Hidden 2 mos ago 1 mo ago Post by Yule
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Yule

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Skyejacked Part 2

Eavesdown Docks

Abby, Mathias, Cyd, Isaac

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





“Depends on which is the least expensive?” Cyd replied, avoiding the word cheap, which some folk tended to get indignant over. “We don’t mind a double, I’ve shared a room with my brother’s before.”

"Dibs on the single then!" Isaac chimed in with enthusiasm.

"Cute. No Short Round … she ment us three cramming into a double." Mathias explained as Issac skated out of slapping range.

“He gets the sleeping bag,” Cyd tsked with a shake of her head.

“So,” Abby glanced from the big’un to the green haired girl to the blond Asian kid. “A double...fer all three of yah.” She shrugged. “Bit close, but we can setcha up. Standard fare fer each. Ten percent off fer each.”

Cyd shifted the candy in her mouth again, this is normally where they’d haggle, Mathias or Isaac most likely given the orange headed girl’s disposition, but getting off Persephone seemed like a better option. And the take was pretty good this go round, plus with sharing a room… She bobbed her head affirmatively. “Kiff,” she agreed. “Standard minus ten percent each sounds great.”

"Bomba!" Isaac and Mathias cheerfully concurred as they bumped fists.

The girl opened the clipboard. “Whilst yer diggin’ out yer coin, I’ll take yer names fer the log.”

“Cyd,” Cyd replied, pointing to her brother’s respectively. “C-y-d. Not S-i-d, it makes a difference. That’s Mathias, an’ Isaac, Skye,”

“Sky,” Abby repeated. “Like the wild blue? All three of yah?”

“Where the sun rises and sets,” Cyd agreed, “Only with an e at the end.”

"So … Who do we pay? Captain? First Mate?" Mathias asked.

Abby replied, “That’ll be me,” before returning to her clipboard. “Sky with an E. All three. Travelin’ family.” She conjured sayin’ somethin’ ‘bout the strong resemblance, but ruled that one out. Passengers was paychecks. No need fer her to go pokin’ their stories. “Alright...I’ll walk yah back after yah pay up.”

Cyd held her backpack straps a little tighter.

Isaac snorted a laugh as he hopped off his board. "Had a deckhand say that before. Cash up front, no guarantee. Go to board and the Cap knows nothing about it. Tell him we paid up in full and even pointed out the one we paid. Skebenga pretended to know nothin'." Isaac popped his gum as he slung his board under his arm and shifted his weight, leaning against his big brother. "Not much on a replay of that kind of...unpleasantness. Yabai. Need a guarantee or pay the Cap direct." he said, folding his arms and exaggerating his gum chewing with a smile.

"Cho. We don't mind waiting or you can walk one of us to him or her direct." Mathias offered. They weren't unreasonable, just very cautious.

“I can show you we got ‘em,” Cyd added in a softer tone as she nodded to Mathias. “But we were stranded for a pretty long time after that. Can’t blame a body for being cautious.”

The clipboard remained aloft, ink drying on the names of the three Skyes. Abby regarded them, feeling the burn of her honesty impugned by strangers. This is the part where Uncle Bob woulda gone back tah full fare, she thought. But Uncle Bob was dead. This was a new boat, with a new Captain, and if what she’d heard ‘bout Badger rang true, a skinny thread of a deal to carry them through.

“Bad luck, friends,” the girl swallowed her anger. “But here’s how it is. Cap’n trusts me tah log in passengers an’ cargo, and ta collect cashy money. Yer guaranty?” she turned toward the smallest of the three. “That was me tellin yew I’m walkin’ yah back soon’s I gotcher fares in hand. That ain’t good enough, then y’all can wait outside. Cap’n’ll be around presently, but with a boat fixin’ tah launch it ain’t gonna happen fer awhile.”

“We were just askin’ for a guarantee, you know, a piece of paper sayin’ we paid and who took our creds,” Cyd replied, unsure why that would be an unusual or difficult request. Maybe she couldn’t write? No, that couldn’t be it, she added their names to the clipboard.

“A receipt?” the girl asked. “Shiny. Happy tah oblige...soon’s I have yer fares in hand.”

“How long you been running with the captain n’ ship?” Mathias asked casually, thumbs hook on the strap of his shoulder pack and Cyd scribbled their names down.

R-e-c-e-i-v-e-d f-r-o-m Abby wrote onto a blank page. “Today’s muh first day on this boat,” she replied.

Cyd gave her another warm smile. No wonder the hiccup!, she mused. “Bon Bagay,” She congratulated. “It should be a good trip. I have a good feeling about this boat.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago 1 mo ago Post by Winters
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Winters

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Skyejacked Part 3

Eavesdown Docks

Abby, Mathias, Cyd, Isaac

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





Abby’s hand was still. “We’ll aim tah please,” she attempted an amiable tone. “I can’t finish a receipt without actually receivin’.”

Cyd turned her head to nod to Mathias, switching sides with her lollipop again to prevent her cheek from getting raw. “Kiff. All good, Yobo.”

Mathias obliged. A neat tight roll of credits appeared as if by magic with a wrist flick, he rolled the bills along his fingers before holding it out for the carrot top to take and count.

"Mooi mooi!" Isaac clapped his hands, excited to go on another trip. "Make sure to save a few of them, brav. I wanna taste some of that lekker fish when we land!" he added with a huge grin.

With no undue fussin’, Abby relented and took the roll. She tucked the clipboard under one arm before popping the cash loose. “Three fares,” she said aloud, “ten percent discount each.” Stretching the sheaf across the palm of one hand, she drew off their fare amounts, counting aloud as she went. “That’s one,” the girl said as the bills slipped into her breast pocket. Soon after counting out all three fares and stuffing them away, she handed the rest of the wad back to the big’un. “Gimme a minute,” the girl offered as she reopened the clipboard. “I’ll have yer receipt straight up.”

The meager bills the kid handed back vanished into the folds of Mathias’s coat. He had only been a few off but it was something to practice on.

After some dedicated scribblin’, Abby held the receipt out. “Lists all yer names and fare amounts. Shows yer paid in full with my signatcher. We square?” she asked.

“Ja,Nee,” Cyd replied, adding: “Square,” for confirmation. “We have our guarantees, you have our credits. Shot, just point us in the right direction.”
“Folla me,” the girl offered a nod, “Mind the ramp; she gets slippery on leather soles. Welcome aboard tha China Doll,” Abby said as she led the three into the cargo hold. “If’n yah never flew a Firefly afore, here’s whatcha need tah know. Cargo Bay, Engine Room, an tha cockpit is all off limits. Galley’ll feed yah three times a day. That’s tha infirmary on the left,” she pointed out the metal enclosure as they came through the aft hatch. “Yer room’s here...first on tha right. Also closest tah tha lavatory.” She slid the panel aside to permit the Skye’s into their new home. “After we’s in tha black I’ll come ‘round with some extra beddin’. Most like there’ll be food about then, too. Have yah got any questions?”

“Three squares?” Cyd repeated with a grin. “Cho - that’s super. I don’t have any off the top of my head.” She looked between her brothers to see if there were five by five also.

“Cho.” Mathias smiled making an ‘L’ with his index finger and thumb. The sign for everything being square. Chobo was thorough at least, understandable with her being new.

"I hope it's soon. I'm starving!" Isaac said as he munched on a fresh candy bar he just unwrapped as he followed along on the tour.

“You just ate Lo Lo! You're … eating … right now!” Mathias said, tugging on Issac's ear.

Isaac yelped in pain. "But that was, like, hours ago!" the teen whined.

“Thirty minutes ago!” Mathias said tartly.

"That long?!" Isaac said in annoyed exasperation.

“I promise, we brought food to hold them over,” Cyd apologized.

“Don’t lump me in with the bottomless pit here!” Mathias said, offended.

The deckhand waited for a break in their antics. “Name’s Abby,” she said evenly. Other deckhand’s called Hook. If yah need somethin’ while we’s in tha black, both Hook an’ me will help yah find it.. We got a bit afore we take off, if’n yah want tah see tha galley or tha sittin’ areas. Fer now I got some chores.”

“Shot, Abby!” Cyd said warmly. “We’ll look for you or Hook or the Captain if we need something.”

“Shiny,” the girl gave a final nod, then turned to sip through the cargo bay hatch.

“I got a good feeling about this boat, Yobo.” Cyd giggled, claiming one of the bunks by dropping her bag on it.

“Mahjong?” Mathias offered it to his siblings.

"Before or after one of those square meals I keep hearing about?" Isaac impatiently enquired.

“Mahjong,” Cyd agreed, ignoring Isaac’s request.

His request roundly denied, Isaac gave a petulant roll of his eyes and a sighed as he slumped into a chair around the table where the trio was to play. "I'll take first deal." he said, his tone flat and defeated.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Gunther
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Gunther Captain, Infantry (Retired)

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Hook finished storing the equipment Mr. Caruthers men dropped off for the China Doll. It appeared to be items used for fishing. The deckhand, galley cook, veteran of a forgotten war and orphan from Hera looked it over with some curiosity, but it wasn’t his so left it alone. He had spied the young people who boarded. They seemed fine for now, but young people often had a knack for trouble. Maybe these three were trouble, maybe not. He didn’t care right now as long as they didn’t mess with him.

He made his way back up to the Galley. He washed his hands thoroughly and pulled the white apron over his head. He pulled out a large package of hotdogs and some hamburger patties. He fired up the grill, then pulled out several rolls for the hotdogs and hamburgers. He lit the oven for some French fries. When the oven was hot, he spread the fries over a large cookie sheet and inserted them in the oven. They would be ready in a half hour. As the grill heated up, Hook began placing hamburgers on the grill to begin cooking. Once the burgers were in place, he then placed several hot dogs. He made small slits along each dog with a knife to create scorch marks. It was something he was taught on the farm and continued to do it to this day.

He put a paper tablecloth over the galley table and spread tin plates, buns and condiments out for others to take at their leisure. With the food cooking on the grill and in the oven, he placed the hamburger and hotdog rolls on the table. The dogs would be done any minute and the burgers a few minutes later. He had some slices of cheese if someone wanted a cheeseburger.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by sail3695
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sail3695 If you do, I'ma do too.

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After closing the cargo bay hatch behind her, Abby heaved a sigh which sent a stray wisp of hair skyward. Gaslightin’, Uncle Bob had called it. Word made no sense to her; try her best, Abby couldn’t conjure how a gas lantern compared to folk comin’ at yah one way, then doublin’ back on ever’thing. Don’t matter now, she considered as the cash was transferred to a pocket in her dungarees.

But what did you learn, Abigailita?

Aunt Lupe’s favorite question. Always brought her to thinkin’, most times when she straight up didn’t want to. But she would, Abby offered a silent promise to her aunt as she walked out into the cargo bay.

Hook was there, strappin’ down a fresh load ‘o’ crates. They’s all painted blue, ‘cept for where the wood splintered off. All had the same big white letters, S T, with a lightnin’ bolt between ‘em. Must be Seatronics, the girl thought as she lifted her clipboard. “Thanks, Hook,” she offered up. “Jest got three new passengers. Sounded hungry. They’ll come lookin’...”

“Scuse me!” The man yelled from atop the ramp. He’s wearin’ coveralls ‘bout the same blue as them crates. “You Abby Travis?”

“Yep!” She offered Hook a grateful nod afore facin’ the delivery man.

“Boss says give this to you,” he handed off a plump coin pouch. “Same as in the deal.”

She accepted the purse. “Ku,” Abby flipped the clipboard open. “Who’s pickin’ ‘em up on New Melbourne?”

“Fella named Jinks. Clevus Jinks.”

“How’s that spelt?” She copied the name as the freight handler spelled it out. “Shiny. We’ll be there’n three days”. The coin jingled as it slipped into her pocket. As the fella waved an’ left, Abby turned back to find Hook already gone...most like to stir up grub.

But what did you learn?

She flipped to the last page, where Rex Black’s first teachin’ lay.

DIK-CHUN

Her next pondering was over his bird, Lucky. Abby wrote:

PAIRIT FOOD

She frowned. “That ain’t right.” Hadn’t been a year since she read Captain Blood And The Pirates Of The Outer Rim. Fun story, she recollected, but them pirates? She’d seen pirates afore, and weren’t none of ‘em like Captain Blood. An’ he had a parr… “Oh yeah,” the girl smiled and corrected her work.

PARROT FOOD

Mayhaps China Doll had a cortex she could use to look them things up. Next, she called up words as she could remember...curious words mouthed by them three as she took ‘em aboard. Didn’t sound like no Chinee she conjured, but that didn’t mean nothin’. She put pen to paper, sounden’ em out, tryna make sense of how they’s spelt.

CHO

YOBO

JONEE

MOOWEE MOOWEE

KIFF

SHOT

Her brow furrowed on that one. Weren’t shot from a gun, or a shot ‘o’ likker. Mechanic says shot when somethin’s well worn out...but..green haired girl used it like it meant ku. All these lessons was wont to park her on a cortex fer a good spell.

A squeal of air brakes brought her back to the here an’ now, as a big lorry backed up to the ramp. Passenger door swung open, an’ she could make out one fella as he jumped down. When he stepped into the light, all dreadlocks an’ autorifle, Abby signalled “jest a minute” with a trigger finger an’ went fer the com.

“Cap’n,” she keyed the mic, “cargo bay. Yah wanted tah know when them last crates showed up.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by wanderingwolf
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wanderingwolf Shiny

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OOC: JP from @psych0pomp and @wanderingwolf

Rex heard other voices and movement throughout the ship, but he made a beeline for the bunks. He threw his bag past the bunker-like door and it gave out a muffled thump as it hit the floor. He more carefully brought Lucky’s cage down with the power of his arm strength and careful maneuvering of his body. As his feet landed one the ground, he was reminded of why he hated Firefly models. Damn bunks felt like a grave.

He didn’t have much in the way of luggage. It was what he could stuff into his leather pack and tow from ship to ship. He tended to Lucky’s cage first. Securing it to the hull with a thick chord and setting out some food and water for the bird. He undid the latch, letting the door swing down much like a drawbridge. It would give a place for the bird to sit and watch him. And Lucky did, after grabbing some processed bird food that cost more than Rex could consume in a week—in food. His black eyes watched the tall human maneuver through the room, and chirped up when Rex started whistling.

The clothes were packed away first. The trinkets, like a lucky golden cat (much to Lucky’s ire), a hand sewn flag with a mixture of galactic symbols, and a few books started to fill the empty space of the room. He even threw that plumb colored scarf over a light, adding a rather mauve ambiance.

Rex pulled his jacket off, placing it on the bed that he had made and adorned with a small blanket that had a lot more sentimental value than one might first realize. He stood there in the bright blue shirt with pink flowers adoring it. It was tucked in the front of his pants that displayed his belt with a bawdy buckle in front and a leather knife holder at his side—he’d hung his gun up, it was more a hazard on Rex’s person than anything. His arms were bare, tanned from the weather rather than genetics. Surprisingly, he didn’t have tattoos. He did have quite a few jingly bangles and tied pieces of leather around his wrists. They barely hid the puckered white scars that adorned both of his wrists. He ran his ringed hand through his hair, pulling his glasses off and setting them to the side. He rubbed his eyes.

Lucky fluffed up, content to be off the streets of Persephone. The bird started singing a repetitive ditty, and Rex joined in with his whistling—surprisingly matching the song.

Into the belly of the ship, the captain met empty hallways up to the gangway. Cal had half a mind to pop in on Penelope and see how things were going, or if they were still on reserve power while Badger’s mechanics buttoned up the boat. That’s when he heard a strange, yet familiar sound. It was the whistling that caught Cal’s ear.

Rex had been on the China Doll before. In fact, the pair had shared near on two years aboard the ship before the unfortunate circumstances which parted them ways. Seeing as Rex saw fit to show his face here again, and as a mate no less, Cal needed to look the man in the eye. And so it was with a kick to the hatch below that Cal summoned Rex from above.

Rex’s whistling came to an abrupt halt. Lucky was startled at the noise and flew towards Rex, landing on his shoulder and burying himself into the collar of the tacky shirt. “Occupied! Find some other bunk to kick at.” He turned to the bird, who was trying to find sanctuary in his short-trimmed beard. “How green is this crew that they don’t even know how hatches work? I fully expect to find one licking fire by tonight.” Before he could finish his laugh with his avain companion, another stern, summoning kick came from above.

He tossed aside the old book he was thumbing through and climbed up the ladder. Pushing the hatch up, he started speaking before he could see who was above him. “If you don’t stop, we’re at a perfect angle that I can punch you in the nuts, and if you’re a…” his words trailed off as he saw Cal above him. A smile passed across his lips. “Well, if it isn’t the man himself, Captain Strand. Not dead or fat, I see. Though you might be working towards one of those.”

Strand stepped aside while stroking his chin and watched the man climb out of the bunk. “See, now I’m confused.” He waited a beat. “Near on two years since I’ve heard the name Rex Black. I believe it was the night before the chicken-shit job, when you slipped out on a stopover in Ariel. After we fueled up I thought you was passed out in this very bunk, ‘til we touched down in Hera. You know, we sat there for hours with a mountain of chicken shit in the boiling heat waiting for your contact to show?” He arched his brow at Rex. “Poor Jesse and Phil had to scrub the la shi from the Doll and it still smelled like fowl for a month.”

Rex pulled himself out, closing the hatch behind him as he did. The ceilings of these ships were always lower than he’d like, giving a feeling of claustrophobic compression. So, he had a tendency to hunch. “Wait, what?” He asked. He started to thumb one of the beaded bracelets on his wrist in thought. “Look. That was a humanitarian mission. It was supposed to be fertilizer for a small colony planet out in the Border. Why the hell Mikkel wouldn’t show is…” He paused. “Well, at the time he was one of the Alliance’s most wanted. Or was that before the Great Bovine Escapade? Oh man, did you see that on your cortex? That shit was insane.”

“I did,” he replied, “put me to mind of ‘18 when we steered a head straight for some no-name town on Beaumonde,” Cal shook his head, “when the baron’s men showed, surrounded on all sides; they were lookin’ for a five-fingered discount.” He laughed, “I think you missed every shot, but they were all lookin’ at that neon green shirt you had on.” Strand scratched the back of his neck, “Gǎnxiè fú, one of us can shoot.”

Rex laughed. That caused Lucky to make a somewhat light trill as he turned his head towards Cal. It was almost as if the bird’s eyes narrowed, but maybe he was just sleepy. “I’ve always been honest about my skills from day one. Why do you think I dress like this?” He paused. “Though, remember that time I got trapped with that Mayor’s daughter, Beatrice or something, without nothing but my gun? I was halfway across the field when I turned to shoot. I pressed the trigger. And bam the mayor’s goon went down. I was thanking Lady Luck that I’d finally figured out how to shoot. But turns out, it was you--like five feet behind me.” He tugged on his collar. “I still have that scar where he got half a brand off on my back. I was a little preoccupied at that moment. If you know what I mean. Speaking of which… did you and what’s-her-face ever work out?”

“Aw c’mon Rex, you know we can’t all be swashbuckling romantics out of some trashy holo like you.” Cal’s face relaxed. “Much as my pride hates to admit it, I could use your help here. I got a ship full of crew I don’t know and we’re runnin’ a job for Badger… Not my finest moment, but the China Doll’s still in the air, so that’s somethin’. This time I need to know I can count on you not to leave me holding the bag of bird shit when you’re out the door. Whaddya say, first mate?” He offered his hand to Rex.

“Badger?” Rex’s tone easily reflected the dubious nature of that deal. “Not your finest moment, indeed. But I’m not one to judge--obviously.” He extended his hand as Cal did. “I promise I won’t leave you high and dry this time. I won’t head out for a pack of year long cigarettes again.” It was then that he grabbed a hold of Cal’s hand and held it firmly. He drew the captain into a brisk hug, never one to enjoy a sterile greeting. Lucky took that moment to jump ship and hopped onto Cal’s shoulder.

“So, how green are we talking with this crew?” He said, pulling away. “Are we talking mint julep peach or so green a dog might accidentally shit on them?”

Cal’s eyes widened as the bird surveyed him from his shoulder, switching sides of its head probably to measure eye-plucking distance. “Let’s just say I met the doc while bleedin’ out the ear, the pilot kept me from shootin’ up a charlatan, and the deckhand hired the rest, even with all her personality.” Cal had raised a finger to Lucky’s beak height, maybe gauging to see if the bird felt the need to chew on flesh before he would scoop it up. “Damn, I could go for a pack of year-long cigarettes right now.” Then he moved closer to Rex, “Last job brought down a little more heat than I anticipated; partially why I needed Badger and t’ kick dirt ASAP.” Seeing as Lucky had deigned not to bite Cal’s finger, he ventured for a five-fingered pet of the colorful beast.

“Oh yeah, Cal Junior. I met her.” He smiled. “For a second there, I thought you had a kid, Captain. I was about to feel sorry for someone. Who? I don’t know.” There was only a beat before he really examined what Cal had said. “But it sounds like a decent group, even if it seems like you’re trying to pad your chances for romance.” He winked, still chuckling as Cal got closer. Lucky seemed wary for a moment, but allowed the Captain to give him a pet, even if it was only self-serving.

“Shit, Cal,” Rex said, keeping to their hushed tone. “What’d you do?” He then held his hands up. “Actually, don’t tell me. Just tell me what you want me to do when Badger arrives. We don’t want to spill the mint julep of our new crew all over him.”

“Hell, Don Juan, you never change, do you?” Cal said, impressing even himself with how good he was with animals. Retrieving his hand from the bird he rubbed it off on his shirt.

“Fill you in over a drink. For now, keep a handle on things here with the crew and passengers; I want to be in the sky within thirty of receiving the haul. The deck on the ramp knows to flag me when they show. ‘Sides, doubtful Badger will make an appearance. He only cares about one thing--” That’s when a crackly comm could be heard from the bridge, just a few paces away from them.

“Cap’n,” Abby keyed the mic, “cargo bay. Yah wanted tah know when them last crates showed up.”

“Right on queue,” the captain said to his first mate. Scooping up Lucky from his shoulder, Cal unceremoniously deposited him on Rex’s shoulder. “I wanna be nose up in fifteen,” he called over his shoulder. With that Captain Strand disappeared through the porthole to the cargo bay below.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Aalakrys
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After her brief introductions with the doctor, Pen moseyed around the ship for a quick look to get familiar. Not wanting to be underfoot in the galley with Hook preppin' meals, she ventured down the stairs to have a glance over the hold. She had always been pretty good with visuals, and collecting a pretty picture of what made the ship herself was a pleasant enough way to spend her time till take-off. There was a hustle and bustle still goin' on - Abby had her hands full with directing the cargo, and not doin' a bad job, likely been at it a while. Folk were moving along here and there, and she opted to be one of them so she could see the other half of the ship.

Some of the folk offered a polite smile as she moved through the common area, getting a peek at the infirmary only so long enough to see if the doc was in before heading up the stairs to get an eye on the engine. That’s what she’d been seeking out, in truth. She might be the pilot, but if the console she worked was the brains, this was the heart. All was quiet while the girl rested, but soon… well, she'd conclude her self-guided tour in time for that.

The smell of dinner cookin' was nice and it seemed like some folks had found their way up, but it was no one's surprise that she found herself back at the dash by the time the captain came a'callin, opting to pass through with a wave rather than sit down for a chat. Had some secondary checks to do to make sure she knew what was what and all.

She was just getting her hands on some loose cords to bundle when she heard the ruckus from the galley echoing up. That small ever-present smile spread a little with a glance over her shoulder turning back on the cables in her hand. In the lull that followed a short while later, perhaps mouths being filled up with the good cookin’ wafting up this way or havin’ horfed it all down and departed, Pen heard a pounding behind her. Knit brows of concentration turned a glance to see what the noise was, but beings she was over her console, she couldn’t see much of nothin’ elevated up like she was. It was more’a instinct than anything else. Besides, after the second thumpin’, she heard an unfamiliar voice huffin’ about being distrubed, sounded like.

Then she heard her captain’s name, and that had her interest. And so did the panel closer to the door that needed some tinkering. It was crooked, at least from this angle, and definitely was from the side she stood against to adjust it. Hazel eyes happened to get a glance down the hall just before they slipped down to the panel her fingerless gloved hand was moving towards, and sure enough, there was her captain. And she’d seen the formidable figure emerging from the hatch below. Another crew member, her eyes crinkled at the thought.

Couldn’t be the mechanic because there’s no way he’d be down in his bunk before a take-off, and from what she could catch of their tone, they sounded friendly. So, they knew one another - had stories. Fun stories, she grinned a bit as the panel she was harassing finally shifted the way she wanted. Easier to get to know a person listenin’ to them talk to someone else, but that wasn’t somethin’ Penelope wanted to make a habit of - so she told herself - as she started to return to the console. But, then something interesting popped up again, and there she was tightening up the strap holding up a length of cord.

So we’re all new, ‘cept this big guy… The thought didn’t bother Pen, not at all. She was used to working with new folk regularly. Though she was most familiar with O’Malley and his crew, she didn’t stay solely with them. Pilots can have their pick of the starlit sea if they were flexible and willing, and Pen hadn’t found any roots to tie her up just yet. She liked one thing - and that was to fly. Shore leave was fun once in a while, but more often than not she was back out - caring less about where or when and more about what and how. Now, the answer was a Firefly at full burn for three days.

She was lost in her thoughts on that now as she retwisted and wrapped rather than paying attention to how hushed the conversation had gotten. Comms coming up with Abby’s voice got her attention - that meant soon. Penelope’s bright grin returned as she returned to the flight console, giving the edge a nice stroke outward of her gloved hands across it, fingertips uncovered and feeling the cool metal. “Soon it’s going to be just you and me, girl. I can’t wait ta get ta know ya.”

There’d be time for the crew later. A pilot’s first mate was the ship. And she had one more diagnostic to run and a few more cables to attend to if she wanted the China Doll lookin’ pretty before take off.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 1 mo ago Post by MK Blitzen
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MK Blitzen Have Plot, Will Travel

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Meals, Mahjong, Meeting Up


The China Doll Galley


Joint post with @Gunther, @MK Blitzen, @Winters, @Yule





Hook was almost finished with the meal when the three young people entered the Galley. He nodded to them as they entered and took seats at the table. There was space at one end for their game.

“Heya,” Cyd greeted with a bright smile, taking a seat next to her brother as she placed her cortex on the table. The oldest of the three, Mathias - set up the mahjong tiles. At least he claimed to be the oldest, but Cyd had her doubts. He was definitely the tallest if that counted for anything, and in his own eyes it counted for everything. The crewman in the galley was about her Yobo’s height, 6 feet and a bit of change.

Mathias, gave a wave to the man cooking in response. He was going to be a bother while the man was working and figured there would be plenty of time for introductions. He was quickly making a subtle bop to Isaac’s idle drumming, slipped out a baggie of Mahjong tiles flipping them character side down as he mixed them on the table. He couldn’t help but clack the tiles to the rhythm as well while dealing and stacking them out. “Eldest or youngest first?”

“Shoot for it,” Cyd said with indignity, tapping Mathias’ chair with her foot. “Give the middle kid a chance.”

"Yeah, how come you never choose middle, Mat? Isaac said, not making eye contact with either sibling as he drummed on the table without even thinking about it. He was engrossed with the shiny little combination lock Mathias picked up for him not too long ago. Only he neglected to save the verdomde paper with the combination.

“Or the youngest could go last from now on ... “ Mathias said with a nonchalant shrug and a sly smile. He waited to see how quick that tune was going to change now as he moved the tiles into place neatly in front of Isaac, Cyd and himself.

"Muukhai." Isaac grumbled with a stink eye to his brother. Suddenly, his eyes lit up. "26, 14 33!!" He immediately stopped drumming and picked up the lock, taking his time to enter the numbers. He pulled on the shackle...no good. He put the lock back in it's place on the table and reflexively began drumming again.

“Not an answer …” Mathias saing leaning back in his chair as he rolled a tile between his fingers. “ … what say you Cyd?” He offered since the youngest was dodging any responsibility.

“I’m all for LoLo always going last,” she giggled. “My chances just went from 33 to 50.”

"High score on a run of 5 goes first?" the youngest asked.

“Sorry LoLo it’s between me and Cyd now!” Mathias said in a merry tone putting his tile back in place.

"You just gonna let him go first like that?" Isaac goaded his sister as he lightly padded the table. He didn't need to get grief for knocking the tiles out of position.

Mathias eyes flashed to his hand thinking. “Speed round, first to three plums?” He challenged his sister.

“First to three plums!” She agreed happily. Mathias would be first to three plums.

He was always first to three plums.

The twin vied for the win in a rapid fire game. It was honestly through sheer luck when Mathias face of concentration broke out into a smile. "Sik." He announced showing his hand.

“You Chitlins’ want some grub? Hep yerself,” Hook offered as he flipped some burgers off the grill and onto a plate. He added dogs as well.

Isaac trembled with excitement as he looked to Mathias, then Cyd, then the plate of freshly cooked meats at the far end of the table. This repeated a few more times: Mathias, Cyd, food as the teen did his best impression of a pathetic puppy. Manners weren't exactly his strong suit, especially when it came to 'grub', but the boy held position until he got the blessing from one of the killjoys sitting next to him.

Cyd ticked her head towards the food, releasing the hound she snickered to herself. “Shot, mate,” she told the man she assumed was the cook. “Thanks, this looks lekker, smells great too. Oh, I’m Cyd, this is my brother, Mathias, and my other brother, Isaac. “

"Shot mate ... And for the love of … remember your manners you weren't raised entirely in a barn." Mathias chided at Isaac.

Isaac let out a playful whinny as he gave a grateful nod to the founder of the feast. "Shot, mate!" he concurred with his sibs before making a beeline to the other end of the table, pausing for only a moment to point menacingly at the combination lock that was still stubbornly closed on the table. "I'll deal with you later." he said with all the menace of an archenemy.

“You know where about on New Melbourne we’ll be touching down?” Cyd asked the shipmate.

“Nice to meet you folks,” Joe answered the trio. “The name’s Joe. Joe Hooker, but most folks call me Hook. I just hired onto the China Doll t’day. All I knows is that’s where we headin’ Should be just over a three day trip, but where on that fish bowl we’s landin’? No clue.”

Cyd nodded as the man spoke. Two people just hired. Maiden voyage, or revolving door of crewmates? “Bon Bagay, congrats on the new job, Hook,” she toasted.

"Congwaduwafums." Isaac added to his sister's good wishes through a mouthful of hot dog.

"I swear we tried to teach him good manners, he was unfortunately raised mostly by wolves so we're just happy he's house broken." Mathais snarked. "And yes, Bon Bagay, Congrats on the job. You play?" He offered. "We can deal you in."

“No thanks,” Hook retorted softly with a smile. “I need to clean the place up and check in with Miss Abby. Sounds like some more freight arrived down in the cargo bay.”

"Don't let us get in your way then." Mathais said agreeably. Work first, play later, he understood and the last thing he wanted to do was prevent the man from doing his job.

“Nice to meetcha, Hook!” Cyd called. Hook the cook, that would be easy to remember. She rolled one of the tiles to the back of her hand. “Middle goes first? Yes?” Hopefully they were in for smooth sailing. There would be plenty of work on New Melbourne - she had a good feeling.

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Xandrya
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Xandrya Lone Wolf

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A bit of light stretching to get her blood flowin' was one of her favorite routines, and one of the few she was faithful to. Alana had settled her belongings a few minutes prior and now that she was done with her warm-up, she mentally made note of what she had yet to do. Right, best get to it then. She kneeled down and unpacked the topside items, looking over a few as she went. It was funny...she could've sworn she was missing a few things, but she didn't pay it much mind for long. It was only a little while later and she had everything out in an organized layout. Rather pleasing to the eye, and much easier to work with. Picking out her medical items to be brought over to the infirmary, Alana hummed a familiar tune easily recognized by just about anyone who'd hear it. She stowed them away in her medical bag and headed out to her place of work.

Despite hearing a few voices through her short trip, Alana didn't meet anyone new aside from those she'd previously been introduced to. Once the walk was over, and the young medic entered the infirmary, sighing in relief. It'd been a bit of time since she'd had something steady, and she was grateful for the opportunity, though it was luck more than anything if she was being honest.

Alana didn't bother shutting close the door behind her, And instead, she got to work right away. She had her own personal checklist as well as the checklist she had located hanging in the corner just over one of the countertops. Beautiful. When it came to her work, Alana was as organized as one could be. She found it to make her work performance that much more efficient as it allowed her to work faster in more urgent matters requiring her attention.

Nearing the items at the bottom of the checklist, Alana heard the comms go off. She looked up for a moment before resuming her work. Up to that point, everything seemed to check out save for the occasional missing item, though those were nothing of too much importance. Alana also tested some equipment to make sure each one was in good working order, and the results were in her favor. She was making good progress; the last thing to do being going over to the various first aid kit locations to take care of any necessary restocking. Maybe she'd get the chance to meet some of the remaining crew.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by sail3695
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sail3695 If you do, I'ma do too.

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OOC: JP from Wandering Wolf and Sail

The lift gate screeched as it lowered its’ bundle to the foot of the ramp. Abby kept hands on it; this’un come with casters’d let ‘er roll right off if’n the girl weren’t payin’ mind. Sure’n the two men weren’t havin’ nothin’ to do with it. Truck Driver jest pushed ‘em onta the gate afore shovin’ the lever with his foot. An’ Dreadlock? He’s involved in a serious round ‘o’ posin’ with his gun, lookin’ mean.

She nudged one corner onto the ramp, then brought t’other on. Abby put her back into it, grunting softly as she built speed. After a few more laborious seconds,, she had the first up on the deck. “Kinda heavy,” she breathed as the crate glided to a halt. Nice casters...really nice, the deckhand pondered a spell, catchin’ her breath, afore given Truck Driver a “C’mon” gesture. “Next.”

This’un felt a skosh lighter. She’s still breakin’ a purty good sweat when it topped out, but she didn’t mind. There’s somethin’ inside bein’ answered...an’ that answer made Abby feel good. Cargo. Word sounded good. Meant cash. Meant food an’ a bunk. Meant a shot at figgerin’ out her life from here, somethin’ she’d never had ta ruminate on afore. An’ that feelin’, when it come, was one ta put the strength in her. Fer that...freedom...she’d cotton to pulled muscles an’ splinters ever’ day.

Last one come off...an’ it was gorram heavy. She pushed, throwin’ her shoulder onto the load, afore addin’ a knee up at the last second tah steady the right side. Diggin in’ on her bootheel, Abby shoved the left side up, makin’ the whole struggle look like some kinda crabwalk. All the while, Truck Driver an’ Dreadlock jest stood watchin’...

“Oh, for ta ma de’s sake.” A woman’s voice rang deep an’ earthy, from behind. A hand clapped on the crate jest above her right shoulder. “I got right. You take left. On three. One...two...three!” Fer a spell, they both strained at it, pushin’ hard agin’ the weight. Soon enough, them casters set ta turnin’. She give way, rollin’ up over tha lip into the bay. “Remind me to tell Badger about the two lumps of la shi he sent for a delivery.”

Dreadlock pulled a right scowl as he came down the ramp. After rollin’ his door down, Truck Driver folded the gate away, an’ the two was off. Abby kept hold of that last crate, putin’ on the brakes ta stop ‘er from smackin’ into other cargo. “Thank yah,” she put her hand out, turnin’ toward her rescuer, “uh…..um….Sister?”

The woman stood there...little one, judgin’ by the height. Mebbe even littler than Penelope...nearabouts close enough. She was draped head to toe in a bright orange robe. Hood cast her face in shadow, ‘cept fer a sliver of light playin’ on the tip of her nose. The toe of a burgundy boot poked out from underneath her robe as she hefted her shoulder bag. Don’t it figger? Abby gaped in silence. Ask fer a mechanic….git a nun…

“After all that, I sure hope this boat’s the China Doll,” the nun chuckled.

“Yes’m...but...we’s full up,” the girl apologized.

“I’m on the list. Ms. Baker. Badger told you I was comin’.”

“Thank y’ now, Abigail,” Cal called from over the deckhand’s shoulder, then added with a nod, “Sister.” As he sidled up to the two women, he watched the road the truck had departed, thumbs shoved into the loops of his belt. With a quick glance at the night sky, Cal asked, “You happen to bring a wrench, Ms. Baker? Cuz we’re in mighty need of a mechanic if we’re gonna get to New Melbourne.” As he saw it, whatever reason a Sister sought a travel agent in Badger weren’t none of his business. That she’d been promised to get them off this rock? Now, that was Cal’s business.

The new arrival gave her shoulder bag a deliberate shake, raising numerous metallic clinks from within. “I brought a few, Captain Strand,” she replied.

He nodded, “I want her warmed up in ten. In the sky in fifteen. Badger promised she’s ready for the black, but I want the nod from someone who’s actually goin’ up in her. Think you can do that?” He watched the nun’s eyes, brows arched to read her assent.

The woman chuckled.. “Not sure Badger’s name and ‘promise’ are fit company in the same sentence. I can rush preflights in that time. As to the rest, we’ll just have to see how she shakes out.”

“Shi a, now that we can both agree on. See to it; Abigail, make sure Ms. Baker has everything she needs. Engine’s that way,” he said, pointing aft. Cal turned toe toward the cockpit, “Let’s get to work, ma shang.”

The nun removed her hood, loosing ebon curls to frame the grin she offered. “I love fireflies,” she replied before turning to follow the captain up the stairs.

“I’ll button ‘er up soon’s these crates’re strapped,” Abby responded before ratcheting the fresh cargo in a nice, clean line up front center to balance out the trim. She strummed them straps like guitar strings, makin’ sure they’s good an’ tight, afore lookin’ about the bay for anything done broke loose. With all bein’ well, the girl mopped sweat from her brow as she moved to the ramp controls.

She’d just hit the lift button when a ruckus come from outside in the dark. “Wait! Wait! Please, miss...wait!” two men pleaded, waving their arms as the ramp rose up over their heads.

“We’s full up!” Abby shouted.

“Please, miss! You gotta spare room. All boats keep a spare room for...problems. We’ll take it!” he shouted.

“It ain’t…”

“We’ll pay double!”

Now that meant somethin’. Abby pushed the stop, then lowered the ramp, easin’ her down to waist height. Two fellas stood there, all smiles as they tossed kit aboard. Healthy guys, she noted. Thirty some-odd, clean cut…

“Oh, thank you...thank you!” the taller fairly gushed as she advanced toward them, hand upon her Colt. “We’ve got a charter fishing expedition all booked up an’ you were our last chance to…”

“Show me yer coin.”

The men obediently produced a generous purse, to which they set to counting out their double fares. After a moment to stuff away the payment, she beckoned for them to climb aboard. “Welcome aboard the China Doll,” Abby said as the pair followed her in. “See that hatch? Go through there. Yah’ll see medbay on tha left. Make a left just after, head straight back an up the stairs. Yer in the last room. Cargo bay...engine room, an’ cockpit are off limits. They’s chairs across from Medbay. Strap yourselves in Ah’ll be along. Once we’s in the black yah can head up to tha galley. Not sure what’s cookin. Questions?”

The shorter loosed a grin. “Are there other girls pretty as you aboard?”

“They’re off limits, too. We’s fixin’ ta launch. Now go on...git.” The new passengers was all eyes as they hauled kit across the cargo hold. Abby set course fer the ramp controls, just as the com squawked rudely.

“Abigail, you gonna seal her up while we’re still young?”

“Doin’ it now, Cap’n.” She smacked the large red button. With a powerful whine, the hydraulics pulled the big ramp inta flight posture. Next come the sealing bulkhead, slippin’ inta place with a hiss of compressed air.

Cap’n tossed a final word on com. “Come eat once we break atmo.”

“Copy.” Hold was sealed. Cargo was secure. She’d put eyes on lower deck passengers afore strappin’ in herself. Abby Travis collected her belongings, sealed the aft cargo bay hatch, and made ready fer upthrust.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by wanderingwolf
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wanderingwolf Shiny

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OOC: Cal and Penelope take the ship out for the first time! A JP between @aalakrys and @wanderingwolf

Matters managed, cargo strapped, and crew settled, it was time to put Persephone and Badger in the rear view. To him, this trip was the equivalent of begging to eat, what with a near full crew hired and a few jobs lined up on the side, Badger’s no-questions-asked crates were still the impetus for the China Doll seein’ black again. The notion that Badger’s mechanics had been crawling all over her made his stomach turn, but beggars as they say... Captain Strand climbed the ladder up and stepped onto the bridge. His pilot, Penelope Randell, was sat at the console absorbed in some measures or readings of some nature.

“How’s she feel? Doll’s a mite lighter than the ol’ Komodo, but you’ll see once we shove off.” Cal entered, sans duster and hat, his ruddy hair nappy from the heat and humidity of Persephone.

Penelope turned to see the captain as he spoke,, giving him a grin that hadn't left her lips since she stepped aboard. "I'd say she fits like a glove I've had my eye on for a minute. Use'ta have a planet-side glider, so I'm raring for some lightness again. We all set down below to head up?"

“Glider, huh? Well, we ain’t quite that light,” he chuckled, turning to lean against the console, back to the China Doll’s expansive view of Persephone. “Cargo’s strapped down and the bay’s shut tight. Now,” he began, crossing his arms, “how about we take her up? First, some thing’s you oughta know about the Doll: She’s got a misconfiguration on output in the right atmo, so she pulls to the left when you first get goin’. Once we get a proper mechanic we can get that sorted out. Second, we’re gonna be a bit back heavy as we’re carryin’ passengers and cargo; we’ll tilt a little aft, but the hands did their best to balance out the crates.” He eyed the young woman to see if she was paying attention, but that big smile of hers never faded. “I’d take her up to show you, but I’m liable to send Hook’s fare of burger and fries onto laps in the galley. Let’s see how you do.” Cal stepped over to the captain’s chair.

Though she wasn't sure how much of what Cal said was for true or a test, Pen wasn't put off in the slightest. In fact, she appreciated that he didn't figure her take-off likely to tossle some plates. And, he didn't seem unnecessarily wary about her abilities - at least, he didn't show it. Nervous wasn't really something the pilot felt, but excitement, well she had buckets. All kept from flowin' over, she simply gave a nod before swiveling to the console to receive the controls as they released. "Fits just right, Cap'n. 'Fore I see how she handles, got any words for the hold and folks in her?"

“That’s good,” Cal nodded and picked up the comm receiver which crackled to life. “This is your captain speaking, and I’d like to welcome you aboard the China Doll. We’re prepped for take off on route to New Melbourne. Trip takes us near three days on full burn, so settle in. Deckhand Hook’s prepared some fare for everyone in the galley. Once we’re in the sky, feel free to enjoy what he’s set out. Passengers, now would be the time to strap in for take off; crew, take one last look over the bay and you know what to do. Any questions or concerns during the trip can be aimed at Rex, and thank you for bookin’ passage on the China Doll.” With that, the comm cut out and Cal returned it to its hook.

Strand strapped himself in and turned to Penelope. “She’s all yours.” He had high hopes for the young woman, as she’d proven she knew a thing or two about boats. If she proved herself through takeoff, then he would be all the more grateful. It was a big ask to trust the China Doll in the hands of a stranger, but he was anxious to get off Persephone and Penelope had agreed to finesse the boat to their destination. His fingers itched for a cigarette, but he relented, instead leaning over his console to flip the landing gear switch in preparation for his pilot’s first takeoff.

While the captain was giving his passengers a word on the comms, Penelope had set to the preflight check once the go-ahead was given to fire the China Doll up, alerting the ground that they were departing. The hum of the engines coming to life was like music to her soul, set to soar along with the bird, amping up for the lift. Upthrust regulators checked real nice, aside from the flasher going that notified her of what the captain said earlier about favorin’ the right. Her mind was already compensating the pull of it, as well as the tilt of weight down in the cargo hold. This Firefly was a fair bit lighter than the Komodo, as Cal had commented, but all weight had to be attributed when gettin’ a girl off the ground. No ship wanted to drag its tail or nose-dive right on release, and no pilot wanted the embarrassment of it. She was far from green enough to avoid that, at least.

Her eyes, now familiar with the layout given the time of her arrival onboard, danced over all the right places her fingertips found as the ship settled after its spark to life. If she were a musician, this was her instrument. There was more flexibility here than her last boat, too, and more movement, and she swayed with the seat as it swirled beneath her direction until she came to rest with her hands back on the control wheel. One second of a breath, eyes shut, heartbeat, and hum.

It wasn’t nerves, it was exhilaration being kept in check. For if it were her alone, she would have blasted out full throttle. But there was the Doll to think about, and the passengers, and crew. This wasn’t her glider, and there would be plenty of fun to be had - she had a sure feelin’ about that one, especially from the little she picked up about the captain's previous adventures from that chat in the hall. So, the moment her hazel eyes popped open, herself in check, she gave the captain a wink and got to work.

With an ease back on the control wheel, she felt what the China Doll was tryin’ to tell her. They were talkin’, her and the girl. All through Penelope’s slight hands and tension in her right forearm to keep them steady as they lifted, her eyes on the primary flight display to keep mind for adjustment, she was listenin’ to what the Doll had to say. They were steady, and good, so she upped the throttle to give the girl the lift she needed before pulling back and flipping the thrusters. The rising sensation filled Penelope from her toes up, spreading along her chest and into the arms that buzzed with the vibration of the ship. Her smile broke free from her eyes and lit up her face as they took off at increasing speed to break atmo. In that moment, there was only her and the Doll and the bright blue they were about to burn to black sky.

The ship purred, in a much better state than when he’d arrived in Persephone. Cal had needed to fly her himself, and that had meant for a bumpy landing which cracked an atmo guard plate. Tweren’t his fault, he told himself, the China Doll had been worse for wear. Now, you wouldn’t even be able to tell it was the same boat under Penelope’s guiding hand. The lift was regulated, precise, not jarring in the least. The rising in his stomach told him he had picked true in Penelope, and he silently congratulated himself for being an excellent judge of character. He felt a smirk tugging at his cheek, watching the woman settle in as if she’d been in that seat forever and always. Did his best to hide it, though; didn’t want to puff up her head too much. All he dared say was a simple, “Mighty fine,” as the sky turned from blue to black.

Well, ain't that a grand compliment, Pen thought as her eyes flicked over to the captain and she gathered her cheer back inward some. All the while, she held steady at the controls - one small error could be quite a large catastrophy when breaking atmo was concerned. Had she been younger, he just might've caught her concentrating, but years of practice left her a little easy-going on the surface. Still, she spoke as her eyes turned back to the sky. "Thank you, cap'n."

Once they leveled out after the break, and the course checked and set with a once over and little tweaking on her part, Penelope let the controls relax out of her hands a bit. Less gravity meant less tension tugging against the ship and her arms. "Lookin' like three days at full burn. Slight veering could be a problem for the Doll to stay on course on her own. Did ya manage to wrangle up a mechanic?"

“We got one, an’ she’s tucked in, way I hear it.” Cal picked up the comm again and flipped the dial to the engineering bay. “How’re we settlin’ in there?” Cal called to the mechanic on the other end.

After a second the speaker on the bridge echoed back, “Ship shape and ready for full-burn. Atmos heat reading is nominal, but you had some la shi mechanic set your right engine to one hundred and ten percent throughput and—”

Cal cut her off, “I know, I know. If it’s an easy fix you’ve got carte blanche to set it straight, less it requires something that costs, then you’re outta luck, sister.”

“Copy,” was all the reply that came.

“Well ain’t that nice,” Cal crooned to Penelope, “we got a mechanic who knows what she’s doin’ to boot.” Captain Strand reclined in his chair, the picture of pleased to be staring out at the stars.

Penelope followed along with what the voice on the other end of the conversation with the captain was saying, nodding with a little smile at the reply. If the issue cost, that meant more time on the flight deck for her. At least there was a head close by, and she already had something in her gut even if it'd been a while, just in case. "I'll monitor the output from here and keep us on course, if'n ya want to get some dinner and all."

Cal rose from the chair opposite Penelope, “Don’t mind if I do.” He took a step toward the door before adding, “Nice job taking her out of world; glad to see the Doll under proper heading again.”

"I'm happy to be here." The China Doll's new pilot showed that truth all about her. She started to turn back to the console, but pushed back 'round with a hand on the dash. "Hey, Cap'n? What'd ya want that adapter for, anyway? Everything here seems to be ship-shape after those guys cleared out - didn't see 'em install it on the flight deck. Though I did do a scan to see if they installed anything extra, if ya know what I mean."

Cal nodded, “Damn near forgot, what with cargo, passengers, and the like.” He joined her at the console, extricating the Epsilon adapter from his pocket. Getting down on one knee, the captain rooted around in the rat’s nest of wires and cables beneath the pilot’s console before he found what he was looking for. “Alright, so this piece ought to connect to this one… and perfect.” The adapter snapped into place with a length of cable. He wrapped it around so that it sat on the top far left of her controls. “Be right back,” Strand said, rising and disappearing through the hallway and down to the captain’s quarters.

Penelope had been watching her new captain as he sorted through the mess of cables until he plopped the end of the adaptor atop the console dash before popping off. He was back before she had much thought as to what he was up to, just curious and not at all unsettled by the proximity in which he'd been previously. She was used to working in tight quarters with all sorts, and he sure didn't make her fell like ol' Dev did. Not a worry was spent in the moment before Cal was back again.

A few seconds later he materialized back on the bridge with a black box the size of a book in hand. “Now this ought to fit,” he said, handling the box to line it up with the Epsilon adapter. With a snug clip, the two were one and the box started making a whirring noise. “You alright there?” The Captain called to the box. “Hullo? Huh, seems it’s shy. Well, this here is--”

Beside them, the intercom blurted out, “Captain, need you here in the engineering bay.”

“Xiànzài shì shénme,” Cal uttered, pressing the comm to reply, “be right down.” Replacing the receiver, he added to Penelope, “Better deal with this before we end up adrift out here.” And then he was gone, leaving Penelope with the small whirring box on her console. In his absence it began making a slow clicking sound.

Though she was no stranger to talking to inanimate objects - case in point the conversation between her and the China Doll during take off - those little clicks had Penelope curious. She eyed it once the captain was off, tilting her head and asking aloud: "Well, introductions were cut short, so I'm Penelope - I'll be ridin' alongside you for the time being. Now, who might you be?"

Her eyes danced as she leaned in to get a good look at the newly rigged up box. This trip was already getting interesting, and she did like interesting.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Gunther
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Gunther Captain, Infantry (Retired)

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Hook cleaned up the galley, put the leftovers away and headed to his bunk. Abby and Badger’s men had taken care of the cargo. Hook was pretty tired from the full day’s work he put in. He was happy about that. As he lay in his bunk thinking about the day, he realized he hadn’t met the ship’s captain. His employer.

As he lay in his bunk waiting for the evening slumber to take over his body, he reflected back on the day. It had certainly been a long and busy one. He found employment aboard a very fine ship. One that would take him far from this cursed planet. He was certain he hid the body well. No one would find it even if they looked well enough. Persephone is an active place. He made a meal for those fine young people seeking passage to New Melbourne. He helped store the freight they were hauling.

Sleep overtook his mind as he lay with eyes closed, staring into darkness…A shriek woke him quickly. The air was stale with the familiar smell of burnt gunpowder laying low over the fetid puddles, land muddied from excessive foot traffic. A bloated corpse from a man he once knew. ‘Mark my words Hook,’ he remembers the last words the corpse spoke to him. ‘Every man has a reckoning. We all must pay for our sins. The Shepard will set you straight, my friend.’ Within the hour the Purple Bellies had put a hole in his head. His corpse remained out in the muck they called no-man’s-land. His left arm hung on a strand of barbed wire as though he intended to climb. His head permanently inspecting the fly infested water beneath him. His dirty face frozen with an expression of fright. A horrifying sight.

Joe Hooker was wet and muddy. There was no clean. Everything filthy. He was tired. The kind of tired that no man recovers from. He could not sleep. Fear. Purple Bellies. They would come in waves with overwhelming fires. The shelling was incessant. It would pick a man up and drop him several feet away.

The sun hung low on the horizon. ‘Stand To’, his platoon commander ordered. Everyone was on the edge of the trench waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

A Whistle pierced the air. The sky grew progressively dark. The darkness was the worst. The impact, a thunder-clap sensation, blowing warm air in his face. Another whistle followed immediately by three more successive artillery rounds impacting around their entrenchments. The boys from the farm hugged the muddy soil waiting for this to pass. Fear gripped their souls. ‘The Shepard will set you straight, my friend.’

The night grew dark, but for the first hour or two, it was not dark. The artillery bursts shone brightly all along the line. There may have been three hundred browncoats stretched over a kilometer, but Joe could only see his brothers.

When the artillery lifted, the seven brothers from Hera stood to peer over the earthen berm. A wave of purple bellies were right behind the shells. The boys hefted their rifles. An exchange of gunfire began. Bodies fell in front of his muzzle and to his left and to his right. With fear choking his throat dry, he focused on squeezing the trigger and reloading the magazine. He didn’t know how long it lasted, but could feel the sun’s rays warming the back of his neck in what seemed a few minutes. Joe could see the purple bodies piled up in No Man’s Land. He looked around him muttering, ‘It looks like dey all gone, brothers!’ Joe started to feel happy. It was an exhausting night. One he knew he would never soon forget. His body ached all over, sweat stained his clothing. He felt he could sleep for weeks if allowed but not now. The fear was too great. Adrenaline would not permit sleep.

Joe started to relax. He allowed himself to drop slowly to the bottom of the entrenchment. He landed on something wet and soft. With reactions deadened from fatigue, hands twitching from exhaustion and spent he looked at the lump. ‘Carl?’ his brother had been a 22 years old tow-haired boy who enjoyed playing checkers and had a crush on the master’s daughter, Penny. They worked the farm together. His pale flesh turning gray as the Reaper claimed his sacrifice. Blood dried on the side of his face, where two bullets pierced his forehead.

‘Noo!’ Hook cried out. No one heard him. No one attempted to stifle his shout. He looked around. Each of his brothers dead in the trench line. All slumped in the mud amongst stagnant pools of water now filled with blood, the blood of his brothers. He shared no parents with these boys but grew up with each and everyone of them. They were his brothers for as long as he knew them.

Hook sat in the filth of the trench with Theo’s head hanging over his left thigh and Carl leaning against his right. He wept. The tears would not flow, but he wept. He wept long and hard for these men. They were the only family he would ever know. ‘Why am I still alive!?’ Hook said to himself. He drifted off to sleep amongst the corpses of his brothers, then woke with a shout, “Why!? WHY NOT ME!?!?” He yelled as he sat upright in his bunk aboard the China Doll. A hot sweat coated his skin with his eyes wide open. He looked into his brother’s faces. They were always with him, wherever he traveled. They would not leave. Afterall, it was his fault. They are all dead and he was still alive. Must have been his fault they all died. He didn’t kill the purple bellies fast enough. Joe Hooker lay in the darkness waiting for slumber to retake him. He couldn’t explain this thought. He would bury them like he always did. ‘Mark my words Hook, every man has a reckoning. We all must pay for our sins. The Shepard will set you straight, my friend.’ Those words would haunt him for the remainder of his days.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 1 mo ago Post by Winters
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Winters

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Take It To The Mattress

Passenger Dorm, Skye’s Siblings Bedroom


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







Cyd set up the mini - but mighty - speaker near her bunk, the steady pulse of trance music filling the cabin as she scrolled through her DSB Encrypted Datapad. She chuckled and stretched out, listening to her brothers’ antics mixing with the music.

Mathias stared down the youngest Skye shuffling the card with dramatic flair. The thrum cards continued as the spontaneous contest intensified. “Spit.” He offered, blue eyes narrowing slightly.

"Least it's not Georgian Rat Screw." Isaac said with a half hearted sigh. "Why do I let you pick the challenge? You always pick cards!" The teen complained, his face scrunched in frustration.

“Because thumb wars with little luchador masks, is only entertaining to you.” Mathias said dryly.

"It is!" Isaac responded gleefully. Thumb wrestling would have been a far better option right about now but the game was decided and the stakes couldn't be higher. "How come she don't gotta fight for her bunk?" He groused, jabbing a thumb in his sister's direction.

“Can’t hear you, LoLo,” Cyd called, turning the music up as she continued to scroll. “Good luck though!”

“Besides, she always picks a dance off …” Mathias grumbled.

“Can’t hear you either!” Cyd said with a grin.

Isaac responded to his sister's lies in the most mature way he could muster - he stuck his tongue out at her.

Cyd snickered, tutting with the fingers of her free hand in time with the music. “Now I’m rooting for you, Yobo.”

"Now I'm rooting for you, Yobo.” the youngest Skye mockingly copied his sister.

“Still can’t hear you!” she replied, turning the music louder.

“We playin’ or you just stallin’ LoLo.” Mathias egged Isaac.

"Yeah, yeah." Isaac sighed in resignation. Mathias had already dealt out while the younger Skye was arguing with his sister and his stack of cards was noticeably larger than the one in front of his brother. "Heeeeeyyy!" he complained.

“That's what happens when you yap yap yap and don’t pay attention.” Mathias said pantomiming his brothers yappyness with a hand. “3, 2, 1! GO!!” He said rushing right into the game, slapping three cards, quickly on at a time, in ascending order on to one of the piles.

It was a cutthroat game and Mathias had zero mercy. This was for the right to sleep on the bed tonight after all!



"Wait! No! Stop! I'm not ready!" Isaac launched a string of protests as his hands fumbled for his cards. Even without the head start, Mathias was fast. The cheating on the deck deal and the flying start all but sealed the boy's fate. He tried desperately to catch up. Even if it was a lost cause, he wasn't going to give Mathias the satisfaction of surrendering. No, he was going to go down fighting.

Mathais was pressed to a standstill on his end having gone through his laid out cards but like any sibling he couldn’t help but mess with his sibling and rattle the cage some. “Move move move slow poke! You got a five, six and seven right there! When did you turn into a grandpa!” Mathias said, laying on the pressure. The game couldn't proceed till Isaac had also come to stand still or ran out his laid out card to slap for the smallest pile. No matter what, Mathias was at the advantage. Just a few more cards...

Something on the Datapad Cyd’s eye, and she swung herself off her bunk. “What do you think of this?” She asked, holding the tablet between Mathias and the cards.

“Think of what …” Mathias said reflexively, turning his attention away.

Isaac seized on the opportunity that his sister so generously afforded him. He quickly threw down his last card in his hand and slapped the smaller stack, claiming it. He dragged the pile towards his side of the table, leaving back with a self satisfied grin.

“No, wait, that’s nowhere near a dock,” Cyd said, taking her Personal Encylopedia back. She tousled Mathias’ hair and tossed her younger brother a wink as climbed back onto her bunk.

“Shiong mao niao!" Mathias swore, bemused. "You conniving little sneaks! Well at least you learned something from me.” He groused, he couldn’t even be mad! “Now it’s on!”

“Sorry LoLo,” Cyd giggled, looking around for things to make his stay on the floor more comfortable.

Both Cyd and Isaac had no illusions about how this would end. This was Mathias' domain. And now he was motivated to prove himself, which made the match mercifully brief. Mathias dispatched his baby brother in just a few more rounds. Isaac finally conceded defeat.

“My, this bed looks super comfy …” Mathias gloated, patting the bed. “ … wana lose another game? For funsies?”

"Want me to pee on your bunk? For funsies?" Isaac retorted, dripping with sarcasm as he cleared a space for a sleeping bag.
“I thought we house broke you already. I guess we'll have to lay out some newspapers for ya like when you were a kid.” Mathias needled.

Isaac always seemed to end up on the floor. He certainly could just accept his fate, but what's the fun in that? "So, anything good?" Isaac asked his sister who was still looking over her device.

“Plenty,” Cyd said with a playful grin and a tap of the datapad. “Take a look at this --”

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by sail3695
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sail3695 If you do, I'ma do too.

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OOC: JP from @Aalakrys and @sail3695

“Abigail.”

A hand touched her shoulder, its’ gentle grip kinda reassurin’ as she come undone from her dreams. “What….umph…” the girl’s eyes blinked, her mind struggling to conjure not just who’s wakin’ her, but where’n hell she actually was. When the answers finally come, they all come at once. “Ms...Baker,” Abby came awake. “Time is it?”

The woman knelt at her bedside...though it weren’t, actually. “One-thirty. You still up to help me?”

“Sure’n I am,” the deckhand nodded as covers was kicked off an’ she rose from the couch. “Gimme a minute to go pee an’ git clothes on.”

Ms. Baker took to her feet. “Meet me in the galley. A little coffee’ll clear out the cobwebs.”

*********************************************************

Near half an hour later, Ms. Baker led the way into the engine room. “Here’s your gloves.” Tonight, she weren’t wearin’ her nun’s robe. Instead, she’s done up in a pair ‘o’ coveralls, but them burgundy boots was still there. Her hair’s tied back, makin’ a single tail what she’d tucked ‘neath the collar. Abby’d done the like. Didn’t take more’n once to conjure an engine room’s got lotsa movin’ parts just waitin’ tah snatch yah baldheaded...or worse.

“C’mere.” Baker crooked her finger, drawin’ Abby to look down upon the spinnin’ core. ‘See that tiny streak of blue light as she turns...dit...dit...dit?”

Abby nodded. “Yeah...what’s it mean?”

“Old catalyzer. They get plugged up with carbon and back pressure starts crackin’ the ends like that. This one’s in a bad way,” Baker shook her head.

“We got a spare?”

“Captain Strand said he didn’t think so. I searched. No luck. So,” she offered a smile, “you and I are gonna see how well we can fix this one. What’s the pilot’s name?”

“Penelope,” the girl answered, eyes still followin’ the blue streak. Dit...dit...dit…

“Get her on com,” the mechanic instructed. “Let her know we’re shutting down the core.”

Good thing about Fireflies Abby reasoned as she switched intercom channels to number one, they’s all set up pert near standard “Engine room...cockpit? Penelope?”

With the crackle on the comms breaking the lulling sound of quiet night on deck, Penelope's eyes flickered over to it just as get name was called. She uncurled her feet from where they were tucked beneath her and sat her handiwork aside to lift the handheld. Even if she was feelin' a bit tired, her voice didn't seem any different as she spoke into the mic. "I'm here."

“Abby here with Ms. Baker, the mechanic. We’s takin’ the core offline now…”

“...and battery power will kick in…” Ms. Baker coached.

“Soon’s we do, batteries ‘ll keep us in lights an’ air,” the teenager reported. “Ms. Baker says should only be an hour afore we’re back online.”

"Alrighty, I'll keep an extra set of eyes up front and holler if there's need." Penelope let her tucked feet rest on the ground so she could swivel towards the sensors after setting the handheld back in it's cradle. She was ready to flip the switches once the drive was offline so the power up didn't trigger an overload with the current settings.

“We’ll give yah a call right when we’re fixin’ tah power up. Out,” she finished, settin’ the mic back onto its’ hook.

Ms. Baker threw the lever at the core’s front end, causin’ her drive tah disengage and spin down to a stop. “She sounds nice.”

“Just met ’er,” Abby replied. “She’s perty...not in that ‘dolled up’ kinda way, neither. Yah git tha feelin’ that tha perty runs inside an’ out…” the girl stopped, feelin’ the flush rise to her cheeks.

The woman gave her the space. “I copy what you’re sayin’. Folk like your pilot are a rarity in the ‘verse these days. Look forward to meetin’ her. Now grab the vac,” she instructed. “As I take each end loose, tuck the nozzle right alongside. You’ll see little black flakes fallin’ out. We wanna get ‘em all, dohn mah?”

“Why’s that?”

“Radioactive.”

“Fer true?”

“Not too bad,” Ms. Baker answered over the whoosh of the vacuum. “It’s called tritium...a reactor by product. Not a bother in little bits, but I wouldn’t leave it layin’ about for your beagle to find. The bad stuff..cesium one-three-seven and the like? The scrubbers get that...okay...now the other end.”

Abby kept a sharp eye, her vacuum catchin’ all the little bits what come out when Ms. Baker pulled the catalyzer free. “An that blue light?” she asked. “What was that?”

Ms. Baker moved to an empty tray on the workbench, then up-ended the catalyzer. More black flakes come spillin’ out, afore gettin’ sucked into the vac’s maw. “See that crack?” she tapped at it with a gloved finger. “Little bit of air that came in through the crack got ionized. That’s what caused the blue glow. Just remember...you see a blue glow in this room that isn’t a light bulb, you tell your captain right away.”

“Copy that.” When Ms. Baker set to tappin’ the part with a wrench, it done belched out lots more carbon bits. Abby was Johnny-on-the-spot with her vac, makin’ sure each time she got it all up.

After several taps didn’t yield nothin’, Ms. Baker hefted the part. “Ever do any weldin’, Abby?”

“Nope,” the girl shook her head.

“Wanna learn?”

**********************************************************************

“Not bad,” Ms. Baker admired the work. “Not bad for your first tack.”

The catalyzer now sported two metal collars on its’ ends. Abby could still feel the heat through her gloves, but it was coolin’ down right proper. “Don’t take no genius to see which parts I done an’ which ones yew done,” she chuckled as the catalyzer changed hands.

Ms. Baker flashed a grin. “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good, child. You did a solid bead that’ll hold a seal. Gonna make your captain happy to know he can get another five-six runs outta this one.” After given’ it one more look-see, she tossed it over. “Care to do the honors?”

Ku.

As Abby locked the part into place, Ms. Baker picked up the mic. “Cockpit, engine room. Still with us, Penelope?”

The handheld was back up in the time it took Penelope to shift back around again. With soft good-humor, her voice came through clear. "Too quiet to sleep - can't hear the girl hummin' with you ladies lettin' her nap."

“We’re good to go down here,” the mechanic replied. “Repairs are finished and we’re about to touch off the core. All set?”

Penelope's feet slipped back down to give herself a push around as she spoke into the mic in her free hand, the other flicking through screen status to see green. "She's ready to wake up on my end."

Baker smiled. “Copy that. Abby...kick her over.”

Once she thowed the lever, the core set tah chuggin’. Then she picked up speed, bringin’ up her spin til’ E-lights was replaced by reg’lar overheads. “Looks like we’s back in business,” Abby couldn’t hide the smile.

“Alrighty then,” Baker spoke into the mic. “Penelope, I’m gonna stick for a few minutes to watch system balance...but I think we’re done! Thanks for sittin’ up with us tonight.”

"Aw, had to keep the Doll company before she got worked on. S'only right." Penelope's smile was in her voice, free hand rubbing the dash. "Have yourselves a good rest - ya deserve it after all the hard work takin' care of her. Out till next time."

With the receiver down, it was Pen's turn to do her part in waking up the China Doll, so she set to it with a grin spreading over her face. She spoke easily to the only sound she had going in the downtime. "Never gets old, eh Scratchy?"

“I think you’re right,” the woman placed the mic down. “She’s just flat out nice.”

Abby shrugged. “Yew should know,” she replied, “bein’ a nun an’ all…”

“I’m not a nun.”

“Come again?”

“Keep it between us...okay?” the mechanic leaned against a handrail, her eyes on the core, yet plain as day Abby conjured they’s seein’ somethin’ altogether different. “The robe...belonged to a friend of mine...somebody I miss.” She folded her arms, turned eyes onto Abby as she spoke. “When I wear it, feels like we’re not so far apart. Makes me conjure….she’s watchin’ over me.” She waved a hand. “I know...doesn’t make a lick of sense.”

“I think I copy,” Abby give ‘er a slow nod. “Like how I feel when I got my pa’s pistol on mah hip...like he’s with me.”

Ms. Baker’s face brightened. “Tell you what. Let’s head for the galley. You can tell me about your father while we grab coffee.”

“Why not? Ain’t feelin’ no sleep now,” Abby piped up as she fell in behind.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Aalakrys
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Aalakrys

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Once the China Doll's engine was back online and the girl was set to full burn, Penelope covered a yawn with the back of the gloved part of her hand as her eyes turned to the little black box. As she collected her little project, she spoke to the thing. "Well, Scratchy, I'm going to leave her to ya. Come an' get me if anything goes sideways."

Any happenstance responses were met with her little smile as she turned with hands full of twine, a bag of miscellaneous bobbles, and half-covered hoop. Time for the first night tucked into her very own bunk, in her very own room. Well, borrowed, she acknowledged, but she was content to be where she was in the present. And well… Life was easier that way, and she liked to flow with it, because it sure was hard when you didn't.

By the time she reached the ladder down to her bunk, the craft supplies were tucked back into the little satchel she'd brought up with her and that was swung over her shoulder for the descent. It wouldn't be long until she was tucked under the patchwork of color, old soft fabric against her skin, and dreams taking a different sort of flight. It was easier to sleep in a room all alone after being on with her last crew. Before that, she had needed people around. But now, the hum of the engine was all that was required.

When she awoke the next morning, her stomach was what did it. Growling something fierce. She sat up, patted it and promised to not forget about food again. After she got herself all cleaned up. She pulled on a long cloth dress and pulled back her hair so it wasn't too bad of a wispy mess, and with a quick glance in the mirror she passed Penelope was on her way to test out a Firefly's version of a quick shower. After she checked on the nav console and Scratchy. Maybe this calls for shoes...
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by sail3695
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sail3695 If you do, I'ma do too.

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Mornin’ felt like mornin’.

Most folk done bathed an’ had breakfast by now, leavin’ Abby with a passel ‘o’ towels to wash. Good news was they’s on a short run. On Mariposa, sheets weren’t washed til the fourth day...less’n a passenger raised a ruckus. She conjured it's just as like aboard China Doll...leastways til somoeone told her different. After droppin’ bedrolls, pillows, extra sheets an’ blankets last night to the horn-dog fishermen an’ them three in the double, Abby put that chore out of her mind. They’s full to burstin’ with passengers, meanin’ she’d be right busy once they touched down on New Melbourne.

China Doll was a powerful lot like Mariposa, ‘cept a little better off fer wear. Washin’ machine was the same...even had the same cycle switch what needed a good jiggle tah git her runnin’. Didn’t take as much persuadin’, though. Once she heard it churnin’ away, Abby took her clipboard to the galley table.

Afore takin’ her seat, she fished her pockets an’ hauled out what coin hadn’t been given to the cap’n yet. The girl laid it out, countin’ with great care to make sure the math was all right. First come the bills the big’un handed over. As she’d done last night, Abby shuffled ‘em out, one by one, til she had three even piles. Three fares less ten percent each she recollected as she scratched in check marks next tah the names Skye - Cyd, Isaac, Mathias.

She picked up one ‘o’ them bills. Abby stretched it ‘twixt her fingers an’ held it up ta tha light, squintin’ all serious like detectives in her books, though she had no clue how tah spot a counterfeit less’n somebody wrote tha note ”I’m a counterfeit bill" on it. They never ‘splained that part. She let it go, landin’ the bill back among the cash afore stackin’ it into one pile.

Rest was all coin. Double fares from the horn-dog fishermen, bulk rate fee from Seatronics fer their crates. Only coin she didn’t have accounted for was ‘sposed to come from Ms. Baker. Capn’s notes made it look like Badger done skimmed his off the top, leavin’ thirty percent they’s tah collect...somethin’ she conjured was kinda off when yah took inta account repairs the woman done overnight. I’ll let the Cap’n square that one, she decided, afore placin’ all the money in a pouch to hand off, along with her chit.

Ms. Baker. Prancin’ about like a nun when she ain’t. Notion struck her a might odd, ‘specially the mechanic takin’ the girl into her confidence like that. Not the first time she’d dealt with folk masqueradin’..there’s that time Uncle Bob took triple fares from a boat full ‘o’ respectable folk come to mind. Soon’s they hit black, ever’ one of ‘em put on animal costumes, got all piled up an’ commenced tah...well...let’s jest say that when a shepherd come preachin’ ‘bout the lion layin’ down with the lamb, Abby had a purty clear pitcher what that looked like.

Still, last night struck the girl positive. She’d known mechanics on Mariposa. All men, either lookin’ to shoo the girl away or tah git under her clothes. Spite that, she’d learned stuff, an’ conjured she could handle the job...til Ms. Baker showed her a whole new way ‘o’ lookin’ on it. There’s a heap ‘o’ learnin’ I gotta do, she conjured. With a nod of her head, Abby flipped to her lessons:

DIK-CHUN

PARROT FOOD

CHO

YOBO

JONEE

MOOWEE MOOWEE

KIFF

SHOT


She put pen to paper, thinkin’ hard to tax her memory of what Ms. Baker tole her.

TRITEEUM

SEEZEEUM 137

TACK WELDING


List was gettin’ long. Abby hadn’t put mind tah what she’d be doin’ with any coin she earned. Way things was shapin’ up, could be wise fer her to pick up a cortex of her own. Mayhaps Cap’n knew what to get...or Rex. Way she’d sassed him when he come aboard was sorta fittin’ to make nice, seein’s he’s First Mate an’ all.

She rounded up her clipboard an’ the coin purse, afore settin’ off tah find tha Cap’n.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Gunther
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Gunther Captain, Infantry (Retired)

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OOC: Cal meets Hook in the galley for breakfast

As the stroke of his pocket watch passed 24-hundred, the captain found not a wink of sleep in his bunk. The night wore on and he heard the engine cut off which meant the China Doll floated through space on nothing but auxiliary. Mechanic-slash-nun they picked up wasn’t half bad, he thought; after take off she’d alerted him to some serious build up in the catalyzer. Was a shame, too. No spares in storage--not much of anything in storage, matter-of-fact. The Baker woman said she might be able to breathe more life into the catalyzer, depending on how it looked opened up. Though his face didn’t show it, least he hoped not, seeing the China Doll in such a state made his stomach churn. It was kind of the nun, thinking farther than her one-way trip, but he needed someone who could take proper care of the Doll.

As he dozed, Cal couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen a wrench in a nun’s hand. Hadn’t seen many nuns, come to think on it, ‘cept in naughty captures, but those were of the frocking variety. The nun’s that is. Even among the fuzzy images dancing behind his eyelids, Captain Strand was still far from sleep. Opening his palm, the pocket watch read four-hundred hours. With a sigh, Cal dragged his fingers across his face and got up to use the head. Kicking the toilet seat up, Cal wet his hands before stretching his stiff, restless back. Badger’s face swum in his head, and Penelope’s words that she checked for anything ‘extra’ fixed to the Doll was a small thread of relief. This whole job smelled of desperation, no doubt, but at least he was still flying. That meant something, he reasoned, and grabbing his towel he headed for the showers.

After a shower and a shave, Cal scowled at his bagged eyelids in the mirror. One sobering thought rose to the surface while watching those steeled eyes: coffee. After dressing, a brown pair of slacks, suspenders, and a green plaid button down, Cal entered the empty galley and sorted out the beans to the mill. Crew would be up soon, he reckoned, and his left hand worked the hand mill after he set the kettle to boil. The grounds done, Cal considered breakfast at the behest of the grumbling in his stomach. They’d had enough for some food fare for take off, these beans included; the theory was to set folks at ease as they settle down to a voyage. The budgeted food for the rest of the journey was more mundane: powdered coffee from here on out, eggs, bacon, fish, potatoes, and protein paste, should they need it.

Captain Strand donned a denim apron before wielding the ten-inch cast iron over the element, placing a few strips of bacon in to render.

“Good morning,” Joe Hooker announced as he walked into the galley. He didn’t know who this man was, but figured he knew what he was doing. He had only been on the job for less than a complete day, but he was tired. It was the usual fatigue. The one he’d been living with for the past ten years or more. Joe noticed the coffee on and found a mug to pour some into when it was ready. He then went to the pantry and cold storage to see what food was available for breakfast.

Joe returned to the galley, put his white apron on, placed his mug on the table and took a seat. He rubbed the sleepy seeds from his eyes, yawned one time and thought to introduce himself. “Are you a member of the crew or a passenger?” Joe thought to ask. “I’m Joe Hooker, but most folks call me Hook.”

“Oh so you’re the fella I have to thank for last night’s feast,” Cal tipped his invisible hat with the bacon-greased chopsticks in his hand, “Cal Strand. This here’s my boat, and it’s a crime I’ve met the food before I met the man. Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Joe.” The captain put down the utensils and took a step toward Hook before wiping his hand on his apron and extending it toward him. “You and Abigail did a mighty fine job strappin’ down. I’m not quite sure where she gets the energy, but I’m conjure bein’ young ain’t hurtin’.” After shaking Hook’s hand, he picked up the chopsticks again and started turning the bacon. “You sure know your way around a grill, sir, and of that you have no idea how grateful I am,” he said, nodding as he fondly remembered the burger and fries he inhaled, cold, after most had gone to bed. On the subject, Hook was up a mite early himself. Come to think of it, he may have heard some shouting from someone in the crew quarters.

“Couldn’t sleep?”

“I’s always been a early riser, suh,” Hook responded. “As far as the cookin’ goes, ah grew up on a farm on Hera. We worked from sun up to sun down. On occasion, the woman of the house taught mah self and anotha how ta cook. I guess I actually took to it. To be honest with ya, suh. I’s a lookin’ forward to gettin’s some seafood on New Melbourne, which I can cook up here in da galley. I have a woopin recipe for some shrimp gumbo. Mebee some other stuff as well.”

“Mr Strand, I shore do appreciate you given me this here job. I really needed somethin’ to do. It had been near fo’ weeks since I had a job. Last ship I worked on went to the scrap yard. Thank you, Mr. Strand.”

Cal’s bacon hissed in the skillet as he set a fresh side into the iron, “I needed hands, you needed pay. I couldn’t think of a better fix to both our problems. Say,” Strand gestured with the chopsticks toward Joe, “A little bird told me you were packing some firepower when you came a-callin’.” He placed the already cooked bacon on a plate and handed it to Hook. “You jest a collector or have some history under your belt?” The way Hook stood, Cal inferred he’d seen combat. There was a sort of resting that men and women who’d served adopted when they were comfortable, and one for when they weren’t.

Joe used the grill, the same grill he used the night before with the burgers. He poured some oil onto the grill and rubbed it around with a wide spatula. Then cracked three eggs directly onto the grill. “Ah hope there is enough bacon there for two?” Joe asked his host.

“Ah do have a few firearms, suh,” Joe admitted. “When ah was a boy, the other boys and ah would go plinkin once in a bit on the back forty. We also used to hunt and fish. I’m hopin’ there will be time for that on New Melbourne.” Joe didn’t feel comfortable talking about the war. But felt, maybe this man had some experience too. “Ah grew up on Hera and fought on Hera. Ah was at the Valley with Sargeant Reynolds.” Joe didn’t want to talk about that. They lost so many people that day including his brothers. The mention of the Valley disturbed Joe. He stopped what he was doing, retrieved a mug from the pantry, filled it with coffee and placed it on the table next to the previous cup of coffee. He returned to cooking his eggs. It was a time in his life, he wished he could forget. The nightmares haunzim. He remembered what the few who remained often said about that battle...

’...no one leaves Serenity, you just learn to live there.’


Cal nodded as the man shared a piece of his upbringing, then a part of his grim past. Serenity Valley, all knew it, all had seen the holos distributed by the Alliance in the name of ‘documenting’ the battle. Really, it became a public spectacle of what happened when folk disobeyed. In silence, Strand watched the man break from what he was doing to fill another mug of coffee and place it on the table. The act itself wasn’t the strange thing; it was the look on Joe’s face, the way his movements went rigid, the far off look in his eye.

Having been to Hera in the days leading up to the onslaught, Cal could have said he’d met the man Hook described, or that he’d shuttled weapons to the Alliance and Browncoats alike for that very battle. Instead, Cal respected the man’s silence and when a minute or so had gone by, offered, “I’m sure we can make some time on New Mel for a spell. Not a hunter myself, but I do like to fish.” Cal put the finishing touches on the strips of bacon for two and untied his apron, hanging it on a hook beside the ice box. Hook had taken the lead on the grill, so Captain Strand rounded the counter to the table and chairs where two mugs of coffee sat, tendrils of steam stretching upward. “May I?” Cal asked, pawing a mug of fresh coffee and placing the plate of bacon in the center of the table. The smells of coffee and bacon set his stomach to grumbling in earnest now, and he sat opposite the kitchen as he watched Hook finish up.

Hook put the eggs on a plate and placed them at his seat on the table. He went back to the grill, turned off the burners, ready to clean it after breakfast. He came back to the seat at the table, gave Cal Strand a smile. “This sho’ does look tasty, Cap’n Strand. Enjoy!”

“The nice thing about fishin’ is the peace and quiet. Ah can do either one if you want some company.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” he said, tucking into the food. “What sort of fishing are you keen on? Lake or sea? Crabbing? Personally, I’m a fan of the lake; the sea’s beautiful, but the serenity of the lake gets me every time.” Between mouthfuls, the captain alternated sips of coffee the skilled deckhand had prepared. If eating on the China Doll was always like this, Rex was going to be vindicated in his slanderous accusation of his expanding waistline.

“Ah sho can appreciate yo sentiments to the lake. I would have to agree. But I have certain marine wildlife ah aim to catch. One being shrimp, which is a whole lot different than fishin’ ah’d be OK with buying some if we had to. But what ah truly want to catch is a swo’fish and we won’t find any of them in no lake, Cap’n Strand.” Joe allowed a smile, thinking about the possibility of reeling in a large fish like that. “I could go for some salmon in one of the larger rivers or even in that lake a’ yours. Salmon will gather in a lake before heading upriver to spawn in the springtime. I guess I could skip the swordfish and go for Salmon.”

Joe turned to the Captain, “Would you be OK with salmon fishing, suh?”

Food in mouth, Cal let out a sound of pure delight, “Hook, you and I are gonna get along just fine.”

When breakfast ended and the Captain went about his business, Joe Hooker took the dirty dishes to the sink. The grill was cooled off enough to clean and he did just that. He scoured the grill to ensure it was free from food debris, sparkling. Next, he turned his attention to the dishes in the sink. He filled the sink with hot soapy water and scrubbed the utensils, dishes, and mugs, leaving them to dry in a rack. He left his apron on, poured another cup of coffee, and waited to see if the passengers would come to the galley for bacon and eggs. He could pull out the toaster too if needed.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by sail3695
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“No thanks,” she’d responded to Abby’s offer of breakfast. “I’ll eat after I’ve grabbed a few hours’ sleep.” Apparently, this morning’s bacon was the last of their stores, and the cook had kindly put some aside for the young deckhand. As the girl devoured her meal, the woman she knew as Ms. Baker sat with her. She sipped coffee, listening to Abby’s story. The girl’s former boat, known as “Butterfly” in the native tongue of the woman, had been her home. Despite the rough-hewn nature Abby showed the world, her conversation revealed hints of a somewhat sheltered existence, fostered by a protective aunt and uncle. A whole lotta life she hasn’t lived yet, the temporary mechanic observed in silence. At least she’s bright enough to conjure what she doesn’t know.

After the youngster cleared away her dishes and set off to begin the day’s chores, the woman finished her coffee in silence. She gave a thankful nod to the cook, placed her cup on the dishpan, and made her quiet way back to the engine room. China Doll’s radion core spun merrily, pushing the boat through the black toward their destination...and hopefully, a safe end to her current task. She checked the numbers. Fuel consumption was within tolerances, and the uneven burn the pilot had told her of had proven a simple corrective adjustment.

Her stomach felt more than a bit off, a condition so frequent these days that she’d come to accept the queasy death of appetite to be her norm. He’d warned her about the drawn out, inexorable decline. For a time she thought she might’ve escaped his prognosis, a false confidence sometimes bolstered with the help of drugs, when she could get her hands on them. But the slow ravage was always there, working its’ way through her, sapping her strength as the hair collected by her brush steadily increased. She was so tired...but the job wasn’t over til she made the handoff.

Once more, she slipped through the cargo bay hatch. The crates were there, neatly lined up and strapped in place. The woman circled her charges, checking the seals on each before casting her eye over the subtle marks placed to betray any tampering. So far, so good, she thought of their undisturbed condition. Mayhaps I got off Persephone with none the wiser. Buddha knows they’d paid Badger well enough to arrange discretion, but ultimate success was still two days away...on a boat full of passengers.

She could feel the dulling of her senses, just when they needed to be their sharpest. Time to meet this boat’s medic.
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Uncle Bob used tah say that “Passengers was like taters. No two’s alike, but once yer done with ‘em, it generally means a full belly.” Abby had all shapes an’ sizes tah peel on this run, fer sure.

First, they’s the fishin’ boat hands. Easy peasy. Most of ‘em recoverin’ from all manner of hell raised on Persephone. All of ‘em used tah closin’ up in their bunks with a bottle an’ whatever they’s watchin’ on their cortexes. Folks what knew schedules. Tell ‘em what time tah eat, an’ they’s johnny-on-the-spot. Up showerin’ by oh-five-thirty. Couldn’t be easier tah git along with.

There was the good timers, folk what conjured the party commenced moment they hit the black. Most wasn’t a bother, stickin’ tah the lounges fer card games an’ whiskey, but now an’ agin they’s one she had tah steer back tah his room, or a puddle ‘o’ puke tah be mopped. Sometimes, like on this run, come a couple horn-dogs what conjure the boat fer their own floatin’ cathouse. Of this pair, the taller spent ever’ moment crawlin’ eyes over Penelope, the Doc, an’ Green Haired Girl. Shorter one had set his sights on Abby. Man run his mouth, but she was grateful his hands wasn’t in the game.

“Heard you’re sleepin’ on the couch?” he asked, watching her all bent over at her moppin’.

“Yep.”

“You should come join us!’ he piped. “We got room.”

“Nope.”

“Well then,” he grinned, “how about I come join you on that couch tonight?”

She kept to the job, unfazed. “Conjure it’d be a might crowded, what with three of us all up in there.”

“Three? I think we could ”menage,” he chuckled at his joke. “Who’s the third?”

“Muh six shooter,” her voice come easy as the mop dunked into her bucket. “Powerful jealous...got a hair trigger on ‘im.”

What played a skosh odd was fer all their lechery, both was fixed on Ms. Baker, watchful of her comin’s and goin’s, and with a bunch ‘o’ questions, tah boot. “We got a nun aboard?”

“Yup.”

“Heard she’s a mechanic, too?”

“Couldn’t say.”

“Word is she’s got a bunch of crates? She haulin’ church stuff?”

“Don’t know,” the girl answered. “Don’t care.”

“She ever say anything?”

“Yeah,” Abby nodded. “Said she’d say a prayer I don’t shoot nobody on this run.”

Praise be this trip didn’t have no Travelin’ Royalty...them as paid cheap as could be an’ thought room service an’ high thread count sheets was part of the deal. Had one got all twisted once ‘cause they’s no mint on her pillow at night.

And grifters. Them three in the double came tah mind. Abby couldn’t put her thumb on jest what they’s playin’ at, but she settled on keepin’ arm’s length twixt her an’ them til they got off on New Melbourne.

Last, there’s folk what jest got no place in the black at all. Cap’n MacReady was him all over. Talk about ‘no good deed goin’ unpunished.' Headin’ tah New Melbourne fer tah run a tuna boat while his ailin’ brother’s laid up. The black done got him all tore up. Spent his first night with it comin’ outta both ends, an’ he’s so sorry about it. “Don’t unnerstand,” he shook his head. “Spent twenty-five year with a deck pitchin’ ‘neath my feet and nary a belch. Get to the black an’ my innards is doin’ backflips. I’m so sorry, Miss Abby,” he looked back on the mess of his room. “Just couldn’t make it to the head.”

“Jest space sickness,” the girl said afore mouth breathin’ tah dodge the smell. “Y’ain’t tha first. Sure’n yah won’t be tha last. Go on get cleaned up, an’ head fer the galley while I handle this. My friend Hook’ll have crackers an’ somethin’ fizzy tah drink.”

“Let me help clean this,” he cast a hangdog look.

Abby loosed a rare smile. “I got this. T’aint nothin’. Good shower an’ somethin’ on yer stomach’ll make yah feel scads better.” As the sea captain wandered off callin out lots ‘o’ ‘thank you’s’’, she set to work, collectin’ the sopping sheets an’ stained bedclothes afore bundlin’ the whole mess up in the down comforter. “Poor fella,” she thought while eyein’ the la shi storm, “looks like a crime scene in here.” After this, she’d be grabbin’ her own shower a might early.

Uncle Bob was right, she conjured as she hauled out the mess. Passengers was like taters. By Abby’s reckonin’, best part ‘o’ that was they’s all gone in a few days.

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Hidden 2 mos ago 1 mo ago Post by MK Blitzen
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The Kids Are Alright Part 1

The China Doll


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

Mathias, Cyd, Isaac





The Skye’s spent their first night on the China Doll in their cabin. The trio didn’t close their eyes until long after the ‘witching hour’ had passed. Cyd spent the night scanning her Datapad, chatting it up with Mathias while Isaac tried to remember the combination to the lock he constantly messed with. They did - for the sake of other passengers - turn the music down so no one felt compelled to thump on any walls. Cyd silently congratulated them on their consideration. Somewhere in the late afternoon, she was the first of the siblings to grind the sleep from her eyes and sit up in bed.

The thing with busking for their money was there was a time and place for it. Mornings were never the time, no one wanted a cheerful face with a hat out during morning commutes. No matter how up beat, pretty or talented … so the Skyes clocks were often geared to waking in the afternoon, at best, and late nights. Regardless, waking up no matter the time was the worst part of the day in Mathias’s opinion.

Given they were trapped in a tin can as they hurled through the vacuum of space, there really wasn’t much that needed to be done so his lazy ass was pretending Cyd wasn’t awake, looming over the boys, shaming them for still being asleep.

Isaac was sprawled across the floor not unlike a carelessly tossed ragdoll whose bedding followed close behind on the trip down. The boy managed to take up far more space than should be possible for someone of his size. The image was complete with a crooked head and gaping maw which emanated a sound akin to a garbage disposal that briefly got hung up on a corn cob before clearing itself and continuing.

Cyd yawned. “I know you’re up, Yobo,” she said in a hushed tone as she absently kicked at the boy on the floor gingerly with a bare foot.

“Who can sleep with the damn garbage disposal running …” Mathias said grouchy as he hoarding his blanket closer around him defiantly. “ … now you know why some mother lions eat their young … or in this case smother them in their sleep. No one has to know ...” He said, giving the youngest member a bleary glare.

The teen on the floor sleepily whined as he pawed blindly at his sister's leg, impotent slaps hitting her ankle before falling to the floor. It was hard to make out, but something about "blanket" and "five minutes" as he tugged at a corner of the covers the girl was standing on preventing him from rolling away from her foot taps into his side.

“Come on,” she coaxed. “We were told three squares a day, right? Well, I smelled bacon earlier, meaning we missed breakfast, and if we don’t get a move on, dinner will be off the table - literally- too. Hear that LoLo? Food….”

“What if it’s three triangle instead of square? I mean what does that even mean? Three square?” Mathias complained hiding under his pillow.

"Food pyramid" Isaac muttered from the floor with a look of self satisfaction. His retort sounded absolutely ingenious to him in his current state if he did say so himself. But the word "food" wormed its way through the reverie as he dragged himself to a sitting up position, squinting to let in as little offensive light assault his eyes as possible. He slapped at a random lump on the bed not knowing or really caring what he struck and absently said "C'mon….food…".

Cyd shook her head at her brothers’ antics - all for five more minutes. “Go shower up, clean up - and then? We have some exploring to do,” she offered.

Mathias grumbled at being prodded all willy nilly and threw his blankets over Isaacs head. “No one has to know …” He said, holding up his pillow for emphasis.

Isaac fumbled, getting the blankets off of his head and scowled at his older brother. He rummaged through his backpack collecting all that he would need for a hose down and then made his way to his feet. He jabbed a finger at his sister trying desperately to sound badass. "Food. First. Then explore."

Cyd responded by rumpling his hair and giving him a courtesy nod. “Food first. Probably.”

Mathias yawned. “Remember. You let him live …” He reminded Cyd, getting his toiletries together.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 1 mo ago Post by Yule
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The Kids Are Alright Part 2

The China Doll


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





After cleaning up enough to look presentable, the trio made their way towards the galley across the catwalk that stretched high above the ship's cargo hold.

“You think there is any food left? I don’t mind cooking if there ain’t.” Mathias said messing with his still moist hair.

Isaac bounced in front. "What do you think Cookie made today, eh?" He mused aloud. "Sausages? Chicken with rice? Ooh! Steak and potatoes??" The boy's mind reeled at the possibilities.

“Protein Paste,” Cyd teased, as she looked over the spacious cargo bay. “All you can eat.”

“All the fake flavors of the rainbow too.” Mathias said with a dramatic wave of his arm.

Isaac's spirits were immediately dashed by the awful suggestion from his sibs. "Protein paste sucks" he groused, dragging out the last word to show the depths of his distaste for the gritty provision. Just then, something caught Isaac's attention down below them in the hold. "Hey...are we allowed to go down there?" he asked, his head motioning in the direction of the main part of the cargo hold.

“No we are not.” Mathias said as he moved to drag his ferret of a sibling along.

Isaac squirmed as he tried to free himself from his brother's grip to no avail. Since brute force didn't work, he opted for a different tactic. "I saw something cool" the teen crooned, hoping to rouse just a hint of curiosity out of Mathias.

Cyd exchanged a quick glance with Mathias before ticking her head.

Mathias sighed letting the mischievous monkey have at it. “You get us spaced, it's totally on you.” He accused his younger twin.

“On everyone’s second day?” Cyd asked with a quirk of her eyebrow. She grinned and elbowed her older brother playfully in the ribs. “Like you’d let that happen,” she said with full confidence. Turning her attention to her younger sib, she waved him on. “Make it quick, Lolo,” she warned.

“Yea yea yea rules are only broken if ya get caught …” Mathias chuckled.

Isaac had no plans to waste this golden opportunity. He looked up as he lazily let his combination lock fall from his hand. The silvery device plunked and plonked seemingly hitting every loud metallic object on the way down. The younger Skye sheepishly looked at his siblings, wincing with each kid clang. "Oops?" he said apologetically, "I...seem...to have dropped my property." he said with a weak grimace.

Cyd watched the tow-headed boy with amusement as he playfully took the stairs. Despite everything, he had a way of always making her laugh, it was nearly impossible for anyone to be in a bad mood around Isaac. He was silly-hearted, and she loved him all the more for it. She couldn’t help but wish things were different for him, for Mathias too, but the ping of her data pad reminded her they weren’t. If something so small would make him happy - there’s no way she could bring herself to deny it. She knew Mathias, despite his demeanor, felt the same.

The youngest Skye trotted deftly down the stairs like a ‘footpad’ in a vain hope that his quiet movements would somehow make up for the impromptu metallic drum solo his lock decided to perform in its trip to the cargo bay floor. It landed nearby some crates that were neatly stacked away from the rest of the cargo. There were some kind of seals on them as well, clearly to prevent prying eyes and fingers. "Well, lookie lookie here..." the teen said as he retrieved his lock.
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