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Dragonfly : We Do Crime?
Sebastian Davenport hesitated for a fraction of a second before stepping through the smoked glass doors of the Bethany Packard Clinic. It was one of the more expensive detoxification and addiction clinics on Sihnon, but it was run by an old friend, and he knew he was in good hands. The building itself was an unassuming place that more resembled a resort in the mountains of Sihnon, far from the bustle of the city. The only way to get to and from the place was by shuttle, the isolation helping to ensure the guests’ rehabilitation and relaxation removed from the stress and temptations of the cities.
He stepped up to the portal and the doors slid open silently, washing air-conditioned air over him. The heels of his expensive shoes clicked on the polished, black marble tiles. He was dressed in new clothes he purchased in town before catching the shuttle. If he was going to check himself into a rehabilitation center, he was going to do it right. His slacks and jacket were charcoal grey with silver buttons and the tip of an azure kerchief poking out from the breast pocket. His waistcoat matched the kerchief, decorated with embroidery of the same color thread to create a small, diamond-patterned texture. He had forgone the tie in the heat of Sihnon’s summer, but his hair was freshly cut and his face clean-shaven.
At the reception desk, a pleasantly attractive young woman dressed in a calculatedly flattering but modest dress smile warmly at him. The staff was, of course, trained to be courteous, pleasant, and non-judgmental to the wealthy clients the place attracted. “Can I help you, da yeh?”
“Sebastian Davenport,” He slid his Alliance Identification Card across the glass surface of the desk. “I have a reservation…and an assurance from Director Vauxhall of anonymity.”
“Of course, Davenport shian shen,” He nodded her head politely. “Your real name will not even be entered into our database. Is there another name you’d like to be known by during your stay at the facility?”
After thinking for a moment, Sebastian smiled wryly, “Narcissus. It seems appropriate.”
“I’ll note that in your file,” The receptionist’s mouth twitched into a slight smirk that was quickly suppressed. “I have a note here that Vauxhall shian shen wishes to see you after you get settled in your room.”
The doctor nodded as a porter brought his bags in from the shuttle. Reginald Vauxhall had been a brother at the Delta Tau Chi fraternity while they were both attending medical school on Osiris, and one who largely owed passing his molecular biology classes to tutoring from Sebastian. Reginald would be sure no one else on Sihnon knew he was here.
“Narcissus da yeh?” She receptionist cleared her throat. “I apologize, but I will need a credit transfer to cover your first week before I can give you your key.”
“Of course, shao jeh,” He nodded and took the small handheld cortex terminal from his jacket pocket. With a few taps of the stylus, he accessed his numbered account with the Royal Bank of Persephone. His cut of the wine settlement from Fireau et Fille had been twenty-five hundred credits, so he had more than enough to cover the cost of the treatment…even without the discount Reginald was arranging. He froze with the stylus hovering over the “transfer” button when he saw the balance in the account…
Twelve thousand, seven hundred, fifty seven point nineteen credits.
Sebastian double-checked the account number, scratching his chin. Where the hell did those extra ten thousand credits come from? He glanced up to see the receptionist waiting patiently with a neutral expression. He gave her a relaxed smile which she returned as he gestured for her to give him a minute. He quickly switched to check the deposit transaction record, finding exactly ten thousand credits had been transferred from another untraceable numbered account four weeks ago. Who the Hell would send me ten thousa… Comprehension dawned on him. Alan Ming. The deal I worked with Alan Ming over his illicit trade deal! He was going to accept our bargain to keep me quiet! He made the first deposit of my ‘hush money’ before he was killed on Paquin!
His mind reeled. What he could do with that kind of money! He could buy the best medical equipment…use it as seed money for a new business. Well…not on Sihnon, or anywhere else in the Core…given that his license to practice medicine had been revoked. Still, there were options…options he didn’t have just five minutes ago…
“Da yeh?” The receptionist asked. “Are you going to check in, sir?”
* = Da Yeh = “Sir”
* = Shian shen = “Mister”, May stand alone or be used after a personal name.
* = Shao jeh = “Miss”
* = 1 Credit is about $25 in buying power…so 10000cr is equivalent to a quarter million dollars!
Last edited by Jack Elliot; 02-27-2009 at 09:34 PM.
Sebastian started as he was jolted out of his light sleep by the gruff voice. He looked up to see the grizzled, bearded face of the Unified Reclamations mechanic leaning over him. “What? Oh…mister Johansson. What is it?”
“We’re droppin’ outta pulse drive in a couple minutes. The Turban said you wanted to know when we’d got there.” The scruffy man replied as he stood up. “Looks like her maiden voyage goed off without a hitch. Tol’ya she was a good ship.”
“Yes…yes you did. Sheh sheh, Johansson,” Sebastian rubbed his eyes and rose from the couch that was bolted to the floor along the starboard wall of the ship’s lounge. The room was thirty feet long and twenty-five wide, painted a warm saffron color. At the aft end of the room were the small kitchenette, pantry, and walk in freezer on the starboard side, and the stairs down to the main deck on the port side. The furnishings were upholstered in earth tones and greens, and the dinner table was real wood. Apparently the old table had rusted so badly it couldn’t be salvaged, so the previous owners had helped themselves to some lumber they were shipping from Verbena.
He followed the largish mechanic down the switchback stairs into the main hall of the ship. The walls here were painted a standard naval light grey, with a dark grey mottled sandpaper-like floor treatment for traction. Sebastian wanted to do something with the paint scheme, but he hadn’t decided what…and there had been no time to paint the entire interior of the main deck. This was going to be his home, and he wanted it to feel warm. They turned aft and walked the short distance to the main cargo bay. Stepping out onto the balcony, Sebastian looked out over the large space. Sixty feet long, thirty feet wide, and nearly three stories tall, it was painted the same gunmetal grey. Along the ceiling was a roof crane rated to two tons. Johansson climbed the ladder into the engineering section while Sebastian slid down to the floor of the bay. Resting against the wall there was his bag of golf clubs. He’d spent a good portion of the three-week trip practicing his swing down here, the golf balls pinging off the stern wall.
Rather than lug the clubs up the ladder, he used the small elevator to get back to the balcony and walked back onto the main deck. As he passed the stairs and elevator that both led to the ventral cargo bay underneath the main deck, Sebastian shook his head with a faint smile. He’d insisted on repainting the bay before they left Beylix. He wanted the walls to be white, but Universal Reclamations had fought him over the idea. Who wanted to paint a cargo bay white? It would be impossible to keep clean! It turned out they didn’t have enough white epoxy paint anyway, so Sebastian had to settle for taking some white, taupe, and eggshell paints…and mixing them all together.
He took a left at the main intersection and tapped in the code to open the captain’s cabin. As he stepped into his quarters, he leaned the bag of golf clubs against the wall next to the wardrobe. Like the table in the lounge, the furniture in the captain’s quarters was of real wood, darkly stained. The previous owner had acquired them in trade from some settlers on Triumph. Wood paneling lined the walls with a lighter stain, while the light fixtures, door handle, and other accoutrements were brass, giving the room a rather Victorian, nautical feel. It was also the only room on the ship to have carpet, a deep, azure plush that likely cost the former owner a pretty penny.
Sebastian took a minute to check himself over in the mirror, smiling at his reflection. He wanted to be sure he looked good when he arrived at Beaumonde. He paused as he realized he was wearing the same outfit he had been wearing in his dream. Straightening his collar, he shut away the memories of Sihnon and the clinic there, turning back out the door.
It was a short walk past the crew cabins and shuttle bays to the operations deck. The airlock dominated the center of the room, and every wall was covered in readouts, displays, knobs, and flashing lights of the machinery that kept the ship running. Sebastian was not particularly technically inclined, so the room still intimidated him. He always felt as if he might accidentally bump a switch or toggle that would send klaxons screaming in alarm. He rolled his eyes at his own superstitious silliness. He was the captain of a ship now. His ship.
As he stepped into the cockpit, the view out the fore of the ship was breathtaking. Beaumonde lay before them like a jeweled orb…a jeweled orb somewhat smudged by dark clouds and haze across much of its surface. It was a planet known for manufacturing, and the air pollution could be bad on some days. At the helm sat a dark-skinned man of Arabian descent in a blue turban. He also wore a brown leather jacket festooned with military unit patches, mission tags, medals, and ribbons. Parked behind his seat was his wheelchair, as the man’s legs ended halfway down the thigh. “The Turban”, as the Universal Reclamation people called him, had been a fighter jock for the Independents during the Unification war. Unfortunately, his flying came to an end with a fiery crash that claimed both his legs, and he spent the rest of the war on an Alliance medical frigate.
It had cost Sebastian an extra five hundred credits to “rent” the pilot and mechanic for the ship’s maiden voyage, and purchase tickets for their return voyage. While the doctor knew enough about piloting to get a shuttle off the ground, plot an autopilot course, and land it in calm, clear weather…he would leave calculating a three week long, four billion kilometer course through the black to the professionals. Beylix was where he had found his ship, but Beaumonde was where he’d find his crew. He was sure his pilot was here, and after finding her…everything else would fall into place.
Sebastian Davenport rubbed his hands together as they dropped from orbit and hit the atmosphere in a sudden burst of fire. Slick’s Folly had arrived.
* = Sheh sheh = “Thanks”
The Firefly/Serenity based pen and paper hybrid roleplay Dragonfly : We Do Crime?
Entry to this thread is by invitation only, and anyone entering should understand this thread will have pen and paper elements, which means the use of structured, quantified character sheets and occasionally dice.
An OOC thread will be open soon and it will be linked here.
There is a Wiki!
with information on the universe and character sheets.
Have fun everyone.
Last edited by Jack Elliot; 02-27-2009 at 09:39 PM.
The bar had changed since he had been there. The dance floor and small stage had been shifted over to eastern wall and quite a few new tables had been set in the middle of the cavernous room. The massive mahogany bar still dominated the west side of the room. But a set of swinging doors had been added to on side.
People were seated at a scattering of the tables engaged in various stages of eating meals. That was new. It had strictly been finger food the last time. As he watched, a young man pushed out of the swinging doors carrying a tray with food and served it to two men wearing Cosmohaul jumpsuits.
The bar was being run by the tall brunette woman he remembered as Mavis’ friend Marly. She had a towel slung over one shoulder and was drawing a draft from the tap. Even now there were several patrons seated at the bar with beers or liquor in front of them.
Sebastian adjusted his collar slightly as he worked his way across the floor of the bar. The nerves were making his stomach flutter. He figured if anyone would know where to find Mavis, it was Marly. Of course, the question was whether or not Mavis wanted to be found. They hadn't parted on the best of terms. It had been three months, and he hoped time might have cooled any anger she might still be carrying...
He approached the bar with his easy smile, "Marly the lovely mixologist! I don't know if you remember me..."
Marly turned with a smile as she heard her name. She looked confused for half a second as she obviously tried to place him. Then the smile faded to a look of incredulousness. She put both hands on her hips and growled, “Oh, I remember you alright.” She stabbed one finger at him, “You have got some balls coming in here, hundan.”
Sebastian's smile faded slightly as his eyebrows shot up, "It's...very nice to see you, too...Marly." He leaned against the bar, "Could I perhaps get a scotch...single malt?"
“No!” Marly slammed both hands on the bar in front of Sebastian. “No, you aren’t drinking in my bar.” Her voice rose to rival the music being played over the speaker system. The man and his date who were sitting nearest them, serendipitously slid off their stools and left. “In fact, if you don’t haul your ass out of here now, I will have Otto break it in half for you!”
Hmmm...it seems Mavis has spoken with Marly...and those words were unkind... He lifted himself off the bar and glanced around apologetically. He lifted his hands as if in surrender, "So...I'm guessing you've talked to Mavis recently."
Marly opened her mouth to reply when the swinging doors open off to her right.
The man who emerged from the kitchen caught all attention immediately. He was easily the largest man Sebastian had ever seen. Topping out at nearly seven foot tall, he was built like a mountain that had decided to walk around. He was dressed in sparkling clean cook’s whites and an equally clean apron was tied around his middle. The huge man was built like an ancient god or a romance vid hero. His muscles had muscles and they all looked ready and able to bench press a cargo ship. Completing his alarming look was the fact that he was absolutely hairless, even his forehead was smooth and eyebrow less.
“Here, now love.” If rocks could speak, his voice would have been theirs. If rocks would have had the rich tones of a well educated upper class gentleman. He rubbed his hands on a spotless white towel as he strode to where Marly stood. He gave a warm smile that didn’t quite reach his ice blue eyes. “Is there a problem?”
Marly rounded on him while pointing an accusing finger at Sebastian, “THAT’S him!”
The giant man put an enormous paw on her shoulder gently, “He is who, my dear?”
“The Doctor. Mav’s doctor.”
“Oh. I see.” The man moved over and took up Sebastian’s hand and shook it easily. “Benjamin MaColl,” His smile warmed several degrees and finally lit his eyes as he introduced himself. It was as if the sun had come out from behind storm clouds. “ Marvelous.” He said still shaking Sebastian’s hand. “It is quite overdue. Mav has gone entirely too long already without a physician.”
Sebastian shook the huge man's hand haltingly, his eyes widening in surprise, "Doctor?...Does Mavis need a doctor? Is something wrong?"
“No, no.” Marly said, exasperated. “That’s the Doctor who left her.’ Then she came over to where Ben stood and leaned in and hissed quietly, obviously not wanting to be overheard. “The one who knocked her up and left her!”
“Oh.” Ben arched his hairless brows, looking down at Sebastian.
The doctor's heart seemed to stop as an icy cold swept through his body, He stood, completely motionless for several seconds, then blinked his eyes several times as though rebooting his mind. "Pardon me...did you say...knocked up?"
Ben turned to Marly, “Perhaps, my dear, you would allow us to speak…man to man? I’m positive our other patrons don’t need any more drama this evening.” Marly shot Sebastian an evil glare but did as Ben asked and moved off down the bar.
Ben reached underneath the bar and withdrew an unmarked bottle of a liquid so dark it was almost black. “Here, Doctor.” He motioned Sebastian to follow him down the bar a few feet where they could speak more privately. He poured two short-stemmed brandy bubbles with some of the liqueur. “A dear friend gave me this. Its brandy, of a sort.” He smiled his eyes twinkling, there were few things Ben MaColl liked more then new and possibly profitable tastes. “Its designed out on Dunmore. A small experimental winery. It should warm you a bit.”
Sebastian sat on a bar stool and gratefully took the drink. He sipped the fiery brandy and exhaled slowly, "Mavis is...pregnant?"
Ben swirled and inhaled the aroma of the brandy then took a sip before he answered. “Yes, she is.” He said simply. He set the glass down. “I reacted much the same way when Marly told me she was expecting our first.”
After a few moments, Sebastian realized he had been silent for too long. He took another sip of the brandy and carefully set the glass down. "She didn't tell me. Not a single wave while I was on Sihnon."
“I can’t presume to know what Mav is thinking. But I can tell you she only discovered her condition a short time ago. Her reluctance to seek medical care for herself, however makes me wonder if she is planning to …continue the pregnancy.” Ben said gently.
"Do you know where I can find her?" Sebastian asked.
"Yes." He said slowly. "But perhaps you should consider not contacting her. She doesn't know you came here seeking her. She could make her decisions without ...other input."
Sebastian slid the glass toward the man and looked him in the eye, "Where is she?"
As Ben started to speak again the swinging doors opened again. Mavis came through to where Marly stood at the taps. She was wearing her normal ‘broken in’ jeans and a dark blue sweater a few sizes too large for her and an apron with a ticket book sticking out of the pocket. She had both hands raised above her head and was pulling her white hair into a messy ponytail.
Marly practically jumped to her side and began quickly talking in her ear and pointed down the bar to where Ben and Sebastian sat. Mav froze, her arms still raised, her hands full of hair. She locked eyes with Sebastian immediately, her own growing wide. Shock was written plain on her face
Sebastian slid off the barstool and stood, straightening his waistcoat. He walked down the bar, toward her, his eyes on hers. She looked just like she had when he had last seen her on Paquin...except perhaps a little careworn. There were the hints of shadows under her eyes and she looked weary. It took a second for him to recognize the apron and ticket book. She's...waiting tables? He took a deep breath, "Mavis?"
Mav swallowed, her throat having gone dry as dust. What the goram hell was he doing here? How had he even found her? She let her arms fall slowly to her sides. He looked…good. Better then the last time she had seen him. He was dressed up all swanky and had had a haircut. And he was walking toward her. She snapped her mouth shut when she realized her lips were parted. She shook her head, there was just no dealing….
As he came near, Sebastian felt that connection he had with her a few months ago. It seemed like the three months between them were simply gone...like he'd left only yesterday. Despite the shocking news he'd learned just a few moments ago, he found himself just glad to see her again. "Mavis...it's...it's good to see you again."
She pressed her lips together. A thousand things swirled around her brain that she could say. The angry, white-hot words to scald him, send him away. Or the cold things, she didn’t care he was here? Or the traitor part of her heart that ached to grab him and kiss him like she was dying of thirst and he was a glass of cool water? It was too much, every word she had stuck in her throat. She turned and pushed back through to the kitchen.
Marly fixed Sebastian with a satisfied glare, “I thought I told you to haul outta here?”
But Ben had followed Sebastian down on the other side of the bar, “Marly, our Mav is not a child and I feel certain she doesn’t need your protection just now.” He looked to Sebastian. He had seen it when the younger man had spoken and he wasn’t going to stand in his way. He gestured for Sebastian to enter the kitchen. “Up the stairs the first door on the left hand side of the hallway.” He moved out of Sebastian’s way.
Sebastian walked through the doors and the noisy kitchen beyond, twisting to avoid colliding with bustling cooks. He moved up the steps to a short hallway. He paused at the first door at the left before lifting his hand to gently knock.
The door swung slightly open at his touch, having not been latched in her haste. Mav sat on the bed with her back to the door. She held a large ceramic cup with the words, ‘TeaTime’ painted in jaunty blue letters on the side. She knew it wasn’t Marly coming to talk this time. “I should have known you’d show up. “ she said quietly.
"Like a bad penny?" He stepped in and quietly closed the door behind him.
"Like my luck." she said ruefully.
"I did say I was coming back after...Sihnon," He stuffed his hands in his pockets and leaned against the wall, next to the door. "Imagine my surprise when I waved Aidan and found out you had left the Aurora the same day I had. I took a chance, thinking you'd come back here."
"Didn't want to work for Aidan anymore." she replied. "I needed to get back to being on my own." She tilted the cup back and forth, watching the light reflect off the inch or so of amber liquid left.
"Yes...I understand that. I've been working on putting my life back together and come upon a few surprises..." He cocked his head slightly with a wry grin, "Though...not quite so surprising as the last five minutes."
She blew out a breath. "Not nearly so surprised as I was, believe me." She stood and put the cup on the small bedside table. She reached around and untied the apron, pulling it off and tossing it back on the bed. Marly would just have to manage without her for a while. "Your little parting gift was, in fact, a complete shock."
Sebastian sighed, "How long have you known?"
"'Bout four weeks, give or take." She rubbed her fingertips against her temple. "Damnit Davenport!" she said her voice finally rising. "You told me you were on the pill."
"I was...I am..." Sebastian shrugged with his hands wide. "But...these things are only...99.8 percent effective...so...one in five-hundred times..."
She paced in a small circle, regaining her calm. "Yeah," she sighed deeply. "I guess. It doesn't matter, its done." She stopped and faced him.
"The big guy downstairs...Ben? He says you haven't seen a doctor yet?" Sebastian asked.
"I did about a dozen of those little gell tests, then I went over to the free clinic. The Doc there confirmed it." She trailed off. "The clinic is Alliance run.” She shrugged in her familiar, awkward, one shouldered way, “I don’t need that kind of attention.” She didn’t mention she had been so paranoid being back on a more populated world that she hadn’t even let the Docs remove the staple in her eyelid or the check out her foot when she took the cast off.
"Well...you should see one," He lifted himself off the wall. "Even if you weren't comfortable with...me...I can find a reputable doctor."
Mav crossed her arms over her chest and arched an eyebrow, "I know you didn't track me down to make sure I'm seeing a Doc." Her eyes narrowed. "Why are you here?"
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a slip of videopaper, walking across the short distance between them. He held it out to her, "This. I came looking for the best pilot I have ever seen."
She took the paper. On its surface was the image of a ship, a Dragonfly class. The ship was a little worse for wear, but the Dragonflys were the workhorses of the ‘Verse. Little, short of running it into a moon, would stop one. They needed a better class of mechanic to keep them really happy but other then that. She tilted the picture watching the view pan along the craft. “Okay. It’s a ship. I don’t think you needed a pilot to see that.”
"No, Mav...I need someone to fly it." He raised his eyebrows and leveled his blue eyes at her.
She looked up to meet his eyes. She blinked rapidly. "This... is your ship?" She remembered her own math on how much she would have to save to afford a down payment on a ship for herself. By her calculations, if she took short haul jobs at least once every two months with other jobs in between and cached most of her tips from working at the bar, she would be on her own ship in as little as…a year. Maybe a year and a half. And that was if the ship she bought wasn’t new and was on sale. And maybe if the salesman had had a three-martini lunch.
"When I was Ming's...prisoner...we discussed the future...what he was going to do with me when the deal was over," He explained. "I tried to sell him on the idea that he could pay me off to keep me quiet. I didn't think he'd gone with the idea, and felt it was a moot point when Alan Ming died."
He pointed to the videocard, "But imagine my surprise when I opened my cortex bank account to find a rather large sum sitting in it. Ming had dropped the first payment in there. It was enough for me to put a down payment on her. A shot at going into business for ourselves. A shot at freedom."
Mav watched the pan shoot move down the side of the ship again. Business for ourselves? She closed her eyes briefly, feeling a little light headed. “You bought a ship? You bought a ship with bribe money from Alan gorram Ming?” She looked at him, her gray eyes wide, “What were you thinking? What…a ship? Really?”
"The ship is a chance, Mav...a chance for us to be our own bosses. A chance for you to get back in the Black. A chance for me to practice medicine again." Sebastian ran his fingers through his hair. "You need a ship to fly...and I need..." He paused and sighed. "I can't get my license reinstated. I can't practice medicine anywhere in the Core Worlds. But with a ship...we could fly out to the Rim worlds and bring medical care to those who need it. Places that don't much care about things like licenses."
“Wait, wait.” Mav said waving her hands back and forth. “Going to the Rim to do your Doctoring is an admirable idea. There’s defiantly a need. An’ you’re a good Doc.” She rubbed her arms as if she were cold. “But there…is no us. No our anything.” She said without any real venom. “You didn’t need to come all the way out here. I’m sure there’s no shortage of pilots on Sihnon.”
"I don't want just any pilot," Sebastian waved his hand. "I want the best. I want you."
She closed her eyes and rubbed a hand across them. “All modesty aside. I am not the best pilot ever. Not even close.” She looked at him, her expression carefully neutral, “There wasn’t any reason for you to come out here.”
Sebastian blinked, "What part of 'I want you' was I vague on? I told you before I left that I was going to come back. I knew you were angry, but...I thought we were still...us."
That stopped her in her tracks. His words buzzed around her brain but didn’t make any sense. She had been clear that that particular bridge was burnt. Hacked apart. Buried. And the ground salted. She raised her eyes to his. Everything that could have been raced through her mind. “You left. I really don’t blame you but you did. I wasn’t angry. “ She stopped and shrugged, “Okay, yeah, that’s not true. I was pretty pissed off. But you made it very clear you didn’t need me around.”
"How did I do that?" He asked, perplexed. "I said I needed a program...and I knew someone who ran one. I couldn't very well go through detox while running around on the Aurora, and I thought you were staying aboard." He shrugged with wide, puppy-dog eyes, "I though I made it clear I was coming back...for you."
“You don’t get it, do you? I would have left the Aurora for you. I’d have followed you anywhere you needed to go, damnit!” she burst out. “Just followed you around like some smitten school girl.” She went back to her pacing, rubbing her shoulder. “I told you…everything. And you left.”
"Really?" He raised his eyebrows in genuine surprise. "You'd follow me to Sihnon and stay in some hotel while I was locked in rehab?" He blinked rapidly. "I...I don't know what to say. I guess I just thought it made more sense to meet up with you after..."
“You do stuff for the people you…care…about” she stumbled over the word. “You stick with them and help them.”
"And that's why I'm here," He replied. "To offer you the chance to be a part of this ship. A partner. Back out in the black."
Mav pushed her fingers through her hair. All she ever wanted was to fly: to get back in the Black. But with Sebastian? There was a recipe for disaster if she ever heard one. But a partner? She had to think on that. “A partner?” She studied him narrowly.
"Yes," He smiled. "I don't want you to work for me. I want you to work with me. How much of that wine subsidy we got from Fireau-et-Fille do you have?"
"All of it." she said. She wasn't sure if she wanted to tell him she had been saving it towards her own ship. “Plus, I’ve had a couple of jobs since then. Before …this… really ramped up.” She put a self-conscious hand on her belly.
Sebastian's grin widened, "Then you can buy in. You'll be part owner...working for ourselves instead of someone else." His eyes drifted down to her belly. She wasn't showing the pregnancy much at all, in fact if he hadn't have known he likely wouldn't have noticed it. He brought his eyes back up to hers, "What do you say?"
Mavis sat down on the foot of the bed looking at the Videopaper picture again. She chewed the end of one nail as she watched the video clip of the ship replay. She had never actually owned her own ship, or even a part of one before. The shuttle she had taken from Chugach had been Bill’s, of course, not hers. She had just bought new forged papers for it. And when it had finally gone tits up, she had flown for other people.
She looked back to Sebastian where he stood, somewhat patiently waiting for her to say something. There was such hope written plain on his face. She felt a twist somewhere near her heart. Would it be so bad? As long as he understood that if she did this it would be to fly not to fall back into his bed. She realized she had been silent for quite awhile.
“I don’t know.” She said finally. “It’s a ruttin’ lot of money, Davenport.” She couldn’t help but think of the thousand things she would need once the spawn made its appearance. “And give me another four five months and I probably won’t even fit behind the stick.” She sighed as the pic ran down the side of the Dragonfly again. Excuses, she thought.
“I guess I could at least go see the ship.” She said handing the picture back to him. “You know, just to make sure you didn’t get hosed.”
The next morning found Mav walking beside a very excited Sebastian towards the eastern side of the Maidenhead Space Port. He had come for her late morning looking as pleased as punch to be showing off his new toy. Under other circumstances, Mav would have been tickled to see him so happy and part of her still was. It was a part she ruthlessly locked away. She tried to replace it with the part that was practically dancing with glee to be back in the Port. She waved happily and called a ‘good morning’ to Art Dixon, the pilot of the cargo ship Seven Calls. It was so good to be back where she really belonged. She inhaled the sharp scent of fuel and hot metal and a blissful sigh escaped her.
"You seem pretty chipper today," Sebastian winked. "You know this port well, I'm all turned around. It's docking bay forty-two."
She arched an eyebrow at him and waved a hand around her, “Who wouldn’t be happy here?” She edged them towards a turn around one of the huge hangers that stood every few hundred feet. Forty two was one of the outer docks. Thus less expensive and a longer walk from the terminal. It didn’t matter, a little exercise was good for her.
"So...how've you been feeling...with the..." He gestured vaguely toward her belly, "...delicate condition?"
She snorted, “I wouldn’t call it so delicate, there’s far too much barfing for it to be delicate.”
"You really should see a doctor, you know," He wagged his eyebrows. "I happen to know a fairly decent one. Even has a full medical suite on board his ship."
She rolled her eyes. But he was right. "Yeah, I know that one too. That's how I got in the 'delicate condition' in the first place." She waved a hand as they passed the hanger and started the down the row that would lead them to the dock. “But, yeah, you’re right. If I’m going to keep it I need to take care of that.”
"As it happens, we can do a quick uterine scan once we're on board," Sebastian said. "Probably too early to tell the gender though..."
"What?" she gave him a gimlet eye. "You need a guinea pig to test your equipment on?"
"It's a top of the line Caduceus Technologies scanner, not some experimental prototype," Sebastian rolled his eyes. "You know...as a bonus for signing on to the ship, you get free medical benefits!"
Mav looked up at him a little more seriously, "You're really taking this Captain gig to heart, aren't you?"
"I think I will cut a rather dashing figure as Captain," He struck a pose with his back straight and chin slightly elevated as he walked. "Maybe I should get one of those captainy wheel hats."
Mav grinned, "Oh yeah. Go for one of those three cornered hats and a pirate's shirt." She made a circle with thumb and forefinger, "Snazzy."
"Ooh, a Tricorne hat, that would be dashing!" He grinned with eyes wide. He tapped her on the shoulder and pointed, "aha...Bay Forty-two."
Mavis looked to where he was pointing. The Dragonfly sat hooked up to the various power sources and connection cables. The Dragonfly class was not as flashy as some but it had a solid trustworthy air to it. It was not as big as the Firefly class; it could still haul enough to make a run worth your while. She stopped and just looked for a minute. Something made her smile as she did.
"She's a good ship for our purposes, I think," The doctor said, standing next to her. "Smaller and cheaper to run than a Firefly, which will help us keep operating costs down. I'm betting a lot of the people we help won’t have cash to pay for their health care...but maybe trade goods we can offload down the line."
Hmm." she said and started walking to the ship again. She should remind him there wasn't a we just yet but she found herself already calculating fuel cost. As they approached she ran her eyes over the shape of the ship: its curves and structure. A lot could be learned by just looking. Then she stopped in her tracks.
The ship’s new name had been freshly painted in bright white paint in letters as tall as she was. ‘Slick’s Folly.’ She blinked a few times, and the name stubbornly remained the same. “Oh, for cryin’ out loud.” She snapped her head around to Sebastian.
"It seemed appropriate," Sebastian shrugged with his trademark grin.
"In what reality?" Mav passed a hand over her face and gave him a deeply put upon glare. "Fine, it's your ship...name whatever dumbass thing you want." She headed to the Dragonfly, no...Slick's Folly, at a quick pace.
Sebastian had to hurry to catch and get ahead of her, "You move pretty fast for a pregnant gal..." He reached the ventral ramp and typed in the access code that opened the door. "After you," He swept his arm theatrically toward the stairs that led up into the ventral cargo bay.
Mav rolled her eyes, "No, you don't just plunge in. You have to pay some attention to the body first. Work your way in." She grinned in spite of herself. "I would think an ...experienced man, such as yourself would know that..." She walked towards the front of the ship.
She started at the nose. It rose several stories above her but she walked under it, head craned back anyway. The lines were straight and solid with a no frills workhorse sort of air to it. Of course, the panels and paint were poked and pitted from the debris of space. She moved around to the front skids. The gear was shiny and looked as if it had recently been cleaned. SO either good mechanic or they’re trying to hide something. She moved over to the skid.
She ran her hand over the heavy rock hard rubber that made the bottom. It wasn’t cracked or flaking. That was good. She stood and moved over towards the belly of the ship. Near the back, the ship dipped down to the point where she could reach up and touch the underside. She hesitantly touched her fingertips to the warm metal. Hi, baby, how’s it going?
Sebastian sat on the steps and watched her walking along the length of the ship. His smile widened as he saw the look on her face. It was the look of a woman falling in love.
The metal was warm where she laid her palm to it. The paint was rough in spots and she could tell it had been painted several different colors at various times. Now it was a standard shade of gray, not flashy but serviceable. She liked it.
Mav slowly followed the curve of the ship, trailing her hand along its belly. Ships would tell you everything, if you knew how to listen. When she came to one of the maintenance panels, she turned the keypin and pulled the three-foot square panel off it grooves and set it on the ground.
The doctor leaned back on the stairs and interlaced his fingers behind his head, "You take your time, Mav...just wake me up when you're ready to go in." He wasn’t exactly sure if she'd heard him.
Mav shot him a look but went right back to the ship. She wasn’t a true mechanic but she knew enough to maintain her own boat on the simple systems. And this one, the hydraulics, was one she knew…more or less. She could at least tell if someone had pulled a fast one on Sebastian. She worked her upper body around the wiring and into the hatch.
Inside, she found the main lubrication line and followed it up to the where it coupled with the landing gear’s auxiliary line. It was a weak spot in a lot of older ships. She rubbed her fingers along the connection. The thick grease that coated her fingers felt smooth, no grit and not sludgy. She hmmmed to herself thoughtfully and wiggled out of the hatch. She came back to where Sebastian was sitting on the ramp, “You have a handkerchief or something?”
"Are you going to get it all...fouled with ship gunk?" He asked, leery.
"Yeah." she made a 'gimme' gesture.
His brows knitted together as he pulled the blue kerchief from his breast pocket, "It's...it's silk."
She reached out and took it from his fingers. "Don't be a pansy." She rubbed the grease from the coupling on the silk. "She looks good. Clean, but not 'washed and waxed'. " She said. "You may have actually got a good deal."
"Well...the salesman had good reason to be honest," Sebastian said, mournfully watching her ruin his perfectly good silk kerchief. "I helped him out with some...elective surgery that his health care plan didn't cover."
“Ah.” She nodded and held out the silk square to him. “Okay, we’re ready.” She looked up at eh ship, “let’s take a look inside.”
Last edited by Jack Elliot; 02-27-2009 at 11:59 PM.
The interior of the Folly was as good as the outside. The engine room was clean as a whistle. Not surprising for a Dragonfly. The mechanic on this class of ship had to be a good one. As they toured the ship, Mav poked her head in the staterooms and checked out the shuttles. She really couldn’t find anything to fault it on. Well, except for the blue and gold décor in the Captain’s cabin. She had looked up at Sebastian and laughed, ‘Well, ahoy matey!”
However, after the last few weeks of almost living in the bathroom, it made her a bit wary of the lack of plentiful facilities. Having only two bathrooms would make life interesting for a while. And it would likely cut down on the number of ‘first class’ passengers they would attract. He would attract, she reminded herself harshly, and it doesn’t matter, I probably should tell him no.
Sebastian saved the flight deck for last. As Mav stepped through the pass through, she felt her shoulders slump. It was…beautiful. “Damnit.” She muttered out loud.
"You don't like it?" Sebastian asked, a curious look on his face.
Mav ran a hand over the main consol. It was going to eat up every cred she had plus some. Every cred she had saved for her own ship. But, she felt the hesitation in her own heart. This could be her own ship. It had that feel, she couldn’t really explain it but it was there. Finally, she turned and crossed her arms over her chest regarding Sebastian with weary look. “I shouldn’t spend the money. That’s every penny I have.” She sighed and reached up to rub the back of her neck. Her daily headache had settled in. “I have a job, a good steady job with people who…care about me. This is risky.” She shook her head, “There’s a million really good reasons I should say no.”
Sebastian leaned against the telemetry panel to the right of the co-pilot's seat, regarding her with a faint smile but serious eyes, "And not one good reason to say yes?"
She sighed, “No, nothing comes to mind.” Then leaned back on the side of the pilot’s chair, copying his position. “I have enough for the 20% and the startup.” She said, looking about half of the really good reasons to say no, in the eye. “But I want the option for more if this insanity actually works. And my 20%?” she spread her arms wide to indicate the flight deck, “This is it. If I fly, this is my domain. I make the decisions here.” She said, her tone firm.
Sebastian shrugged, "Hey...you're the pilot. Captain decides where she goes...you decide how she gets there." He took his handheld Cortex device from his pocket and tapped out a few things with the stylus. "Twenty percent is a good start. As we start pulling profit, you can fold yours back into the ship and buy up more shares."
He looked up, his blue eyes sparkling, "So? As soon as you transfer the funds to Naasirka's finance division, your name goes on the lien and the title."
“Oh.” She said, suddenly worried. “I figured you’d just take the cash…” she trailed off. Having made her decision, she didn’t want to change her mind now. Liens and titles could be searched. But she had buried ‘Stone’ pretty far down and was going by Harper again. It shouldn’t be a problem. After all nothing had come of signing on to Sternmetal with ‘Harper’. She shook her head, “Yeah, okay, that’s not a problem.” She held out her hand for his Cortex connection, “Here. Before I come to my senses.”
She took the sleek little handheld and stylus. Sebastian just had all kinds of new toys. It took a minute to get all her codes in and maneuver through the layers of security that Ben had put in place for her but finally she handed the device back to Sebastian. “Done.” She ran a hand through her hair, making the loose curls a little messier. “I can’t believe I did that.” She moved back and sat heavily in the pilot seat, looking thoroughly stunned.
"Now you are officially an owner of this vessel. I know it took a lot of courage to do it, trust me I know. I've sunk everything I have into this ship and the medical gear I've stowed away." Sebastian sat in the co-pilot's seat next to her. After a moment he reached over and laid a hand on top of hers, "But...I'm honestly glad you took the plunge, Mavis."
Mav looked down to his hand covering hers. His skin was warm and his touch made her heart stutter. She slowly pulled away from him, an unreadable look in her eye. Taking a deep breath, she was pleased, when she spoke again, that her voice was steady. “We’ll need more crew then just you and me. You planned for that?”
"I waved a mechanic that used to fly on the Aurora named Alley...but she has a steady position with Cosmohaul, now," Sebastian shrugged. "Know any good wrench monkeys?"
She drew one foot up on the seat of the pilot’s chair as she leaned back a little. “I might know one, Rosalita Chen. I met her a year or so ago when I was hustling jobs here at Maidenhead. I’ve never actually flown with her, but she seems solid. Bounces around a lot, but she says that’s because she wants to get to know a new set of engines every once in a while. Rosalita might be ready to get back in the Black.”
"Well, if you think she's a good choice, then I trust your judgment," He tapped his lower lip with his fingertip. "I might cast around to find a nurse to help with the patient care...do triage...paperwork...take preliminary readings...light work, so to speak."
“Some security personal wouldn’t be a bad idea either. A lot of these colonies can be pretty rough.” Then she added with a grin. “The Folly’s gonna fill up fast.”
"And more crew on the way, to be sure," Sebastian's glance dropped to Mavis' belly for a fraction of a second, the flickered toward the main deck. "Hey...you haven't seen the infirmary yet."
“It’s the infirmary.” She said absently, still thinking about crew and starting to make a list in her head of what supplies they would need.
He held out his hand, "Come on...I'm excited about all the medical gobbledygook in there. I’m a doctor. Let me give you the tour." He grinned. "You'll love the phased imaging machine."
“Suuure.” Then she remembered he had said something about giving her a scan as part of her ‘medical benefits’. She opened her mouth to accuse him of just trying to get her shirt off again but snapped it closed. It was too easy to fall back into the familiar rhythm of banter with him. To easy to fall back into lots of old feelings, she warned herself sternly. She eyed his hand then pushed herself up from the chair with out his assistance. “I know you want to scan the spawn. Just say so. You don’t have to try and charm me.”
"Was it working?" He smiled. Before she could answer or reproach him, he started toward the infirmary, "Let's get you that first neo-natal checkup...then let's find us a crew and get this bird in the black."
Posting for Box of Rocks. As she is at her grandmom's 101rst birthday party
Rosalita walked into Bay 99 with a two-fold sense of relief. It was much dimmer here, and the standard bar gloom was much kinder to a hangover than the godawful sunshine outside. Plus, her good pal Mavis was tending bar and would surely let her run a tab. An additional tab, she amended, remembering the night before.
If she was really lucky, there'd be a job at the bottom of the bottle.
Mavis finished stacking the shot glasses and had just started in on the mugs when she saw Rosalita come in and head for the bar. She immediately recognized the sunglazed look of the hung over. She turned and poured a heavy mug full of black coffee from the carafe and set it down in front of the mechanic. “Long night, chica?” she asked with an unsympathetic grin.
"Long night, short morning."
Rosalita drank half the mug down, eager for the day's first hit of caffeine. In the bar's mirror she caught an unfortunate glimpse of herself: still wrecked from the night before, her face looked tired and drawn. Three hours of sleep would do that to you; woulda been better off just staying up. Her hair was still pulled into its usual high ponytail of cornrows, with engineer's wiring, lockpicks, and some tiny gears she'd gotten somewhere all woven in. It made entirely too much noise for her aching head.
She finished the coffee and tapped the mug on the bar. "Hit me. And then remind me why I'm awake at the crack of dawn."
Mavis poured the mug full again and replaced the carafe behind her. She rested both elbows on the bar and said, “You’re here at the crack of noon because you’re a savvy business woman. And you’re bored with ole’ what’s his face you’re working for.”
"How the hell did I get an engineering job that leaves me on this hunk of rock half the time? It ain't like I want to go survey other hunks of rocks in the Yosemite but it beats sitting on my ass waiting to see what kinda damage Richter did to my ship."
Rosalita sipped at the coffee moodily, then gave Mavis an overly casual look.
"You sayin' you got a better offer?"
The other woman grinned and chewed the corner of her lip, unable to keep the excited light from her eyes. “I bought a ship yesterday.” She said bouncing a little. “Well,” she waved a hand, “Not the whole ship. I bought into a ship.” Mavis settled back at the bar. “A…friend... of mine, a Doctor has this idea to start up a business running medical service out on the Rim. You know those folks don’t get regular help out there. And he…we figure it could turn a profit and maybe do some good, you know. A little good Karma doesn’t hurt anyone these days.” She rubbed her hands on her bar towel. “But we need a crew and top of the list is a mechanic and I thought you might be interested.”
Rosalita couldn't help but grin back. She'd never seen Mavis this excited about anything. The other woman was actually bouncing!
"I can't believe you bought into a ship. You have been holding out on me, Miss Moneybags." Rosalita raised her coffee mug in a toast. "Gohn shi!"
She leaned back in her chair, one hand reflexively brushing the wrench dangling from her hip belt. "I wouldn't mind jumpin' ship to crew for you. But as a 'savvy business woman' I need more details."
“It’s a Dragonfly class. Clean as a whistle. Who ever ran her last did a good job.” Mavis said. “The Doc has it outfitted already with good medical stuff; scanners and the like.” She paused, a strange quirk on her lips. Then she went on. “I saw it yesterday over at the port. It looks good.” Then she leaned in a little and spoke more slowly. “It has that feel, you know? When you see a ship that you just…know.”
"You got it bad," Rosalita said, grinning. She absolutely refused to acknowledge she knew what Mavis meant. Already her mind was envisioning the standard engines on a Dragonfly and wondering what modifications had been made and how she could make them better. I wonder if anyone's added a cargo stash yet, she thought, remembering the last Dragonfly she'd crewed on. "So you're in love with the ship, you'd work for free. What do the rest of us get?"
“Well, standard stuff. We feed you, you get your own quarters. You get a cut when we turn a profit. The per month isn’t going to be great. But with a Doc on board you get all the medical meddling you can stand.” She said, and wrinkled her nose,
Mavis’ voice went serious, “I wouldn’t pretend that this is a sure thing. I bet half these farmers pay us with chickens so part of the fun will be doing the downline trade shuffle.” She shrugged with one shoulder. “You’d be a damn sight smarter to stay with Richter. He may be boring but you’re probably going to be making more money.”
Rosalita weighed smart versus boring for a moment. "Never said I was smart. Yosemite's on a survey run for another three weeks, I got all my stuff with me. Sign me up. Just make sure the doc'll fix me if I can't pay my bookies."
Mavis rolled her eyes. “Well, they can’t find you if you’re in the Black, now can they?”
She reached across the bar to shake Rosalita’s hand, “We still have some crew to find and sign but it shouldn’t take too long. I want us out of here mashang.” She smiled wide and happy, “So welcome aboard Slick’s Folly.” She winced, “I know, dumbass name, but I didn’t pick it.”
Rosalita slid her empty coffee mug to Mavis, and matched her wide grin. "Gotta toast your new ship, dumbass name and all. What's the crew discount on Scotch?"
Last edited by Ghostmoon; 02-27-2009 at 11:39 PM.
“That ought to do it.” Dr. Maurice Bascomb’s tenor voice murmured as he put in the final suture. The neat row of stitches over the burly patient’s eye held the gash shut without any gaps or puckers. The doctor did good work despite his unconventional training. It was the main reason she had taken the job despite rumors that he had trouble keeping staff. She’d found out why after just a few short weeks. As he sat back, Mikenna stepped in to take the tray of instruments out of his way and begin the cleaning and sterilizing process.
Before long, Dr. Bascomb was giving his final instructions to this latest patient and seeing him out before heading for his office. Mikenna finished cleaning and straightening the exam room trying to ignore the uneasy feeling that was growing in her gut. The doctor had been too quiet today and had gone about his business with a very professional attitude. Something was amiss, and she had a pretty good idea what it might be. A light sigh brushed past her lips as she slipped off her blue scrubs top. She’d been clear and firm with her conditions, and he had agreed to them, relieved that she would stay and give him another chance. Part of her hoped he understood that he only got the one opportunity; he was a nice man and a competent physician, but even that wouldn’t compensate for him breaking his word... twice.
Taking a deep breath, she shoved back a bout of premature irritation and squared her shoulders before striding down the hall to his office door. She forced a small, friendly smile into place and lightly knocked on the doorframe to get his attention. It took him a few moments to look up from his work, a sure fire sign he was apprehensive about the impending conversation. Her jaw tightened slightly while she waited. When he finally raised his head, his face was a study in patient expectation, but his eyes betrayed his calm expression. “I guess you’re done for the day?”
“Yes. Just need this week’s pay ‘fore I go.” Her tone was even and awash in neutrality.
His fingers fidgeted around the pen before he set it down and folded his hands on top of the small stack of papers. His eyes looked more toward her chin rather than meeting her steady gaze and he cleared his throat. “About that...” he started.
Mikenna shifted her shoulders. “Don’t even go that way, doc.”
“I just need another day or two.” His tone started to take on a slight pleading edge, as if he were attempting to appeal to some compassionate side.
Her smile faded. “We’ve been over this.”
“Just a couple of days. I’ll even...” he hesitated. “... throw in an extra half day’s pay.” His voice trailed off as he saw her expression.
Mikenna shook her head slowly, her eyes never straying from his face. “Bie xiang zhan wo de pian yi.” Her voice was low and intense. “I thought we were straight on this. I’ve done my part, kept my mouth shut, endured your “back door” clients and even come in during off hours.” She stepped forward and very gently set her scrubs top on his desk.
His eyes watched the slow descent of the garment and knew what it meant. Dr. Bascomb stood and his eyes snapped to her. “No. Wait. I promise. I’ll be able to pay you ... in a few days.”
“Not good enough, doc.” She turned to go.
He quickly stepped from behind the desk and grabbed her arm. “I swear. It’ll be the last time.”
Mikenna looked down at his hand. “I’ve heard that before.” She continued to stare at the offending appendage until he slowly released his fingers and let his arm drop to his side. She raised her eyes back to his. “How much did you lose this time?” His awkward silence answered for him. Without another word she turned her attention away and strode from the room.
“Mickey. Wait.” He followed her out into the waiting room.
“Sorry doc, you knew the deal.” She shrugged into her jacket and slipped on her sunglasses as she reached for the doorknob.
“But I need your help.”
“Shoulda thought about that before you bet your earnings on a long shot.” Her frigid tone matched her stony expression as she tugged open the door to step outside only to be blocked by a slender man reaching for the outside knob.
"Oh...pardon me, shao jeh," Sebastian bowed his head slightly with a smile as he stepped out of the way.
Without looking back at the old doctor, she brushed past the slender man with a mumbled, “Excuse me.” and strode down the street, her long strides the only release for her pent up anger.
Dr. Bascomb sighed heavily then looked to the newcomer. “Can I help you?”
"I'm looking for a Mikenna Johanness," Sebastian replied.
“She just left.” The old doctor turned back toward his office. “If that is all?” He left the question hanging in the air.
"Right...thanks," Sebastian winked and slipped back out the door. Glancing about, he caught sight of the woman walking briskly down the street. He trotted for a few seconds to catch up to her, "Pardon me again, shao jeh. Are you Mikenna Johanness?"
She glanced at the man next to her, but didn’t slow her stride. “Maybe. Who wants ta know?”
"My name is Davenport, Doctor Sebastian Davenport," He fell into walking pace next to her with his hands in his pockets. "I'd like to offer you a drink...and a job."
Her mind turned over the name, but came up empty. She stopped abruptly and turned to face him, her eyes wary behind the dark lenses. “What job?”
Sebastian turned on his heel and gave her his easy smile, "I talked with Fanty and Mingo this morning. Told them I was looking for a nurse...skilled...likes to travel...doesn't ask a lot of questions. They said that you aren't happy with your present employment situation."
Mikenna reevaluated the man in front of her with an expressionless face. Word did get about, and criminal entanglements were difficult to shed it would seem. “I wasn’t.” She tilted her head to the side and put her hands on her hips. “This job on the up and up?”
"Completely," He nodded. "I have a ship, Slick's Folly. I have a mind to take that ship on runs out to the Rim worlds and bring medicare care to those who need it. I'm looking for a nurse who's willing to travel."
She let that soak in while she watched him. Completely on the up and up. Jien Ta Duh Guay. Not on the rim. She couldn’t quite accept that altruism was his only goal, not a doctor of his obvious breeding. At the same time, here before her was an opportunity to do what she’d come out here to do. “You got my attention. I’d be willin’ to listen ta details over that drink you promised.”
"It's a little early for brandy and a little late for coffee," He glanced around, locating a cafe just a few doors down, "But I'll buy the beverage of your choice."
“Green tea’ll do.” She headed off in the direction he indicated and moments later had settled into a corner table, slipping off her sunglasses and propping them on top of her head. Her bright blue eyes were cool as they rested on him. “So. Pitch.”
"Fifty credits a month...plus bonus percentages on profit. Free room and board," He sat across from her and flagged the waitress down, ordering her tea and a locally brewed beer for himself. "Plus, you get the warm hearted satisfaction of helping those in need."
She graced him with a small, tight grin. “Helpin’ those in need don’t always go hand in hand with makin’ a profit. But I guess you know that.” She crossed her arms. “What class ship you usin’? How many crew?” Memories of too many trips shoved in alongside too many people fueled her question.
Last edited by Alora K; 03-01-2009 at 12:36 PM.
Sebastian thanked the waitress who dropped off the drinks and sipped the dark ale, "She's a Dragonfly. Small, low overhead. I'm looking at a crew of maybe four...myself, the pilot, the mechanic, and you...again, low overhead."
Mikenna raised the cup to her lips. “What’s your medical set up?”
"I have a full surgical and diagnostic suite in the infirmary," He answered. "I have a friend in Caduceus Technologies who was able to swing a sweet deal on the set. I'm thinking about setting up the ventral cargo bay as a doctor's office."
She raised an eyebrow as she took a sip. “Nice. So where’d you train?”
"Osiris, Beth Israel university," Sebastian replied. "Yourself?"
The cup paused for a moment on its way back to the table. "New Canaan. Priamville Medical College." She responded evenly without a hint of self-consciousness. "That a problem?"
"I shouldn't think so, New Canaan is a very enlightened Border World," Sebastian shrugged. "I'm told you're a skilled nurse, that's what I'm more concerned with. Though...I'm curious why you are unhappy in your present employment..."
Mikenna pursed her lips as she decided if and how to answer. After a moment, she sat forward and folded her arms on the table. "Former employment." She shrugged. "Call it ... trust issues." She tilted her head to the side and stated. "We had a deal. He didn't keep his end." Raising her head, she started "So, since we're trading curiosities...." and let the pause ask for his permission to continue. His patient expression and slight nod of the head was all the signal she needed before she put the question before him. "Shoot straight with me, doc. Why would a MedAcad trained physician be plyin' the black givin' aid 'n' comfort to rim dwellers when he could be sittin' pretty and posh back on the Core?"
"He likes travel and adventure?" Sebastian offered with his easy, charming smile.
The absence of amusement in her expression became deeper. "That your real answer?"
He shrugged and polished off the beer, "Let's say I prefer to work where people are less concerned with mundanities of bureaucracy...where people are less likely to care about..." He shook the empty bottle slightly. "...a doctor's eccentricities."
"Now that there is one bright shiny brand of vague." She sat back. "So, I take it your services ain't welcome there." A small frown drew down the corners of her mouth as she sat debating. Never would she have ever expected to work alongside a MedAcad trained doctor, eccentricities or not. She could learn quite a bit. Not to mention the further from the Alliance the better in her mind. She sighed.
"Simply put, no...I'm not welcome to practice medicine in the Core Worlds," He leaned back and looked wistfully at the brown glass bottle, pondering on ordering another. His eyes shot back up to the woman before him, "Is that an issue?"
Yet another questionable doctor. It’s really all you could expect out here. She met his gaze and shrugged. "Their loss is the Rim's gain. Assumin' your not out to experiment on the unfortunate and you still hold to the oath." A slow grin grew on her face. "And you can uphold your end of the deal."
Sebastian extended his hand, "Fifty credits a month, free room and board, bonuses when the ship makes profit..." His eyes twinkled. "...and a promise of high adventure in the black."
Mikenna really had nothing to lose, so sat up and grasped his hand firmly to shake it. "I accept." She scooted her chair back. "When do we leave?"
"We're getting the Folly fueled up, loading provisions and what not. It will take a few days to get the paperwork filed. If we're lucky, we can find some cargo and passengers to take on the way. That little extra revenue can't hurt." He stood. "Come by Bay forty-two and I’ll set you up with a stateroom."
"Fine. I'll be by later this afternoon gear in tow." She settled her sun glasses back over her eyes. "Thanks for the drink.... doctor? captain?"
"Doctor I think will work better," He grinned. "No need to confuse the patients. Welcome aboard, Miss Johanness."
She put up a hand and waved it in front of her. "Oh please... Mik or Mickey... never Miss." She smiled. " 'Til later, doc."
* bie xiang zhan wo de pian yi = "don’t think about taking advantage of me" (with a monetary slant)
* jien ta duh guay = “like hell”
Last edited by Alora K; 03-01-2009 at 12:57 PM.
Lowestowe, the Dragon Mouth inn.
The small room was still as scarcely furnished as it had been when she arrived two weeks ago. She had not bothered having her luggage brought over here. Most of it was still in a storage space near the Maidenhead spaceport. This little space had both been her home and her place of business in the past few weeks. It was a long shout away from the luxury suites on the Cruise ships she had worked only a few months ago. Alizée was lounging on the bed. She had no clients today, and avoided going out as much as possible. The orangey sunset on the horizon glowed through the blinders and provided the room with its only light. In many ways, these had become the worst times for her. Being alone and having nothing other to do but to reflect on her situation, it didn’t take long for a panicky feel to invade her stomach and move upward to her chest, like an invisible giant hand was clenching her torso. She felt her heart rate going up. Alizée moved into the lotus position and used some yoga breathing techniques to calm herself down. With her breathing back under control, Alizée reached under the bed and picked up a small box. She placed it upon her bed and opened it.
Alizée fired up the Cortex console inside. She had been postponing this for far too long. It had been six weeks in total now since she had directly contacted her House. She knew they wouldn’t exactly be best pleased with this development. After the wave connection was established, the image slowly focused until Tatiana Silva’s features were visible. Often times, people had assumed since they shared the same last name and worked for the same House, they were somehow related, but this was not the case. They did however have a closer relationship with each other than either of them had with most of their other House sisters.
“Hello there Tatiana. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see you.” Alizée gave her fellow companion a warm smile.
“Well, you sure have a weird way of showing your affection then! Dear me girl, do you have any idea how worried you had us? You go completely off the grid for months, you don’t contact us a single time, and then you suddenly resurface taking up some clients on Beaumonde, of all places.”
“Trust me when I tell you that I had my reasons for that, Tatiana. In fact, the only reason I’m contacting you now is so you can reassure the Priestess that I’m alive and well. I fully intend to come back into the fold eventually, I just have some things to deal with before I can…”
“Alizée… if you’re in some kind of trouble, why don’t you just come back to us? Whatever it is, we can help you.”
“Sorry, I can’t do that. I might consider it if I had a better understanding of my own… situation. But coming back now would endanger me as much as it would endanger the House, I can’t do that. Please try to talk the Priestess out of sending someone over here to fetch me. Or at least try to stall her for the next week or so. I should be able to buy myself a safe passage off Beaumonde by then.”
“What are you doing that far out into the rim anyway? If you fled all the way out there, you must be in serious danger…”
“I’m a big girl Tatiana, I can take good care of myself. God willing, I should be able to return to the House in a few months time. Until then though, I fear I won’t be able to contact you again. Not just for my own safety, but for yours as well. In the meantime, ask Priestess Alana to please give me some leeway. I should be able to resolve this situation myself if she allows me the time to do so. Take care of yourself, sister. I’ll see you again soon enough.”
Alizée did not wait for Tatiana’s reply, instead she broke off the wave connection. Strangely, she felt a little more empty and a lot more alone after talking to her friend. Perhaps the short contact had reminded her of just how lonely she’d be in the coming months.
Her main concern right now was finding a ship that could get her off this world. It wasn’t safe to stay in the same spot for too long. In that respect, she was already pushing her luck, having arrived on Beaumonde a little over four weeks ago. Jonathan Baelarsmith, the owner of the Dragon Mouth had suggested trying the Bay 99, a pilot’s bar near the spaceport, when she inquired about finding a reliable ship and crew to get her off Beaumonde. She knew that Jonathan must have had serious questions as to why a Core World Companion would choose to work in Lowestowe, and not just that, but choose his out-of-the-way inn as her place of business. Yet the man was thankfully old and wise enough not to ask too many questions. Paying over twice the normal rate for your room buys you a lot of discretion, provided the people involved are wise enough to recognize their luck.
Alizée rolled herself to the edge of the bed and let her bare feet touch the ground. No point in waiting any longer. She pushed the button on the audiovisual intercom system by her side, and slowly Jonothan’s face appeared on the paper-thin screen.
“What can I do for you miss Silva?”
“Evening mr. Baelarsmith. I was wondering if you could arrange some transportation for me? I’d like to visit that Bay 99 of yours tonight, if at all possible.”
“That will not be a problem, I can have a car here in ten minutes that'll drive you there.”
“That’ll be fine mr. Baelarsmith, please do. I’ll be downstairs in ten minutes.”
Not wanting to stand out too much in what she expected to be a no-nonsense, fringeless tavern, Alizée changed into a fairly modest, black caftan dress, some white embroidery the only thing to break the void of color. She’d still stand out because it was quite obvious she was not a pilot, let alone a mechanic. No change of attire could remedy that.
Alizée went downstairs and nodded to Jonathan, who rushed to her side and accompanied her to the front of the building. “I’ve arranged for Joshua to wait for you at the bar until you’re done. You can take your time.”
“Thank you Jonathan. Depending on how successful my night is, this might have been the last time I had to impose on your kindness.”
“It was no problem at all, honest… all in a day’s work.”
“Well, thanks all the same… for everything.” Alizée touched his left arm right above his elbow and leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek.
“If I find a suitable ship, today might have been my last day here. I’ll send for the rest of my belongings if that’s the case. I’ve already transferred an extra week’s worth of pay to your account. I hope that covers any inconvenience I might have caused during my stay. Goodbye for now mr. Balaersmith, perhaps we’ll meet again someday.”
Alizée moved to the car and got in, giving Jonathan one last smile and nod before closing the door.
Joshua, the driver, was a young man who turned out to be Jonathan’s nephew. At first he was intimidated by her, but Alizée spent the trip to the spaceport talking to the slightly nervous youth, and slowly put him more at ease. Eventually they arrived at their destination.
“Here we are ma’am. Bay 99. It looks a lot more rough than it is. The MaColls are nice people, and they run a tight ship. No troublemakers allowed. Still, I suspect they’re not used to people like you erm... frequenting their establishment.”
“People like me?” Alizée flashed the young man a smile.
The instantly turned a bright red. “I…I… didn’t mean anything by that, just… I”
“Calm down Joshua, I’m just teasing you. You don’t have to worry about me. People like me, as you put it” - Alizée gave him a wink – “have to learn to adapt to different environments and personalities very quickly, otherwise we wouldn’t be very good at our job. Your uncle told me you’d wait for me until I’m done. God willing, I won’t have to keep you here all night, but feel free to come and get me if I take up too much of your time.”
Alizée opened the car door and got out. During the drive over here, the night had set in completely. Very little distinguished the Bay 99 from the adjoining buildings. Only a small plaque with the bars name on it set it apart from the other nearby structures.
She pushed open the heavy metal doors and went down the stairs, to a small space that seemed to act as a vestibule to the actual bar.
She gave the bouncer a friendly nod as he let her in. As she scanned the room, she noticed that her appearance had caused the exact reaction she had anticipated. There was no real hostility, just some surprise in the eyes of the patrons. The kind of surprise seeing an individual who doesn’t quite belong causes.
She slowly moved to the bar counter, making eye contact with some of the patrons. Some returned the smile she gave with a friendly nod. Alizée slid onto a barstool and waited for the staff to serve her. She figured they'd make the best candidates to prod for the information she needed. And it would take her less time than striking up a conversation with everyone individually.
Marly took the co pilot’s coin as she slid his beer across. She was depositing the cash in the till when she saw the woman gliding across the main room of the bar. Dressed in what could only be described as sheer elegance, she recognized her at once as a Companion. She narrowed her eyes, hopefully a registered one. But as the woman seated herself a few stools down, the bar tender could see by the cut and fabric of her gown that this was no street corner girl. She moved down to stand in front of her. ”Evenin’, what can I get for you?”
“Good evening. Could you recommend me a good, local wine? I’m afraid I’m not all that familiar with Beaumonde vintages.” Alizée took in the woman in front of her. She was friendly, but there was also something inquisitive about her demeanor. Still, she seemed trustworthy enough.
“Course.” Marly said with an air of curiosity. She pulled out one of their better bottles and poured it into a stemmed glass. Setting it in front of the woman, she said, “We certainly don’t see many…ladies in here. How did you find us?”
Alizée took a sip from her wine. “Exquisite choice. Perhaps I can persuade you later on to part with a few bottles?” She put the glass back on the counter and leaned forward a bit. “Jonathan Balaersmith recommended I’d pay this establishment a visit. He thought I might find the kind of help I require here. Can I trust upon your discretion if I confide in you, madam?”
Marly put a carefully neutral expression on her face. She was only somewhat familiar with Balaersmith but what she knew told her he wasn’t a threat. She put her hands on her hips. “Mayhaps I can. I suppose it depends on what kind of help you need.”
“I’m looking for a safe passage off the planet. I need a reliable ship and crew who could provide me with that. Needless to say, I’d prefer a group of individuals who are used to employing a certain amount of discretion… And I was hoping to leave as soon as possible.” Alizée figured it couldn’t hurt to put all of her cards on the table at once. “I have no real preference when it comes to the destination. As long as they stay clear of the Core worlds.”
Marly pursed her lips and nodded. She couldn’t help but wonder why a Companion would need anything other then help from her own…kind. Marly rubbed her hands on her bar towel, thoughtful. She wasn’t entirely happy that the pilot she immediately thought of was leaving. But Mavis was her friend: one of her best. And she and that…Doctor…of hers were going to need all the help they could get. She poured another drop of the wine into the glass. “I think I could point you to a good pilot. She just got a new gig and could use the credits. And she is the soul of discretion.”
"Is it possible for me to meet her right now? As I said, I'd like to make arrangements as quickly as possible." The woman's facial expression had gone tense and even slightly pained for a glimmer of a second before she opened her mouth, but it was enough for Alizée to register it. She'd probably do best to tread very carefully, whatever she agreed upon tonight.
Marly shrugged and walked down the bar towards a short, white haired woman pulling a draft from the taps. After a moment’s conversation with her, the white haired woman came down the bar to Alizee.
“Nihao,” She said, “Marly says you’re looking for a ship?”
“That’s right. And you are?” Alizée gave the woman a smile but also looked at her inquisitively. She had imagined that Marly was going to fetch the pilot herself, but now she was confronted with another member of the bar staff instead.
Mavis arched an eyebrow and swallowed a tart reply. She felt her stomach clench, typical pretty girl snobbery. “I’m the pilot of the ship, you obviously aren’t that interested in hiring.” She tossed her towel over her shoulder and turned briskly away.
Alizée slid off the bar stool and followed Mavis the length of the counter, to where she was originally standing. “Hang on. We obviously started off on the wrong foot. I’m sorry if that came across wrong. I am interested in hiring your services. I just misjudged the situation. I didn’t envision the pilot your friend was referring to also being a member of her bar staff… Hence my confusion.” Alizée extended her hand towards Mavis. “I’m Alizée Silva. Perhaps we can try again?”
Mavis studied the beautiful woman with a cold look. She opened her mouth to tell her to not let the door hit her ass on the way out. But the calculations she had been running earlier stopped her. If she and Sebastian were going to make this work they needed not only medical work but also cargo. And passengers made for inconvenient, but well paying cargo.
She glanced down at Silva’s offered hand with its polished nails and smooth skin. Probably never worked a day in her life. But maybe had money. She gripped her hand and shook it, without smiling. “Mavis Harper, pilot and part time bar tender.”
“Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mavis. Your friend spoke highly of both your skills as a pilot and your discretion. I’d need both of those traits in equal measure if our little arrangement is to work. In short, I want to leave Beaumonde behind me, as soon as possible. And I’d strongly prefer to stay clear of the Core worlds for the time being… If you can provide me with a place on your vessel and the discretion of you and your crew, I could make it well worth your while.” Mavis’ body language spoke volumes as to how she felt about Alizée. It did not matter, she didn’t need the pilot to like her as much as she needed to be able to trust her. “Can you tell me a bit about your ship and the rest of the crew? And your planned itinerary, provided you already have one?”
Mavis heard the note of desperation in Silva’s voice. “We’re running a Dragonfly, Slick’s Folly.” Rolling her eyes as she said the name. “It’s a new venture so we only have a couple on crew. But the Captain and I are…, “she paused and started over, “You can believe that as long as your creds a good we’ll get you where you need to be. Our plan right now is to hit some of the Rim worlds offering medical services.” She waved a hand, “The Captain is also our Doc.” She crossed her arms over her chest, “We will be pushing off in a few days, once we have all supplies onboard.”
“Does this captain of yours have a name? Not wanting to seem too inquisitive, but I’d like to have an idea of whom I’m dealing with. And if he’s both the captain and the doctor, the success of this trip will largely depend upon him.” By the tone and nature of her reply, it wasn’t hard for Alizée to figure out that the captain and his pilot probably had a shared past. Still, Mavis seemed easy enough to deal with provided Alizée held up her end of the bargain and provided them with a steady supply of credits.
“Davenport,” Mavis supplied. “Dr. Sebastian Davenport.”
Alizée made a mental note of the name. She had a couple of more days before they left, she might as well use them to inquire about both Mavis and Sebastian. Her instincts told her she could trust this woman, but it never hurt to check.
“Alright then… Do we have a deal? If so, I’d like to have my belongings moved to your ship as soon as possible. Most of them are in storage right here at the spaceport anyway. And if at all possible, I’d like to move into my quarters as soon as my clothing and furniture have arrived there. Doesn’t matter to me if the ship is grounded for a few more days or not.”
Mavis’ eyebrows rose. She had expected this fancy woman to refuse and sashay her way back out of the bar. She hadn’t even asked about price. “First class is 100 cred a week. And you can make arrangements to have your things brought on with the porters at Maidenhead. If you’ll leave your info I’ll send you a wave as soon as you can move onboard.” She said with finality. Pushy huli jing wasn’t going to …push her around.
“One hundred credits per week is fine. I’ll make the necessary arrangements to have my stuff moved to your ship then. The Slick’s Folly, it was? And you can reach me at the Dragon Mouth Inn. I’d appreciate it if you’d contact me as soon as my accommodations are ready. I feel I’ve already imposed far too much on the kindness of the Dragon Mouth’s proprietor.” Alizée understood it served no purpose to try and convince the woman of letting her move into her ship any sooner. She clearly was putting her foot down.
"Anyway, I won't take up any more of your time then. I hope to hear from you soon." Alizée left a few coins on the counter. "For the wine. Tell your boss I still might swing by to buy a few bottles from her before I leave Beaumonde." Alizée gave Mavis a sincere smile and then got up as quickly as she came in.
Turning as many heads as she did on her way in, she quickly made her way out of the bar and back to the waiting Joshua. By then, he was already fast asleep behind the wheel of his car. She got back in on the passenger’s side and gently tapped him on his shoulder. "Looks like I'm spending another day at your uncle's place after all Joshua..."
Last edited by Isorfilinde; 03-01-2009 at 05:44 PM.
Bert sat quietly at the bar, his pack slung over his back. It carried his latest haul, and some of his things. He'd spent the morning doing nothing but hiding out in some spots where he could make some money, his violin brought some customers but having to keep his head down meant a lack of decent income without his fingers being broken. He had enough for a couple of drinks though, without cutting into his usual save amount. He picked at his teeth for a moment, thinking about how long he had left, and it wasn't long. Maybe he could get out today, maybe he'd have to do it in a couple of days, or weeks. But he wondered how long before things would catch up with him. Outside of Molly's his bike was waiting for him, the one thing he had to keep, the rest he could probably sell. There was a bundle tied to the back of, that had the rest of his stuff in it, and it wasn't much, a few changes of clothing and some basic supplies. He'd been living off the back of it for a the past few days, hiding his stuff from people that wanted it. He could sell it, all of it, but that wasn't going to go for much. He passed a couple of coins over the bar and was handed another small glass with some brown liquid in it, it wasn't the best stuff, nor was it the worst on offer. But it was what he was used to, and he only needed this one, and the other two he'd had to the courage to get out of this town. He owed some money, hell it wasn't some, it was sum, and a large one at that.
Taking the drink in one hand he watched as it swirled about the glass. Toasting to better things he lifted it to his lips, paused for a moment and then drank it back, pushing the glass back at the waitress with a wink he slung his pack over his shoulder and headed to the door. Taking his gun out of the locker on the way out, apparently it looked like an Earth-that-was revolver, Bert had no idea.
Exciting the bar the sun hit his eye's hard, as though he'd stepped out of a cave, he supposed he had, the place was pretty dark most of the time, made it easy to forget how long you'd been in there, and how much you'd drank. He breathed in the smell of Maidenhead, the smell of Beaumonde. He'd lived here most of his adult life, and he'd liked it, up to a point, no was the time that he had to get out or get messed. He didn't like the idea of his stuff losing place, so it was time that he buggered off on a trip, even get off world. The space port was fun, lots of people coming and going, exciting stories and what have you. He thought to himself how he should have done this months, even years ago, rather than muck about with the landlubbers in this city. It was time to touch the sky.
Bertram looked to his bike, to see a familiar shape looming over it. One of his counterparts, or ex counterpart who had decided that working for other people and doing their dirty work, was better than trying to live honestly. Honest enough anyway. Bert took out his gun and walked up behind the man, his foot fall was quiet in the half busy street, and no one seemed to notice the gun in his hand. As he pressed it against the man's head the space seemed to clear around him, the gun was visible now, and someone hot wiring someone else's bike usually meant a heap of trouble.
“Whatta we got 'ere? Ernie? Tinkerin' aroun' me bike again? Should know better mate,” Nathan's voice was sly, confident. He pressed the muzzle of the gun sharper against Ernie's head.
Ernie freezed in his wrongdoing, and tried to turn, but the gun made him think better for it. Annoyed that he had been caught, but realising it was only Bert and not some law man he sneered, his old accomplice was known for having some humility. He raised his hands as he spoke, “You know how this goes, Bert. Fanty and Mingo say you owe them and you ain't paid. They say to take the bike and hock it."
"Dont see 'ow its gonna work like that Ernie," Bert tilted the gun into the back of Ernie's head, making him stand, "Your gonna let that Fanty know 'e'll get 'is money when I got it, the bike stays. As for Mingo, he knows he's a feh feh pi goh" [Baboon's ass crack]
"You might wanna be thinkin' twice 'bout that, Chwen" Ernie replied, rising slowly. "The twin's ain't gonna take this well."
"Their gonna take it 'ow it comes," with the two of them standing he hissed at Ernie, "Now, kwai jio kai" [Get lost]
As he stood there was a sound from across the road, sounded like a grunt of suprise and someone shouted “Hey,” at him. Bert's eye's flicked across the street and Oscar was standing before him his gun drawn, Bert whispered a quiet, “Bugger,”. Oscar was a big man, without much in the ways of brains, a decent shot as well, but nothing special. Bert felt his confidence drain, if they shot him they had the bike, but that wasn't enough even hocked for the money he owed. Him dead meant no more money, having only a couple of hundred credits on him, so at least he was safe. Still, the thought of taking a bullet, that didn't sit well.
He eyed the bigger man up, his eye's darting between the gun in his hand, and his adversary's, there was no way he could shoot the gun out of the man's hand, that was unheard of. But perhaps there was something else he could do, he leered and breathed out slowly.
Bet's right hand moved swiftly, the gun appeared from behind Ernie's head and fired over the smaller man's shoulder, a deafening crack in his ear. The bullet whizzed across the street ant hitting Oscar in the thigh. The man howled in pain, dropping his gun as he fell to the floor, clutching his leg and blood began to pool about him.
With his left hand Bert tried to shove Ernie, who retaliated by pivoting and grabbing Bert's arm and pulling up. The gun was waved about in the air but Bert managed to keep a hold of it, quickly he balled his left fist and brought it up and into Ernies face, hitting him hard on the cheek. Ernie took a step back, leaning his head back from the blow before bringing it forward with intent of using it to smash Bert's good looks across his forehead. Bert raised his fist again, as fast as he could manage to strike out again at the weasel eyed man and with a crunching sound connected his fist against Ernie's eye and nose. Blood spurted from his nostrils and the man's knees buckled, his legs going soft as he let out a moan and dropped to the floor. Bert let shook his hand free of Ernie's grip. He wiped his knuckles on Ernie's shirt, before kicking him in the shin, “That's whatya get,” he whispered, his heart racing inside of his chest, excitement and fear gripping him equally. Pretty damn heroic that was, gotta remember this tale.
Bert stood up and pulled the small man from his bike, tossing him down on the street, he half thought about going through his pockets for some extra cash, but the fuzz would probably turn up soon enough or some more of Fanty's men, and he had no care for that. He turned to look at Oscar as he threw a leg over his bike, holstering his gun and spewing a curse at him, “Don't forget to pick your friend up Oscar, don't want 'im getting in trouble now,”.
He rode for a while, not sure exactly where he could run to. He had some money, but would it buy him a ticket off world? Not far, but it was something, with Oscar shot and Ernie down, that meant more goons, and he wasn't about to fight off all those Fanty and Mingo could hire. He took his next left and headed to the space port, his one haven, or at least he hoped.
The port was busy, and that was an understatement. The port was always busy, especially during the day. People from all over where arriving, disembarking, selling, buying, trading and attempting in some way to get some sort money either into or out of their pockets. It was a good place to be, showed that things where moving in the 'verse, but it was also somewhere that you knew you had to keep on your feet. Even if you where there for a half hour, a lot of things could happen. You could be swept into some grand adventure if you aren't careful.
Bert let the engine growl slightly as he weaved his way past crates and people, most of them moving something about, dodging past a forklift he came up beside one of the bays. Stopping his bike he saw that this ship had things being put on it, not taken off, that spelt that this one was leaving, and soon by the looks of it. He turned the key and killed the engine, swinging his leg over the bike he never took his eye's off of it. It looked like a big ship, would be taking goods somewhere, and probably passengers along with it. He absent mindedly sniffed and wiped his nose with the back of his hand as he walked over, he recognised the ship design, but he had no idea what it actually was. His feet lead him toward the ship, idling about around its open bay as though he wasn't sure what he was looking for or where he should be heading. He guessed he should be looking for where it was headed, in case he couldn't afford it. Anywhere was better than Beaumonde though, but he had to be able to get somewhere. He turned about and spotted a terminal off to the side, opposite to where he had parked, walking over to it he fished out a coin and placed it inside.
The cortex beeped into life and he looked up the bay he was in, 49, and the ships name came onto screen. He smiled, it was an amusing name, heart felt no doubt. Obviously whoever named it had a good eye for names. After going through some of the mumbo jumbo he didn;t really care about, like how big it was and what it had on it he found a destination. Santo. Bert had never been off world, never been in a ship, never even flew before. How far Santo was he didn't know, but it sounded like a nice place, from the name. It probably wasn't far.
A name appeared on the screen, “Davenport,” he said the name aloud. It was a good name, strong sounding, he liked the idea of travelling with someone who conjured a good image in his mind. He smiled, this was his ship. Might have been the first he saw, but it was a good choice none the less. Felt like it had a touch about it, something...destiny like.
Sebastian studied the list on the dataslate handed to him by the Port Authority worker. As he read, several uniformed dockworkers were wheeling boxes of supplies up the ramps and into the ventral cargo bay. "Just leave them there," He waved vaguely. "We'll get them up to the pantry." The idea of strangers, even bonded Dockworker Guild members, running amok in his ship left a bad taste in his mouth. "Everything looks in order. Thank you for your prompt delivery." He handed the slate back to the foreman.
Bert turned at the sound of the cargo being moved about, and a man's voice, he gave an order and that immediately said to him that this was someone, if not the person, he was looking to talk to. He approached quickly and as he neared held out a hand, trying to look bold and confident, “Mr Davenport?”
Sebastian turned to face the newcomer, raising an eyebrow as he looked the man over. "Captain Davenport," He corrected. I have been waiting to say that... He snickered internally.
“Ah, sorry,” he kept his hand held out for a moment before dropping it, “This your ship right? Firefly or somethin' like that?”
"It's a Dragonfly," He gestured toward the ship. "Slick's Folly." He glanced at the motorcycle behind him and the bags packed on it. "Looking for a ship? We're heading to Santo, tomorrow."
“My mistake,” Bert smiled at the glance toward his bike, “Something like that, 'ad enough of this town, this planet. Time I seeked some new horizon. Wot'd be the damage?”
"First class ticket is a hundred credits. Second class would be fifty," The captain replied. "And we'll throw in the transport on your bike for free."
He hadn't expected that, “Hmm, that's generous Captain. I'll lend an 'and movin' this stuff if you like, an' I'll take second class for the ride.”
"Ah," He extended his hand, "Welcome aboard, Mister?"
Bert took it, shaking it as he hesitated with a name, he didn't want it known he was heading off world, easier to find him that way. For now no one knew he was here, he thought quickly, trying to find a decent name. One hit him instantly, from one of his books, “Most call me Shrike,”
"Shrike?" His eyebrow raised. Neither Beaumonde nor Santo was particularly strict about papers, and if he wanted to travel incognito, Sebastian could oblige. Of course...it made him wonder why...and whether it would bring any trouble down on his ship. "Ooookay. Is that the name you want in the ship's registry?"
“Er yeah, since that's wot they call me,” This seemed to have no flown quite so well has he had expected, but it seemed like this captain didn't mind to much. Perhaps he could get away with the name for a long while yet.
Sebastian waved him into the cargo bay, "Going to Santo for a little gambling?" He pressed the button to lower the lift that would take the supplies to the lounge deck.
“I 'eard it was good for it,” He lied through his teeth, but some story must be better than none, “Just had to stretch me legs y'know? Time for a holiday,”
As the lift came down, Sebastian nodded, "Sure, It's good to get away for a vacation. Help me stack these crates on the elevator." He started moving the boxes of canned good, prepackaged food, and other supplies. Under his breath, he mumbled, "The captain really shouldn't be doing this. I need to hire a deckhand or something..."
Bert grabbed one of the boxes and placed it on top of another, he bent down and picked up both crates before turning around and bringing them over, he had half a mind for getting to know this man. He seemed decent enough, maybe had some good stories from out in the 'verse, “So wots the nature of ya trip? Actin' postman?”
"We're a medical ship," Sebastian replied, picking up a second box. "I'm a doctor. We're heading out to Rim Worlds to offer medical services. Santo seems like a good place to start."
“Worthy cause,” Bert dusted off his hands, Doc eh? An' captain? Fascinatin', “Seems like you'd 'ave to 'ave a decent enough mind to get things done round the rim mate, not many would do it. Reminds me o' them wot does right by others, does right by emselves,”
"Enlightened self interest?" Sebastian asked. "I suppose that's true. Help those in need, and get paid while doing it. Altruism doesn;t pay the bills, of course."
“Course not, everyone needs to get paid at some point,” To which Bert turned about and walked to his bike, he wheeled it over and onto the ramp before going into the bundle and taking out a bag that rustled like paper and jingled like coins. He shuffled through them and held out a hand with money in for Sebastian, “'First weeks rent,”
The captain took the money and slipped it into his pocket. He wasn't surprised he paid in cash. "Well, come on up to the main deck and we'll get you a stateroom."
The Captain & the Companion, part 1
Alizée had been staring at her ceiling for hours when the liberating wave from Mavis had finally come. After she arrived back at the Dragon Mouth inn, there was very little left for her to do. She had gone through the list of stuff she had put in storage at the spaceport, and ordered whatever furniture would fit into her new quarters to be brought onto the ship. She sold the rest of it – for a price far under its actual worth -and used the money she made off that to spend on some warm-colored tapestry and carpets, to cover what she imagined would be the cold metallic walls of her new home and place of business.
After she had heard from Mavis, she let Joshua drive her wardrobe and the few items of furniture she had brought with her to the Dragon Mouth to the spaceport as well. The young man would return for Alizée herself later on. There was just one thing left for her to do before she left her room, and then this planet. Right after returning from the Bay 99, Alizée had fired up her cortex console and ran both Mavis’ and Sebastian’s names through the Client registry.
Sure enough, Sebastian’s name came up. It seemed the captain had been a registered client up until five years ago. Then all of a sudden he failed to renew his subscription, and hence hadn’t been able to use a Companion’s services since.
“Interesting…” Alizée went through his history. Initially, it seemed like he had made arrangements with a different Companion every time. But in the last six months as a registered client, he had only used the services of Nireda, who just happened to be a member of the same house as Alizée. Nireda was a few years older than she was, and had been a very highly-sought after Companion when Alizée herself was just starting out. Which meant that the captain must have been a man of considerable standing and matching wealth at that time.
She had spent the next couple of hours mulling over if it was a good idea to contact another sister so quickly after sending a wave to her House. Now that she was so near to going to live on the man’s ship, she couldn’t resist the temptation. It took her a while to get a hold of Nireda’s current location, but once she did, she was able to establish a wave connection with her in a matter of minutes.
“Greetings Nireda. I appreciate it you found the time to talk to me. I understand you’re quite busy at the moment.”
“I’m accompanying a client on a bank seminar. Just between you and me, I’m actually glad to be talking to someone other than a banker. He’s a kind enough soul, but him and his colleagues aren’t exactly the most exciting types in the Verse…”
“Well, I still don’t want to keep you any longer than necessary. I’m actually calling to get a bit of a referral from you. It’s about a client who used your services a few years back. By the name of Sebastian Davenport. Can you tell me what you remember about him?”
“Oh, I remember him alright. I can tell you he didn’t disappoint in the excitement department.” Nireda’s answer came in a neutral tone, and with only a faint glimmer of a smile, but enough to amuse Alizée.
“Right..., but other than that… what can you tell me about him?”
“Well… he was charming enough. The smooth, suave doctor type. He came from a very well-off family. Father was old-money, dating back all the way to the ‘Earth-that-Was’, as I recall. I think he used my services maybe six or seven times back then. He did like his drink a bit too much for his own good. But he wasn't a mean drunk, more the melancholic type. I remember him pouring his heart out to me several times about his childhood and his terrible marriage. He never mentioned them by name, but I’m fairly sure I wasn’t the only other woman he was seeing at the time. But that’s nothing really out of the ordinary for men of his background, I guess… But what is this about, dear? I’ve know you for close to ten years now, and this is the first time you’ve contacted me specifically to discuss a client’s background.”
“Well, that’s the thing. He’s no longer a client, is he? Do you know what happened to him back then?”
“Of course I do dear. It was a huge scandal back back in the day. Not wanting to get into the details, but his drinking eventually caught up with him. He operated on a girl whilst he was intoxicated, and she died. Unfortunately for him, the patient was the daughter of a Governor with a very far-reaching arm. He basically ruined his reputation to the point that his doctor’s license was revoked. I never heard from him again after the scandal erupted…. But if he’s no longer a client, why are you so interested in him?”
“It’s long story. Let’s just say that I’m going to spend a lot of time in his presence in the coming months, and I wanted to know what kind of man I’d be dealing with.”
“Yes, about that, I noticed your wave came from Beaumonde. I thought you were still working on the White Lotus 1. Unless things have changed considerably on the Rim, I don’t imagine it suddenly ports at Maidenhead?” 1 Luxury cruise liner
“No, it doesn’t. I’m taking a break from the Lotus for a few months. It’s a bit too complicated to explain right now. Let’s just say it’s in my best interests to stay away from the Core for a while.”
“Fair enough, whatever it is, you stay safe dear. I’m afraid I have to leave you now though. We’re suppose to attend a banquet tonight, and it’s time for me to prepare for that.”
“Bye for now, Nireda. And thanks for the help.”
Alizée slowly processed the information Nireda had given her. The captain had lost his medical license, which was probably why he had moved out to the Rim. If his drinking habit had persisted, it might prove problematic. But if that was the case, she could always just find another ship as soon as they hit a port. At the very least, the man functioned well enough to have convinced a sober woman like Mavis to join into his business endeavor.
The little screen next to her bed blinked, meaning that Jonathan was trying to contact her from the lobby terminal. “Yes Jonathan?”
“Good afternoon miss Silva, I just wanted to inform you that my nephew has returned. If you’re ready, he can take you to your ship now.”
“Thank you Jonathan, I’ll be right down.”
Sebastian leaned against the cream-colored wall of the cargo bay, a curious expression on his face. He was looking at the large number of boxes and furniture that had been loaded into the ventral bay not long ago. He doctor had been in his stateroom, looking over his checklist of medicines when he received a wave from a young man named Joshua. The local had been instructed to drop off the contents of a storage facility to the ship, on the orders of an Alizée Silva.
He had been rather surprised to find they had another passenger booked, but a quick call to Mavis confirmed that she had made the deal. The passenger was a companion, no less. Sebastian was glad he had the opportunity to greet her on board. A companion traveling on the ship would give them more respectability. Of course, now he was concerned about the accommodations. If she was paying for First Class passage, he would have to have some fresh food closer to what she would be expecting for the price.
And…someone would have to cook and take care of her linens. Sebastian was betting Mavis would give him a slap in the face if he suggested she double as a steward. Maybe Mickey will do it…for a slight raise in pay? I’m certainly not going to do it. I’m the bloody captain!
He head a vehicle approaching the docking bay, so he strolled over to the fifteen-feet wide doors that led from the ventral cargo bay to meet their new passenger.
The Captain & the Companion, part 2
Joshua stopped the car in front of the ship. This was the first time she actually saw it in person. Truth be told, she had only seen Dragonfly class ships from a distance, and never actually traveled in one herself.
"There she is, miss Silva. Funny name for a ship if you ask me... And if you don't mind me saying so ma'am, a woman of your stature really could find a much better boat to get you off the planet, even on Beaumonde."
Alizée smiled whilst laying her hand on Joshua's shoulder. "Quite on the contrary, this ship is exactly what I was looking for." It wouldn't attract attention, and its modest size would mean there'd only be a handful of crew and passengers who would or indeed could ask questions about her presence on board.
At the top of the ramp leading into the cargo hold appeared a man in his early thirties. "That'd be the captain, miss. Talked to him a bit earlier. Seems like an alright fella..."
"Does he now? Well then, lets not keep him waiting any longer." Alizée got out of the car, whilst Joshua hurried to get the few items of hers he hadn't brought to the ship yet, among them her Cortex console. She walked up to the ramp, with the young man just behind her, and held out her hand. "Good day. Captain Davenport I presume? My name is Alizée Silva. I booked a passage on your vessel with your associate, Mavis Harper." Alizée made a little révèrence as the captain accepted her extended hand.
"Enchanted to make your aquaintence, Miss Silva." He took her hand gently and kissed the back of it. "I am Captain Sebastian Davenport. I'm afraid we may not be able to accomodate in the manner to which you are accustomed on our humble boat, but we shall endeavour to make your voyage with us as pleasant as possible."
"I'm sure I'll find your accommodations to be more than satisfactory. In fact, I consider myself mighty fortunate to have found such a fine ship and captain on such short notice." Her hand lingered in his for an instant before she let go. "I believe you have met Joshua." The young man nodded to the captain. "Mind if I take the rest of Miss Silva's belonging's up to her quarters, captain?" Joshua lifted the boxes under his arms to point out what he was talking about.
"I've taken the liberty of assigning you the starboard-aft cabin. It's closest to the facilities and seperated from the crew quarters to ensure your privacy." He offered his arm to lead her to the cabin. "You seem to have brought a great deal of furnishings with you. Are you moving your household to Santo?"
Alizée took his arm and let the captain lead her through the ship. "Actually, no. I intended to make your ship my home, at least for the time being. I hope that would not terribly inconvenience you? The furniture I brought with me are just those items I knew could fit into a cabin. I've parted with the rest."
Blinking with surprise, Sebastian stepped on the small cargo elevator that would take them to the main deck, rather than take the stairs. "You want to...rent a cabin?" The concept was not entirely unheard of. Companions had been known to rent a stateroom from a ship, usually a luxury passenger liner, from which to conduct business. "I wouldn't worry as much about the inconvenience to me, so much as to you. We'll be spending much of our time on the Rim. It may make it difficult for you to...ply your trade. Or at the very least it will severely limit your choice in clients."
Alizée had expected this reaction. Everything about her stay on Beaumonde had reminded her that Companions weren't a familiar sight on the Rim. One who chose to spend her time there would automatically attract some degree of attention.
"Actually, I already discussed this with your business partner. She informed me that your travels would mainly focus on Rim worlds. That actually fits my needs quite well. For reasons I'd prefer not to divulge at this time, I'm quite content to stay away from the Core, at least for the time being." The elevator took them up to the main deck. "As for my business, I can assure you that I'm very discrete, and I won't inconvenience or disturb the crew or the other passengers in any way. And you might be surprised with the ease I'll have in finding suitable clients on the Rim. The reason so few of my sisters ply their trade this far away from the Core has more to do with the relative safety and comfort of their work in the Core than with any lack of clientele out here. In fact, the demand so far outweighs the supply I'll be able to cherry-pick only the very best clients."
Sebastian led her to the aft corridor and to the starboard stateroom, "Well...if we're going to have your clients on board, I should probably do something about the decor of the aft corridor at the very least." He smiled genuinely. "If you're comfortable with the clientelle availability on the Rim, then I'm certainly comfortable with having you on board. Did Mavis discuss a price for your long term rental of the stateroom?"
"Miss Harper suggested that I could rent it for a fee of 100 credits per week. Though if you feel that is inadequate, I'm more than willing to renegotiate a better deal with you." Oh dear, the early jitters of a fresh collaboration? It was clear by the tone of the captain's voice that he was not best pleased, probably due to the fact that he was not first consulted about the particulars of her stay on board.
Her hand brushed along the side of his arm and she gave the captain a smile. "You'll find me to be a very reasonable woman, captain Davenport, I'm sure we can come to an arrangement that is equally satisfactory to the both of us?"
Sebastian felt a slight flush as her fingertips traced along his arm. Alizée was a staggeringly alluring woman who moved with a genteel grace he hadn't seen in a rather long time. She made him nostalgic for the days when he was a successful doctor in the Core, hobnobbing with the wealthy and cultured. Those days are over, Slick...you'd do well to remember that. He chided himself. "Purchasing a first class ticket for every week you'll be on board? that's a very generous on your part. I would have expected you to bargain for a discount. We don't exactly have the accommodations most would relate to first class."
He opened the door to the fiftten foot square room, painted in light grey. The queen-sized bed frame was crafted of simple tubular aluminum with discount hotel quality sheets and blankets. The bed was crafted to be able to be split into two twins in just a few minutes. The floor had the same non-slip sandpaper-like covering as the halls of a dark grey color. "It's a little small, and somewhat bare...but I'm sure that with your furnishings brought in, you could make it quite homey."
Alizée took in her modest new home. It was a sea change compared to the luxurious suite she had on the White Lotus. But she hadn't booked a passage on this ship for its lavish luxury. "This will do just fine, captain. And I don't think the fee I'm willing to pay you is all that generous... provided you understand that I'm paying for your discretion as much as for these accommodations. Obviously I'm going to have to reveal my presence if and when I receive clients. But outside of that, I'd appreciate it if you and your crew kept my staying on this ship hushed. Of course, I won't prevent you from acknowledging my presence to the authorities, should the need to do so arise..."
"You can count on our discretion, Miss Silva. We're glad to have you aboard." He smiled and glanced around the room, "If you wish, I can hire a couple bonded dockworkers to bring your furnishings up, arrange them per your request, and do whatever other heavy lifting is needed for you to arrange the room to your tastes?"
"That would be lovely of you, captain. Heavy lifting isn't exactly my forte."
"I'll leave you to it, then," He paused at the door, "I hope you'll join us this evening for dinner and drinks in the lounge. This is our first voyage, so I have something special planned...and some very fine '47 Eiswine."
"I'm looking forward to it. To the wine, and the company. It was lovely to make your acquaintance captain. I haven't spent a lot of time out on the Rim, but I imagine men you like are thinly sowed this far from the Core..."
The monster in the mirror.
The last day slaving away in front of a hot stove inside the cramped space that barely resembled a kitchen came like water for the thirsty. Not soon enough and almost too good to be true. Wiping sweat from his forehead with the back of a hand, then running fingers through dark hair that was curling slightly with dampness, Ethan May could barely contain his relief that his stint in Yummy Yummy was coming to an end. Though, he had a sneaky suspicion that it would take many more weeks before he would be able to rid himself of the smell that was unique to the restaurant.
Slipping out of the dirtied apron he had on all day, the man ducked past a swift-footed waitress returning with a tray of empty dishes and worked his way up the narrow corridor to the manager’s office. The room itself was a cupboard sized space normally filled with the melody of one’s soft palate and the stench of unwashed bodies. Today, not that Ethan expected otherwise, was no different. Trying not to breath too deeply, the brunet knocked briefly on the doorframe to the doorless room and watched in unconcealed amusement when the heavyset man behind the desk startled awake.
“Waddaya wont?” The slurred speech had taken weeks to understand, Ethan wasn’t sorry that he wouldn’t have to try to decipher it much longer.
“Here for my pay is all.” It was a shame he couldn’t drop his own malformed speech any time soon. On a bad day, trying to remember to butcher the words spilling out of his mouth was almost as hard as ignoring the cacophony that assaulted his senses on a daily basis.
With a grunt and an annoyed glare, Roger Song shifted a few sheets of paper and eventually found a non-descript envelope swimming amongst the bills, inventory lists and whatnot that was meant to occupy his time. Picking it up with sausage like fingers, the Asian man held it in the kitchen-hand’s direction.
“That’s shiney, Mr. S.” He grinned at the overweight man and quickly pocketed the credits. It was likely he won’t be seeing any sort of cash for a while.
“Git.” Tone dismissive, heavy eyelids sliding close, it was obvious that Mr. Song was far more interested in catching a bit more shut-eye than worrying about replacing staff members that decide to go for a walkabout.
He was probably right in his security, there were always plenty of people looking for a spot of employment and the accommodation that came with it. Roger Song may be a lazy wong ba duhn but he was a smart one. Offering accommodation meant he could skimp out on paychecks. And having lived in what the man thought was appropriate accommodation, Ethan knew it was no great sacrifice Mr. Song has made. The small apartment was hardly fit for vermin let along a family of four, two men and a dog. It was also most definitely not legal.
Scanning the shabby apartment one last time, the brunet shrugged on a single knapsack where he kept all his belongings and made his way back out of the building. The trip down the stairs was far easier than the way up.
It was completely opposite to his stay in Beaumonde, where he had already spent far longer than he initially planned. Damn easy to get here but near impossible to leave. He had definitely beaten the proverbial horse to death and all he had was probably more red herrings. Carlos Lim. Smoothing the navy blue material of his shirt with a hand, Ethan meandered across the busy street. But perhaps what was even more important about his overlong stay on the planet was the fact that Beaumonde was starting to feel just a tad too familiar. A bad thing to be sure, because familiar equates to… crowdedness.
Waving a ‘hello’ to a few familiar faces as he passed them, Ethan eventually made his way to one of the many bars that littered the town. If luck was with him, he might be able to find someone who would be able to give him some information about Mr. Lim, because then he could finally make his way off this dust heap and away from the noise.
“You’re a complete bao bay*,” Nicolai smiled as he still shook his head at the documents that were still tangled in front of him. “I still don’t know how you did this.”
“Honestly Niki it’s nothing,” Bex laughed, her English accent flowing naturally. “It took me half the time than I originally expected it to be.” Bex ran a clean hand through her honeysuckle hair, mixing the dark strands of chestnut though out it. She smiled lightly and tapped her fingertips on top of her closed laptop that happened to be outside her leather bag. If there was one thing that Rebecca Malloy traveled with always it was that run down, flap over bag that was constantly slung over her shoulder and across her chest. Within it were her life’s essentials, or so she believed them to be, and could travel not ten feet without it.
“Bex stop being modest for once in your life,” the man sitting across from her laughed with relief. His green eyes seemed to sparkle as they took in all the information that was spread out in front of him like a deck of cards. “And this is where she was?”
Bex shrugged. “According to all my sources, yes, darling. She’s been there for just over three months. Poor little dear,” she ended shaking her head. “Never thought a runaway would end up in such a big gâchis.”
The Russian man lifted a heavy almost wooly eyebrow and shook his head. “French?”
“I’m sort of used to it, Niki,” Bex finished with a blush. “Besides what do you mind anyway? You have your daughter back.” The smile on the man was overwhelming as he seemed to drink in every image. Bex’s heart smiled as she knew that something positive was done today. As the two sat outside at a little local Beaumode café the woman sat and took in the sun. Something she rarely did in her childhood days, and she had tried to seize the opportunity anytime she could. Bex slid a hand over her friend’s. “You’ll get Monica back,” she said reassuringly. “The tough-manly part was always your specialty.”
“If it wasn’t for you, Bex, I don’t know if I would get the chance,” he said looking back up into her eyes. “You’re a real bao bay. I mean it.” Nicolai lifted his glass and tapped it against Bex’s tiny glass of water. “You can do anything with that little box of yours.”
Bex nodded in agreement. “It’s a talent that took months of hospital stays to master.”
Without meaning to, bits of the conversation beckoned for his attention. Neither of the speakers was noteworthy in the way that would make people look at them twice when they walked pass. Though one had to admit they were quite an attractive pair. But no, it was more the content of what they were saying that snagged Ethan’s interest like a rusty nail would a trailing skirt. What did they call it back in the twenty-first century? That’s right, ‘cocktail party effect’.
Slowing, Ethan paused in front of a street vendor and cast an eye over the objects on offer. However, most of his attention drifted elsewhere. The man, Niki seemed to be his name, was near radiating with relief and gratefulness. The emotions were almost intense enough to mask the quiet pride the woman felt and the tangle of feelings that accompanied her comment about hospital stays.
Not that it meant very much to Ethan, so out of context was the statement, but it certainly made him just a little too curious about the woman named ‘Bex’ and what she potentially could offer in terms of his fruitless search.
He cast another glance at the pair and almost immediately wished he didn’t. White walls. Tears. A man with a gentle smile. Gloved hands. A mantra of ‘never again’. It was confusing and just like every other time, it was as though a door had opened and all other available noise…sound… no…. thoughts from any which way filtered through his mind as though his brain was trying its hardest to imitate a receiver.
Noisy, too noisy and much too crowded. Jerking his gaze away from Bex and Niki, and making certain he avoided looking at anyone else directly, Ethan forced himself to take slow even breaths and concentrated. Really concentrated on the flow of air in and out of his mouth. This didn’t always work, but the method of transferring awareness to something physical was one of the more useful things he learnt during his short stint in Osiris.
Once he was sure that he was more or less grounded, Ethan decided cut to the chase. She may or may not be able to help him, but if Niki’s glowing praise of her abilities to find him information was anything to go by, it was far better than whoever he might be able to find on his own.
“Hi.” He said, tucking both hands in the pockets at the side of his trousers as he stopped a few feet from where Bex was sitting. The smile that played on his lips came as naturally as breathing. “Can’t help noticin’, you got the skills as what I’m needin’ now.”
Both Bex and Nicholai’s attention shot directly at the man who approached their little corner side table. At first the aura the man gave off was direct and straightforward, just as his approach was. Bex combed a hand though her hair yet again, probably something she picked up when she was at the hospital and a way to calm her nerves when disaster lurked. She bit her lower lip and quickly slid away her laptop tucking neatly away in her bag that was still slung over her body.
*Bao Bay- sweetheart
Last edited by Pisces; 03-08-2009 at 01:43 AM.
The monster in the mirror.
Seriously. And we aren't going anywhere.
The Russian seemed to pick up on Bex’s uncomfortable behavior and drew in a quick breath. He rose as if to tell him to ‘piss off’ when Bex’s body shot up and gently grabbed his upper arm. “Darling, why don’t you take this time to ponder what to do for Monica, alright? I believe you have what you need to finish it.”
Niki side glanced at Bex then back at Ethan with a distained gaze. He didn’t like anyone interrupting a meeting especially of something of this utter importance. But Rebecca had made up her mind, and he wasn’t going to change it. “It was good seeing you, bao bay,” he smiled as he kissed her cheek. “I’ll wave you when she’s home.”
“I know you will, love. Give her my best.” As he departed, Bex drew in a cleansing breath of her own and quickly found her way back to the worn chair. She took a sip of her water trying to fight down the uncomfortable feeling that was rumbling within her chest. Her hazel eyes darted downward, and she swatted away a fly that was lurking around her dusty blue jeans. “Are you going to take a seat?” she asked as she opened a palm toward the now vacant chair. “Please it’s much more comfortable than standing there, and it might look a little less suspicious.”
It was the sharp jab of pain in behind his eyes, more than the fact that Niki stood suddenly with irritation, anger and a big chunk of protectiveness that made Ethan wary. An altercation was the last thing on his agenda, not only would it draw unwanted attention, the brunet wasn’t sure if he remembered the basics of his Tai Chi training to give a good enough show if words deteriorated into a fist fight.
Thankfully Bex put a halt to the males making a fool of themselves by a few well chosen reassurances. Watching her intently with masked curiosity as she sent her friend away, Ethan was surprised to discover that she was equally, if not more, uncomfortable about the situation than he. Her next words confirmed his suspicions better than the butterflies in his gut that her unease had provoked.
Shrugging his discomfort off with practiced ease, Ethan popped himself in the offered seat and set his knapsack on the floor beside one foot. “Don’t mean no harm with the interruption.” He began with a crooked smile as part of his mind wondered about Bex’s discomfort. “Guess I get a might hasty when opportunity come a-knockin’. So’s the sayin’.” A self derisive chuckle accompanied his comment. “But I ain’t brought no trouble like some folk. Long as you ain't run afoul with them feds, I've a bit of lost ‘n find that sure can do with talent your friend sang praise of.”
Her eyebrow rose, not so much out of questioning, but in the fact that this man was so direct in his approach. Normally when a client had come to her with a request she had noticed they were rather cautious in explaining what they wanted, that things were more under their terms. That was usually when the asthma decided to kick in because in the back of her mind Rebecca always thought her father had hired them to bring her home.
She cleared her throat gently and sat up straighter in the tiny chair that was supplied by the café. Her right hand slid down discreetly into her bag and let her fingers wrap around the smooth surface of her inhaler before she let go happy with the idea that it was still in the same spot as before. Not that it was needed right now, but comfort never hurt. “I do agree,” she smiled retuning both hands to the top of the table and folding one gently on top of the other. “However before you explain to me what it is you require of my skill, I think it might be proper if you tell me who I am working for?”
There was a stray thought. Clear despite the fragmented barrage of a vague impression and images that a mind conjures in association with a notion. The visual of a man was brief, but vivid. Who, Ethan wasn’t sure, but there were some resemblances that marked the person as a member of Bex’s family. Intuitively, Ethan knew without knowing how, that the relationship between the woman and this mystery man was complicated. There was love, plenty of it, but intertwined with that emotion was the sense of fear that had a flavour of resentment and paranoia rolled into one.
He definitely didn’t have the full picture, but it was a clue, a leverage that Ethan had hoped but at the same time didn’t have any real objective way of obtaining. Like usual, the process of snooping into another person’s mind was a bit of a hit and miss thing. His ‘abilities’ were so sporadic and so incredibly generalised that any success tended to be accidental. That wasn’t to say he didn’t try to increase the odds in his favour with carefully chosen questions and comments to encourage certain topics he was interested in.
Allowing nothing of his own thoughts to show on his face, Ethan rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. “Sorry, name’s Ethan May.” There wasn’t much point in giving her a false name, it would only be a matter of time before she figured that out anyway. “Bex, right? Any chance you’re able to find one, Carlos Lim? Now, I don’t take no likin’ to lead anyone astray, so I’ll be straight with you. I ain’t got no credits to spare, but there’s them other ways to payment. What do you think?"
Like she did for any other client that was interested, Bex studied his features, responses, and timings to her answers with great ease. In the many assignments that she had been given the task of solving Rebecca had gotten a quick jump on how to read a person. She remained all intent on listening to what his offer was, but in the recess of her mind she was analyzing every detail. It had become a part of her daily routine and lifestyle, and had learned to keep it OCD free and under control which was a talent in itself. There is something behind those eyes of yours, Mr. May. Whether it be fatigue or something else, there is certainly something there…
“Now there is a situation I completely understand,” Bex smiled as Ethan finished his offer. “Though I am usually offered a sum of credits, I do think I may be able to help you with your request.” For a brief moment Bex thought though her internal name catalogue to scan if the name Ethan offered had ever been mentioned. She frowned slightly as the name hadn’t been crossed, but the thought of a challenge was a perk. “Carlos Lim,” she repeated so it would stick with her. “Carlos… Lim.”
Rebecca leaned to the side and plucked her laptop from her bag and set it on the table gently. The overwhelming expensive black box hummed quickly to life and she pecked away at the keys. “Nothing in my databanks,” she sighed and then shut the box easily. “All the more fun, I suppose.” Bex placed her laptop away and gazed back at Ethan. “It’s something I do before I hear any type of offer. This way I save us both a lot of trouble.” Bex smiled again and took a sip of her water. “Alright Mr. May, you have my attention.”
Last edited by Pisces; 03-08-2009 at 01:38 AM.
The monster in the mirror.
I tried to make this shorter...
“Ethan’s fine enough.” In the man’s mind, the name ‘Mr. May’ referred to one person, and one person only. “I’ve no end to useful skills, though some folks reckon they ain’t worth the mentionin’, sure does give you quite a list to choose from though. How long might it be before you has the whos, whats and wheres?” Ethan gave a small shrug and leaned an elbow against the table. “’cos here’s me hopin’ that you’ll slot right into my own travel plans.”
“Travel plans?” Bex said with a raised eyebrow. Two words that seemed to be so meaningless to Ethan meant the ‘Verse and a half to her. She had been on Beaumode for, what she felt like, ages, and wanted too much to be able to break free from yet another cage that she put herself in. And it wasn’t because she was at a loss for credits, but more for the contacts that she had here. Though some would argue that it’s because I’m rather comfortable with my situation… she thought with a grin floating in her eyes.
Bex leaned forward a bit and nodded. “Well it all depends on where you are going, Ethan. I could have the information within a week, pending all goes well enough, but that’s really up to how well your friend is hidden,” she replied with each word laced with an English accent. Rebecca leaned back again and lifted only one shoulder in a mediocre shrug. “I don’t honestly know how long that will take.”
Seems as though the fish was nibbling on the bait. "I don't rightly know where the stone might eventually land, but Santo's as good as any seein' I've calls to make." At Bex's shrug, Ethan laughed good naturedly. "You seem the honest sort." And she did, during their conversation, never once did Ethan sense anything that would make him wary. "How's about I trade for your services with free boat-rides in the black? Ain't gonna be first class but sure's worth somethin'."
That was better than she was hoping for. Her lip curled lightly at the idea of a free transport around to wherever she wanted, and, on top of it, she would most likely get other kinds of work from where they were headed. Even the poorest people need something done to get ahead, right? And it wasn't as if Ethan was begging her, in fact, he was rather nonchalant about the whole ordeal. "Well that's a horse of an entirely different color," she laughed. "And an offer I've never actually received before."
Her heart was pounding, but not in the ways that she was accustomed to. Instead of reaching for her inhaler to pry her lungs open; Bex was giggy over the idea that she could finally get away from place where she seemed rooted. None of it showed its way to Ethan, and Bex's body and posture remained steady as she "considered" his offer. About a minute later she nodded and extended her hand to his. "Alright Ethan. You provide the transport, and I'll help you with locating Mr. Lim."
"Great!" He shook her hand firmly to seal the deal. "Guess I should start lookin' for a way to smuggle us onboard a boat, huh?"
Last edited by Pisces; 03-08-2009 at 12:51 AM.
Mavis stood in the open doorway of the Folly’s cargo hold, with her notebook in hand. Jeff Thomas and his wife Lucy stood with her. Jeff, the pilot for one of the fed’s mail carriers slapped her on the back. “Looks like a good ship, Mav. Little small for cargo, though don’t ya think?”
“Nah” Mavis shook her head, “We’ll make it work. We may not be hauling cows around in it but, who would want to do that anyway?” She grinned widely at her friends.
“No tellin’ what folks’ll put in their ship if they don’t think too hard.” Lucy intoned with her thick Rim worlder accent.
“No doubt.” Mavis laughed with them. It was so dam good to be back at the dock, doing work she wanted and loved. She watched one of the port’s handlers come out of the bay after delivering the last of their food stuffs.
Jeff took her hand and shook it, “Good luck, Mavis. Keep ‘er in the air.” Then he and Lucy took their leave, waving as they walked away.
Mikenna strolled easily and purposefully through the busy space port eyes always in motion behind the dark, circular sunglasses as she looked for Bay Forty-two. All her belongings fit into the two pieces of luggage she pulled behind her: a large duffle bag, which was hooked over the handle of wheeled travel trunk. She finally slowed as she neared her destination, pausing to let a couple pass by before she stepped up to the short, white-haired woman standing in the cargo hold’s opening. She cleared her throat slightly to pull the woman’s attention away from her notebook. “‘Scuse me. I’m lookin’ for Dr. Davenport. Is he about?”
Mavis looked up from her book at the tall chestnut haired woman. She glanced around her at the luggage. “Sorry, the Doc is elsewhere. Maybe I can help you?” She didn’t remember seeing another passenger on the list but it was entirely possible.
“I s'pose.” She stuck out a hand and smiled. “I’m Mikenna Johanness, Mickey for short. I’m ta report in for nursing duty it would seem.”
“Oh, right.” Mavis shook the offered hand. “Sebastian mentioned a Nurse.” She shaded her eyes as she looked up. “We’re still loading on supplies and I believe we have cargo coming as well. But we can get you settled in.” She nodded at the bags Mikenna was pulling. “That all ya got?”
Mikenna shrugged. “It’s all I need.” She grabbed the handle and turned to head into the ship. “So who are you? You know the doc?”
“No, that’s fine. One of our other passengers arrived with a gorram ton of furniture.” She said with a raised eyebrow. “And I’m Mavis Harper, the Folly's pilot.” She walked briskly up the ramp and around to the cargo bay elevator. She punched in the code and the door slid open. “Yeah, Sebastian and I …know each other.” She said with only a moment’s hesitation. “We ran on a ship a couple of months back before he bought the Folly.” She held the door open so Mikenna could pull the luggage out into the main hall area of the quarters deck.
Mikenna pulled off her sunglasses and propped them on her head as she entered the comparatively darker interior of the ship, looking around at her new surroundings as Mavis led her to the elevator. She looked down at the young woman as she spoke. “Nice ta meet ya, Mavis.” Rolling the luggage out of the elevator, she raised an eyebrow and asked. “So the doc’s only been a captain for a few months, eh? Interestin’. Pretty nice ship, though. How’s she handle?”
"So far so good. I'll know more when I get her off the ground. But for his first pick, Sebastian did a good job." she replied. “He’s taking this Captain thing to heart, “ she shrugged. “Who knows, he might be good at it.” She led the new nurse to one of the rooms and opened the door. “ He’s a good doc and I don’t see him being hěnkù de lǎobán.” She gestured to the room, “It’s not much but it’s …not much.”
Mikenna chuckled. "It's fine. Trust me. I've stayed in worse." Mikenna peered into the small state room, then swivelled her head to look into the open doorway across the corridor. “I assume that’s the infirmary across the hall there?”
"Yep, drop your gear and I'll show ya 'round." The pilot gestured towards the door of the medical suit. "Of course Sebastian will do it again and point out all the excruciating details on what each button will do. Then he’ll scan your head or something.” She chuckled. “The man is flat in love with that phased image thingy.”
“What’s not to love?” Mikenna answered with a grin. “Medicine’s fascinating. But, you’re right, we can skip the infirmary tour.” She pushed her luggage into her stateroom and shut the door, then adjusted her stride to keep pace with the shorter woman next to her. “So from what I gather, our mission is to bring medical care to the needy and provide transport to those who can afford it.” Mikenna’s eyes slid to Mavis. “How’s security work around here?”
“Security?” Mavis shrugged as she led Mikenna around to the crew lounge and galley. “There’s lock boxes for the meds.” She reached around to the small of her back and lifted the edge of her shirt to reveal the sheathed hunting knife she wore there. “Personal security, is never a bad idea. I did mention to Sebastian that we might want to get a thug, some of the colonies can be a little wild. I haven’t heard him say anything about it yet.”
“I’m guessin’ he’s traveled out on the rim before. If not, he needs to listen to his pilot.” Her mind was momentarily drawn back to the recent past before she forced it back to the present. “So, where’s our first stop?”
"Sebastian's a Core worlder. They all need a smack in the head if you ask me." Mav said with a chuckle. Then more seriously, she said, "He'll be okay. I got his back." She set one hand on her hip, "Santo is our first stop. It's not too bad."
"As long as he doesn't get the "captain high" and forget ta listen to reason." Mikenna smirked. "Somehow I don't think you'd let that happen ... unless I'm readin' first impressions all wrong." She looked around as they paused in the galley. "Santo huh? At least it's not war ravaged, just a might less ... posh than it used ta be from what I hear."
Mav nodded, "I have high hopes they'll pay in credits rather then chickens."
"So, you've heard about us. What about you? What brings you to the Folly?" she asked, leaning back against one of the saffron yellow walls.
Mikenna shrugged then put her hands on her hips. “The doc caught up to me as I was leavin’ my job at the clinic. He made the offer. Here I am. Just good luck, I guess, to find this kind of work again so quickly."
Mavis raised an eyebrow. The new nurse seemed less then forthcoming with her personal history. But that really wasn’t uncommon out here. At least she hadn’t said Sebastian had charmed her into it. “I guess so.”
"I have to admit his MedAcad training was a draw, and his medical set-up. Better than some I've worked for right there." She looked back to Mavis. "And the helpin' people o' course."
Mavis gave her an unreadable look, "Oh, yeah. All about the helping people."
Mikenna raised an eyebrow. "Now that's interestin' that is." She tilted her head slightly to the side. "Ya know, the doc was a might squirrely about some things. Now I'm not one ta pry, and I'm good at keepin' my mouth shut, but I'm gettin' the feelin' I need ta know what I've walked into here. The doc's services ain't welcome at the Core, so that's his excuse for skimmin' the rim. What else have ya got planned that would make not asking a lot of questions a job requirement?"
Mavis waved her hands as the other woman spoke. “Nothing nefarious. We’re not pirates or anything.” She shrugged in her one shouldered way, “ But if a cargo is ‘unregistered’ then what the purple bellies don’t know won’t hurt ‘em.” She crossed her arms over her chest, “Sebastian has had his share of trouble,” Her voice took on a little heat as she spoke, “But he’s a good man, and a good doctor.”
Mikenna’s expression remained neutral as she listened to the subtle change of tone in Mavis’ voice. Her eyes narrowed just a touch for a moment before her slow grin returned and she raised one hand up, palm out. “I’m not accusin’ nobody of nothin’. We’ve all had our share of trouble I reckon’. Just call it a little ... personal self-defense.” She put her hand back on her hip. “You say you’ve known the doctor, and he’s a good one. I’ll take face value on that at the moment. But he’s one that has ... in his own words ... eccentricities. Is there anything I should know?”
Mavis took a deep breath; Sebastian was a big boy. He didn’t need her protecting him. But if he hadn’t mentioned what those eccentricities were, then it wasn’t her place to fill it in. She knew he hadn’t had time to get the help he wanted, and, frankly, needed. But he seemed better, at least she thought he did. She hadn’t seen him drink like he had on the Aurora. Maybe he was working on it. And it wasn’t like he was going to do his doctoring while he was smashed or something. “Sebastian has some…issues. It’s not for me to air his laundry. But it’s something he’s getting a handle on. “ She ran a hand through her white curls. “He’ll be okay.”
Mikenna shook her head and said with a sigh. “You two and the vague.” She knew that out in the black she would be stuck on this ship, at least for a time, should anything awry. Her gaze was steady and took on a note of seriousness. “As long as it don’t put me or anyone else in danger. I think you know the rim ain’t no place to toy around ... especially with other people’s lives. Colonies have their own brand o’ justice and we’ll have enough on our plates without havin’ to cover the doc’s ass.”
"It won't be like that." she said firmly. And it wouldn't be like that, not if she could help it. This was her chance as well as his. Her chance to stay out in the black and she wasn't going to let anything, not even the Captain of the boat ruin that chance. "Give it a chance," she found herself saying to Mikenna. "See if it's a fit for you. Might even surprise you."
"I've already given the doc my word, so I ain't walkin' out just yet." Her smile was easy and genuine. "But I feel all kind of better knowing our pilot's got a streak o' steel down her spine. You're more than just a hired hand I'd wager. So much the better."
Mav relaxed a little. At least she hadn't run the doc's first hire off. "No, I own part of the Folly. And look to buy up more as the jobs come in. I want to keep her in the black, keep her flying. Solid ground's no place for a Flyer."
“Really.” Mikenna’s eyebrows rose. “Congratulations.” She smoothed out her expression and nodded. “Nothin’ like a vested interest ta keep ya motivated.” She folded her arms and leaned toward Mavis with a sidelong glance and a hopeful grin. “Don’t guess you’d let me take a peek at the flight deck? I promise not to touch a thing.”
The diminutive pilot arched an eyebrow skeptically. “Sure, that’s what they all say. Then there’s the button poking and the claxons and the engine death.” Then she grinned, “Yeah, come on.” She turned and started towards the front of the ship, “But seriously, don’t touch anything…”
A Deal of Sorts - Part I
The pawnbroker had almost bankrupted him worse than he had started with. Ethan couldn’t help but obsessively trace a hand across the synthetic material that covered the instrument to reassure himself that the guitar was physically at his side. It hadn’t been easy to part with the instrument in the first place, but when the alternative was to go hungry, he was a tad too pragmatic to give up food for a matter of sentimental value.
It was easily three hours after he had left Bex at the café front with the finer details of their business agreement hashed out. Part of that time had been haggling with the pawnbroker, but the majority was spent on the Cortex. There was a list as long as his arm with the potential boats he and the hacker could hop on. Unfortunately a terminal screen gave him nothing but arbitrary facts about the boats themselves and actually choosing a ride required a bit of legwork.
Leaving yet another hanger feeling disappointed, Ethan was beginning to wonder if he’d ever get off this gorram planet. The fruitlessness of the search was starting to take the bounce out of his steps. Swiping a hand through his hair, then massaging the ache at his temple with a distracted hand, the brunet followed behind a vehicle towing a series of crates that bore a striking resemblance to the fresh produce crates he often saw at Yummy Yummy.
After a while, it became apparent that both he and the crates were going in the same direction. With that realization and a bit of flattery, Ethan soon found himself traveling beside the driver of the craft, chatting away with the man as though they were old friends.
“Well, that’s that.” Ben announced as he hopped off the car, its engine still humming as he unloaded one crate. “Curious fella this one.” Ethan couldn’t tell if the man meant the boat or someone thus far unnamed.
“Hn.” A noncommittal enough sound if ever there was one. Following the older man’s actions, but with a lot more caution, Ethan planted both feet on solid ground before lifting his belongings out from the passenger seat.
‘Reckon he’ll not last past a few days out there in the black without all that piggybacking.’
Ethan blinked. He was definitely not following this conversation. “Ain’t got no idea what you mean by that.” The ex-kitchenhand slung his bags onto his back and relieved Ben of his load.
“The captain.” Ben announced with a grateful nod and whipped out a portable terminal and checked something off. “Well, that’s them boxes. Got eight more like that to deliver.”
“Hey, how’sbout I take this in for you?” Ethan offered on a whim. “Been needin’ to ask about a ride anyhow. Can’t be all bad, so long as this captain got his hand held, right?”
Ben started to shrug and paused half way through the gesture before giving Ethan a funny look. “What’s that you say?”
Kao bei.(1) He did it again. “Thanks for the ride, Ben.” Ethan replied with a smile, feigning ignorance as he lifted the crate in his hands with a ‘look see’ gesture. “Don’t worry about this one, got it covered.” Before the older man could figure out how to respond, Ethan quickly carried the cargo towards the boat.
By the time he came close enough to the hull to spit at it, Ethan heard the rumble of the hovercraft as it gently pulled away from the hanger. Heaving a sigh of relief, the man shifted the crate to lessen the weight going into his left arm and looked up. Slick’s Folly. “Well, that’s definitely different.” As for the courier’s nonsense about an incompetent captain, if incompetent was really what Ben meant, Ethan figured he’d have plenty of time to sound the guy out before signing his death wish.
Taking a few steps into the docking bay, Ethan did a quick scan of the area with his hazel eyes, and noted the lack of personnel before calling out. “Door to door delivery, at your service.”
Sebastian reached into the pocket of his waistcoat and withdrew his expensive brass pocket watch, flipping it open with a flick of the wrist. Mavis would be arriving soon from her last day of employment at the Bay 99. An optimistic feeling washed over him as he considered this fresh start…a second chance for the both of them. He was anxious to begin this new chapter of their lives. Slipping the watch back into his pocket, and arranging the chain so it draped properly, he leaned against the small kitchen bar of the ship’s lounge.
His comm. unit chirped quietly, the particular sound indicating an automated message from the Maidenhead Port Authority. Someone had entered the bay, tripping the alert. All of the bays in the port were equipped with monitoring to ensure only authorized personnel entered the ship bays. Sebastian moved to one of the port side windows and looked out. A young man was walking toward the ship, with a large box in his hands. The last of my fresh food to keep our Companion properly fed, he surmised.
He quickly stepped to the cargo elevator and pressed the button for the ventral cargo bay. At the rapid speed, it took only a few seconds to descend, and he stepped onto the deck. The cargo was no longer empty, as he had been somewhat successful in finding some cargo. Five luxury grav-speeders were parked at the fore of the bay, strapped to lanyards in the deck. They were bound for a gambling Baron on Santo who collected rare vehicles. Along the aft wall of the bay were four crates of music chips…the latest hit recording by the pop-band Implosion. Sebastian wasn’t familiar with the music, but given the state of pop music, he was relatively sure he wouldn’t like it. Forty crates of cortex equipment were lashed down, a shipment of upgrade equipment for the Santo civil service bureau. Most interesting were the six crates of rare spices, likely intended for expensive restaurants for high rollers among the gamblers. The aft cargo deck had close to a hundred thirty tons of aluminum alloy extrusions used for building cheap housing. All told it was only two hundred eleven tons, or about forty percent of their capacity…but flying somewhere with cargo in the hold was always better than empty.
He met the young man carrying the box at the personnel ramp with a cheerful wave, “Good afternoon. Are those my vegetables?”
“Could be.” Ethan smiled as he began to realise why Ben the delivery man felt compelled to express his doubt about Slick’s Folly’s dear ol’ captain. The man approaching him was well dressed and carried himself with the quiet confidence of an educated and cultured man. Quite different from the swagger that tended to accompany those that grew up out in the Rim. “I’d hand this to you, but death by valet ain’t a interest of mine. If you like, I can drop this off at your pantry.” Provided he didn’t lose feeling in his arms that is, Ethan was starting to feel the burn in his biceps.
"You can just place it on the cargo lift there in the corner," Sebastian pointed. "It goes right up to the pantry." He reached into his pocket for a gold coin worth a fifth of a credit that he intended to give the young man as a tip. "I appreciate the help."
“Does it? That’s a mite handy.” Ethan said as he set the box down at the captain’s comment. Turning to face the other man, he tilted his head slightly to one side and added, “keep your coins captain, are you headin’ off world soon? Any chance for another passenger?”
A Deal of Sorts - Part II
The doctor arched an eyebrow, "Heading to Santo, are you? We have a couple available staterooms for the trip. Fifty credits for a second class booking, standard rates." He checked his pocket watch again, "We should be taking off in a few hours, around sunset. Mister...?" Sebastian extended his hand.
"May." He shook Sebastian's hand firmly, "but call me Ethan. Guess that's 50 credits I'm sayin' goodbye to." Fishing his wallet out of his pocket, Ethan pried the correct amount from his reluctant stack of notes. "Right, now let's talk about the rate you'll be payin' me so that you can appreciate me even more than you're doing now."
"Pay...you?" Sebastian took a second look over the young man. He was slender, and dressed casually, though not poorly. "Are you asking for a job?"
"Oh, they mustn't have told you, we're doing promotional deal." Ethan spoke with a smile. "Buy a crate of fresh vegetables and you get a qualified chef to go with." Becoming slightly more serious, the brunet continued, "Can't help but noticin'. Since I got here, no one but your lonely self have shown up to deal with the interloper, and I'll bet come dinner time you'll have some reluctant crew ruinin' all that good food."
"You're a chef?" Sebastian asked, tapping the tip of his index finger against his lower lip. "We're a small ship, so we don't have much of a need for a full time chef...but...We do take on passengers regularly. I could use Ship's Steward...someone to do the cooking, basic cleaning, taking care of passenger needs. That sort of thing. You have references?"
"I’ve no lack for references, learned from the best I did.” Ethan answered offhandedly, “but don’t take what a bunch of zi shi shen gao di ren (2)got to say. I’d rather demonstrate my cookin', stewardly whatever skills, and let you play a hand in judging.” The younger man grinned and waved the fifty credits at the other. “‘course, if you really want those names, it ain’t no problem. But before we even get there, I gotta ask, you don’t look much like a captain of these parts.”
"Well...I am planning on getting myself a nice Captain's hat...that should help," Sebastian quipped dryly, thinking about his conversation with Mavis earlier. "Actually, I'm a doctor. The ship is going to Santo, and other points in the Rim, to bring medical attention to those that might need it."
He extended his hand, "Well...let's make a deal. I'll hire you on for the trip to Santo. Call it trial run. If things work out for both of us, we'll hire you on permanently. If not, you've at least gotten your ride to Santo."
"Sounds fair." Ethan grinned and placed the money in the extended hand. He decided for the moment to keep certain questions unspoken. "I'd better go find your other passenger and let her know about her dip into the black then."
Sebastian watched the young man as he quickly left the docking bay. Ah...this might work out just fine...someone to tend to our Companion and other passengers. I can save myself a slug in the arm for asking Mavis or Micky to do it... Gradually, his expression slid from pleased to pensive. "Wait a minute....did he say other passenger?"
(2) Self-important people
Last edited by Taunting; 03-12-2009 at 01:50 AM.
Mavis stood for a long minute in the sliding door leading from the control room to the flight deck. Just looking. The boards were lit and the screens were glowing. The front windscreens showed the last light of day as the sun set, burnt orange, through the smoggy Maidenhead air. But soon those windows would be full of stars. Soon she would be back home. Mav rubbed a hand across her eyes, damn hormones she stepped down onto the deck and over to her chair.
She ran her hands over the leather back of the pilots seat. It wasn’t her ship but it would be. Once they had flown together. She remembered the first time she had sat in the pilot’s seat of her first shuttle, The Night Sky. It had been like this: the giddy feel of anticipation and the taste of freedom on her tongue. She pushed the sleeves of the man’s black button up shirt up her arms and slid around, settling into the seat.
Mav ran both hands slowly over the console. A warm light shone in her eyes. “Hey baby. You ready to fly? I know Rosalita has been warming you up. We’ll be back in the stars soon now.”
"I guarantee you that Rosalita hasn't touched me at all!" Sebastian's voice came from behind her. He slid into the copilot's chair with a grin. "But I am ready to fly."
Mav glanced at Sebastian side long as he sat down. “As I recall you never needed warming up.” She stood up and went to the Nav computer, zeroing out the readings then resetting it with her own. “Is everyone stowed down there?”
"They are," He nodded, rubbing his hands together like an eager child. "I double-checked the cargo as well. As soon as Port Control pulls the connections we can weigh anchor." He scratched his chin. "Weigh anchor...what a curious phrase. 'Weigh anchor, ensign!' 'Aye sir, it's about nine hundred pounds!' That doesn't make any sense."
Mav snorted. “It doesn’t matter, we aren’t in the black yet. We’re technically at the dock, so you have to yell, ‘Cast off Lines’. Not weigh anchor.”
Sebastian pondered that, "Yes, I suppose one doesn't use an anchor at dock...still...I wonder what Ethan would do if I told him to go weigh the anchor." He grinned. "When I was at the Frat, we used to tell the freshmen that on Fridays they had to take their bedding down to the student union for mattress exchange." He made walking motions with his hands, "Despite being some of the brightest minds in the Core they'd be walking down the sidewalk...lugging their mattresses with them..."
Mavis rolled her eyes, “Nice.” She moved over to check the starboard lifts; they had been a little sticky before Rosalita had got on board to check them. “Did her Highness get all her furniture in her room?” She tried to sound casual as she asked.
"At the expense of 3 credits to hire some dockworkers to lug it all around, yes," The doctor nodded. "The price of having first class passengers, I suppose. Still, having a companion on board may come in very handy."
“I suppose.” She said tightly. Nothing like having a Companion around to make all the other women feel like something the cat dragged in. “She’ll probably get tired of plying her …trade in the backwater soon enough.”
"Maybe...until she does have enough, her rent will help us out a lot. Although..." Sebastian leaned back in the vinyl-upholstered chair. "...there is something about her. She's clearly avoiding the Core Worlds for a reason. It makes one wonder why."
“As long as she doesn’t bring Alliance meddling down on us.”
"Amen to that, sister," He winked. "So...got the butterflies in your stomach? Tingles in the finger tips? Ready to free ourselves from the bonds of earth to soar into the gossamer clouds and climb into the endless black?"
The pilot looked around with one eyebrow raised, “Gossamer clouds?” She moved over and reset the communications array. She chewed the inside of her lip, her nerves were starting to jump. And not all because they were coming up on getting the hell off Beaumonde. “Before we get going….” She paused, her stomach clenched. She turned around and reached into her pocket. “I have something for you.”
Sebastian raised an eyebrow as he watched Mavis' checks flush. She wasn't the type to blush very often, which certainly made him curious. "Yes?"
She pulled out a folded square of dove gray linen and smoothed it between her hands. Dark blue thread accented the edges of the handkerchief and a ‘D” was embroidered in one corner with the same thread. She opened her mouth to speak but instead, stepped over to him and handed it over. “Cause I ruint your other one.”
A warm smile spread across his face as he reached out for it. "That...that wasn't necessary, Mav." As he took the handkerchief, his fingers brushed against hers. He met her eyes and allowed his hand to linger for a moment before pulling the square of cloth from her hands. "Thank you, Mavis."
The blush deepened and she pulled away, swallowing dryly. “Well, you practically broke down over that fancy one.” She waved a hand, “I thought the gray would match that one waistcoat. I know its not silk but…”
"It's perfect," He replied, his eyes not leaving hers.
A familiar ache filled her chest. It would be so easy to just go right back to where they had left it on Paquin. She bit her lip, [I] yeah, right about the point where you gave everything up and he knew you were a bad bet.[/I] She broke eye contact and went back to the console. “You briefed the nuggets with a beano yet?” she asked briskly, her voice steady.
Sebastian blinked, confused, "Come again?"
She sighed, "If you're going to fly you have to learn to speak the language, Sl...Davenport." She punched in the departure codes. "Nuggets are people who aren't regular flyers." She picked up her fresh new notebook and copied some co ords into it. "Beano is where you, the Captain, tell them all the things they can't do. As in 'There will be no passengers in engineering."
"Why is it called a 'Beano'?" He asked, then shook his head. "Never mind. I'll make a point of it at dinner tonight. I have a surprise planned for our maiden voyage."
"There will...be...no...never mind." she shook her head. Then his words filtered in. She turned and faced him again crossing her arms over her chest. "Surprise? What kind of surprise?"
"If I told you..." His grin twisted wryly. "...it wouldn't be a surprise."
“Pregnant women are notoriously delicate creatures who don’t mix well with surprises. Spill it.” She said narrowing her eyes at him.
The wry grin became a warm smile, "Isn't it almost time we took off? Shouldn't we 'Cast off our lines' as it were?"
“Fine.” She grumped as she sat down in the pilot’s chair, “But if it makes me hurl I’m aiming for you.” She picked up the handset for the com. “Maidenhead control this is ‘Slick’s Folly’ Dezz 29756. If we’re clear, we’re for the black.” She couldn’t keep the smile from her face as she said it. It was still a dumbass name but it was her ship. The tower answered her back with an affirmative and gave her the finial co ords to take her straight up and away without crossing paths with any other boats.
She looked over to Sebastian with her hand on the stick, ready to take them up. “You want to say it?” she asked with a wide, nose-wrinkling grin.
Sebastian waved his arm theatrically, “Ummm...Engage? Make it so, Number One?"
She laughed, “You’ve been watching the vids again…” She picked up the com link again and thumbed the ship wide channel open, “All crew make fast.” She looked back at Sebastian: her eyes alight.
The captain buckled his seatbelt harness and gripped the armrests, "Okay, Mavis...Show me what she can do." His eyes met hers again. "Let's take her into the Black."
Mav took the stick and blew out a huff of breath. This was the best part: the moment before you jumped. “Alright love, you heard the man.” She pulled the stick and fired the engines. The Folly lifted off her moors as smooth as glass and tucked up her skids. With a roar of the pulse engines, she arrowed up towards the sky.
The deepening sunset light turned the clouds to fire and gold as the ship cut through them. Far off to the port side another boat was going up as well. Its contrail was a comet’s tail behind it. “Look” she said gesturing with one hand. “We’re stars, shooting up.”
"They used to say that Shooting Stars were good luck," Sebastian leaned around Mavis to look at the other vessel. "Make a wish."
The riotous oranges and golds of the last of the setting sun began to fade, thinning out to blue then to cobalt. “Wait for it…” she said. Then the Folly gave a little almost imperceptible kick as she broke atmosphere as if she were shaking off chains. Mav felt the tears well up again as the stars filled the windscreen. They were free and back were they belonged.
Sebastian unbuckled the restraints and watched the light of the sun play across her face, undiluted by the atmosphere. He stood and rested his hand on her shoulders. He kissed the crown of her head, "Beautiful...just beautiful."
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