the military reduced the sizable potential of his weighty figure.

The ranger's movements were sluggish at a normal pace, and he showed no signs of expeditiousness as he traveled toward his destination. He saluted when it was deemed appropriate, but the gesture was seldom given; the route in which the captain had been walking took him on a roundabout path, and he dawdled as long as he could in the near empty and unused hallways. From time to time, the soldier would pretend that his attention was engrossed in an important task, and he would feign his inability to engage in other forms of busy work and preoccupation, but this was only when his assistance was adamantly requested.

During his gradual voyage to the Chow Hall, Captain Nyram decided to visit the Communications Office and converse with a particular sergeant in hopes to delay the return to his desk, as well as procrastinate the heavy work load that awaited him. Many of the soldiers occupying the military outpost consider their fellow rangers as comrades, and friendships are formed from the continuous exposure of a complacent work environment. The captain was well acquainted with one of the employees of that office, and he determined to briefly speak with Sergeant Buiu, attempting to prolong his period of repose.

The Anupman halted for moment outside the office, then he pressed a few buttons upon the electronic keypad attached to the entryway, and the doors of the chamber opened.

"Are you in here, Sergeant Buiu?"

"Well, well, if it isn't my good pal Captain Nyram. How is it you managed to find the time to relieve yourself from your duties? I heard Captain Muuwen and Major Déluth are on assignment. I'll wager the Commander is working you hard today."

"I'm tied to the whipping post! But for now I'm taking a breather. I needed some grub to help me concentrate on my work." The captain's round stomach rumbled and grumbled, as if to question why he had not yet arrived at the dining facility yet.

"That's all well, then. What about that Earthian, Gilliam Rook? I just authorized his landing," Sergeant Buiu said this with rictus of repulsion and a slight grimace in his tone, "and he is here for another claim."

The office was briefly silent; Captain Nyram surveyed his friend, suspicious that he may be trying to joke with him, or rile him up in some fashion, or perhaps desiring to be irksome. He remained quiet, then once he had perceived the seriousness in his fellow ranger's demeanor, his spirits became abject.

"Just my luck," he sighed as he glared at Sergeant Buiu. His glum tone was followed by dissatisfied complaining, "and here I was hoping to get a little work done. I'm drowning in documents and claims, like a stone dropped into Okea Saltoon's depths - the last thing I need is that talkative Earthian wasting my time with idle chat. The first time our paths crossed, he was interrogating me like one of those Private Investigators; question after question, inquiry after inquiry. It was grueling, that can be said! But now I'm aware of the forecast of this afternoon, and it's dark skies for me. What bad timing!"

In truth, Captain Nyram never harbored any negative feelings toward Gilliam, but the day was already unfavorable in the eyes of the ranger, and he dreaded the return to his office even more so. To his mind, this ill turn of events seemed to have multiplied his work load by the measurement of the diameter of Seir's moon, which is quite a bit when actually measured.

"I have some worse news for you, pal. He sounded like he was in one of his friendlier moods," the sergeant remarked, feeling a pang of sympathy for the captain, "really talkative. He would have blabbed my ear off if I let him. I'm glad I'm not in your boots today."

The pair of soldiers briefly exchanged gossip and casual conversation after a while, but their spirits were soured by their shared distaste of the Earthian at that moment, so they hurried with their good-byes and quickly parted ways.

Captain Nyram neared the Chow Hall, and soon after he arrived at his previous destination; the aroma of cooked and deliciously smelling food filled the atmosphere, and the lingering scent roused even the lowest of spirits. Once he had entered the dining facility, the ranger had instantaneously begun to feel elated, and the thought of Gilliam and his prior preoccupations haunted him no more. His mind was in the moment, and the captain observed the myriad of portion options available to him, through the use of computerized touch screens. The choices varied; many of them were catered to the strange and bizarre tastes of innumerable alien appetites.

Anupamans possess fortuitous digestive systems, and it is rumored that they are able to eat just about anything. Many of the prepared meals would have sustained the captain, yet he deliberated for a short while before ordering a triple plate of slog; an undecipherable mixture of several different foods, blended together with unknown ingredients and artificial flavors to create an addicting appeal, yet the questionable result is considered to be unreasonably unhealthy.

With the surface of his tray upholding the slimy mountain of slog upon his plate, Captain Nyram lumbered over to an unoccupied table and took his seat. He prepared himself for a hardy feast as he draped a blanket of napkins over his uniform, then he slouched over the tray and began to fiendishly devour his meal; he was not gradual or shy about his motions, and his lack of etiquette was quite cringe-worthy.

The ranger appeared barbaric and unsettling when he ate, gorging on the slog with utter delight. A sloppy mess smattered against the table and the covering of napkins as the Anupaman filled his bulging stomach in an uncouth manner. Every time he shoveled a mouthful of the food into his widely gaping orifice, he groaned out sounds of pleasure that were mixed with boorish oinks.

"Oh! look everyone, it's Captain Nyram! How are you, sir?"

Three youthful looking soldiers approached the captain, but they maintained a safe distance and sat close enough to converse with him, yet far enough away to avoid the sloppy mess, which is sprinkling in every direction. Two of the rangers were completely astonished by the image of the officer nearly inhaling the slog with little effort, but a third was all too familiar with the detestable sight.

"Busy," the officer grunted when he addressed the group of privates, continuing to heap piles of his meal into his mouth without pause.

"If you keep eating that garbage, Seir is going to gain another moon!" One of the privates blurted out, and the group of youthful soldiers snickered at the jest.

"Har, har. You all forget that I am a captain, and at any moment I could make your lives a nightmare - especially you, private!" he retorted, and a stern expression surfaced upon his face, then the officer commenced devotedly devouring the slog once again.

A brief silence followed his comment, then after a moment one of the youthful soldiers repeated in a mimicking tone, "Yeah, private," and the small company was again roused with hilarity.

There was no seriousness in the exchange of banter between the rangers, and Captain Nyram did not take the obvious joke to heart. In many circles, even within the organization of the military, it is widely accepted to tease one another while engaged in conversation, and the action is considered to be a form of approval or endearment. The officer simply progressed with his feasting, while the young soldiers spoke of several different instances and memories of past training exercises, all of which were seemingly uninteresting to the captain.

Suddenly, just as one of the privates was recounting an exaggerated experience to his comrades, the tale reaching its apex, a surprise startled the entire space station when a screaming alarm rang out over the intercom system. After their initial flinch the group of youthful soldiers immediately reacted to the crying siren. They swiftly sprang from their seats, then they departed with urgency from the Chow Hall toward the armory without looking back at the table.

Captain Nyram's response to the natural jolt that followed the piercing alarm was near disastrous; he began to noisily choke on the last lump of slog that became wedged within his gullet, which is a circumstance of eating too fast, then being frightened with no signs of warning.

After a short struggle, which included wildly animated gestures, the Anupaman was able to swallow the remnants of his meal, and with an audible gulp he quickly regained his composure. He cleared his uniform of the slimy and used napkins, then he hastened toward the Claims Office; his gait was still sluggish in comparison to all of the other soldiers at that moment, and the fact that his stomach was full of slog did not add to his expedition.

Frantic rangers were busily hustling about the military outpost, and the continuing siren urged promptness and diligence, though it was causing tensions to rise in every soldier. The captain trudged along the corridors of the space station, and at first his spurts of slow jogs were interrupted by prolonged walks and slothful shuffles, then he was alerted to the deception of Gilliam Rook; the ascertaining of the information boosted his velocity, and with a rejuvenated haste the captain hustled toward his office.

He huffed and he puffed, perspiration drenching his uniform, yet without incident Captain Nyram neared the corridor in which the Claims Office was located. His boots were squeaking and creaking under his weight, and he maintained a lagging pace, but then his course was intercepted by Sergeant Buiu who had a determined expression in his eyes.

"There you are! Can you believe that friendly prick is actually a fucking criminal? If what I heard is true, he probably has a hefty price tag on his head. The base is on lockdown, and he has yet to be captured, so that means the Earthian is probably holed up somewhere inside your office." The sergeant was hinting at a possibly lucrative idea, yet the blank stare and stertorous panting he received in reply indicated his need for further revelation.

"Let's cut a deal; you know that the door can only open from the outside once the alarm is activated, which means he has no where to go. He is cornered, and if we apprehend him first, before any of the other soldiers have an opportunity to, we could claim his bounty. In fact, the commander would undoubtedly award our bravery as well. Think about it! We could both use the promotion, especially you, considering the results of your last physical fitness examination..."

Once the plan was made clear, Captain Nyram conceded with the notion, and the pair of rangers quickly approached the Claims Office, both delighting in the fantasy of recognition and reward, though the captain's dreams of grandeur faded before him once he stood in front of the entryway. He hesitated for a moment, and the sergeant could sense his comrade's reluctance.

"Well then, get to it," he said hastily.

The ranger urged and prompted his friend to enter the passcode that unlocked the door of his office, but Captain Nyram remained petrified from an overwhelming fear. "I don't know about this...he is bigger than you think."

"The same could be said about you! Don't worry so much, it's like I said; when the door opens, all you have to do is stand there, and when he approaches you I will jump out and surprise him. It's two soldiers against one civilian; we have the clear advantage. If he puts up a fight you can always sit on him, and that should subdue the prick." Sergeant Buiu said this with extreme reassurance, positioning himself directly behind the captain before any word of protest could be proclaimed. The sergeant's figure was completely hidden by the obese physique of his fellow ranger, and he anticipated the moment that the door would open wide.

Although Captain Nyram had his doubts, he started pressing the electronic keypad of the metallic entryway, but his terrified demeanor caused his hands to tremble, and his squeamish quivering slowed his fingers. The tension of the situation escalated to extremes. Finally the door gave in once the passcode had been correctly entered, then the office became unlocked and opened; the captain indeed returned to the office with a less agitated stomach, though his unfavorable day was about to be made worse.

The bottom of the vigilante's boot was the first and only object Captain Nyram's gaze beheld, as a solid kick was delivered to the Anupaman's chubby face, which rippled the rolls of fat that inhabited his head. He bellowed out a tongue-filled, "oof!"

The force of the blow was so great that the captain toppled backward, losing all sense of consciousness. The attack struck like lightning, and Sergeant Buiu was unable to react in time; the captain's corpulent body pinned the soldier underneath its massive weight, and he lacked the strength to free himself from the burden of dense obesity. He furiously struggled for escape, mostly for want of air.

Blu exited the Claims Office and strapped to his waist was Cadet Renfield, who appeared bewildered and undeniably frightened. They glanced downward, and the sight of the position of the two rangers roused a smile upon the vigilante's face. "My apologies, Sarg`," he stated in the fictitious accent of Gilliam Rook, then he added in his usual tone, "I reckon this is our last meeting. Tell the captain I said 'hello' - once our friend here wakes up. Oh, and thank you for opening the door, couldn't have done it without you," and he politely tipped his hat to the ranger, after his remark.

The two Earthian's carefully stepped over the unconscious body. Sergeant Buiu cursed aloud, saying slanted phrases and calling the vigilante derogatory names, yet Blu and the cadet hurried down a vacant hallway without turning back.

The alarm was still clamorously sounding off, and its rings were deafening the corridors of the military outpost, so Cadet Renfield had to shout her inquiry, "where are you going? The docking bays are in the opposite direction. Aren't you going back to your ship?" She was becoming more frightened, though the measure of her terror was substantially lessened by Blu's confident expression and steadfast strides. Her fear wrinkled her brows, and uncertainty caused her pink lips to tighten and frown.

"Which way is it to the kitchen?"

Though the vigilante was burdened by the continual siren and the frame of the cadet, his pace was exceptionally swift. He had one of his arms solidly wrapped around her, and in his other hand he firmly clutched the sidearm; he was ready to encounter any soldier that might attempt to foolishly apprehend him.

The cadet was confused at the idea of visiting the Chow Hall under the current circumstances, but she perceived Blu's unwavering determination, thus she began to guide him toward the dining facility without any further interrogation.

Fortune was in his favor; while the pair of Earthians traversed the space station, the paths that they traveled did not cross with that of a single soldier. In fact, many of the rangers were ordered to guard the docking bays, and the vigilante's captivity would have been unavoidable if he had chanced returning to his spacecraft prematurely. Blu was an individual who retained details through keen attention, and he always thought of a plan of action, yet being a former ranger aided in his prediction of the strategic movements within the military outpost.

He arrived at the Chow Hall in a fraction of time that it had taken Captain Nyram to do so, and his guess was accurate; the dining facility was completely vacant. Blu passed through a set of large white doors, and a tenacious demeanor manipulated his motions. He entered the inner area of the kitchen where the portions of food were cooked for the soldiers of the space station. He began to rummage through various storage compartments, turning over pans and causing a slight ruckus until he finally grasped an object he had been thoroughly searching for; he withdrew a partially wrapped sandwich.

Cadet Renfield's expression reflected the immense stupor she was put under by this sight, and she questioned Blu with a look of utter surprise. "Are you serious?! You are being tracked down within the Office of Rangers, wanted for crimes of murder, yet you stop for a meal?" She began to desperately tug at the scarf which bound her to him, but the young woman was unable to free herself from the constraining garment; though even if she had succeeded, she still had to escape the grasp of Blu's constricting arm. "Will you please untie me already?" she pleaded.

"Sorry, I reckon I won't be untying you just yet, unless you want me to break my promise and I fight my way out of here, killing whoever I need to." His eyes flashed with a hidden ferocity following this reply, though in actuality he had no intention of harming any ranger; at least no more than was necessary.

The cadet was silenced by his remark, and Blu finished eating the sustenance to the sound of a screaming alarm echoing throughout the hallways and offices of the base. "Besides," he added after wiping away the crumbs from his lips, "you and I are both Earthians, therefore I need not express the natural rite for a condemned man to enjoy his last meal." He had no true desire to embrace the cold reality of death inside the base, but even he understood the minute probability of surviving the plan he was about to execute.

After the portion of food was consumed, Blu busied himself by working his hands under electric and gas powered ovens, stovetops, and other highly flammable cooking appliances. He used his mighty strength to break cords and expose wiring one by one. A faint hissing sound pierced through the brief seconds of silence between the booms of thundering sirens.

It is known that the core of Seir's moon is partially filled with the fumes of differing combustible gases, and though a dense accumulation of the vapor is considered dangerous, the effluvium is one of the Office of Ranger's greatest resources. It is harvested and used primarily to fuel the multitude of galactic military vehicles of the Cosmic Order, but when the vapor is controlled in an environment such as a kitchen, it also works well for cooking a multitude of meals.

These particular gases began to quickly flood the atmosphere, and a bitterness irritated the cadet's tongue and eyes. Her confidence was dwindling greatly, and her nerves soon returned to the acme of fright. "Why are you doing this? What exactly are you planning?"

"I have a chance to leave this base if I cause a distraction, though you and your comrades may be eating rations for the next few days. My apologies for any annoyance or inconvenience this may cause you, darling." Blu alluded to his idea, but his statement was laden with vagueness, and his hostage only dreaded the meaning behind his ambiguity.

Just as the pair of Earthians quitted the dining facility, the vigilante turned around and wedged a single match stick, which he withdrew from a pocket of his long coat, between the white doors. The match stick held firmly in place.

After he was satisfied with the result, he again turned around, but to his dismay he was suddenly waylaid by a company of armed soldiers. Their weapons were raised, aiming toward his direction. The leading officer shouted the order, "surrender," but Blu placed the barrel of his sidearm against Cadet Renfield's head; this action caused her to scream aloud, though it was a natural reaction to the gesture, not feigned in the least.

Blu understood that time was running out for him, and within the briefest moment the entire corridor would be potentially flooded by a flurry of alerted squads of soldiers, equally armed and ready to engage in combat. He gradually moved toward their direction; fearlessly he approached the small company of armed rangers, then he shouted aloud, "back, back away! Move, or the lady decorates the walls with her brains. This isn't a threat, it's a promise!"

The soldiers noticed that Blu was holding a fellow ranger hostage; she was the compellingly admired Cadet Renfield of all aliens, and at once the company complied to his demand, though no order was given to do so. They crept backwards while continuing to train the crosshairs of their weapons upon the criminal. The commanding officer had already begun to request reinforcements through his radio, which in all probability were already hastening to the dining facility with the unquenchable desire to apprehend Blu.

The pressure of the situation had surmounted to an immeasurable acme, and the uneasiness of the rangers had reached its limit. One of the least experienced of the group, who happened to be a low ranking private, accidently squeezed the trigger of his firearm in a moment of unbearable tension. The single round of ammunition whirled forward, grazing past the vigilante and nearly tagging the cadet, then it collided with the doors of the dining facility.

The solitary shot that was fired, which barely missed the pair of Earthians, whistled down the corridor with acute inaccuracy, yet it coincidently struck the match stick which had been wedged between the large white doors of the Chow Hall. Before any other movement could be enacted; before the low ranking private could be reprimanded for his fatal mistake by the commanding officer; before anything else, a torrent of flame and heat burst forth from the dining facility, and the hallway was engulfed instantaneously by the ferocity of a violent explosion.

Blu was struck by the blast of heat, and though he was surprised at the speed at which the momentum of the explosion slammed into him, he endeavored to shield Cadet Renfield from the harsh danger that ensued. He threw himself upon the ground, or rather he was forcibly tossed to the floor by the turbulent combustion, then with his long trench coat he selflessly covered the body of his hostage, thus protecting her from receiving any harm. He could feel the flames ravenously lick and burn his epidermis, but Blu did not flinch or wince at the pain, and once more the tapestry of scarred skin gained fresh evidence of his hazardously adventurous lifestyle.

There was fortune to be found in the circumstance of the explosion, however. Just as reinforcements had arrived to the corridor, and as the soldiers were scheming to capture the fleeing criminal, the force of the combustion sent the large white doors of the dining facility sailing forward. Blu was able to dodge the debris by falling to the floor, and in turn the doors collided with the company of soldiers who were waiting for their chance to apprehend him. All of the rangers were knocked down like a set of dominos, and many of them were completely stunned and out of their wits.

As soon as he had perceived this to be his only opportunity for escape from the situation, Blu was on his feet with unmatched swiftness, then he sprinted down the corridor like lightening, still holding the frightened cadet close to his body. With a mighty bound he leapt over the group of rattled soldiers, jumped passed the flaming doors, and as they came to their senses, the squad witnessed him disappear into the maze of hallways and offices of the military outpost, eluding capture and causing his desired distraction.

The vigilante had a vague idea of the route he needed to travel, but already more rangers were rushing toward the Chow Hall. Blu had a difficult time traversing toward the docking bays unnoticed; he would round a corner or hasten down a hallway, only to meet a group of soldiers alerted to his presence, so he would reluctantly retrace his steps, or dart down an adjacent corridor, and by this method he continued to evade his captors for the time being.

The siren, which never ceased its piercing alarm, constantly rang out, though once the dining facility became engulfed in flames, a new alert was issued over the intercom system. "Emergency! Emergency! All units be advised: the Chow Hall, as well as half of the West Wing, is currently on fire. Supporting units report to that area immediately, all remaining units continue to monitor the base until the criminal is apprehended. The Earthian has acquired a hostage - approach with extreme caution. I say again, approach with extreme caution, he has a hostage."

The soldiers were scrambling in all directions, like wasps dizzily flying about in a shaken hive, and the dismay of their situation exacerbated once they received the dreaded news of the fate of their beloved dining facility.

Cadet Renfield was overwhelmed with several different emotions. She was the most distressed of all of the rangers; she was regretting her decision to aid Blu; and most of all, she was frightened at what he might do next. He was like a loose cannon parading around a warehouse full of gunpowder.

Aside from her worries, the young woman was feeling slightly impressed, if not enamored. She noticed that no matter what new circumstance arose, Blu remained cool and collected; his heart never skipped a beat, nor did it quicken its pace. Though his brow was drenched in perspiration, she guessed it was from his physical exertion and determination to carry her about the space station. Her hunch was quite correct; the sweat on Blu's brow was from the constant sprinting down corridor after corridor, as well as feeling the direct stings of his fresh burn wounds, and had no origins in terror or concern for his fate.

At length and without any more accidents, Blu and the cadet neared the docking bay in which he had parked his spacecraft, Landing Bay Three, yet he perceived that the greatest difficulty of all lay ahead. As the pair arrived at the corridor leading to the large metallic door labeled Decontamination Chamber, the same one that separated the military outpost from Landing Bay Three, they came to a standstill.

He remained statuesque at one end of the hallway as he noticed that the door was being guarded by a group of angry and irritated looking soldiers. Their weapons were positioned at the ready as they anticipated Blu's arrival, and the squad formed a wall of intimidating resistance.

He had half a mind to double back and attempt another form of distraction, but the vigilante's concentration was broken when he heard an unwanted disturbance come from behind; a secondary squad of rangers had closed in on his location, and now Blu was trapped in the hallway. His only means to elude captivity at that moment rested on the shoulders of his hostage.

He was still gripping the sidearm he had snatched from Cadet Renfield inside the Claims Office, and mechanically he placed the barrel of the weapon against her head once again. What plan of escape could he possibly imagine during such a tense and adverse moment? His eyes flashed like wicked beams, and a devilish glow emanated from under the brim of his hat. He appeared like a cornered wolf, prepared to howl and fight for his survival.

"Stop right there," a commanding voice shouted, "there's no need for further defiance. We have you completely surrounded, let the hostage go!" The soldier that addressed Blu with an air of complete confidence was the leading commander of this particular Office of Rangers, or so his displayed rank suggested.

The Earthian did not move; petrified where his gait had altogether ceased. "If you value the lady's life, you will step aside and allow me to board my cruiser. Attempt to rescue her, and she dies. Attempt to apprehend me, and she dies. Attempt anything aside from breathing, and she dies." In hopes to add to his theatrics, the vigilante cocked the weapon and it made a sound that left all others undoubtedly uneasy, except for the base's fearless leader.

The commander drew a peculiar smile upon his lips, and he remarked with assurance, "can you pull that trigger, cowboy? I don't think so. Are you able to destroy such a beautiful Earthian? You have yet to end her, I doubt you intend to do so now." He was undeniably convinced that Blu was bluffing, and that the veil of his deception was slowly unfurling.

"I'll say it once more, if you don't-"

"Enough, seize the criminal!" The order was shouted with such throaty proclamation that the surrounding rangers took a step toward Blu's direction without hesitation, regardless of what may happen to Cadet Renfield.

At that very instant, before any other action could take place, the unpredictable happened; the blocked entryway's intercom beeped, though it wasn't the alarm that was still ringing throughout the space station, then the large metal door leading to the chamber opened wide; in the darkened room, shrouded by decontaminating mists was a mountainous silhouette, and instantly all attention was concentrated upon the enormous figure.

Standing within the Decontamination Chamber was a masculine, grey skinned alien from the planet Anupama, though he was of a different species than the unfortunate Captain Nyram, who was still knocked out cold during the entirety of this charade. This certain individual had a physique that resembled sculpted stone, his entire epidermis was hairless, and a snout protruding from his face held aloft a great ivory horn, composed of keratin, which erected upward dominantly.

To an Earthian he could easily be imagined as some form of rhinoceros-man; possessing a hulking body, temperamental disposition, and small round eyes as dark as the pitch of black holes. He was dressed in a burgundy colored tank top, which had the markings of a graffiti symbol painted in neon green; the gaudy image was a cartoon representation of resistance against authority. He was also wearing dark leather pants, and adorned a pair of muddy, oil-stained boats for footwear.

His countenance was easily perceived as irritated, and his brow was knitted inward in an irked fashion. He shouted with a tone that interrupted the entire proceeding, and all of the soldiers halted as this alien cried aloud, "how long must I wait before I can depart? And what's with all of this noise? This is more like a circus than a-"

At that moment his gaze fixed upon an all too familiar face, and his demeanor altered to bewilderment. He again locked eyes with an old friend. "Blu, is that really you? I thought that was your ugly mug I had seen earlier!"

One of the soldiers, upon witnessing the Anupaman's recognition of the wanted criminal, perceived that this alien was an accomplice, so the ranger turned his firearm toward the direction of the newcomer. If he had any sense whatsoever, or had been acquainted with this specific Anupaman, his decision may have been the opposite. Suddenly the weapon was trained upon the alien in a threatening manner.

"Get that weapon outta my face!" The stranger growled, then he grabbed the soldier's firearm with one of his mighty hands, and the other he balled into a fist, which rapidly swung at the ranger. The recipient of the strong blow stumbled backward, falling to the floor in a total daze that was followed by a blank unconsciousness.

This startling action was considered a hostile attack, and in a moment the other rangers, including the commander, were attempting to subdue two criminals instead of the singular vigilante. Those nearest to the newcomer quickly pounced upon him, crying aloud with screams that resembled those of frantic warriors.

While the Anupaman busied himself engaging the soldiers that guarded the entryway of the Decontamination Chamber, throwing punch after punch as well as rearing his horn wildly, Blu turned his attention toward the squad of rangers that were swiftly approaching from his rear. The entire force boasted a steadfast demeanor, and they were determined to apprehend the criminals no matter what, or at the very least rescue the terrified hostage. 

Blu lifted the barrel of his sidearm away from Cadet Renfield's head, to her great relief, and he aimed down the hallway, to the young woman's greater dismay. Though he had no intention of slaying any soldier at this point, he understood that his escape would not come without some form of collateral damage; thus he opened fire upon the company, and though the shots were directed at the rangers, all of the bullets landed in areas that were not lethal nor life-threatening.

His aim was keenly precise, and with a speed that rivals the sudden appearance of light, Blu squeezed the trigger until every member of the squad rushing toward him was on the floor, grasping at fresh wounds. Although this appeared horrific to the cadet, Blu was doing them each a service; undoubtedly the soldiers would eventually receive awards of bravery and heroism, which would eventually help ease the pain they were experiencing within that passing moment. As an Algemic proverb suggests: a bite from the wolf which does not kill makes for a grand tale.

The squad of soldiers were neutralized by this method, then Blu's glance turned toward the Decontamination Chamber. The Anupaman had successfully incapacitated the remaining rangers with some effort, including the once confident Commander. The opportunity of a less-than-clean getaway was presented to him, though it was made possible only by the chance of good fortune and impeccable timing of his friend.

"Well darling, looks like we are parting ways here. I reckon I'll be missing that pretty face of yours, but I have some unfinished business among the stars; it rains on the just and the unjust. Perhaps we'll meet again, under friendlier circumstances."

With a simple motion Blu withdrew the scarf from around his waist, and the garment no longer bound the cadet to his body. He passed over the pile of rangers who had fallen victim to the Anupaman's unforgiving blows, then he addressed the rhinoceros-man, "I'm much obliged, Ogdan. You sure haven't lost your touch, or rather your punch."

"Just be thankful you weren't on the receiving end this time, Blu. We should leave before more rangers arrive," Ogdan said as he surveyed the hallway behind them. 

They entered the Decontamination Chamber together, and Blu pressed a button on an electronic panel, then the large metal door began to shut. Cadet Renfield was still in much of a stupor, but her senses returned, and she swiftly stooped to the ground picking up a firearm that was dropped by one of the wounded soldiers.

As the door gradually shut, she raised the weapon, directing the barrel toward Blu. He noticed this, but his countenance was permeated with calmness, and with a friendly smirk portrayed upon his lips, he flashed a parting wink at the cadet. She briefly hesitated; her arms were shaking, her heart was booming with a ferocity that seemed to scream louder than the siren, and her temper was like that of a great fever. She was wondering why the criminal had refused to raise his own weapon in reaction to her movements.

Despite the order from the commander to shoot the criminals, she remained motionless. The connection she felt for Blu had taken its hold on her, and deep in her heart she was convinced that he was indeed some kind of valiant figure, though his actions within the military outpost treaded the lines of villainy; if only for the sake of survival. In that moment, flooded by the myriad of emotions she harbored within her, the cadet reluctantly lowered the firearm as the entryway to the chamber completely closed shut.

Once inside the Decontamination Chamber, Blu made use of the sidearm he was still holding and fired two rounds into the electronic panel that opened and closed the metal door, then he forcibly jammed the entire weapon into the aperture he created. Bright sparks flashed and flew from the hole, and a single stream of smoke emanated from it. "This will buy us a little time. Come on Ogdan, I reckon our troubles aren't over yet."

They darted down the long corridor, Blu in the lead and his accomplice obediently following from behind. All about the military outpost mayhem and calamity, coupled with the unceasing alarm, filled the maze of hallways and offices like never before.

In a short time they arrived inside Landing Bay Three, and already Blu had the makings of a plan forming in his mind. His concentration was focused on the ceiling of the docking bay at first, then his glace fell upon his cruiser. Finally he said to Ogdan with an air of determination, "start your ship up, and get ready to haul ass - I have an idea."

"I hope the idea is a good one, smooth-brain. How are we going to get outta here? They've locked all of the ships in, otherwise I would have been long gone by now."

"Let me worry about that, horn-head. Start that damn ship." Without another word exchanged between the two, Ogdan entered his spaceship and began the preparations necessary for take off while Blu crossed over to the platform upon which he had parked his cruiser.

He opened his cockpit, and from his vehicle he withdrew the dark duffle bag, his one-of-a-kind katana, and his equally remarkable pistol. He noticed that his dashboard was flashing a familiar color, perceiving that Gully had sent him the details of the bounty he had requested, but discontented he understood that he had no time to retrieve the information.

With his gear in hand and the baby blue scarf around his neck, he began to press a series of buttons on his dashboard, though he was doing so begrudgingly; it took great effort to initiate the flight sequence, solely because he was aware that he would no longer be flying this spaceship ever again. The vessel roared its engines, and gradually it began to hover off of the ground.

Blu narrowly dodged the roaring thrusters, retreated back to Ogdan's ship, which was a larger spacecraft than the cruiser that could harbor a small company of aliens, and came aboard. Once he had passed over its threshold, the door to the ship closed and latched shut. The Anupaman was seated in the pilot's chair, and he was gazing out of a porthole at the docking bay.

"I fail to see how we are going to escape. Looks like it's a steel bed and cold meals from here on out. We're going to be arrested. I can't believe it, helping you will be my downfall!"

After securing his duffle bag into a near empty compartment, Blu reassured his companion, "I said not to worry. In ten seconds, accelerate toward the stars as fast as this ship can fly. I reckon it may receive a few scratches, though." He delicately eased himself into a copilot's chair, again feeling the stings of his fresh burn wounds. He strapped himself firmly into the seat.

Ogdan was none too thrilled with Blu's reply, and he remarked by saying in a dissatisfied tone, "and I just got a new paint job, too. Bah! such a waste." He sighed as he shook his head, then after the signal of ten seconds, he pressed a button and the spacecraft lifted from the docking bay.

Suddenly, the cruiser that the Earthian had been quaintly attached to, levitated upward toward the enormous doors that imprisoned the vigilantes within Landing Bay Three, and it quickly collided with the metallic barrier. Blu witnessed his second violent explosion of the day, and a fiery combustion ripped the doors apart enough to create a sizable opening.

Ogdan was swift to launch his vessel at the moment he observed the extraordinarily hazardous event, and the spacecraft burst through the wild flames of the explosion; it rattled tumultuously and screeched against chunks of debris, like nails grinding against a chalkboard.

The spacecraft succeeded in emerging through the exploding opening, though it sustained minor damages to its exterior along the way. Instantly the countless stars of the universe were once again beheld in the eyes of Blu. He breathed easy only briefly, narrowly escaping apprehension for the time being, but his harrowing ordeal had yet to conclude.






In the next installment, Blu and Ogdan are pursued by the rangers through outer space.







The End

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