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C Shanty

Posted on Thu Aug 27th, 2020 @ 2:46pm by Commanding Officer Mickey Serendipity & Executive Officer Kenneth McTigue & Passenger Kol Wescott-Fitzgerald & Ships Engineer Delphi Jammer & Comm Tech Wulf Edevane

Mission: Ticket To Rhea
Location: SS Albatross, VRM Rockhopper, in close proximity to Trailing Trojan Asteroid UN2063
Timeline: Following 'Alms For A Barnacle' & 'Second Second Hand'

Space is vast. Even in the closeness of a parking orbit around a planet, distances wider than continents and planets can stand between two ships. This is doubly true for the art of space warfare, where the explosion of a distant enemy might take long seconds for its light to flash across the sensors of the victor.

So when the SS Albatross black market fire control system picked up backscatter from a high-intensity laser beam, at a strength consistent with refraction and proximity, it very nearly proclaimed 'Holy shit!'. Instead, it cooly went about alerting its meat and bones of a crew that there was an approaching ship.

Not that the Rockhopper's third-hand active sensor suite was up to the task of detecting the power signature of a fusion reactor idling behind a ferrous asteroid. It at times had trouble telling there was an asteroid in front of them and had to double-check with optical ranging from time to time. Even turned about, with its drive cone aimed just to the left of the rock for the breaking burn, the Rockhopper was none the wiser.


Mickey pressed a finger along with the seal on his suit, feeling the gecko-tech fasteners forming a strong bond. He plucked his helmet off of the back of his crash couch and pulled it over his head, locking it into place with the face shield up. There wasn't time to vent anyway, so they'd just have to carry the air and run the risk.

He slipped into the gunner's chair, which looked like every other control station the Tross's flight deck. But his screens lit up with prechecks for both the solid-state laser and slug thrower PDC's, as well as a few for the six medium-range ship killer missiles they were licensed to carry.

"Wulf strap in and get set. The moment we come out of hiding I want you to jam everything in the local area. I don't even want the EM of a microwave cooking a ration pack to get out," Mickey commented as he flicked through more screens. "Ken, how are we doing?"

"Sealed in, strapped down. The reactor is coming up, we should be good to go in thirty seconds." Ken replied, pulling his belts tight.

"Good to hear it," Mickey said distractedly, going through the motions of reading the tactical data. Lower powered laser backscatter, probably a ranging laser bouncing off localised debris caught in the orbit of the asteroid. But the intensity was all wrong, too strong but not focused. Like a flash of reflected light from a torch beam instead of a laser pointer.

"Whatever is coming up on us is close enough to be using optical light as a ranging source," Mickey flicked a hand to safety the missiles in their racks. "Ken power up the rail gun. Whatever is out there I want to put a round through its reactor the moment we have a lock."

"Copy. Stand by." Ken replied

Dutifully suited up and strapped in, Wulf's helmet reflected the displays before him as he returned a demonstrative nod and a - gloved - universal okay back to Mickey's order.

"Affirmative," he said simply, the words lost to the conversation now taking place between Captain and XO. Wulf's focus delved deep into the pre-set programs he'd worked up with the Cross and his own mini-AI, Zee. Double-check. Triple check. Trust the code.

Once he was sure he was ready to go on one voice command, Wulf took a look at the sensor data and felt his heart leap into his throat.

"They're too close," he said, more to himself than anyone else. "But no hail yet... stealth set-up? ... old onboard system maybe..."

"Tom is loaded and hot."


"Precool One...Okay. Precool Two...okay. Priming engine coolant system...okay. Gimble locked. Gyro...okay. All pre-ignition checks have been completed. Ready to engage."

The voice was tinny in the sealed helmets of the two Vector Red indentured workers. It followed the checklist displayed on the engineering terminal in Delphi's hands. It was a voice well known to all, especially Delphi, as it's artificial intelligence had great trouble translating Belter slang into useable instructions.

"Okay, we na gonna explode, engine check all green, sasa," Delphi said as she watched the green indicators scroll across her terminal, her eyes double and triple-checking the status readout coming through her helmet speakers. She was surprised actually, last time they had done a breaking burn she had though the engine was going to burst on them, it was so old and worn out.

"Let's burn and see what there is to see, ya?" the Belter said and skimmed over the checklist again, constantly, in case anything suddenly changed in the ship's propulsion systems.

"On it", Aisling commented through her comms. She eyed the scan data the rockhopper had been collecting as they made their final approach. She felt anxious as they drew closer, they poly-alloy felt out of place, melted down it could be repurposed. It seemed odd that the rocks previous visitors had left it behind.

So far as she could tell though they were alone, but she wouldn't want to hang about either, " Just a couple more minutes, make sure your quick" she said with a slightly worried tone.

And then the time came. The computer took care of firing up the reactor, superheating reaction mass and expelling it out of the drive cone. It was just a moderate burn at a 3rd of a gee, a measly 3.5 meters per second squared. But it was enough to rattle the Rockhopper, putting a strain on connectors and welds that were passable only if you squinted at them.

Albatross & Rockhopper

With a cough of cold gas thrusters, the Albatross came out from under the asteroid it had been using as a foxhole. Its drive was not lit up, because it did not need to perform a braking burn. So unlike the unknown vessel above them, it's sensors were not blinded by its own drive exhaust. Instead, the barrel of a snub-nosed rail gun that was 'purely structural' to any dock inspector who looked at it, hunted for a target. It did this by taking over the RCS thrusters of the ship, surrounding the vessel in a faint cloud of reaction gases as it lined up its shot.

It locked onto the heat source of the Rockhopper, then onto the EM flux of its fusion reactor. It took a nanosecond longer to double-check its figures.

And then a Teflon coated titanium slug as big as a thumb was accelerated to half the speed of light and connected the two vessels in a very thin trail of plasma.

The effect on the Rockhopper was disastrous. In less time than an eye blink, the ship went from barely functional to chaotic disaster. By a stroke of luck, the rail gun slug had gone right through the drive cone, up through the reactor, and out of the nose of the Rockhopper without hitting anything vital that would explode. The reactor, a Westinghouse model, was designed to fail in a way that left something to salvage. It dumped core fast, venting both through its designed failure points and the new air vents blown through it.

Fortunately for the crew of the Rockhopper, being in suits and in near-vacuum, to begin with meant that the loss of cabin pressure was not also accompanied by the compression wave of the near luminal slug that had torn them a new one. Had them been at a full atmosphere, they would have been dead. Now they were dead in space.

Which amounted to the same thing, only on a slower time scale.


Mickey looked at the display as the thermal plume of the approaching drive cone flared and died...reveal not a hunting warship but...

"Is that a rockhopper?" Mickey asked to anyone on the comm.

"It was a rockhopper," confirmed Wulf. "Vector Red," he added, as he picked up on any data bleeding out of the damaged ship. "We should check for survivors," the tech added, turning to give Mickey a significant look.

"That would seem the polite thing to do," Mickey said slowly. His gloved hands worked the controls, flicking through the various sensor options until he got to the thermal imager. Now the ruined Rockhopper was illuminated in the false colour gradients of bleeding heat sources. The thermal plume from the dead reactor was rapidly fading, but the hole punched through the drive cone was still glowing with heat. That would take time to fade in a vacuum.

And there, amid the metal and flaking composites, were two human figures muddled in the trappings of an environment suits.

"Looks like we have two survivors. Unknown status but as they're not jetting around the cabin I think we can assume they are not venting air from their suits." Mickey grumbled. "Ken, you might want to swap into your evening attire for this spacewalk."

A smile crept on Ken's face and into his voice. "Roger that. Keep the ship stable, I'm suiting up." He unbuckled his harness and floated over to a large storage locker with locks only Ken had access to.

Wulf stared silently at the two human figures in the colourful imagery, a frown deepening on his brow as his inner thoughts were jolted by the overt hint of joy in Ken's tone. "Should I go help him, Mickey?" The tech asked, his own voice far less amused by the unfolding situation.

"Yeah. And then get a mobility pack ready for both of us. We'll follow Ken out with survival bubbles in case those two need rescuing," Mickey said, tapping the harness release and flicking himself out of his chair. With his boots off he grabbed the headrest and pushed himself towards the ladder down into the crew quarters. "I need to get something from my bunk."

"Received and understood, Captain!" Chimed Wulf, happy to be moving and helping as he released himself from his Ops crash couch. A pang of deeper concern iced his belly as he somersaulted through the air to grab the ladder once Mickey had disappeared downwards. Fear spiked as Wulf descended, as he hoped these people would welcome a rescue, whilst simultaneously feared the potential response to them having being shot up the arse.

By the time his boots finally hit the floor within sight of the Tross engineer, Wulf was definitely feeling that rapidly rising trepidation. "Hey," he said, wide eyes looking up at Ken and his 'evening attire'. "Need some help?"

The suit was just sealing the breastplate up and closing it airtight. The micro actuators in the gauntlets whirred in a pleasant feeling, one that made Ken smile in good memories. "Hand me my helmet?" Ken gestured to the top shelf of the empty locker.

Wulf simply stared for another long couple of seconds. "Awesome..." he said on an exhale, then, just before the threshold of the moment where Ken would often remind Wulf what he'd asked for, the comm tech hauled ass. The suit helmet felt both solid and light in his hands, balanced just right, and Wulf regarded his own reflection in its faceshield as he walked the few paces back to Ken, boots clunking on the deck. "Here you go," he said, reluctantly handing it up to the engineer. "Mickey says we're following you out," Wulf added.

Rock Hopper

"Warning: Vector Red Merchantile has detected the loss of core containment. The fine for damaging company property has been added to your ledger."

Of course, the debt control computer would survive...whatever the hell that had been.

"Christ on a bike!" Aisling exclaimed as she clawed her way out of the momentary stupor she had fallen into whilst her brain tried to process what had just happened. Instinctively she looked to the monitor on her right which usually displayed the ships external sensor readings. She found no explanation though, the piece of debris that was lodged firmly in the centre of the screen had turned the device into nothing more than a less than satisfactory lamp.

She ran her fingers across the single red line that ran horizontally before suddenly remembering she wasn't alone, "Delphi, you okay back there?" she asked hoping the comms were still up. Just in case she hefted herself out of her chair and slowly made her way around it and towards the exit of the cockpit. She was glad for her fear of the ships reliability. Even under thrust her mag boots were typically on.

"Pashang! mang keting da hell was deting?!" Delphi yelped as the engineering space came apart. She was strapped in far enough away and not in the reactor room, so she had not been immediately irradiated by the compromised fusion plant before it dumped core.

Thrust gravity cut out immediately as the ship's drive and reactor were destroyed, killing their acceleration and putting them on the float. Had the piece of junk finally given out and had a critical failure? Had they been struck by a meteorite? Was someone attacking them? She did not know. Yet. But What Delphi did know was their fricken digital overlord did, of course, continue to work. Of course.

Delphi was already checking her status board. It was a wall of red. Engine was gone, fusion rector was gone, core had been automatically dumped, that was nice that at least that emergency system had functioned... There was no signs of system failures, or the kind of subsidiary alerts that would have come from say, the reactor containment bottle failing, or a feedback in the drive system, or malfunction in the computer control system. That was all odd, so something had hit them....

She heard Aisling over the comm, which still worked amazingly. "Ya mi'm alive!" she called back over the comm channel that linked their suits. "Ship all messed up....Imim ta pashang milowda, though. Core dumped, engine gone, something hit us-"

Delphi cut off as she saw more and more red coming up on her boards. "We're vented, da hull compromised through and through, all compartments open ta space"

She unstrapped herself and pushed out of her crash couch, there was little she could do strapped in there now, and drifted across the compartment to one of the emergency lockers and pulled out a patch kit, thin metal plates to put over the holes and and a glue gun to seal it.

"Sésata, Grab a patch kit, we gotta seal da holes and stabilize life support so we have air to breath when da suits run out sasa ke?"


The Albatross airlock cycled open, revealing the wreck of the Rockhopper. Allegra had done some fantastic flying to get the larger vessel alongside and on a matching heading. Debris hung around it like a shroud, some snagged on antennae and docking connectors.

"Well," Mickey said. "Let's go swap insurance info."

He tapped a control on his wrist computer, and the deck plates vibrated as a magnetic grapple was ejected from just above the lip of the airlock. It lazily made its way towards the wreck, thrown out by a spring loaded mechanism. Behind it, unspooling on a motorised reel, was a cable that once the magnetic grappled clunked onto the side of the Rockhopper connected the two vessels.

Of course, flying across in a manned manoeuvring unit would have been sexy and cool as hell, but time was a factor and the second hand Russian MMU was about as user friendly as the man who had sold it to them.

Mickey attached his safety line to the tether, pulling on it so that he knew the motor had engaged its break and wouldn't let the line go slack. And then he was out in space, using both hands to pull himself steadily along the line until he was floating above the hull of the Rockhopper.

From his leg, strapped there in its holster, was the VacStar Tanto 12 hand cannon he'd found in his quarters. He carefully took it out, letting the Gecko-tech on the gloves adhere to the grip of the gun, and used it to bang against the hull as hard as he could. Three solid thunks, a pause, and then three solid thunks again.

"Come across guys," Mickey commed.

"For the record Mickey, next time you're staying on the 'Tross until I call you over." Ken said, very clear frustration in his voice as the UNMC powered armor pushed off to the dirty little bucket of bolts. The magnets in Ken's boots secured him better than Earth's gravity would have. "For God's sake, please stay on the hull until I get inside. Rounds will bounce off of me, I'd rather them not ricochet into you two."

Happy enough to be last on this run, Wulf waited until Ken had moved out a good way between the two ships then followed along the tether. On the tech's back, a mobility pack, and hooked to his suit belt via a couple of carabiners, the survival bubble he'd been told to bring. At his right leg, quietly rested the B-12 that Mickey's Martian friend had gifted him, and that was the last thing Wulf was currently worried about. Eyes front, he followed the exact path the Captain had taken, then Wulf clunked down onto the Rockhopper's hull beside Mickey and nodded his helmet up at the UNMC suit full of angry engineer.

"No offence intended Ken, but if the first thing they see is a UNMC mech trooper they'll be more likely to fire. Like how we were quick to jump the moment we saw them," Mickey said. He then pointed at the red paint job. "Vector Red Merchantile. Odd's are we have a couple of debtors in there working off a lifetime financing agreement. So who knows, maybe they thank us."

Mickey didn't sound to hopefully on that point. If this was a larger VRM ship, they might have had to contend with a shipboard Compliance Officer. Not a member of the crew, but someone paid to make sure the crew got the job done. A Compliance Officer also had access to the only gun cabinet on board a VRM ship.

"I wasn't asking. I promise I won't fire unless they have something that could hurt me." Ken said, "Follow me in and I'll just push you out the airlock again." And with that the armour-clad retired marine clomped over to the airlock.

Ken sent a knock-code to the airlock receiver that was still stored in his suit. But not surprising anyone, the code was denied. The strength-augmenting abilities of the armour came in handy here. Ken's fingers dug into the metal of the door, digging small furrows as the skin gave way under the metal digits. He found the crossmember of the door and pulled against it. Slowly the door slid open, revealing a dark mess of an airlock.

Ken turned around so his back was facing the airlock, took hold of a handrail and jumped feet first into the airlock, using the leverage on the handrail to accelerate himself. This had the benefit of pushing the inner door out of its frame and into the small hallway beyond. Ken's helmet-mounted flashlights illuminated the hallway midships. And on all local bandwidths he had access to, Ken broadcasted. "Hi, anyone home?"

"Who's asking?" Came the thick Irish brogue of Aisling. She'd hidden once they'd arrived, ducking instinctually behind a nearby crate not far from the threshold of the cockpit. Her breath was shaky as she awaited a response, she clung to the wrench she'd grabbed during her scramble towards safety. The moments after her response drug by excruciatingly as she felt nagging anxiety resurfacing upon realising she had no idea what Delphi was up too.

"Who do you think? The people who accidentally shot you!" Ken called back, his old Galyway broque being brought out due to the familiar sounds. Ken's heavy footsteps reverberated through the hull as he walked towards where his suit had picked up the broadcast "You gave us a fright popping up on us like that, but we don't want to leave you stranded."

As soon as it had become apparent they were going to be borded, Delphi had found herself whatever she could to use as a weapon. She and Aisling were the only ones on the boat and they were separated, the other in the cockpit and her in the engine room. There were no guns aboard VRM ships like this one as a rule, but she did have all the tools in the machine shop. So Delphi soon had herself a large wrench, which she tucked into the tool belt around her hips and then a small welding torch, which was as close as she was gonna get to a gun on this rust bucket.

With the ship vented there was no sound from the intruder wrenching the airlock open, but Delphi could feel it, the rending of metal and forcing of dead motors in the lock doors that sent shudders down the length of the rickety old boat.

She cursed under her breath and quickly tested her welder, the momentary jet of blue-white plasma causing her suit's face plate to darken the few moments before she killed the flame. Delphi listened to the intruder as he broadcast on an open channel, Aisling's question and his reply.

Was this a joke? Accedentally shot their ship? There were no accedents with what had to have been a railgun shot. Had to be. A PDC would have left lines of punctures all through the ship and a torpedo would have torn them to pieces.

"Oh, some pinché Coyo just gonna say 'sorry, did'n mean to trash your core and blow your air out to the void, eh? Just an accedent, did'n mean it, like thats gonna be all a okay, sabe?" Delphi replied, her thick belter accented voice. She was mad, not because she cared about the ship, or her "job" with VRM, but instead that now after years on this shit situation she was going to die out here in the black far from her friends and family she had tried to hard to get back home too.

"Oh, I meant the shot when we fired it." Ken chuckled as he released his magboots and pushed down to engineering. "Just, you know, we didn't know you were harmless." Ken pushed his head through the opened engineering door.

"Oh, that how you greet ships out in da void now? Just pop out of da shadows and hole them with a railgun, like it's no big thing? Sound like inyalowda pirate scum! Mi pensa you come to finish da job, eh?!"

Delphi had re-positioned herself to be by the hatch into engineering. It was the only way into the compartment from the forward section of the ship and where intruders had to pass through to get in there. She had her legs planted on the "ceiling" above the hatch, mag boots holding her in place, though ready to kick off in a moment, and had her big wrench grasped in her gauntleted hands.

The hatch groaned open, it's old motors drawing power from the emergency batteries, all that was left to power the crippled ship. She saw the head poke through and brought her wrench swinging down, aimed to bring the large heavy tool crashing into the top of the domed vessel that contained the intruders head.

A quiet ding was all Ken heard as he was sent to the deck. Training took over, and using momentum and his hands, Ken rolled to a standing position, his boots locking on the decking, the armour's actuators nullifying his upper body's momentum. The helmet lights illuminated the vacsuit-clad person who struck him. Just before his training pushed it up, Ken stopped his arm from pointing the weapon at her.

Using a Belter gesture for 'Really?!' with his other hand Ken looked at her. "I didn't need to board to finish the job. And you popped out of the shadows too, not like you were announcing yourself to the void." Ken said over the public comms.

"We had our transponder beacon on, you not seeing us is your own fault, we no hiding from anyone, unlike you, coming out from behind da rock like a spider!"

Aisling had been quietly making her way towards the Engine room since Ken had answered her. "We were just doing our jobs!" Aisling raged as she rounded the corner, the wrench she had grabbed early being held over her head, "Step away from my partner" she said, her accent somehow thicker thanks to the rage, fear and adrenaline coursing through her system. She knew they weren't high-risk, she'd caught the backend of Delphi's attack and was relieved when their intruder didn't reply in kind. "You okay, Delphi?" Aisling called out once Ken could see her clearly, but with enough distance for the wrench to pick up momentum if needed.

"Oh, Mi just grand, just wait to see if this coyo gonna shoot us all, sabe?" Delphi replied to Aisling as she came into the small engineering compartment. The belter engineer tightened her grip on her wrench, ready to swing again and try to fend off her impending murder.

"Ladies, we have a few options as I see it. Option one, we do as my boss suggest, float back to my ship, drink coffee and drop you guys off at Rhea. Option two, you try swinging those wrenches at my and I put a couple hundred holes in you before you can say 'coyo' again, then I go back to my ship and drink coffee alone. Option three, you let me leave, you two die due to running out of food, water, air, or electricity, I drink coffee alone." Ken made a Belter shrug with his hands. "I prefer option one, but I'm not going to drag your asses to my ship either. What do we say?"

Delphi glanced past the armored intruder at Aisling. There really were not many options. Surrender and maybe get killed. or get killed now, or get killed later when life support failed. She had no real desire to die on this rust bucket. She didnt want to die period, but any remote chance of escape was something.

The Belter engineer cursed and dropped the wrench and welder, letting them float "down" away from her gauntleted hands. She kicked off from the wall, her mag boots letting go as she propelled herself across the engineering space to where her cot was. The ship was small and cramped, and she had chosen to livee where she worked, in the engine room. She landed by the cot and started gathering up what few personal effects and articles of clothing she possesed, stuffing them into an old worn backpack with a Ceres station engineering logo patch.

"Oye Aisling, go get your stuff, we leaving this piece fo kaka felota."

"Awesome. I'll meet you two at the airlock." Ken replied before pushing himself ahead of Aisling through the hatch and out to the exit.

Delphi watched the intruder go and sighed, glancing at Aisling, then turning back to her stuff, pushing the last few of her things into her bag and zipping it up and slinging it over her back. She then grabbed the tool kit she used every day. It was the one thing on the old rust bucket that was not shit, an actual decent set of tools, so she stole them, grabbing the case's handle tight in her left gauntlet before starting up towards the airlock.

There she floated into the lock and looked out the opened hatch into the void beyond and the ship that loomed over them. Unlike the little rockhopper, which was a rusted out brick with engines held on by scaffolding and duct tape, the other ship was sleek, deadly and imposing, beautiful even. A UNN warship.

"Pashang mi" she breathed as she saw it, her eyes taking in every detail of the warship's sleek angular lines. It made sense, the intruder, their captor, had been in UNM armor, but it had not taken the shock away. She had not seen a UN navy ship so close before, let alone having ever set foot on one either.

She took a long deep breath, and once she saw Aisling in the lock, she pushed off and began her transit across to the other ship.

TAG Aisling and Ken


Wulf kept his opinion to himself, mostly because one of the verbal combatants was his Captain and the other was wearing battle armour, but also because the fragility of human life in the universe was currently foremost in his mind. Standing up here on the hull of someone else's ship, surrounded by the vastness of the expanse, looking back at the Albatross from the wrong side of its hull, the tech felt no need to pick a fight. If he wasn't stuck down by his boots right now, he might have awkwardly toed the Rockhopper's outer surface while Ken ripped his way on board, but instead, Wulf settled for a simple question. "Should we follow him in, Mickey?"

"Nah," Mickey said, securing the Tanto 12 back in its holster. "Ken doesn't get a chance to play Marine very often. So this is like a national holiday for him. You'd not get between a Ceres station bar patron on Patchamama's Day and a bottle of mushroom whisky."

An emphatic, overexaggerated suit nod was duly returned, Wulf in full agreement on that score. He chuckled, as he added. "He did look real happy to be getting all dressed up." Wulf turned his attention then to the terminal at his wrist and tapped at it with a gloved hand. "Still only getting those two life signs," he informed Mickey. "Plus Ken, obviously." He went quiet for a longer moment, then asked the question that had been on his mind for a bit. "Is that stowaway kid gonna die?"

"No,'" Mickey said with hesitation. "I have been many things to many people, a offhand murderer is not one of them. If he does something that threatens the ship, then that'll change things."

Wulf looked momentarily horrified. "I meant the radiation and stuff," he said, gifting Mickey an aghast look. "Not you, bossman." He took a couple of steps along the hull and tilted his head demonstratively from side to side. "No gunfire yet..."

"No, but things seem to be degenerating towards it," Mickey said. He gestured Wulf to hang back, and using the palms of his gloves worked his way towards the permanently opened airlock. Not poking his head through, because at that point he was just as likely to get it blown off by Ken as the two VRM debtors. "Hey, before we all go saying things one side of the conversation is going to regret, let's keep in mind we're all on bottled air. And it just so happens that there is a Mitsubishi Heavy industries recycler unit, not twenty meters pumping out all the atmosphere this argument could use. Kewe to pensa?"

Listening to the comms emanating from Ken, Wulf followed Mickey part of the way across the Rockhopper's hull, briefly switched channels to check in with the Tross, then clicked back again to Ken and the public channel. "Can we talk about this over coffee?" He asked, since Mickey was already offering some air-filled space. "We've got owkwa kaka gut."

"Is that your Belter accent? I mean don't get me wrong, it's flawless but it's got this Vesta twang to it that's downright uncanny," Mickey commented lightly.

Wulf flashed a grin at the inside of his helmet that Mickey wouldn't see, but that coloured the tech's voice as he spoke back. "It's one of them, yeah." He hadn't consciously chosen which accent to inflect the words with, but it amused him that the Captain could tell where it originated from. "I moved around a fair bit before you hired me," Wulf admitted. His tone had an impish quality to it as he added, via their private comm. "Noticed you do Martian ones like a native too, bossman."

"Helps me blend into the background. I soak up the culture, like water hitting sand. Soon you can't tell where you begin and the other you begin. It's reflex these days," Mickey said, lifting both hands in a Belter shrug.

"Oi, boyos." Ken called through the Tross-shared link. His Irish brogue flooded into his words "We're about to go back home. You done talking about your accents?"

"I'm done if your done Wulf," Mickey said, standing up on the hull.

He raised his arms and lowered them swiftly again in an imitation of a demonstrative tantrum. "We don't even get to go inside? Or look menacing?" The comm tech fake-whined for a moment, then Wulf offered up two gloved thumbs up and nodded his head. "I could keep talking for a bit longer," Wulf answered Mickey. "But... Ken totally wins if we're going for the prettiest accent." There followed a brief pause. "Who'd we rescue?" The tech asked the engineer.

"You can ask all the questions you like, when we're back in atmosphere," Mickey said, and pointed to the guideline. "Back across. We're not needed for this bit."

"Yessir," Wulf submitted easily enough. Fun as it was standing out here waiting on Ken to stomp back into view, Mickey's word was to be respected. The tech checked all his gear was still secure, let his gloved right hand rest momentarily on the holstered handgun, briefly (internally) considered the mobility pack as an option and then began to make his way along the line. Once he stood on the Tross' hull again, Wulf looked back to check the others were following.


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