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Suspicious Minds

Posted on Thu Mar 11th, 2021 @ 8:08am by Comm Tech Wulf Edevane & Ships Engineer Delphi Jammer

Mission: Ticket To Rhea
Location: The Galley
Timeline: Post C Shanty

Aisling played with her food idly as she stared blankly at the most nondescript area on the bulkhead opposite her side of the table she occupied. It had been a few hours since she and Delphi had spoken with the crew of Albatross and Aisling found herself at a loss regarding what to do with herself. Wake up, eat, work, eat, work, eat, work, sleep, that had been her routine for the past few months. Nothing else, barely any time for recreation and barely reliable connection for their terminals that seemed to be less reliable when they tried using their devices for recreation. Despite hating the routine at the time, Aisling realised alone in the galley of the unfamiliar ship that she couldn’t remember what to do with her time when she wasn’t busy with work. Somehow it bothered her more than almost being blasted to pieces.

She thought back to the earlier meeting, recalling which names went with which faces and working out who could be trusted and who couldn’t. Their Captain, Mickey, seemed okay, level-headed, even if he did come of blase about the situation that had resulted in the Rockhoppers crew becoming their guests. So far he seemed to be their best shot when it came to convincing someone they could stay, unlike Wulf, and maybe to a lesser degree Ken. Their mistrust was clear, the pair had admitted as much during the meeting. Aisling distastefully accepted the irony of that fact, Aisling and Delphi hadn’t been the ones to open fire, nor had they been the ones to breach a ship in full UNN Marine gear. Though she didn’t really identify as such they where the victims in this situation and the fact that they’d met the pair with suspicion had the Irish-woman’s hackles up.

But she’d make the effort, plan A and plan B wheren’t ideal as far as she was concerned. A, led to her being a slave to Vector Red forever. B, would see Aisling and Delphi having to live reclusive lives out on the belt, though Delphi would likely mind less than Aisling, it would make it hard to keep in contact with loved ones. The risk of being noticed by Vector Red would loom over their heads for the rest of their lives. At least with option C, Aisling would have secured herself and her crewmate what seemed to be stable work, with a crew that seemed unopposed to being relaxed and was unafraid of firing first if it meant their safety. That, and it was unlikely Vector Red would track the pair down if they where always on the go.

Sighing she stood up and collecting her dinnerware. Today had been a day, she hoped things would start looking a little more optimistic for the pair going forwards. She made short work clearing the space between the table and the kitchen of the small galley and dumped her food into the waste shoot before directing her attention at the coffee maker. She’d seen Wulf use the thing earlier but they’d had nothing like that on the Rockhopper and the idea of being able to drink coffee just because was almost overwhelming for the woman. She’d not had real coffee since the Vector Red had scooped her up on Ganymede and dumped her on the Rockhopper, after orientation of course. After several minutes examining the machine she grabbed herself a bulb and began the trying to get the thing to work.

She wasn’t doing a great job if the stream of curses that followed where any inclination.

If Wulf was totally honest, which he could safely be in the privacy of his own mind, then he'd definitely admit he was a little afraid of Delphi. The tall, striking Belter with the comfortingly heavy accent. Afraid? Well, certainly intimidated, and they were essentially the same thing when you were being forced to share space and time (and very limited space) with a person. An engineer nonetheless, which meant more shared space than Wulf was comfortable with.

It meant she'd be working with Ken, if the Tross' current engineer allowed it, and that in itself made Wulf a little nervous. And, if he was really really honest, a little jealous too.

The implication, Wulf decided, had been that he would show their new 'guests' their quarters. It hadn't exactly been an order, but Ken had made it sound important. So, the boundaries set by the Tross hierarchy, Wulf had done so. He'd got them as comfortably settled as they were likely to be. And now, a couple of hours later, he needed food, so he was galley-bound, assuming both newbies were safely stowed and out of the way. As he walked the corridor towards his destination, however, the tech could hear an inventive outburst of swearing that would have mesmerised him as a child. These days, colourful cursing was all part of the rich tapestry of wandering through the system, one mission at a time. It was Aisling, the spicy raven-haired vixen with the killer Irish voice.

Wulf stepped into the galley, strode across the space and bodily pushed his way in front of her to stand, protectively, in front of the Tross's coffee machine.

"Stop!" he ordered. "You're gonna break it."

"I'll break you if you push me out of the way like that again" Aisling challenged but took a step back, all the same, her face clear of any palpable anger. Secretly she was glad he'd stumbled upon her, she had not been far off just giving up and settling for some water, "sorry" she spat out once she finally looked up and met Wulf's eyes. "It's been a day" She offered. Plan C wasn't viable if she didn't at least try to be nice.

There was a nervousness behind Wulf's confident interruption that visibly tensed his spine as she verbally bit back at him, then eased somewhat overly as she stepped back. She sounded sharp, but didn't look mad, and the tech took that as a good thing. He'd proved his superiority, he decided, grateful in that moment that the other one wasn't here. Then she apologised, and Wulf allowed himself a smug little smile in response. "That's okay." He relaxed, exhaled and canted his head. "And yeah, I guess it has been." Ken had kinda shot them down after all, but the tech decided not to revisit that one. "You want another coffee?" Please, he silently begged the universe, don't let the tall one come back yet.

“Obviously,” Aisling replied, her tone was clearly softening but old habits were hard to shake, “please” she forced out after a second realising the olive branch for what it was. Something about him worked to disarm all of the Irishwoman’s carefully crafted defence mechanisms, not by too much though, she knew he was likely the most opposed to herself and Delphi staying on the ship and no matter how helpful he was that irked her. She said nothing more though, content to watch Wulf, aware that it was probably better not to be too Aisling towards him.

Wulf bit back a retort, because, well, he'd been the one asking the fairly obvious question. He'd give her that win, since she'd been less sarcastic than he should have expected. Plus, she'd said 'please'. Dark eyes regarded her pale blue as he turned around, the machine set in motion to do its only job. "Coming right up," Wulf said, with as much reluctant warmth as he could muster. He didn't want to deal with people right now, he just wanted to grab some snacks and head back to his game.

Aisling was quiet too for a moment, chewing at her cheek as she regarded Wulf. He seemed to be the most apprehensive of the pair and Aisling couldn't really understand why. Their reaction to the destruction of the home had been completely reasonable in her opinion. If fact, they had been the ones who had come off significantly more aggressive and dangerous than the two women had yet to be. They had shot them and they had breached their ship and boarded with a fully geared out ex-marine, not them. Sure, Aisling had been obtuse since arriving but could anyone blame her.

"Why don't you trust us?" Aisling finally asked growing tired of the silence.

The tech looked super awkward for the longest couple of seconds, but he didn't hide his face or turn away as the coffee seemed to brew in ultra slow motion. Finally, thank the stars in the black, it arrived and he picked up the bulb and cautiously walked across to hand it to the young woman. "I don't not-trust you," Wulf said, looking down at his boots. "But we shot you... destroyed your ship... we're the bad guys." He shrugged guiltily. "Why would I trust you? Why would you trust us?"

“Don’t get me wrong, what happened wasn’t right and that Engineer of yours needs to be a bit more patient on the trigger...” she clenched her fist, feeling frustration fraying away at her nerves. He wasn’t wrong either, why should they all trust each other? But, she also didn’t want to spend the rest of their travel being treated like a guest, she wanted to keep busy. She huffed out a sigh, “but, regardless of the way we got here, we need you and neither of us is stupid enough to Jeopardise this” she finally said, “Also, you have us significantly outnumbered. I might be able to take you but that XO of yours would wipe the floor with me” she added matter of factly, although the corners of her mouth formed into a tight smirk.

Delphi walked into the galley, she was surprisingly quiet and light footed for someone of her stature, graceful even in the low acceleration gravity. She had ditched the god awful red jump suit of her former oppressors and had taken a long shower, using up much more hot water than she should have, but they had fired a railgun at her, so she figured they owed her a long luxurious shower or two. Her hair was still damp and clingy, finger brushed away from her face and now she was dressed in some of the civilian clothes she had brought with her, a well worn dark cool gray jumpsuit, of which the top half was undone and tied about her hips, mag boots and a comfortable thick black tee shirt with the name Swordfish stenciled across the front in bright blue. Her now exposed neck, arms and a hint of her midsection where the shirt did not quite reach to her belt line showed off a number of tattoo's of various patterns and geometric shapes. Notable among these, around her neck was the off-centered broken geometric line many belter's favored and just a hint of some split curved shape on her upper arm, peeking out just from under the left sleeve of her shirt.

"Our engineer did what he thought he needed to do to protect us," Wulf said, a little defensively. Ken was his buddy, and his XO, it was a necessary and immediate reaction to a potential slight from 'outside' forces. Rightly or wrongly from outside points of view, Wulf was Team Albatross. "And you're right," he said, with a wry grin. "You wouldn't be able to take him." He felt the internal stab of ego-pain at Aisling's judgment on his own score, but Wulf couldn't really argue that. Likely she could take him. He chose not to draw attention to that fact.

Then the other one walked in, and Wulf's entire body visibly stiffened. He didn't hide his quick up and down look of the taller Belter, but it wasn't all underlying fear, some of it was admiration for the way Delphi carried herself, the fluid motion of her body through the shared space. She smelled good, too, fresh from a shower, clearly. Wulf ran a hand self-consciously over the manga-anime figures on his dark-shirt and then shoved both hands in his boiler suit's pockets. The top half of said overalls was tied about his waist and his face and arms were smudged with dirt or grease, it was hard to tell.

He wanted to ask Delphi if she'd like a coffee too, but Wulf clocked the partial view of the tattoo and heard himself say the words before he could stop himself.

"Are you OPA?"

Delphi noticed how Wulf tensed when she walked into the galley. Good, let him be afraid whenever she was around. He gave her the creeps, the way he stared at her and Aisling and seemed to be always around, especially around Aisling, sent an uncomfortable tingle up her spine. She would have to talk to her shipmate about that when they had some privacy, if they had some privacy. She also made a mental note to not leave Aisling along if she could, especially when the creep was around. She had no idea what he was trying to get at, but she did not trust him one bit. She did not trust any of the crew on this ship, but this one especially had a slimy feel when he was around.

"No." she replied flatly to the question. If she was surprised or taken aback by it, she gave no sign, she just started opening cabinets, looking for something to eat. Red kibble would be ideal, but even one of the cardboard-like standard emergency ration protein bars would do.

"Are you?" she asked in return without looking away from the cabinets she was rifling through.

"No," Wulf answered outright. "But I've seen their work." And others. Real up close and personal. He forced emotions that shouldn't apply to these two down a little deeper and pushed on forwards. "You hungry?" He asked, forcing himself to try and be a decent host for a second. He thought about Vector Red. Servitude and hardship. "I can make ya up some kibble."

Delphi stared at him for a moment, biting back a response, he knew nothing about the OPA, but she was not going to say anything about that to him, he already was half a step from putting a bullet in her brain, from the way he acted towards her. "I cook for myself" she replied to the offer.

"I could go for some kibble," Aisling said ignoring Delphi's rejection, "I have no doubt the worst you could conjure up in here" she gestured around them, "would be better anything we've eaten for a while" She'd opted to ignore the tension brought about by Wulf's line of questioning, the kid was making a pretty convincing peace offering all things considered and it made sense for the pair to take advantage of the Tross' crews hospitality, it was the least she felt they were owed.

He stood, torn between the bad mood and the hungry compliance and Wulf adopted an expression somewhere between hopeful confusion and concerned optimism. Delphi hadn't found the food storage yet, and Aisling simply sounded ready to eat, and, whether any of the trio liked it or not, they were all stuck aboard the Albatross for a while yet at least.

"I'll make you both some red kibble," Wulf decided, and he rustled up the ingredients swiftly before either had much chance to argue. Once he had the mixing bowl in hand and his food prep well underway, the young man leant against the galley's biggest cupboard to regard both women evenly. "Y'know," Wulf said then. "I get that we fucked up. I'm sorry Ken scared y'all." He opted for what he hoped was a safer subject then. "But I heard Vector Red was pretty brutal. That true?"

Delphi resigned herself to being poisoned and dropped into a seat, filling it with her tall, slim frame. She stretched and laced her fingers behind her head as she settled in. "It not safe out in da black" she said. "Vector Red are monsters, treat da Beltas like slaves just like all da other imalowda, sasa"

"Not just Belters," Wulf piped up. "They treat Martians badly too." One he knew well enough to be aware of at least a tiny piece of that history too. "So you two worked together for a long time?" He asked, trying his best to give Delphi and Aisling some normality in their conversation.

"Long enough," Aisling commented playfully, "Months, I stopped counting after the first one, it makes it seem longer" she added with a shrug, "What about you guys?" she fired back.

"I've been with the Tross for just over two years," Wulf answered honestly. He placed the bowl down, put a pan on to heat up a small amount of oil and then began to roll the kibble mixture into small balls. "Others been together longer."

Delphi kept an eye on Wulf as he prepped food, watching to see what he put in the kibble, waiting for the cartoonish black bottle with a white skull and cross bones or POISON in big red letters to come out.

She really didn't have anything to say to the man as he prepped food and chattered. She was still not pleased to be stuck interacting with him, let alone being made food by him. She also didn't feel too keen to talk about her year of indentured servitude aboard the rockhopper, or the ordeal she had been through at the end of her time aboard the Swordfish, her previous boat. This Wulf guy was already at least suspicious if not outright accusing her of being OPA, she did not need to see how he would react if he learned she had been engineer aboard an OPA privateer within the time period he had been serving on this ship.

There was no poison, obviously, and Wulf had mixed bean paste with yoghurt, flour, curry powder and cumin. He fried the little chunks in hot oil, releasing the scent into the galley, then set them to one side to drain while he made fresh sauce. Garlic this time, into oil, followed by tomatoes, paprika, salt and pepper. This simmered while he grabbed three bowls, then he dumped the fried bean paste balls into the sauce, stirred and plated up three bowls with equal portions. No one had spoken in what felt like an age, but the comm tech still forced a smile as he handed bowls and spoons to the two women.

"Here you go," Wulf said. And he watched as they both examined that simple meal he'd created.

Interesting Times ahead. Definitely Interesting Times...



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