PART XMature



The Sylph was both alluring and sly, but she feared for the worst. The awful dread that an alien had discovered her darkest secret and remained breathing was beyond detestable to her. She could not tolerate the idea for long. Sandret guessed, though it was as accurate as undisputable truth, that the incident involving the late captain she murdered had come back to haunt her.

She was unaware of the vigilante's motives. She ponderously contemplated upon the idea that he was some undercover ranger; this thought irked her, but unknown to Sandret, though Blu had ties to the past as a soldier, he pursued the elusive Sylph as nothing more than an Earthian on a pilgrimage in the name of justice.

The thought tormented her treacherously so. She decided to shield herself under the care of a private investor, surrounding herself with despicable wretches she trusted would protect their money-making, information gathering 'Cherry Blossom.' Her power and influence was a pure wonder; every desire was still within reach, despite all of the dead-end investigations. In fact, no real consequence followed the horrific discovery at the Candy Shoppe, yet suspicions of the vigilante's return loomed heavily in her mind, spoiling her otherwise carefree living.

The murderous prostitute had been successfully tracked down, and Blu came close to claiming his bounty, had it not been for the intervention of her large-horned, brick-muscled Anupaman bodyguard. Blu's rouse was ruined; his access to the Candy Shoppe was revoked; his prey retreated, but the warm trail of Cherry Blossom was not entirely lost.

Rumors and gossip circulated around the brothel like a network of susurrating cells, then visitors began to accumulate knowledge. The walls of the Candy Shoppe were well fortified from within, but even they could not prevent the leaking of information; certain details were fabricated myths, others were exaggerated facts, but all of them were small pieces to the puzzle of Sadnret's whereabouts.

Blu understood the dangers he must undertake to terminate the treacherous villain, yet he determined to chase the bounty willingly; he was not devoted to the task because of some hidden sense of honor, but he dared to expose himself to the hazards of peril, like a martyr offering himself to be an exemplary sacrifice, selflessly shedding his blood for the atonement of past terrors that poisoned his present dreams.

To ascertain any information, one must be willing to submit an inquiry, and certain questions, or leverage, yield a desired answer. The Earthian was familiar with this formula, but saying and doing are often two opposing realities. He had to gather the information gradually, and often the petty details he received were extracted by the means of violent aggression.

It was difficult to persuade several of the aliens he crossed to comply, but one by one they completed the puzzle with their separate pieces of knowledge. Kondorr was a former client of Cherry Blossom's, and the first to betray the wretched whore. He was ready to tell his secret the moment the last of his bodyguards met their demise under the bite of Blu's katana; a fate that Kondorr himself had the displeasure of experiencing, after revealing the name of his boss, Hijukto.

This particular alien was a pimp who frequented the lowly prostitutes of Plebe, for the sake of assuring that each one was efficiently performing their 'civil duties.' If his findings were dissatisfactory, he would guiltlessly break one of their extremities or appendages with his own hands, then work them twice as hard. He derived a twisted pleasure in hurting his prostitutes, and of course his pugnacious visits were always free of charge, thus his demise was greeted without remorse. The miscreant's body was discovered days after his death; most of his anatomy was sliced into segments like pucks of meat. Hijukto gave up the identity of his cousin after a third finger was cut from him, but Blu's sword hacked and cleaved apathetically until the pimp was cut into a heap of bloody shreds.

The deceased pimp's named cousin, Iraj, was a rotten and sadistic alien who trafficked kidnapped children and abducted waifs; these poor souls were treated like mere toys, that is, if toys are meant to be chewed on ravenously and then spit out when they are no longer of use. Often they were bound with tight tethers of rusty wire, leashed and choked like mistreated pets. It will do them great justice not to mention any further the suffering that was inflicted, or the innocence that was lost, but revenge was indeed served to the revolting pedophile. After his secret was cruelly extracted by means of the worst kinds of torture, ancient and horrific, he was hanged without mercy; the baby blue scarf was the rope, and Iraj's death was by means of agonizing asphyxiation.

Another learned identity yielded another gruesome death, but at length Blu discovered the residence of Sandret's hideaway; the last wicked villain to divulge information was a real estate mogul, and genuine sleaze-ball. He owned the penthouse that protected his murderous accomplice. His death was gradual as well, though an investigation later determined that he was a victim of accidental drowning; he was found floating lifeless within the confines of his own indoor pool, body pumped full of illegal substances, all eight eyes nearly bursting from their sockets.

The Earthian was unrelenting in his pursuits, and seldom did he delay the demise of his foes. He hastened to the property, the entire time he wondered how many more victims the deceptive Sandret had the pleasure of seducing and skinning.

In truth, Sandret's collection of death had staggered when she was discovered by Blu that dreadful evening at the Candy Shoppe, but the teasing addiction of her lethal vice could not be ignored for long. It was like an overly persistent itch waiting to be scratched.

Once Blu had arrived at the penthouse, he stealthily approached the building. He quietly sidled along the outer wall, like a mouse avoiding detection, then he infiltrated the property noiselessly in search of his bounty. Blu traversed from corridor to corridor, from room to room, yet every chamber he peered into was occupied by Sandret's bodyguards. The elusive murderer was nowhere to be found.

Just as he was about to abandon his search, cursing the idea that he was given false information or that he had possibly arrived too late, the vigilante ascended an almost over-looked staircase which lead to the only chamber that remained unexplored. He noticed that the entryway was well secured by a pair of watchful bodyguards. Then his attention turned toward the door. It bore an impressively artistic design of a winged serpent swallowing its own tail while being worshiped by whipped and wailing slaves; judging by the muffle of loud music blaring within the room, Blu perceived he had finally reached the lair of the deadly Sylph.

While he busied himself expertly dispatching the deviant's bodyguards at the entryway, Sendret was delighting in one of her sensually horrid sessions. She had invited a particular alien into the master bedchamber, then she secretively drugged him with one of her special sedatives; it was mixed into a glass of bittersweet Rubeon wine, happily imbibed by the unaware recipient.

Ogdan's arms instantly grew heavy, heavier than usual, and fell; his legs failed to comply to the desperate demands of motion; his entire anatomy gradually became languid, and his limp extremities were unable to respond. It was he who willingly drank with the charismatic Cherry Blossom, but the dread of betrayal expressed itself upon his face as soon as the tranquilizer seized his retreating strength.

A sly smile curled the corners of Sandret's lips, and she pulled a chalice of untainted wine away from her mouth, licking her darkly painted lips. "That's right Oggy," she said with a sinister tone, which mingled with her naturally enticing voice, "that's right, ease into the bed. Nice and slow, now. You know, I was curious how long it would take to affect such an athletic specimen as yourself."

She casually placed her chalice upon a nightstand, and the alluring temptress crossed over to her most loyal and obedient bodyguard. She loured lustfully. "I'm sure you are wondering why you're still able to see and hear me, or why you can't sit up, but you should be more concerned with the fact that you can still feel. And trust me, you will feel everything." Sandret mounted the bed that Ogdan was sprawled upon, then she straddled the unmoving Anupaman. The sight of her, legs spread and back arched smoothly, would easily rouse interest in any unsuspecting mind.

"How was I? The best you ever had? That's what they all say," she whispered playfully into his ear, "but they're right. I am the best." The tresses of her silky hair draped over Ogdan's snout as she rounded her toned shoulders, and the alluring aroma of the mistress polluted his sense of smell. She ran her tongue wetly along his chiseled cheek, like a wolf lapping up a savory taste of its prey, then locked eyes with him.

"Lately I have been questioning your loyalty, Ogdan. It seems to me that you're having a troublesome time forgetting a certain night at the Candy Shoppe; an evening which I will see buried." If Ogdan's expression could have shifted, a look of worry would have passed over his brow. Sandret added playfully, "before I kill you, let me clue you in on a little secret of mine. The cowboy in black didn't murder Jance that night - it was I, your beloved Cherry Blossom. I murdered Jance!"

The frustration and fury boiling inside Ogdan after the revelation was intense, but he remained helplessly subdued under the voluptuous prostitute. Without any means of defense, all he could do was lay still and be completely subjected to the Sylph's every whim.

She firmly pressed her hips against the body of her victim, then she began to work herself into an moistened arousal. "Yes, it was I! I! I killed them all, and I fucking loved it! If only I could begin to explain to you how it feels, Oggy. A bath of blood; sweet, sweet blood! The ecstasy of being showered in life force, the elation of being baptized with vitality, it's incredible, it's beyond words. The source of longevity and infinite beauty can be found in such a paradise." As she continued to grind against him, a strap from her lacy lingerie slipped off of the curve of its respective shoulder while she thrust her hips. One of her supple breasts became partially exposed. Sandret lifted her hand as if to fix the strap back into place, but instead she sensually groped her breast, releasing a soft moan that could melt a brightly burning star.

"It's been too long, Oggy. I need to feel that pleasure again - I must! Every client, every session, every fuck; I pretend to enjoy them all. I fake every sigh, and feign every scream. Even you, my love. Yes, yes, I faked it with you as well. Did you seriously think that was a real orgasm? You weren't the worst I've had, but don't you despair. You will soon have the honor of pleasing me, fully!"

She extended the reach of her free appendage along the bed sheets. It slithered like a serpent and began to roam blindly under a velvety pillow, then it was returned to sight. Sandret grasped the handle of a carving knife, and she casually caressed the Anupaman with its tantalizingly sharp tip. Ogdan's sexual encounter was already concluded in that moment, but for her, the real stimulation had just commenced.

"You know," she said, still sensually thrusting, "the only thing more thrilling than the last cut is the first. I get so excited while I ponder where I should start. I had a rather overbearing distaste for Jance, so I began with his genitals." The point of the blade halted over the lower portions of Ogdan, and though he was lacking the ability to animate himself, an inner sense of overwhelming fright flooded his naked body, as beads of perspiration surfaced on his skin.

"Jance was a selfish asshole. He always wanted his fill, but never cared for mine. Of course, he was a premature ejaculator as well, and never really had an ounce of testicular fortitude," the last words were emphasized with a slight prick from the knife, and a bead of blood surfaced upon his groin. "But you are different, Oggy. You always did what you were told; you faithfully protected me without question; you served me well, hoping for the opportunity to touch me with your grubby hands; you were quick to compliment, and treated me the fairest of them all. Let me be clear - you loved me."

It was an undeniable truth that Ogdan bore a passionate admiration for Cherry Blossom, but he was in love with the fictitious character, and not the atrocious actress that portrayed her. He would have given ten years of his life for a single kiss from the celestial Sylph who worked at the brothel, yet this emotion was fleeting from him every moment he remained languid and helpless, pinned under the voluptuous Sandret.

The blade was drawn away from the Anupaman, and Sandret playfully waved it around before his sight once again, enjoying the agonizing torment she was inflicting. "Your devotion is appreciated, that's why I permitted you to have your way with me," then she paused and continued to excite her own personal arousal, allowing the other lacy strap to glide over her shoulder and entirely expose her torso.

She began to caress the tip of the knife along the middle of her chest, gently gliding it between her supple breasts, leaving no trace of scratch or cut. "It must be maddening, having all of this happen before your very eyes and not possessing the strength to partake in my self-satisfaction. Worry not love, this will all be over very soon. I have decided that it will be fitting to give you a quick death, so I'm going to carve out your heart," and as she alluded to her dreaded intention, Sandret halted the blade from its movements against her flesh. She gingerly tapped the tip of the knife against one of her perked nipples. "Yes, it will be quick, I assure you. That is to say, I will hasten your demise after I peel away your rough exterior..."

The real ecstasy commenced for the fiendish Sylph. She began to cut her bodyguard lightly along his toned chest. She gleefully giggled as a trace of scarlet appeared. The blade lacerated him lightly, then Sandret lifted the knife to her lips, touching her tongue to, and dragging her tongue along the darkened blood that stained the weapon. "This is the thrill," she moaned with elation, "this is the taste. Sweet blood, preserve my beauty!"

Her countenance was more vivacious than ever, and her free hand slid down her tantalizing physique until resting between her moistened thighs. She reddened with a blush of sensuality, then she began to gratify her lustful urges on top of the limp Anupaman, plunging her fingers into a warm wetness. After a moment of heightening her titillation, in which she quivered with raw excitement, she raised the weapon high above her head. The metal of the knife glimmered in the dim lights of the bedchamber, and she cried aloud with an expression of pure mania combined with absolute erotic delight, "I stole your heart with my charm, now I shall steal it with this knife. Good-bye, love!"

The doors leading into the bedchamber burst open just as the Sylph readied to skin her next victim. Blu's silhouette stood defiantly at the entryway, his cold expression was concealed under the shadow of his black hat, and his unseen eyes were trained upon Sandret. At his feet were the corpses of two former door guards. The music was cued to perfection, and its rhythm flawlessly matched the intensity of this unpredicted turn of affairs. Blu's sword was saturated with the fluids of the cadavers he had felled, and he gripped the hilt of his katana with a firmness that derived its might from the memory of Ogdan's locomotive punch.

He crossed the room, gradually approaching the bed, methodically observing the strange and sexual scene that was on the verge of concluding with another ghastly death. Luscious as the sight of Sandret was, Blu maintained his consistently cool demeanor, and his movements were mechanical.

Sandret was beyond startled by this sudden intrusion, and a great terror overwhelmed her. The breadth of her beauty faded once her gaze fixed upon the familiar Earthian, and she knitted her brow into an expression of immeasurable hatred. The hideous hellion revealed her truest self once more, yet her repulsion doubled when she shrieked a solitary word in her bewilderment.

"You," was her initial response, but she spoke with a tone so fiery that flames would have spewed past her lips, if Sandret had been born a basilisk. Her countenance reflected the deepest disgust for Blu's unexpected interruption. 

"I reckon this is your last party, Miss Blossom. Time to-"

Although the Sylph was initially surprised, she reacted to the intrusion rather swiftly, lunging toward a disheveled pile of clothing that rested on some cushioned furniture. Among the apparel was Ogdan's belongings, and the sidearm he kept holstered to his hip remained attached to his belt. Blu's statement ceased once she quickly drew the weapon and fired at him; there was an immediate thundering from the barrel, and a bright flash briefly illuminated the bedchamber.

The bullet penetrated its target with effortless ease, and the pain of the ammunition piercing through Blu rendered him immobile. His gait paused, then his sword escaped his grasp, falling to the ground beside him, but the first shot was only a prelude; a symphony of stinging bullets followed the initial attack. Blu sprang for cover behind some expensive furnishings of the bedchamber, and splinters of the objects littered the floor as they became shredded by the baleful shots.

Sandret was no soldier, but she was acquainted with practicing precision with a pistol. Her accuracy with the sidearm was quite remarkable; Blu suffered multiple wounds from the barrage of bullets, and a profuse amount of his blood was accumulating upon the floor, soaking into a rather expensive rug.

She exhausted all of the ammunition within the weapon, then it repetitiously clicked with the noise of emptiness. Sandret hurried back to the pile of clothing, desperately groping Ogdan's pants for more bullets. Her search proved fruitful, and her hands grabbed at the chilled metal rounds, but they became scattered amid the chamber in an instant; Blu braced his weakening arms around her from behind, throwing Sandret onto the bed.

He was as pale as a phantom, but the flame of determination flickered in his eyes. His body was riddled with bleeding wounds, yet he was empowered to continue his assault; the toughened muscles of his Earthian anatomy were still active, despite the overwhelming pain that afflicted him. He crossed over to the villainous Sylph, then he grappled with the fiend while she attempted to desperately wield her carving knife.

Her swings were wild, and she imitated a cornered beast lashing out violently, but Blu was more prepared for the strikes from the seductress this time. With little effort Sandret was disarmed; the blade she used to skin her victims was the last of her betrayers, abandoning her hand to that of Blu's.

She was not rendered as defenseless as the unmoving Anupaman, however. A natural survival instinct overcame her senses. The realization that her exquisite frame remained exposed to Blu prompted the actress to pretend; to stage another excellently executed performance. She struggled away from the intruder, his blood smeared upon her lingerie. She crawled to the far side of the bed. Sandret pouted her lips, then crystal tears glistened within her entrancing gaze, and they glided down her cheeks; the vision of such loveliness could compel a demon to divine compassion.

"Please, don't hurt me," her words were softly and smoothly uttered, and if they could have been touched, they would have felt like velvet. "Please. I-I know it's wrong, but I can't help myself. I just need help, that's all. Please, I'll do anything you want love, anything." Sandret whimpered, then her feigned despair wrinkled her brow, and her celestial radiance burned brighter than ever before. She was truly pouring every ounce of effort into corrupting coercion. 

It was uncertain whether or not Blu was affected by the temptations of her allure, but he slowly crawled to the other end of the bed, and a trail of his blood painted the sheets as he quietly went along. 

He gently wiped away the Sylph's tears, then he brushed a hand through her hair and lightly grabbed onto her neck. She was quivering in his grasp, though there was no apparent hostility in the hand of the Earthian; his appendage lacked any form of agression, but it still remained undetermined whether or not the cause was from blood loss, or a sudden change of heart.

They stared deeply into each other's eyes. "You would do anything for mercy?"

A hidden delight roused within Sandret's delicate and trembling figure. She detected a sliver of success, so she endeavored to resume her ruse. Deceptive were her motives; deceitful were her ploys; deadly were her designs. She nodded her head, allowing tresses of her hair to fall and cover her face. The magnitude of her beauty, if even possible, multiplied divinity with dreamlike in that moment.

"Anything, I swear it," she whispered sagaciously, "if you spare me, I will devote myself to you. I will fulfill any of your worldly pleasures. I will be your loyal servant, and do anything you want me to, anything you demand of me." When she spoke, tears trickled down and splashed upon her supple breasts, as they lightly raised and lowered from her whimpers. "You can have me, whenever you desire."

"You would renounce your evil?"


"And abstain from your obsessions?"

"Yes," she said with rising inflection.

"And open yourself to true love?"

"Yes!" The last response was moaned, and the seductive Sylph wrapped her arms around Blu, gently caressing his back, working her hands around his bleeding wounds. "We could make love at your every whim," then she bit her bottom lip, blushed, and continued in a tone of perpetual passion, "even now, if you wish. Please, let me love you. Let me open myself to you. I want to renounce my evil while you're inside of me." She puckered her mouth and readied to kiss Blu, attempting to envelope one more fly with her spidery web of death.

Her charms possessed a gravity all of there own, and the thought of embracing the temptress entered his mind. The increasingly inviting image was spoiled with the vision of using Ogdan as the mattress for such a deed. After a brief hesitation, Blu tightened his grasp on Sandret's neck, and their lips met with the force of a cannon's blast; he tasted the sugar of her sweet enchantment for the last time.

After the shared kiss, Blu wrenched Sandret away from his mouth rebelliously, and his expression bore the resemblance of an Earthian who had not been convinced or persuaded in the least.

"Your perfume cannot cover up the reek of your lies; your makeup cannot disguise your external deception; your sacred beauty and youth is only a vanity, skin deep. You know nothing of love, you will never know true love," then his words became as cold as his icy expression, as pale as his complexion, and as dark as his motive, "if you desire to bathe in blood, allow me to oblige that desire, darling."

Blu granted as much mercy toward the seductive Sylph as she had to her victims; he awarded her a final kiss of affection, then dispatched of the wretched fiend without a second thought. She screamed aloud when he yanked her head back brutally, and she struggled to free herself from the intruder, flailing about desperately, but she was beyond any hope of rescue. The carving knife, still in Blu's hand, quickly slashed Sandret's throat, then a stream of scarlet gushed from the wound, billowed onto her bosom, and soaked into the lacy lingerie.

The vigilante began to sway from side to side, and his vision blurred. He staggered off of the bed, but he had lost too much blood; Blu collapsed onto the floor beneath him with a weighty thud. All was still inside the bedchamber, once Sandret ceased to writhe around, failing to recover from the fatal wound she was ineffectually pawing at.

The sounds of the overbearing music grew dull, became faint, then disappeared entirely as all of Blu's remaining consciousness was lost.

Dark visions entered his dreams while his consciousness wavered. At times he was unsure of which reality belonged to him. He began to drift from one strange scene to the next. First he was floating, on a boat, in the middle of a vast ocean or similar body of water; it was an endless horizon mingling with sapphire colored surroundings. The scene was very tranquil. While sitting in the tiny vessel drifting out into the blank nothingness of his dream, the shadow of a figure appeared.

The Earthian peered from side to side hurriedly, and inside the boat, near his hand, was a slender harpoon. He was swift to draw the weapon close, then he awaited the unknown as the figure gradually walked closer and closer, treading upon the very surface of the ocean.

Approaching the boat, the shadow came into Blu's sight, and he studied this sudden apparition. Immediately he recognized the young alien standing before him, but the shock sent him reeling backward. He stumbled and clumsily fell out of the boat into the water. The liquid did not splash as he plunged into it, but rather parted for him, then enveloped him in a comfortable warmth.

He endeavored to swim back to the surface, and embrace the little girl he had recognized. His arms thrashed, and his legs desperately kicked, but all of his efforts proved to be in vain. No matter how hard he struggled, Blu could no longer find any surface to return to.

However, while underneath the water, he felt a strange sensation creeping around his neck. A black creature inhabiting watery depths had risen up from the void below, and it wrapped a tentacle, or some other oily appendage, around Blu's throat. Fortunately for the vigilante, he was still clutching onto the harpoon, and with a mighty thrust, the creature retreated back into the deep. After the ordeal, he continued his pointless struggle to swim in the direction he guessed was upward.

Then he could have sworn he was instantaneously transported to another strange dream; he was riding upon the back of a long-horned Earthian rhinoceros in a circus, but Blu determined that he was still very much asleep, or dying, because he had never previously done such a thing. He decided to close his eyes, embracing the thought of seeing the little girl once more.

Blu awoke several hours later, but his mind was in a fog, thick and dense. He attempted to regain his sight. His eyes adjusted to his surroundings, once the initial blindness passed, and he gazed upon a multitude of bright lights hanging over him. His body felt stiffened, like a corpse, which reminded him of the affairs at the penthouse. He endeavored to raise from whatever furniture he was laid upon, but he yielded to the pain he was suffering.

"Lie still," a feminine voice demanded, "or I'll have Ogdan hold you down for me."

"That's right. I'll do it, too," said another voice, sounding more gruff than the first.

Blu percieved the unmistakable feeling of an alien stab him with a needlepoint object, injecting something into his arm. "Where am I?" Blu could only muster a feeble voice, raspy from dehydration.

The feminine voice said charmingly, "the den of Lolli Pop, yours truly." 

He concentrated his focus, and the outline of an attractive alien sudden appeared; the recollection for this prostitute recurred after she lowered her face mask, playfully winking at Blu.

"But to be more precise," she added, "you are at the Candy Shoppe. Ogdan brought you here, to answer your next question." She lifted the mask over her face, then offered a bottle of lukewarm water.

The feel of the fluid coursing through his veins was pure delight. His senses returned to him after a few minutes. "You have me wrong, darling. I don't necessarily care how I came to arrive here, but there is one last concern on my mind...where's my scarf?"

"I have your gear." The deep voice of the Anupaman addressed Blu from one side of the chamber, and Ogdan revealed his presence. He stood next to Lolli Pop, holding the samurai sword and baby blue garment in his hands.

"What's with the sudden hospitality, horn-head?" Blu inquired, wincing from the sting of two more syringes. 

"Does it have to be mentioned? You saved me back there! That crazy bitch was going to kill me, and would have too, if not for you. It was only right to return the favor." Once Ogdan strayed into the light, enough for Blu to survey him, he showcased the compensation for the vigilante's unwavering heroics; his appendages were covered in medical wraps and bandages, much like Blu's.

He smile smugly. "I reckon your friends didn't take my leave very well, did they?"

"Those damned pricks were no friends of mine. Can you believe that they all knew Cherry was going to kill me? Those bastards!"

"When we had our first introduction, I warned you about Miss Blossom." Blu reproached the Anupaman, but his statement irked Ogdan.

"It's because of your advice that I involved myself!" As much as Ogdan desired to refuse the fact, he was entwined within Cherry Blossom's web long before the Earthian's intervention. "I volunteered to personally watch over her, day or night, and she accepted the offer willingly. I wanted to keep her close, and to discover the truth for myself. Your words conceived suspicions in my mind the night we met. I decided to confront her about the strange disappearances, but Cherry had a way with words, and if she was well versed in speech, consider her to have been fluent in body language. I was convinced beyond reason that you were the culprit; the killer of Jance." Then he added, "still, I never could let it go. She hated that fact, so she invited to me to one of her little 'play dates.' Lucky me..."

"That clears up the question of why you were in the bedroom, but how did you escape, and manage to do so while carrying me?"

"Well," Ogdan replied casually, "the remaining bodyguards assumed we were all dead, but I could still see and hear everything. You would not believe how frustrating it was; wanting to shout or even blink, but remaining frozen, trapped inside of a hollow shell. Slowly the tingling sensations of movement returned to my muscles. While my strength was rallying, one of the bastards openly confessed their knowledge of the betrayal. After I regained my composure, I slayed them like the worms they were, but as you can see, I received my share of abuse before I could leave. Needing to seek medical attention, I came to see Lolli Pop here, she does really good work. And since I was aware that you were still alive, I brought you with me; a detail shared only by the three of us."

Blu listened to the recounted tale, but his curiosity was not sated. He continued his investigation. "Why bring me to the Candy Shoppe, and to Lolli's den of all places?" He was bewildered by his continuous fortune, but not enthused with the idea of being operated on while occupying the same bench used as a sex table.

"That's simple enough," the prostitute responded in turn, inserting a device into Blu's flesh, attempting to extract shards of the bullets lodged deep into his muscle tissue, "I'm the medical attention that Ogdan mentioned." A loud clink rang out from a metallic dish as the device vacuumed out a fragment of ammunition.

"We've had the pleasure of meeting before, darling," Blu said while his glace fell upon her, "but I had taken you for one of the Shoppe's girls, not a medical professional. No offense."

"And you are supposed to be an entrepreneur, Mr. King. I had taken you for such, and not for a blood thirsty mongrel, no offense," she jested.

"Please, call me Blu. I'm no astronaut, nor am I a mongrel, and it would seem you are no ordinary mistress. Who are you, really?" 

"My real name is Endra, but that was in another life," she remarked sullenly. "I used to be a medical practitioner - a doctor, as you Earthian's like to name them."

Blu was baffled by this sudden revelation. "Is that so? Why would a woman of your status ever work for in place like the Candy Shoppe?"

She shrugged indifferently. "Circumstances led to my license being revoked; with mounting financial debts, and no income to pay them off, I was forced to reconsider an alternate career choice. The Candy Shoppe has been my home ever since." Endra's despondent expression revealed her inner sadness, but it did not subtract from her gorgeous appeal.

She noticed her statement weighed heavy upon the spirit of her two patients, who exchanged side-long glances of pity, so she added with a sincere smile, "it isn't all bad. Even the girls around here get hurt, from time to time. This may be a brothel; a hospital for aliens wrecked and robbed of willpower, but I've been able to heal more wounds than I could have ever imagined possible in such a place."

"Whatever your rate is, allow me the honor of doubling it, darling. I'm grateful for your services. I don't know how I can repay you for your kindness either, Ogdan."

"Do I have to repeat myself, or were you just born with a smooth brain? You saved me from being slaughtered like beast. There is no debt between us now," Ogdan replied insistently.

At length Endra diligently applied her skill until it came time to finalize her assessments, and the very last bandage was wrapped around Blu's abdomen; an abdomen covered in stitches and scars. "There we are, nice and easy now. It isn't my best work, but you kept moving around, in spite of my orders," she said reproachfully, folding her arms akimbo.

"If you ever tire of being a mistress, you should return to the field of medicine. You do wonderful work, Endra." Blu lazily rolled off of the sex bench, and stretched his aching appendages.

"The opportunity of such a dream is beyond my reach anymore," she blushed and sighed, releasing a fresh wave of sadness that drowned out the Earthian's compliment.

"I have a dream," Blu confidently replied, capturing her attention completely, "and there is a saying that comes from the planet Earth - while I breathe, I hope. There's still a chance for your aspirations, if only you believe."

Her eyes beamed brightly, became misty with appreciation, then a renewed hope was seeded into Endra's mind. Even Ogdan felt inspired by the wisdom of Blu's words.

"I don't want to be the one spoiling such a touching moment," the Anupaman said in a tone of urgency, "but you should be taking your leave, Blu. It won't be long before Cherry's corpse is found, and the only sequel to that will be revenge. Leave Plebe while you can."

"I'll need your help to do so. If you do as I say, Ogdan," Blu responded with a smug expression, "we'll be able to walk out of the front door." He turned to Endra, who was seized in a glittering daydream of continuing the practice of medicine. "You wouldn't mind parting with some of your costumes, would you darling?"

With permission, the vigilante began dressing himself in an eccentric disguise. Plumes of feather were attached to his hat; a sparkling robe, lined with glistening rhinestones, was draped over his bandaged exterior, concealing his ripped coat; velvety slippers, decorated with tinted furs, hid his bloodstained boots. Ogdan persisted with absolute conviction not to partake in the idea, but Endra's effeminate pleas eventually melted away all traces of his stubbornness. 

"Besides," she said in a soothing tone, helping the Anupaman disguise himself in an equally ridiculous fashion, "you're not supposed to be at the Candy Shoppe right now. If anyone sees you, they may become suspicious. I don't want anything bad happening to you, Ogdan. You're one of the good bouncers."

The pair of costumed aliens surveyed themselves in full length mirrors, then crossed the chamber toward the door. They bid Endra a kindhearted farewell, and quit Lolli Pop's den looking rather comically, traversing the Candy Shoppe in search of the nearest exit.

"Safe journeys, Blu," were her last words spoken to the vigilante.

"Never hold your breath, Endra," was his supplicating reply.

She was touched by Blu; not in the way other clients had groped, or fingered, or molested her, but affected by the soul of his words. A rekindled spirit emerged from her deep despair, and a silent promise spawned inside of Endra that day. She determined to dust off her old medical manuals and renew her past studies, hoping to return to the field of medicine one day. Her vow came to pass sooner then she could have hoped.

The vigilante, despite his misdeeds and offenses, was keen to keeping his word. He had a generous sum of money discreetly delivered to the prostitute, days after his departure. She desired to save up enough money to repeal the invalid status of her medical license, as well as repay her debts, and with Blu's donation she was able to leave the planet Plebe, forsaking her old life for a fresh start. Another soul was saved by Blu; their paths were intertwined by the same entangling tether of doom shared with many other poor and unfortunate souls.

Without incident Blu and Ogdan left the Candy Shoppe, appearing as no more than a couple of eccentric clients meandering through another day of wanton depravity. Their disguises proved useful; Blu's plan was met with total success. When he perceived that the peril of the adventure had concluded, he turned to the Anupaman accompanying him.

"I reckon we're no longer square, Ogdan. That's twice you've aided in my escape."

He shook his head. "It was your plan. Besides, I needed to get out of there too."

"Speaking of plans, what are yours? Certainly your employers will be dismayed to discover Cherry dead, surrounded by a pile of dead bodyguards, and you very much alive."

"There's a good market for muscle on Plebe," the Anupaman shrugged his bulging shoulders, responding indecisively. "I'll find work, somewhere."

"I've been thinking...have you ever considered the bounty business?"

Ogdan did not give any form of verbal reply, but his expression revealed the confusion spawned by such a fantasy. After a brief silence between the two, he responded, "no, I guess I've never considered it. I hear it can be a tough gig. Do you think I would be any good at it?"

"I reckon so. You said that you killed all of your former employer's guards at the penthouse, right?"

"All of them, except for one."

This comment altered Blu's expression, and it was his turn to portray confusion. He said nothing, but his look obviously stated, "well, what does that mean?"

"You probably don't remember, do you? No, you wouldn't, since you were unconscious. After you killed Cherry, saving my hide, you fainted onto the floor next to the bed, with the carving knife still in hand. When the other guards arrived, they were quick to search you. I was still sedated, barely able to move, but watched on as one of them attempted to wrench that scarf from around your neck. Even though you had passed out, you managed to lodge the knife into his throat, by some strange twitch or reflex. The rest of those bastards were about to fill you with more bullets, but I stopped them before they had the chance."

Blu listened to the Anupaman's story, then laughed at the conclusion. "You would do just fine in the business, horn-head. If what you say is true, then I will confess that I'm impressed with your ability. To be honest, any alien has what it takes to walk the path of justice. Why not give up your current occupation? Drop all of this nonsense, come with me, and be a hunter of evil. The business has its dangers, but overall it can be quite lucrative."

Ogdan was hesitant; being unfamiliar with the Earthian, as well as the principles of bounty hunting, sparked his reluctance. He deliberated for some time, and all of the while Blu awaited his response patiently.

Many Plebeans who strolled past or came near to the pair of aliens exchanged similar looks; expressions of bewilderment, bafflement, and nearly perturbed. Their judgmental stares fixed upon them, and Ogdan wondered, for only the briefest moment, what was causing this to happen. He acquired his answer when he overheard a group of passersby gawk at his queer appearance. Finally he said with a straight and serious countenance, "as long as we don't have to keep dressing like this," he pulled at his preposterous costume, "I guess I could give it try."

"If the business isn't your style, you can always try modeling. With the way Endra dressed you up, you're certainly receiving a lot of looks around here," Blu jested, motioning to the endless sea of eyes that seemed to be staring at them.

"I've always wanted to try squishing a smooth brain, making it even smoother - maybe I'll start with yours," Ogdan replied in a sour tone, shaking his fist at Blu threateningly.

Blu grinned, then laughed, and the hilarity eventually spread to the stern faced Anupaman. They departed the planet of Plebe on friendlier terms than their first encounter, and an unlikely partnership was born under the twinkling of radiant stars.

The new pair of companions shared several laughs and harrowing adventures together, as well as endured hardships of every kind, all the while engaging in the bounty hunting business, but none of these adventures are recounted in this tale. After many galactic villains were brought to justice, and a few near death ordeals were experienced, they inevitably parted ways as lifelong allies.

Meanwhile, a shooting star, distant by so many light-years, presently painted a line of glistening pearl between the dark places of the universe. His eyes blinked once, then twice, until fixating on the porthole yet again. The mists of reminiscence began to evaporate from Blu's mind.

The drifting vessel that the two vigilantes occupied continued to slowly plunge into deep space. Blu's daydream faded, then completely vanished, and he returned with melancholy to the misery of reality. His stomach growled and grumbled, unsatisfied by the minuscule portion of sustenance he had consumed, which only roused his hunger to a greater extent, rather than pacify its ravaging fury. He let out a sigh, heavy and discontent, feeling terribly famished.

"Is this really it," he thought to himself, "is this how I really die? I reckon starving to death isn't the worst way to go, but damn, sure isn't the best either."

The memories of Ogdan, though gradually sinking to the back of his mind, prompted Blu to glance over at his comrade again. He was astonished, and a little concerned, to discover that the Anupaman was no longer slumbering in the spot he had been moments ago. Suddenly, the Earthian felt two virile hands wrap around his throat, and squeeze with absolute intent to throttle.

"You greedy bastard!" Ogdan roared out, choking Blu from behind with a revitalized strength that derived its might from the maddening desire to end his own hunger. "How dare you hold out on me...I'll make you pay for that!" His eyes burned and beamed with rage while his grip on Blu's neck tightened. He seemed to be possessed by Famine itself, and his victim was at the end of his days. Ogdan could not be bargained or reasoned with; the only escape from his powerful hands was by force.

Blu's fortitude was dimishing; his sight was blurring; his strength was sapped by his own malnourishment. Every second he spent trapped within this sudden vise grip, being strangled mercilessly, was one moment nearer to his eternal expiration. It would not be long before oxygen ceased to enter his brain. He would die, or so it seemed, at the hands of his comrade just before starvation could claim his body.

Fortunately Blu kept his katana close at hand, for this exact circumstance, and reached for the weapon seconds before he fainted. He grabbed it, clutching onto its sheath, and slammed the hilt of the blade backward, poking one of the Anupaman's eyes. The pain he inflicted was enough to release him from the vice grip. His lungs coughed harshly on the sudden surge of air.

After a few strained gasps, Blu distanced himself from Ogdan, drawing his sword. "Easy now, horn-head. I'm tougher than you think."

"I don't care how tough you are - I'm going to enjoy eating every last morsel of meat off of your bones!" Tilting his horn downward, the Anupaman rushed forward, horn first.

Blu had no desire to surrender his life to the hands of an alien he considered an honorable companion, nor would he take the life of that same companion willingly. It was if he was stuck between a rock, and a hard place; the rock having a massive horn, and the hard place being the cold, indifferent depths of outer space.

The two vigilantes clashed, swinging fist over fist, locked in a battle that was sure to be their last. However, the Famine that possessed Ogdan was placed in check, and Blu found his salvation in their shared starvation. They both collapsed to the ground, panting and heaving, entirely drained of their energy.

"I guess this is it," Ogdan's voiced dragged through his mouth, in elongated and slow remarks, "this is our final moment...this is the end for us..."

"I reckon it is," Blu agreed grimly.

For a while there was nothing more to be heard than the hums of the vessel's undamaged electronic equipment. Ogdan grumbled lightly to himself, too weak to muster the strength to complain about this being his last moment, and that his big regret being that it was with Blu. After his mumbling ceased, he spoke aloud. "Now will you tell me?"

Blu was uncertain whether or not the question posed to him was more deranged babbling. "I have nothing to confess, old friend."

"Yes you do. I once asked you about your scarf, and who had given it to you. I've never witnessed an alien so sentimental toward something of so little worth, but you," he gasped momentarily, then went on, "but you, you treasure it more than your own life. Tell me, who was the woman?"

A long silence filled the atmosphere, except for the continuing hums. Ogdan wondered if Blu had already succumbed to his dreadful fate, yet the quietness was broken by a trembling voice, "her name is Jinnie, though she's no woman - she's a little girl, my little girl."

The Anupaman was hoping to sate his curiosity when he had finally withdrawn an answer from Blu, but to his utter disappointment, it only conceived greater curiousness. He understood that the time it would take to exhume any more information about Jinnie, a daughter to the alien that was painted in fifty different shades of violence, was beyond him; considering it had taken him the presence of death itself to receive the identity behind the scarf entrusted to Blu.

Ogdan closed his eyes, content with changing his last thoughts to those of some of his better days at the Candy Shoppe, and of the mistresses he had the pleasure of knowing, though he avoided any remembrances of Cherry Blossom. He quietly folded his hands over his chest, waiting for his hunger to subside forever.

Blu stared on through a porthole, choosing to reminisce on Jinnie during his final moments. He felt ashamed of himself; afraid that he had failed her, which was a fate worse than death. Tears rolled down his hardened cheeks, some trickling onto the scarf and seeping into the fabric. He eventually pulled the garment over his eyes, when the weight of his grief was too much to bare.

His eyes shut, and he began to gradually offer himself to the grim fate he could feel creeping over him.

It was at that moment, just before he passed on entirely, embracing death's chilling, albeit trecherous touch, when he felt the drifting vessel rumble. Then he heard the distinct sounds of another spacecraft attaching itself to the floating heap. The unmistakable noise of grinding of metal gears making contact with the spacecraft shrieked throughout its interior.

Blu marveled at his recurring fortune, but he was unsure if this turn of events forecasted the two being saved, or if their suffering would only be prolonged.




In the next installment, two aliens continue their struggle for survival in the vast reaches of space.



The End

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