“What did you say,” the tiny lagomorph repeated, in shock. “What did you just say.”
Blackjack cackled with dark glee. “Did they do that thing to you where they stick you inna box and play loud music at ya? Guess so.”
“It is not possible,” Cocky said. He was standing up now, although he seemed nailed in place. “I got captured. My whole squad did. We got a distress signal coming from a crater, and, and when we got there…”
“Stole yer army comm codes from you that last time. Remember? I was tryin’ to gather some support to not get kicked out of the Thirteen. But I already had a Plan-Bee. One with a sting,” Blackjack stood up himself and tossed his helmet aside. “A bit o’ generosity on your part coulda saved you, Cockwell. I guess I made you pay for that.”
“But… but the Wirmenian captured us… not the Khail… they, they just sold us… they…” Cocky babbled, barely coherent now.
“I sold the codes to the Khail, and they gave them to the Wirmenian. BAM! Win-win-win. You lose.” Blackjack got closer to the cage, and with every step, Cocky seemed to be getting more and more unhinged. “They already got a reward set for you, but you were very hard to trap, and you were surrounded by very loyal people. Bribes didn’t work. So I went to the Khail and proposed an alternate plan. I got paid handsomely for the information, and didn’t have to deal with you or your crappy army friends.”
“You…” Cocky started saying, but he couldn’t go on. His whole fur was standing on. He stood as close to the wall cage as the chain allowed it. It rattled as he shook in rage, and his breath fogged the glass.
Blackjack himself took another step forward, and the only thing standing between him and his old enemy was half an inch of unbreakable glass. He dropped his voice to a whisper.
“An’ speakin’ of healing guns, I heard the Khail have ‘em too. I’m guessin’ they used that to keep ya alive no matter what they did. App’rently they did a shoddy job on actually breaking you, but as they say, life always gives ya another ch-”
Blackjack recoiled suddenly as Cocky unexpectedly bashed his own forehead on the glass of his cage with stunning force. He should have gone down after the first hit, but he somehow kept going at it, three, four times total. Then he fell down, unconscious, only leaving behind a red smear on the glass, which had not cracked in the slightest.
The black rabbit looked at the bloodied heap on the floor of the cage. “Aw, Hell,” he muttered, and opened the first aid locker on the opposite wall. There was a single healing gun there, and he took it out. He cautiously approached the glass cage and opened it. After a moment of hesitation, he kicked Cocky in the kidneys, hard. He knew from personal experience it was impossible to fake unconsciousness through that, so he kneeled down and slightly pressed on the prisoner’s head, but it was difficult to tell if there was a fracture or not. He got up again. “Cocky, you dumb little bitch,” he mumbled, and shot the unconscious lagomorph with the healing gun, anyway. It was probably going to take Cocky a while to wake up, so Blackjack guessed something had to be done about what had happened. He couldn't hit Cocky with the healing gun for the rest of the day, so as amusing as it was playing with him, they couldn't afford Cocky hurting himself again, at least not in a fatal way. The chain could be shortened so the captive couldn’t reach the glass, but there was still the wall, and the bench, and the floor.
Blackjack scratched his head and started thinking Cocky would have to be completely restrained for the rest of the trip, or simply put under sedation. His thoughts were interrupted by Murray, his second-in-command.
“Blackjack, we… whoa. What happened in here?”
“Mark went crazy,” Blackjack shook his head, pensive. “We need ta make sure he doesn’t kill himself. Load a canister of Big Sleep on the cage chamber, prolly our best bet.”
“Right away, boss. But I think you should know, there’s a mmh. Situation going on.”
Blackjack stepped out of the cage and closed it.
“Good or bad?” Blackjack took off his blood-smeared gloves and fetched a fresh pair from one of his multiple pouches. “Get on with the canister thing, we can’t afford him waking up or we’ll lose our million.”
Murray nodded and put away the healing gun while he surveyed the boxes in the first aid locker. He finally located one and took it. “It could be real bad, boss. Well, it is already bad, but… y’ know, I don’t want to accuse anyone…”
The black rabbit frowned. “Just tell me b’fore I get on mah slapping mood, Murray.”
Murray opened the box. “Well, the men were looking at the bounty bulletins, and…”
“Not interested in any bounties until we deliver this one here. Or what? Don’t tell me his bounty was cancelled.”
“Nah, that’s still going on. But… someone put a bounty on you, Blackjack.”
“One million units if dead, two million units if alive.”
Blackjack stared at his underling, dumbfounded. Then he started roaring with laughter. “Well, whaddayaknow? Cocky’s friends got balls, alright. I’m pretty sure they don’t have the money, but it’s hilarious anyway.”
“I don’t think it’s funny, Blackjack.” Murray cut open the box with his pocket blade. “Half the galaxy is going to come after our ass. It’s too tempting, even with our reputation.”
The black rabbit chittered. “Oh man, you’re really worried, ain’t ya? Relax, man. Listen. We deliver this guy, and afterwards, we get that bounty cancelled, one way or the other.”
Murray got out one of the very heavy canisters and nodded. “Maybe we should make sure to cancel the bounty first, or we risk getting ambushed while we make the first delivery.”
Blackjack shrugged and leaned down to pick up the remaining canister himself. “Nah, no time for that. Cocky’s buyers are not bounty hunters, so I’m pretty sure they won’t even know ab-”
CLANG! The sound of the canister hitting the back of Blackjack’s skull rudely interrupted the conversation.
“Speaking of bounty hunters, Blackjack,” Murray said, cheerfully, “we have two deliveries to make.”