S1:Ep5 - Life from Red Clay

Started by Lomari, July 28, 2020, 07:23:56 PM

Rian Carpenter

January 24, 2021, 01:11:52 PM #40 Last Edit: January 24, 2021, 10:32:05 PM by Rian Carpenter
Location: Galley

Everybody was starting to make their way into the galley. As Barnaby wandered in with his eyes glazed, Rian asked of him quickly as he passed:

"Hey, Barn. Come find me after dinner when you get a minute."

He poured a little of the winter warmer into a cup of cocoa and handed to the captain with a nod. The security chief quickly switched back into his role as the cook and directed his attention to the stew, checking that the leftover meat (which he assured Tabby definitely wasn't a cute deer he shot then put in the freezer) was at the right level of tenderness. He made a face as he poked it with a wooden spoon. Not quite there, he fretted slightly then went to get himself a cup of cocoa. Somehow he missed the first step and just poured some of the bourbon straight into a mug.

Carpenter took a long sip just as the aristocrat arrived. He nearly spit it out suppressing a laugh at the sight of him with a fresh bloody nose.

Did he get ambushed? He'd look more alarmed and less like he was waiting for a servant to bring him a flute of champagne if he had...

Well now he'd have to check the CCTV footage of the cargo bay later. While he could enjoy the shaudenfraude, Buckery Buntington the VII was still a member of his crew. Rian grabbed a clean rag meant for the dishes and tossed it over to the Anglo-accented crew-member.

"Been meaning to try blood pudding, Arlo. Glad you could make it."

Next came the hot chocolate and offer of a little alcoholic enhancer if he so chose.

Tabitha Haemish

Location: Med-Bay

Once their patient was gone, the darling's cargo doors had been closed up (the echo of which moved through the ship like a satisfied purr), and the captain's account had been properly compensated for this mission (including the 'double payment' their Mister Potter had promised), the ship itself seemed far warmer and at ease than it had just a few minutes before. Tabby began moving to the door of the med-bay, eager to get another cup of cocoa, when Viktor's hand on her shoulder stopped her.

The bubbly doctor turned to look up at their preacher with wide, curious eyes, her brows aloft in question. "Miss Tabitha...what would you think about spending some time and teaching me a bit about your skills here? ..." With every word, Tabby's eyes lit up and her expression became more and more excited. When he'd finished, she clasped her hands together and popped up onto her tip toes.

"Oh! I'd love to!" she exclaimed, giggling happily and wrapping her arms around the shepherd's waist, her face burying itself enthusiastically against his chest. Tabby pulled her face away and grinned up at him with the light of a sun, "I know you'll be absolutely amazing at it, you're a natural, after all!" she assured him, releasing his torso and taking his hand. She tugged him warmly out of the med-bay toward the tantalizing smell of food and drink, still talking along the way, "I was thinking we should try something hands on, for the crew's moral? Maybe a puppy? Or put a little herb garden somewhere in the cargo hold so they can work with some earth while we're in the black? Or we could all knit a giant blanket, a crew blanket. I just think everyone could use a little cheering up," she noted, looking up at him and beaming.
Dialogue Color: Pink

Mattie Rooney


Location: Galley

True to his word, Rian didn't actually need her help, so Mattie took the role of a passive observer, leaning on the counter as she watched him work his culinary magic. It still felt strange seeing her commander-in-chief be so at ease in the kitchen. Mattie herself hated cooking. It reminded her of home, of the mundane slog that life was back on Lilac: put food on the table, clean up, rinse and repeat until your back hurts too much to stand in front of the stove. But she was grateful that what felt like an off-putting chore to her seemed to provide some kind of relief for him. If left to her own devices, her meals would consist of nothing but bland protein gruel and artificial cheese on crackers.

There was a tenseness to Rian's demeanor which Mattie attributed to the stressful day, but the silence between them was not uncomfortable. It felt nice to have someone you could communicate with through meaningful glances alone, as they did when Bowler Hat popped by. Bret and Serg had been such insufferable blabbermouths. Not to mention complete bastards.

"Uhhhh..." The captain wandered mindlessly into the galley, something resembling a thousand yard stare in his eyes. This time it was Mattie who shot Rian a look, but he was way ahead of her, addressing the captain in between his bustling about the galley. As the security chief turned his attention back to the stew, Mattie helped herself to a cup of cocoa (a hefty helping of spirits included) and approached the captain.

"So... Is the old gut-bag finally gone?" she asked, echoing Rian's phasing from before and immediately regretting it. Way to read the room, Temperance. Before she could dwell on her poor choice of words, or correct them, she was distracted by the sight of a bloody-nosed Arlo. Unlike Rian, Mattie she did not have to choke back laughter, although a wicked grin passed over her face. She hid it by taking a sip from her mug and turning away from both the sight of Arlo and whatever the captain's reaction to her lack of tact was.
Dialogue color: darkkhaki

Viktor Söderberg

Location: Hallway/Galley

At his words, Tabby's naturally bright personality turned up to 11. She beamed with the energy of her own internal sunshine.

"I was thinking we should try something hands on, for the crew's moral? Maybe a puppy?"
Viktor's face wrinkled at the mention of a dog. He and dogs never got along too well.
"No dog. Too rowdy. I think something more peaceful is in order."

"Or put a little herb garden somewhere in the cargo hold so they can work with some earth while we're in the black? Or we could all knit a giant blanket, a crew blanket. I just think everyone could use a little cheering up," she noted, looking up at him and beaming.

"I think Rian would enjoy the benefits of an herb garden. I know I'd like puttin' my hands in some dirt every now and again."

In the Galley, his mouth practically overflowed with saliva at the smell of the stew. He couldn't remember the last time he ate. He was sure it's couldn't have been that long ago, but suddenly he was starving. An effect of the cold and adrenaline rush for sure. He poked his nose in the direction of the pot and breathed in deep.

"That smells heavenly! I think I could eat a whole deer by myself." He gave a side-look to Tabitha. He didn't think she'd known there was venison in the stew. Oops. Well, he couldn't do much about it now except fill his mug full of hot cocoa and wait for the food to be ready.

Barnaby Goodweather

February 28, 2021, 10:57:58 AM #44 Last Edit: February 28, 2021, 10:58:58 AM by noseatbelts
A chill didn't just go down Barnaby's spine. It stayed there and wouldn't shake loose. The walls of the Darling Francine, his home of fifty years, seemed wobbly and unsafe. Ghosts of the past echoed in his ears and... a cup of chocolate milk with a kick was thrust into his hands. Barnaby downed the whole concoction with a couple of pained gulps. "Hot." He said with a grimace. The bourbon warmed his cheeks and, before Arlo could accept Rian's offer, Barnaby pulled the bottle for his own self and plopped down at the head of the table. The Captain's seat. His seat, supposedly.

It felt hard and uncomfortable to him then, as it had a time or two when his self doubt filled his back pockets with pebbles. Another cup of bourbon might help. What could it hurt? The amber liquor poured. He didn't see his crew. Didn't notice Arlo with his bloodied face. Didn't notice the jokes and good humor. The requests for attention. To them, the job was done. Over. Behind.

To Barnaby; it wouldn't leave. Or at least, their cargo. He looked down at his wrist. The one that Potter had grabbed in desperation. Was that a mark? Had the old codger branded him with his damnable, indecipherable, terrifying metaphor of trains or being on trains or being a train or... Barnaby felt like he was losing all sense of himself. He emptied his cup and filled it again. His spine felt warmer. That was a good thing.

A bowl of stew was placed before him, but Barnaby wasn't hungry. He ate anyhow, best not to worry folks. Get your head straight, Goodweather. These folk need you.

He looked at them, forced a smile, and wondered if they did. "Oh, dear." He said as the conversation came back into focus. Maybe getting a laugh would help.

This mood would pass, it always did. Barnaby swallowed another cup and chewed on the venison without tasting it. It usually passed.
Dialogue Color - LightBlue

Rian Carpenter

March 20, 2021, 01:39:59 PM #45 Last Edit: March 20, 2021, 01:43:02 PM by Rian Carpenter
Rian confirmed Potter's departure:

"Yeah the organ peddlers collected their human bratwurst."

He too regretted his phrasing as he went to scoop more of the venison stew. Pausing from eating he noticed the Captain was still spaced out. He shot Mattie another glance and nodded, confirming her concern shared earlier. It was a look he'd seen before in the mirror. The jobs had been going sideways and the ship had seen more turmoil than she had in years. Barnaby, her Captain, included.

The captain snapped to in time to make a pun about the venison. Rian chuckled but he could see the thousand yard stare in Barnaby's eyes.

"It's uhh... artificial Venison..."

Tabbie had seen him drenched in the blood of men but somehow he worried she'd think him a monster for slaying the cute but delicious animal they were enjoying. He knew for a fact nobody made decent cultured protein that could masquerade as Venison yet. Carpenter tried to propel the conversation to a new topic, and try and see if a little normality would snap Barnaby back to their universe.

"Any leads on our next gig? Finger's crossed it's a milk run. I dare to dream."

It was odd for him to long so dearly for a simple cargo hauling job, but he'd already soured ferrying high-roller passengers. Well except for Arlo. Mostly.  He almost laughed again thinking about him faceplanting, then suppressed it.

Tabitha Haemish

"That smells heavenly! I think I could eat a whole deer by myself." He gave a side-look to Tabitha who looked back up at him with a curious tilt of her head. Luckily for him, she didn't seem to connect his hyperbole with the soup sitting in their galley.

Her attention shifted to the Captain, her lips parting to say something, although upon seeing his faraway look she closed her mouth once more. Her brows furrowed, hands grasping at the fabric of her clothing, lips puckered in concern.  "Oh, dear," he finally said. "It's uhh... artificial Venison..." Rian quickly noted. She moved around the table and wrapped her arms around his whole head, pressing his eat against her chest so he was forced to listen to her heartbeat. One hand gently patted the top of his head, her eyes closed and chin nodding up and down slowly. "There, there, Captain," she muttered, the sentiment entirely genuine.

"Any leads on our next gig? Finger's crossed it's a milk run. I dare to dream," Rian asked. A milk run would be splendid. She'd be more than happy to visit a rancher and his cows somewhere. She loved the way their eyes seemed to take up their whole face, and how dainty their long eyelashes made them look. Her expression brightened at the idea. That was when her gaze fell upon their fancy guest, Arlo and her eyes widened. She released the Captain's head and rushed around to the gentleman, her hands reaching up to grab his cheeks. "Why are you bleeding?" she asked him, genuinely confused and concerned. One hand lowered to reach into her pocket, a hankie pulled out and brought to his nose.
Dialogue Color: Pink

Mattie Rooney

Mattie helped herself to a seat at the table as far away from the captain as possible. It wasn't an act of cowardice, at least she didn't like to think of it that way. It was just how she was. When there was a problem, she liked to put some distance between it and herself, assess it from afar. Maybe it was a sniper thing. Or maybe she was just making excuses.

Nah. Totally a sniper thing.

She stared at the captain from under a furrowed brow; he seemed to be unaware of her eyes on him, unaware of anything that was going on around him for that matter. When Rian placed a bowl of soup in front of her, she looked up at the cook and offered him a nod and a tense smile before tucking right in. She hadn't realized just how hungry she was, and even with the sour mood that lingered after the job, just having their unlucky passenger and his company off their ship was enough to restore her appetite.

"Oh, dear." Was that supposed to be a pun? There was something painful about it, and not in the way dad jokes typically were.

"It's uhh... artificial Venison..."

"What're you on about?" Mattie snorted and looked at Rian like he'd just sprouted two heads. "I saw you carve the damn thing myself!" There was no way their crummy little crew could afford some high class fake meat that passed for the real deal. Especially since they hadn't gotten paid for the last job. Which reminded her...

"Wait, we did get paid this time, right?" The idea of payment had completely slipped her mind when they'd been focused on getting back to the ship without turning into meat popsicles, and if it had come up once they were back on the ship, she'd been too distracted by other things to pay attention.

Mattie didn't echo Rian's wishes about their next job, but she didn't say anything. It wasn't really the stress of the situation itself that got her feeling down; it was the fact that it was the dull kind of stress with high stakes and few options to influence the outcome. The creeping doom and helplessness of it all, the waiting and hoping for the best. She was itching for a problem she could actually tackle. Maybe literally.
Dialogue color: darkkhaki

Viktor Söderberg

April 16, 2021, 11:15:58 AM #48 Last Edit: April 16, 2021, 11:18:59 AM by Viktor Söderberg
Waiting patiently for his food, Viktor looked around the table and savored the near chaos that came with everyone sitting down together for a meal. Jokes, questions, conversations and everyone trying to come down after a tussle. This was what he loved about being on the Darling. He didn't really have a preference of being planet-side or in the in black, but he would always love sitting around a table with people he cared about.
Among the chatter were genuine questions about payment, work and where they might be headed next. Everyone was banking for something a mite calmer and a bit easier on their minds and bodies.
Viktor looked to his Captain as the questions and comments circled. There is a man, he thought, who is in need of rescuing. Barnaby looked pale and wane with his eyes far away from their little group - whether in the future, the past or inside his own head, Viktor would never know. Even after Tabitha's comforting, he looked like he was lost in himself like a man adrift in the black with no tether.

The preacher tightened his grip on his mug, unfolded his long, lanky frame from his chair and stood facing his chosen family. He cleared his throat to gain attention from the babble and began to speak.
"I am inspired by being home near my given family to tell you all today how thankful I am for you, my chosen family. Though some of you may not know it, every time I come home I miss you all just a little bit more. And to our newest pair, don't think I'm discounting you here. I still consider you both family now and I'd love to make time to get to know both of you soon.
We all know we've been in a few doozies for our last few jobs and I hear that call to get to the next one and the hope that it is easy.... And Cap, I hope I'm not over stepping my bounds here - but I think we could all use a reset. A breather.
So once the storm passes I open my home to you. Those of you who wish can stay with my family and the rest I can make room and board at the church. There's work to be done if you want it, but I would encourage everyone to try to take the time to relax.
Rian, I can introduce you to a few local farmers to restock our pantry.
Tabitha, we can get supplies for that garden we talked about.
Mattie, Arlo... well... I'm not too sure what y'all would like to get up to but I bet my bonnet we can find something you'll like."

Viktor paused, only slightly too long, as he finally looked back at their Captain. His eyes were more focused but he was obviously still frazzled. Maybe because the preacher had taken over his Captainly duties to decide where they went next and whether or not he wanted a garden in his cargo bay!
Whatever was happening internally with Barnaby, Viktor felt in his heart that this was the correct course of action.
"And Captain, you could get some much needed rest. Get back your land-legs for a minute before we rush off to the next job. The port authority will take good care of your Darling and we'll take good care of it's crew - it's family - while you're here.
It may be a cold place here, but our hearts and hearths are warm and welcoming. If you want to stay a bit."

OK,
he laughed to himself, that last bit was kind of cheesy but it's true. I do hope they'll all want to stay. Lord knows we could all use a break.

Thackery Arlington III

"Been meaning to try blood pudding, Arlo. Glad you could make it."

"Ha bloody ha," Arlo sniffed with painstaking dignity, bleeding nose pointed high in the air. He caught the rag with gratitude nevertheless and dabbed ineffectually at his upper lip. He was even more grateful to see the combination of cocoa and bourbon at the ready, until the latter was plucked out practically from Arlo's shivering fingers by the captain. Well, never mind. Looked like the old chap needed it more than he did, so Arlo helped himself to a more innocent mug of the steaming beverage, half-listening to the discussion surrounding him. Deer, faux deer, no deer at all... Nobody could seem to decide, but he didn't particularly care. It smelled heavenly, whatever it was.

He'd only just managed to put the ladle down when the young doctor filled his entire field of vision before one could say 'personal space.' "Why are you bleeding?" she demanded, pulling his face to her for an inspection. Their rather dramatic difference in height caused him to stoop suddenly and he was glad he hadn't had a chance to pick up the mug yet, or else he'd have ended up wearing it.

"Urk— just clumsy, I suppose," Arlo managed in a strangled voice, more caught off guard than anything. "No, it's quite all right, I've a towel, you don't have to ruin your—" Too late. The handkerchief was already being ruthlessly applied; he had to admit at least that she was doing a much better job of cleaning him up than he had been.

"Really, it's fine, I'll be perfectly well after I've had the chance to sit for a bit and have some chocolate," he added meaningfully with a pining look at the abandoned mug. He wasn't nearly so rude as to pull forcibly away – besides, Tabitha reminded him strongly of his younger sister, and he knew full well that little Georgie would yank his ears hard if he tried to escape before she was good and ready. Still, though. His shoulders were already cramping rather badly and the vicar seemed to be building up to some sort of important speech; he hoped she'd see fit to release him soon.
Dialogue Color: Darkseagreen | 8FBC8F

Barnaby Goodweather

"Oh, um... ain't looked yet." He said in response to, well, it wasn't super clear to whom he was talking. But the answer nevertheless applied to both. "We'll see, I guess." He tipped the bottle to his cup a final time and it was only the last because the amber liquid had dried up. "Gorramn it..." He muttered, and his cheeks blushed as Victor stood to speak, surely to admonish him for his drunkenness.

It had been a few years since he'd buried booze in his belly like he was just now. In his younger days, though, he'd put it away with the best of them. Right after Anna Maria had passed. Barnaby and some of the crew in those days would go on tears when they hit port, come back stinking and, boy, Pappy would let Barnaby have it. Ma would step in as best as she could, but between two grown men there's not a lot anybody can do. Pappy called Barnaby worthless and worse; that his friends were a bad influence and he needed to get his head right if he was ever going to be captain.

Maybe they had some beer in the pantry...

Viktor went on to tell Barnaby and the crew exactly how much they needed rest and respite from the terrible jobs Barnaby had forced them all on of late and that he was the one to do the saving. A shepherd, alright. Well flock you, too, buddy. Barnaby swallowed the last of the whiskey and set the cup down slightly harder than he intended, the tin of the cup clanging off of the alloy of the table. "Here here. Preacher's damn right. We could all use a break."

Not a bad cover, especially with that smile he'd practiced whenever the blues got to him. "We need to vote, or my word as Captain good enough for ya'll?" That was a mite harsh, even through bourbon colored lenses Barnaby could see that. "Only joking, folks. Um. If there ain't no objections, let's call it a sabbatical. Great. Can I get more of that stew?"
Dialogue Color - LightBlue

Lomari

April 30, 2021, 09:13:31 AM #51 Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 09:34:22 AM by Lomari
"If there ain't no objections, let's call it a sabbatical. Great. Can I get more of that stew?"

Ship Time: 1625
Ship Location: Secondary Claim, St. Albans

Their family meal had been mostly comfortable, the warmth of the stew warming their spirits as much as the venison was able. After all, that was a big responsibility to put on the meal. There was something awkwardly nagging at them, some cold shadow lurking at the edge of their conversations and hovering just over all of their shoulders, all though no one had tried to put a name to it. Avoiding it seemed easier.

Generally speaking, doing your best, keeping your head down, and living an honest life was supposed to grant you some immunity to the darker parts of the 'Verse. However, as the crew of the Darling was finding out, such immunity was rare and hard to come by, no matter your moral leanings or honest profession.

Weary from their run of bad luck and the unprecedented action, the crew gathered in the cargo hold, ready to enjoy some shore leave at the invitation of the good Shepherd. It was a great opportunity, one that they wouldn't have had had their last job not taken them to this frozen planet. There were some silver linings to the dark cloud hovering over the Darling. Now they had some time to rest their bones, make new friends, take on small side jobs for some extra cash, and find their center.

The Mule was already re-prepped and ready to carry them to Viktor's stomping ground, the snow and water cleared out from the interior and the windows secured once more. Rian had done a once over of the machine to make sure it was structurally sound and that there were no secret bugs under any wheel wells. So far, this newest expedition seemed like it was going to be just fine, although the extra wariness was to be expected.
CHARACTERS
Charity ~ Melody ~ Tabitha


NARRATION
Darling ~ Iscariot

Tabitha Haemish

She had been hovering around the crew a little more than usual after they'd eaten, checking on Arlo's nose, making sure Barnaby had taken his vitamins and offering him multiple varieties of stress medicine and herbs (some of them learned from a prior mechanic that had once worked on the Darling). She checked on Rian's healing gun wounds, made sure Viktor's long since healed bump on his head hadn't somehow returned just to vex her, and tried to slip baggies of cookies into Mattie's hands.

Now, Tabitha stood at the entrance to the ship's cargo hold, staring out at the snowy landscape and holding an old tattered bag filled with a couple day's worth of clothing and some crafting supplies. Honestly, it was mostly crafting supplies. She was bundled up in the coat the vanished mechanic had lent her, her wild mass of curls blowing over her face as the chill winter's air coiled into the ribcage of their ship, chilling the metal body.

Over one shoulder, she'd put together another bag filled with some quick and easy medical supplies and herbal remedies, just in case they needed some quick treatment. The fact that she'd been useless when they'd needed her during the away mission had apparently had an effect on her, despite her cheery demeaner.

The doctor shook her head wildly, trying to clear her mind of any dark lingering thoughts. Like Viktor has suggested at meal time, she'd pick up some of the supplies for the garden while she was here, although she hadn't asked the Captain yet if she could do it. No time like the present!

"Captain, would it be alright if Viktor and I built a small garden in one of the unused portions of the cargo hold? It wouldn't be too much, just enough for some herbs and vegetables for meals, and I think it would be great for moral," she asked, rocking back and forth on the heels of her feet and staring at Barnaby with wide eyes and a hopeful smile, her brows up so high they might have disappeared beneath her hairline if they moved any further upward.
Dialogue Color: Pink

Mattie Rooney

May 01, 2021, 09:31:28 AM #53 Last Edit: May 01, 2021, 09:33:24 AM by Mattie Rooney
Mattie was not happy. Sure, the preacher's hospitality was genuinely touching, and she definitely needed a break... she just didn't want to spend it here. Reaching the warmth and safety of the Darling after their little adventure in the storm had been an incredible relief, and running right back into the cold arms of St. Albans was the last thing she wanted to do, even if the snow was no longer coming down horizontally.

She'd been uncharacteristically unhelpful in making preparations for the departure; not unhelpful enough to actually hinder anything, but certainly lacking in the usual elbow grease with which she seized any tasks that were handed to her. Nobody seemed to really notice to her reluctance, which made sense. The mood was already so low; even Tabby seemed a little more absent-minded as she fussed around the crew. The doctor had shoved a bag of cookies in Mattie's hands and she, not really knowing what to make of the unexpected gift, had tucked it in the inside pocket of her coat for later.

Tabby's cookies weren't the only snack Mattie was packing. After the dinner, she'd pinched Rian's bottle of bourbon when he wasn't looking, and it was now stuffed in her backpack in case she needed something to warm herself up -- metaphorically, that was. She knew full well you didn't actually want to drink alcohol when you were at risk of freezing to death; it might momentarily trick your body into thinking it's warm, but there will be hell to pay once that veil of false comfort lifts. Mattie hadn't had to survive in a climate as cold as St. Albans before, but even on worlds where it only got chilly at night, hypothermia was a real risk, especially if you got your dumb pi-gu bucked off the back of a horse and into a creek. Mattie hoped nothing she'd learned from that episode would come into play during their shore leave, and that the worst threat she'd have to grapple with would be boredom. The relief alcohol brought to boredom was arguably also temporary and false, but at least it wasn't deadly. Not by default, anyway.

Mattie stood back as the other member of the crew bustled about the cargo bay, making final preparations. Her face looked small and pinched under the large trapper hat that covered her head and ears. She hadn't realized just how tired she was until now. Why couldn't she just crawl in her bunk with her cookies and stolen bourbon?
Dialogue color: darkkhaki

Rian Carpenter

May 07, 2021, 02:20:25 PM #54 Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 03:25:06 PM by Rian Carpenter
Rian poured what was left of the stew into the Captain's bowl. It felt like some sort of old-fashioned sailor code that the Cap gets the leftovers or at least first crack at them. He gave his sort-of relative and friend a pat on the shoulder and started cleaning up. As he worked his way 'round the kitchen he let everyone else get to their own business. They'd be going planet-side soon and there was much to be done. For the cook, that meant dishes. Putting the last cup in the sink he noticed something...

"Anybody seen that bottle..."

He looked around. Mattie was no longer among them, she was 2nd behind the Captain in the list of suspects that'd slip off with his bourbon. He almost laughed and just rolled his eyes, getting back to the dishes. Normally it'd be annoying but he didn't need any more hooch if he was going to get anything else done today. There were a few guns he hadn't cleaned in a while and he hadn't worked out in a couple of days. Feeling on the mend from an honestly mild case of gun-shot wound he was intent to get back into shape. Or at least better shape. Though he probably wasn't going to match the bulk of his days with the Russo gang.

The last dish clanged onto the rack and he questioned himself about the motivation to up his fitness regime. Early mid-life crisis? He counted himself guilty for tip-toeing up to that line of flirtation with Mattie, his subordinate. What's next? An overly tricked-out hover-Mule with a sound system? Start trolling core-world clubs for coeds? Staring at a running sink the train of thought ran to its conclusion.

Whatever. Time to go shopping. The pantry was too damn bare and if he was going to keep these people fed with real food on his food budget. That was going to take some resourcefulness. Grabbing his long jacket from the chair he'd sat at the cook was back in Security Chief mode, and a little bit acting First Officer mode. After rolling up his sleeves on the way he started patting his holsters to check his guns were still there. He let out a cleansing breath. Time to get back to work.

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