Name: Calvin “Cal” Boone Strand
Appearance: Cal stands at 5’11” and borders on stocky. He wears his brown hair cropped short. Clothed in a green plaid shirt with the neck buttoned, he wears a duster over his shoulders.
He's the captain! Great at palming cards, lifting cortex’s, and misdirecting attention just in the nick of time. He can fly the boat if need be and he surely can shoot. His brain pan may not be educated by first class Alliance book-learners, but he's got enough life lessons to know how to dance on the razor's edge and come out with a pocket full of creds and ne'r a scratch at the end.
Relaxed and cool-headed, Cal can see the way out in a collapsed tunnel, likes the sound of his own voice, and smokes a lot. Not the good stuff neither, it’s that la shi that turns your teeth black and makes you smell like tar. With a decided air of unchecked superiority, he's gained all the social graces a bit of charm and nice jawline hands to any man in the 'verse. Over loyalties, more important to Cal is a long lived life for all the joys short lived shore leave can satisfy. He's a simple man, really.
Cal was born to Aster and Jordan Boone on Three Hills in a town called Fairoak. He lived as an only child with a childhood complete with all the spoils that such a life in Fairoak could provide. Wanting for nothing, Cal learned that most things came easy if’n you ask nicely. Or they didn’t and you had to get them yourself. Charm birthed an equal opponent in wit and the boy grew into a young man a body either loved or hated.
Then Aster grew sick. Jordan did what he could for her, leaving his son and wife in the care of his brother to travel to Bob, a nearby moon, for medicine. While Jordan was gone, Cal, sick with his own worry at the prospect of losing his mother, could remember little else than his mother’s bedside. The sickness took Aster in a matter of twelve hours. And Cal’s father? He never returned.
Cal now a young man orphaned by circumstance, stayed with his uncle until he was of age to take care of himself. Against Uncle Richard’s guidance, Cal left Three Hills for the core planets. To him, those lonely planets held bitter loss now, and the technology and affluence of the core planets were as attractive as any future he could envision.
Reality, as it is wont to do, struck a different chord on the teenage Cal, landing him in the ‘employ’ of a freighter ferrying supplies to and from core to rim. The hauls were long. The work was hard, too, but he got to see the worlds. Leave on those trips always spanned time enough to get into trouble and manage the narrow escape that was his final boarding call. It was a thrill for a young man to imagine making his mark and sowing his oats across the universe.
His indenture saw him straight into the Unification War.
The captain, at the behest of the Alliance, saw an opportunity for such a cargo vessel to be of strategic value in shuttling much needed goods and armaments to places of outposts on the rim. Captain Strand, however, had a keen mind and a knack for business. He set an additional contract with the Browncoats; a contract that meant they not only got intelligence on when and where goods were headed, but a share of the shipment as well. In the end, he mused, to the Alliance all this was a simple line item on a cortex somewhere. Losses were just a part of doing business.
It worked, at first. Shipment after shipment saw greater price tags for Strand’s travels. Cal watched this climb in payoff pique the captain’s worse angels into getting greedy. Less and less stock made it to the Alliance outposts, and more into the hands of the Browncoats. Some might call him a hero, but Cal could see the old man had hitched his retirement to the war machine. The Alliance noticed, too.
The order from the core planets reached Constance before the freighter arrived: if the whole shipment isn’t present and accounted for, court marshal the ship and its crew. Cal only learned of the order from the corpse of a field dispatcher in the aftermath of what had become a shoot out between the poorly supported Alliance meeting party and Captain Strand. The man himself lay gasping with a hole in his gut among several unlucky crew members. Cal saw an opportunity and, commandeering the dispatcher’s gear, sent a wave back with an all-clear message to the Alliance. In those final moments, Strand asked Cal to take him to New Kasmir, the last leg of his journey.
Empowered by the captain to chart the course, Cal took the reins of the China Doll and set them down a league from any town.
“This here mite be my last stop,” Captain Strand coughed, “but you got plenty more in yuh. Take ‘er. Treat ‘er right.” He lifted his hand from the wound, now bleeding through the bandage and his clothes. “Now you dig me a spot good an’ deep, yuh hear?” With his one free hand, Strand took off his hat and tucked it around Cal’s ears.
The young Cal nodded.
“The hat looks good on you,” the old man rasped.
From then on Cal went by Strand to keep the contracts flowing from both sides. His stunt with the Alliance placed Strand’s name back in their good graces since a ship as small as the China Doll meant nothing in the shadow of an interplanetary war.
Fast forward a decade and Cal’s war profiteering creds have dried up, the side that paid better lost out, and crew attrition is at an all time high. For his service, he received a civilian commendation from a begrudging Alliance commander that resulted in nothing more than a pat on the back and a check mark on his ident card, not that anyone asked to see it anymore since Unification Day. In the meantime, he’s had to take on plenty of less paying and higher risk jobs that weren’t exactly above board.
Plenty of time took place between then and now, but here’s where it gets interesting.
His last job set him down in Persephone where the China Doll’s been sitting, gathering dust for two week’s time. The berthing fees alone, not to mention the parts required have placed shoving off just out of reach. To add insult to injury, his first mate just parted ways from the sinking ship. There's only one man in town who has the creds to keep him flying and the questionable moral fiber to lend on credit to a man like the Captain of the China Doll...