Spike braced his hand on the hilt of his gun. He gritted his teeth so hard they squealed. Faye stood beside the door where they both waited, anxiously gripping their guns. Slinging the huge hydraulic ramrod over his shoulder, Jet stomped up to the warehouse door. "If they harmed one hair on her head I swear I'll use the Hammerhead's engines to grill their faces."
"Only if I leave them breathing," Spike snarled. "Lowlife scumbags."
Faye narrowed her eyes. "You know, not long ago that term applied to you."
Both Jet and Spike replied in unison, "Shut up."
Further squabbling was cut short by a series of screams from inside. Spike and Faye readied themselves as Jet lined up the rod to the weak edge of the door. He grunted and punched the trigger. In a thunderous explosion it launched the steel rod, not into but through the door, taking devastating chunks with it. One moment Jet's monolithic shadow filled the doorway. The next it was replaced by the swift figures of Spike and Faye instinctively finding cover in the dim stacks of the warehouse.
Chaos reigned. Shouting and panicked screams echoed deep in the building. The crew of the Bebop did not relax. Spike's eyes roved in the shadows searching for a sign. Machinery buzzed and whirred. He took the lead with Faye falling in behind his shoulder. Jet joined them in line after reloading the rod. In their grim conga line they progressed through the dusty corridors drawn to the distant light spilling through the cracked windowpane.
Spike kicked the door open and brandished his gun meant for business. In a prolonged moment of shock the muzzle slowly fell to the floor even as Faye's jaw slackened. Jet broke the team's silence over the ruckus inside the room. "What the –"
Taveon, Roy, Dingus and Jax huddled in the corner of the room trapped by worker drones baring down on them wielding rusted implements of sharp varieties. Meanwhile, Ed sat crosslegged on a cabinet with a remote grasped in her hands watching through her goggles as Ein grinned madly from her lap. The high pitched screams hadn't been Ed at all.
"Uhhh, Ed?" Spike scratched his head. "What the hell is going on here?"
"Neeeeeooooorrrr!" She pressed the control and gave a toothy grin. "We're playing a game of tag, and the bad bad men are about to be it."
In the middle of the floor, well out of the boy's reach, lay Taveon's gun. But by the panic in his eyes it was beyond obvious that he wasn't even considering anything besides keeping the sharp blades from his neck.
"Hehehe!" Ed chuckled. "Which one to tag first?"
"Help us!" they babbled. "Please!"
Jet lowered the ramrod and smirked. "Alright, Ed, hold up a second. Is there a reason you're turning them into pincushions? I thought you were friends with Taveon."
"I was." She paused on the remote. "Least Ed thought she was. Then Taveon tried to tie Ed up and hurt Ein. Not friends anymore. Now he's just shredded creep!"
Spike scowled and entered the room, approaching the cowering Taveon. "After all this? I told you I'd get you out of the gang situation and then you pull a dim-witted move? I should let her finish dealing with you."
Clasping his hands, Taveon shook his head. "Don't let her! Get me out of this! Please!"
"Tsh. And you thought you were prepared for life in a gang. Can't even face down a hacker."
Ed wriggled with glee. "Weeee! Hehehe! Edward can take care of herself and the bad bad men."
The machines pressed forward, dangerously close to the cornered tugs. They yelped as the blades left little room to breathe.
Spike rubbed his chin. "This was a real piss-poor move, Taveon."
"I didn't have a choice!"
"Sure you did. Stay on the ship and wait for me to deal with this. But no, instead you had to jeopardize my family … " He paused on the word that slipped out before shaking his head. "Edward and Ein are my teammates. Now you have to give me one helluva reason not to let her finish her game with you."
Taveon's voice rose higher. "I mean it! I didn't have a choice!"
Spike clicked his tongue. "Right, because your brother's life is at stake."
A loud bang echoed through the warehouse. Lights flooded on everywhere. Above them on a walkway dozens of men surrounded them armed to the teeth. A broad-shouldered man in a brimmed hat frowned, folding his arms across his chest. Taveon stared up, terror on his face. His mouth flapped open and shut before he squeaked out, "I tried! Listen to me, I had a plan!"
"A plan? Really?" The man inclined his chin. "Was it to be pinned to the wall by assembly drones?"
Spike watched, gripping his gun a bit tighter. His instincts screamed to be wary of this one.
"No." Taveon jerked upright evading the blades holding him at bay. "I brought the girl here to hold as captive. I was going to use her as leverage to make those losers bring Derik to us."
"Losers?" Spike stiffened and glared at Taveon. He lifted a hand and gestured to Ed who joyously boxed in the four thugs more snugly.
Taveon ducked into his own hands. "Stop! Please! Someone help!"
No one moved. The man only leaned back and offered a grim smile. "Help you? But you are not even a Boss. They owe no allegiance. And those fools who were assigned to help you have done nothing but fail to corner the prey. I see no cause to lift a finger."
Torn, Spike lingered there. The boy truly landed himself in hot water. But given the threat to Ed he now felt less inclined to free the boy from his fate. Regardless of a brother's threatened life, there still needed to be some sense in one's head to be a viable course for rehabbing. His plight might be dire, but Taveon had hardly followed Spike's strict instructions.
Still—he was just a stupid. hot-headed kid. Spike knew at that age he'd been just as foolish. Inch by inch, he committed his gun toward the man hoping that Faye and Jet followed suit.
Tavoen threw his head back. "I need more time! Give me another chance, Pasquale!"
Spike froze, his gun shook in his hand as he stared up at the face below the hat's brim. An older version of Taveon stared vehemently back.
See you, Space Cowboy!