Chapter 1:

Melfina paced around the living room once again in worry, "Gene, I'm serious he's been gone too long this time. He said he'd be back soon even if he was walking and it's well past lunch time now."

Gene just sat on the couch, flipping through the television stations seemingly unworried at his partner's long absence. "He's fine Mel; he probably just got caught up in talking to Vaughn over dismantling things or doing one of the side-jobs to keep the discount." With a sigh and a shrug he stood up, "if it'll put your mind at ease I'll run on down to the store and collect his ass."

Mel just shrugged and he left with a nod in her direction, doing his best not to let any sign of his own worry show for her. He had been feeling like someone had been watching them for the better part of the last week and even thought the missing blonde could sense it too when he noticed him looking around the other day. Jim had passed it off as the usual and he let it lie; the kid was too damn responsible for his own good.

He found himself jogging when he was out of sight of their shop and in a matter of minutes he was entering the parts store. Vaughn was at the counter and only one other person was visible roaming the aisles, he hid a frown as he noticed the familiar dirty blonde hair of his partner was nowhere to be seen. "Hey Vaughn, is Jim still here?"

"Hey Gene, was Jim supposed to come here? It's been a slow day so you're like the fifth person to enter the store since it opened this morning and Jim hasn't been one of them."

"You're sure?" He tried to keep the rising panic from showing on the outside; this was not a good development.

"Positive. And now that I think about it I'm surprised he didn't show up right when I opened, it's his normal day to restock parts isn't it."

Gene just gave a smile and made up some excuse as he left the shop and retraced his route back to their home. Jim wasn't the type to do something so completely irresponsible so that means that something happened to him on the way to the store. Now he just had to figure out a way to either keep this from Mel or break it to her in a way that wouldn't completely freak her out.

Meanwhile:

Jim was confused at what was going on, things just weren't adding up and he couldn't tell if he was being taken for an incompetent idiot or if he should be worrying. He had been kidnapped, that much he was sure of but while his mouth was duct-taped shut to keep him from calling for help, or more likely from trying to bite his captors again, and he was blindfolded they hadn't bothered to knock him out or tie him up, instead just pinning his arms and legs in submission holds. They had also taken his concealed pistol yet left his pocket computer and multi-purpose tool he left in his cargo pants out of habit.

The van stopped and he was carried out by the people holding his arms and legs tight into another vehicle which he determined was a type of a drop ship when he felt the vertical ascent without the massive gravitational pull associated with a full spaceship launch. After what felt like forever (but was probably less than an hour) the drop ship docked and once more he was picked up and hauled about. He was tossed unceremoniously into a room not too far from where the drop ship had docked and after he heard the lock click he ripped off his blindfold and the duct tape covering his mouth.

Examining the room he was locked in he resisted the urge to smack his forehead with the palm of his hand. It was furnished with just a cot, a small sink and a toilet; the door had a small opening on the bottom where food trays could be shoved through. He took another look around the room and found what he was searching for, hidden behind the cot was a ventilation duct and it looked to be just big enough for him to climb through.

The conflicting feelings of being taken for an idiot and being led on grew as he took out his still-present multi-purpose tool from his cargo pants and opened the vent. He let himself in the vent feet-first to close the vent behind him, it shouldn't be too long before he could feel a junction where he could maneuver and start crawling face-forward. The venting was dark but eventually he found his way to where he could both sit up and access the wiring giving him almost free access to start hacking their ship's computer.