The husk was dead. Although I saw its eyes move on the visual screen, we all knew that soon Vcorp would move in and get to work. Literally and figuratively.

The massive creature was all brain, and now it was all braindead. Our raid had gone off perfectly. Each defensive brain cell was destroyed without hesitation. Our gear protected us against the brainwaves, and the screams.

These were Gigacapidom. “The Great Heads”. Not a creative name, but that’s what they were.

Giant heads floating in space, the size of moons. Their lifespan was inconceivable, and even our scientists couldn’t figure out how they reproduce. But they were valuable. Brain cells the size of small spacecraft had plenty of uses in science and drug manufacture, especially “Sluice”.

It was humankind’s main export to all other parts of the galaxy. No one knew how we made it, and it would probably start a war if any other species knew how we got it. Gigacapidom were a step above endangered.

They were revered by most other species, but human’s revered capital.

I made good money running in there with guns, blasting neurons inside a space-gods head. I knew that a conflict was inevitable. And I was keeping my combat skills up, so I was ready.

Some of the nearby mercenaries were injecting Sluice that they had taken in the raid. We were on our way home. I allowed it in moderation, but I had to let some people go after they abused it.

A message came through from Vcorp to me, I picked up.

“Mel here.”

I never felt a need for formality with this gig.

“Mel, this is Vcorp extractor vessel 1130. Are all defensive neurons destroyed inside Gigacapidom 5? I remind you that your vitals are being read.”

“Yes. My crew went in by the book. There was…”

“A simple yes or no will suffice for future questions.”

I growled. It had no effect on the Vcorp bureaucrat.

“In your estimation how many days will it take for another ship to cross this space?”

“Yes,” I chuckled.

“Mel? I remind you that you are under contract. If you decline to answer these questions I have the power to erase said contract. Do you understand?”

I scowled, realizing that the bureaucrat could see my blood pressure spike. They knew they got to me.

“By my estimation, given that this area is a little out of the way of the Holy Balean Trade routes you have eight month cycles before the risk of detection becomes too great.”

“Thank you, Mel. Were there any casualties?”

“No.”

“Any complications?”

“No”

“Any unauthorized Sluice taken from Gigacapidom 5?”

This was new, and I had to answer truthfully.

“Yes.”

“How much?”

“About 60 doses.”

I was doubly nervous, as they were watching my heart-rate.

“Mel, I am to inform you that half of said doses will be confiscated from your vessel as it is Vcorp property and any further incursion will be met with termination of all crewmembers contracts. Is this understood?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you for your diligent work. Vcorp thanks you. Inform your crew that it will take five day cycles for their payments to reach their accounts.”

It was recited in a way that made me think it could have been a recording. It wouldn’t surprise me. I looked around at the crew.

They were animals. Drug addicts. Taking Sluice like drinking water. It was a hedonist display, and it made me ill.

Vcorp would arrive in a couple days to take half of it, and some of the men would refuse, put up a fight, claim their drugs for themselves and then get arrested.

I rose, walking past the lively bunch and sat in the cockpit. There was a small button under the dash and a pressed it. The computer asked for coordinates. I targeted the Holy Balean Trade Route.

“Fuck it,” I said to myself.

I pressed the button and a distress beacon ejected from the ship. My crew would be long gone by the time a ship would discover one of their gods being harvested for drugs.

The war was inevitable now. I watched the beacon sail away, and I didn’t know what I would do now. I couldn’t pinpoint why I sent it out, except for the feeling of contempt of Vcorp.

But it didn’t matter anymore. It had to end.

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