Being immune to feminine wiles did not necessarily mean that Boyd’s senses were deadened from being a career assassin but that he was just not interested in companionship at this time.
No intended disrespect was meant when the Enforcer ignored the fragrance of Janette’s hair or the other relatively pleasant features which might have been concealed beneath her lab coat, but she was not his type – and even if the botanist were, the mission took precedence over his urges.
“The way that I figure it,” Boyd took back control of the conversation by grabbing Janette (whose back was actually turned to him) by the left arm with his right hand, forcing her around to face him, and then using a left arm – bent at the elbow to press her against the elevator doors before continuing, “we’ve got about ten minutes on this ride to reach wherever you plan on taking me.” He liberated his LUNC from beneath the bloodied trench coat and placed the weapon to the botanist’s temple while asking a simple question which would probably require a complex answer, “What’s your game?”
“We both know that you won’t press the trigger pad,” Janette announced with every bit of a calm tone that she could deliver. “You need the answers that I possess in order to complete whatever campaign that you happen to be a part of. That’s why you haven’t made a play to contact your superior officers. That’s why you haven’t yet eliminated me and escaped from Dio Qze.”
Gasping for breath yet gritting her teeth in spite, Janette found herself exasperated in trying to utter, “What is it that you want to know?”
“Why in the universe would you send your soldiers away in order to be alone with me?” Boyd asked. “You don’t even know my name,” he growled in addition. “What’s the troop strength that I can expect to be waiting for us on the other side of these doors?”
“Zero,” Janette said in a paining tone albeit surprisingly easily through her clenched teeth.
The ten minute timer was ticking down in Boyd’s head as he spoke softly to increase the emphasis of an assumptive threat, “Don’t…lie to me.”
Never before had the decision for Galaxy Bloc to secede away from the Space Force been any more justified than when Janette struggled against and stared into the face of its epitome – the embodiment of what it was that they had seemingly left behind. She refused to answer the intruder’s questions until, “Get off of me,” her personal space was acknowledged and respected. The botanist had not forgotten about the surveillance which caused all this and certainly had to be reminded of such invasive tactics during this moment of increasing anguish, so she began to rebel against his hold with flailing arms and wild kicks of desperation.
“Calm…down,” Boyd ordered, knowing full well that he should never have pulled out his LUNC unless he planned on using it. Again, the Enforcer was playing right into Janette’s hands, but in order for him to see things through, he had to allow his guard to be dropped, here, where she had all but conceded his escape.
And the gambit from Janette’s side was cinched with a forceful struggle, her body being wrestled to the floor on her back, and an outpouring of fabricated tears. With both of them thrown into a historically (and physically) compromising position, she sought to make this ideological struggle about her or the people of the unincorporated planets – referencing the ‘individuals’ which made up the conglomerate, at every turn. He hovered over the botanist with the weight of his lower body ensuring that she remained compliant in a stationary position on the floor, but they were each merely a facial turn away from an unexpected kiss as warm, panting breath could be felt brushing up against their respective cheeks. The tension was much more empathetic than sexual, but even she had not expected an initial spark to come about from the encounter.
Boyd and Janette immediately pushed away from one another.
He rolled over a couple of times where he stopped on his back with both the free left hand and the right hand with the LUNC seeking out his face as if to possibly rip the sordid thoughts from his mind. And she sat up and scooted away to the opposite corner of the elevator where her back hugged the aesthetic curvature and her eyes, that also needed to be kept in line, were forced to a narrow tunnel vision which went no further than her wobbly kneecaps.
After leaning over on his side, Boyd joked, “I don’t want your man, Burdlit, to get jealous.”
With a shrug and a bit of a labored smile, Janette mentioned, “That was not quite what I had in mind.” She, too, had to be careful not to lose sight of her own mission by becoming in any way attracted to the intruder who, for all intents and purposes, was still the opponent.
“Come on,” Boyd urged, “level with me. What’s the deal with the deal with the Carriveaua and the Deew anyway? You’re trying not to believe me, but I’m sure that a part of you knows that I really do want to help.”
“It’s a part of you that I’m hoping to leverage,” Janette admitted openly.
Not surprised because they had almost fallen into an impromptu tryst in the middle of the elevator floor, Boyd questioned, “To what ends,” in earnest. To get the information which he ultimately sought, the Enforcer needed to remain open-minded here and allow his target to guide his thought processes.
The answer would come in the form of a clarification, so Janette stated, “It’s all about the means: A means to provide for ourselves. A means of self-sufficiency. Your Space Force is choking off our supply chain, scaring away potential avenues for trade relief, and bleeding us dry of options. The citizens of Galaxy Bloc are starving.”
“That’s kinda the point,” Boyd replied honestly – not meaning to sound cold in its delivery. “If we were soft on that, the lesson wouldn’t be hard.”
“And that’s fair,” Janette realized. “The unincorporated planets left the auspices of the Space Force, and you made that decision (to leave) be as painful as possible. With the gall of our own selfish pride being used against us rather than empowering our actions, it now complicates and exacerbates matters – making things infinitesimally worse.
We soon became desperate in seeking out other alternatives to preserving our galactic sovereignty. Faction-building isn’t easy, and as is often the case with Human nature, Humans can tend to be herded down the path of least resistance like the sheep that many of us profess to be when subordinating ourselves to Ethereal standards.”
Chiming in, Boyd picked up on a piece that he wanted to point out, “You have to see the irony of this.”
With a nod, Janette acknowledged, “Oh, I do. Galaxy Bloc left the Space Force when the going got tough, and now, when faced with a similar stream of hardships, we’re struggling to keep the unincorporated planets intact. True, this was brought upon by your faction not playing nicely with nor respecting our decision to leave, but that’s all beside the point currently. At least we knew where you stood. We were fools to believe that other factions wouldn’t be capable of doing the same (amount) if not more damage to us in a predatory sense.
Things really hit home when the Carriveaua so graciously decided to assist us after we came into an astonishment of knowledge concerning the Deew which was powering Dio Qze in absence of the standard variety, star-based core. I’ve considered your offer of tracking the perpetrators back to them for the placement of culpability and eventual retribution, and although it’s obvious to me who the culprits are, it isn’t my greatest concern.”
“Holding Galaxy Bloc together is?” Boyd deduced.
“Correct,” Janette confirmed. “Would you subordinate yourself to the Pillorian Regime in this coming darkest hour that the New Alliance plans to bring upon the Space Force?”
Boyd took a moment to sit up. He looked Janette in the eyes and answered, “No, but we would ask the Slorgs for help. You’ve gotta do what’s best for your people at this point. I can have a spacestation outside of the planet’s orbit in an hour…”
Janette shook her head in disagreement, “No.”
“…We can round up Burdlit,” Boyd continued, “get him to talk, link the Carriveaua to Dio Qze’s realtor, and take them all down. Let me help you. This is what I do!”
“I’m surprised that you’re giving me a choice in the matter,” Janette said. “No. The answer’s no. If you are really giving me a choice, the answer needs to be no.”
Pleading, Boyd urged, “Janette, come on.”
Unflinching from her decision, Janette repeated, “The answer must be no.”
“Then tell me why,” Boyd humored the position.
“Because the Carriveaua might’ve beset us with a bushel of lemons via these Deews,” Janette alerted, “but we’re about to make flowing rivers of lemonade from them.”