Two out-of-place soldiers were standing guard on either side of the door leading to Chief Ronnie’s office. They were dressed in strange camouflaged green uniforms. DaRose and Taj had never seen the soldiers – these or any others – before on the ship. As our two heroes approached, the soldiers turned to face them. “Halt,” the one on the right commanded. “Only authorized personnel are permitted past this point.”
After a few quick punches, via Taj, the soldiers were on the floor and less than conscious. As Taj was taking care of business, DaRose spotted Zlatan duck out the back of Chief Ronnie’s back door. DaRose told Taj as much, double-quick, before they entered the room.
When the two men came through the door, Chief Ronnie did his best to act like all was right as rain. “You have guards outside your door these days?” Taj half-asked.
“Yeah,” Ronnie responded.
“And do you happen to have some jive-ass Swede running around here?” Taj aggressively inquired. DaRose felt as if he knew where this was headed.
“Yeah,” Ronnie repeated.
Taj tilted his head and shot a queer look at the chief. “What is with you anyway? Always saying, ‘Yeah,’ over and over.”
Ronnie responded in his typical, one-syllable style.
This was enough for Taj to do what he does best. After a few shots to Ronnie’s noggin, Taj literally knocked his block off (if you take “block” to literally mean “head”). This exposed severed wiring dangling and sparking from Ronnie’s now separated head and neck.
Taj and DaRose simultaneously gave the present scenario screwy looks. “Well, I’ll be… Chief Ronnie was a robo-bot,” Taj said, as if he was reflecting. Then he gave an affirmative nod and added, “Ya know, I am not surprised. He was an odd mofo.”
Ronnie’s head, lying on the floor, started to sound-off in an Emergency Broadcast System type speak that is all too familiar to you, the reader, and myself, but was all new to our two heroes. The head sang of birds singing, clouds looming, and such.
DaRose felt the situation was strange, but strange was becoming the new norm. He thought of his new partner and the violent times. He noticed he had been speaking less. He heard a bird chirp. He imagined the sun was shining and felt like flying.