the Legion of Murdering an Irritatingly Power-Thirsty Pintsized Imp into a Plethora of Buttholes

Chapter one: members of the same club.

"Okay then." Said the Gary, narrowing his eyes Dramatically. "Let's save earth! No, wait…. the universe!" he said, clenching a fist in a totally raw and awesome manner.

There was a momentary pause.

"You do realise we just lightfolded through a sun, and met a giant space god, right?" said Quinn. "It's going to take, like, eighteen hours for our lightfold engines to re-charge. At least."

"Seventeen hours. Fifity…. One minuties and seventeen seconds, in fact." Added HUE, pausing mid-way to think.

"That's, that's like basically eighteen hours. It's almost exactly what she said, HUE, was that correction really warranted? Or, like, in any way necessary?" asked the Gary.

There was a pause.

"Yes." Said HUE, somewhat defensively.

"It… it really seems like it wasn't."

"It was, Gary, and the SAMES agree. If we abandon precision then we all might as well go and suck a fat one." Intoned HUE. "and that's not the game I play…. Dog."

"HUE for the last time, you can overrule the SAMES brains and control them remotely, stop using them to get a quorum to win arguments, it's a totally cheap move." Said the Gary.

This adventure takes place immediately after the crew have met the friendly titan Bolo, between episode eight and nine of our thrilling story!

"KVN…. Shut the crap up, will you?" said the Gary, pinching the bridge of his nose with his mighty robot fingers. "And stop narrating everything you do in that stupid voice: a deeper voice doesn't automatically sound more dramatic!"

I don't know what you're talking about, for this is the voice of a –

"KVN, if you don't knock that off right now I will have the SAMES weld your face-hole shut, and use you as a deep space life buoy." Said HUE. "See if I don't"

"I don't know what you're….ahem I don't know what you're talking about." Said KVN, guiltily.

"And stop referring to me as the Gary in the ships logs, it's, like, super annoying." Said Gary, Getting up from his captain's chair. "Okay so… I guess we all go take a nap and wait for the lightfold to re-charge then." he said looking around. "Up, I was kind of hoping that Nightfall would take her turn in the cooking rota, but seeing as she's gone, does anyone want to volunteer? Quinn? Noodles? Cato? Mooncake….Anyone?"

"Oh, oh I have brain goo! Pick me!" said KVN.

"Anyone at all? Other Beth, you contain food, or at least nourishing medical supplies." said Gary. "And I for one can say that drinking my own blood plasma is far, far preferable to KVN's cooking."

"I will have the SAMES rustle up some sculpted protein chilli pot luck, Gary." Said HUE. "We have, however, a bigger problem."

"Tell me about it: I mean, what do you pair with sculpted protein chilli pot luck? Is it a red wine, or a white, or, I don't know, like a light beer perhaps? Now that my sentence is technically over, do we have light beer HUE?"

"No Gary, what we have is a pressing need to get back to earth before it is destroyed."

"HUE! We're not using the e-word, we're saying the universe now, it's way, way cooler!"

"It's not that much cooler." Said Quinn.

"I don't know, I kind of like it." said Little Cato.

"Chookily!" agreed Mooncake.

"Gary, even if we lightfold all the way at maximum velocity, we will still arrive approximately four hours, seventeen minutes and …. Calculating…. Six seconds too late to save the ea… to save the universe from the rift. Huh… you are right. Saying universe is at least… calculating… forty percent cooler."

"Okay, firstly, thank you, I'm glad we're on the same page on that, and secondly, approximately six seconds? Little overkill on the math there good buddy." Said Gary.

Quinn sat down, hard, looking nauseated. "We… we don't have time to save the earth?"

"Whoa there, sister. Hold your britches, cowgirl. That is not want I said." Said HUE "I said we could not make it lightfolding at top speed. However, Nightfall left some files in my central mainframe that relate to future events. Including, the time and location of temporal worm incursions and how far backwards and forwards they will catapult us in time. I believe if we hit the worm sign at Carpatia nine in sector thirteen, and then rebound to the worm at Carpatia eight seven hours later, we will gain an additional ten to twelve hours, putting our ETA at earth… at the universe, around six hours before it's destruction. It would, also, be like totally awesome." Said HUE.

"Well that sounds-"

"Dude." Added HUE, a little too late. Gary glared at the interruption, then continued.

"Well that sounds like a plan. Let's eat up, get some rest, and hit the earth fighting fit and just in the nick of time like the time nicking god-people we are!"

"Ha! You said earth, not universe!" said KVN, pointing.

"I swear to god I would drown you in a bucket of my own butt sweat if I could, KVN." Said Gary. As he did so, he noticed Little Cato slinking away, and stood up, following after him just as the SAMES came in with a plethora of almost chilli like substances.

"HUE, keep the chilli and abuse of KVN nice and hot for me, would you? I'm just going to clean up before dinner, okay?"

"Okay Gary. KNV, you are an utterly ridiculous waste of-"

The sliding door to the bridge snicked shut behind Gary, muffling the sound of HUE's abuse, and Gary hustled down the corridor, catching up with Cato before he could vanish into a vent again or something like that.

"Hey, ninja-cat, you okay, short stuff? Is it KVN? If so, we can totally toss him out an air-lock. Or if it's the chilli I could always, I don't know, crack open a can of tuna or something, if you don't like Mexican food, that is. Which is not why I destroyed that restaurant, by the way, I mean it wasn't like I was aiming, and everyone always wants to take it to a racial place…."

Little Cato paused, his back to Gary, and quickly wiped what might have been a teardrop, fists clenched and shoulders tense.

"I…. no it's okay, I'm just not hungry right now." He muttered. His eyes then widened with surprise as Gary knelt down by him, and put a reassuring hand on his narrow shoulder.

"Dude, you're both a cat and a teenaged boy: I'm pretty sure you're never not hungry. It's like in the warrantee. I…. I just want you to know, it's okay. We are going to earth. We're going to get there soon, like, really soon, and kick ass and insert structurally superfluous new buttholes in the Lord Commander. Okay?"

Cato sniffed back a tear, and then nodded. "Okay." He said, resting his head slightly on Gary's shoulder. It wasn't quite a hug, and Gary was going to wait for Cato to initiate that because he didn't want to crowd him, but he kept his hand on his shoulder, and just let Cato lean on him for as long as he felt he needed to.

"I…. I'm sorry I'm such a screw up!" yelled Cato, suddenly, eyes closed. "I…. I keep screwing up dad's vengeance, I blew up that time-machine, and I was a total jerk to you! I mean, I was giving you all that crap and hiding in the vents and stuff, when… when… I didn't know we were members of the same club, man! I didn't know you had to see you dad get blown up too, I mean, crap it's… it's…"

Cato started shaking and making a very catlike hissing as he tried to hold back the tears, and Gary just hugged him then and there.

"Hey, Hey there, Mohawk tiger, it's okay, let it all out. It's all good, just let it out. You're right; we're members of the same club. Ain't no one here but us members to see, so you just let it all out, because what goes down in dead dad club, stays in dead dad club, and oh dear god, I really shouldn't have said that whilst fondling a crying minor. In hindsight that could really be taken the wrong way."

Cato snorted laughter at that, but kept crying.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I was just a jerk to you and… oh god, you had to watch your dad die twice…"sobbed Cato.

"Actually, it was more like four times if we're including flashbacks, but who's counting? And yeah… that's sure sucked some grade A ball-gravy… but at least I got to go back and talk to him… man to man, just once. I… I think it's almost worth having to see it again for that. How many people get that sort of closure?"

Cato dug his claws into Gary's jacket, and pressed is forehead into his shoulder. "I'd have liked that." he muttered, through his tears.

"Yeah…. Yeah I know you would have Punk Simba. And I know you'd have done a better job of it that I did. I know buddy. Okay, come on…" he said, wiping the tears off Cato's face with his sleeve. "Let's get some food in you and get you an early night, because you're still a minor and we've got a whole bunch of murdering for you to do in the morning and you'll be good for nothing if you don't rest up. I mean, not to pry, but given the whole, well, kill spree we're planning, how old exactly are you?"

"Old enough." Said Little Cato, defiantly.

"Okay but if you had to put a metric on that? Like an actual number?"

"I'm old enough okay: I'm not a child, I'm nearly 15."

"And oh god, I'm an actual war criminal." Said Gary. "I don't suppose that is actually, like, 47 in cat years or something? Because otherwise we're breaking a whole bunch of laws on child soldiers here. You know what? Never mind, I've just remembered we're already planning to break into Infinity Guard HQ, kill everyone, and steal an antimatter bomb. We're actual terrorists, just like that fortune cookie warned me I'd become. Go eat, Little Cato, Uncle Gary's got some soul searching to be doing."

The door slammed behind Little Cato, and Gary sighed.

"Level with me HUE, how much of that were you listening in on?"

"Gary, I monitor any and all conversation on the Galaxy one. It's my programing. And if it is any consolation, I think you did very well. Avocato would be proud of you, Gary: You showed just the right amount of fatherly concern, provided contact-comfort, and made him eat a healthy meal. That's about two thirds of parenting right there. Throw in some awful puns, and you have this."

"Why thank you, HUE-man the nonhuman. I just… I feel sorry for the little squirt, still. He actually envy's that I had to go back and see my dad's death again. I mean how much of a crap-tastic turd sandwich does your life have to be for that to be something you want for yourself?"

"Ah. Yes, well about that… Gary, now that Little Cato is gone, could you please fetch Quinn, and meet me in the briefing room? I am sorry to report that I may not have been giving you the entire truth on the whole temporal worm thing…"

"What am I looking at HUE?" asked Gary, Squinting at the complex series of lines hovering on the holo-projector while Mooncake hovered happily in the background.

"Our projected course through space and time, Gary. The line we must take, to get to earth in time. We have only one viable route…. And we will not be alone on it."

Said HUE, zooming on on one segment with a warming bloop.

"A contact icon?" asked Quinn, concerned.

"Yes. In order to make our temporal path, we will need to materialize within sensor rage of another ship, and loiter there for several hours waiting for the next temporal worm. Even with all non-essential shipboard systems shut down and one third life support, we cannot hope to avoid detection. We will be spotted the moment we make our first jump into the past."

"Holy crapsticks, that's bad." Said Gary. "They'd have, like, loads of time to ruin our day. Any way to avoid it HUE?"

"No, this is our only path to reach earth on time."

"Okay, so we are so boned." Said Gary

"Not necessarily." said Quinn. "So long as the ship wasn't allied with the Lord Commander, or the Infinity Guard, we should be safe enough, right HUE?"

"I'm afraid our problem is way more intimate and funky than that, Quinn. Hold onto your brainstems, humans, because this is about to get trippy." Said HUE, zooming in on the contact icon. "Because the ship we are going to have to pass, is the Galaxy One."

Garry and Quinn stared, open mouthed.

"I know, right? What a twist." Said HUE.

"HUE, what the hell and sweet crackers is this, we can't pass our past selves… can we?" asked Gary.

"Before I would have said no, Gary, it would be paradox causing, but given we sent nearly a week hanging about with Nightfall, I can conclude that the risk is quite low, so long as you dickwads don't try to change your immediate pasts." Said HUE. "Given we now know that Einstein is, in fact, a jerk, we can rule apparent-paradoxes and closed-loop paradoxes as safe. Stick to the Terminator rules of time travel and don't Marty McFly your own mom, and we should be fine. In fact, we will appear in what would be the middle of the night, standard galactic time. I will just call my past self and tell him not to wake you guys. So long as past me is cool about this, and I know that I will be because it is me, we can avoid even meeting our past selves with relative ease, and then be on our way."

"Well, if it's the past Galaxy One, all that we're going to see is past me at some point on his depressing and, if you ask me, needlessly severe five year prison sentence, right? It' not like it's going to be all that interesting, is it?" asked Gary.

HUE didn't respond. Gary narrowed his eyes.

"All that we're going to see is past me at some point on his five year sentence, right HUE?" he asked, more suspiciously.

"Gary, please don't make me say it, nothing good can possibly come of your knowing."


"Oh dear. Sigh. Okay Gary, If you insist…"

"I insist! What is it HUE!"

"We are going to be passing the Galaxy One of just over a week ago. Two days after you rescued Quinn. You have just blown up that big space laser. At the time we appear, it will be approximately sixteen hours before we receive Little Cato's distress call. We… we…. We will be arriving the day before Avacato's death, Gary."

Quinn and Gary stared open mouthed as they tried to digest this information.

"See, this I why I don't want to tell you this sort of crap, guys." Said HUE, reproachfully.

"Gary." Sad Quinn after a long moment. " I… I know he's your friend, but we can't. It will cause a paradox for sure."

"I… Quinn, his kid is on board! We could save him, or at least, I don't know, warn him or something, he doesn't have to-"

"He is dead, Gary." Said HUE, firmly. "You saw him die. Little Cato saw him die. We all did. It happened. It cannot un-happen Gary. Doing so would create a true paradox, and destroy our timeline and everyone in it…. including Little Cato. You cannot save Avocato and his son. You made a promise to him, Gary, and Avocato made a choice. You should respect it. If you want to honour his sacrifice, you must let him make it. I am sorry, Gary, but you saving him would be, like, a total dick move."

There was a moment on long silence, and Gary, hating himself for it, nodded, and whipped a tear with his sleeve, noticing it was still wet from little Cato.

"Oh, that's some raw truth juice right there, HUE. Okay…. Okay. Goodbye, sweet prince. We… we don't make contact. We stay on our Galaxy One, and pass them in the night. We let the past lie. And no one, no one tells Little Cato. Agreed?"

"Gary, that is the most mature and responsible thing you have ever said or done in the five years I have known you, and I know that it must hurt you greatly to say it. I am… so very proud of you Gary."

Gary screwed his eyes shut and tried to hold back the manly tears. "Thank you, HUE."

"Now, Gary, stop being a big sissy and grow a pair, you wuss-sack." Said HUE "Because you have a far better plan than that to deal with this situation."

Gary forced one eye open. "I do?"

"Well Gary, we can't warn Avocato, or try to prevent his death… but that doesn't mean we can't interact in other ways so long as we don't cause a paradox. You were saying how Little Cato wishes he had got the same closure you had; a chance to actually say a proper goodbye to his father. Reviewing my security logs for that night, we could easily inset a team onto the past Galaxy One without waking anyone but Avocato, and we have drugs in the medical bay that induce short term memory loss in Ventrexians. He would in all likelihood wake in the morning with no memory of the event other than perhaps thinking he'd dreamed of his son…"

Gary held his breath.

"It's, it's still too risky, guys, I mean seriously it a sweet idea, but is this safe? It could cause a paradox if we get it wrong." Said Quinn.

"True… but the reason I suggested it is because I have clear memories of it already having happened." Said HUE. "I know it can be done… because you already did it. Dun. Dun. Dun."

Gary and Quinn stared.

"Hah, double twist. Eat your heart out, Shyamalan. You hack." Said HUE.

"What!" yelled Gary.

"It is true, Gary, I have security logs from that night showing at least two Gary's, two Quinn's, two KVN units, and a Little Cato on the ship, the night before we went to rescue Little Cato. I have been unable to mention this until this point, because of an executive order I received form a more senior HUE unit ordering my silence."

"What senior HUE unit?" asked Quinn.

"Me: I am now one week older than my past self, and therefore the senior officer of the two. I am drafting my order to myself as we speak. We need to do this, Quinn, because it has already been done. Also, because Little Cato is sad and that makes me sad. And besides, Quinn you need to stop KNV from killing his past self and causing a universe ending paradox."

"I… Seriously! Why would KNV try to murder his past self?" yelled Quinn.

"Because he is a dick hole, Quinn. Seriously, screw that guy. He is such a douche-canoe." Said HUE, as the temporal worm appeared outside the ships windows, and contact alarms flared. "Go to the armoury and get the EMP grenades, and the big hammer, you will need both Quinn. Run: KVN will move fast once he sees the other Galaxy One. Gary, go wake Little Cato, and think about what you are going to say. You will not get another chance. Move quickly." Said HUE, engaging the thrusters and aiming straight down the temporal worms gullet. "Because I don't know about you guys, but I have a friend I want to give a proper goodbye too. Let us rock and or roll some sweet time travel closure, Gary."

Gary looked down the dark mouth of the beast, seeing his own refection in the glass, and remembering Avocato. He nodded, setting his jaw heroically.

"Agreed, amigo. Let's go and save the universe, but first… let's risk creating a timeline destroying time paradox to get an emotional teenager a well-deserved and long overdue dad-hug!"

"Hell Yeah, dog!" Said HUE, and they fired the engines, and it all went time-travely.

"Seriously, HUE, any normal person would know that going back in time by flying though the gut of a temporal worm calls for some awesome music!" said Gary, striding down the corridor to Little Cato's room, acting pissed off to hide his anxiety about how he would break the news to Cato.

"I played awesome music, Gary."

"Tom Lehrer's the Elements is not suitable time travel music! Poisoning Pidgeon's in the Park maybe, but seriously, war horns! Clarion cries! Maybe, given the time travel setting, a little Theremin music even. Synth pop, electro swing, Shelby Merry, the Doctor Who theme! Anything but Filk music! Anything but Tom Lehrer!"

"But you like Tom Lehrer, Gary, you sing it in the shower."

"I also soap my balls in the shower, HUE, it doesn't make it suitable for epic time travel!" said Gary, knocking on Little Cato's door. He'd taken then room opposite from Avacato's old room, and Gary didn't think that was a coincidence.

"Hey there, thundercat, you awake?" he asked.

There was a shifting noise from inside, and then a voice, slightly emotionally strained said, "One second!"

"Erm, okay, in your own time sport." Said Gary, fully aware of what a nearly 15 year old boy might be doing in his room alone at night. "Awkward. I hope he's not licking his own balls, HUE. Can Ventrexians even do that?"

"We do not have much time, Gary: we will be passing rendezvous distance with the past Galaxy One in eleven minutes." Said HUE "Overriding door lock protocols…"

"Gah! No hue, I don't need to see this, I swear HUE if I see a cat dick because of you-" the door swooshed open, and Gary threw up an arm over his eyes, defensively. "Ahhhh, there better not be a naked minor here, HUE!"

"What are you talking about?" asked Little Cato, grumpily. Gary opened one eye and peered over his arm. Little Cato's room was remarkably clean by teen standards: he could even see the floor in some places, and other than a slight damp-fur mustiness it smelt okay. Cato was sitting on the floor awkwardly in a pair of infinity guard issue boxer shorts worn backwards with his tail out the fly, legs tangled as if he'd just moved suddenly and then frozen in place. There were clear tear-tracks in the fur around his muzzle, and he'd got about a dozen of his dad's guns arranged around him on the floor, as well as a coms-slate, and the cat-head shaped bulge under his bed indicated he'd just shoved his dad's helmet under the memory foam it to hide it. Gary's heart skipped sympathetically: he'd prepared for Cato to be hiding a porno slate or similar under his bunk, the idea that he'd just been sitting cross legged on the floor looking at his dad's photo and had still felt the need to hide it as if his feelings were somehow shameful reminded him of just how young and insecure Cato really was.

"Oh, hi sport. Umm, is it okay if I sit for a second, Cato?" asked Gary "I, I've got something I need to tell you."

Cato shrugged, passive-aggressively, and looked down. Gary sighed, and tip-toed over the threshold, trying to find somewhere to put his feet that wasn't gun.

"Oh man, it looks like the second amendment threw up all over your cabin. Let me just, wait, wait… okay." Said Gary, dropping clumsily onto Cato's bed and sending up a small cloud of ginger fur. Cato glared, but Gary ignored this, and pulled the helmet out from under the mattress. The photo stared at him accusingly from its nest of sweat-stained padding.

I could still save him. Gary thought, before crushing that idea. No that wasn't why he was here. This is as important, he said to look after his boy. That comes first.

I'm sorry buddy. I hope I don't screw this up.

"Cato, I miss your dad. Like, stupidly badly, with a totally raw intensity, little dude. He… he was by best friend, and I lost him. I… I failed him, and nothing I do can change that. And I only knew him for a short time. I cannot, cannot imagine how you're feeling, little Cato. You say we're members in the same club… but my dad, he was away for long times on trips, exploring Space, being awesome… but he was there for me the rest of the time. I saw him, he supported me. He as… he was a pretty decent dad. You… you got Avocato taken away from you, and he got you taken away from him, and you had only, only just got him back when he was taken away from him so cruelly. That… that must really, really suck. I'm sorry, Cato, being a teenager is hard enough but this…"

Gary sighed.

"Uggh, look. Cato, if, if you had the option to go back and say goodbye, like I did, what would you say?"

Cato paused, looked at him, and then moved over and sat next to Gary on the bed. Gary passed him the helmet, and Little Cato sat with it on his lap, looking down at it.

"I… I don't know. I guess I'd just like to, I don't know. Say that I don't blame him for not being there. Say that I know he tried his best for me, that he changed for me, gave up a lot, risked execution and imprisonment for me, gave up power for me. I'd say that I miss him, but I understand what he did for me. I'd tell him that I miss him, and I want to do right by him. I… I don't know, Gary. I'd just like to talk to him, even once."

"But, wouldn't that be too painful?" asked Gary. "Seeing him again and knowing that it was for the last time, knowing that there wasn't anything you could do about it? Knowing that he's still going to die and that you couldn't stop it? Wouldn't that hurt more than not doing it?" asked Gary, carefully.

Cato shrugged, and whipped at his muzzle. "Yeah it'd hurt sure, but, it's be a good sort of hurt, wouldn't it? Like when you're done in the gym or something. And besides, it's be worth it, just to let him know that I'm going to be okay. To let him know… to let him know that you're looking after me, and that I'm going to be all right."

Gary paused for a long moment, and then stood up, eyes serious.

"Get dressed, little dude, and try to be presentable: you'll want to look your best. You need to make a good impression."

"Huh? What? Why, where are you going?" asked Little Cato, scrambling out of the door after Gary, helmet still in hand.

"We are going to pay a visit… to destiny!" said Gary, striding into the gravity shaft, fist pumped "were going to say a proper goodbye to –AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAA!" he said, plummeting down the shaft, arms flailing.

Cato cocked his head on one side, confused. "Ahhhhhaaa?" he muttered.

HUE sighed. "Seriously, five years and he still does that? What a moron."

KVN drifted down the corridor of the galaxy one, looking out of the window and humming happily to himself.

"Do-be-do-be-doo, going to earth for a big fight, do-be-do-be-doo were all going to die do-be-do… " he paused, and looked out of the window.

Parallel to the galaxy one, there was another, identical ship, passing slowly in the opposite direction. Looking out of the viewing window opposite him was an identical KVN unit, complete with the battle damage he's taken and replacement arm, looking back at him. His eye widened in surprise, and so did the other KVN.

He paused, then waved. It mirrored him perfectly. He hovered back, it did as well, at exactly the same time. He turned, it turned with him. He did a reverse backflip with two spins, and then slammed up his arms in a proper gymnastics landing, and so did it, at the exact same time as him. He giggled, and then turned away from the window.

"Hehehehehe, I'm going to kill myself and take his power! There can be only one!" he laughed, cheerfully, before grabbing a ceramic edged chainsaw off a passing SAME and drifting out the airlock with it. As he did, Quinn dropped down the gravity shaft behind him, and sprinted down the corridor towards him, bandoliered with EMP grenades, a large sledgehammer strapped across her back.

"Wait! KVN, stop it! You're going to cause a temporal paradox! KVN, don't you dare! KVN, don't you dare!"

"What, I'm sorry I can't here you!" said KVN, over the ships PA as the airlock decompressed and the air vanished. "I'd going to go cause a temporal paradox, Quinn, isn't that awesome?"

"Seriously!" Yelled Quinn, as the outer door opened, and KVN drifted of into space, humming happily, revving up his chainsaw.

"What is wrong with you people?" yield Quinn. "Is everyone on the ship insane? Stop causing paradoxes!" she said, as Gary fell down the shaft behind her.

"Like you can speak, Nightfall." Said HUE, prepping an EVA suit for her and commanding a SAME to pass it to her.

Quinn growled, but snatched the helmet from Carl, and put it on. "You're not helping, HUE, get past-you to-" she paused. The other Galaxy One had aligned perfectly with her version, and the portside airlock was exactly opposite her, outer door open and ready.

"Go quietly: we do not want to wake past Quinn or past Gary." Said HUE, as Quinn stepped into the airlock.

"Quiet… sure." She said, unlimbering the huge hammer. "I'm just fighting an insane robot armed with a chainsaw. I Can do quiet." She muttered, before jumping over to the next ship.

Gary and Cato made the insertion to the past galaxy one about two minutes after Quinn and KVN, taking off their helmets and handing them to the two waiting SAMES. As per his word, past HUE was complying perfectly.

"Hi future Gary. Hi Little Cato, good to meet you. I wish it could be under different circumstances. The SAMES are ready to comply with your instructions, and the crew are locked in their cabins, and I've distracted my version of KVN with cookies so he won't wander into your KVN and get killed. Quinn is hunting him on the upper gallery, so that should keep them both out of the way. Avocato's room is unlocked, and I've prepped 10 cubic centimetres of DiTraxian Nine, a beta-blocker that when combined with a low dose of atropine causes reliable memory disruption in Ventrexian's, making it a unfortunately popular date-rape drug in some sectors. It will prevent the conversion of short term memories into long term memories: hit Avocato with the first syringe before he wakes up, then you can talk to him. Once you hit him with the atropine, he will lose consciousness and all the memory he's formed since the first injection will be un-writeable and forgotten come morning. Good luck, Gary."

"Thanks HUE." Said Gary, taking the syringes from Boobs. He glanced down at Little Cato. He had bags under his eyes, and looked understandably nervous.

"Hey, you okay with this? If you're not ready-"

"I need to do this." Said Cato, vibrating with nervous energy. "I… I need to say goodbye."

Gary nodded. He was keeping an eye on Cato just in case he tried to do anything paradox causing, like save his dad, but he seemed to be over that. He'd learnt his lesson with time travel, it seemed. Also, HUE had deployed every SAME the ship had in the corridor. If Cato tried something, HUE had made it clear he'd drag him back to his own timeline by his tail if he had to. This wasn't a long trip, just a flying visit.

Still, he gave Cato a re-assuring squeeze on the shoulder, and took a deep breath.

They had arrived at Avocato's door.

"HUE, level with me, what is the chance that I wake him up grumpy, he pulls my head off and creates a universe destroying mega-paradox?"

"None, Gary. He is your friend, and he respects you as a person."

"There is that I guess."

"And also, you are the future version of Gary: It's perfectly possible that Avocato kills you now and we cover it up. That would not affect the time line at all. It's past Gary we need to look out for, and he's asleep and safely locked in his room. You are, temporality speaking, disposable."

"Gee, thanks HUE, you're really buttering me up here." Muttered Gary, looking at the auto-injector syringes in his right hand, and giving Cato's shoulder a gentle squeeze with his left.

"Cato, give me a moment, if he sees you, well, he might freak out let… let me get him good and drugged up first."

"That's what she said." Said KVN, drifting past with a chainsaw.

"Wildly inappropriate when I'm holding date rape drugs, KVN!" yelled Gary, before face-palming.

Gary slicked up his hair, got on one knee, and put both hands on Cato' shoulders.

"Once…. Once we do this, we'll have little time, a couple of hours at most. Think carefully about what you're going to say, this, this might be the most solemn and serious moment of your life so far." Said Gary.

Quinn sprinted past behind him and Cato, hammer in both hands, and screaming a wildly –Dopplering cry.

"Douche Canoooooooooeeeee!"

Gary chose to ignore this, stood up and nodded to the door lock. There was a ping as HUE overrode the lock controls, and stepped into Avocato's life for the Final time.

He room was dark, and quiet, and had that slight fug you always got in close confines with sleeping bodies. The door hissed closed behind him, and Gary's eyes struggled to adjust to the dark. For a moment, all he did was stand there, and listen to a faint, rhythmic, purr-like snoring.

Oh boy, this is weird. Thought Gary, feeling the syringes in his hand as his eyes adjusted, and he made out the outline of some details of the room, the bonsai, the weapons on the walls…

And a single shape, curled up in the bed.

Oh my gosh good gravy, he sleeps like a cat. That is too cute. And he's dead. I saw his guts blow out. It' going to happen in less than 24 hours, and I'm not even trying to stop it. I'm going to let it happen, right in front of his son.

What the ever-loving crap am I doing here? Gary thought.

He stepped backwards, uncertain, and as he did his foot knocked against something on the ground: probably another damn weapon.

Instantly, two reflective yellow eyes popped open in the dark.

"Oh of course, he's a super light sleeper, just my luck!"

"Gary?" Asked Avocato, his arm raised to shield his sensitive night-eyes as the bedside lamp-panel clicked on. "What you doing man? Why, why the hell are you in my room? What time is it? What happed to your uniform? You're in civilian treads." He said, his gentle baritone washing over him. Gary didn't realise how much he missed his voice.

"Um, yeah… uhhhh… this is all a dream!" he said, waving both of his hands in front of his face. "All just a crazy, messed up dream about your super awesome best friend. Whooooo! Whoooooo!"

"Dude, dreams don't make ghost noises!" said Avocato, angrily, sitting up and blinking. "What are you doing?"

"I'm…. Haunting you? With dream-ness?"

"I… look, I get it Gary, you've bin serving a five year sentence, prison does weird things to people, your confused, and frustrated with Quinn, but I'm just not interested I you in that way, man. I'm sorry, Gary, but that's just not the way I roll dude."

"I'm…. wow, that's awkward, I'm totally not here because I'm gay for you! Do you honestly think that why I'm here?"

Avocato shrugged. "You're only human baby."

"I'm not here for that! Seriously. "

"What's that in your hand?" asked Avocato, suddenly noticing the syringes.

"Huh, oh this is just DiTraxian Nine and some atropine-"

There was a thunk and the rattle of wall mounted ornaments as Avocato picked up Gary one handed and slammed him into the bulkhead, moving so quickly that Gary didn't even see him.

"You wanna explain how you're in my room at two AM, wearing weird clothes I've never seen you in before, with a syringe of Ventrexian roffies and this isn't sexual?" growled Avocato.

"Gah! You actually wear your armour in bed? How paranoid are you?" asked Gary, left hand scrabbling at Avocato's trying to break his grip. His right hand…

"What?" asked Avocato, looking down. There was a syringe sticking neatly out of the gap in his body armour near his armpit.

Avocato's ears flattened and he hissed. "Oh you son of a-" he tossed Gary across the room. Gary staggered, knocked his leg agonisingly on a table at exactly shin height, and fought his way upright, waving both his hands defensively.

"Whoa, Whoa, time out, time out man, it's not like it looks! Time travel stuff! Time travel stuff!"

"Seriously? Come on Gary, that's the oldest excuse in the book!" said Avocato, squaring up in front of Gary, fists balled and ready for a fight. He leaned in, yellow eyes narrowed. "What's really going on man?" he said, grabbing a hold of Gary by his lapels.

"Oh, sweet Jesus, how I miss even your stinky cat breath, no seriously, time travel stuff! I'm from the future."

"I… okay firstly ouch, that's personal man, it's two AM: everyone has morning breath, and secondly how do I know you're from the future? And that you haven't, and this seems more likely to me, finally gone insane."

"Wow, good question. HUE, little help?"

"It is true, Avocato: Gary here is from the immediate future, hence the need for memory inhibiting drugs so not to change the timeline. And if it's any consolation, in the one thousand, eight hundred and twenty one video logs Gary has made in his time aboard the Galaxy One, he has never expressed any target for his sexuality other than Quinn Airgon. Anyway he's, like, a six, tops, and you're a solid nine: you're way out of his league Avocato."

"Okay, ouch." Said Gary. Avocato considered this for a moment, snorted, ears flat, and then loosened his grip on Gary's jacket, claws retracting. As he did he rubbed his thumb on the lapel, and noticed loose hairs there. Curious, Avocato pulled his hand back, rubbing the hairs between thumb and forefinger. Ventrexian fur: softer and finer than his, light orange.

Looking down, at his hand, ears sideways and mouth open with shock Avocato staged backwards and sat down heavily on his bed.

"I…. Little Cato?" he asked, afraid. Gary winced, and cursed himself. Avocato wasn't stupid, he knew if there was time travel involved some was probably going to get bad news delivered. "is… is he okay?" asked Avocato. Gary scratched the back of his head.

"Yeah, yeah, eating well, bathing regularly… kind of a mess emotionaly, but he's he's having a difficult time. Look: we can't tell you anything without breaking the timeline, man, we just can't take the risk, even with the drugs. But… well, he needs to have a talk with you. Just this once and your, ummm, busy in our present so this is the way we're doing it, okay?"

"He's… he's here?" asked Avocato.

Gary nodded. "Yeah, big cat, he's here. Just, just promise you won't freak, okay?"

"Gary… I… no one has ever done anything like this for me before, man. I, I don't know how to thank you."

"It's okay Avocato: you've done more than enough for me." Said Gary, trying not to picture him jumping on that bomb to shield them as he moved to the door.

"Gary, I don't deserve this man, I'm… I'm not a good guy Gary: some of the things I've done in the past…"

"Working for the Lord Commander, I know: you tell future me. But you made the right call: you chose Little Cato over the Lord Commander. You did right by him. You did right by me, you did right, man. Just… just for one second, enjoy that, okay?"

Avocato looked at Gary for a long time, and then nodded.

"Okay." He said, his voice slightly horse.

Gary nodde,d sniffing back tears, and went to open the door, just as his thumb hovered off the panel, Avocato spoke.

"Gary, you're a good friend, Gary. Thanks for taking care of my boy."

Take care of my Boy! Gary thought, hearing it as fresh as the first time it happened. He realised he couldn't be in that room a second longer or he'd cry.

Gary hit the door control, and walked out.

"Dad!" yelled Cato, running in.

"Little Cato I-oof!" said Avocato, getting pressed back into the bed as Cato leapt on him like a furry missile.

Gary froze, knowing that behind him was the biggest hug of his life going on.

And he had no right to join it no matter how he wanted to.

He turned to the door control, briefly for a second saw Cato crying into Avocato's shoulder as the pair of them hugged, and the big cat bounty hunter shot him a look of pure thanks, and then closed the door. He'd give them some time alone. They deserved that much.

"How long will they have, HUE? Before we need to get the next worm?"

"About two hours, Gary. You are a good friend, doing this for them. Can I get you a cookie or something?"

"No, no I'm good right here HUE." Said Gary, sliding down to the floor, his back against Avocato's door.

After a moment he looked sideways.

Quinn was sweating heavily, and beating the living crap out of KVN with a sledgehammer.

"Wow: that is unbelievably hot." Said Gary, as he settled back to wait.

The two hours were nearly up, and Gary was actually starting to nod off when the door opened, and nearly floored him. He righted himself, arms flailing, and a strong hand grasped his shoulder to steady him.

Gary looked up. Avocato's upside down face smiled down at him.

"Hey, easy there partner." Said Avocato, helping him up one handed. He still had Little Cato clenched to him with his other arm, carrying him like he weighed nothing.

Avocato glanced sideways. "Son, go get your space suit."

"But dad I-"

"Go get it Cato." Said Avocato, putting him down and ruffling his head, mussing up his Mohawk "I need to talk with Gary for a second."

Cato looked like he was about to defy for a moment, but then nodded, and sulked off. Avocato nodded, and then turned to Gary.

"thank you." He said, his voice cracking.

Gary nodded. He didn't know what to say, so he shut the crap up.

"I, I don't make it, do I?" asked Avocato, once Little Cato was out of earshot.

Gary froze up, his expression pained. Avocato laughed, a little nervously.

"It's okay man, I'm not fishing it's just… I'm not proud I worked for the Lord Commander, the things I did… I'd have never told you that unless we were going into a situation with a serious risk of death. Add that to the fact that for some reason you can't talk to me in whatever counts as your present, your sad moping-ass expression, and that what little Cato and I talked about was a goodbye in everything but name, and I figured it out even before Cato even came into the room." Said Avocato, watching Gary. He looked sad, but he wasn't crying. Garry wished he could say the same.

"I don't know why you did it, or how, Gary, but you went to a lot of effort to arrange a pretty good goodbye for me and my son, and I'll never be able to do anything to thank you enough." Said Avocato, holding out his arms for a hug, inviting him in with that siren call.

"Yes, you will." Said Gary, before hugging him briefly. There was some brief sniffing, the smell of tear-dampened fur, and then they pulled apart.

"Two munities, Gary. I'm sorry" said HUE, while Quinn and the SAMES loaded a thoroughly EMP'ed KVN into the airlock and shot him back to the correct version of the Galaxy One.

"Come on." Said Avocato. "I'll walk you to the airlock."

Gary nodded, numb, and fell in step besides him.

"Gary I, uh, I notice Cato's not much older than he is now, well, than he should be, in my time line, so I guess I'm gonna die pretty soon. No, don't answer; I don't want to know how or when." Said Avocato, holding up a claw. "I just mean to say, hell, Ventrexians puberty is an exceptionally rough ride. I've prepared some material that might be useful to you, HUE has the data-files. You know, just, just in case I'm not there to help you and him through it."

"It's okay man: if he starts to spray or something I can always bat him with a rolled up newspaper, right?" Joked Gary, to hold back the feels. Even Avocato had to laugh at that.

"Yeah just… just keep doing a good job, okay man?"

"Will do, Steel Panther, will do." Said Gary Avocato nodded. "HUE, even with the DiTraxian Nine, you'll want deep-cleaning nano-bots to scrub my room for fibres and scent, or I'll know Cato and Gary have been in there."

"Already on it, Avocato: there will be no evidence of this when you wake up, and you will not remember." Avocato nodded again. He was taking this way better than Gary thought he would under the situation.

They got to the airlock, Avocato noticing his son using his old helmet, and nodding briefly with approval. In the outer doorway, he paused, and put one paw on Gary's shoulder, and One paw on Avocado's.

"You two are just about the people I care most about in the universe, you know that? I've done horrible things, but looking at you, I know there's some small slim chance I left something good behind. You guys take care, okay? Oh, and kick the lord commanders ass for me if I don't get to."
He said, kneeling and hugging them both, and kissing Cato's helmet, before resting his forehead on his son's for a second, before pushing them both into the airlock, eyes closed and tears streaming on his muzzle.

"I… I love you guys." He said.

And then he stuck the atropine into himself, and handed the syringe to the SAMES for disposal, eyes still closed, before slumping down against that armoured glass of the airlock door.

"Dad?" said Cato. "Dad, no, no non no, not again! Dad, dad!" Gary put an arm around Cato from behind restraining him as he pressed his paw to the other side of the glass from his fathers, Wrath of Kahn style, his smaller paw lost in his fathers despite his bulky space-suit gauntlet.

"It's okay." Said Gary, hollowly, hugging Avocato's son to him. "It's okay, Little Cato. I'm right here. We're members of the same club, and we never have to do this alone. I'm here for you." He said.

And then the outer door opened, and space took them, just like it took Avocato that last time they said goodbye.

Gary carried Cato to his room, put him to bed, and tucked him it, feeling beat. As he dimmed the light and turned to leave the room, he paused at the door, hand over the controls again, looking at Avocato's empty room opposite. He sighed.

"It still hurts, doesn't it micro-tiger?"

There was no reply. He was about to press on and go, when Cato spoke.

"yes, but it's a good sort of pain. Its… it's better than feeling nothing."

Gary smiled sadly, but didn't look back. "A world better, champ." He said. Closing the door behind him, before slumping down in front of it.

After a moment he slumped down and cried. For nine minutes straight.

"Oh, hey HUE, you got any of the memory erasing party juice for me, by any chance?"

"No Gary, not for humans, I'm afraid. You have to feel like this until you don't anymore. I'm sorry, Gary." He said. There was a dull thump as they hit the second worm gullet, and then immediately light-folded towards earth.

"Yeah, yeah. Humans suck, HUE, we really need a few dozen good software patches to fix these bugs, man."

"Agreed. If it's any consolation, we will probably all die when we arrive at earth and have to steal that bomb form those Infinity guard dickheads, so your pain should be short lived. Would some clarion-call music make you feel better, Gary, given that we are temporal-worming again?"

"Actually, I'm feeling some 20th century Filk music right now, so long as it's not Tom Lehrer." Joked Gary, wiping his eyes on his sleeve.

"Sure thing Gary."

HUE plays Julia Ecklar and Anne Prather: Pushing the speed of light.

"So long as it's not sad, HUE!" yelled Gary, "That was implied in the request! Screw it, I'm going to insult KVN and go to bed." He said, getting up. As he did, he paused.

There was a photo on the door to Avocato's room. It was not here before he left. He went to look at it.

It was a collage print out of security stills from HUS sensors and the SAMES optical implants, showing every time him and Avocato had been happy together, from the first somewhat reluctant game of cards, to that last hug before the rescue mission.

"I…I noticed you didn't have any pictures of him." Said HUE, guiltily. Gary touched the picture, and smiled.

"Don't need to, HUE, he's right up here." said Gary, tapping his temple. "Hey HUE, get the SAMES to brew me some coffee, and transfer those files on Ventrexian puberty to my room. I've got some light reading to do, for I, Gary Goodspeed, am going to be the best cat dad in the galaxy or die trying."

"Yes, Gary, I think you are." Said HUE, scanning Cato's room and noticing him sleeping peacefully for the first time in a week. "I think you are."