S1:Ep6 - Lights, Camera, Action!

Started by Lomari, August 01, 2021, 04:17:48 PM

Thackery Arlington III

March 17, 2022, 04:11:30 AM #40 Last Edit: March 17, 2022, 04:14:02 AM by Thackery Arlington III
Arlo detested that phrase, 'breaking the ice.' It was a baffling expression. Who were all these people so dead set against something as harmless and natural as frozen water? (Never mind that he himself was vehemently opposed to all things frozen after their little adventure on St. Albans; that was irrelevant to this metaphor.) At any rate, breaking the ice only made it more likely you'd fall in and freeze to death; let the damned ice stay where it was.

He wondered if anyone had ever died, or at least been sufficiently injured to recuse themselves, after being trampled by sheep. It wasn't as though it were a cattle stampede. But perhaps if he accidentally slipped just so...

Bah. It was a ridiculous idea. Certainly no more dignified than subjecting himself to silly social diversions, although perhaps not much less either. He had two equally bad options, really.

"Hey, I gotta talk to you 'bout somethin'."

Three. Three bad options.

Humiliate himself via icebreaker, throw himself under the cloven hooves of the Ovis aries, or be murdered in the hold while everyone else was distracted by games and sheep. The only turn of events that could possibly be worse would be if Mattie really did want to talk, although Arlo couldn't imagine what the grumpy gunhand would ever want to talk to him about.

Well, at least she'd likely make his death quick and merciful in a way the livestock would not.

"Excuse us," he said abruptly, accidentally speaking over her own mumbled excuse and possibly someone else's voice as well; there was a faint buzzing in his ears and he couldn't be sure. He felt obligated to elaborate on some reason for them to depart, but couldn't think of one beyond, 'I must go perish now,' so instead he just cleared his throat, turned on his heel, and strode after Mattie as fast as he could manage with any remaining dignity.
Dialogue Color: darkseagreen | 8FBC8F

"I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle."

Viktor Söderberg

Tabitha's hand in his was a comfort. It felt like home to the preacher. "You think he likes quilts? She whispered to him.
He leaned over and rested his chin lightly on the top of her head. His answer was a quiet as her question. "I'm not sure Tabs. I bet he has the best blanket technology in the 'verse. And I bet it's not nearly as wonderful as a handmade quilt."

His attention was pulled away from comfort items by a hail from Mr. Caraway. "Ah! A preacher! Perfect! You must know heaps about tending to a flock."
Viktor opened his mouth to answer and closed it again upon seeing the sheep. Dipping his head down from the top of Tabitha's head to her ear, he said in an undertone, "Ever want to spin some wool for knitting? Now's your chance! It's not quilting but still cozy." He was joking but also knew that it was very likely something Tabby might be interested in.

Since their client had addressed him directly, prior to asking for introductions, Viktor stepped forward first to shake the man's hand. "Viktor Soderberg and I'm not sure my knowledge is transferable, unless reading scripture can put sheep to sleep as easy as some of my parishioners." He laughed easily and lightly before continuing.
"My colleague, friend and resident medic, Tabitha." He gestured to her with an open hand and a smile. He noticed Mattie and Arlo slipping away. He had an inkling what was going on there. Not everyone was good with people. He hoped they could hear his excuses as they retreated farther into the vessel. "And off to ensure everything is five by five* with your quarters and safeguards, that was our security personnel, Mattie, and your fellow passenger, Arlo, whom I'm sure will be happy to say hello at a later time."
The preacher was sure about that last statement, but it seemed like the nice thing to say.

Having introduced their little crew, Viktor suddenly felt slightly embarrassed for taking over what probably should have been the acting captain's responsibility of introductions. "Perhaps, you and Captain Carpenter should speak business in the galley?" The question was more directed to Rian than Noah. "Tabby and I can supervise the rest of the cargo loading and play your ice breaker a little later over a cuppa."
Preacher knew Tabitha would love the game and was probably the only one on the ship who would actually want to play.

*A military/radio communications term that means the signal strength and clarity (on a scale of 1-5) is both strong and clear. In this usage it means "everything is good".

Albie Smit

"Amateurs," Albie muttered with a chuckle as he sauntered in behind the sheep. With ten minutes and a well-trained dog he could've had the flock gliding from barn to ship's hold in fine style, but at least watching Mister Author Man's fancy Londinium servants take forty sweating and red-faced minutes to do the same thing wasn't half bad as a show.

As his eyes adjusted to the dimmer light of the interior he swept an assessing glance across the ship's hold, dismissing Caraway and his guard dog – and the milling, bleating sheep, of course – as the evils he already knew. Three new folk and not half so much cover as he'd like – but then, to Albie's mind there was never enough cover. You had to know where it was, of course, but if a situation had gone so to pot as to see pistols drawn, several someones had right and truly failed.

To the girl and the lanky man beside her, he tapped the brim of his hat and offered a pleasant smile. To the other man he offered a respectful nod – crew for certain, him, and scrappy to boot with the kind of wiry strength that Albie shared. He didn't much fancy finding out which of them had the greater. These three strangers had a tired and sorrowful edge to them that set his neck hairs to standing, but he kept wariness to himself as he fetched up in the bossman's line of sight, and let his face imitate the sheep: mild, friendly, a mite stupid.
Dialogue color: sienna

Tabitha Haemish

"Ever want to spin some wool for knitting? Now's your chance! It's not quilting but still cozy," Viktor whispered to her and she felt her brows shoot upward. He was right! Surely she could request a small harvest of some of the wool, maybe even just the bits that came off on their own. Then she could make a sweater, or maybe hats for all of them instead. That way, if they went to a snow planet again, they'd be prepared!

"For my records, would you mind introducing yourselves?"

"My colleague, friend and resident medic, Tabitha," Viktor introduced. The doctor smiled warmly and waved her hands at their new employer, the large man with him, the attendants who's herded the sheep on board, and the new boy with the hat. Thankfully, Viktor also introduced Arlo and Mattie, who'd retreated the moment their new 'boss' had suggested the icebreaker. She waved goodbye to them and offered them both a little smile that was both apologetic and encouraging. Maybe someday they'd feel comfortable enough to play.

"Tabby and I can supervise the rest of the cargo loading and play your ice breaker a little later over a cuppa," their preacher said, pulling her attention back to their guests.

"Oh! Yes! We'd love to. I helped with some of the livestock back home. They're like little people, just need to be treated kindly and they'll do what you need them to without much fuss," she explained, nodding enthusiastically. Her gaze moved from Caraway, to the sheep, and then to the young man in the hat who she assumed was the man in charge of the sheep. She only assumed this because he stayed in the hold while Caraway's servants started trudging back down the ramp. "Wouldn't you agree?" she asked curiously, her brows aloft.

"I'm Tabby!" she introduced herself again, her hand extended to the presumed cattle hand. "Welcome to the Darling, what's your name?" she asked, her eyes bright and her smile warm.
Dialogue Color: Pink

Rian Carpenter

April 11, 2022, 04:46:09 PM #44 Last Edit: April 11, 2022, 04:53:07 PM by Rian Carpenter

"I think preacher-man's got the right idea. Follow me to the galley and I can fix you a libation or supper if you're hungry. God's honest I started as the cook of this vessel. But we can talk more business inside. None of those sheep know how to fly do they?"

That is the dumbest joke possible to make right now, Rian.

The temporary captain's internal monologue immediately chastised him. Carpenter sputtered to move things along from his joke.

"That's just a... uh... spacer joke. We'll tell you more about other common spacer jokes..."

His eyes started darting to the rest of the crew. The only way he could more visibly try and plea for help would be if he shot a flare up.

Just get out a shovel if you're gonna keep digging in deeper like this, jackass.

The killer cook was not used to conducting business like this at all.


"We took a few licks but we're fine... Honestly don't worry about the last run. What are you doing? Why don't you have a drink? HEY!"

Rian Russo flagged down one of the waitresses.

"I'm fine man. Hey did..."

"My friend is going to have a triple of Riordan's... you want ice? I take it on the rocks I'm not gonna bust your balls..."

His business associate: Eddie Kang shifted in his seat. His business suit stood out in the club, with the thumping bass and flashing lights in the background, they could barely converse.

"Hey, I know your dad is angry about the accounts getting flagged but he can't expect everyone to believe he's suddenly a legitimate mining entrepreneur right away..."

Rian laughed and sipped his bourbon on the rocks. He clapped the banker on the shoulder.

"I know it's a whole big thing for you to whitelist him, dude. Just relax and enjoy your drink. The flight out here must have been brutal and this is the only halfway decent bar on this rathole planet we set up shop on."

A look of relief washed over the VP of accounts face. Eddie looked around then confided to Rian:

"I guess I didn't really need to bring my undercover security detail did I?"

The heir to the Russo empire bit his lip, then took a long sip of his bourbon. He'd clocked them ages ago but the enforcer wished to keep up the pretense of business for just a minute longer.

"You really should try the bourbon..."

The memory faded into a blur. Not from the alcohol, but adrenaline. A few snapshots were still burned into his mind though. It was strange what would go into the save file versus just fading away with time. The arterial spray from the first guard, an onlooker screaming, then back to the haze, recoil, a dulled but sharp pain in his fists, knees, and elbows. People screaming and running. Eddie pleading for his life. Promising to whitelist Russo Inc. The key details.


Rian Carpenter shook his head slightly and blinked hard a couple of times and forced a laugh and a smile for the livestock hoarding writer. Intrusive thoughts about past horrors and trauma always timed themselves so well.

"C'mon... let's get you on the ship before you change your mind!"

More jokes. Great, Rian. If his internal monologue could have then sighed, it would have.


Ship Time: 0723
Ship Location: Caraway's Personal Landing Pad, Londinium

"Viktor Soderberg and I'm not sure my knowledge is transferable, unless reading scripture can put sheep to sleep as easy as some of my parishioners," the preacher answered. Noah snorted, laughed abruptly, and pointed at the man as though he'd said something far funnier than he'd intended. His attention shifted, then, to the medic and he nodded to her politely.

"My colleague, friend and resident medic, Tabitha," Viktor introduced. The security eyed them both, but kept most of his attention on Mattie, who was quick to depart with the tall, gangly fellow.

"'Scuse us, Excuse us," they said. The mountain of man furrowed his brows, crossed his arms over his chest, and stared holes into the back of them.

"...that was our security personnel, Mattie, and your fellow passenger, Arlo..."

"Oh splendid! Another passenger! I'm sure they've got heaps of fun little stories. I'll check in with them shortly!" Noah informed the three remaining crew with a pleasant clapping of his hands. He finished writing their names down and shoved the note pad back into its place in his pocket, the pen slipping behind his ear.

"Perhaps, you and Captain Carpenter should speak business in the galley? Tabby and I can supervise the rest of the cargo loading and play your ice breaker a little later over a cuppa," Viktor suggested.

"Oh! Yes! Right! This little fella' can assist you! Splendid idea, look at you shepherding us all in the right direction already, Preacher! You've got the makings of a main character," he told the resident shepherd with a wink and a nudge against his ribs. The hired security sighed slowly, his jaw clenched so hard that the vein in his neck started to throb. He shot the lanky kid they'd hired to work with the sheep during flight a fairly dirty look, perhaps as a reminder for him to behave when he was inevitably out of the man's sight.

"I think preacher-man's got the right idea...But we can talk more business inside. None of those sheep know how to fly do they? ... That's just a... uh... spacer joke."

Caraway's initial confusion about the sheep's skill at piloting melted away into another surprised but genuine laugh. "Oh! Right! Hah, no I suppose they don't, do they? Or perhaps they do and they just haven't shared that with me." He chortled, pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket, and held it over his nose without thinking. Apparently the smell of the sheep gathered in such a tight space was irritating his allergies, or perhaps offending his senses. 

"We'll tell you more about other common spacer jokes...C'mon... let's get you on the ship before you change your mind!"

"Oh, perfect! I'll need to record a few of those. For the book, you understand! I want to make sure I get all the vernacular correct. That makes things more immersive, don't you agree?" he asked Rian, following the Captain-Pilot out of the cargo hold and leaving the sheep and its keeper behind. Before passing out of sight, the security pointed at his own eyes with index and middle finger, then jutted them out toward Albie. Then, he was gone as well.

"Say, what would you say is your favorite part of Captaining?" Noah asked on their way up to the galley. "And what's the backstory to the name Darling?" Again, the pad of paper was drawn out of the pocket, exchanged with the handkerchief.
Charity ~ Melody ~ Tabitha

Darling ~ Iscariot

Mattie Rooney

Location: Cargo bay

While Mattie had a habit of stomping around the ship and everybody on board was familiar with her brisk gait by now, the sharpshooter could be stealthy when she wanted to -- like now, when she appeared next to Viktor and Tabby seemingly out of nowhere mere moments after Rian had left the cargo bay with Noah Caraway and his entourage.

"Are they gone?" she quickly scanned the area for any signs of impending small talk, her demeanor relaxing as she confirmed the coast was clear. Her gaze lingered only briefly on the shepherd before she dismissed him as harmless, then moved on to inspect the livestock.

"Just plain old sheep, yeah?" She approached one of the animals, staring it down with a pensive frown. "No funny business?"

It had been a while since she'd come within petting distance of a sheep.

Not that she wanted to pet one.

"I've heard of folks usin' these things for smugglin'. You just strap the goods to 'em and let the wool do the rest."

With her brows still furrowed -- she was performing a very serious and important inspection, after all -- Mattie reached out to touch the sheep in front of her. Her fingers gently brushed the animal's back before sinking into its coat. She threw one suspicious glance in the sheep-minder's direction, just for show, before kneeling and gingerly pressing her cheek against the sheep's soft side. She ran her fingers through the thick wool, pretending to pat it down for any contraband. In reality, she was inhaling the familiar scent.

It reminded her of home. For once, that wasn't an entirely bad thing.
Dialogue color: darkkhaki

Viktor Söderberg

Location: Cargo Bay

Viktor watched over the loading of the remaining sheep as promised. He nodded his head, with a smile, in the direction of the ranch hand to whom Tabby was making introductions.

Then, silent as a ghost Mattie was next to them and speaking, making the preacher nearly jump out of his skin. It was lucky her voice was low; any louder and his reaction might have been more severe. He would be the solider and not the preacher in that instant.
"Shiong mao niao!* You should know better than to sneak up on a man like that!" But the fire in his voice was just flash paper and he settled almost immediately.

The blonde woman didn't seems fazed by his quickly-cooled ire. She was, after all, the security and he, just the preacher. She took his little outburst in her stride and wondered about the sheep.
"Just plain old sheep, yeah? No funny business?"

Viktor watched her run her fingers through the thick wool. She looked relaxed somehow, a countenance at odds with her task. It was no matter to him. He was pretty sure the sheep were just sheep and if it gave her peace to be nearer them... well, they could all use a little moment of peace every now and again.

"No funny business?" He returned Mattie's question to bolster her excuse and reached out to pat one of the fuzzy creatures for himself.

*Panda's piss!

Thackery Arlington III

May 08, 2022, 05:30:37 PM #48 Last Edit: May 08, 2022, 05:37:46 PM by Thackery Arlington III
Arlo was spun completely about, metaphorically speaking. Also slightly literally speaking, as he turned in a slow, suspicious circle around the workroom off the hold where Mattie had led him, checking for signs of ambush just in case. He'd followed her clomping boots there with Chopin's dirge playing in his mind and no expectation of leaving alive, then gotten very momentarily distracted by an interesting-looking fiddly bit on a workbench, and then looked up to find her completely vanished, quick as daybreak and silent as the night.

What in all the bloody 'Verse was the girl playing at? First she claimed she needed to speak with him when Arlo couldn't swear to them ever having exchanged more than two or three consecutive words, then swanned off without a word of explanation the moment she had him alone. He might have been vexed if he weren't considerably more confused, not to mention just a touch afraid of her. He certainly had no intention of ever asking her about it; either she'd elect to explain later or she wouldn't, but for the moment, Arlo was just as pleased to still have his head upon his shoulders and a moment of peace and quiet to himself.

Well, relative quiet. Judging by the echoing bleats just beyond the workroom door, the majority of the sheep had finished embarking, presumably along with Caraway and his people as well. Arlo stuck his head cautiously around the doorframe to check the situation. There was no sign of the new client nor the newly acting captain, but Tabby and the vicar were overseeing the last of the herd's entry, along with... Mattie? Who was now cuddling the sheep? Or possibly planting explosives on them; Arlo didn't dare speculate how she'd gotten back over there so quickly without him noticing, never mind why.

He was far more interested in continuing to avoid Caraway for as long as he could possibly manage, and that would be difficult on a ship the size of the Darling without having some better idea of where he and Rian had gone. He hoped they weren't in the galley; he could dearly use a good cup of tea to settle his nerves. He stood straighter in the workroom doorway and tried to look less like he was lurking and more like he'd simply just emerged from performing some perfectly ordinary workshoppy sort of duty.

"You, boy," he said, snapping at a scrawny lad he presumed to be one of Caraway's as he passed Arlo by. "Where's your employer got off to?"
Dialogue Color: darkseagreen | 8FBC8F

"I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle."

Albie Smit

"I've heard of folks usin' these things for smugglin'. You just strap the goods to 'em and let the wool do the rest."

Albie allowed himself a smirk at that, hidden in the shadow of his hat. S'pose you could, at that. Good thing these sheep ain't smuggling anything except me. When the woman shot him a suspicious glare, he responded with placid smile and a slow nod -- acknowledging that she seemed to know her way around nature's stupidest kind of meat -- and continued to check over and calm the rest of the beasts. He fully intended to ingratiate himself to the crew, but it would surely be a sight more effective after a nap and a rinse. After a week of quick talking, sleepless nights of hard thought, and the sheer physical effort of handling livestock, he felt nearly as dumb as he was supposed to be for this trip.

The hard-eyed blonde striding back in with a gruff comment and pawing at his sheep didn't alter his plans, but when the lanky fellow meandered after her with a sharp "You, boy," certainly did.

It took Albie more than a little effort to keep his face clear of irritation. I know I'm supposed to be a dumb farmhand, but there ain't no call to treat a poor dumb thing with disrespect.

"Where's your employer got off to?"

No, there was no call for that kind of thing at all. Albie looked at the man.

He took his hat off. Slowly.

Held it to his chest. Slowly.

He looked around at the sheep, the crouching woman, the lanky fellow and the miss, down at himself, the sheep again for good measure, and finally back to the newcomer; he blinked wide blue eyes, took a deep breath, and asked, voice brimming with confusion:

Dialogue color: sienna

Tabitha Haemish

Location: Cargo Bay

Unphased by the lack of a response, Tabitha remained standing nearly inside the newcomers bubble. She figured he might not have heard her over the bleating of the sheep and the sudden startled yelp of the preacher. The doctor turned a bit to stare wide-eyed in Mattie and Viktor's direction, her hand held out toward Albie, waiting for a hand shake or a hug or a high-five. Anything would've made her quite overjoyed.

"Are they gone?" Mattie asked, eyeing the sheep almost suspiciously. Tabby nodded.

"Shiong mao niao!* You should know better than to sneak up on a man like that!" Viktor exclaimed. Tabitha's smile brightened. He seemed like he was having fun and like some of his old color was returning. It was nice to see, after how down they'd all been when Barnaby had left them.

"I've heard of folks usin' these things for smugglin'."

"They do?" she asked, lowering her hand and finally turning about the rest of the way. She stood next to the cattle hand, her hands on her hips and her head tilted. She'd never considered that, but it did make sense. There was so much fluff to hide things in. The medic almost felt jealous watching Mattie search the beasts. They seemed so soft and fluffy and like they were in desperate need of a hug. Her eyes widened, brows furrowed, and lips pursed into a pout. She wanted to pet them too...

"You, boy, where'd your employer got off to?" Arlo snapped. The doctor gasped and let her hands drop off her hips, blue eyes wide in shock.

"Arlo!" she called to him, her tone surprised and almost hurt at his tone, even though he hadn't been talking to her.

"Huh?" At least the poor boy didn't seem too insulted by the uncharacteristically rude behavior from their resident author. Maybe the Captain leaving had effected him more than she'd initially thought. Her expression melted from surprised horror to empathetic warmth, her smile sad but understanding. She should do something nice for him to cheer him up and make him feel at home here, maybe that would improve his mood. She recalled that their new employer was a writer, maybe they could ask if he had any old type-writers he could let Arlo have?

"The Mister and his Man went with Rian to the galley," Tabby answered for the young man. "They're going to discuss business and have some tea. Or coffee. Or maybe water, if they don't mind the taste," she offered, holding up an index finger and nodding as she spoke. At the end of the explanation, Tabby turned back to the shepherd (literal, not figurative), and offered him her hand again.

"I'm Tabby," she repeated. "What's your name? Do you like quilts? I can help you set up your bunk while you're here. What size hat would you say you wear?"
Dialogue Color: Pink

Rian Carpenter

May 19, 2022, 05:21:13 PM #51 Last Edit: May 19, 2022, 05:27:22 PM by Rian Carpenter
Darling - Galley

"Oh, perfect! I'll need to record a few of those. For the book, you understand! I want to make sure I get all the vernacular correct. That makes things more immersive, don't you agree?"

Rian shrugged slightly but agreed readily to the question.

"Of course. I hate it when they get the gun stuff wrong in Cortex movies. Authenticity, y'know?"

My god, you did it! You actually small-talked, Rian. Congratulations. His inner monologue was very self-critical today. They were approaching the galley when Rian was confronted with a slightly difficult question.

"Say, what would you say is your favorite part of Captaining?"

The temporary Captain couldn't help but wince slightly. The micro-expression revealing he was worried a truthful answer might endanger their assignment on the job.

"And what's the backstory to the name Darling?"

Phew! That's an easy one.

"The owner's Mother. Full name of the ship is Darling Francine. The ship was Ma and Pa's, passed down to Barnaby. Best Captain you could ask for. He saw fit to let me keep an eye on her while he's on sabbatical."

Okay.... that might work...Just don't mention you're hiding from your crime-lord father and he's pretty much already found you. Or that your continued presence on the ship represents an escalating danger to the only people in the damned universe you care about. Plus your backstory is too juicy and he'll never leave you alone then.

Rian thought of a way to answer the writer's previous question, and maybe help kill the topic on which he felt so profoundly insecure right now.

"As for what I like about Captaining this dear vessel, it is lookin' out for the crew. That's why I still insist on cooking each meal. Plus I find it relaxing. A welcome, understandable, and easy to solve issue of day-to-day ship life. Feed the crew before they eat *you*."

He poked the author in the chest lightly to drive the point home. Then he smiled. Rian popped open the galley's refrigerator, revealing roughly four fifths of the feral hog he'd slain on their last job.

"After we get underway, wanna help me finish butchering it?"

The large, hairy, deceased pig was taking up a lot of the fridge's space, but there were a handful couple of drinks right next to it, just barely fitting. The pink glass bottles stood out and the temporary captain grabbed two and offered one to his passenger.



Ship Time: 0728
Ship Location: Caraway's Personal Landing Pad, Londinium

Location: Galley - Rian

"...Feed the crew before they eat you."

He poked the author in the chest lightly to drive the point home. The mountain of a man looming behind the pair cleared his throat and inched closer, but a thoughtless waving of Caraway's hand had him rocking back on his heels and departing Rian's personal space bubble. Clearly, the writer was used to his bulldog of a security officer being more than a little over enthusiastic about his job.

"After we get underway, wanna help me finish butchering it?" Rian asked, referring to the hog stuffed into the impossibly tight confines of their tiny on board fridge. Waving a hand back and forth in front of his face, Caraway laughed uncomfortable and took a step back.

"Oh, no no, I simply couldn't. I'd be happy to watch, of course, provided it doesn't get too...messy," the man answered, laughing nervously and holding his pad and pen up closer to his chin as though in an attempt to hide behind it.

The pink glass bottles stood out and the temporary captain grabbed two and offered one to his passenger.


Mister Caraway seemed far more amenable to this offer than he had been to the first. Shoving his notepad back into its pocket, Noah took the offered drink.

"So why is Captain Barnaby on sabbatical?" he asked. The idea of a working man taking some time off tickled him. Where did the common man go on holiday?

Location: Cargo Hold - Albie, Viktor, Mattie, Tabitha, Arlo

The last of the sheep had been loaded on board and Caraway's staff set to finishing the temporary fencing around the beasts, some of them casting resentful glances in Albie's direction. Clearly he wasn't helping them enough.

Another round of servants entered the cargo hold, rolling a cart with Caraway's personal luggage on board and stacking it up neatly in a sheep-free corner. In the end, there were four traveling suitcases made of wood and leather, and two duffle bags piled up atop one another. It looked like a lot more than someone would need for such a short trip, but the rich were mysterious and surely he had a reason to pack so much.

Finally, the 'help' disembarked and made their way back into the main house, leaving the crew to close the cargo bay doors when they were ready to go.
Charity ~ Melody ~ Tabitha

Darling ~ Iscariot

Albie Smit

June 14, 2022, 03:40:00 PM #53 Last Edit: June 14, 2022, 03:44:00 PM by Albie Smit
Albie wanted to smirk. It was a bad habit, that little tendency to gloat; he kept meaning to work on getting rid of it.

"I'm Tabby," the woman beside him said."What's your name? Do you like quilts? I can help you set up your bunk while you're here. What size hat would you say you wear?"

He pulled the Stupid Sheep expression back on, to cover any betraying twitches of expression, and turned to take her offered hand and tip his hat with the other. "I s'pose I like quilts alright, ma'am. Never had one, but I've sure seen a few pretty ones. Uh, hats -- ?" he briefly considered offering her the one off his head for inspection. "Ma'am, I just take a hat that fits. Any hat. You... gonna give me a hat?"

The plan had been to get to his bunk, wherever that might be. He was as tired as he'd been any time these past ten months and could use a sleep as much as a bath. Still, a connection was always worth a minute, and there was no call to be rude to a friendly face. And even if there wasn't much to set up -- he'd little enough to hang but his hat at the moment -- he'd long ago learned the value in knowing the quirks of a vessel, and here was someone conveniently offering themselves up to ask. 

He couldn't quite keep everybody in his line of sight as he shook her hand, so Albie settled for listening intently for the reaction from this Arlo fellow. After all -- it really wasn't any fun to tweak a man if he didn't get a reaction to gloat over. Just a little.
Dialogue color: sienna

Viktor Söderberg

June 15, 2022, 08:08:32 AM #54 Last Edit: June 15, 2022, 08:12:03 AM by Viktor Söderberg
Tabitha and the ranch hand were making fast friends, by the looks of it - on Tabby's part if no one else's. Arlo sounded like he was on his way to the galley for the client. Between those two, the new man seemed to have more than enough to focus on.

So, preacher kept himself to himself for the moment and kept his eyes and attention on Mattie as she made herself familiar with their fluffiest of guests. Another round of servants entered the cargo hold, rolling a cart with Caraway's personal luggage on board and stacking it up neatly in a sheep-free corner.
Finally, the 'help' disembarked and made their way back into the main house, leaving the crew to close the cargo bay doors when they were ready to go.

Perhaps it would have been nice of him to move Mr. Caraway's things to his bunk, but then again, folks can be a might picky about others touching their things. Viktor left it in the corner for Mr. Caraway to do with as he wished. With everything tucked aboard there was not much left to do on his task of "overseeing the loading" except to batten down the hatches. He made his way to the control panel, checking the sturdiness of the fencing on his way through. They didn't need the sheep roaming freely, that was for sure. Everything seemed on the up and up.

"Cap'n," he spoke through the intercom at the cargo door's panel. "We're all loaded down here and I'm closing her up, sir. We're ready for take off whenever you are."

The cargo door whirred closed and Viktor let his mind wander while he waited for it to clang shut. It was the first occasion he had to really think about their client. Why was it that a writer was bringing sheep aboard? Or was he a shepherd in trade but a writer in hobby? No, that couldn't be right. Certain comments were made when he entered the ship that told the tale of him not being familiar with livestock. So, whose sheep were these? Did he own them but not tend them? He had so many questions that wanted answers. Maybe he wouldn't hate playing Caraway's ice breaker game after all. He'd at least learn two things about the man.

Thackery Arlington III

Arlo ran an impatient hand through his hair, holding his breath expectantly as the boy slowly removed his hat and slowly held it to his chest. Normally, he might have approved of the good manners, but this seemed an odd time to stand on ceremony just to answer a simple question. The hat found its resting place and the suspense built as the shepherd's mouth opened to at last bring forth an answer... "Huh?"

Oh, for pity's sake. Arlo couldn't fault him for not having heard the question – the metallic hold echoing with the many-times-multiplied bleating of sheep didn't precisely make it easy – but what had all that build-up been for? He was debating whether it was even worth it to try repeating the question or just to take his chances with the galley when he heard Tabby calling his name.

"Er... Yes, Dr. Haem—uh... Ms— erm, Tabitha?" he faltered, suddenly realizing he'd never clarified her proper form of address after their conversation on St. Alban's. Did a ship doctor still use the title whether or not they had a medical degree, the way that a captain was always called as much regardless of military rank? Was it improper to continue calling her Dr. Haemish? Would she find it patronizing, or it would it be more insulting to suddenly stop?

None of these questions were of any apparent concern to the doctor herself, who had set about mothering the lad in her own rapid-fire way. Arlo couldn't help but notice that he didn't seem to have any trouble hearing her questions and rather suspected he'd been snubbed, but oh well. He had his answer at any rate, even if it was precisely the answer he was hoping not to find. Would tea be worth it? Arlo remembered the threats of icebreaker games and decided with a slight shudder that it would not.

At least... not without a diversion. There was only one person on the ship capable of out-enthusing their new passenger, and if she got in Caraway's path, Arlo might just manage to slip in, get his cuppa, and make his escape.

"Dr— Tabitha," he managed with only one brief stumble this time, "Would you care for a tea or coffee as well? I believe I may go join them for a moment if you'd like to accompany me. And, er..." Another falter, this time with a glance back at the shepherd boy. In the ordinary way of things, he'd go off to the servants' kitchen while they retired for their coffee, but what was the protocol when there was only the one galley? Arlo had only just started getting accustomed to the unsettlingly flat social structure of the ship when the hierarchies of his old life suddenly intruded again and he had no idea how to gracefully mesh the two. "...You also. If you wish," he added abruptly, trying to avoid making the invitation sound like either a command or a supplication, and somehow ending up with both.
Dialogue Color: darkseagreen | 8FBC8F

"I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle."

Mattie Rooney

Location: Cargo bay

Mattie continued to pet the sheep, but her attention shifted to the conversations around her. Out of the corner of her eye she followed the exchange between Arlo and the shepherd, making a note of the latter's almost exaggeratedly slow response time. He may well have been as stupid as he seemed, with no intention to ruffle Arlo's feathers -- that didn't matter to Mattie. The outcome was still the same, and she had to turn her face away to hide her smirk.

Once the others begun to make plans to move to the galley, Mattie finally stood up, giving the sheep next to her one last pat on the back before approaching the group.

"Y'all go on ahead," she stood up straight, assuming her casual no-nonsense posture, which was only slightly more relaxed than her professional no-nonsense posture. "I better stay here and keep an eye on the livestock."

What, exactly, there was to keep an eye out for was a mystery even to Mattie herself, but she hoped she spoke with enough authority to worm her way out of mingling duty without further questioning.
Dialogue color: darkkhaki


Ship Time: 0800
Ship Location: In Transit

There had been a few moments of relaxation and conversation between the acting Captain, their Author Employer, and a few members of the crew, while the new sheep hand and Mattie remained in the cargo hold with the livestock. It was a quick conversation, however, as Caraway was eager to watch a real Blue Collar Captain pilot his ship out into the black. He'd been on plenty of ships, of course, however he'd rarely been too attentive when it came to how his chauffeurs worked the vessels. But now that it was directly related to his interests, he just had to see it for himself.

If Rian thought piloting with Tabby and Mattie on the bridge left little in the way of personal space, he clearly hadn't been ready for the way Caraway watched him pilot. The man paced back and forth, wobbled this way and that when the ship hitched and swayed on its way upward, and politely rejected the option to sit further away where a seatbelt would hold him steady. His pen moved furiously over his notepad and every so often he'd move into Rian's peripheral to ask him a question about one thing or another: What did that switch do, exactly? Is that alarm supposed to sound so often? How hot do you think the front of the ship is now?

The ride smoothed and the quality of flight improved exponentially the moment the Darling broke through the atmosphere and entered the Black. Now, the ship sailed smooth as butter, taking much of the decisions out of Rian's shaking hands and doing the math on her own. With a course plotted for Whitefall, the crew had roughly five days to operate the ship under the persistent and unrelentingly watchful eye of Mister Caraway and his security.
Charity ~ Melody ~ Tabitha

Darling ~ Iscariot

Rian Carpenter

August 25, 2022, 07:23:15 PM #58 Last Edit: August 25, 2022, 07:26:01 PM by Rian Carpenter
"Rian Carpenter?"

The host asked from his news-man desk, speaking to his audience back at home. Or well, as Rian imagined it.

"Who IS he?"

The screen displayed a picture in picture: A stock photo of Rian from his early 20s dating website profile, featuring the younger man posing in front of the weight room mirror like an absolute egùn.

"Or should we say: Who is Rian Russo?!"

The music swelled ominously for the viewer/Rian's inner thoughts. The stress-induced daydream continued.

A montage of Rian's highlights over the years started playing. The imagined amalgam of newsman stereotypes continued on as a voice-over.

"He was torn away from his mother as an infant and raised to be a ruthless killer by crooks and killers that are a menace to the 'Verse to this - very -day."

A flash of the rogue's gallery that molded his martial skills rolled by the screen, from his father, the various members of the gang, and even uncle Pip, the mysterious former ... who knows? The one who's real name he never actually learned. The one he spent most of his free time pre-Darling trying to find. The temporary Captain's mind shifted back to the imagined newscast.

The reel continued of the young Russo sparring, target shooting, then actual combat.

"But Rian Russo wasn't just criminal the likes of which most good citizens of the Alliance shudder at the thought of... he was a Corporate turncoat who abandoned his father's business and tried to sabotage it with anti-societal labor revolt! Dozens of people died in one day, and not just because he walked into that mine looking for a fight, he got good honest hard working people like yourselves killed for his radical ideas. He's out there in the black, just floating around, Captain-ing another man's space-ship he-may-well-have-stolen. Like he hasn't done the things he has. Like he can just put on his Mother's name and be a normal spacer."

Rian pictured another highlight reel. Him trying to learn to fly. Tabitha and Mattie helping. Making an impassioned pitch to Barnaby about a job that just so happens to take them by a planet where he knows he can score some really good home-made pasta. Trying to convince Arlo the showers were coin-operated.

Fading back to reality, he stared at the bunk above his in the living quarters. But he could still hear the monologue of the scare-mongering host.

"But how did we find out about this villain in our midst? A daring law enforcement operation? Intrepid journalism? No. He invited a novelist onto his ship that never stopped asking him questions and it was only a matter of time until he slipped up and gave something away that unraveled his entire world. Everything he tried to redeem, bury, or just escape was always going to pull him back under."

The alarm on his cortex unit went off again.

Rian shoved his pillow over his face, and screamed for about four seconds. Twenty minutes later he was dressed casually for a change, jeans and a well worn t-shirt. They'd be floating around for a bit on auto-pilot and he needed to relax and just start his day. Check off the boxes and do it again the next day. Trying to bury the feelings that came from and also caused his stress fantasy about being fear-mongered about by morally dubious cortex hosts he craved the reassuring smell of coffee.

He opened the bag and the smell was faint, a damned taunt from an empty bag of caffeine beans.

The acting Captain felt his eyelid involuntarily twitch.

"Shàngdì, qǐng shāle wǒ."

Tabitha Haemish

Location: Crew Quarters

With a new crew member, temporary or not, Tabitha had been buzzing around the ship getting things ready and making the vessel as homey as possible. Of course, the Darling already had Tabitha's telltale sign of comfort strewn al over it so there wasn't much that someone wouldn't consider 'homey,' but she was nervous and the nervous energy came out in care for everyone but herself. She'd been lucky that their passenger had been obsessed with Rian and had left everyone else alone for the time being.

She stood, now, in the Crew Quarters with Viktor, Albie, Mattie, and Arlo, although their presence might have had more to do with the fact that it was still rather 'early' in the ship's 'day' and they might not have had a chance to escape just yet. Noah Caraway had already left his sequestered and concealed bunk to wander the ship, and his security had slept in a chair outside the door.

Tabby had already tidied the room, messed it up by re-organizing everything, and then tidied it up a second time. With the bunks, she'd tried to just politely pick up stray objects and put them back on the bed or into the foot-locker at the end of the bunks.

Albie's bunk was slowly and quietly decorated with paper cutouts of sheep and other farm animals that she'd drawn, cut, and taped together in the night instead of sleeping. Nothing in particular had kept her up. Their guest didn't snore and the ship hummed its soothing lullaby as it did every night, but she'd only been able to rest for an hour or so.

"Baa, baa, black  sheep," she sung under her breath to herself, taping the last of the sheep onto the side of Albie's bunk, trying not to wake him up, if he was still asleep at all. With a quick pat of the cutout, the ship's doctor moved to Viktor's bunk, pulling the quilt she'd folded at the foot of his bed up and over his body as lightly as physically possible before leaning down to set a gentle kiss on his forehead. Whether he wanted it or not, Arlo got the same treatment: Tucked in, smooched on the forehead, and left to sleep or wake on his own.

She'd been surprised to still see Mattie in bed. The woman tended to wake up early and get on with her day before most of them, so she must have overslept. Or maybe she was sick? A knot formed in her gut and Tabby slowly sat on the edge of the bed, reaching out to set the back of her hand delicately atop Mattie's forehead, the other hand on her own to gauge the temperature difference.  Her eyes idly slid from the resting woman's face to the book splayed open near her pillow. Tabby tilted her head to read it.

"I'm sorry I can't be the man you need. You can barely look at me, anymore. It's this scar isn't it? I disgust you," he whispered to Virginia, his dejected frown barely visible in the flickering candlelight.

"Oh, you could never disgust me. I'm just afraid," Virginia explained in a husky whisper, although she didn't sound afraid. Still, he looked down, ashamed that he'd frightened her. Before he could stand to leave, her hand snaked around his wrist. "I'm afraid of...how much I love you," she breathed.

In an instant, their lips met and...

Tabby's cheeks turned a bright pink and she quickly looked away. She cleared her throat, took her hands from Mattie's head, and carefully shut the book. Best to put that away. The doctor tried to push it as delicately as she could back under Mattie's pillow while she was still laying on it.
Dialogue Color: Pink

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