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Recent Statuses

1 mo ago
Current Sound of Freedom made me cry in the opening credits. Like at least lemme set my popcorn down or get comfortable you know...
4 mos ago
Women in my family have gotten MD gifts before, from each other, SOs, etc. My cousin even asked me for my mom's shoe size prior to MD. But whatever, it is what it is. Saves me money in the future.
4 mos ago
I know his response, I just wanted some opinions
4 mos ago
I'm not materialistic at all but I recently realized I didn't receive a gift for my first Mother's Day. Got taken out to eat, sure, but that's it. I do that on the weekends anyway. Should I be upset?
5 mos ago
Wrong. Everyone has a life, you simply choose whether or not to waste it.


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The crew solemnly exchanged glances with one another. Somehow the reality hadn't quite settled on her yet, not entirely at least. Imani hadn't known the doc for all that long but if she were sure of something, it was that Alana was truly cared about. She cleared the scratchiness in her throat, silently tapping her index finger on the table. Mindlessly staring at her other hand resting on her lap, Imani figured it best to forgo offering some sort of response to future inquiries as to what'd occurred. The least she could do is offer that level of privacy to Captain Strand and his dearly departed.

Soon after Yuri was delegating work. He called her name and her blood ran cold. She stared at him blankly, feeling herself nodding her approval yet wishing to do anything but work the medbay. With a perceived sense of urgency, Imani got to her feet and walked out of the galley, leaving the chair halfway out with no intention of returning it to its intended position.

Once she arrived at the medbay, Imani stood at the doorway, staring inside. Walking into the medbay and handling Alana's gear and equipment would feel as if she were violating her sacred space. Nothing was further from the truth but it should go without saying that this simple assignment was certainly not at the top of her list, though she would nonetheless get it done.
”The Breakfast Club” (Shoreleave Day 2 Morning)

JP/Collab from @Xandrya, @wanderingwolf and @sail3695

“I thought we were out of bacon?”

Edina looked up from her work to see Yuri across the galley’s work counter. She couldn’t help the contented smile that blossomed upon her face. “Well, I conjure it passed the smell test,” she replied. “Did you know that there are tons of recipes for protein paste? Sam hit the cortex and found this one,” she waved a spatula toward the brownish strips sizzling in a skillet. “Add the right seasoning and fry em up in lard…voila!” She offered him a piece from a serving plate. “Give it a try.”

“Don’t mind if I do.” The first mate tucked the clipboard under an arm before selecting a slice from the lighter colored stack. “What are those?” he asked, his faux bacon now used as a pointer. “The mistake pile?”

She lifted two strips from the pan, allowing a gentle shake to help the excess grease run off. “For Elias,” Edina said of the brittle, darker pieces. “Still guessing about his palate, but right now I think if I jack the seasoning way up and overcook a little, it helps his taste buds.” She paused, an expectant smile on her face as he chewed thoughtfully. “Well?” she quizzed after he swallowed the first morsel. “What do you think?”

With a slight lift to his brow, Yuri nodded and said, “It’s close.”

“How close?” She asked. “One to ten.”

“Seven…eight,” he waved an ‘iffy’ gesture. “I don’t conjure it’d ever make ten, but for ‘not bacon’, this is pretty good!”

“Uh huh…uh huh,” Edina nodded. With a glance toward the cortex reader on the countertop she asked, “what do you think, Sam? Should we dial it up?”

“We can,” the Boston accent rose from the little device. “The Alliance human physiology database reports that excessive seasoning of food will suffer a diminishing return from the taste buds on the tongue. Based on Yuri’s compromise score of seven-point-five, I’ve altered the recipe to achieve a hoped for outcome of eight-point-five to nine.”

“Mmmph,” Yuri reached for a cup. “So I’m your guinea pig,” he chuckled as he poured the fresh coffee. “Give you a refill?”

Edina took the pan off heat, setting it aside. “Please,” she answered. “Take our cups to the table and I’ll bring the bacon.” After peeling out of the cook’s apron, she brought 2 plates, a jar of ‘sorta’ mayonnaise, and a loaf of bread. “Sandwiches,” Edina piped up as she took her seat across from him.

“White bread?” Yuri cocked an eyebrow. “Isn’t that exclusively for our young deckhand’s ‘peebee-and-jays?”
“I don’t conjure she’ll mind.” With efficient hands she constructed two sandwiches, arranging the artificial repast into a crosshatch pattern between the bread slices. “B L T’s,” Edina said proudly, “minus the ‘L’ and the ‘T.’ Maybe we can afford those next time.”

Yuri took his sandwich with a grateful nod, going three bites in before he paused. “It’s good,” he encouraged after a swallow of coffee. “Compliments to the chef,” the mate raised his cup in toast.

“Chefs,” Edina’s cup met Yuri’s with a subtle clink. “Sam pulled the whole thing together. Just wait,” she giggled, “til I start trying to bake.” After a moment’s companionable silence she asked, “heard from the Captain?”

Yuri shook his head. “Told me he had to ‘see a man about a mule.’ That was yesterday,” he added before pulling a sip from his cup.

“Shouldn’t we check on him?” Concern washed over her face.

“From what he said, he and Sam are pretty much joined at the hip,” he answered. “If things go South I’m certain we’d know. But right now? With Alana in the wind? I think the best thing we can do is just give him space.”

“Think they’ll work it out?”

“Hope so.”

Imani paused for a split moment before walking into the galley. She'd overheard the conversation Edina and Yuri were having, or at least the end of it.

"Smells good." Walking past them, Imani eventually grabbed a plate and helped herself to three pieces of "bacon". She wasn't all too hungry and so didn't bother for a sandwich, though no doubt she was open to one in the near future.

"Curing a hangover? Because that's at least a couple of plates more."

Yuri loosed a chuckle. “Thank Buddha! Another guinea pig. Now the pressure’s off.”

“Not for you, it isn’t,” Edina fixed him with a mischievous eye before turning her gaze. “Hey Imani. Don’t listen to him,” she said. “We’re just trying out a recipe for Bacon Ala Protein Paste. Need coffee?” she asked.

Taking a bite, she smirked at the two. Imani thoroughly chewed the paste-turned-bacon that Edina had cooked up, and eventually, her approval was delivered with a subtle nod. "No complaints from me, actually. But hold the coffee, I prefer to warm up a cup later in the morning."

The smell was just divine, the nun thought, as she followed her nose to the galley. Her orange kasaya robe appeared in the entrance a moment later, and she laid eyes on Edina, Imani, and Yuri gathered around the table. “Mind if I join you?” she asked, as she surveyed the fruit the cook’s toils. Bacon! Or.. something like it? Lyen cocked her head as she took in the smell and sight of the fried, brown strips. They looked delicious, given they belonged to the various recipes Edina had been able to build with paste as their main ingredient.

In the days she’d spent aboard the China Doll, Ly had made her peace with taking a cup of coffee in the morning to get going, but yesterday, thanks to the Captain’s explosive display, she spied a small copper kettle that had been freed from the back of a tall cabinet. Her slender hands filled it now as she asked the group, “Anyone for tea?” ‘Tea’ was a generous term, but the loose, powdery leaves of some kind mostly passed muster.

"Tea sounds exquisite just about now," Imani smiled up at Sister Lyen.

“Shiny,” she replied. Water set over a flame, she joined the cook, the first mate, and the… well, she wasn’t exactly sure what Imani’s station was on the ship. Deckhand perhaps? She watched as the mayhaps-deckhand settled in with her plate. Lyen took a seat while she waited for the boil.

“Good morning, Sister,” Yuri greeted the nun before recoiling from a mild jab to the shoulder. “Hey!” he exclaimed at the light hearted affront, “what did I do?”

“That,” Edina replied as she rose to collect a fresh plate and silverware, “is for refusing to let me buy some decent tea.”

The first mate lifted his hands in supplication. “Yes, ma’am,” he grinned. “I have seen the error of my ways.” To Sister Lyen he offered, “since I’m now under new orders today, do you have a pref on tea?”

“Anything suits me,” she said, head tilting to the side in thought. With a finger in the air she belayed that, “Though I’m keen on green and oolong. Ooh, and honeybush!” Her almond eyes lightened, and she forced out a shallow cough, “but I’ll drink anything,” the nun fibbed.

“Honeybush,” he repeated, adding the three teas to a list on his cortex. “Got it. Imani?” Yuri’s eyes lifted. “Speak now or forever drink the Sister’s choices.”

"A honeybush sounds mighty fine if only for the sake of simplicity," she added as she pushed back the chair to get up, smiling to Lyen as she went. Imani went to fetch her canteen as she waited for the tea. "I'm sure the Sister's choice don't disappoint, not sure about yours, however..." Her back was turned to them, making her unable to get a glimpse of their reaction.

A confused Yuri traded glances with the boat’s ad hoc cook. “What?” he mouthed the silent question, to be met by an equally bemused Edina passing a hand over her head. “Uh,” he fumbled for a suitable reply, “she looks after all my choices,” the attempted quip emphasized with a pointed finger.

“First time I’ve heard that,” Edina cocked an eyebrow.

“It’s in your job description.”

“Ooooh,” she replied with an understanding nod. “Is that what you meant by ‘other duties as assigned?”

“Among other things,” Yuri chuckled, grateful for the rhetorical escape hatch. “Yes.”

“Note to self.” Edina arranged a place setting for the nun. “Always read the fine print. So we’re experimenting this morning,” she explained as more of the aromatic strips landed on Lyen’s plate. “How close does this compare to actual bacon? One to ten, ladies,” she said, “ten being ‘I can’t tell the difference’ and one as ‘what is this abomination?’ The cheapskate here,” she handed a wry grin to Yuri, “has already voted. What do you both think?”

“Thank you,” Ly said, surveying the appetizing substitute with her chopsticks. With a gentle tap, the protein-bacon cracked authentically into the carbon and she lifted a morsel to her mouth. The crunch was authentic, from what she could tell, only having eaten actual bacon a handful of times. As she moved the piece to either side of her mouth, the salt and the smokey flavoring from what she knew to be the hard work of seasoning, were more than enough to fool her taste buds. She started her response with a smile, lifting a hand to cover her mouth, “Edina, this is delightful. I’d say the only way I can tell it’s not bacon is because it tastes better than most of the soggy, stringy stuff I’ve had before this.”

"Oh, we're working with numbers now?" Imani let her head rest on her palm as she scratched her plate with her fork in no particular pattern. "A well-deserved eight I'd say."

”Ku,” Edina sipped her coffee. “Round Two will come tomorrow morning…unless we score an actual cook before them,” she smirked.

Yuri lifted an index finger, swallowing his food before he spoke. “Not sure that’ll happen,” he said. “Captain’s got a thing about folk who show initiative,” he said as he eyed the last remaining strip. “You took on the galley when Hook left, Edina. I’ve got a feeling he’ll be inclined to make it official.”

“Wow,” she answered, her smile sheepish toward Imani and Lyen. “I’m sorry about your luck, guys. While we’re talking food, will any of you be around for supper, or have you all got plans?”

As the tea’s boil made itself known with the telltale sound that the Japanese called ‘the wind in the pine trees,’ Lyen rose to join Imani and serve her. Ly replied to Edina as she approached the kettle, “I haven’t got any business on Pelorum; you’re stuck with me, I’m afraid.”

“Shiny,” Edina met Lyen with an easy smile. “I’m laying out dinner plates at four o’clock,” she explained, “because Yuri and I have passes to a shindig at a museum. So far, it’s you and Elias eating in tonight. I’ve already got him figured out,” she continued. “Any idea of what you might like, Sister?”

The nun contemplated the question for a moment, in light of what she knew Edina was capable of, especially with protein paste. Ultimately, her comfort food was rather simple: “I’m partial to noodles and broth–a little spice suits me just fine.” She flashed a grin at Edina as she took another bite of her bacon stand-in. “But I’m an easy customer when it comes to food; the monastery taught me a lot of things, but being picky was not one of them.”

Edina listened, taking Lyen’s preferences into memory before turning toward Yuri with imploring eyes. “Hey, since these good folk are all gonna have to suffer my protein paste recipes and canned everything else, you think maybe we could eek out some decent noodles and veg while we’re here?”

Having already opted to be ‘that guy,’ Yuri found himself beneath the directed gaze of the three women, caught red handed with the final strip of faux bacon in his fingers. “Well,” the first mate replied in an air of outsized thoughtfulness, “since you put it that way…and since I’m already under orders to go tea shopping today..why not?” His eyes flecked with humor as he shared a glance with the mocha skinned woman. “Give me a shopping list, but try to keep it limited to what one ignorant man can carry. Imani?” he steered the conversation. “Got a non-caviar food idea for tonight, or will you be out carousing?”

"Quite tempting the offer, and I don't see the harm in serving as a guinea pig once more before heading out for another adventure."

The nature of this planet meant that physical things and experiences were paramount to its inhabitants and those journeying here to partake. Still, off the beaten track, there were temples of her Order, but they were much too far to visit from the hub. She’d have to suffice with meditations and prayer aboard the China Doll, she conjured.

“Ready?” Lyen asked of Imani, her almond eyes checking for permission. A basket of the crumpled, black leaves landed in the woman’s canteen, then the ‘wind in the pine trees’ funneled into her cup. Afterward, she arranged her own cup.

"The aroma is divine..." Imani cupped her hands around the canteen to immerse herself in the scent. She found comfort in the warmth radiating to her palms. "I appreciate this Sister Lyen."

Sam listened to the easy goings-on through the keyhole of Edina’s cortex reader. She had long known that for a system such as herself, the demonstrable characteristics of empathy served as a key to unlock the mysteries of human emotion to digital intelligence. Upon collating the group dynamic through their tone and banter, Sam’s findings indicated a distinct absence of tension among the four. The varying levels of affability provided an overall result that she could describe as ‘friendly.’ The next step would be interpolation of those findings to determine the more nebulous ‘vibe,’ as Cal chose to describe it. While broader research was ongoing, simple hypothesis based upon this moment in time offered its’ own conclusion. Through application of those applied numerical values, S.A.M.A.N.T.H.A could experience the sense of inclusion…and contentment.
A Friendship That Never Dies

JP/Collab from @Xandrya and @sail3695

She watched ‘em go. The student volunteers all come off in one’s an’ two’s. Some was wearin’ clothes they swapped with Anabaptists. Others took time on Bernadette tah rush off an’ buy ‘em some new things. But no matter how they’s dressed, all of ‘em was excited fer spendin’ a few days an’ their parents’ coin on Pelorum’s beaches.

Abby checked ‘em off on ‘er clipboard. Some waved an’ said goodbye. Some jest stalked on past like she weren’t there. Couple give ‘er the finger, what raised a laugh as they headed down the ramp toward one of them rickshaws all lined up tah haul ‘em off.

Last ‘o’ tha bunch was Christina, her as took Abby’s room fer tha ride. “Bout tah send a search party,” the deckhand cocked an eyebrow as the girl hustled up.

“I cleaned the room,” the student huffed as she hurried by. “Fresh bed linens and all mopped. Send me a wave when you start reading Harry…okay?”

“Sure’n I will!” Abby lifted a hand in farewell. She watched as Christina piled inta tha last rickshaw, ‘long with five others, afore it peddled off in tha settin’ sun. Tha boat was all theirs again. As she closed up ‘er clipboard, the deckhand conjured if she spent tahnight workin’, she’d have China Doll all squared by midnight tahnight. Rumor floatin’ about was Cap’n’s gon’ give ‘em all three whole days tah lollygag. She weren’t too sure jest how she’d go about fillin’ three days with no work…but Abby’s willin’ tah git it a go.

The girl turned in time tah see Alana. The doc was luggin’ what looked like all her worldly things in a medical bag and a big steamer trunk, edges sqwawkin’ as they’s dragged across tha cargo bay deck. “Alana?” she smiled after tha curious sight. “Can I lend a hand with that?”

She slowed her steps to an eventual halt an arm's length or two away from Abby, the trunk pushing against her given the incline. A more inconvenient time to run into the girl surely didn't exist... Alana wasn't looking to he completely truthful. In fact, she would outright have to lie to her friend since otherwise her departure would be that much harder to bear.

"I've got to stop at one of the clinics here as they're looking to get some equipment." That much was true for a lot of locations given the scarcity of medical supplies, and Abby was none the wiser.

“That’s a mighty load tah go draggin’ about,” the deckhand observed. “I’d offer yah tha mule…’cept we left ‘er behind on Osiris.” Abby looked tha trunk up an’ down, ponderin’ tha weight. “Tell yah what,” her face brightened. “We got us a hand truck. Make it scads easier goin’ where yer bound. I’ll put a strap on it, so that trunk won’t be partial to slippin’ off.”

She offered her the best smile she possibly could with a nod, trying to keep herself from shedding a tear. An awfully emotional moment as an unsuspecting Abby's willingness to help tore Alana's heart. Poor girl didn't know any better, and all of that just didn't sit right with her. She faced away, pretending to mess with the trunk in order to compose herself. "What would we all do without you? I'll tell you what, not a whole lot."

Abby give a chuckle over ‘er shoulder. “I reckon y’all’d be more at ease without havin’ tah keep patchin’ me back tahgether,” she said all cheerful as she went for tha kit. A half tick later, the deckhand came back, wheelin’ the hand truck before her. “Is it shiny tah tilt yer trunk on one end?”

Once permission came, the girl boosted the big case up, afore slidin’ the nose plate beneath. She run tha strap around the whole of it, ratchet teeth chatterin’ as she cranked it down tight. “Perty easy tah undo this,” Abby offered. “Jest squeeze this little bit inta tha strap handle an’ pop right loose.” She put a foot on the axle tah steady it, an’ pulled tha hand truck til its’ burden now balanced upon them wheels. “Yer ready tah rock an’ roll, Doc,” she held it for her friend to take charge. “I been hearin’ Cap’n’s gon’ grant us all three days’ shore leave,” Abby piped up. “Yew still up fer a beach day?”

"Looks as secured as it's gonna get." She tapped the side of the trunk with the toe of her boot before take possession of the handle. Talks of the beach came up, and once more Alana had to lie her way through a response. "What other beach if not Pelorum's, right? Lather up on plenty of sunscreen because that sun is awfully unforgiving...or so I've heard."

Abby give a smirk. “Red hair an’ pale skin’s a surefire sign ‘o’ gettin’ burnt. I’ll cover up good,” she promised. To her study, Alana looked a skosh distracted. Somethin’ in her eyes. Though still kindly in ‘er ways an’ words, the girl could suss they’s somethin’ eatin’ at ‘er. Somethin’ she weren’t keen tah share. Of course, ya fool, the deckhand chided ‘erself. She’s got somewheres tah be, an’ here yew are, boggin’ ‘er down.

“Either which way,” she said, “I’m sure Cap’n won’t let me set foot off this boat ‘til I got things all spic an’ span.” She smiled. “I’ll see yah when yer back.”

“You're good people, Abby," Alana reached for a hug, making it seem as casual as possible. She didn't want to leave the girl wondering whether her actions meant a final goodbye between them two. "You get this boat tidied up as best as you can, you hear? We don't want your fun in the sun to be dampened by a list of mediocre chores."

Alana then tugged on the trunk with a final wave, a tear sliding down her cheek once she faced away from her friend.
”The Sun Don’t Always Shine…”

JP/collab from @Xandrya and @sail3695

Cal Strand appears courtesy of @wanderingwolf

“Ever wonder why an old dog likes layin’ in the sunshine?” his pa had once asked. After a shake of the son’s head, he’d said, “Cuz old dogs always see sunny days as gifts, young’un. You have a day when the sun’s shinin’ on you, make sure you don’t let it slip by.”

Pelorum lay ahead, a jewel of blue and green which steadily grew in the cockpit viewports. Tommy’d have China Doll skids down in about eight hours’ time. Ship was flyin’ right. Crew all seemed happy for the coming days…and thanks to the museum pieces in the cargo bay, Cal was proud to turn ‘em all loose with some coin in their pockets, It felt good all over, knowin’ they’d helped those Anabaptist folk move on to a proper life…but breakin’ even in the process made things that much sweeter.

“Abigail,” the captain caught sight of the young deckhand as he crossed the catwalk. “Kindly tell me you got some proper lollygaggin’ planned this time around?”

The teenager turnt incredulous eyes towards ‘er Cap’n. “Lollygaggin’?” She groused. “Yah seen whut them college folk done tah yer boat, sir? Whut with all tha all night parties an’ not pickin’ up after their selves? Not tah mention all tha humpin’ goin’ on? Gon’ take me a solid week tah git them rooms decent fer payin’ customers…” She stopped, drawn up short by Cap’n’s raised hand.

“Won’t order you to have fun…no, wait…I conjure I will,” Cal decided. “We’re skids down for five whole days. I order you to spend the first three of ‘em doin’ nothin’ productive…dohn mah?”

The girl looked all like a fish done flopped up on tha bank accidental like. “I’ll think on it, Cap’n,” she finally give a bit.

“Think hard. Hey, seen the doc?”

“Yeah,” Abby thowed a shoulder towards tha aft hatch. “She’s squarin’ up medbay.”

“Dandy,” Cal nearly bounced down the steps on the balls of his feet. “Sun’s shinin’ on this ole’ dog,” he smiled to himself as he made for the medbay…and Alana.

In a funny twist of events, her partner's savior needed a savior. That was her initial thought anyway as that girl Imani went on about how she rescued Cal, their "handsome" captain. Even though that was a while back when she went up to Alana in order to get checked out, the story that was told remained in her mind. Obviously Alana wasn't happy about the fact, especially with Cal making friendly comments about that other passenger.

After announcing himself with a quick “shave and a haircut” rap to the door, Cal leaned in. “Is this where the prettiest doc in the ‘verse works?” he grinned.

"Prettiest doc maybe, but not the prettiest woman." The sour tone of her voice indicated displeasure at his arrival, the point further expressed as she didn't turn around to greet him, but instead kept her eyes on her cortex. Alana figured he was attempting to make good with her, possibly out of guilt.

Cal Strand was ebullient. “Eye of the beholder, piàoliang de yīgè,” (pretty one) he quipped as he slid the medbay hatch shut behind him. “Have to tell you I’m pleased as punch how this all turned out. You, Hook, and Abigail really stepped up,” the proud grin held as he recalled the way this crew came together. “And Tommy? Then Quill…I’m hopin’ to get her to ride along with us a spell. And how about that Imani?” he asked, pleasure creeping into his tone.

Her eyes shifted upward from the screen, finally glancing at him. He was being smug about it too...

"So you fancy them then?" Alana played along, a smile forming as if she was genuinely taking interest in what Cal was saying, though how she felt inside didn't one bit match her expression. On the other hand, he was sharing plenty with her. "I would feel the same way if someone stepped up to get me out of a bad decision gone wrong."

Paloma Faith - Only Love Can Hurt Like This (Lyrics)

He couldn’t be rightly certain, seein’s how his gambler’s senses looked to need a bit of a tune, but something here felt just a might…off. Alana was smiling at him…he loved to see her smile. Hoped to see a lot more of that on Pelorum, in some little out of the way bungalow he’d find for them both. Well, maybe Sam would find it. Iceberg, Goldberg…

“Not sure ‘fancy’s’ the word I’m thinkin’,” the captain leaned casually, one hip against her work surface. “Like,’ mayhaps? ‘Feel good about hirin’?’ Yeah, that one,” he let himself snicker. “We’ll go with that. So, I was gonna…” he began, and just as quick on the draw, stopped. Alana was way too still just now. He’d tangled with that kinda still before. There’s that viper on Deadwood…he didn’t even see it til it struck at him. Worse yet, Fanny Lee Brochette’s cat. So still he thought it’s stuffed at first. At the time, he’s stretched out nekkid on her bed when it come flyin’ down off the bookshelf with aims to put claws to his bits…”Um Alana?” his voice softened as he felt like he’s walkin’ into the valley of the shadow of death, “is somethin’....not right?”

"Something is indeed not right..." her voice carried equal parts sadness and anger. Alana held his gaze as she went on. "You've barely noticed me these past few days...almost as if you were ignoring me. And come to find out, these new passengers seem to have left quite the effect on you."

For a moment, Alana wondered whether she was being high-strung about it all, but then she told herself he had been acting distant. No matter how busy Cal Strand had gotten in the past, he'd always made time for her, even if it was a simple note he left her on the sly. However, now it was looking as if their relationship was fizzling out, that which was in part thanks to their new guests.

This was not what he conjured to take place just now. Not at all. He realized right quick that talkin’ about what bikini she’d pack for a private getaway on Pelorum wasn’t even in the same county as what words’d be passin’ between ‘em next. “Aww, no, no, no,” Cal’s brow furrowed like a fresh plowed field as he turned square to face Alana. “It’s not like that at all,” he lifted earnest hands to signal his surprise. “This one was just real busy,” he stammered. “Real hands-on,” the captain protested. “Whole lotta movin’ parts to mind. I knew you were solid, appreciated that I did, and so I kept eyes on where they’re needed, was all.”

"Seems like a whole lotta fumblin' over words that don't communicate much..." Alana had watched the way his expression shifted as she had brought up what was currently bothering her. "If I'm being honest, Cal, that excuse just doesn't sit right with me." It was then she stood up, placing the cortex down and looking at the device as she attempted to find the right words to continue with their conversation. "I get it...being stuck out here in the black and constantly seeing my face...who wouldn't get bored," she shrugged casually, giving off the vibe that their current troubles happened on the regular.

“Bored?” Cal’s moment of shock was bein’ fast overtaken with another feelin’ altogether. “Bored? You’re sayin’ this is about me lookin’ at somebody else? Gorramit, girl, which one you thinkin’? That Quill’s drop dead gorgeous! Yuri can’t put two words together ‘round her. Not her? Shiny!” he stormed. “Well, who else?” Cal demanded. “Edina? She’s mighty fetchin’, if I do say so…’specially since she stepped up for this boat not once but twice! Abigail? Tell you now I love that girl to death…she who you’re gettin’ panties in a twist over? Nah,” his anger cracked a rueful smile. “It’s Imani,” Cal nodded his head. “Gotta be her, cuz if it ain’t, all I can conjure is you think I’m sweet on Yuri. Mind you, he’s pretty, but…”

"Well don't be shy now! If you're longing after the whole ship, you coulda just said so!" Alana was practically shouting, her voice carrying outside for any wandering soul to pick up on, but she was saddened and angered by the words being exchanged and so she did not concern herself with the possibility of having an audience.

Alana was quite aware she was exaggerating the situation, her approach in the midst of a heated dispute was stretching the truth. It only made matters worse, but oftentimes her arguments were never the voice of reason. "We've constantly had targets on our backs, and how many times have I had to patch someone up here in the past? But now you were just too busy?" She was practically throwing the blame on him, being caught up in the moment Alana didn't care for his feelings nor the repercussions of her actions. "Save it for someone who'll buy it!"

Cal’s rising temper was walkin’ right toward places he knew he shouldn’t oughtta go…but bein’ named a liar, a lecher, and now havin’ his captaining called out by the one person he cared for the most? What Alana’s throwin’ in his face was the sort ‘o’ talk heard over card tables just before pistols got jerked. “So you’re sayin’ if some feh feh pi goh (babboon’s ass crack) pulls a trigger or one ‘o’ mine gets sideways in a saloon, that’s all my fault?” He jabbed his finger down, tapping the worktop in time as he growled, “That’s why you’re here!”

He’d squared up, his breathing deliberate as his eyes remained fixed upon Alana. All the while, the inner voice of reason cried warnings against the words erupting from his mouth. But for the blood roaring in his ears, Cal couldn’t hear a thing. “Out there? That’s the ‘verse!” He waved a hand toward the closed medbay hatch. “An’ we don’t get much by way ‘o’ choosin’. Best I can do is keep me an’ mine in foodstuffs an’ a bit ‘o’ coin…an’ the promise I’ll get their hurt patched when somethin’ goes South. Whattya want, Alana? I should put a suggestion box in the galley?”

"Oh I got plenty suggestions for ya Cal of things you can go do!" her fists turned white from the tension. So much running through her mind, not enough words to lay it out for him. "As for me, I can get out of your hair as you seem to be plenty busy these days..." Her sarcasm was full force, and once it got her started it wouldn't let up. "Ya didn't need to string me around just to fix your mistakes, I would have done it for the pay either way! But hey, least you got your options now!"

Now his jaw’s set tight. In future days when he’d think about this moment, Cal would admit to himself that he’d let his temper off the leash when he should oughta have backed down with her. But as Alana’s standin’ there layin’ into him, only thing on his mind was the fact that once a dog’s in the fight, there’s no turnin’ back ‘til the thing is done. “It’s a job,” he spat, “not a ruttin’ conscription. You came aboard this boat under your own steam, Alana. You get a yen to walk off, that’s all on you. But til you do,” his eyes hardened, “you do your gorram job and I’ll do mine. Dohn mah?

That look...that's the one that did her in. Alana bit her tongue, tightening her jaw as she looked him in the eye.

"Mei wen ti." Her voice was back down to normal. She motioned towards the hatch behind Cal without breaking contact. "Then get, you're in my workspace and I'd like to start organizin' prior to my departure."

It took a great deal of effort not to break down right in his presence, but she held her ground surprisingly well.

Cal knew then and there was things he should say. He knew this wasn’t right, knew in his heart what he wanted most, but staring down this obstinance he wasn’t like to swallow a morsel of pride to try ‘n’ put things right. Neither is she, his churlish mind retorted, as that little part ‘o’ him begged not to let this go as was. He stood there a spell, nostrils flared an’ eyes ablaze. When it became obvious that Alana had nothin’ more to say, he broke the silence. “Shiny. Pelorum in eight hours. I’ll send Yuri by with your share.” That being all he was like to say, Cal opened the hatch, making for the stairway topside.

Soon as her ex-lover was no longer in her presence and she was left all alone with nothing but the slow, steady hum of one of the overheads, Alana turned her back as if Cal was still there. A tear came out, followed by another, and she scrambled for a tissue to keep her face as dry as possible. Their relationship was over just like that, and her time aboard too. She supposed if she was going without a home again, it might as well be in Pelorum.

"I need to work, I need to work—" she paced, her head in a fog making her go in circles. Alana looked at where Cal had stood a few moments prior and her chest started heavin' up and down as the memories of them two flooded her consciousness. "I need to work..."
Glad to see that this RP is still up and going! Congrats! You guys are awesome.

I promise I didn't die. I almost did, though. Seriously. That's not at all over-exaggeration.

Glad you're okay after whatever happened!

Exploratory Surgery

JP/Collab from @Xandrya and @sail3695

Imani had propped herself up on the stretcher, eyeing Alana as she quickly moved back and forth gathering the necessary items. As much of a hardworking doc as she'd ever seen...

...and soon enough, Alana was instructing her to lie back down. She hovered over Imani with a syringe in hand when a male voice just outside was announcing himself and barking orders to be let in. The girls looked at each other quietly before Alana put the syringe down, mouthing to Imani to pretend to be unconscious. She'd already prepped for the "surgery", looking the part.

"Yes, may I help you?" she stared up at the official, an annoyed and inconvenienced expression on display.

Two Alliance soldiers stood outside the medbay door, their autorifles gripped and ready. “You heard the announcement,” the gruff sergeant regarded the woman who barred his way. “All passengers and crew go to the cargo bay…now.”

Of course they were armed. "I do apologize in advance, but I'm afraid I can't leave my anesthetized patient alone." She stepped off to the side, allowing them a view of a still Imani feigning paralyzation. "While not an emergency surgery, this was a previously agreed-upon procedure. If I wake her this soon after putting her out, the consequences could be fatal."

Alana was aware of the fact that Imani wasn't hooked up to the monitor, but surely it wouldn't even be a thought for these couple of goons.

"I'm afraid I can't give out any further details. Patient confidentiality is something I take very seriously, no exceptions..."

The sergeant glanced over the doctor’s shoulder. The woman on the table was pretty…pretty unconscious. Didn’t look like she’d started the slice-and-dice yet, but he had no clue about anesthetic. He hoisted his comm. “Captain Kondo,” he keyed the mic. “We got a situation.”

”Report,” his superior answered.

”Got two in the medical bay. Ship’s doctor is refusing to leave. Says she’s doing surgery on her patient.”

”On my way. Nobody in or out til I get there.”

“Roger that,” the sergeant nodded. To the doctor he said “Captain’s on his way. We’ll wait outside…” before the door closed in his face.

As soon as the door closed, Alana circled over to Imani. "We gotta be quick," she whispered, showing her the syringe. "It'll take a few moments but you'll be under in no time."

With no time to get a word in, Imani simply laid there, wincing when the needle broke skin. Soon enough, she would start to feel lightheaded.

It was then Alana hooked her up to the monitor, the steady beeping eventually filling the room. Once that was in place, she grabbed a tray and laid out some surgical equipment. If they wanted genuinity, they were going to get it. She was quick, but she was also careful to avoid raising suspicion.

Captain Hideki Kondo stepped through the after hatch, heaved a quiet sigh, and made his way down the steps to the medical bay deck. More scut work, he thought of yet another questionable police raid in which the military paraded its presence as partners in justice. Nothing just about this, he mused as he found Sgt. Kilpatrick and a private awaiting him. “Anything new to report, Sergeant?” he asked casually.

The sergeant was a towering figure, a man who spent his life in the field of far away postings and the occasional skirmishes they wrought. But, with age and gravity slowly causing his physique to sag a bit, James Kilpatririck had chosen what he thought a plum assignment to ride out his career and draw his pension. Now, looking into the quiet disgust in his captain’s eyes, the old noncom felt a certain kinship of the disaffected. “Been watching ‘em sir,” he reported. “Doctor’s prepping for surgery. He patient’s out. All the cabinets are window faced, so they couldn’t hide a stowaway in there if they tried.”

“Thank you, sergeant,” Kondo nodded. “I’ll handle this personally. Carry on.” As the two soldiers moved to rejoin their comrades on the upper deck, the Infantry Captain knocked at the medbay hatch. “Doctor?” he called. “Doctor. I need a moment.”

Her breathing had slowed, now what may come was beyond her. Alana left Imani's side and went to answer the door. She imagined what was to follow would be a quick glance into the med bay without much scrutiny. If they were indeed scoping out a certain somebody, they would not find evidence of their presence there.

Alana opened the door. "And a moment is all I have." She deliberately blocked his path into the med bay, yet he was none the wiser as to her motives. "Please, I've explained to your men how I'm unable to leave my patient. Surely you understand?"

His response was accompanied by a formal nod. “I do. I have no intention of separating you from your patient. I am, however, compelled to follow my orders…something I believe just as surely that you understand.” He pulled a pair of uniform gloves from his belt as he spoke. “With apologies, I must conduct a search of this compartment. You have my word that I’ll be brief, and that I shall not accost your patient. Once completed, I’ll post a man at the door to prevent further interruption.” One by one, the gloves went on, pulled with exacting effort over each finger to achieve the perfect fit. “Now, Doctor,” Captain Kondo’s gloved hands fell to his side, “if you’ll kindly make way, we shall be finished in a moment or two.”

"I mean not to impede your investigation, please..." She gestured him inside, closing the door behind him and casually walking over to her patient's side. Since an anesthetic had been administered, Imani had fallen under her care and thus had become her patient. Play pretend was no more.

Alana stood between her and their visitor. Imani's concern with being kept from sight was intriguing. What that entailed, who knew, but it was none of her business.

The compartment was well kept, uncommon for the rudimentary treatment rooms found on most Fireflies and their ilk. Kondo moved with an air of respect, his hands touching nothing. A casual observer might get the impression that he was giving the medbay only the most cursory of examinations. Finding the cabinets as described by Sgt. Kilpatrick, he bothered little with them. Indeed, his eyes seemed largely fixated upon the deck and the bulkheads which comprised the walls. While he did notice scrapes which indicated the cabinets had been moved, those that caught his eye told of no frequent, or for that matter recent, activity that might’ve belied a hiding space.

Likewise the heavy base of the treatment table. If they’re squirreling people away, Hideki thought, it’s not happening here. He rose to his feet, gloved hands tugging the bottom of his tunic to straighten it. The doctor had followed him about, always positioning herself between the female patient on her table and the Alliance captain. A logical reaction to having one’s surgical suite invaded, yet at times she seemed a bit too intent upon obstructing his sight of the woman. “Well, I think that covers it,” he said with a courteous smile. “I’ve inconvenienced you quite enough. Thank you for your cooperation,” Kondo offered an appreciative nod, then turned for the exit. “Oh,” he said almost sheepishly as he stopped in the hatchway, “there’s one more formality I’ve forgotten. I need both your ident cards, please.”

She tensed, though without the risk of him noticing. "Uh, sure, let me get that for you." Alana reached into her front coat pocket, grasping what he'd asked for and handing it over. She had nothing to hide but a complicated personal past. Imani on the other hand... She may be in for a rude awakening.

"Not sure if I'm gonna be much help getting you hers though," she shrugged. Stalling him wouldn't work, and they were an arm's reach from one another. "I don't do this as I would need a patient's consent to go through their belongings, but this is no regular circumstance..."

It was then a thought formed in her mind.

"May I see the order allowing you aboard the ship? I can always show her later in order to do good by her."

“Of course.” After pocketing the ident of one Lysanger, Alana, MD, Captain Kondo produced his cortex reader. A quick tap soon had the screen glowing with the warrant and its’ clause ordering the military to conduct the search for “improperly documented persons or evidence of unlicensed human trafficking.” The officer held the device for her perusal, his eyes inscrutable as they studied the features of the sedated woman.

She held his cortex. "Kindly appreciate that." Alana took a few moments to verify the information and she be damned, they were very well within their rights to conduct this search.

A brief smile formed on Alana's face as she handed it back to him. "Let me see whether she has it on her persons then." Alana turned her back towards the captain, tapping Imani's pockets and right away feeling the rectangular shape. No way out then.

Reaching inside, Alana grabbed a hold of Imani's ident card and pulled it out. She glanced it over and was surprised to see her picture, a smile as bright as the sun, but not her name. Deborah Yo it read. Interesting.

"Here you go," she turned to face him, no reluctance in handing him what he'd asked for. "When do we get these back?"

Yo, Deborah, Kondo regarded the card before slipping that and his reader into the pocket of his tunic. “All personal effects will be returned when we’ve satisfied the warrant.” He looked upon the sleeping Deborah Yo. “She’s pretty,” Hideki offered a smile. “One last question, Dr. Lysanger, if I might? Am I safe to assume that Deborah Yo is a crewmember?”

Him and his questions. "I'm afraid not, not yet anyway," Alana lead on, recalling her experience and deciding to use it for authenticity purposes. "Usually I'm not for elective surgery on passengers, but with a few stops to go, and our need for additional crew in the future, she's on track."

The captain’s brow furrowed. “An unusual response,” he commented, pausing as if lost in thought. A heavy silence descended upon the medbay, until a moment later, when the officer’s brows lifted. “Very well, then,” he offered a courteous smile for the doctor. “I’ll leave you to it. Thank you for your cooperation, Dr. Lysanger,” Kondo said, turning once again for the hatch. “Please give Ms. Yo my wishes for a speedy recovery.” With a polite nod, the Alliance commander stepped through the hatchway, sliding it shut behind him.

Once outside, he keyed his com. “Sergeant Kilpatrick. Report.”

“Sir,” crackled the response. “We’re nearly finished on the upper deck. No stowaways found.”
Interesting, Hideki mused. “I want two men with arms stationed outside the medical bay door at once. Nobody in or out without my permission.”

“Roger that, sir. They’re on their way.”

“Once you’ve cleared the upper deck, post guards on the stairwells and catwalk. Send the rest of your men to search the lower deck. Kondo out.” He tucked the com away, as the clatter of boots on the nearby stairs announced the approach of the medbay guards. The doctor had piqued his curiosity. Her physical tells hadn’t indicated falsehood, but the final answer concerning Deborah Yo’s status raised a number of questions. As he left his men to watch the medical bay, Hideki Kondo returned to the cargo deck.

Getting away with it by the skin of her teeth, Alana breathed a sigh of relief when she was alone with Imani once more. She heard the chatter outside, which indicated they wouldn't be completely alone, but any further prying had ceased as far as she knew.

Now, to deal with Imani…
Alana caught herself staring, diverting her gaze elsewhere once her self-awareness pulled her back to reality. There was something about that Imani girl that simply irked her... The woman had never wronged her, yet her playful nature with Cal felt a smidge like a slap in the face. She didn't take him to be the type to move on from one woman to the next like a frog hopping across lily pads, but people oftentimes could surprise ya.

Just as she stood straight and away from the bulkhead she was leaning on, Alana noticed Imani's eyes on her. Busted.

Seemingly, Imani had piqued her interest once more. A spunky one she was, whatever her deal. With her arms crossed in front of her, Imani imagined she may in the future feign illness to have a sit down with the doc, but until then...

A smile and a wink later, and she walked in the opposite direction away from Alana. That is, until they both heard the announcement. Their eyes briefly met once more before both women realized what was going on. Imani's first reaction was to run back towards Alana, yanking on her arm and barking orders as she went.

"Quick, you need to put me under! Do something to look busy!”

"Hey, what—"

"In the sickbay! You can't let them take me!”

Reaching the infirmary, Alana watched as Imani frantically searched for something in the cabinets. However, before she could be stopped, the young woman downed quite a handful of tablets. She turned to face the doctor and Alana sprung to action. If she was lucky, Imani wouldn't have to spend a lifetime in a coma.
”The Least Of These” - Part 2

Part 2 of a JP/Collab from @Xandrya, @PatientBean, @Bugman, @Gunther, @wanderingwolf, and @sail3695

“China Doll,” Brother Raphael read the boat’s name aloud. He followed his elders and Brother Joseph toward a yawning opening down beneath her front end. Though at seventeen Raphael considered himself a strong young man, his attempt to force a brick laden wheelbarrow up the inclined cargo ramp proved too much for his strength alone. He rushed forward, relying on speed and momentum. He’d only made it halfway up when the effort ground to a halt. The teenager struggled, refusing to yield ground as the weight steadily drained his strength.

“Here…lemme help yah.” The girl threw her weight into the task, taking the right grip with both hands. “On three. One…two..three.” Together, they shoved with all their might. He caught sight of her bicep as it strained into the job…before the wheelbarrow gave way. In unison, the pair wheeled their cargo up onto the expanse of the boat’s inner deck. “Ku,” she said as they eased it onto its’ rests. “Yah got it from here?”

“Yes,” he answered. This girl was so unlike any he’d met on his life’s walk. She was strong, with a wild mane of red hair that reminded him of the Parable of Medusa. Her clothing wasn’t modest, like his sister’s, nor was she a Jezebel who revealed herself to a lustful eye. Her face was pretty, but the eyes in her head betrayed their own buttressing. “Thank you, Sister…”

“Abby,” she give a polite smile. “Call me Abby. Jest push it over there with tha others, an’ then go aft..that way.” She pointed toward tha open hatch where the first mate stood. “That’s Yuri,” she said. “Go see him next.” She watched the fella, makin’ sure he didn’t wander off afore Yuri could code ‘im in.

When she turnt back, Abby’s startled at tha sight of a man…a right tower of a man. He stood there all silent like, a sack ‘o’ bricks draped over a shoulder like he’s carryin’ naught but loaves ‘o’ bread. His clothes was rough, but not all Sunday churchy, like them Anabaptists. Face all wrapped up in a towel or cloth made ‘im look less an’ less like he’s of them they’s sposed tah be carryin’ out. The man didn’t say nothin, jest looked down on ‘er with eyes what made ‘er feel like there’s somethin’ she’s fergettin’...til she conjured what that was. “Uh…yer bricks,” Abby caught ‘erself stammerin’. “Jest put ‘em down on one them wheelbarrows over there. Then go see him,” she pointed toward Yuri.

Elias grunted something between appreciation and acknowledgement of the woman’s words, not bothering to waste time by trying to write something with the piece of chalk and blackboard he kept about his person for communication. Thus he simply lowered what he was carrying with care, if lack of ceremony, and turned to go to the man he was directed to along with Raphael and the others.

An obedient Raphael set his loaded wheelbarrow among the others. His arms trembled slightly from the exertion as he hurried toward the friendly looking Brother. “Blessed Day,” he greeted the man Yuri. “I’m Brother Raphael.”

“Welcome aboard the China Doll, Brother Raphael. I’m Yuri. Please roll up your left sleeve. All the way…that’s right.” He watched as the crewman pointed what looked to be a pistol toward his left bicep. When Raphael flinched instinctively, Yuri’s tone was reassuring. “This won’t hurt. I’m just recording the chip before our doctor takes it out.”

“Takes it out?” he asked. ‘Will that hurt?” After all, it had certainly hurt when the border guard jabbed it into him.

Yuri smiled. “Not a bit. We’ve got the best doctor in the ‘verse. There, finished. Now, kindly step through here,” he directed the teenager into the aft hatch. “More of our crew will help you with new clothes and get you ready for the doctor.”

The spirits of those aboard seemed to be tentatively higher since the Anabaptists reached the China Doll, with every crew member waiting in a line to help from station to the next. Lyen’s part in this chain meant that she would be managing the change of identity between the Anabaptists and the volunteers who had generously agreed to help–mostly students of well-to-do families from the local university, all looking to make a mark and change the world. The first group of volunteers had been ushered in hours before the Anabaptists would arrive, in order to appear less suspicious. Now, the bright-eyed rebels crowded–standing room only– into the passenger berths of the China Doll, awaiting their doppleganger’s clothing. “Peter,” Lyen called to the group, “you’re up first.” The well kept young man stepped forward, eager to take his place.

Lyen waved to the first Anabaptist, a young man who looked just about the same age as Abigail Travis. “This way; let’s get you changed.” Her smile never waned, even as the boy looked unsure. She led him to two passenger rooms side-by-side outfitted as their designated changing rooms. A volunteer would go into one, disrobe, and hand the clothes out the door to Lyen who would pass them to the Anabaptist and vice versa.

“Hey man…I’m Peter.”

A young brother stepped forward at Sister Lyen’s bidding. This fellow seemed to match Raphael in his height and the overall state of his frame. He carried a few extra pounds, merely the result of a regular diet. Raphael’s stomach growled at the thought of food. I wonder if they’ll break bread with us? he pondered, before dashing the sinful thought from his mind. “Blessed day, Brother Peter,” he greeted his counterpart. “I’m Brother Raphael.”

“Shiny,” Pater gestured the thin Anabaptist to follow him. “C’mon, Raphael. We gotta swap clothes.”

Raphael’s eyes sought out Sister Lyen, whose reassuring nod informed him that this, indeed, was part of the plan. He permitted himself to be led to what appeared a guest room for the momentary indignity of undressing in the company of a stranger.

As Peter entered the first room, Lyen and Brother Raphael were left standing outside for a moment. “How are you holding up, Brother Raphael?” she asked, as they waited. This gaunt, young man had possibly traveled thousands of clicks to get to Osiris, and then been met with enslavement and abysmal living conditions inside the Blackout Zone. Sister Lyen regarded him with soft eyes, hoping that their efforts would afford him a new life.

Raphael met the Sister’s question with a brave face. “Blessed day, Sister Lyen,” he smiled over his shoulder as Peter led him away. I’ll be right back!” That much was true; he’d make this “clothing swap” go as quickly as humanly possible, with the Lord’s grace.

For his part, Elias waited patiently behind the… Monk, he supposed, waiting for Yuri’s attention to eventually drift to him once done with Raphael or perhaps as he was processing the man. Regardless, if and when eye contact was made, Elias would make the complicated gestures to sign “Do you know sign-language?” It was a rare talent but the man seemed at least slightly better spoken than the girl he couldn’t stop mentally referring to as a hick, a rural bumpkin of some sort, and there was some slight chance this fellow would be learned in it. Yet, already anticipating the worst he would immediately after start reaching for the chalk and piece of blackboard.

This man was imposing. His height alone would give pause to the much shorter Yuri who met eyes eager to communicate, and hands that made an earnest attempt at the same. He watched the gestures. Certain patterns did emerge, but short of some of the more universal pantomimes, Yuri had to eventually shake his head. “I’m sorry,” he admitted, “but I’m not completely understanding you.” He lifted the RFID scanner. “Please roll up your left sleeve.”

Though Yuri read some frustration in the giant’s eyes, he noted the man’s comprehension was not lacking as a soiled sleeve gave way to a soiled left arm. He brought the scanner to bear, and was rewarded with the ident code of the embedded chip. “All finished,” the first mate offered. “Please step through this hatch. Sister Lyen’s waiting inside. And friend,” the first mate spoke again as the big man turned, “I’ll seek you out later. We’ll talk.”

Elias relented, though annoyed, allowing the process of the scan to complete before he started to write on his little blackboard. “YOU ARE LYING THAT REMOVING THE CHIPS WILL NOT HURT ARE YOU NOT???” Once satisfied that the large letters were legible, he would raise the small cutting of blackboard demonstratively.

Yuri blinked at the accusatory message. “I trust our doctor,” he met the man’s eyes with his own direct gaze, before calling attention to the waiting hatch with a tap of his scanner. “Please step through.”

The man shook his head, crushing the tip of the chalk between thumb and index finger with some annoyance before writing again. “THEY PUT A BIT OF ELECTRONICS BENEATH OUR SKIN IT WILL NOT BE PLEASANT TO GET THAT OUT.” After showing the piece of blackboard and confident the man before him would have read it, he would flip it over, and erase what was there before and replace it with new words. “YOU SHOULD NOT LIE TO PEOPLE EVEN IF IT WILL MAKE THEM FEEL BETTER.”

“I did promise to seek you out for further conversation, friend,” Yuri responded. “But for now,” he cast a glance toward the growing queue of people, “please move along.”

The man yet again shook his head, annoyed. But at the same time it was clear Yuri wasn’t interested in what Elias was saying and regardless of the reasoning he supposed it would be a waste of time trying to get through to him after the insistence that Elias get going. Thus, with a soft exhalation through his face wraps he did indeed step through.

Yuri paused as the towering refugee crouched to enter the hatch. Beyond lay the Medbay patients’ lounge, base of operations for Sister Lyen and her student volunteers. As he watched, a tall, gangly young man unfolded himself from one of the chairs. The nun did a fine job matching body types, he thought before greeting the next guest. “Hello, Sister…Margaret? Sister Margaret. Welcome aboard the China Doll. Please lift your left sleeve…”

The Healing Arts - Part 2

JP/Collab from @Xandrya and @sail3695

Thank the Buddha. The cast was gone.

Yuri cooperated as Alana positioned his arm on the treatment table. “I’ve got a little money,” the first mate offered to China Doll’s resident medic. “Not sure what a place like this costs, but I’m glad to put some coin down for both Abby and myself.” He smiled at that moment. “She walked out of here pretty as a picture, Alana. Amazing work.”

Shaking off his remark about payment with a smile, Alana placed the device directly over his arm, the small light shining green once it was positioned in the right spot. It took a quick scan of the arm, a 3D rendering materializing on the screen showing the break. “I’m more than happy to help the crew, no coin needed... Benefits of knowing the right kinda people.” She stepped to the side, switching on another setting which would start setting things in motion.

“I’m glad for that.” He craned his neck to view the screen past Alana’s shoulder. The 3 D imagery was remarkable. His arm had been mapped entirely, allowing the doc to delve through layer upon layer until she could view the fracture itself. Even to his untrained eye, the break was obvious. “Then maybe you’ll let Abby and me buy you drinks when we get to Pelorum?” He smiled. “And yes, we’ll let the captain come along…”

"Well who can say no to drinks..." She glanced at him before the machine began its work. Yuri's arm would first be anesthetized, then the fixing would take place. The procedure was nothing overly complicated, it would simply consist of a special type of material being inserted in the correct spot to speed up healing right from the time of insertion. "What about you, you bringing anyone...special?" Alana would see his reaction, whether he’d bring up Edina. She was slightly curious after Abby had mentioned the possibility of them two as a couple.

So Abby’s right, Yuri thought to himself. The rumor mill is up and running... “Got someone in mind?” he teased.

"Just wondering, is all..." Alana shrugged her shoulders, smiling innocently. "Cal and I ain't a secret no more; the cat's outta the bag. But I didn't mean to pry..." she added with cheeks slightly reddened.

“Hey,” he laughed, “if anybody’s got the right, it’d be the woman who pulled me out of the drink and patched this arm.” Yuri gave the doctor a smile. “I could ask Edina, I suppose. Then again,” he yielded a mischievous chuckle, “she’s just as apt to turn me down. After we’re away with our refugees, I’ll work up the courage to ask her.” Alana’s blush hadn’t gone unnoticed. The pleasant smile remained on his face as he added, “What do you think, Doc? Would you put a good word in with her for me?”

Nodding, Alana exchanged glances with Yuri. "She's a pretty one, and personally I think you two would make a great match. But I'll make sure to pass on the message, see how she feels about it." Alana then took a step back, watching the machine. "You'll feel a tingle now and some pressure, but you shouldn't feel much pain." There was a brief glow, then the whirring from the device being set in motion. "You barely escaped the grasp of death, I think you owe it to yourself to at least ask."

The first mate nodded agreement. “She and I were out together last night. It was actually for the current job, but I think we both enjoyed the company.” He could feel the tingle as it spread throughout his arm. Yuri didn’t find it to be overly painful. Instead, the sensation reminded him more of having slept atop the limb overnight. “I can feel it working,” he said. “So, last night, Edina and I were out to learn a few things about getting our new passengers out.” His voice dropped to near whisper, barely discernible above the machine’s whirring. “We found out how they track blackout zone captives.”

As the systems healed his arm, Yuri described both the nature of the tracking system, and the crude method of implanting chips. “Right about here,” he tapped his left bicep, just short of the shoulder. “I saw them implant a little girl.” His face darkened with the memory of the child’s pain. “So here’s our plan, Doctor. Once we get them aboard, we need you to extract the tracking chips from their arms. Captain’s git Sister Lyen rounding up volunteers. They’ll swap clothes with our people, and we’ll tape the chips to their arms to wear back through the scanner.
“The trick,” he hadded, “is to avoid damaging the chips when you extract them.”

Her heart hurt upon hearing about the methodology in dealing with the passengers. It made Alana realize just how needed she and the crew were to these people when they execute this job of theirs. She listened to Yuri as he went on about the idea they had in mind and her eyes were a little saddened after hearing it all. "That's a mighty fine smuggling plan if I ever heard one. I can remove the implants with no issues. As far as the chips, I'll surely do my damn best to get 'em back to you all working and in one piece. As of now, I only foresee a problem if there are complications with the patient. At that point, I'd rather something happen to the chip and not my patient. I'm sure you more than understand."


He hadn’t thought at all there might be complications to removing a chip beneath the skin. Then again, he’d only seen a disinterested guard fire it right into that little girl’s arm, and from a distance, at that. “I do…I think I do,” Yuri nodded unconvincingly. Another reason why I should stick to machines, he ruefully considered his options. “The trick to this, doctor,” he responded slowly, “is that each chip has its’ own registration code that gets read by a scanner at the checkpoint. It’s recorded when folk exit the blackout zone, and again when they return. If we don’t show up with an exact match for each chip, that’ll alert the guards.”

His mind raced. It was too late to change the basic plan; as soon as his arm was mended, he and Hook were all set to meet the Sister and a dozen or so Anabaptist workers to begin the day long ruse of collecting and cleaning bricks. The Sister also had her volunteers showing up this afternoon. He thought he had it all worked out. Silly of him not to consider the anomalies of the human organism…

He needed a technological Plan B, and he needed it quick. I should talk with Sam, Yuri silently added to his checklist as he replied, “yes…I do. Just hadn’t factored that into the plan.”

"All fine and dandy, I simply like to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Never quite know what you're dealing with without a proper history...allergies, blood thinners, etc. Highly unlikely, but not impossible."

Smart move with the chips. Of course, that's the route to go with tracking hardware, and were she in their shoes she would have done the same. Alana checked the progress on Yuri's arm, and it looked like the treatment was going quite beautifully. She could tell he had some thoughts going on in his noggin, but of course, with something of this magnitude who wouldn't. "We'll do right by those folks, Yuri. I'm sure everything will turn out alright."

Alana was hopeful; she had to be.

“So,” he thought out loud, “I hadn’t conjured the chance a chip could be destroyed when you remove it.” But there was that truth, plain as day. He knew the doc to be careful and precise. Her treatments were both deliberate and exacting. But now that he thought about it, even cautious hands can slip when holding a scalpel. Durak, he chided himself in his native tongue. He had just a few hours to resolve this.

“it sounds like I need to get a few of those chips for backups...and a way to read or program them…” His brow furrowed ruefully. “Wish I’d thought of that sooner,” he looked up at the doctor. “That one’s tough…I know I could get RFID chips and reading gear from any business supply house…but these? Designed to be forced through the skin? I mean we won’t be doing that…the chips we get from our passengers will just be taped to our volunteers’ arms, but…I don’t know. Dr. Lysanger, have you ever had to deal with tracking chip implants? Any ideas where I could get something like that?”

"Unfortunately, logistically-speaking I'm of–"

The machine beeped, prompting Alana to look down at the screen. Apparently the fixing was going great with progress up to 50%. Good, halfway there. She then cleared her throat.

"Like I was saying, logistics is not my strong point. Sure, I've dealt with tracking chips before and I can perform the job you've described, but that's as far as my knowledge goes..." She then looked pensive, as if trying to remember some piece of information. "I do...I have someone I may reach out to and you know, probably get the answers you're looking for. They're trustworthy enough for me to ask them such a favor, and they owe me one. So tell you what, once I'm done here, I'll grab my cortex and hopefully have some good news for you. How does that sound?"

“Shiny.” For his years of working with ships’ systems, biotracking chips had never entered his study. Yuri knew the basics…RFID was RFID, after all, and any reader/programmer should be able to latch right onto a chip’s registration code. But those chips were simple, designed for parcels and cargo, not to be jammed beneath a person’s skin. Adding the fact that this was a government operation gave chance that one more layer of complexity might be lying in wait. “I’m due for a little cortex time, myself,” he admitted, “but if you’ve got someone who can help, I’d be grateful if they make this little challenge go away.”

"Your challenge is my challenge..." Alana cracked a half-smile, eyeing him momentarily. For a quick second she felt a little helpless being unable to provide him with any type of answer, but the reasonable side of her quieted that down. She couldn't help what she didn't know, after all. "We'll get this sorted out, promise. Just like we'll sort out your arm."

With that, she checked on his progress once more. This last portion would take longer, so naturally the process would slow down.

“And you’ve got no idea how glad I am for that,” the new first mate chuckled. “The mechanic work can be a handful for two good hands, but one?” His expression lightened. “I’ll tell you true, Doctor, if that girl we brought along hadn’t jumped in to help with the wrench turning, I’m not sure I could’ve pulled it off.”

"Well count your lucky stars the timing was perfectly right on that one... One-armed Yuri just doesn't roll off the tongue all that pretty, so you know I'd no choice but to fix ya right on up back to your prior self." She smirked with the statement, looking him in the eye. "And I don't know how the captain would feel with a one-armed mechanic aboard his ship."

He watched the treatment of his arm take place, the warmth accompanied by a mild tingle as the bone within steadily knitted itself back together. “Not sure how he’ll feel without one,” Yuri avoided laughing or movements as he spoke. “He’ll have to give me a new nickname,” he observed.

She chuckled, "He shouldn't have an issue with that...he's Cal after all. I'd be surprised if he doesn't have a nickname for everyone in the Doll."

A low beep broke Alana's attention away from Yuri. The screen display indicated they were entering one of the final phases of the treatment. Good.

They were interrupted by a light tap at the door, soon opened by a fresh faced Abby. “Hey Yuri,” she said, “now I’m fixed an’ all, “I’s wonderin’ if I could go pick up beddin’ an’ stuff fer the folk we’re carryin’?”

“Well, I don’t know,” the first mate cast a sidelong glance toward Alana. “Did you get our doctor’s permission to be out and about?”

“Uh,” the girl’s face kinda deflated, “no. No I didn’t. Powerful sorry, Alana,” she’s near fidgetin’ in tha doorway. “Can I go? Promise I won’t do nothin’ moonbrained.”

Funny man, that one. "It seems as if Yuri loves giving ya a hard time..." Alana smiled at Abby, "I didn't have doctor's orders for ya to stay put after the procedure so technically you're free to roam as you wish...as long as you don't overexert yourself, dohn ma?" The last couple of words were spoken in a slightly more serious tone.

Abby’s smile come roarin’ back. “Yes, ma’am!” she nodded all emphatic like. “Jest pickin’ up some blankets an’ stuff!”

"And you, mister," she turned her attention to Yuri, "it may be karma possibly doin' its job but you won't be as lucky as Abigail. You're gonna be on light duty for quite a bit longer so I hope you're not easily bored."

He couldn’t help but notice a certain mirth in Abby’s eyes as she watched him on the receiving end of a classic “Alana” lecture. “Well that’s perfect, Doctor,” Yuri reacted smoothly. “My part in today’s caper is to wear a nice suit and play the sophisticated client. I won’t be lifting anything heavier than a coin pouch.”

“Nice suit?” The deckhand’s jaw dropped. “Yew mean yah actually boughtcherself some proper clothes?”

“I did.”

“All by yerself?”

“Ms. Wyman helped me.” Yuri pretended not to notice the knowing look in the girl’s eye as she traded glances with the doctor. “Keep receipts for any supplies you get,” he cautioned her. “Captain won’t pay without seeing receipts…copy that?”

“Copy!” She smirked. “See yah back on tha boat!” In an instant, Abby was gone, makin’ tracks fer tha door an’ tha city outside.

The thought of teasing him crossed her mind when he referred to Edina as "Ms. Wyman". It was a little too formal, regardless of whether he was only being polite. But Abby was around and even then, it simply wouldn't be right.

"A suit, huh? Not quite what you'd expect to see on a mechanic but then again, we all gotta clean up once in a while." Another notification. Progress was now at 75% and judging by the looks of it, everything was going smoothly. Were it not, one of the first signs would be Yuri squirming in pain, though that'd more so depend on his tolerance level.

Considering his ragged appearance since coming aboard, Yuri couldn’t help but laugh right along with everyone over the thought of him…him...getting all gussied up in a fine suit. “I tried to convince her that a shirt and tie would look good with my coveralls,” he quipped, “but she was having none of that.”

"We're almost through now, how are ya feeling?"

“Not bad,” he answered. “A little discomfort, but I read that the rapid knitting of bone can be a little off putting…like people whose old fractures might ache with a change in the weather.” The words took him back for a moment, to the time when he’d broken the arm. Funny, Yuri thought to himself, I still can’t remember the exact moment. Though his engineer’s mind had settled on the moment when the dying ‘Mick’ hed ejected him through a ventilation shaft, that particular memory was little more than a blur when compared to the eternity of being lashed to the ship’s crew dining table, soaking and chilled through as the waves towered all around him.

A pensive Yuri possibly reminiscing about the good ole days. What exactly, she wasn't quite sure. Alana simply stared, her head slightly cocked to the side. He was lost in it, his expression not cluing her as to whether the thoughts in his head were good or bad.

As he thought on that calamity and the improbable rescue that had brought him aboard China Doll, Yuri considered again Alana’s use of the word ‘karma.’ He wasn’t one for mysticism, but he could definitely agree with the old assertion “what goes around, comes around.” This boat and crew had gone out of their way to save his life. Now, he had the chance to square the cosmic balance by helping them save forty more. If a ‘weather arm’ was the price of his salvation, Yuri Antonov could still barely comprehend his good fortune. “Good,” the thought escaped his lips. “I actually feel pretty good.”

She grinned. "Good, that's the best outcome we can hope for. I'll be back shortly" Her voice was low, almost as if she were afraid to wake a sleeping baby. Alana then left him to his own devices, walking away and out of sight to get a start on some paperwork prior to their departure. He'd probably appreciate the space to himself, deal with whatever was going on in his head if anything at all.
The Healing Arts - Part 1

JP/Collab from @Xandrya and @sail3695

“Finished. Now turn over and we’ll get the front.”

Abby rolled onta her back. Tha table’s padded, so it didn’t feel half bad. Nekkid as she was, she thought tha room could use a tad bit more heat, but that thing Alana’s runnin’ over ‘er skin give off a warmth what carried down inta tha muscles underneath. She lifted ‘er head fer a second tah watch the doc workin’ a big bruise on ‘er right thigh. The tool in ‘er hand, a “dermal somethinerother,” looked kinda like an axe handle, ‘cept fer bein’ all white an’ tech-like. It let out a blue light as she pressed it down. Then, she would rub a straight line over the bruised skin. One pass, two passes, three passes later an’ that bruise was gone! “Like it never happened,” Abby said as tha flesh of ‘er thigh got tah lookin’ all normal again. “Thanks fer this, Alana,” she said as tha heat climbed up ‘er body. “Won’t feel so shy ‘bout showin’ muh face, now.”

"Well, your face was always too pretty not to be showed off." Alana's expression was hidden behind a surgical mask and glasses. Not that it was medically necessary, but extra precautions didn't hurt. Her movements in trying to wipe away Abby's bruises—and in turn, the ugly memories that came with it—were meticulous and precise. It might as well had been her own flesh and blood on that table.

The blue flash lit up once more, its reflection on her glasses present just as well. Alana had moved to the next bruise, happy with the results thus far. The efficacy of the treatment was promising, but seeing it work right in front of her eyes was something else. "Feeling alright still?"

“Uh huh,” the girl give a nod, then stopped ‘erself just in case she had tah keep still. “I’s kinda stiff where I got hit alot,” she said, “but that’s makin’ everythin’ loosen up. Feels good.” She’s glad Doc signed off on bringin’ ‘er along with Yuri this mornin’...even took her in first while he’s waitin’ outside for ‘is turn. “Been readin’ ‘bout Pelorum,” she offered. “Cap’n says we might git a few days’ leave. They got beaches there sposed tah be tha finest in tha ‘verse. “Thinkin’ I oughtta git a swimmin’ suit an’ go see for muhself.”

"I'm thinking that's the right choice, evenin' out your tan an' all. You'll have eyes on ya for days..." Having finished up on the lower extremities, Alana moved on to her abdomen. Pretty nasty bruisin going there, seemingly the preferred location when someone's turned into a punching bag. She made sure to be extra gentle, gloved hands softly making contact with the girl's skin only when necessary. "I may just join you for a while, make sure you're getting your R&R without interruptions...whatcha think?"

Abby took that with a smile. “Well, yeah!” she give a light chuckle. “That’d be all kindsa shiny. We could have some real fun,” she smirked, “stead ‘o’ me bein’ patched an’ yew doin’ tha patchin’.” She felt tha good warmth spreadin’ ‘round ‘er belly an’ below ‘er ribs. “An’ I’s wonderin’,” the girl’s brow creased a bit. “What kinda swimmin’ suit should I git? Never had one afore, so I ain’t sure if it should be a onesie or a bikini?”

"Well for that the style depends on you and what you feel most comfortable with. I tend to get a two-piece simply 'cos the more wet fabric on me, the less pleasant it feels. I take it if you do more moving aroun', a one-piece may be better for ya...don't gotta tug and pull pieces of the bikini from your pi gu." Alana imagined themselves laid out on a sandy beach with Abby complaining about the fit of her swimsuit to Cal, and a smile formed behind the mask.

Tha girl listened, shock wrote all over her face. “But…” Abby’d been lookin’ at pitchers. They’s more types ‘o’ swimmin’ suits than she ever conjured. Some she seen sounded like what tha doc’s talkin’ about, with nothin but a skinny strip or a string up tha backside…nothin’ she’d be caught wearin’, sure an’ true. But…even them’s covered over tha whole pi gu? Don’t seem right. She tried putin’ ‘er words together, mouth movin’ silent til she could figger out jest what tah ask. “If’n bikinis are like that, why d’ya wear one? How much time yah spend pullin’ yers out?”

She paused, her hand holding the device hovering over the next bruise looking to get erased. Alana thought on the question for a bit, her head angled slightly as she stared off into nothingness. "Yeah, I remember whenever I wear a bikini, it does tend to get itself wedged in there quite a bit, ya know?" she shrugged her shoulders as she continued. "It happens just 'cos the material covering your behind is narrow so it's easy for it to...get lost. But I wouldn't worry none, it happens to women all the time, but a quick tug later and you're good as new!" The light went off again as Alana resumed her work. "My personal advice? Don't get a string bikini, those are the worst! Get one that has medium to full coverage of your pi gu and you're less likely to be pulling at the material often."

“Oh,” Abby conjured she might be overthinkin’ this a spell. “Yer real pretty, Alana,” she observed. “Knowin’ whatcha know ‘bout wearin’ bikinis, ya think we could go shop fer mine together? I hear they’s all kindsa things tah sus out, like skin tone an’ hair color. Promised I’d send a capture tah Thom…a fella I like, an’ I don’t wanna mess it up.” The smile come back tah her face as she conjured her an’ Alana, spendin’ their day playin’ together in sand an’ waves. “Some pitchers I seen,” she offered as the doc’s work moved to her shoulders, “showed big floppy kinda hats an’ matchin’ sandals. Should I buy them too?”

Genuinely delighted by the news, Alana stopped for a moment to look at Abby. "Oh, so you sending a capture to this Thom guy, eh? Then we no doubt gotta go rummage the stores in search of the perfect bikini! An' I promise, one that's comfortable with matching hat and sandals! I really got a feelin' he'll appreciate the effort..." Sorta feeling "big sister proud", Alana was looking forward to their upcoming outing. She imagined a plain, black piece at first, but then thought about how nice of a match an emerald tone would make with her hair. Yes, there were quite a few options for Abby, and Alana couldn't wait to try them all.

Moving on, Alana got to working on her wrists, the bruises there quite dark from the restraints. "Woulda been nice to double date, maybe next time he's around?"

She woulda blushed, but she durn near give up tha whole thing, anyway. “His name’s Thomas,” Abby said, surprised to how good it felt talkin’ about ‘im. “Met ‘im on New Melbourne. He’s real nice…an’ we been sendin’ waves ever since.” The smile faded as she ‘membered their call yesterday. “He saw me…lookin’ like this,” she said. “I should’na showed him, but he could tell somethin’s wrong. He got powerful mad. Wanted me tah quit tha Doll an’ hop a boat fer New Melbourne. Guess yah could say that’s our first fight,” Abby said. “I’ma call ‘im after yah fix muh face…git things smoothed over.”

"Ah well, I'm more than sure he was only concerned about ya... Some fellas can sometimes be a little overprotective of their lady, and it looks like he ain't any different." Alana moved on to the second to last bruise, glad she had a hand in helping fix Abby back up to her old self, especially now that she had someone to look good for. "Talking it out will do ya good. You know what they say, communication is key. Plus..." she smiled once more, her eyes giving her away if one were to pay attention, "...I believe he'll forget about that argument the moment he sees you in your bikini."

“Yeah.” Abby thought on that a second. “He did tell me I’m pretty on muh worst day, so I conjure I don’t mind sendin’ ‘im a capture from a beach on Pelorum. Weird tah think about,” she said as tha doc took away more of her bruisin’. “Never saw muhself as pretty…most times it seemed fellas’d look right past me. Yew, Ms. Wyman…” she snickered. “I think she an’ Yuri are gettin’ sweet on each other, but she’s way pretty. An’ the new lady? Quill? Honest, I take one look at y’all an’ conjure I’m kinda on tha rough side.”

All kindsa rough if she’s bein’ honest with ‘erself. Beatin’s she took from the Headhunters was one thing. But since bein’ kidnapped…since Lido tried takin’ tha one thing she had was still pure, things just ain’t been right. Yeah, she put tha rapin’ sumbitch on tha deck, but not afore he planted hisself in ‘er head. And there he lives, just waitin’ tah make ‘er relive it all…’bout anytime she closed ‘er eyes. ”Aaaby…”

It’s startin’ tah tell on’er. Mirror showed ‘er tha tired look in ‘er eye when he scared ‘er outta her bed ‘round three A.M. this mornin’...an’ pretty much ever’ night. Kinda worked in a way…makin’ ‘er coffee an’ breakfast at that hour steered ‘er clear ‘o’ Hook.

"Nah, don't sell yourself short...beauty doesn't have a standard, least that's the way I look at it." Her voice was soft and friendly as she addressed her young patient. "I'd kill for your hair, and if it's done up real nice and paired with a dress, it's a done deal!" A moment later, Alana was finished. She placed the tool down beside her and removed her gloves before also pulling off the glasses. "I'd say you're ready enough to send as many captures as you want to your Thomas..."

Abby sat up. “Can I see?” When Alana held up tha mirror, she gasped. Fingers touched ‘round ‘er eye an’ where her jaw had been all swole up. Nothin’...her skin was fair an’ even. She turnt ‘er head, lookin’ all about, an’ seein’ nothin’ but ‘er own skin, plain’ an’ regular as any day without bikers. “Jiminy,” the girl looked down at ‘erself. She twisted ‘er body, even took that mirror tah catch a glimpse of her pi gu. All clear, ‘cept fer a small scar on tha right cheek from that bullet. “Alana,” she smiled big first time in days, “it’s all gone! Thank yew!”

Weren’t a minute later as she’s given’ Alana a big hug that Abby conjured clothes might be a good idea. “Sorry,” she give a sheepish smile as she slipped inta her things. I’ll go git Yuri.”
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