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Delta Tea

Posted on Tue Sep 15th, 2020 @ 10:59am by Commanding Officer Mickey Serendipity & Executive Officer Kenneth McTigue & Passenger Kol Wescott-Fitzgerald & Passenger Florian McLennan & Passenger Delphi Jammer & Comm Tech Wulf Edevane

Mission: Ticket To Rhea
Location: Galley, Crew Deck
Timeline: 30 minutes after C-Shanty

After getting clear of the Trojan asteroid, and the very dead remains of the Vector Red Merchantile prospecting skiff Rockhopper, the Albatross turned on her thrusters and lit her drive. Within seconds a steady 2.3 meters per second squared of acceleration put kilometres, and then continents between them and the scene of the crime.

To her port, passing them by, the baleful red star of Mars hung in the sky. And ahead of her, in line with thrust vector, the distant golden point of light of the Saturnian Confederacy. Part paper tiger, part full-time government, and all-time hiding place for off surface bank accounts and shell corporations, the Confederacy was as much a polite fiction that both the United Nations of Earth and the Martian Congressional Republic tolerated. Saturn was far away, and not as useful as the royal court of Jupiter and its moons for the growing of staple food crops.

Of course, that was before the UNN dropped a pair of crust busters on Deimos in retaliation for the MCRN's 'sterilisation action' on the MCRN/ProtoGen research base on Pheobe. And now the Saturnian Confederacy was a little more than just a polite fiction for creative banking.

+++

Mickey unscrewed the cap from the bottle of Ganymede Red, and poured a generous portion into a pair of open-mouthed cups. The rich, mossy scent of the mushroom whisky was quickly diluted into the air vents as the Tross's computer detected the chemical signatures.

He then carefully capped the bottle, and then pushed the two glasses towards the pair of Vector Red debtors in the ever so stylish candy cane red jumpsuits.

"So," Mickey said as he leaned back into the narrow backed galley chair. "Way I see it you are owed an apology."

Leaning back against the galley's main counter as casually as he could muster, Wulf studied the recently rescued. Two women! But his gaze ran up and down them silently. Considerably more up and then some in the case of the 7ft tall Belter with blue hair, lingering longer than was polite or fair, then switching to study her companion, the one with the awesome accent he'd heard over the comms. But an accent wasn't all she had to offer, by the looks of her. "Didn't we promise coffee?" the tech asked, a frown and grin combo marring his olive features.

Florian had found himself brought out of sickbay, and it was then when he first had a glimpse of what the rest of the ship contained. It didn't seem like a particularly large vessel - he'd seen and been in much larger ones before.

But the one thing he'd noticed about this ship was how it felt like... it didn't belong. Not a UNN vessel, not Martian, nor Belter. The design was certainly of Earth, that he could tell. But so much about it wasn't, even if he couldn't put his finger on what exactly. Perhaps it was the crew. A group of misfits from across the solar system.

The doctor had to be at some sort of crew briefing or meeting. And so to avoid the kid from dying on his watch, along in sickbay, the man had decided to drag him along. Flo reckoned the auto-doc would've kept enough of a close eye on him, but clearly the medic thought otherwise. Perhaps something else was at play.

Of course, the kid had absolutely no idea what had been afoot with the Rockhopper, but was observant enough to note that the two women were new arrivals. Flo simply watched and said nothing. He had hoped to see the Shiba when he was brought into the room, confirming that one of the crew did indeed have a pet doggo, but alas that didn't seem to be the case.

Ken walked into the galley. His hair was still damp from the quick shower he took. He had a fresh jumpsuit and t-shirt on, his old set in the hamper for cleaning together with his powered armour body condom. "I'm still up for coffee." The engineer replied to Wulf's question, "Did you start a pot yet?"

He hadn't yet moved from his position, but Wulf opened his mouth to answer, then closed it again as he shifted his attention from the Tross' engineer to her Captain.

"He's going to start a pot," Mickey said with a look towards the comm tech. "Given the silence from your side, let's start on ours. I'm Mickey, CO of the private courier ship Albatross. This fellow fresh from the shower you met in power armour, this Ken my XO. Kid brewing coffee is Wulf our comm tech. Our pilot, Allegra, is up on the flight deck getting us on course for our destination. Alex is our doctor but he's down in sickbay. And this..."

Mickey trailed off, looking at Flo.

"...is a combination complication and stowaway from the High Elysium Tether Station. Hopped on board right before the kinetic shock wave of the UN attack on Diemos travelled down the tether and blew out most of the station," Mickey said, wondering what sort of pain meds Alex had given the kid who seemed to be off in his own little world.

Ken raised his hand in greeting. "Sorry about scaring you with the armour. It was just the safest way for all of us to get to know each other." He had his friendliest smile on his face and hooked his thumbs in the tied-down waist of his jumpsuit.

Behind Ken, Wulf had fussed with the grind of fresh beans and put some effort into doing this coffee thing properly. Blacker than the space between the stars, darker than the nights out in the comforting embrace of the old familiar ship, this delightfully simple beverage was a support system for the entire crew. Wulf closed his eyes and breathed it in as the expensive and very well-maintained little machine did its special magic trick and made the entire deck smell of caffeinated goodness. He handed the first bulb to Mickey, of course, the second to Ken and then babied the third some as he studied the dynamic in the room. "Who are you guys?" Wulf asked the two newcomers, so unceremoniously removed from their corporate deathtrap.

Aisling grabbed at the beaker, barely registering the sensation of home the familiar drink brought to her before knocking the whole beaker back before plonking the receptacle back down before her, "Lucky to be alive" she quipped dryly with her voice low and angry, "Aisling" she offered after a beats consideration, "an apology is owed and I hope it's more than a serving of wine. I was a pilot for Vector Red, from Ganymede, though my parents were originally from Ireland if it wasn't obvious" was all she said before returning to silently glaring at the entirely too relaxed crew that was suddenly surrounding the pair.

Wulf opened his mouth with the intention of saying something along the lines of 'Cool, Ken's from Ireland too!' but thought better of this move before any sound actually left his mouth. He offered Aisling that third coffee and a worried smile, then, ducking his head back towards the machine on the counter, fixed up a fourth for her very tall Belter companion.

"Delphi, engineer" The belter said in her thickly accented voice as she breathed in the scent of the mushroom whiskey she had been given. She downed the drink in one long gulp, enjoying the tingling warmth as it traveled down to her stomach. It wasn't bad for fermented mushrooms rather than the real stuff, not that many off of Earth...or on Earth, really, got the real stuff anyways. She sure as hell didn't. The drink helped, from her experience captors didn't share expensive whiskey with prisoners they were about to space. That all said, she still felt more than uneasy. The kid, she didn't know his name, the one making coffee, had glued his eyes to her for *a while* and she still did not trust the one who had come in the power armor, no matter how nice he was being right now. She did not feel comfortable aboard an Earth navy ship, not that she had felt comfortable on the piece of garbage rock hopper either. The fact that this one wasn't two seconds from explosive decompression at all times was something, at least.

"See? Now we're talking and we're not even throwing the table settings around," Mickey leaned back in his chair. "Vector Red. Given the fact that skiff you were in had barely enough tech to be called a spacecraft, I'm guessing you're not on the salary side of VRM's budget report. Also explains why your ride falling out from under you is less of an issue than it might be: ship wasn't yours."

Delphi eyed Mickey, the commander of this boat, with suspicion, he was an earther, or close to one, by his build and accent. She eyed the coffee that was set before her, she'd rather have another round of the whiskey, but did not feel like pushing her luck, so switched to the hot drink instead.

"What happen to us now, eh?" she asked, her violet eyes fixing back on Mickey.

Flo had indeed been staring into empty space, in his own little world, at least until a younger, dark-haired man had stepped into the room. Perhaps it was the extraordinarily refreshing scent of coffee that came with as he entered, the beverage so generously handed out to each established member of the crew, and none for the newcomers. The latter of which seemed to only include the two women who'd now come on board, whilst he himself was, of course, forgotten about.

Yes, it was the coffee that caught his attention. The entire deck now smelled of it. But almost equally captivating, at least to Flo, was the man who offered the refreshments. Dark, mystic eyes.

The conversation dissipated for a moment as Flo continued to gaze. He watched as the fourth coffee was offered, and remained silent, saying nothing.

Ken accepted the bulb of hot coffee and enjoyed its scent. "Ireland?" The engineer asked, a smile forming.

The fifth coffee Wulf held onto, his attention seeking now the quiet form of the badly injured and so far silent stowaway. Alex had done a decent job of keeping the kid alive so far, and the comm tech wasn't exactly sure how he felt about this. Despite his upbringing, Wulf had always worked (a labour of love for the most part admittedly) and the concept of stealing a place on a ship rather than earning it was somewhat alien to him. Reluctantly, he strode across the galley, crossing between Ken and Aisling, passing by the tall lady and Mickey, to begrudgingly offer Florian the little bulb of hot liquid. "Here you go," Wulf said, his eyes boring deep into the kid's own.

Flo was surprised the man had approached him - even more so with the coffee offer. A warm but slowly boiling sense of anxiousness churned within his stomach as Wulf got closer, the kind people seem to describe as butterflies, he couldn't quite tell if it was a good feeling or a bad feeling.

"Th... thanks," he croaked, realising his voice hadn't quite gone back to normal since his last conversation with... It'd been with that doggo. Again, he glanced around the room, wondering whose pet the Slavic-accented shiba was. He reached out and took the mug, warmth spreading across his palm.

"You're welcome," said Wulf, gruffly. He didn't know anything about this kid at all, besides the stream of panicked words that their stowaway had uttered under influence of all the medicinal drugs, but it was difficult not to judge. He stood there for a moment, debating whether to engage Florian in conversation further or simply abandon him, then heard himself say. "Did Alex hook you up with some entertainment - music, vids, stuff like that?"

It took a few seconds before the kid could muster a response. "No," he said quietly. "He did not."

Wulf canted his head to the side and regarded the quiet, apparently sullen stranger. He frowned. "Okay." Was all he said.

"What happens now is up to you and your partner," Mickey said to Jammer as conversation rolled around them. "We're Rhea bound with not the fuel or credits to make a detour out of our way. I reckon the best thing for all of us to accept we share each others company for a spell, and at Rhea we part ways. Vector Red have offices in the Saturnian Confederacy, I'm sure they'd be able to place a lawsuit on our ledger for the destruction of your ride. As well as add to any debt you might have with them. Or, plan B, we do everything else I just said but don't involve Vector Red. As far as their concerned we can file a salvage claim, and they lose two debtors. The prize money gets shared between the two of you as a weregild."

Aisling looked around the room for a moment, her eyes narrow with suspicion. Her brain was struggling to process the situation she and Delphi found themselves in. Less than an hour ago, they’d been closer to death than she’d ever feel comfortable with and now their attackers were offering to escort them towards a happily ever after. It was a bit much. She sighed as she considered her options. Plan A was a bust, there wasn’t any way Aisling was returning to Vector Red if it could be avoided. On top of the persistently mundane servitude, she wanted to get back to what she enjoyed and only plan B could offer her that.

She took one more sweep of the crew before casting her gaze at Delphi. They weren’t close by any means but after so much time spent together, Aisling felt a niggling anxiety at the prospect of the two parting ways. “What about Plan C?” she finally said, returning her gaze to meet Mickey’s, “A ship like this seems like it could use a few more hands,” she suggested, though she inwardly acknowledged she had no idea of that fact, “Delphi’s a good engineer, probably the finest I’ve met, a ship running around shooting other ships willy nilly seems like it could all the engineers it could get,” she told him with a polite smile that was yet to quite meet her eyes, “I also noticed you only have one pilot, couldn’t hurt to have another. I’m no race pilot, but my skills were definitely wasted on the Rockhopper”. She realised it was impulsive, and she was still closer to wanting to beat the crew than work with them, but the remnants of the adrenaline that had flooded her system had told her this was a good idea. And so it was.

Before Mickey or Ken could comment, Wulf's voice piped up defensively in response to this little speech. "We've already got an engineer," he said, looking pointedly and protectively towards Ken. "And why would we need two pilots?"

"People need to sleep", Aisling replied matter-of-factly turning to face Wulf, "and if recent events are any indication we have much more reason to be frightened of you guys than you have of us" she said once she'd followed the tech's gaze, eyes landing on Ken, a brow arched.

"We're not frightened of you," said Wulf, but he had taken a micro-step back when Aisling turned to face him. His gaze then followed hers, and the tech let Ken field the question of whether the Tross' crew needed to be feared.

Delphi scowled at Wulf as he jumped right in to attack them. The second time she and Aisling had been attacked this day. Because it was an attack, what he was saying was that they were not welcome there.

"Oye, don't wan' give the belters a job on you fancy ship, ya? Think we put you out of a job, or just don't like us?" She snapped, her violet eyes burrowing into the much shorter Comm Tech.

Ken plastered a smile on his face and spoke before Mickey could. "Option C is something Mickey and I would need to discuss. Any ship can use another pilot and engineer, but we need to see if we can even afford to keep everyone we have on the crew, let alone take on more. For now you'll be our guests, we have some quarters that Wulf will get ready for you." Ken gave his friend a look that he hoped conveyed that he should be quiet.

Wulf visibly flinched at Delphi's heavy glare in his direction, clawing back his breath and dignity just a tiny but as Ken spoke. Then to the Tross' second in command, the tech pouted darkly, though he aimed that look at his own boots and kept his mouth shut this time. If was going to complain about being a steward, he'd do that away from their new passengers. He wasn't, of course, going to complain, but he liked to think he would if he needed to.

"For the time being, you're guests. That means the galley, lounge, and crew quarters are available for your free use. Ops deck, engineering, the flight deck and weapons lockers are not free for use. At least not until we," Mickey gestured to Ken. "Have concordance on your status with us. You can have access to the comms. But no outgoing requests. The media buffer has the best content pirating software can buy so you'll not get bored."

And throughout the exchange of words between the ship's crew and the two newcomers, Flo had simply watched, at times drifting off to a very transient slumber thanks to the medications still swimming in his system. It quickly cleared away when a small surge of fear swept over him again, realising that these two hitchhikers had practically spent the past few minutes advertising their usefulness, placing their skills on the table. Perhaps he should do the same, only to realise his CV - if he could even consider himself as having one - would pale in comparison to what the other two boasted. So he continued to keep quiet, silently hoping this meeting wasn't a test to determine if he was worthy of staying on board.

"I guess I don't really have a choice," Aisling deduced eyeing Wulf who looked to be equally as unhappy with the current circumstances, "Could you throw us a bone though? Sure, having nothing to do is going to feel great for a day or two but we've literally been stuck in that Rockhopper for weeks, I don't feel right not doing something" he expression was flat though the was a pleading edge to her tone that she couldn't quite keep under wraps. Even with everything that had happened Aisling was half expecting that pashangwala of an AI to remind herself and Delphi that they had work to do. After all this time, despite how much she'd hated not an hour before, Aisling found herself missing the mundane reminders to keep working from their Vector Red warden.

"It's not like I'm going to be bothered about you keeping an eye on us, Vector Red controlled us down to the breath" she shrugged, another long shot though. Two of the four people sharing the space with them clearly didn't trust them, which Aisling still found ironic with all things considered, but they wouldn't prove their worth lounging around hoping to bond with a crew that's occupied in areas that'd be off-limits to the pair.

Delphi rolled her eyes and leaned back in her chair, dropping her coffee bulb, mostly untouched, on the table. "Pssha, Aisling, don't waste your air, these inners and welwalas, they don't trust us, don't want us here. We be lucky they don't space us before we get to da next stop." she said, eying all of them, but especially Wulf, who seemed most ready to jump at the idea of being rid of them. Sure she was being angry and provocative, but today had been a real shit day and she was angry. Getting treated like crap was not what she needed after having a ship shot out from under her.

"Namang keng da peng mi finyish vedi," (1) said Wulf, his tone somewhat wistful yet caught up in a deeper, underlying and overriding concern. He didn't trust them, no. It didn't matter right then if that was fair or not, but the mere posturing of the tall, violet-eyed engineer in his specific direction had sent a hot fear right into the marrow of his very bones. "Amash mi'm na wa inner o wa welwala." (2) He said, raising his eyes very very briefly in Delphi's direction. He didn't want them here, no, but Wulf knew that choice wasn't his. "Ereluf unte owkwa na feri, (3)" Wulf muttered quietly.

"Great," Mickey said with a smile as forced as a twisted arm. "Well, Wulf here will get you settled. We have a whole mess of meal packs so variety won't make dinners boring. And I really don't have anything more to add other than, again, very sorry for shooting at you. Promise we don't do that again unless it's warranted."

OOC: Sorry! Save y'all googling :)
1. Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
2. I'm not an Inner or a Welwala
3. Air and water aren't free

 

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