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Sharing host/GM duties for "Firefly - Second 'Verse" with Wandering Wolf.

Other than that, kind of a goofball who loves writing stories and playing radio for an audience consisting entirely of my dogs.

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History Lesson 2: Earth-That-Was - “Remember, Remember…”

In 2047, journalists for the New York Times published leaked INS documents which revealed the failure of terraforming efforts on Mars, Venus, and the chosen moons. Though Mars had demonstrated initial success, atmospheric development figures indicated a near flatline result. The planet might become habitable, but according to these findings, not for another one hundred thirty-seven years. As government officials scurried to regroup and deflect blame, all terraforming efforts within the Sol system were summarily defunded and shut down.

As the scandals of governmental and corporate concealment are exposed, riots break out on a global scale. Destabilized governments collapse, plunging much of the so-called ‘third world’ into anarchy and sapping Earth-That-Was of ever more precious resources. In response to the mounting human catastrophe, China and the United States forge an alliance, restructuring the United Nations organization into a planetary governing body, the Global Exodus Alliance This new body is swiftly ratified and supported by the majority of nation states. Holdouts are goaded into supplication by a simple ultimatum: cede control to the GEA…or see your citizens left behind come Exodus Day.

The newfound Alliance moves swifty, taking complete control of global resources and crushing rebellion where it may arise. Rationing programs keep the population on subsistence level, as talent and material is poured into preparation of an organized evacuation. By 2062, eyes have once more turned toward the star cluster 34Tauri(2020) and its’ numerous planets.

2070: A new terraforming approach has been tested and proven successful. Dozens of AI controlled terraformer ships are under construction, as competing designs for generation ships are debated and revised. These ‘arks’ will each have to carry and sustain an average of 10,000 people for a journey of approximately 125 years. With raw materials in rapid planetary decline, it is decided that existing infrastructure and urban construction will be dismantled to augment Earth’s mining, and mineral collection from Saturn’s rings. A demolition schedule is created, sparking a fresh swath of rioting that is brutally squelched by Alliance peacekeepers. Steel mills, mining and fossil fuel industries increase production to meet the anticipated demand. Environmental safeguards are frequently ignored.

The year is 2075. With her oceans now dead, wells running dry and mines yielding only dust, the first of Earth’s cities succumb to the wrecking ball. Arks are under construction, a process now considered the “only” priority by the GEA. Hope is on the rise as imagery sent from the “robot” fleet of AI terraformers reveals a larger number of usable planets in 34Tauri(2020) than originally anticipated. Good news for a future hardly conceivable as the skies blacken overhead with the pollution of desperate human industry. Climatologists revise their estimates. Earth will now be considered inhospitable to human life by 2105.

As New Year’s Day dawns in the year 2090, it does so without Paris, San Francisco, London, Tokyo, and New York. While many icons of cultural or historical significance are slated for preservation, notable structures like the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty have been demolished, their metals going into ark construction. While many have not survived to see the new year, disturbing reports of the ark fleet’s inability to house all of Earth’s population are stirring unrest. It is announced that this year, the arks will begin loading fuel and cargo.

By mid decade, the implementation of a boarding lottery system erases all doubt. The Alliance declares martial law, a mere formality, given the increasingly draconian tactics of their peacekeeping and law enforcement arms. Sensing a profit to be made from the ensuing panic, the owners of commercial spacecraft refit their fleets to join the arks. In 2098, C/V Gossamer begins refit to accommodate 1100 passengers. Though the asking price is beyond exorbitant, her berths are sold out within 2 hours of announcement. Equally precious are her 5 open cargo containers, the other 35 being filled with fuel and supplies for their voyage.

On November 9th, 2101, C/V Gossamer departs. For her passengers and crew, the final view of their home is a planet wreathed in black clouds, and dotted by a series of detonations, a literal ‘scorched Earth’ policy of destroying power plants, refineries, and fuel depots. The Alliance will explain this move as ‘the kindest cut’ for those poor unfortunates left behind. In 9 years’ time, all transmission, including flight telemetry, will cease. November 5th, 2110, is officially recognized as the Day The Earth Stood Still.

Dates and major events quoted from The Firefly and Serenity Database -
Happy Sunday from the cargo bay!

Here we go, kids. Thanksgiving and the holiday season is breathing down our collective necks. For Casa Sail that means that I'm foisting my cooking upon family and friends once more...a process that probably takes far longer then it should, given my inability to find items like mixing bowls and seasonings. There is an organizational scheme to our kitchen; Yours Truly hasn't bothered to learn it.

So, in case your character hasn't heard, Cap'n's called a crew meeting in the galley to introduce our new pilot and talk business. Since returning from a whiskey soaked adventure on the high seas I've managed to get Abby and Edina into the rooom, with plans for Yuri to follow up and join shortly. Feel free to put your char. into the galley!

I've also penned a rough draft for the next History Lesson. If you're looking for the basics, I'm pulling alot from the Firefly Serenity database timeline. Note that I am shifting a couple dates here and there to suit our narrative, but for the most part we're following along.

On the cyborg front, I've got more of my schedule back. The surgery and resulting rounds of PT went really well, so they cut me loose in time to go on a punk rock cruise. (Important note: passing through a metal detector is a whole new experience with a hunk of titanium inside one's body. More on that later.)

Once we've completed the Boone meet and greet, we're likely to have a time jump. Wolf and I are hashing out the particulars and will keep you posted. In the meantime, have a great Thanksgiving, love your people, and eat all the wrong things!

Also, WWIF.

Curiouser and Curiouser

“This is your Captain speaking. I’d ‘preciate our passengers stayin’ in their quarters for a spell as the crew convene in the galley. See you there in fifteen.”

Word of the crew’s impending arrival set Edina into motion. First was a pot of fresh coffee, preferred by the Captain and Yuri. She put the kettle on to boil, as Imani and Sister Lyen would choose tea. For Elias, China Doll’s newest galley hand had lucked into the discovery of ginger beer, whose strong flavor registered positive on the mechanic’s remaining taste buds. Abby was the easiest to please, with either Boom-Boom Lemon or Capt. Bob’s Cola.

As to the giant who’d been shown forward, she’d just have to find out. Edina chalked him up as just one more curiosity added to a growing list of questions that swirled around their current doings. Captain was being more cagey than usual with his orders. Though word had come down that whatever they were up to was amply provisioned by their client, Cal Strand had made it clear that he wanted the most bare bones of galley supplies. “We gotta buy scads of protein paste,” he’d told her. “And energy bars…same as any colony ship or mining camp.” Though he had relented on the beverages and seasonings, Captain had made it clear without saying that he didn’t want any shopping sprees to draw attention.

Yuri was equally circumspect. “Sounds right,” he agreed. “You can get Sister and Abby to make some runs. Help mix it up.”

She remembered lifting her head from his chest to ask, “What about peanut butter and jelly? Your deckhand lives on those, you know.”

“Only buy what Captain says. Gotta play our cards close to the vest while we’re at the skyplex,” Yuri’s gaze met hers as he caressed her cheek. “After this job pays out, I’ll personally spring for a case of each. But for now,” he added, “you’ll have to keep impressing us with your protein paste genius.”

“Cards,” she’d muttered as she nestled onto his shoulder. “Maybe if I knew what those cards were…”

She felt his fingers work gently into her hair. Yuri wasn’t alone in his fascination with the hair of Afro descended folk like herself. At first, the sensation had been off putting…a warning sign that a drunken Andres was about to grab a handful by which to hurl her around their flat. But Yuri had only ever been gentle. Edina couldn’t say that she was completely relaxed in these moments, but there was growing proof that these incremental tendernesses were chipping away at the years spent on edge. “I promise, Eddie,” he’d whispered, “once we’re clear of the skyplex, Captain will fill in all the blanks.”

“I’m gonna hold you to that, Mr. Antonov.”

He rolled onto his side, arms pulling her close as he smiled, “And I’m gonna hold you, Ms. Wyman. Every chance I get.”

Now, as Edina laid out the beverages for her shipmates, she pondered the coming crew meeting. Maybe Captain’ll give us a few more hints, she mused as the sound of approaching footfalls grew louder.
The Winds of Change

“This is your Captain speaking. I’d ‘preciate our passengers stayin’ in their quarters for a spell as the crew convene in the galley. See you there in fifteen.”

“Convene,” Abby muttered afore checxkin’ ‘er passengers. Word sounded nice. She never seen it in one of her books, but Cap/n made the meanin’ clear enough. She knocked on doors, askin’ after them three as been on tha boat fer days now.

The Shepherd, called hisself ‘Reverand’ McDermott, was livin’ proof what she heard about “fish an’ visitors.” He had an eye fer all tha women on board, an’ didn’t miss a chance tah stare ‘em up an’ down. Couple times he even tried what he called “the laying on of hands.” Fer that, Abby started wearin’ ‘er pistol. Edina played it cool, always puttin’ a hot pot or a pointy knife to hand when he come sniffin’ about.. Sister had immunity…Abby s’posed that orange robe called fer a touch ‘o’ professional courtesy.

But it was Imani put a stop to his doin’s. Mrs. Hewitt seen the whole thing, a beefy hand laid on a slender hip afore it got twisted all about an’ that preacher cried ‘uncle.’ To this day he done took to his room, only comin’ out tah eat or hit the lav. And that was jest fine with one Abigail Travis.

“Yah good?” She tapped on Mrs. Hewitt’s door.

The woman opened up, hair fresh towelled from ‘er shower. Like your Captain says, “right as the mail,” she smirked. “You think Edina’s got some of those butter cookies around?”

“I’ll ask,” the deckhand give a nod afore movin’ on. “Mr. Eleanor? Need anythin’?”

“It’s your move,” his voice came from behind the closed door. “I mean, while we’re young, right?”

“You ain’t young,” she retorted, a smile growin’. It was funny how much she come tah like tradin’ barbs with this guy. Turnt out that playin’ jackass was sport fer him, an’ he downright liked gettin’ jest as much a shi as he dished out. Didn’t take more’n a couple days afore he took their sparrin’ onto a whole new field, teachin’ her how tah play chess. “I’ll be ‘round shortly,” Abby promised, “an’ yah can take muh knight.”

“You mean the knight that’s got three different escape options?” he teased as his student made for the stairs.

Three ways out? She’d have to think on that. Meantime, Cap’n had things to say. Man had been downright quiet since Alana passed, a vibe soaked up by his crew. China Doll’s deckhand had reacted as she always did, keeping busy, finding work when the regular chores were finished. The boat was due for a change. Mayhaps she pondered as she took her reg’lar chair at tha galley table, this new fella might be packin’ some ‘o’ that aboard.
History Lesson 1: Earth-That-Was - Prophets and Profiteers

OOC: This episode will include a few interspersed history briefs to set the stage for China Doll’s adventures at Asteroid AN-3872.


“Earth That Was no longer could sustain our numbers. We were so many.”*

In 2021, as the world slowly emerged from the grips of a planetwide viral pandemic, scientists and scholars voiced the realization that despite our efforts to recycle materials and reduce carbon emissions,, the fate of our home was sealed. Earth would eventually become uninhabitable by humanity. This theory was met with howls by a deeply divided public, sparking a ferocious political debate that effectively paralyzed national governments.

Within a decade, the proof of this claim was obvious, silencing even the most vocal climate deniers. The UN 2030 Global Sustainability Accords acknowledged the impending failure. After accepting the forecast of planetary biosphere collapse by 2130, they set their sights on all manner of methods to ensure survival. Domed cities and massive subterranean boroughs were considered, as was a newly reinvigorated space exploration program. The Webb Telescope’s revelations of numerous terrestrial planets and moons of a star cluster in Taurus fired imaginations and prompted further study, while others considered Mars a more attainable goal.

By 2040, theories of planetary evacuation were being presented and debated. Advances in spacecraft design and terraforming fueled these discussions. The first expedition had established a facility on Mars. Hopes were running high as fleets of automated rover/collectors were dispatched to Venus, the Martian moons, as well as our own. As the decade reached its’ midpoint, exuberance over initial successes on Mars prompted an outpouring of global resources to the terraforming efforts.

Corporate interests found ways to profit from this technological growth spurt. Terraforming firms boasted familiar names. The logos of Shell, Exxon, PetroBras, and Rosneft were proudly displayed on each of the massive ATU’s (atmospheric transition units) as they churned out chemical mixtures designed to break down toxicity and envelope worlds beneath a blanket through which an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere could not escape into the void. Equally prominent were Boeing, Lockheed, Mikoyan, and Grumman, as they launched the first generation of vessels to ferry evacuees and cargo to the developing homeworlds. C/V Gossamer and her dozen sister ships were rushed into construction to cash in on the dizzying profit forecasts of this new trade.

As optimism flourished, other firms enriched themselves by cranking out a near infinite number of tools, materials, durable foodstuffs, and other supplies for the coming journeys, all hastily created to ride the surging waves of national expenditure. With such a bustle of activity on a planetwide scale and a newfound unity of purpose, Earth-That-Was passed the mid decade in a period of relative peace and good will among its’ nation states. This tranquility, however, was not to last.



*From “Serenity” (2005 film)

Dates and major events quoted from The Firefly and Serenity Database -

”What’s a Fella Like You…”

OOC: JP collaboration from @wanderingwolf and @sail3695

Urvasi was pretty enough, floating there with its vast oceans and green pastures, lit from the nearby star. Clusters of life dotted the planet, with vast spaces between them. Urvasi, if his memory served, had suffered some of the heaviest casualties during the war. He heard some one in fifty volunteers didn't make it home. Most like, that left mining operations without an owner or altogether failed settlements void of folk, Cal conjured, as he scanned the planet's sparse surface.

His hand guided the yoke of the China Doll through open space as he prepared to break atmo. From his seat in the pilot's chair, the Captain flipped the switch to engage the orbital maneuvering engines and opened comms to the engineering bay.

"Elias, we're ready to break atmo; power up the OMS." Cal waited for the telltale code for 'O-K' tapped out in comm starts and stops--a shorthand they had adopted over the last leg. Sure as the mail, Elias faithfully tapped out three longs, followed by a long-short-long, to which Cal replied, "Heard."

Cal picked up the comm again, flipping the dial to general, "Passengers and crew, this is your Captain speaking. I'm bringing us into Urvasi. Won't be time for dawdlin', we’re just pickin’ somethin’ up 'fore we high-tail it to the nearby skyplex. Strap in, and a member of crew'll be by to make sure you’re situated."

Slowly at first, indicative of the seasoned mechanic in his bay, the power eased up his gauges in the console. He dialed the knob to route the energy to the positioning engines and begin to break orbit. Leaning on the yoke, Cal stuck the China Doll in a backwards spin away from Urvasi as the OMS eased them into its gravitational pull.

Stuck with its nose to the black, Cal recalled the first time he'd watched a pilot by the name of Caesar maneuver the Doll into this awkward position, ass to land and nose to sky. As the younger Cal had quirked an eyebrow, Caesar, who loved his quips, replied, "Just givin' the planet another moon," before sniggering like a fool. In the present, the planet's gravity began to take hold, and the pilot's console jumped to life with calculations of G-force and pressure changes.

With a jerk on the yoke, Strand brought Urvasi into view, nudging their descent to forty degrees--so the Firefly's belly and heat-shielding took the brunt of the burn-in. The pilot's dash view screen flashed green as the text 'angle of attack' displayed, and Cal clapped the 'Hold' button beside the console to engage the automated flight guard.

Before long, the China Doll's burn-in was complete, and Cal called down to engineering for atmo engine power. Fighting gravity, Cal strained with the yoke as he leveled them out, and they began their on-planet flight to the coordinates he'd been given in the slim dossier belonging to their next pilot.

Yuri clambered up the steps, his footfalls announcing his arrival in the cockpit. “Ready for our little touch-off,” he reported, his voice betraying the dubious sentiments currently weighing upon him. Of course, the incessant rounds of ‘Twenty Questions’ he’d played with the crew had done little to set his own mind right about the mysterious hire. “Looks nice,” he observed of the green landscape, dotted by numerous wind powered mills passing beneath their viewpanes. “Doesn’t look at all like the captures from that battle. You’d conjure,” the first mate said, “that the war never touched this place.”

Cal turned to his mate who had a good point, “Lots of good folk on Urvasi. Reckon most were stuck here from their lot after the war. Could be our next pilot flies for one of these mills, plenty of them around.” Indeed, the beautiful landscape was dotted with large mills turning gigantic paddles in the Urvasi breeze.

Antonov leaned against the copilot’s handrail, his posture intentionally casual, eyes forward as he offered, “Can’t wait to learn what’s what about this fella.”

He nodded, “Contract didn’t exactly paint me a picture. I got flight hour history and contract cost. ‘Nough to prick my ears.”

The Mate considered that. Cal wasn’t the first captain who’d made calls based upon his gut. Even a mechanic had to rely upon a certain level of intuition. But as the mills and their rolling landscape gave way to a barren, hardscrabble swath of ground, Yuri had to wonder if this gift horse needed a dentist.

“Huh, scanners say to go further–straight out to the prison.” The hulking gray structure looked like a marriage of Alliance utility and some strange citadel with satellite disks and gigantic radar arrays circling on the outcroppings across the buildings that made up the anterior wall.

Cal wasn’t lying; a quick glance at the NAV display on his console told it plain enough. China Doll was riding the beam, her course and angle of descent placing her on final approach toward a broad, dusty square of ground splayed out before the main gate. Yuri thought to speak up, voice his concerns. He knew his words might veer toward prejudice, but thought of introducing a convict from an Alliance supermax prison to a boat full of passengers felt all kinds of wrong…not to mention the women among the crew.

But he also knew Cap’n’s mind was made up. Yuri recognized the set of Cal’s jaw, a tell that he’d brook no second guessing of his calls. In for a penny, in for a pound, he relented with a mild shrug.

Standing just outside the entrance, a bear of a man stood looking up at the sky holding a bundle in his arms. “I got a sinkin’ feeling that’s our guy, right there…” Cal said, pulling up on the yoke.

China Doll came in low, her nose lifting as the atmo engines brought her to hover. “Abby,” Yuri keyed the comm mic, “stand by to lower the ramp.” When the girl’s voice crackled her affirmative, the First Mate’s eye fell upon the Captain. “Want me to bring him up?” he asked, “or do you wanna meet him at the ramp?”

“Come ‘ere and take over; I’m going to give our new pilot a warm welcome,” with that same look in his eye, he locked the control column and traded places with Yuri. The ex-con on the ground was a gambit no matter which way he sliced it, but the Doll needed a pilot and desperate times called for… well, he probably wasn’t that bad. Chances are he hated the Alliance, right? That was something, at least. Arching his brow at any quip Yuri might have on deck, Cal grabbed his duster before taking the stairs two at a time to the cargo bay.

“Uh…okay.” Yuri slipped into the pilot’s seat with a raised brow. He needn’t worry; Cal had set the boat down onto her skids, and the man they were taking on board had at least passed the flight hours portion of the smell test. As to the rest? That, the first mate conjured, would all depend upon how he sized up in the eyes of the man who’d come across the ‘verse to secure his freedom.

For now, his task was simple. Keep her on the ground, engines idling, til Cap’n and his new pilot came to claim the cockpit. A wise move, considering all the flight training that Yuri possessed was conducted by Abby…

Down at her station, Abigail was ready and waiting to lower the ramp. With a nod, Cal gave the order, and while the hydraulics whined, he looped an arm through his coat and asked, “How do you feel about ex-cons? They did their bit; shined up for what they done, right?”

The deckhand give a shrug. “Kinda hard tah say, sir. ‘Lliance throws folk inta stir fer a hangnail, I hear. Uncle Bob always said “ever’body’s got crime. Take a man fer hisself…’cept kiddie rapers,” Abby said flatly. “I’ma straight up kill a kiddie raper afore he can say ‘howdy.”

Her mouth hung at sight of tha man stood afore ‘em. Cap’n was a tall man; Elias was a tall man. But this fella was a gorram mountain, all muscled up an’ tattooed over like a warnin’ sign fer twenty mile ‘o’ bad road.

Back ‘o’ her mind said somethin’ bout it bein’ impolite tah stare, but she reckoned if a body come face tah face with a tiger broke free from tha zoo, manners din’ always stand. Fer now, she gaped at this man, eyes wide an’ mouth open. “Howdy,” was tha only word come tah mind as tha barest whisper.

The Leaving

”Don't yah cry, Chick Pea…”

She ‘membered how things looked that day, an’ how they felt. Santo was cold, enough tah make tha ground hard, was what them diggers said. She recalled seein’ em, blowin’ warm breath inta their hands afore lowerin’ the pine box with ropes. Her hands was warm, one all wrapped in calluses of Uncle Bob’s palm. T’other she kep in a pocket, fingers workin’ the casin’ of Aunt Lupe’s locket.

She ‘membered a grey sky, an’ a grey world spread out beneath. Seemed like when Lupe passed, she took all tha color in tha ‘verse with her. Uncle Bob tole his niece that this here was Aunt Lupe’s fam’ly, all laid out in neat rows of a plot they claimed nigh on a hunnerd years hence. She ‘membered ponderin’ that…countin’ headstones an’ wonderin’ how such a sizeable number ‘o’ folk din’ yield up none tah stand alongside them, tha shepherd, an’ them gravediggers.

”Don’t yah cry, Chick Pea,” Uncle Bob whispered. “Folk come an’ go in tha ‘verse. An’ sometimes,’[/i] she’d never fergit hearin’ tha hitch an’ crack in ‘is voice, ”tha leavin’s fer good.”

Abby felt tha wet try’na come upon ‘er eyes as Cal said ‘is piece. Ann-you-rizzum...she weren’t altogether sure jest what it was, but knowed enough tah conjure such a thing tah be mighty serious. Tumor was a word carried plenty ominous meanin’ fer her. From her readin’, she knowed tumors tah be tied up with cancer, a cold hand she seen take many a soul in tha black. And Alana had both..her life cut short by a ‘snake eyes’ roll of the dice.

She din’ move…just stared a hole inta the buttons on Cal’s chest as he give ‘em words. He owned up, but as she sat thinkin’ ‘bout what tumors did inside a person’s head, Abby couldn’t rightly agree that Cap’n was the sorta heel he made hisself out tah be. That thing was inside ‘er, she reflected. Colorin’ her thinkin’. Buddha only knows what tortuous thoughts it give ‘er afore it took ‘er away.

”Don’t yah cry, Chick Pea…”

Then it was Yuri, gettin’ ‘em all on their feet, handin’ over tha clipboard an’ her orders. “Copy,” Abby said as she scooched ‘er chair back Time to work. Think later.


“Mmm, I smell the ocean on you. And in your hair.”

Somethin’ ‘bout tha helpless nature Rev. McDermott put on tah git her strappin’ him inta his seat had Abby wishin’ she’d changed outta her shorts an’ tank top. Fer a man ‘o’ tha cloth, he sure studied what lay under hers with all kindsa interest. “Bless you, child,” the Shepherd’s hand grazed ‘er thigh as she sidled off tah Mrs. Hewitt.

“I’m all set,” the woman announced, her adjusted shoulder straps and neatly buckled safety belt on display. “Tell me…Abby, is it? How soon will a girl be able to get a cup of joe on this boat?”

“Prob’ly fifteen ticks after we break atmo,” the deckhand replied. “Most like there’ll be a plate ‘o’ cookies ‘r’ somethin’ out tah go with.”

The third passenger, Mr. Eleanor, was in no mood for such trifling. “I thought we were leaving in the morning,” he glowered at the teenager with the annoying twang in her voice. “Why the sudden launch?”

Abby give a shake of ‘er head. “Plans change,” she offered as she set ‘is straps just so. “Cap’n says ‘go,’ we go.”

“I’ll be sure to ask him,” the bitter little man growled.

The young girl shrugged. “Cap’n’s never short fer an answer,” she replied. “Now y’all jest stay strapped in. I got a couple more things tah do afore we giddyup, but I’ll be here tah take tha ride out with yah.” After two nods an’ one set ‘o’ eyes walkin’ ‘er hips, Abby made for an escape through tha cargo bay hatch.

It’s like ever’ other launch; button up them passengers, take a jog outside tah dog tha umbilical hatch, and then raise tha ramp. “Muscle memory” she’d heard it called, like ‘er body had a whole list ‘o’ cues it just knowed tah do afore they put spurs to the boat. She passed Medbay, an’ seen movement within…Alana’s doin’ ‘er preflights that part ‘o’ her checked off a box.

Then she stopped. Alana weren’t here no more.

Fresh eyes peered through tha window, and she recognized Imani goin’ about her tasks. Time would come when this sight would be as normal as ever’ other part ‘o’ prelaunch. Time would come when she might not feel tha pang ‘o’ hurt when she looked at Medbay.

Folk come and go in the ‘verse. Sometimes, the leavin’s fer good.

Abby reckoned she might outta talk tah Sister. But now, they’s work.


“Damn, Cornflakes. You look downright sexy turning that big wrench.”

Lorraine done come up behind ‘er as she bolted tha umbilical hatch shut. “Yah oughtta see me pump a shotgun,” Abby quipped as she heaved one last turn.

“So,” the waitress cum partner in crime huffed, “you were just gonna run out on me, huh?”

The deckhand lowered the big wrench to her side as she turned. “Had a ‘mergency call. I git that, I’m s’posed tah skedaddle,” she shrugged. “Did look for yah, though. Didn’t see yah.”

The woman nodded, spiky black hair dancing in the stark pole lighting of the docking berths. “I mighta been…busy,” she grinned, “but not too busy to track you down. Emergency, huh?” she asked. “What’s brewing?”

“Our doc,” Abby managed.

“The one you were looking for?”

“Yeah,” the deckhand said. “She died tonight.”

Lorraine’s jaw dropped. “How?”

“Had herself a ann-you-rizzum.”

“Man. but I’m sorry. That sucks.” Lorraine closed the distance, her hands settling upon Abby’s shoulders. “What about you?” she asked, her gaze fixed upon Abby’s eyes. “Are you okay?”

Weren’t time fer no words tah form. Abby didn’t reckon she had a good answer fer that nohow. All she conjured was when Lorraine pulled ‘er in close she let it happen. Next minute her face was buried in ‘er friend’s shoulder, an’ she’s sobbin’ all get out as she’s held like a babe in arms.

Don’t yah cry, Chick Pea…

“Sorry,” Abby pulled ‘erself back, wipin’ ‘er eyes. “Should’na done that..”

“Fuck that,” Lorraine caressed an errant streak of red hair from the girl’s face. “You don’t bottle that la shi up inside, or it’ll poison you.” She hadn’t entirely released Abby. Now, with hands on her shoulders, the criminal said, “to tell you the truth, I came here to ask you to join our little crew.” She dipped her gaze briefly, then with a crooked smile continued. “We could have a helluva time. I’m scoping out a sweet job on Silverhold. If I bring the right folk, it robs itself…”

Abby found ‘erself laughin’ as she wiped ‘er last tears. “Might need more slutty clothes,” she chuckled.

“Gotcha covered!”

“Ah cain’t.” She lifted eyes toward China Doll. “This boat’s been home over two years. Cap’n took me on when I jest lost it all.” She seen the disappointment in Lorraine’s eyes. “He lost a powerful lot tonight, Lorraine,” Abby finished. “Ain’t no way I’m backin’ out on ‘im now.”

Lorraine took the bad news with her characteristic smirk. “You’re predictable, Cornflakes,” she offered a smile gone wry. “Gimme a goodbye hug, okay? Only don’t club me with that wrench.”

“No promises.” The two friends laughed as a moment froze around them in a firmly shared embrace. “Folk come an’ go in tha ‘verse,” Abby offered. “I reckon our paths ‘ll hafta cross some fine day.”

After a vigorous rub of the girl’s back, Lorraine pulled free. “And that,” she winked, “will be one helluva time. Til then, I’m in your cortex.” She was smiling that wicked smile of hers as she said “See ya ‘round, Cornflakes.”

“See yah, Bugsy.” Weren’t no time fer long farewells. Abby had a job tah do. An’ China Doll had tah fly. Two ticks passed as she sealed ‘er up tah break atmo. “Yuri,” she tapped tha com. “We’re buttoned up below. I’m strappin’ in.”

“Copy that, thanks,” the first mate’s voice squelched over the tinny speaker.

Home, she pondered as she made ‘er way aft. Without Alana. That’d make for tough feelin’s all around, Abby considered as she found ‘er seat with tha passengers, [i]but home ain’t always gon’ be white picket fences. She hurt tonight; they all hurt. An’ somehow, just knowin’ that grief was shared made it feel a skosh better.
Cold Comfort

For a crew whose minds had given over to their respective dalliances these past three days, the people of China Doll took the harsh lift of the veil with practiced silence. One of theirs was gone, and with her, the common fantasy that everything would end up shiny. Cap’n would put it right, Alana would return, and they’d all fly away with big smiles and tales to swap.

Instead, they had an urn, and an account of a time bomb to the brainpan. Tumor and aneurysm, words whose meanings were frequently clouded in medical hopespeak…until one was faced with the cold shen of the burial urn before them. Alana Lysanger, their doctor, shipmate, friend…was truly gone. Cap’n didn’t waste words on the topic or the ensuing tale. Instead, he stood up, shouldered what burden was his to claim, and reminded this crew of their own stations. The first mate found himself struck by the hidden kindness of the man’s no nonsense approach.

Yuri let three beats pass before speaking. “Alright, people,” his voice attacked the heavy pall of silence, “the man didn’t stutter. Elias,” his eye found the mechanic, “spin ‘er up. SAM and I will start preflights in five ticks. Abby,” he proffered the clipboard. “See to our passengers. Get ‘em all strapped and wrapped for upthrust. Then make sure we’re buttoned up and cut loose from shore power. Copy?”

As the girl and her towering counterpart rose to their tasks, Yuri’s gaze touched on the rest of China Doll’s current crew. “Imani…make sure Medbay’s all squared. Sister,” his tone softened as he addressed the nun, “I’d be most obliged if you could give Edina here a hand with locking down the galley and the topside lounge. As for Edina herself, he felt he could barely meet her eye. What she’d become to him, and what they’d shared during a few days in this paradise bore no weight in face of the stark world now crashing down around their ears. To look into her eyes and see such glimmer felt as alien a notion as the cold light glistening upon Alana’s gorramed urn.

Instead, he covered with bluster. “Skids up in fifteen!” Yuri called after the dispersing boat crew. He turned to make for his quarters and a change of clothes when his eyes fell once more upon the porcelain urn. Angel, Yuri mused of the first time he’d seen her, a dazzling figure who snatched him from a violent sea. He wasn’t sure that such creatures existed; they belonged to the dogmas his mother had forced upon her husband and sons with no evidence of truth to be found in this ‘verse.

But as Yuri hastened to get into his working clothes, he found a bit of comfort in the thought of Alana’s ascension.
Happy Sunday from the cargo bay!

Been a minute since I dropped a Sunday OOC. My personal 'verse got a little active there, but I'm seeing clear skies ahead and will try to keep up with my end of the bargain.

The little pirate robbery thingy is posted. Rumor has it that we'll be seeing the episode climax any time now. In the meantime, if you've got misadventures to write for the final night of shore leave, have at it! I'm think of one-two little notions for characters myself...unless, of course, you need any of my folk to play supporting roles for your ideas.

So, in about a week I'm being hacked on by surgeons. Rumor has it that I might feel sort of sluggish for a few days afterward, but we'll see about that. I'm not planning any big absences, though I'm betting I'll be conked out for one day at least. But have no fear. Wolf can steer! He's put together a plan and everything.

Finally Happy Birthday to our youngest crew! Xandrya's little boy Alex celebrates this coming week with a single candle on his cake.



The Zodiac made its' way back to the cover of a boathouse on an inland waterway. Once the boat was safely concealed, Lorraine paid its' owner a hefty fee for the use, and then divided all the coin into equal shares for each of the faux pirate crew. The jewelry she kept; there were fences on a dozen worlds who'd pay up for such finery...enough to finance her little operation.

The silent little Brinker disappeared into the night, his mission accomplished. Good news for Lorraine and her crew, as the Browncoat underground had tossed them some lucrative work in the past. She just had one final chore to see this round of business to its' completion.


With the job complete, writers are free to move their characters at will...whether that's back to the boat, or to go carousing with their newfound coin. Careful, though. Spending like a drunken sailor on the same night as a robbery sometimes doesn't work out...
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