Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by sail3695
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Episode 1 - "GATEWAY"



OOC: Joint post by Wandering Wolf and Sail3695

Persephone...Gateway to the Universe. The slogan, coined by the Wu Xing Travel Agency, was meant to enhance the artist’s rendering of a colorful, modern cityscape in their destination poster. But nowadays, that bit of artwork actually offered a more accurate picture through years of dirt, curling edges, and the yellowing brought on by grime and soot. Persephone, and the city of Eavesdown, were both a study in “have” versus “have not.” The cosmopolitan districts still gleamed with the lustre of the central planets, proudly displaying the trappings of extreme wealth and an ostentatious social scene.

Despite this grand facade, one didn’t need to look far beyond a border of regentrification projects to find the opposite end of the spectrum. The warehouses and slums which sprawled about the Eavesdown docks could’ve been lifted from any one of a dozen worlds on the outer rim. In this seedy underworld, anything...or anyone...could be obtained for the right amount of coin.

It was here, in the rough streets around the docks, that a tenacious little man nicknamed Badger had carved out a fledgling criminal empire. An unrefined narcissist, Badger attempted to put on the airs of the local aristocracy, fancying himself a modern day Reginald Kray, while those he sought to impress regarded him more as an updated Fagin from ‘Oliver Twist.’ His place in the caste thus locked, Badger sported his bowler hat, a necktie with no collared shirt, and a worn suit jacket to secure what illicit trade he could grasp. Those around him might have laughed him off, but for the gunscans of his ever present henchmen.

It was two of these who jostled Cal Strand through the rabbit’s warren of freight containers that comprised their base of operations. Suddenly, a third gunman barred the way, his Alliance issued autorifle pressing into Cal’s chest as he waited for permission. A dim light filtered through the overhead camouflage netting, falling onto a peeling copy of the Wu Xing Agency’s poster. Persephone...Gateway to the Universe.

“Send ‘im in, lads.”

The rifle’s muzzle was withdrawn, as beefy hands shoved Cal into the crime boss’ inner sanctum. “Well, well, well!” With practiced grandiosity, Badger turned, made a show of straightening his lapels, and fixed Cal with a predatory grin. “Call the eye doctor, boys. I must need spectacles!” the little man’s Cockney accent broke into a patronizing chuckle. “Captain Calvin Strand...or is it “Strand-ed?” he teased. “Come to grace my humble enterprise. Fallen on hard times, have you?”

“Badger, always a pleasure,” Strand nodded, eyeing the pistols trained on his chest, “how long’s it been? The Osiris job? I recollect you made a pretty penny when last we crossed paths.” Cal, missing the weight of the firearm on his hip, removed his hat and draped himself over a chair opposite the little man’s desk, his Tom Mix hat perched on the corner.

Leaning forward, Cal picked up a bauble from Badger’s desk, an arrowhead. “Nice, one this. You pick it up on vacation to some backwater dust planet? Course not, a man of business such as yourself ain’t got time for such a venture. Not when you got people what can do the dusty work for you. How much is this worth, you reckon? How much would a crate be?” Setting it down among the other motley assortment on the trinkets, Cal straightened in his chair.

“Now I think you know why I’m here, and businessmen like we are, we see silver linings in damn near every rain cloud.”

“That,” Badger’s glance touched upon the arrowhead, “comes with a tale that I share only with my most trusted business associates...typically them as don’t leave a mess for me to clean up.” At the lift of his hand, a lackey set a small tray upon the desk, poured two shots from a corked bottle, and hastily withdrew. “A penny was made,” the crime lord agreed as he lifted his glass, “though it should’ve been two. Endeavors,” he offered the toast, a serpentine smile on his face as the shot rose to his lips.

After the home distilled alcohol made its’ way to his gullet, the little man regarded his guest. “Now then, word is that you find yourself without a working boat or a crew to fly her. Harbormaster’s not an understanding gent like myself...makes me conjure you’re about a day off being land locked for your fees..” A mocking sympathy crossed his brow as he poured two fresh drinks. “So tell me, old chum, how might I be of service?”

Clearly, Badger remembered a bitter version of the incident which broke out after Cal collected a particular circus performer, one of a double act, from Delphi. The job ended up tarnishing the little man’s namesake with a corpse or two from the other party. But, hey, Badger failed to mention he wanted kid gloves, so Cal reckoned strong and loud would get the job done as good as anything. Strand frowned as he considered how the man might choose to exact revenge in his own hour of need.

The tray appeared, and Cal took his shot at Badger’s toast. The alcohol burned from top to tail and had a faintly wooden flavor, not like oak or maple. It was more akin to saw dust. Eyes squinting as the flame traveled up his nose, he gave a decisive nod in the negative, replacing the glass.

“It ain’t no secret I need off this rock,” Cal leaned back to survey Badger’s whole persona, “I got a decent ship what runs, we’ve done business before; I conjure there’s still coin to be made with such a booming enterprise as yours. So I’m offering you a deal. Put me in the black, I’ll find some crew, and when the bill comes callin’, I’m offering twenty-five percent return on your investment. One-time deal, no strings attached. Besides, I got a job lined up that’ll turn around your dollar, and we both know the auspicious Badger never misses a trick,” Cal eyed the crime boss before glancing at the second shot he poured, holding back a rising in his stomach.

Truth be told, Cal was in dire need to get out of Eavesdown for more than the colossal berthing fees. The ‘job’ he mentioned had brought him more heat than he liked, and he felt a powerful urge to put as much distance between him and Londinium as possible at the current moment. If winds were fair, he might just tickle the little man’s ear enough to bite, but not enough to take Cal’s cargo at gunpoint for himself.

Badger offered an amused chuckle. “Twenty-five...most generous. But then again, begs the question as to just how much investment might be required to ‘put you off this rock.’ To opportunity,” he grinned with a subtle lift of his glass.

Once the second shot had joined the first, the criminal boss leaned back in his chair, steepling his fingers as if the matter he now pondered bore significant gravity. “My old friend Calvin needs a rapid egress,” he voiced aloud, “yet his fortunes would not add up. So here he is.” The viperous grin returned to his features. “It just so happens,” Badger swivelled to one side, offering his posture, “that I’ve need of a bit of hasty movement for both cargo and a passenger. A nice three day hop to New Melbourne could be just the trick for us both. But as to balancing the books on your repairs and restock, I’m more inclined to a flat rate percentage. Ninety,” he turned, propping his elbows upon the desk. “Puts your boat in the air and food in the gullets of those what you can hire. Ten percent leaves you some coin to refuel and have a brew on old Badger.”

Strand listened, working his jaw as Badger proliferated his own plan, “If you want us to make it back from New Melbourne we’ll need at least double that, and that’s if passenger and crew starve to death. Sixty-five. Ship can’t fly hasty-like on less. Bodies can’t eat.” Cal fixed his eyes on Badger’s, hands on resting on the chair’s arms.

“Lots of lovely fish on New Melbourne,” Badger chuckled at his own joke. “You might turn a nice coin hauling some to...Ezra, perhaps? Tell you what,” he relaxed once more into his chair, “I’m of a generous mind today. Seventy-five,” he countered as the smile fell away from his face, “and no body count. This run goes silent as the grave…dohn mah?

Cal turned his head to eye Badger, “Silent as the grave, now there’s a stretch. If they play nice, then so do I!” Picking up his hat, he tucked it around his ears, “Seventy, and I leave my pistol at home.”

A whimsical roll of the eyes preceded a crooked smile. “Well,” Badger tilted his head, the bowler hat threatening to fall off as he replied, “I might be taking a bath, but speed and discretion are of the essence. Seventy it is. Now drink up, partner.”

Against his better judgement, Strand rose from his seat, collecting the remaining shot from the tray. “To opportunity,” downing it eyes closed, he could already picture the smug look from those beady little eyes.

The little man rose to his feet. “Done and done!” he exclaimed. “My associates will deliver the cargo after nightfall...three sealed crates. The passenger’s name is Ms. Baker...delightful woman,” he grinned. “Lovely singing voice...and she knows her way around engines. Am I not generous?” Badger glanced toward his guards. “Our business is concluded. Show Captain Strand out.” As two beefy escorts fell in behind the departing captain, Badger drew his third close with a crooked finger. “Get those crates ready. I want ‘em out of our hands as soon as the sun drops.”

“Yes, boss,” the henchman nodded. “And ‘de woman?”

The crime boss stroked his chin. “Hustle her aboard. Tell her she’ll need her tools, and no undue lip.”

“Not sure she’ll tink ‘dot was in the deal.” he answered dubiously.

Badger smiled. “Good, fast, or cheap. Choose two.”

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by sail3695
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OOC: Joint post from Wandering Wolf and Sail3695

For Abby Travis, the day began feelin’ ‘bout as off as off could be. Wakin’ up in her own bunk an’ that comfortable feelin’ ever’thing was alright...til her brain kicked in an’ told her that nothin’ was what she expected. Uncle Bob, last of any kin she had knowledge of, was dead. And today, Mariposa, the boat she’d called home since she could put a meanin’ to the word, was on Persephone, ‘bout to be ripped apart by the Consolidated Spacecraft Salvage Company. Leastways they’d been kind enough to give her a lift off of Silverhold. Now that she was on her own, Persephone offered at least a chance of...somethin’.

A knock sounded through the open ladder hatch above. “Ma’am? Salvage crew’s fixin’ to git started. Time to go.”

“Wèilái.” She strapped her duffel down tight. Next came the gunbelt, buckled firmly, the holster tip knotted down to her right thigh. After checking the Colt Navy’s target scan, she slipped the pistol into place. The long rifle was slung over her right shoulder. With the duffel swinging from the left, Abby Travis took the ladder, climbing out of the last fourteen years.

She conjured right quick that if you were tryin’ to get a grip, Eavesdown docks wasn’t prone to help the matter. People seen her for what she was, a young girl on her own, obviously twixt stations.

“Hey, Angel Cakes! Aw, c’mon, why you gotta be that way?”

“You lookin’ fer a place? I got one for a pretty girl like you...oh yeah? Well ta ma de you too...stuck up lil’ bitch!”

“Hey! Kid!” Fella had fallen in beside her, walking just outside the radius of her swing. He was just a little bit taller, kinda old...not Uncle Bob old, but he had some miles on.

“Who you callin’ kid?” she demanded.

“Looks like you’re after a job,” the stranger replied. “I got a job if you want.”

“What kinda job?”

“Working on a boat,” he replied. “That’s her, right there.”

Abby stopped short. The stranger had his finger pointed right at a Firefly, a Class Three. Like Mariposa...well, she had to admit that this one looked a sight better. She took in the cargo ramp and the darkened bay beyond, the two plump atmo engines. Her eye trailed up the boat’s lifted ‘neck’ until it settled upon some hand painted art. China Doll, she thought. Mighty fine name for a floating brothel…

“No whorin, right? Don’t do no whorin’.”

This amused the fella. “No whoring,” he chuckled. “Name’s Cal. Captain and owner.”

“Abby.” She’d taken her eyes from him to study the Firefly once again. “She’s a Class Three. Grew up on one.” She turned her gaze toward Cal. “What yew want me to do...Cal?”

He beckoned her up the ramp. “For now,” the captain said, “stow your gear. Take this.” He shoved a clipboard into her hands. “Here’s a folding chair. Take a seat down front, get us passengers, crew, cargo, anything that folk would pay for us to carry. Rates are all on that sheet. You can read, right?”

She scowled. “Yes...and I can add, too. Where ya goin’?”

“Supplies!” Cal called over his shoulder.

“Where we goin’?”

“New Melbourne...it’s on the sheet!” he shouted as the crowd enveloped him. “Welcome aboard the China Doll, kid!”
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Hidden 4 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Aalakrys
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There was something to way the engine had sighed when Penelope guided Old Bertha to her final port that told her all she needed to hear. ‘Fore the captain even came round to deliver the news, he found the plucky pilot gently caressing the console, giving all the soft utterances needed to the ease the passing of the ship’s final moments.

“Reckon it ain’t a good sign to see the pilot sayin’ last rites.” The weathered old man, Captain O’Malley, said with a thoughtful rub to his grisly beard. “Shoulda known the way entry went that it’dta be my last flight.”

Penelope turned her hazel eyes up at that with a final pat to the dash, surprise at hearing he too was retiring from the black. “Say it ain’t so, captain. You got plenty’a courses yet to chart.”

“Oh, girl, it’s better to not get a scoldin’ for pushin’ Bertha on this last leg, but I can’t say your sweetness doesn’t jab the heart just so.” O’Malley gave a soft chuckle. “Been thinkin’ ‘bout it plenty. Was hopin’ to let ya know when we touched down back home, but… maybe this place’d be for the best.”

“For the best? I never took ya for a city man, Cap’n.” She grinned then, but the sudden shout from down the hatch cut her short. O’Malley sighed as he looked down the way. “What’s riled up down there? I did my best to keep her steady, I did.”

“An’ a fine job ya did, Pen. Better make the announcement ‘fore Dev stirs the nest.” The captain moved over to the side of the control panel, lifting the transceiver from its cradle while his pilot slipped out of the way with one last look at Old Bertha’s dash. As she made her way to her bunk, she heard his gravelly voice come over the speakers, crackling with static: “Y’all might’ve guessed with the rough entry, trailin’ smoke a mile on long, and this here electrical situation goin’ on that Persephone is the last port Old Bertha is ever gonna make, so ... I’m havin’ to make decisions a lot sooner than I hoped. It ain’t the way I’d like it ta go, but it seems this is a split for us all. We did a lotta good work, an’ once the payload is in, your cut’ll show. Persephone has more than enough ways to make a man, but if’n you’re hankerin’ to head home like planned, I’ll pay for a trip into Red Sun so’s it won’t take none of yours. Ain’t got much else to say ‘cept it’s been a good run. I’ve got some arrangements to make for the ol’ girl, and cargo to offload, then we’ll say goodbye proper.”

While the captain had gone on, Penelope made it to her bunk and saw to making sure she had gotten all her things. There was some amount of bittersweetness here, having to take down her personals from the wall, knowing she wouldn’t see the crew again for who knows if ever. It wasn’t like they were all a family - O’Malley took her on when he found her stowed away with the cargo, determination set that she had to trade out what she brought. They had a few runs, but only a few. Dev was a merc that stayed on too long, and run’d his mouth too much, causin’ trouble for the fun of it. And she didn’t like the way he looked at the women they took on as passengers, but he never did nothin’ untoward, so at least there was that.

With a sigh, she stared at the grey metal, reached out to touch a spot of rust. “Poor ol’ girl. I hope they treat ya real nice, and maybe a piece of ya will touch the black again. I hear Persephone is real good at metal works. Hey, maybe you’ll be part of one of them fancy trains. Ain’t never imagined it, did ya?”

She grinned, considering how maybe it would be nice to try something different out. With her personal keepsakes all bound up, she tied it to a tattered and well-loved copy of her favorite book (Treasure Island), then stuffed it all in the front pouch of her rucksack.She took her clothes and folded them real tight, pushing them down to the bottom of the inner bag, then placed her box of earrings on top. This wasn’t home, not at all. A bunk shared out in the open with the passengers left her feelin’ safer than bolted down in the crew quarters, but the passengers came and went. And crew didn’t last long with Dev around. Maybe, she smiled again, her next adventure would fill in those missin’ pieces.

Canvas rucksack strapped over her shoulders, she waved one last goodbye to the captain after he handed her the credits for the mission he’d collected. He’d told her about a ship he heard was charting back to Red Sun, looking for all sorts. With the fare she tried to refuse on her person, and a last look at Old Bertha, she made her way to find the China Doll.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Gunther
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Gunther Captain, Infantry (Retired)

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OOC: Collaboration with sail3695

“Little girl,” the agent offered his best ‘intimidating’ glare, “ain’t yah evah been taught about bulk rate discounts?”

Abby’s deadpan expression held firm. “Yep, includin’ the part where if’n yer not shippin’ the bulk, y’ain’t gettin’ the discount. Got two crates at two hunnerd pounds each. Discount don’t kick til the weight hits one-K. Bring me three more ‘o’ them crates an’ I’ll cutcha thirty points off the cost.”

“The cost of shippin’ a thousand pounds.”

“Uh huh,’” Abby nodded.

“But that’s still almost twice what yer chargin’ me tah just ship these two!” the agent griped.

The girl shrugged. “Not a boat on these docks wouldn’t boost rates fer New Melbourne, what with King Tuna season nigh on to start. ‘Cept us. Cap’n says charge standard rate. Somethin’ tells me yew want these crates full ‘o’ trawl nets in the market afore them tuna boats leave harbor…dohn mah?”

The agent scowled, then went for his purse. “Yah daddy must be so proud of what a gorram little pirate yah become.”

“He gimme a parrot fer my sixteenth,” Abby quipped as she counted the man’s coin. “Here...fill this out, an’ have yer boys wheel ‘em inside.”

Hook plowed through the sea of people bustling to and fro near the berthing docks in Eavesdown. It was the sort of town one needs to adapt to slowly. The smells wafted in the air like a dead weight; low and heavy, reminding him of the tight quarters he shared with his brothers back on the farm. Then another smell would sneak in and take him away from such foolish reverie.

‘It is for the best. No need thinking on those days. Will never see my bros again,’ Joe Hooker thought to himself. Thoughts of family only hardened his heart. He was far from the farm. The thoughts used to make him sad, almost like weeping over their deaths, but he had since come to terms with the loss. They were his family even if none of them ever knew their real mothers.

A small scrap of paper clung to the fingers in his right hand. His duffel bag pulled down on his sinewy shoulders. One of his rifles was slung over his left shoulder, the other in the bag. His pistol was holstered on his right hip and a small bag in his left hand. He eyed the paper to see the berthing number, then looked up as he walked along the row. Eventually, he found the China Doll and spied a young woman seated near the opened ramp.

She appeared to be haggling over something with another man. Not sure what they were talking about. Maybe a new hire like himself? Or a businessman interested in shipping goods to some God-forsaken planet.

Joe waited for the man to shove off before approaching the young red-haired woman. The closer he got the younger she got. But this had to be the ship. “Is this the China Doll?” Joe asked the young woman.

After assuring herself that the two hands hadn’t botched the load in, Abby kept an eye on the trio as they turned to leave. Her attention was quickly diverted to the stranger. Tall, had a frame on him. More interesting was the rifle strapped to his shoulder. “This is,” she responded to his question. “Bound fer New Melbourne. You a passenger?”

“Nah, miss. I’ve worked on a few boats in the past and ended up here on Persephone. I need to find new employ. I ken also cook some. Learned on the farm I was raised on,” Joe looked at the young woman sizing her up. He was no threat to her and he didn’t perceive her as one either. He actually never considered fighting with a woman, especially someone as young as this one. ‘She looks like a child,’ he thought to himself. “Aside from being tha cook, I have been a deckhand since the war ended.”

Abby hoisted the clipboard. “Boat’s hirin’. Cap’n says deckhand gets a standard share an’ yer own bunk. That square with yew?”

“Well that sounds down right fine, if’n I do say so myself. I am square with that, miss.” Joe Hooker allowed himself a smile. “The name’s Joe Hooker, but most folks call me Hook.” The man appeared to relax knowing he would be able to work again.

“Abby Travis.” She extended her hand. “I conjure yew’n me are gonna push alot of boxes together. I hate cookin’. I’ll trade yah laundry duty fer cookin’.”

“Did I hear ya say we was headin’ to New Melbourne? While we there, we need to get some Talapia and shrimp. I got me a wonderful blackened shrimp gumbo recipe that’ll curl yer toes. My mama always raved over the stew. Good stew, I guarantee.” Joe shared his ideas for cooking. “I actually enjoy cooking.”
“Are the crew quarters in the usual place? Ah been on a Firefly once before about five year ago. I can stow my gear.”

The girl offered a nod. “Yup...upper deck, forward of the galley. Cap’n might want to choose fer each of us, but if yah grab a single yer as like to keep it. Tell me how they are...ain’t seen a thing since the Cap’n hired me.”

“Will do, Miss Abby.” Joe started to walk past Ms. Travis. “I don’ mind if’n the cap’n wants me to change bunks. Jus wanna take a load off.” Joe strode into the cargo bay eyeballing the walls, gangways and electrical wires. He headed up to the crew quarters to see how they were. Left his duffel on one of the bunks along with his handbag and the sniper rifle he had been carrying on his shoulder.

Wearing a set of blue coveralls and work boots, armed with his Ruger Red Hawk, Joe turned to the galley. He wanted to see the appliances. He inspected the stove, the oven and then the cupboards to see what the ship had in the way of dishes, utensils and cups. It was the standard kit for a Firefly class ship. He then returned to the cargo bay to see what would be next on the crew’s agenda.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by psych0pomp
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Collab Between @psych0pomp & @sail3695
Persephone! Planet of wonder, planet of sights, planet of tall buildings, and even taller egos. Rex rubbed his nose with the palm of his hand, smearing the darkening blood across his tan skin. He tsked. “You know, you can stop bleeding any day now? No one is asking you to continue to spurt out like a fountain.” The trickle of warmth from his nose answered his question. One more glance at the paper with the docking information for the China Doll, and he ripped the edge of it and balled it up. He rammed that into his nose like a jagged, ink-stained plug. He then crumpled the rest directions up and went to hurl them over his shoulder. That was when he caught the eye of a woman, her brows furrowed. He just smiled and pitched the piece of paper in the next trash can before curtseying to her.

“Remind me again, Lucky, why we thought it would be a good idea to come here of all places?” he asked the cage in his right hand. A plum-colored scarf, from an employee of an above-board business that definitely wasn’t a brothel, covered the small black wired cage. Rex could feel the small bird stir underneath and let out a chirp. It wasn’t as if he knew what Rex was saying. He just knew his name. Still, it was nice to pretend. He shouldered his bag and moved forward. Frankie had just let him off with a bloodied nose because she had something else to attend to before she could finish the job. It was a nice way of saying “you have twenty-four hours to get out of here.”

As Lady Luck would have it, planning his escape was easier than expected. After spending his last credit on information for escape routes, he found one China Doll docked. And more to his surprise was that it was still captained by one Cal Strand. He was unsure how he was going to pay for a ride off the planet. But favors didn’t cost anything immediately, and Rex was fine with racking up a few more with his dear friend. If anything, Cal could pay him. The man couldn’t ask for a better First Mate. Rex knew the ship. Rex knew Cal. Rex knew where the secret whiskey was stored. The last part was more for him.

He approached the dock, his steps getting a little faster not wanting to catch any shadows out of the corner of his eyes. The tall and broad man was dressed in a bright blue button-up with pink lotus flowers printed on it. He had a few of the buttons undone, allowing for his necklaces to be shown and the chains of some unseen ones to be visible. He had a thick belt on, holstering both his knife and pistol. The leather that held his pistol was practically new. His gray coat with a fur-lined collar caught the sun and shimmered a bit in the light. As Rex came closer, he brought up a heavily ringed hand to pull down his circular, red-tinted glasses.

“Cal didn’t tell me he had a kid.” He whistled. “Shit. Got you doing his paperwork? Who taught you to read and write? Sure as hell wasn’t him.”

Abby looked up from the weight calc she was writing up. Their timing for New Melbourne was turning out to be alright, what with King Tuna season about to kick in and folk wanting to be there for work or sport. And then...this guy. “Who’s askin’?” she cocked an eyebrow at the explosion of color that stood before her. Hope he knows there ain’t no casinos on New Mel…

“Rex Black, your new first mate, or old first mate. Honestly, I don’t know how long you’ve been around. We go way back.” He pushed his glasses back up. “He wasn’t expecting me. I’m what some people like to call a surprise.” He waggled his brows. “Now, what do I have to do to get by you? You know, besides pick you up and move you myself. So tiny.”

Abby’s eyes landed on the clipboard. “One thing yew got right,” she said as she thumbed pages, “Cap’n sure wasn’t expectin’ ya.” But, she noted, he did have a First Mate on the wish list. Reason enough to let him walk the ramp. But there was somethin’ about this guy...made her feel like steppin’ aside was akin to invitin’ a hurricane to come callin’. “First mate?” she asked. “Done tha job afore?”

Rex considered what he had in his pockets. Was she too old for chocolate? Too young for cigars? He squinted. It didn’t seem like she was the sort that would take to bribery. “Does a bear… you know what, just ask me a question. Anything.” He paused. “Anything First Mate related. Don’t ask me about other things. Like, for instance, where I got the bloody nose or why my fingers smell like they do.”

“Peacock like yew,” Abby snorted, “take a body some time tah spot a little dab ‘o’ blood. Cap’n hired me today,” she said. “Just sized me up an’ gimme this clipboard. I know me some first mates...an sizin’ you up agin them? Y’ain’t makin’ me feel all warm an’ fuzzy ‘bout yah.”

“Peacock? Awe. Been a while since someone said something so sweet to me. See, I’m already wearing you down, kid.” He snorted, the makeshift plug in his nose holding fast, but more red seeping into the white. “You literally just met him today? That figures. You aren’t ugly enough to be his kid. Anyway, I’m not here to make someone feel warm and fuzzy. If that was the case, he could plop a teddy bear in a seat and call it a day. I’m here to do a fucking job and make sure we don’t get fucked by it in return. That good enough for you?”

The sudden shift of his demeanor raised a thin smile from her. “Watcha say yer name was?”

“Rex Black.” He shrugged. “I’d ask for yours, but I think I’m just going to stick with Cal Junior.”

“Well, Rex Black,” Abby scratched his name onto the sheet, “If the Cap’n hires yah proper I’ll give it. Til then, yer fixin’ to bleed on my cargo ramp. Bad fer business.” She closed the clipboard, glancing up to meet his eye. “Cap’n’ll be back in a couple hours. We’s loadin’ fer New Melbourne. Go on get cleaned up...afore yah stain some ‘o’ that perty shirt.”

“Awe. Hear that, Lucky?” he seemingly asked the air, but drew up his arm holding the cage. “Someone likes my shirt.” The bird was small, maybe a hand tall, but had bright blue and white plumage. His black eyes fixated on Rex before rotating his head in an odd way to look over at Abby. It was hard to say if he was being judgemental or just being a bird. “Thanks, Junior. I assure you, if I’m not supposed to be here, Cal’ll have me flying off that ramp faster than you can fly into the sky.” He then reached into his jacket and procured… something. At first, he thought it might have been something of use to the girl, but instead it was a deck of playing cards. He extended the deck, twined up, towards her. “Um, don’t spend them all in one place?”

“Keep ‘em,” the girl’s eyes didn’t move. “Mebbe put’em down so the bird don’t la shi on the deck. I don’t mop up no bird la shi, Rex Black.”

He pocketed the cards. “Not with that attitude, you won’t. Keep doing a good job and someday you’ll be promoted to bird janitor.” Rex started to move past her, his arm going numb from the weight on his shoulder. He wasn’t about to admit that, though. “And if I can’t give you the cards, Junior. Maybe I can give you a bit of advice. Diction. It’ll make people respect you more if you don’t sound like you’ve eaten your own shirt and are storing it in your cheeks for winter.”

Abby Travis held her tongue as Rex’s boots clattered up the ramp. Yeah, she mused, just like a hurricane. Flipping to the back page, she set the pen to work, scratching out a single word for herself. D-I-K-C-H-U-N.

Rex made his way up the ramp, turning away from the young woman with the clipboard. His smile faded to a pained look as he paused at the threshold of the ship. He wondered if the ship being here was as lucky as he wanted it to be, or if he was trading a coffin in the ground for a coffin in the sky.

It was a little too late to ruminate on that, though. He’d hate to go back down the ramp and explain to Cal Junior his indecision. Rex didn’t have many fears, but being mocked by someone more than half his age was definitely one of them. So, he swallowed his doubts and moved on. Time to claim his room back. He just hoped it wasn’t filled to the brim with storage boxes or something sadder… like hand-sewn cat dolls.


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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Aalakrys
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Aalakrys

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JP - Wandering Wolf (Cal) & Aalakrys (Penelope)

The Eavesdown docks branched to a bustling central hub for the trading, restocking, and purchasing for all manner of equipment that might tickle the fancies of ship owners and crew alike. Cal was staring at a pair of thruster guards for the atmos before waving to the attendant.

“These ones here, over to the China Doll in slip eight.”

“Deliverin’s ex-trah suh,” the man whistled through gapped teeth.

“Put it on Badger’s tab.” When the man’s eyes widened, Cal leaned in. “Or do you want to explain what’s hinderin’ his business to the man himself, mmm?”

The attendant scribbled the order and shouted out the back of the shop, “Sally! Get the mule. This sucker owes Badger. And what d’ we call a man owe’s Badger?”

“A dead man walkin’, pa!” The girl no older than fifteen appeared to ogle Cal.

“Oh yeah, real funny, sister.” Cal said, checking his list.

Sally, undeterred, began to croon:

“He’s a dead man walkin’
Got nuthin’ in his noggin’
Way Badger deals
Won’t see him agin!
Cuz he’s a dead man walkin’!”

“Oh, well you’re just a charmer ain’t you? Hey, you oughta get this one’s head looked at.” The attendant lifted the part to take out back, laughing the entire way.

“Qīn'ài de fú,” Cal said over his shoulder as he disappeared into the throng of buyers and sellers.

After meeting with his notorious benefactor, Cal felt a burning need to get everything buttoned up for the Doll to fly as far and fast as she could toward New Melbourne come nightfall. He shook his head; it was a frightful thing to be under Badger’s thumb, but with the state of things and the heat he’d taken on with his last job, the choices were dry up here on Persephone until the Alliance caught a whiff, or Badger.

His list was almost complete, except for two items. The first was a piece of technobabble he needed to interface the ship with a bit of tech he picked up recently. The second was a stiff drink.
Rounding the corner, Cal found a booth replete with scrap cables and consoles for steering the boat in deep space. “Howdy,” he began to noone in particular, “You ever hear of an ‘Epsilon adapter’? Kinda looks like a three-pronged hook what’s got your standard plug on the other end.”

There was something to be said about the noise and crowds of a busy port and those that walked it casual as could be after being in the quiet of the black for a good long stretch. Penelope lived for both, in a way. Nothin' like being amongst the stars, but it did good to stretch the legs on land and be jostled by the masses. At least, she thought so. Then again, she liked people.

The ever-present soft smile on her face as she threaded her way through the crowd, thumbs tucked into the straps at her shoulders, just about said so as she breathed in the various blends of burn exhaust polluting the air all around. Most of it was clean burns, thanks to regulations, but here and there and old engines besides could never mistake that smell. Penelope was used to the jungle, that moist earthy heated aroma, but she liked Persephone all the same. It was the scent of adventure, she'd thought her first voyage out. And, she was always right.

Between the hawkers peddling fights and peddlers hawking their wares, there was plenty to pull her this way and that. Mostly, the wares. She never saw the sense in bloodyin’ each other up over money, but she did see a mighty fine display of trinkets to turn anyone in mind for some fancying up. A finger reached to touch at her current earrings - as if trying to recall what she’d put on that cycle. Feathers - she grinned - the white speckled ones. Went well with the cozy outfit she was sporting: sleeveless brown knee-length tunic, white thigh leggings, and her beat up low-top green canvas shoes. Most of her belongings were similar - they never called for attention, but expressed an easy comfort in which they were. Fitting, Penelope’s sister Helen had often said when she declined anything not made of cloth or found items. That’s what her entire jewelry collection was - found items - so the glance she spared the display was merely for ideas, paying only the polite comment deserved before she moved along.

She was just playing a bit of fancy in her own head about the dream of a ship - what she’d name it - when a snatch of conversation caught her ear related to her own musings. No sooner had Penelope wondered after the name China Doll - where that sort of name came from, what sort of captain would choose it - had she heard it. Or, she thought she heard it.

Those hazel eyes of hers were scanning the area, trying to see where it’d come from, when she noted a pretty morbid sounding jingle, if that were what it were. Badger - she knew of him. Hells, almost got in a nasty spot because of him way back. O’Malley saved her time over again back then, she smiled, resolved to trust the man in regards to his opinion of the yet to be found China Doll. Not that she was lookin’ too hard. It was easy to get distracted round Eavesdown, and she liked taking it all in after a span in the black.

It’d probably be best to find the ship’s slip and square away travelin’ arrangements, she knew. And so she was resolved to do that first when she heard a man callin’ out about somethin’ she knew a little bit about. She wasn’t no peddler and she sure didn’t have no booth, but she knew that the prices for some parts ‘round here … well, they weren’t exactly reasonable when compared to the quality at other places. O’Malley taught her that. Now, she wasn’t much a meddler, not really - but she did figure sometimes people were in the right place at the right time to do the right thing. And it just so happened she knew exactly what an Epsilon adapter was and what it was good for and what could work better and what could work worse - prices all depending. It didn’t hurt her any to go have a listen in… Just for a minute anyway.

“Now, I told you already, I ain’t interested in your inverters, or switches, nor toggles. I don’t need any waive screens or pressure readers! Hell, put that Alliance salvage down. I’d have to be moonbrained to put that lā shǐ in my boat.” Cal was beginning to raise his voice at the man who was being all sort of unhelpful in the name of ‘bundling costs.’

“Let me spell it out for you, since you seem to be hard of hearing: Ep-sil-on. Got a plug what looks like my mother’s crooked paw, and you’re liable to get one upside your head if you don’t quit wasting my time. Fú ràng wǒ miǎn yú shā sǐ zhège shǎguā.” Strand shook his head, glancing at the sky. Badger’s men would be by at nightfall, and he’d better be ready.

“Lissun, suh, yew seem like a man who knows ah deal when ‘e sees ’un. This heeyuh Epsohlawn adaptah requiahs ah pro-standahd convuhtah in ordah to reach optimum throughput; anybody will tell yuh the same! I’ll cutcha a deal on thah convuhtah at twenty-five pahcent off if yew gotcher eye on the Epsohlawn, but it won’t last!” The rotund man behind the counter had one hand on the converter, the other brandishing the Epsilon adapter, a single monocle held fast between his furrowed brow and healthy cheek folds.

Cal’s hand went to his hip, thumb unbuttoning the strap on his firearm before thinking better of it. Instead, he raised both hands in defeat.

"A pretty fancy converter, I bet, for such a generous discount." The words had left Penelope's lips before she realized, the amusement in her eyes still shining through though she had sense to place a polite set of fingers gently to her lips all the same as she glanced at the irate customer.

The peddler seemed to regather his stamina that momentarily lapsed at the sudden disbelieving interruption, bushy brows knitting back down as he decided to ignore the unwanted intruder. What he said just made her smile the bigger: "Can' be takin' tha 'pinion ov a wuhman that done look tah know nuthin' 'bout finer parts, suh. Those hans ov hers ain' got narry a'scratch."

Penelope dropped that delicate hand of hers to show her full smile hidden behind it. She too addressed the customer. "I didn't mean to go droppin' no eaves on your conversation, sir, but I do haveta say that these hands of mine ain't scratched 'cause I'd be doin' somethin' awful wrong if they were in my line ah work and - though I ain't one for braggin' - I'd like to say I'ma decent enough pilot to know ya don't need no convert for an Epsilon 'less you plan on powerin' somethin' mighty big through it. An' I ain't seen a cruiser docked anywhere, so I'd guess ya wouldn't."

Cal glanced at the newcomer, a slight woman, about a foot shorter than he stood, but it was something about her tone that caught him off guard. She looked the picture of comfortable in her skin, and as the booth man hawed, the woman fired right back, vim brimming behind that smile of hers. In the silence that followed her revelation, Cal considered quietly, eye moving between the attendant, the firecracker, and the part in question.

“You know, ‘suh,’” Cal began, “if you’re gonna try to rob a man blind, best do it with a more convincing bit of kit. This ‘wuhman’ here can see right through your fèihuà, just like I can see that Alliance issue black box you got back there bold as brass. It’d be a shame if a Purple Belly happened by because o’ hollerin’.”

“Hol’ on juss a minit thar-” The man raised the Epsilon adapter into the air, dropping the all-important pro-standard converter into the trash heap he’d fished it out of.

“What’s this now I’m hearing?” He turned to his fortuitous companion with a hand cupped around his ear, “Is that an Alliance scanner?” Cal arched a brow and cracked a smirk as the attendant began to change color.

The flustered shopkeep apparently hadn't bargained for anyone having the know-how on the part coming along in the middle of his attempted scam, but he surely hadn't expected to be put out as far as this. Beings the soft-heart she was, Penelope felt for him being all fearful now, even with his derogatory comment about her being a woman and all. "Aw, shucks, no need to go foolin' with him that far, sir. After all, he offered you a real nice discount on that converter."

It wasn't lost on her that the deal had been part of two, but that was before the man had been called out. It only seemed fair that the man beside him pay the actual price. She gave him a grin. "For your troubles and all."

“A softy, huh?” he commented of the woman, before returning to the attendant, “Well, consider today a lucky one as I’ll happily take the Epsilon off your hands at full price, then leave you to your business.” Cal extended a purse of coin to the man, jingling it between thumb and forefinger.

The shopkeep swiped at the bag, dropping the Epsilon adapter in Strand’s open palm. “Pleasure doin’ business,” Cal called. The attendant only huffed and turned his back to the pair. Pivoting where he stood, Captain Strand pocketed the gadget inside his duster, “What sort of boat you fly, there?” he asked nonchalantly of the stranger beside him.

Once the customer seemed to be concluding the business at hand, Penelope was ready to move off on her way. Just as she turned to mosey along in her usual easy stride, thumbs back tucked under the straps of her rucksack, the man caught her midstep. "Oh, I've sailed all sorts, but my latest was that smokin' ol Komodo in slip 19."

She angled her head in that direction. There were still remnants of the aforementioned smoke, but the crew at the docks had stifled the cause in a frenzy. "One of the first of its type, been through it here and back, with the war an’ all the decommissioned parts coming off… Poor girl, bound for the scrap heap now.”

A wistful sigh was spared before she turned her eyes back on the inquisitive man, then to the part he now had on hand. “What sort are you flyin’ - needin’ an Epsilon converter for its dash?”

“Firefly, third class. Saw its way through the war, too, even flew it myself for a stretch durin’ the time.” He patted the pocket where the Epsilon adapter rested, “This kit is more of an ‘after market’ modification I’m workin’ on--pet project.” His eyes followed her gaze in the direction of the horizon. Seemed she had some fond feelings for the old boat. And she was out a job...

“That’s a decent sized ship.” He shook his head in mutual understanding, fishing inside his jacket to retrieve a silver case. “When a bird like that breaks atmo, do you rely on the main fore engines, or opt for a chandelle to cut speed?” His fingers deftly flipped open the case retrieving a single cigarette, a match book appearing in the other. As the match flared, Cal’s eyes took a second look at those hands the attendant had commented on. Carefully caliced around the thumb knuckles, soft pad, strong wrist. Following north, he noted a bright orange tendril of hair woven in at her crown, the speckled feather earring dangling beneath. Releasing two jets of smoke from his nostrils, Strand rested a hand on his hip, gauging the woman’s response.

Question and conversation was always welcome to Penelope, so much so that she learned at a young age most people didn't hanker for a chat and she'd dismiss herself before making them annoyed or uncomfortable. Easy breezy and no sweat off her shoulder. It was a skill, reading social cues, and she knew now that the man before her wasn't ready for her to get gone just yet.

In fact, from the look, she was being measured up with a test. A good one too, and he had a Firefly… she smiled, easily letting her true feelings for her answer show in her bright eyes. "Can't go lumpin' her in with all her family, 'ship like that'un. She's pretty hard out, and needed a good ease."

She let a soft chuckle escape, with a small shake of her head so the feathers hinted a tickle at her shoulders just so. "What I mean is, I let the bird tell me how she's gonna handle the flight. Feel it in the way she gives or pushes back. Old Bertha needed a little more than a gentle push in, on this last break, and I had to glide her down till I could use the last bit of push she had to land her as pretty as possible in the shape she was in."

With that she gave a bit of a small shrug, not bothered by the smoke from the man's cigarette enough to wave it away out in open as they were. She left her answer with a final easy bit of fun, smile spreading as she said: "I like to spare a girl integrity of her hull when I can, leave her lookin' all pretty, even if it's just for a trip to the scrap heap. Girls can care about that sorta thing, ya know."

Cal nodded, taking another drag from his cigarette. The Captain seemed to have made his mind up about something, by the way he squared with Penelope. “And you? Headed for the scrap heap, too, or back to the black on another boat?” With one hand, Strand nudged the brim of his hat to widen his view, before meeting the woman’s eyes.

Never one to be unnerved by a steady gaze, Penelope's demeanor didn't waiver. Her naturally wide eyes creased into a smile. "Well, I reckon I ain't near ready to be hauled off with the scrap, no matter how akin I've grown to it. Suppose you're the captain of China Doll, the bird I was huntin' down for a ride to Red Sun."

It wasn't a question, since he'd already said he had a Firefly, and she was one who believed in happy happenstance, so she bet her buttons he was the one she was lookin' for.

“Is that right?” He considered for a moment. “That I am. Cal Strand,” he offered his hand to shake. “Now, you could book passage with us to Red Sun, or… You could fly us there, an’ maybe then some. Last pilot preferred greener pastures and that’s left us in a bit of a spot. I got a job needs doin’ and a pilot’s seat needs fillin’. Could work out for the both of us, if you’re keen.”

Penelope took the offered hand to shake, her other falling to her hip as if by fluidity more than purpose. "Well, don't that sound just mighty fine, Cap'n Cal."

Her hand fell at the conclusion of the greeting, crooked smile now residing. "Reckon I'd have to tell ya I ain't never flown a Firefly, but that's a hankerin' I can't deny. If'n you'll have me, knowing that, we can both test the waters to see how we feel when we get to Red Sun. Can't rightly hold a man to a bargain till he's seen how I fly his bird."

“Shiny. If you’ve flown that old Komodo, a little Firefly transport shouldn’t buck you much. I’ll take you through upthrust, and we go from there.” Cal tucked his hat back around his ears. “China Doll’s in slip eight down dockside. Should be a deckhand called Abby there with all the particulars; pay’s standard, bunks near the cockpit. I got some more stops to make ‘fore I’ll meet you there, but we’re skids up at nightfall. Couple men should be fixin’ up the old bird as we speak.”

"All that sounds just real nice, it does." Hands returned to the straps, ready to head off but not quite steppin' yet. First thing's first, an' he'd given his name, so it was her turn now that he was willing to give her a chance at the helm. "Name's Penelope Randell. I'll mosey that way then…"

She'd started to turn with her words, but she shifted back real quick so her pack would've swung wide if she hadn't been holding the straps again. "I get a bunk to myself, for true? Only, I've seen Firefly, been in one one time 'fore I was flyin', and they have real nice bunks near the cockpit."

If she felt the question was odd, she wasn't showing on her one bit. Only open, amiable curiosity - it'd be nice to have uninterrupted sleep for once, after all. Been a long stretch since she had a bunk to herself. In an enclosed area. An area that was hers.

That made Cal chuckle, “For true, Penelope Randell, bunk’s all yours. ‘Less you prefer sharin’ it with someone or the cargo hold, and it’s a mite drafty in there.” He held the cigarette between his index and middle finger.

"Nah, I think I've done enough open-air and sharing to set me up to appreciate silence for some time to come." Penelope grinned, feeling mighty thankful for the recent stroke of luck that blew her way. "I'll take this wind a' ways down to the slip and poke around some, bein's I got the captain's permission?"

“Aye, go get acquainted with the bird; pilot seat’s yours. I’ll meet you in the co-pilot chair for take off, then we’ll see what you can do.” Penelope was young, but he could tell she had spunk. If he were honest, she reminded him of himself after he left for the core planets to make a name in this wide verse.

"Sounds like a plan, Cap'n. I'll see ya there." She gave Cal Strand a nod, eyes giving a quick assessment of her own in that moment and deciding she would be glad to give it an honest go. Plus, the best part of it all, a Firefly! The thought would tickle her pink if she was still a giddy girl, but instead she merely went with a smile as she strolled towards her next adventure.

Strand watched his new pilot chart the course to the China Doll. Himself? He had a mighty need for some whiskey before stepping off Persephone by the skin of his teeth.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Xandrya
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Xandrya Lone Wolf

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OOC: collaborative post with @wanderingwolf

She was drinking alone, choosing to sit between two empty bar stools on either side of her. However, after her arrival, the spot to her immediate right was occupied by her medium-sized bag. Alana figured it was one less option for anyone looking to sit next to her to strike up a conversation. Shortly after gulping down the last of her drink, Alana waived at the bartender, trying to catch his attention. Seemingly busy, the man held up a finger to let her know he'd be with her momentarily. But the wait wasn't all that long. As he turned around, Alana mouthed the words "another one" as she tapped the rim of her now empty glass. Happy to oblige, the bartender smiled and nodded at her, and Alana returned the smile. Shen then leaned forward, resting her forearms on the bar top as she waited.

Down the bar, a man in a duster and a Montana fold had been quietly downing shots as fast as the barkeep could fill them. Now, another man, clearly drunk, approached him. After a tap on the shoulder and a drunken-hush, the newcomer grabbed the fellow’s collar and reeled back his fist.

The first punch caught Cal off guard, head turned to sip the latest shot glass of whiskey. The man’s poor aim hit Captain Strand square on the right ear, sending the shot flying toward the barkeep and his shelves of liquor. Having trouble keeping balance, the aggressor leaned into Cal to steady himself before mounting a sluggish second attack. In response, Strand shoved the man toppling into a table and chairs. Meanwhile, the nonplussed Captain turned back to the bar, fingers curled around the next shot and down the hatch.

Scrambling to his feet, the drunk let out a cry and rushed Strand who answered the man’s show with a swift strike to the throat. The man collapsed to the ground gasping for air. Cal stooped to pick up his hat, batting it against his knee, “Now, was that really necessary?” he asked the suffocating man. The barkeep flashed Cal a scowl when he looked to him for support. “What? He started it!”

Some tussling not all that far from her perked her right up. Alana turned her head, wary of the brawling duo with one of them who looked to be a little too drunk past his limit. She placed a hand on her bag, but didn’t necessarily pull it closer to her. Instead, she watched as the man who had been a few spots down from her ended the fight before any more damage could be inflicted. Looking around momentarily, Alana noticed the remaining patrons minding their own business once more. It was then she decided to hop off the stool and offer some help, approaching the two.

“Excuse me, mind if I take a look?”

She didn’t so much ask as she slightly shoved the man kneeling over the downed drunk. Alana placed her bag beside her and directed her attention to her new patient, looking him over once before taking action. “Hold still, I’m going to help you, alright?” With one hand firmly placed on his forehead and the other under his chin, Alana tilted his head back to allow his airway to open. It was at that time the man grasped her wrist with a rather tight grip, a sudden look of desperation on his face before it melted away moments later as his breathing slowly evened out. “There you go, just try to relax. Come on, just take it easy now.”

Once he was stable, Alana asked the other stranger to open the main compartment of her bag. Mid sentence, however, her hands were swatted away from the drunk's face. She then watched as he struggled to get to his feet, knocking down the only upright chair in the process but eventually managing to stand.

“Well, guess I’m done here. You alright, by the way?"

Cal watched as a concerned citizen made it her business to administer to the drunk, pushing him aside in the process. Next, as she laid hands ‘round the man’s neck, Cal figured she just wanted the pleasure of finishing him herself. “Listen, think I already gave him a dose of his own medicine--” he began, then the drunkard’s neck straightened out and he started breathing again.

Ah, she was a doctor then, whose bossy demeanor was cemented with her instruction for him to open her bag. A fine spectacle it was, her kneeling over a guy who smelled like he’d bathed in the bottle, giving orders and whatnot. Then the fella rose, or tried to at least, and stood eye to eye with them.

Captain Strand stood, too, fixing the man with a placating smile. Hard as it was to read the eyes of a man who could barely stand upright, the drunk made his feelings clear from the string of curses and middle finger waving that he wanted nothing to do with either of them. He meandered away, coughing and sucking air off and on.

By the time the doc turned her attentions on Cal, the line of blood from the blow to his right ear had made it’s winding way down his chin. From the amount he’d imbibed, Strand still felt like a million bucks, what with the adrenaline coursing. Turning to the woman, he pushed the brim of his hat back so he could see her better.

Young as she was, it struck him strange to find her here in this seedy bar off the beaten path; the sort of place you go when you want to crawl up into a bottle. Lady weren’t bad looking neither, something captivating about her face made all the more prominent by her brows. Especially the way they were furrowing at him now as he was staring a bit too long.

“I’m right as the mail. So you’re a doctor, huh?”

Her eyes had tracked the drunkard until he was quite a ways from them. Before slinging her bag over her shoulder, the young woman pulled out a dissolvable disinfectant wipe, figuring she then would pay for her drinks and leave a tip for the bartender for his troubles, not that she was responsible for any of it. With a slight head shake, she turned to the stranger, noticing he was staring after a few moments of silence between them two.

"Close. More like a medic..." she trailed off, suddenly pulled to the blood dripping from the man's ear down to his chin. Maybe it was the couple of drinks she'd had, but that sight was not one she was expecting, and it showed on her face. "Quick, you need to sit down!" Even though he towered over her, Alana guided him back onto a stool. She placed her hands on his upper arms and walked him backwards until he was off his feet. Nothing life-threatening was occurring, but ear damage often resulted in a loss of balance. Would she be able to catch him if he were to suddenly go down? Most certainly not. In fact, she was surprised he'd been fine up to that point. She smiled at him despite the circumstances. "Sorry, but you're bleeding."

Instead of waiting for a response, Alana gently forced his head to the side to examine him. She couldn't tell how deep the damage was, but the fact that he hadn't gone down was a good sign. "Is it okay if I clean you up? I'm gonna also give you some antibiotic ear drops and a painkiller. You ain't too bright in the head if you continue drinking tonight though..." Alana set her bag on the adjacent barstool, one hand on his chest in case he slumped forward.

“Really--” his protestations were waived away by the woman as she guided him into the one seat the drunk hadn’t upended. Then, as she swiveled his neck fro, his own finger traced the warm line coming from his ear. The sticky sensation between thumb and forefinger explained the look in her eye.

“Oh, it’s nothin’ really. Lucky húndàn clipped me is all.” He attempted to stand, but the woman’s hand on his chest urged him to reconsider. “Wow, full service aren’t we? I imagine you don’t get told no often,” he continued, “and you’d be drinking too if you had the day I’m having.” Maybe it was the alcohol, but Cal forged ahead, “Can’t rightly say no to being shook down when the only way off this rock and to keep the China Doll from rot is to take a deal with Badger.” He waved a hand over the woman’s shoulder at the bartender for two more shots, but the man simply huffed, ignoring Strand, and turned to cleanup the mess he’d made.

“And there ain’t enough crew to keep her in working order. I may look like a hot shot, honey, but even I can’t sail the whole ship myself. Hell, no mechanic, no pilot, and no… Say,” A thought began forming as his dazed vision began to focus on Alana in earnest.

"You're just full of surprises, aren't ya tough guy?" Alana added with a bit of a smirk, reaching for a pair of gloves and some gauze. "You know I'm a transient myself, haven't been here all that long, but even I've heard of that Badger guy. It's safe to say that at this point, a bleeding ear is the least of your worries."

A moment later, Alana was wiping his face clean. She noticed some blood spots on his clothes, but there was nothing she could do about that. Tossing the bloodied wipe aside, Alana then gently angled his head in order to administer the ear drops. "Hold still for me," she added, standing closer to him than she normally would. But she was a couple drinks deep into the evening and her inhibitions weren't all there. After a few moments, once she allowed enough time for the liquid to filter down, Alana tapped him on the shoulder. "You're good to go! But sorry, what were you gonna say?" she turned away from him in order to tidy up and put everything back in its place.

“Transient?” he asked, between being turned this way and that, dabbed here and there, and finally dripped in the ear, which made the hair on the back of his neck stand straight. As she leaned in, he thought she smelled like coconut and alcohol, but that could have been the shots finally hitting his blood in earnest.

“I was just thinking,” he said, eyeing the ‘medic’ who had revived the man he’d docked, and treated him besides, “you look to have a knack, and I seem to have a need.” He rubbed the back of his neck, picking up his hat. “Who knows when something like this is liable to happen again--tends to crop up on days that end with ‘y.’” He cleared his throat. “The China Doll’s headed for New Melbourne on a job or two. Got need of someone with your touch, and the pay’s decent. If’n you’re looking to travel a bit, that is, given your transient ways.” The Captain was on his feet, rubbing at the ear she’d been tugging on.

"Hm, as compelling as that sounds," she led him on, waving the bartender down in order to make her payment, "how can I say no?" With a small laugh, the young woman turned to complete the transaction. A few moments later, she turned back to the man and held out a hand in order to introduce herself, which at that point was overdue. "Name's Alana, though oftentimes they refer to me as doc, whatever floats your boat. What about you, Captain?"

“Cal Strand,” he said, taking her hand in his. “Welcome to the China Doll.” He glanced through the window at the fading light, Badger’s time a-calling. “You’ll find her in slip eight down by the docks. Feel free to settle in; should be a redhead there what’s holding down the fort. She’s got info for you on the standard pay for the work we do, dohn mah?” Settling his Montana fold around his ears, Strand added, “Got some more business to take care of ‘fore I meet you there. Oh, and you’ll find the infirmary ‘mostly’ stocked,” he gave an iffy gesture. “Last doc took most of it with ‘em on the way out.”

As the medic wound her way back to the China Doll, Cal thought to himself, Hell, I oughta insult drunks to their faces more often.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by sail3695
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OOC: Joint post from Aalakrys and Sail

As Penelope made her way through the throngs of folks going about their business, she hummed a tune of her own makin’ idly as she was known to do when particularly content. Not only had she found a way home, but somethin’ to do on the way there. More than somethin’ to do - fly a bird on her list of desirables. Even if the crew and captain didn’t work out, she could at least say that she flew a Firefly.

Since it could be a bit before they took off, and the smoked jerky smelled mighty fine, Penelope made her way over to one of the vendors O’Malley swore used real meat. She smiled at the familiar face as her shoes crunchin’ on the gravel and dirt came to a stop before the man. After a small exchange, jerky with a complimentary kabab for some coin, her lively eyes turned in the direction of slip eight and the ship she could see docked there. The kabab was taken in along with the bustling sights as she made no hurry to the ship despite how excited she was to see it up close.

When she made it, the kabab was gone and stick stored away back behind her in the large flap of her rucksack. There was a use for that, she thought, and she’d find it when she had time. Right now, she had a fellow crew member to meet. Penelope’s light smile she’d been wearing spread just a little as the sound of the ship’s metal gently met her soles and she greeted the red-head girl letting folks aboard. “Hey, there. You must be Abby. Cap’n Cal sent me this way on account of your need of a pilot.”

“Uh...yeah,” Abby found herself caught flat footed in the bright presence of this new person. The woman before her was petite, and looked her senior by just a few years. Though her clothing weren’t no match for the kaleidoscopic First Mate she’d just boarded, bouncing on the balls of her feet as she was gave her to stand out. Could be the feathered earrings. Mayhaps it was the open face, the lively eyes...or that ready smile. Whatever it was about this new pilot had just managed to completely disarm the deckhand. “Sorry,” she stammered as she thumbed her way through the clipboard. “I’m Abby, alright. Cap’n told you true. What’s yer name?”

"Penelope Randell," Pen said as she watched the red-head flip through whatever the clipboard held, patiently waiting on her to locate whatever it was she was looking for. While she did, her eyes scanned the view into the cargo hold and what she could see beyond from where she stood, just taking it in. Conversationally and with her gaze drifting back to the girl before her, she asked Abby: “Ya been with the China Doll long?”

The deckhand shook her head. “Nope. My first day, too.” She turned the page to the list Cal had left behind. “I wasn’t on the street twenty minutes afore Cap’n gimme this clipboard an’ said “git stuff done.” She took a moment to write Penelope’s name...or at least a reasonable facsimile...into the roster. “As fer pay, Cap’n says it’s standard pilot’s share’n yer own bunk,” she lifted her eyes as composure reasserted itself. “Three squares a day...well, food, most like,” Abby shrugged. “Ever been on a Firefly?”

"Oh, I have been on one, when I was 'bout your age, prob'ly." The now official pilot was grinning, but not about anything the girl was doing or saying. All that was reasonable. Rather, it was their new captain's apparent on-the-spot manner. "Sounds like we both got a bit'a luck today. I was headin' this way to book passage, and here I am set to fly the very ship I was told was headin' my way home."

Hazel eyes flickered past Abby's shoulder at that, eagerness of her own starting to take root now that all the paperwork was out of the way. Still, she had manners. "Reckon I'll head in and get settled 'less I'm to get straighta work?"

Abby couldn’t put a finger on it, but after the loss and confusion she’d tamped down so ain’t nobody would see, Penelope’s straight up cheer was hitting her like a tonic. “Crew quarters is right above us,” she pointed upward, toward the boat’s angled neck. “Grab a single, less’n yer bringin’ someone along. Hook’ll show yah...Hook!” Abby shouted over her shoulder. “This here’s our pilot. Wouldja help get ‘er squared away?”

Penelope glanced back inside just the way one's eyes would naturally follow such a calling out; searchin' for its intended briefly before returning to the caller just as Abby turned back.

“Got another fella aboard...looks to be our First Mate. Rex Black...you can’t miss’im. Got a few passengers, them as paid up,” she added. “Cap’n says we’re not goin’ til after dark, so you got time to get squared away.”

"That sounds real shiny, Abby. It sure does." Penelope said in soft joy, ready to head and get acquainted with the bird. The crew, too, but there was always somethin' about meeting the ship that say special for a pilot like her. Standing just outside her neck had that feelin' tickling at her to the point of it almost becoming silly. But, she held off showin' it - for now.

Instead she nodded in way of a parting as she passed by Abby and her chair, strolling up the ramp with eyes scanning for whoever "Hook" was in the milling folk settling their boarded cargo, 'least to tell him she'd be fine finding her own way around. It was awful nice for the offer though. Cal, Abby, Hook, Rex… and I make five. Yep, this is shapin' up real nice indeed.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Aalakrys
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Penelope / Hook JP @Gunther

Joe had been moving boxes around the cargo bay after he came down from checking out the galley. He noticed the other gentleman come aboard, stunned by his colorful appearance. ‘The peacock prefers the attraction,’ he thought to himself.

“Hook!” Abby yelled from the ramp.

Joe looked up, taking a few steps forward, “yes Miss Abby?” Then he noticed the small-ish woman who was at least a foot shorter than him. He wiped his hand on his coveralls and extended to shake, “I’m Joe Hooker. Most folk call me Hook.” He smiled at the young woman.

Penelope was taking it all in, the subtle sounds of the folk and things they were moving around, as well as the ship herself when the man called out had approached. Her hazel eyes turned on him, warmth there flowing back down to her smile. She lifted a hand to take his in the offered shake. “Hey there, Hook. I’m Penelope Randell, and I’ve never quite noticed what most people call me. Reckon we’ll figure that out, won’t we?”

She let her hand fall back to her side once the shake was concluded, still idly holding her rucksack strap with the other.

“Ah grew up on a farm on Hera. One a’ the girls, ah lived with had the same name. We all called her Penny. Ya mine if I call yew Penny?” Joe asked the woman.

“I don’t mind at all - sounds real nice.” Penelope was sincere. It seemed like he was a pretty easy-going fella, and she liked easy-going.

“OK, Penny.” Joe offered to carry her bag, “lemme take that, I will show you to yer bunk.”

“Ain’t you a real gentleman?” She said, not unkindly, but shook her head. “S’alright, it ain’t heavy. I don’t carry a lot ‘round in the verse, though I do seem to collect it every now an’ then…”

The notion seemed to distract her slightly, but she brushed the thought off. Her original idea of going on her own was gone with it, that natural sense of liking being around folk taking over without her noticing. “Lead the way, Hook.”

“Alright, Penny,” Hook turned to head her up the ladders to the third deck and the galley. When they reached the galley, Hook mentioned he could cook. “Do yew fancy yerself a cook? Cuz if ya don’ I do. I used to cook on the farm. This is where we eat our meals.” Hook then opened the hatch leading to the crew quarters and the bridge.

Along the way, Penelope’s eyes took it all in - the metal grates, the netting, the hand rails, on up. It was like learning a new piece, and Hook made a companion on the way. While they passed through the galley, she answered with easy honesty. “This all looks cozy. But, nah, I don’t cook much, but I can make some good chai when the mood strikes. Does this ship have one of those garden bunks where you can grow your own fresh veggies?”

“That would certainly be of benefit to us,” Joe admitted. “Ah only jus arrived an hour or more ahead of yew. Need tah ask the Cap’n that question. Mos’ ships don’ have fresh fruit and vegetables for long. Frozen food lasts though.” Hook stepped through the portal to where the ship’s quarters lay. Joe Hooker guessed this would be the neck of the ship if the bridge were its head. “Yew can pick whichever ye like. But since yew the pilot, y’might’n want one near the bridge?”

Penelope made a note to check into it later. Though she didn’t cook, she did like having a bit of home with her - a nothin’ said that more than a lot of green where there could be some had. Her last ship had one, so if there wasn’t one here, and maybe if it weren’t too late, the captain - O’Malley - might be willing to part with it since the rest of his ship was headin’ to scrap. But, they also had a job to do… Time pressin’ and all, she knew that better than some, even if she liked takin’ her own when it was afforded.

Regardless, arriving at the hall that had the hatches to the crew quarters caught her attention, but not as much as what lie at the end of it. Up some stairs was the nav-console, and she was itching to sit down and have a look. But, later. For now, she turned her grateful soft smile back to the new crewmate. “I reckon I’ll take the one the last pilot had, to make things easy, if that’s alright. You know which one it was?”

“Like ah said, Miss Penny. I juss got here an hour before yew. I sujest yew pick one.” Hook smiled, not knowing what more to say.

“Well, thank you, then. I’ll just... get to that.” She glanced around at the hatches, guessing the ones that were closed were occupied already. She went for a peek on her own down the nearest to the bridge that was open, as suggested. Slipping one shoulder of her bag free, she swung it to the side as she climbed down to see if this would be her new room for a while yet.

When she found the room an empty metal case with only a mattress laid bare, she smiled once more. It was a canvas to her eyes, and she set to work. When she was finished, her favorite tapestry of a red kimono warrior hung over the bed, her rucksack unpacked - clothing contents tucked away, and the rest set out on the built-in shelf recess. Bobbles of all variety set in a smoothed coconut shell, a set of wire trimmers and shapers next to a coil, and the wooden skewer from earlier with a length of cord. All her postcards and photos were stuck back up beneath it, and her colorful patchwork quilt spread out beneath that, making the place already look homey enough. She stood back to survey her work and found it a good start.

Now to the heart of what got her here. Penelope ascended the ladder and went through the hatch to the flight deck. "Hello, girl. Let's you and me get acquainted some."
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by wanderingwolf
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OOC: JP between @Sail3695 and @Wanderingwolf

The sun hung low in the sky as Cal caught sight of the China Doll. He’d snagged a pilot and doc, which might get them off this rock, as long as Badger’s men had made good and handled the parts he’d sent this way. The closer he got, the apparent repairs presented themselves: the thruster guards were installed, so at least they wouldn’t burn up on upthrust. The remaining fixes had been in the belly of the Doll. He made a mental note to check their work as he approached the young woman he’d hired this morning.

“How’d we do, kid,” he scanned the darkness of the bay, seeing several people moving within, “is she heavy with work?” His hand was held out for the sheet.

Abby handed the clipboard off. “Tolerable,” she replied. “New Melbourne’s a good run now, what with Tuna Season kickin’ off in a few days. Got three cargo shipments,” she pointed toward the line items of the ledger, “an’ booked a couple rooms fer passengers...folk headin’ over tah get jobs on the fishin’ boats. Ain’t seen hide nor hair of Badger’s crates, or that Baker woman,” she shrugged, “but we got her room all squared.”

Something about the way Abigail pronounced ‘New Melbourne’ brought a smirk to Cal’s face. For a youth, she certainly put out airs of having done all this before. He shook his head, congratulating himself on sizing her up proper. Cal let out a few ‘uh-huh’ sounds as he glanced over the clipboard, flipping pages. “I’m sure they’ll be along. Got a feelin’ we’re gonna be makin’ dust soon as they show.” That’s when he came across names of crew in Abby’s scrawl. “Well, I’ll be damned. You let Rex Black on my ship?”

“I let tha parrot onboard,” the girl countered. “As tah tha man what brung him, he’s tha only one come lookin’ fer the First Mate’s job. I tole him it weren’t official til ‘yew said so.”

Cal handed the clipboard back to Abby. “Well, Abby, preacher says we all sin.” Strand fished a cigarette from a silver case and stuck it between his lips before meeting her eyes. “Parrot?”

The teenager gave a diffident shrug. “I liked the parrot.” She pointed toward another name. “Gotcha another deckhand. Joe Hooker...goes by ‘Hook.’ Nice fella. Got callus an’ muscle in all tha right places. Couple weapons, so he’ll as like scrap if he needs tah.”

Strand nodded, striking a match on his book. “Way things are goin’ might be scrap ahead.” Cal shot a glance over his shoulder at the byways what led to the Doll. Expecting Badger’s men was an uncomfortable feeling. “Any other’s come a-callin’? Gonna be a short trip without a grease monkey if things go sideways.” He drew on his smoke, checking the height of the sun. “And much as I ‘mostly’ trust the gentlemen fixin’ up the bird to do the job, I’d appreciate a second pair o’ eyes on their handiwork.”

Abby shook her head. “No mechanic come knockin’ yet...jest them as I mentioned, and that pilot, Penelope.” As she spoke, a self conscious hand rose to fuss with her hair. “Some passengers, an…” She fished in the pocket of her denims, probing fingers coming free with a coin purse. “Here’s tha take,” she said as the pouch changed hands.

Cal pocketed the coin and considered patting Abby on the head, but seeing as they’d just met that day, he thought it of sounder judgement to hold off on such familiarities. Instead, the captain produced his silver cigarette holder again, holding it open to her, “Here, good job holdin’ down the fort, kid.” He pulled on his own, directing the smoke trail upward.

For a moment, she looked cautiously upon the neat rank of cigarettes. “Perty much my job on the last boat,” Abby replied as she carefully extracted one from the case. She took a moment, working the cigarette between her index and middle finger, before glancing toward Cal for a light.

Strand watched the teen as she carefully removed a cigarette. Snapping the silver clasp, Cal struck a match and cupped his hands in front of Abby. “What happened to your last boat?”

The girl leaned forward, pressing the cigarette to the flickering match flame. “Cap’n lost her in a card game,” she watched the paper turn black and ignite. “New owner sold ‘er fer scrap. I’s lucky enough to hitch a ride tah Persephone.” She pressed her lips to the filter, pulled in a deep lungfull, and immediately doubled over as wracking coughs sent her into spasms.

Cal fought the powerful urge of laughter at the sight of the fresh-faced Abigail Travis choking on her first cigarette. Instead, he offered a half-hearted pat on the back, “Ain’t you a little old to be havin’ your first cigarette?” Sure, the la shi he smoked was the bottom of the barrel, but it hit the spot. When she offered only coughing in response, he added, “You know, got a doc comin’ what can take a look atcha when she gets here, if’n it’s miner lung instead.” His smile hid between another pull.

“No…,<cough, cough>... I ain’t….,<cough>.....yeah, my first, “ Abby wiped her mouth on her sleeve. “Uncle Bob….the Cap’n….never let me try….<cough> The girl regained herself, opting against a further attempt at the smoldering deathstick. “I’m alright...mebbe it just ain’t fer me, is all.”

“Can’t argue with that,” Cal replied. “Find me when Badger’s men show. I want to put eyes on cargo and passenger.” He sighed, not like he could say ‘no’ to the storm that was coming. “An’ keep an eye out for a mechanic; I dunno, heckle a few people or somethin’,” he added, helpfully.

Abby reacted with a smile. “Watch me work, Cap’n.”
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by sail3695
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“Heeeeeere, mechanicmechanicmechanicmechanic….”

Just figgers, Abby thought as the foot traffic began to thin. All about the Eavesdown docks, street vendors and stall merchants were beginning to close up shop and trudge homeward. Usually, them as stayed past dark was sellin’ food. Yeah...food, her stomach growled its’ displeasure at bein’ visited by naught but half an Oaty Bar all day.

Once the word was out they’s bound fer New Melbourne, seemed like half ‘o’ Persephone wanted to book rides on China Doll. Lots was bummers, seagoin’ deckhands offerin’ trade ‘o’ work fer a bunk. Whole flock ‘o’ whores come callin’, with scant coin and offers tah take tha entire crew “all the way...if you know what we mean.”

Abby might not have travelled the road, but she knew the map. “Keep walkin’ girls,” she folded her arms as the women all turned away. I prob’ly just pissed off all the menfolk, she thought, only to draw a sharp breath as one of the working girls blew her a kiss. Mayhaps the women, too…

“Heeeeeere, mechanicmechanicmechanicmechanic….”

As sky changed to a darkening blue and shadows lengthened, the girl weighed their options. Hell, she dismissed the concern, there’s dozens ‘o’ times Uncle Bob took Mariposa to the black without a mechanic… But she had to fess up that Uncle Bob had ‘em broke down in the black a whole bunch, too. Over time, Abby had jury rigged half the parts on the radion core, forcin’ ‘em into place with wraps of duct tape and even little cages of bailin’ wire. She liked to think she could turn to an’ get this crew to New Melbourne, but the truth of things was she’d never seen the shape of this boat. No sense in lettin’ her alligator mouth overload her canary pi gu.

Down the way was a stall had lights on ‘er...and what they’s cookin’ set her stomach into overdrive. She could hear the meat sizzle; the aroma of its’ seasoning carried on the night breeze like a sireen’s call. Abby’s mouth positively watered for a taste of whatever it was. Don’t rightly care what ‘tis, she thought, her gaze fixed upon the cheerful lanterns and a woman working the cooktop. I’m starved...right now I’d even tuck into a nice bowl ‘o’ beagle an’ noodles. But no. Orders was orders. Long’s there was boxes to check, Abby would stick to the chore. Mebbe Hook talked his way into the galley, she tried to cheer herself up. He’ll put a plate by fer me. That bit of reassurance paid up, Abby chanted the mantra again.

“Heeeeeere, mechanicmechanicmechanicmechanic….”
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Xandrya
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Xandrya Lone Wolf

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OOC: collaborative post with @Gunther & @Aalakrys

The food stores had been delivered. As both a deckhand and the boat’s cook, Joe Hooker saw it as his duty to store the food and find something for the boat’s complement to eat. He needed to prepare a meal as soon as possible. He was certain there would be several hungry folk aboard including himself.

The food came packed in either cardboard boxes or insulated crates. A few of the larger items required a second hand to move up to the galley. Afterall, it was two flights of stairs, but each trip seemed shorter. Some items needed to be in cold storage, some in the freezer and others in the walk in pantry. On his last trip down to the cargo bay, he spied a young blonde haired woman step up the ramp. She was shorter than himself. In fact, it appeared all the women aboard were much shorter than the men. He hadn’t met the Captain yet, the first officer was a few inches taller. Hook looked for Abby, but was nowhere to be seen. As was his way, he felt compelled to welcome her aboard.

Joe placed the cardboard box back on the deck, wiped his hands on his coveralls and taking a few steps forward, held out a hand to shake, “The name’s Joe Hooker, but most folks call me Hook.”

The journey to her new home wasn't all that long save for a speed bump along the way, but that was resolved rather quickly. She'd stopped by the temporary quarters where she was staying to make sure she had all her belongings, but some hassler along the way caused quite the ruckus for a passerby as well as herself. In the end, Alana simply ignored him as she tossed some credits for the bastard, shaking her head in disgust. She'd been victimized twice before under similar circumstances, and the memories burned fresh in her mind. This time, what might have saved the stranger from at the very least receiving a mouthful was the constant sea of people surrounding them.

Soon after that, however, she finally came across the China Doll. Alana noticed it to have an empty ramp as she made her way up until seeing a man approaching her who took the time to introduce himself.

"The pleasure's all mine, Hook. I'm Alana Lysanger, the new medic," she responded, returning his handshake with a warm smile.

“Very nice to meet you, Miss Alana. Allow me to show yew to the crew quarters and the infirmary.” Traditional sailors would refer to it as the sick bay or simply, bay, but there are those who used the term infirmary. Joe led Alana to the back of the cargo bay and opened the door. “The bay is right here. Not sure how is stocked. Might’n be supplies in some of them thar boxes. Yew can check em out later.” Joe allowed Alana to take a look inside, and gave her a pause to check it out. Joe had pointed out the boxes in the cargo bay.

She entered the sick bay, looking at her surroundings momentarily. "Yeah, I will check the available supplies later, don't want to hold you up too much..." Alana then reached in her bag and pulled out some medical items, more so to ease the weight being placed on her shoulder rather than for organizational purposes. She set those aside on the counter as she would come back later and do a full inventory and inspection on whatever they had. Stepping out onto the passageway, Alana followed Hook to her quarters. "So what's your role gonna be on here?”

“Miss Alana, I am a simple deckhand and the boat’s cook,” Joe replied. “If you follow me, I’ll lead you up to the crew’s quarters. They be just beyond the galley, on tha’ way to tha’ bridge.” Joe Hooker led Alana Lysanger up two flights of stairs to the Galley and ran into Penelope Randell.

“Miss Alana, this is Miss Penelope, the ship’s pilot,” Joe Hooker introduced the two women.

Penelope had been having herself a real nice time getting to know the flight deck. Overall, she was pretty impressed. Fireflies, after all, were their own breed. Once she'd had the one or twice over up there, she decided it was a fine time to go poking about, meet some passengers, and see what was what. Maybe get an ETA on any departure since the captain hadn't come a callin' yet. Just as she came to the end of the hall, there was Hook again - with a new face.

"Howdy, there." She said at the introduction, eyes turning to Alana and soft smile that was seemingly always on his lips spreading as she extended her hand. "Since Hook is showing ya around, I reckon you're a new part of the crew, too?”

"That'd be right, I'm the new medic here," Alana replied as she shook Penelope's hand, a smile on her face as well. "I'm fresh onboard but so far the crew seems to be friendly." Even though she knew what she herself was talking about, it took Alana a second to realize they didn't know that she had met Cal prior to her arrival. "I mean, I met Captain Strand not that long ago, to be precise. He, um—" In a split second decision, Alana decided to forgo any specific information regarding the incident from earlier, "I had to patch him up real quick and well you know, the rest is history. The timing is perfect, actually, since I'm between employment." She readjusted the strap on her shoulder, looking at Hook as well. "So have you guys known him for some time or are you fresh like myself?”

“I have not yet met the man,” Hook interjected. “If’n yew ladies wouldn’t mind, I need to tend to the food stores and ready a meal for t’night.”

Penelope closes her mouth before words went spilling out as Hook dismissed himself. She nodded, as it was fine with her. She understood the need to make sure things were ship-shape and whatnot. As he departed, she grinned at the woman she was left with. "It's real nice having someone else worryin' after the meals. I can't cook much, so most my last trip had crispy or soggy selections for me. But, anyway, I just met the Cap'n a few hours ago, wantin' to book passage but he was wantin' a pilot. Worked out for both us.”

Upon announcing his departure, Alana nodded at Hook with a smile. She then turned to Penelope. "So you can't cook, huh? Yeah neither can I... Although I can figure out recipes even if they're a little complicated. However, I've been told before that's cheating, so I'm not sure..." she added with a shrug. After a brief pause, the young woman went on again. "But hey, I don't want to keep you if you got anywhere to be. Hook there seemed to be in a bit of a rush himself, especially since he's never worked with the Captain, much less met the man.”

"Here I was thinkin' it was me." Penelope gave a breath of a laugh, shaking her head gently before turning her amused gaze back to the doctor. She gave a little shrug as it faded, soft smile left behind. "I ain't got no special place to be - just giving a self-guided tour to myself 'fore I'm bound to the flight deck for a while. But, reckon ya want to settle in - them hatches down lead to open rooms. I was told just to pick one, so I reckon the same goes for you. Won't keep ya none.”

Though Penelope was also dismissing herself to give the other woman time to settle in, she didn't continue on her way immediately. There wasn't much she could do by way of answering any questions about the ship or crew, but if Alana had anything else on her mind, it was obvious she was welcome to share.

Alana nodded in the direction she needed to go. "Then that way I'm heading. I should be going now, need to run some inventory myself and make sure we're all set. Pleasure meeting with ya, I'll see you around.”

After a small wave, the young woman made her way in the direction she had been told. She wanted to make sure the essentials were all accounted for before they were scheduled to leave.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Winters
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Winters

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Street Credits Part 1

Persephone City

OOC: JP between @Winters, @MK Blitzen and @Yule





It was a little after noon in the heart of the Persephone City, though it was hard to tell with the tall buildings blocking the sun, but sunshine meant people would be out, about and enjoying the warm weather. All the better the hustle it would be for the Skye clan. The bustling square was a nicer spot in the city, one with a bit more bodies with a bit more money for a trio of buskers to ply their respective trade. But competition was fierce, and that talentless ass making balloon animals seemed to be taking away their potential dinners. Knots of people came and went but the best ones were those who stayed on for a quick bit of street entertainment.

Isaac, the youngest, was beating rhythmically on various cans, tins and buckets weaving a complicated beat onlookers could bob their head to, Cyd, the middle and only girl danced and undulated to the rhythm with a hat to encourage tips. With a welcoming bright smile and a piercing stare she tipped over those who might part with a credit to most definitely parting with a credit or two. Mathias was pulling his own weight as well, there wasn’t room for laziness.

The eldest of the trio had the charm cranked up to 11. “ … and is this your card?” Mathias asked, holding a random card up from the deck. The dark-haired girl who was currently the center of everyone's attention blinked and looked embarrassed before shaking her head ‘No’.

“Really?” Mathias asked, checking the card. The young girl shook her head ‘No’ bashfully.

“Strange …” Mathias said, making a show of looking through the deck. “... Ah! I see the problem … it’s not in the deck!” A quick snap of his wrist and suddenly a card apperated into existence. “There she is, the tricky queen of hearts.” He started showing the card to the girl and crowd, another flick and the card turned into a red carnation that he presented to the girl who clapped with a bright smile and red cheeks. The crowd clapped along beaming as he finished his set. “And don't forget folk if you liked what you please generously leave a tip!” He encouraged reshuffling the worn deck of cards.

Being social like this was exhausting for Mathias but he was good at it.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by MK Blitzen
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MK Blitzen Have Plot, Will Travel

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Street Credits Part 2

Persephone City


OOC: JP between @Winters, @MK Blitzen and @Yule





The left earpiece on her headphones had gone out again, but Cyd wasn’t too worried about it. It was an easy enough fix, and besides it let her better hear Isaac’s rhythm to move her feet as she worked the crowd, pencil turning twice up to a slightly older man, late 20’s maybe in an expensive looking shirt.

She smiled and touched his arm, he returned the grin and seemed to like the attention, dropping a few credits in the hat she offered. In return, she cha cha stepped with him before moving on. A blonde had both of her eyebrows raised in a way that indicated she was less than enchanted with a little rave dancing.

Moving on.

The girl with the braids! Too many braids, but she looked like she was having fun as she hopped on her toes and whipped her hair wildly. Briefly Cyd wondered if she ever hit herself in the eye with one of the beads she used to secure the ends of each braid, because that would hurt like a bitch. Still, she grabbed the younger girl’s wrist and dragged her to the front. Parents were an easy mark, show their kiddo a little attention and credits will follow. Cyd slowed down to show the girl a few simple running-man steps, and the kid awkwardly bopped along as her mother took a vid on her cortex. A round of applause was given to the girl, and both parents put credits into the hat. Easy Peasy.

The blonde brushed past her pointedly to drop babki in the bin by Isaac, it’s all going the same place, bitch, Cyd mused to herself. An older teen, 19, 20ish, egged on by his peers stepped in, reeking of body spray and hair gel, like he’d been baking with it in the sun. He flashed a few credits and Cyd inwardly lamented wrinkling her nose as she brightened her smile.

Like the young girl, Cyd tried to show him the running man, but he was more interested in posturing, raising his shirt to show off his abs as he rolled his body. She briefly wondered if in the history of histories that ever worked for him as a pick-up move, and the punk stepped in closer to grind. Had it been a party, she’d have introduced her knee to his favorite body part, but this was work. Besides, it was easy enough to T-step away, twirling her aqua hair in a circle for effect. She pointed to the hat, he pointed to himself. Stalemate.

Moving on.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Yule
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Yule

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Street Credits Part 3

Persephone City


OOC: JP between @Winters, @MK Blitzen and @Yule





Isaac snickered and shook his head at yet another poor sap whose blatant advances were shot down by the insurmountable Cyd. The boy's mocha skin and distinctly Asian features betrayed the fact that, while he may not have been a Skye by blood, he was family just the same. As he shook his unnaturally blonde shaggy hair out of his eyes, he couldn't help but noticed some in the crowd were a little uncomfortable with the jerk that tried to put moves on his sister.

My turn he thought to himself and without missing a beat, Isaac changed up the rhythm to something simpler and alluring. As he did, he continued the rhythm with one hand while he lifted his shirt with the other, playfully imitating the jerk to the delight of his buddies and to break the tension.

Playing the fool came easily for the boy as he looked down at his not nearly toned stomach as his muse and, with an exaggerated pout, poked at it pathetically with his drumstick, eliciting laughs from the crowd. With the crisis averted, he surrendered his brief moment in the spotlight and changed up the rhythm yet again with a deft flourish.

It wasn't hard, honestly. The three of them had been doing this for so long they learned ages ago that, while the faces change, the behavior of the crowd is always the same, predictable. And you can shift their mood this way and that with just a little bit of effort. Still, let Cyd's movements feed their fleeing fantasies or Mathias' charm excite and amaze, if just for that brief moment. He was exactly where he wanted to be, right behind his sibs.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Winters
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Winters

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Street Credits Part 4

Persephone City


OOC: JP between @Winters, @MK Blitzen and @Yule





Mathias watched on from the back of the crowd after gathering his tisp and packing his meager tools of the trade. Thank the stars for his little brothers' quick thinking. He was easily the most naturally likable. Still they had been at this for some time and he figured it was time for a proper finale. Mathias wove through the growing crowd, a gentle hand here and congenial 'Pardon me' there till he got closer to the front. When Cyd danced her way near him, Mathias tossed a few credits into the pot and joined in the dance.

Now in all fairness Mathias did not consider himself a dancer, not like Cyd. It was just Cyd did not abide anyone in the family to be a rhythmless boar. It didn't help that being the tallest in the family. The sudden growth spurts and the constant feeling being discombobulated plagued him throughout the entirety of his youth. So when Cyd had begun teaching him various dance moves, it took years of buffoonery to look as good as he did now!

The tune Isaac switched to was exciting now, something to get the hands clapping as the crowd watched Cyd and Mathias ply their crafts.

The pair danced in time stomping and clapping to the rhythms of Isaac's beat, complementing each other in an already choreographed dance. The pair moved around slapping each other's hands bouncing and their feet continued to stomp in time with the music.

The crowd hooted and clapped at the display as the siblings sped up there dancing as if competing to see who would mess up first. While it was a mystery to the crowd Mathias already knew the conclusion.

Hint, hint it was him.

It was always him.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by MK Blitzen
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MK Blitzen Have Plot, Will Travel

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Street Credits Part 5

Persephone City


OOC: JP between @Winters, @MK Blitzen and @Yule





It would have been understandable to assume that the teen was playing along to something being piped out of his oversized headphones, but no music played from them. This new little toy the teen recently acquired and was quite proud of was, in fact, a listening device, capable of canceling out or minimizing some frequencies (like the sounds of his bucket drums) while dialing in others (like a specific conversation in a group) and the conversation he just heard caused him to perk up.

With a few taps on the side of the device, he was able to isolate the conversation of a couple or Alliance purple bellies starting their patrolling of the square. It seemed like they never had much else to do except harass street performers trying to earn a living. Getting jammed up with the likes of them would cost them the rest of their afternoon at the very least, more of they decided to be total pains in the ass. The boy hit a rather unusual flourish and changed up the rhythm yet again and really gave the impression he was into it. The beat, however, disguised a code that Isaac tapped out in repetition, a skill he learned from his sibs. It said "Time To Go. Purple Belly"

The steady rhythm of Isaac’s drumming was better than any trance mix Cyd had on her playlist at drowning out the world. The motion was more muscle memory than focus, which is why any change was jarring. When you perform the same routine over and over, the slightest change was enough to prick your ear, especially when Isaac threw in a lick to tip them off.

Keeping the beat on the plastic bucket, she paid attention to the ping of the can, spelling it out in her head. She dropped low to turn under Mathias’ butterfly kick, always a crowd pleaser probably because his legs were so damn long. Purple Bellies. “Yaveskh tsag.” she repeated. There was no time for more credits. Isaac would have to find more buckets and cans. She hastily grabbed her hat, dumping it and Isaac’s take into her backpack.

"Maji ya fink." Mathias responded with a snort as the crowd clapped and cheered at the conclusion. He could just see the purple bellies harassing the balloon man. The crowd cheering had finally caught their attention. "Ag man! Ve rooted. Hustle up!" He urged snatching his bags from the ground and using his size to make holes through the crowd.

Even though he was the first to spot the Purps, Isaac was caught flat-footed with how quickly his sister and brother ended the performance. He was just rolling into a fill when Cyd grabbed the sticks out of his hands and stuffed them into her pack. He didn't even have time to gather up his makeshift instruments before being led through the crowd, Cyd's hand firmly clasped around his wrist.

He looked back lamenting the bucket he loved...and lost. His sorrow was short-lived, however, when the old familiar bark of "You! Stop right there!" pierced the din of the crowd. There'll be other buckets the teen reassured himself as the trio redoubled their efforts to get the hell out of there.

"It's funny", he griped to no one in particular, "Why do they always yell 'Stop' when it's just gonna make people run away faster?"

"Think of it as a competency test. You're an idiot if you don't run." Mathias quipped.

"Then we must be the smartest húndàn in the 'Verse!" Isaac chaffed in return.

“Less talky-talky, more bolty-bolty.” Cyd added as a shrill whistle blew.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Winters
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Winters

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Street Credits Part 6

Persephone City


OOC: JP between @Winters, @MK Blitzen and @Yule





The trio broke through the crowd into a full run. Whether it was how they practiced or just how the card fell they ran like a trio of ducking in a perfect line and in height order. Mathias led the way cutting every corner and not even looking back, cat jumping over benches and vaulting over anything that would give them precious seconds to their lead.

Mathias saw an opportunity to shake their tiring pursuers. Honestly most, save for the most tenacious, purple bellies would be wheezing right about now. He turned sharply to the right into an ally. Mathias lept and rolled across the top of some dumpster left askew his siblings followed suit but definitely with more grace.

Luckily the gamble paid off and it wasn’t a dead end, just a chain link fence which was easy enough to bypass with their experience. Mathias quicklend his step to give him some lead time before skidding to halt, turned and squatted to give his siblings a boot to do a full vault over the top. Mathias at least was tall and strong so him taking care of it on his own was not an issue but at least this way the stride and speed of his brother and sister didn’t break. It was testament to how much they worked as a team.

Cyd being hands down the most graceful sailed over with her hand barely having to touch the top of the fence landing with well practiced ease. She made this look easy. Isaac however clearly did not want to be outshined! Mathias boosted him up and instead of a simple up and over he tapped the top of the fence with his fingers and moved into a double tuck with a twist landed and threw both hands in the air with a triumphant smile on his face.

“Show off!” Mathias groused and quickly clambered up and over the fence as two purple bellies struggled to move the dumpster out of the way. Mathias made a rude gesture to them from behind the fence, confident at this point there was no way they were catching up to them now.

Cyd slowed to a jog, spinning on her toes to celebrate. “Well, the day was cut a little short, but that means maybe we can find some dinner by the docks.”

"I knewI it!" Isaac started excitedly, not even hearing his sister's suggestion. " I knew that you guys would get my secret signal!”

“That was smart thinking, LoLo.” His sister complimented. “Bon bagay. So what do you want to--”

“You see, when I started that fill as two beats in a phrase of four within a tuplet-I”

Mathias clapped a hand on Isaacs shoulder and another over his mouth, his protests muffled. “You were saying?”

“Are you sure he can breathe?” Cyd asked with a quirked eyebrow as Isaac flailed.

“Kukuku …” He snorted. “... no.” Mathias said deadpan.

“So, dinner?” Cyd finished.

“I could eat,” Mathias shrugged with a nod.

“Maybe we find ourselves a boat.” His sister added with optimism.

"Maybe." Mathias finally let his little brother go hoping he finally calmed a bit.

Isaac gulped some air as Mathias gave a cheerful clap of the teen's shoulder before starting off again. Undeterred, he continued with the exact same energy as he loped after them, "And then releasing by resolving back to six on the last two beats…"

Cyd side eyed her twin while pulling her hair into a messy bun as Isaac carried on. “He’s going to be insufferable for the rest of the day,” she warned.

"How is it you just noticed that?" Mathias retorted, mussing Isaac's hair.

"How kief are these things?" Isaac pulled off his headphones, marveling at his latest toy. "They really worked!"

“Cho, Cho, LoLo.” Cyd told him as she readjusted her backpack. Her stomach rumbled. “Let’s tucker up.”
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by sail3695
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sail3695 If you do, I'ma do too.

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After a long drink an’ a stop to ‘pay the rent,’ Abby made her way out of the passengers’ lavatory. What little she’d seen of China Doll offered brighter clues as to her overall upkeep. Last few years aboard Mariposa...after Aunt Lupe passed...Uncle Bob just kinda let things go. Depression, one passenger called it. La shi took to pilin’ up in corners an’ some stains et right into the paint. The young girl washed and scrubbed, but with folk to feed an’ laundry to keep at bay, she had to choose her battles.

This boat was old, but leastways she was tended. It showed that Cap’n kept folk on to handle her an’ made sure they did. Abby couldn’t say where she’d be after they touched New Melbourne, but fer now, they’s a spot here with her name on it. Still felt more’n a little unsettlin’ and she accepted there’s tears to be cried, but that’d come on her own time.

Medbay lights was on, an she seen Hook actin’ the guide to a woman. Judgin’ as words like ‘supplies’ passed twixt ‘em, the deckhand took her fer that new doc Cap’n told of. Purty, Abby thought as she passed by. Her and Penelope. They’s both purty, she mused over thoughts of that new pilot. He can pick ‘em. But the sight of Hook in the new medic’s company doused the girl’s hope of a ready made plate with her name on it. Mayhaps I can slip down to that cook stall, she thought as she crossed the cargo bay.

“Excuse me, young lady.” The fella stood up at the ramp’s foot was tall. Not a thread out of place, and those all looked to cost top coin. Even the dust on his shoes looked like it’d be polished off afore he took to his bed. “I understand you’re destined for New Melbourne?”

“Sure an’ we are,” the girl nodded as she strode down the ramp. “Bookin’ a passage? We still got rooms.”

“Sadly, I cannot,” he smiled. “Harrison Caruthers, Seatronics Corporation. My card.” He had the purtiest hands she’d ever seen, long, slender fingers looked so clean as they’d never touched more’n a china cup. His business card was a sight to behold, too. Caruthers’ name and a whole stream of letters crawled over a capture of a big fishin’ boat, all white and clean as she glided over an ocean flat as glass. Abby seen the ocean once, when Uncle Bob hauled a bunch of statues an’ such to some rich guy on Bellerophon. Damn near went swimmin’ when their pilot almost flew em’ into one of them trash drones…

“Ahem.”

Abby looked up. “Sorry,” she offered the card. “Nice pitcher.”

Caruthers chuckled. “Please, keep it. Now, as to my purpose,” he continued, “I’ve got a shipment of marine electronics equipment that needs to be delivered before the tuna fleets set sail. What’s your ETA for New Melbourne?”

“Cap’n says we’re goin’ tonight. Three full days to New Melbourne,” she answered. “Got others flyin’ with us what say that puts us down with two days to spare.”

“Cutting it close,” the gent stroked his moustache, “but if the price is agreeable, perhaps we can make arrangements.”

Time to dance, just like Uncle Bob taught her. ...’member, Chick Pea. They try to hornswoggle yah with numbers and what important folk they are, yah just stick to tha rates. They show out tah be a huen duan, make’em pay full boat. If’n they’re respectful, git ‘em tah signin’ off an’ then cut ‘em ten percent. That’ll have ‘em lookin’ fer ye on future runs.

Way this Caruthers was playin’ it so nice she’s liable to make it fifteen. All the while, Abby kept an eye on the darkening street and them as walked it. She spied three folk, all clustered in a little knot. Dim as it was, she couldn’t suss out whether they’s passengers tryin’ to decide on comin’ to China Doll, or footpads casin’ Caruthers fer a rich mark.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by MK Blitzen
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MK Blitzen Have Plot, Will Travel

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Skyejacked Part 1

Eavesdown Docks


OOC: JP between @sail3695, @Winters, @MK Blitzen and @Yule





The sun was getting low at the Eavesdown Docks. But business was still operating, many going down to the wire. Cargo was being stowed by the crew of their respective ships and were prepping up for dust off as soon as the sunset.

The trio had celebrated their haul with dinner and small treats afterward. When you love life like the Skyes doing what they did the present was often the most pressing.

Small victories. It kept their spirits high.

Mathias walked alongside his sister, eyes flicking from each ship and briefly to the destinations on their boards.

Isaac deftly weaved in between and around his brother and sister on his longboard, barely grazing the edge of Mathias' coat or Cyd's hair as he circled. Some of his winnings went towards the new bucket he was carrying along with various candy that filled it partway. "So where we lookin' to go this time?" the teen asked as he popped his gum cheerfully. "I hear Ariel's got rich folk. Probably get much better tips too." he reasoned. "Though, we probably'll need to be all fancy dressed and I ain't got much formal clothes."

"Tsh … you just wanna swim in those bioluminescent pools they got." Mathias chuckled.

"How do ya think they light those things?" The younger Skye pondered. Without waiting for an answer, he continued rambling on about lights under the water, glowing fish, and several other postulations, each more elaborate and ridiculous.

Cyd shifted the lollipop resting against her teeth to the other side before using it to point to a rundown-looking ship on the docks. She wasn’t sure what she was looking for, but something about it made her brother shake his head. Right, right, the number four. No-go. At least this go-round they could afford to be a little choosy. She pulled her hat down to brace against a sudden gust. “What about that one?” She asked, interrupting Isaac as his conversation to himself continued. She pointed to a ship with a redhead about her own size standing on a gangplank, discussing something with a larger man.

Mathias tilted his head to the side then look at their next destination. "I do like fish …" he mused to his sister.

“You like food," she giggled in response.

"It's true I do like food," Mathias said with fake innocence. "Let's check 'er out, if they try to rake us we can move on. Plenty of ships in the sky."

Cyd nodded. The well on Persephone hadn’t yet run dry, but you were always better off if your motivation wasn’t desperation. Desperation is how you get into trouble, and if there was anything the Skye’s wanted to avoid, it was trouble. She shifted the weight of her backpack and patiently waited for their turn.

Least they ain’t footpads, Abby glanced over Caruthers’ shoulder at the trio who stood waitin’ for a chance to deal. “So,” she asked the industrialist, “will fifteen percent off seal the deal?”

Caruthers shifted, aware of the presence of listening ears. “Twenty would be better...but we’ve both got commitments to keep.” He offered his hand. “Miss Travis, I’ll have my men by with the cargo and your payment in thirty minutes.”

“Shiny,” the girl shook the perfectly manicured hand. “Pleasure. We’ll getcher stuff there safe an’ sound.” As the well appointed gentleman offered a nod and turned away, Abby’s eyes set upon them as come walkin’ up. “Lookin’ fer passage to New Melbourne?”
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