"Blood Money"

by Allronix

Category: V, post-ep ("Galaxy Stranger"), Stingray POV, Songfic

Summary: Stingray has questions about why Goose let him go.

Disclaimer: Galaxy Rangers, and all characters within are property of Hearst Entertainment, Robert Mandell, and Transcom Media. The quoted song "Blood Money" was written and sung by Jon Bon Jovi for the Young Guns 2 soundtrack.

lyrics cut per guidelines

I looked at 'im and still saw the scrawny little kid that used to hide from all of us big 'uns until he figured out how to hold a blaster. When the little runt proved he could blow Killbane's head clean off before the big bully could even reach the holster, we may have stopped using him as a whipping boy, but it didn't mean we respected him any outside the shooting range.

I'm nursing a headache in the little shack Star and I have outside of town. Forgot the little git had the ability to soak up whatever an enemy threw at him and throw it back. Lost my damn head at seeing that shiny badge on his chest and knowing he had eyes for me girl. A'course, Star won't say nothing, save that he's left.

Just what is that little runt anyway? Well, not so little anymore. He's what? Eighteen years after decant? He's a bit bigger than me now, another reason for this nasty headache. Kept underestimating him – guess it's a weakness. Nothing can nail 'Trooper 'sides another 'Trooper, and it goes to our heads.

When Star and I knocked over that jewelry store on Mars, we didn't expect to see him. Mars cops are only slightly better than Earth's - lift me glasses and the blokes run like scared sheep. It's probably why they sent Runt after us. At the time, we were desperate and prone to idiotic tactical moves like that. We knew those Mars cops were after us, and we needed to scratch up the means to get as far as possible.

Didn't buy it when Killbane told me Runt was a Ranger now. Like BETA'd trust one of us – any of us - now? Figured Killbane was just out of his head like usual and that Runt was in deep freeze like the poor bastards that didn't make it out. Man, I was wrong.

Star's explained to me that it was some backroom deal that's kept him out of cryo. Means Runt has his badge, but we've got our freedom. He's just as much on their leash as he was at Wolf Den, probably more so. Another reason to want to serve his bloody head on a platter. Runt may not been the best man at Wolf Den, but he had brains enough to figure out when the higher-ups were pulling a scheme.

I hope he hates himself. He's earned that.

Star's not spoken much, just makes sure that I don't blast the roof off. Sittin' still's not me strong point, but it is hers. It all comes down to a question neither of us can answer.

Why did he let us go?

If he'd been as much the lapdog as Killbane says, we'd have freezer burn by now. If he followed what we'd been trained at Wolf Den, he would have made sure I was terminated and killed Star for good measure. Leave no foe standing or breathing.

He's not thinking like a Trooper anymore, but neither do I. A Trooper wouldn't get jealous of his own kind or walk away from a target. For all I know, the guys on the other end of the leash are gonna stuff Runt in the freezer when he comes back empty handed. A 'Trooper shouldn't care – casualties are part of the game, the sign that someone wasn't stuff enough to make it out on the field.

lyrics cut per guidelines

Runt…Gooseman walked. He had us and walked. There's probably a tidy sum on our heads – dead or alive – and while the masters would have the meat, they'd at least toss Gooseman a bone or something to keep him hunting the dozen or so of us that's eluded them so far.

Keep thinking what I would have done had it been me. What if Star walked off with him and I wound up with the badge and the leash on my neck? I probably would have either killed him or brought him to the freezer, but who's to say that I'd not do what he did? Sorry, mate. They didn't build us for imagination, and Runt's no longer the baby brat of Wolf Den. Something's happened to him that hadn't happened to Killbane, Chimera, or the ones we walked away from…

"He's not coming back," Darkstar says. "And I still can't figure out why."

"He just did what he had to, love," I say, trying to mask the fact I don't have an answer, either.

A long pause before I hear her again. "You're right. He did."

She obviously understands something I don't, but the head's throbbing too much to think past it. I feel her sitting on the bed with me.

"He walked away not because he was a Supertrooper, not because he was a Ranger…you're right, Stingray. I should have thought about it. Goose let us go because he felt it was the right thing to do. And even if those humans at BETA put him on ice forever, he'll have that."

"Like we've got each other?"

I don't have to see Star nod. I think we both get it now.