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Enjoying reading what you all have written before I dive in!
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Linux makes me happy, Blender helps me art, and Solus solved a lot of my problems.

I'm here because I like to RP in depth with high quality writing. Now, don't mistake me for high quality; I'm just hoping it rubs off.

Sharing cohost/GM duties with Sail3695 of "Firefly - Second 'Verse." Advanced game here: roleplayerguild.com/topics/186036-fir…

Pretty much all my posts are collaborations posted by others on our game!

I put some art works in progress here: roleplayerguild.com/topics/185966-art…

Most Recent Posts

Messing around with toonish shaders in blender.

Episode 6 - Honest Work

STORY NOTE: After leaving Pelorum behind and heading to the Heaven system, the China Doll will spend a long seven days in the black before touching down on Urvasi, a terra-formed planet which has become largely depopulated by casualties in the war. The time enroute was spent largely in somber silence by the Captain and his crew, aside from subdued meals in the galley. In concert with Yuri, Cal went over the particulars of the next job with Henrietta Cornwall, and made plans to get the China Doll strutted up with extra fuel, air, and supplies, and generally prepared for the journey to AN-3872: an asteroid supposedly rich with jettisoned cargo crates from Earth-That-Was.

PLAYER NOTE: We will have one central plot driving this episode with opportunities for all characters to engage or disengage as their writers see fit. In this episode we will, to some degree, be requiring all players to take part in the plot that Sail and I have cooked up, but we won’t fence you in too much. While there is plenty planned out by your humble hosts, there will be ample opportunity for your own character’s aspirations to fit in. Please feel free to engineer your own character subplots within reason (Not sure? Just ask!) as we head from Urvasi to a skyplex, then on to our main destination of Asteroid AN-3872, which only reaches this side of the Verse once in a blue moon.

We begin Episode 6 with China Doll about 2 hours away from landing on Urvasi and picking up our new pilot, Boone, which the Captain has yet to announce to the crew at large. As we entered the Heaven system, the mood of the crew improved slightly when the Captain promised a short bit of leave on the skyplex before the coordinated effort that would be the trussing and stuffing of the China Doll for its three-month journey to their job site.

Now strap in, it’s time for us to get a proper pilot for this tub!
Goodbye and Good Riddance, Pelorum

As the crew and passengers saddled up and strapped down for their journey, crates were lashed, the new-ish mule was clasped down, and passenger cargo was stowed. Abby was quick to her work, though the bounce in her step was decidedly not present in full force. Elias began his pre-flight checklist, wordless as ever, though the tone of the engineering bay was pointedly somber as lists were checked, cupplings were adjusted, and shore power was cut in favor of the China Doll's reactor. As conflicted as she was, Imani fastidiously locked away the former medic's tools and supplies in preparation for upthrust. Sister Lyen and Edina worked in tandem to clear away and strap closed the pantry and cupboards in the galley. When Edina came to clearing the table, Alana's urn stood undisturbed in the wake of their captain's eulogy. With careful hands, she picked it up, eyes glancing to Lyen full of questions as to what to do with it. With outstretched hands, the Sister accepted Edina's burden and carried her precious cargo to her quarters for safe storage until a better place could be chosen.

Yuri made his way to the bridge at a solemn pace, after delivering his orders. He could see Cal sitting at the pilot's chair; just sitting. His hands weren't busy with preflight checks, nor was he scanning equipment as Elias brought the ship's reactor to bear. The moons of Pelorum hung before the viewport of the China Doll and Cal appeared to be watching them. As Yuri entered, his boots sounded his ascent, which triggered the Captain to wipe his face with a quick hand. Leaning forward, Cal cleared his throat and began pre-flight checks. With a nod, he regarded his first mate and reached for the comm.

"This is your Captain speaking. We'll be buttoned up and leavin' Pelorum in a matter of minutes, so strap in and a member of crew will be by to check your belts. We have a pit-stop to make before we reach our destination, but our total travel time will be about eight days. Once we're in the black, feel free to move about the ship to the galley and your accommodations, but the rest is off limits 'less you're with a member of crew. Crew, situate our passengers then strap in. Upthrust in ten. Captain out."
Happy Saturday from the cargo bay!

I know it's been quite a while since your humble mods have updated the game's trajectory, but it's finally time for Episode 5 to come to a close and for our motley crew to head into Episode 6!

Thank you all for staying tuned and for sticking with us as we head into an exciting episode with our brand new pilot, Boone! Shortly, we'll get a closing statement for Episode 5 up in IC as well as an intro post for Episode 6!

This last couple months have seen our chief mod, Sail, out of commission for a bit due to medical and lots of real life. All of your well-wishes have been appreciated as he re-acclimates to life as a cyborg.

Check back soon for closing and intro posts launching the China Doll into Episode 6.


A Captain's Eulogy - (Day 3, Evening)

The tropical breeze was thick and warm as the mule cut through to China Doll’s berth. Singing frogs had begun their nightly chorus, humming beetles joining in staccato. Humid air swallowed stale cool pockets as Imani wove her journey, and Cal, cropped hair pulsing in the wind, snaked a reassuring hand behind himself to touch the lid of the urn lashed to the mule’s cargo rack. Yes, it was still there. Yes, this was all really happening.

Boots hit the steel of the cargo bay, and Strand freed the urn from the mule. Without a word to his companion, the Captain strode to the comm on the wall and lifted the receiver.

“Crew, set aside what you’re doin’ and meet me in the galley in five. I got some news,” he killed the comm and inhaled sharply, urn under arm.

“Strap that down, we’re leavin’,” Cal eyed Imani and pointed to the mule. “And… thank you.” Turning, he made his way up the stairs.

Setting the urn at the head of the table, Cal stood, arms crossed, and waited for the crew to filter in. His hands were mighty steady, but empty. His jaw set, but he still craved a cigarette. The silver case flipped open, a smoke jumped into his hand, and he took in his first puff as the room began to fill. As the smoke curled to the ceiling view of the night sky, Cal’s mind played over the events of the evening one last time.

He’d gone to drink and forget Alana. The booze and music had started to do its job in that cliché tourist-trap, then, as a cruel twist of fate, she’d been there at the bar the whole time. She collapsed, he tried to revive her; he weren’t no medic. The doctor’s said it had been instant. She was gone before she hit the floor.

His smoke lay smoldering in the crux of his forefinger, hands planted on the table-top, eyes in a hundred yard stare.

Sister Lyen cleared her throat.

His gaze landed on her first, a patient smile, concern in her eyes. The rest of them were watching him with a cousin of her concern on their faces. He brought the cigarette to his lips.

“You all know Alana took off when we touched dirt. She sold some story or other about helpin’ clinics or gettin’ supplies, but that was la shi. She’d quit the ship, and it was my fault. We had our reasons–personal reasons. She packed her things and collected her share, and that was that.” His face went cold.

“Tonight, fate or coincidence, brought us to the same waterin’ hole, tryin’ to forget it all. She was at the bar when it happened; an aneurysm, the doc said, from a tumor.” Cal’s eyes were hard, “She didn’t suffer long, but there was nothin’ they could do for her when we got her to the hospital.” The Captain’s gaze fell on the urn in front of him.

“This here’s her ashes.” He took another pull on his cigarette, smoke weaving to the heavens like a soul seeking absolution.

In the moments that followed, the crew traded glances, but none broke the silence that had descended on the Captain and crew of the China Doll. Alana was gone, almost in the blink of an eye, and this simple urn held what was left of her.

Like awakening from a trance, Strand straightened and eyed each member of the crew in turn. Abby’s eyes had glazed over, her stare bore through his chest. Imani’s gaze had fallen to the floor before returning to his. Sister Lyen’s almond eyes were watching him with that same veiled concern. He shook his head.

“Sad as this is, I need y’all sharp. We got no medic–so don’t go doin’ anythin’ stupid. We keep flyin’, like we always have.”

He dropped his cigarette and ground it into the grate of the galley, “Now get back to work.”
Made it into a silly gif!

When the Night Makes You Numb, Part 4 - (Day 3, Evening)

A collab between @Xandrya and @Wanderingwolf

The moon of Pelorum hung low in the sky, like a bird lazily carried by the tropical breeze. Cal's jaw was slack as he leaned against the mule; his silver case leapt into his hand. He watched far off as a couple of young folk carefully clutched a bundle of pink flesh to their chests in turn while waiting on the night bus. The lighter flipped on, he held out the cigarette. That yellow moon hung low and bright, he could almost see Alana's eyes there blinking back beneath those dark brows--"Da Shiong La Se La Ch’wohn Tian!" (trans. explosive diarrhea of an elephant)

Captain Strand's expletives played second fiddle to the show the man put on as he wildly beat out the fire that had engulfed the brim of his favorite hat. "Lio Coh Jwei Ji Neong Hur Ho Deh Yung Duh Buhn Jah J’wohn!" (trans. stupid son of a drooling whore and a monkey)

Eyes from the newly minted parents turned to the man who now held a smoldering hat and a defeated expression, "Shuh Muh?" He said, throwing up his hands at the pair who decided to forgo the bus in favor of walking. (trans. what?)

Cal leaned backward against the mule, before sliding to the ground. Propping his elbows on his knees, both hands held the still smoking hat by what remained of the brim. She was gone. She was really gone. He'd been trying to forget her--and now? He looked at the moon. And now he never could.

She waited, and then waited some more. Imani practically melted into her seat, finding herself being entertained by passerby and the occasional rush due to an emergency. But an undefined amount of time later, the doctor returned with a holyman in tow, the latter holding an urn with both hands. His expression was slightly apologetic, but mostly serious. Probably the very same face he presented whenever he dealt with a death, and given his profession, that must be quite often.

"Ms. Imani, I'm Father Francis. Here are Dr. Lysanger's ashes..." he stretched out his arms to offer her the urn. "If you're up to it, I can say a prayer from any faith you follow."

She took the urn, wanting to already be out of that place. "Mighty kind of you, and the effort is appreciated but I'm not too keen on religion." Imani then wished them a good day and turned on her heel, hoping to find Cal nearby and not be a stranded hitchhiker.

But as luck would have it, he was still in the area. Imani picked up the pace, settling in next to him once she was at his side. "I had her cremated...otherwise I believe her body would have been used for some students to poke around on, and I dunno, figured she deserved a better send-off than getting used as a lab rat." Imani waited for his reaction, whether that was an angry outburst or a simple acknowledgment devoid of emotion, he was completely within his right.

He let her words sink in while still staring at the skies. Not only was Alana gone, but she was dust. Breaking his brooding gaze for the simple, utilitarian urn in Imani’s hands, his mind cast backward–would she have wanted to be an experiment? As a medical professional, it weren’t out of the question. Selfishly, he didn’t want that for her. If he were in Imani’s boots, he probably would have done the same, and so he finally said, “I reckon you’re right.”

Cal stretched out a hand to touch the urn’s lid in Imani’s lap. The old adage was something like, ‘ashes to ashes and dust to dust.’ The saying had a finality to it, true, but what he got most from it was the insignificance of everything in between. One day you’re riding across the sky, the next, dust. He swallowed hard.

“It’s late,” he said, rising. Mounting the mule, he kicked it to life, tossing what was left of his hat into the gutter. He idled there a moment; waited for Imani to saddle up. Waited for something to touch him in the void he was swimming in. He’d had his anger already. When Alana left he was plenty furious. Now he was left with the hole left behind by anger, pain, and grief. The last words he said to her still tattooed his brain: ‘you do your gorram job and I’ll do mine.’ And now it’d keep playin’ for a spell, he wagered. Keep playin’ until he drowned it out with the usual suspects.

His face said it all; no words needed. Imani helped the captain secure the urn as they prepared for their return to the Doll. She could only ponder as to the many thoughts racing through his mind in that moment. Imani had never had a significant other whom she'd be devastated over losing, thus she didn't have many empathetic words of consolation to offer Cal, nothing really other than her company.

"Trade me?" she gently placed a hand on his shoulder, hoping he'd take her offer.

Cal didn’t have to think about it, feeling the tap on his shoulder. He threw his leg over the mule and stood, not making eye contact with Imani as she took the driver’s seat. Once she was settled, he saddled up behind her and placed one arm around her side for stability. Hours ago she had wrapped her hands around his waist to the beat of the music; sober yet sotted, and just plain sad, the Captain didn’t lose sight of the irony.

Imani glanced over her shoulder, confirming Cal had plopped down and readied up for the ride. She didn't further speak as she revved her up, and a moment later she welcomed the breeze making a slight mess of her hair.
When the Night Makes You Numb, Part 3 - (Day 3, Evening)

A collab between @Xandrya and @Wanderingwolf

"Alana!" he barked, kneeling at her side, hands at her shoulders, "Alana! Somebody call a doctor!" His wide eyes didn't break from her pained face, even as her hair lay across her cheeks. He shook her, gently, "Alana, wake up!" But she didn't stir. He looked her over now, signs of an injury, some sort of wound to treat, but there weren't no hide nor hair of blood. "Alana," his voice was raising now. His gentle shakes rocked her shoulders, but her body only quaked in limp response. That pit in his stomach swallowed him whole. He felt like he needed to retch. His shaking hand sought out the vein at her neck, but in the seconds he took to read her pulse, the tears began to come. "No," he croaked, his throat collapsing. "No..."

I thought we had more time,
Time to get things right,
Some days the sun won't shine,
Some days we fuss and fight,

But still I thought of you,
Our picnic on the beach,
You watched the scenic view,
I watched you within reach,

Now I hold you, but I don't,
Come on back to me,
The kindness that you've sown,
By your love, I was free.

Heartbreaking. No other words to describe it. Imani watched as Cal poured himself over Alana, desperate to find any sign of life in her. She was gently shoved as someone's curiosity got the better of them.

"Back up, they need their space!" Imani turned to address the crowd, spreading out her arms in an attempt to keep them from suffocating the two. In response, someone slapped her hand away, and she wasn't having it. Imani's eye fell on the man as she forced her way in front of him. "I said stay back!" She placed an open palm on his chest and in a not-so-gentle way pushed him back into the crowd. When he gripped her wrist, Imani used her free hand to wind back before delivering a blow to his jaw, one that would catch him off balance, sending him into unsuspecting witnesses. She felt a tug, pulling her away from him. Imani then decided it was enough and she shook them off, barging her way to the captain's side.

"Is she gone?" she knelt down beside him, looking her over but failing to see any indicators of life.

Cal became stone in that moment, the tear streaks on his cheeks quickly wiped away. It wasn't lost on him, beside himself as he was, that Imani had made space for the trio, and pulled a punch to keep things from escalating. Now, he stood, eyes of the crowd glued to him, Alana, and Imani. Parting the bodies, they fell away as he made a b-line for his hat at the bar. Minutes before he had been trying to forget the woman lying on the floor, with some help from his companion; now, a new host of emotions ripped and pulled at him like a current. Strand returned to Imani and Alana, and knelt beside the motionless woman. "Dédào m zi," he said, looking down at Alana. With an arm gently placed beneath her neck and shoulders, the other at the fold of her knees, Cal lifted the lifeless Alana, her head lolling against his chest.

There were no words exchanged during the solemn trip to the hospital. Imani focused on the safe transport of her captain and his girlfriend. The great and almighty Buddha would ideally spare her from suffering through such misfortune in the future if she were to find an adequate man to settle down with. She'd faced plenty of death in her life, but to lose your partner had to hurt enough to crumble a soul. Whom else if not said partner to grow a family with?

Imani took a quick peek behind her to see Cal holding on to any last bit of hope that they were able to work some life into her. But if experience served her any, time was simply working against them.

Another notification chimed from the cortex, letting them they were arriving at their destination very soon. "We're almost there," she finally added, breaking the silence.

The hospital was the only place to go. Not the Doll; no doc there. He'd made sure of that. Her body was beginning to cool in his hands. His brows pulled down permanently. Somewhere deep inside, he clung to the threadbare hope that docs could work miracles. He looked down into Alana's face. This one had, afterall.

Upon their arrival, Imani hurriedly-near on desperately-exited the mule and rushed to get the nearest medical staff available, forgetting Cal was left behind with a limp body. She rushed through the entrance and flagged down who she assumed to be a nurse.

"We've got an emergency, our doctor has no pulse!" Imani could've waited for a response, but she gripped the man's arm and dragged him outside.

As Imani rushed in to find help, Cal carefully stood from the mule while holding the limp form of his medic. Her hair was disheveled from the break-neck pace they'd taken to get here, but her face fell almost restfully. She looked like she was sleeping; like he'd watch her sleep hundreds of times from their shared bunk. The pit in his stomach drew at his insides like a black hole.

The rest was a blur, from the man Imani brought out, to the hospital waiting room. Now he sat shoulder to shoulder with Imani, though he'd said very little throughout the whole ordeal. In the silence, he waged war against the phantasm army of memories: her smile and those striking brows of hers; the smell of her hair and the way her biting wit put him in his place more than a time or two. The minutes felt like hours, and what with all their fancy tech, they had all sorts of ways of imaging and scanning and processing Alana. But Cal knew that wasn't Alana any more. The black coffee clung to the paper cup in his hands, tilting its contents this way and that.

"Excuse me," the clear voice of a slight man in teal scrubs approached the pair. "For Alana Lysanger?"

Cal looked up at him without a word.

The man's brow lifted as he continued, "Ms. Lysanger suffered from a massive aneurysm caused by a tumor in her brain." He paused for a moment, gauging the reaction of both Cal and Imani, then added, "I'm sorry for your loss."

The Captain stood, put on his hat, and beat a trail through the buzzing medical staff back to the mule.


Imani followed with a defeated sigh as she watched Cal disappear. She looked down then locked eyes with the uniformed man. "I reckon that's a best-case reaction from him given the news." Against her better judgment, the young woman then made a request which quite possibly would anger the captain to no end. She was overstepping into matters not of her concern, but in that moment, Imani saw it right to do what she did.

"You have a fairly quick cremation process, right?"
When the Night Makes You Numb, Part 2 - (Day 3, Evening)

A collab between @Xandrya and @Wanderingwolf

The music slowly dulled. Alana found it odd but left it alone as she took another sip. Most likely, her already empty stomach would not see food prior to her ending her evening.

He finally let loose, she smiled as Cal made his approach, not wasting half a second closing the gap between them both. "I hope your feet do not tire easy," she leaned in close to his ear as to not yell over the music, her body still moving to the beat of the music with one arm off to the side as to avoid any spillage.

The way Imani moved near, his neck could feel the warmth of her skin; the way the rest of her flowed to the music, her admonition made him grin. “Honey,” he answered, sour face beginning to thin, “these boots were made for dancin’, and that’s just what they’ll do.” The beat set in deep and strong, now. “If you ain’t careful, Darlin’, reckon these boots’ll dance all over you.”

With another pull on his drink, Cal began to follow the way Imani’s body moved, keeping step but keeping space between them. With a glance over his shoulder, even in the strobing light, he swore he saw a familiar head of blonde hair near the bar. Shaking the thought from his mind, he returned his attention to his companion.

A sudden sharp pain caused her to drop her glass and instead reach for her head. Alana made a fist with one hand and pounded the bartop multiple times in response to the pain, but nonetheless it was persistent. Some of the patrons surrounded her to see if everything was alright, but they had to act quick when the young woman tried to get on her feet and instead dropped to the ground unconscious. They struggled to catch her at first, but then they were able to gently lower her onto the ground. Unbeknown to anyone there, however, Alana Lysanger had officially passed away that very moment from her brain tumor.

“Must be the alcohol talking!” She made a bold move and pushed her body to his while grabbing his drink off his hand. Their faces mere inches from each other, Imani turned to the side to take a sip, all the while she didn’t stop dancing. Since both hands were busy, once she gulped down the alcohol she returned his drink. At that point he didn’t stand a chance. Before he could possibly pull away, Imani snaked two fingers around his waist, eventually inserting them in one of the belt loops above his behind. And that’s exactly when she heard the commotion.

At first she thought nothing of it, but the alarming shouts became more obvious. The music was lowered and she stopped, looking in the direction of the huddled guests.

Here he was, trying his best to numb the sound of his last words to Alana--to the woman he cared for the most--but the whole scene, this bar, Imani, felt at arms length. He'd tempted fate when he showed her the door and dared her to walk through it. Stubborn as he was, he knew she was even more so. Call it pride or any other fancy Latin term, but it had bit Captain Cal Strand and sunk its teeth in deep. Once it let go, now he's stuck nursin' the wounds his own pride left behind.

Even now as the sound pulsed in his ears, he was still in the medbay, squared up with Alana. That look on her face, it made the bitterness well up inside him again. The sound of her dismissing him, all due to the thought that he fancied someone else on the ship... The kicker bein' Imani here.

And then that kicker leaned into him, pressin' every inch of their bodies together as they moved up and down to the music. He let her take his drink, transfixed for a moment at the abrupt closeness of someone filling the void. That's when he felt her intentions by way of a hand at the small of his back.

If he were honest with himself, the feelings of shame conjured by how he'd left things with Alana, and the scenario unfolding right now betixt him and Imani were two sides of the same coin. The intoxicating pull drug him down deeper, but the feeling of falling made him wary. That blonde head at the bar. Alana's lips. Then, that look in her eye when she told him to git.

Shouting brought him out of it, along with Imani extricating her hold of him, her eyes darting in the direction of the sound. They were yellin' for a doctor. Normally, Cal don't stick his nose into situations that don't concern him, but the pit in his stomach drove him forward through the crowd. When it parted, and he saw that phantasm before him, it drove him to frenzy.
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