S1: Ep2 - War Hawks

Started by noseatbelts, July 05, 2021, 11:50:23 AM

Pele Kesher

The first of Jedikiah's questions was straightforward enough, but the second one gave Pele pause. She thought back to her years of companion training, the rigorous schedule packed full of art, music, exercise, socialization... it was enough to make her feel dizzy now. How had she ever found enough hours in a day to keep up with all of that? Or the brain capacity? And for what? After so many lazy, aimless years spent as a second-class socialite, most of her former skills and knowledge had faded into a hazy blur.

"I took a few courses in Yang style throughout my teen years." She decided to be vague about her background, but truthful where it mattered. "I had a lot of hobbies and I'm afraid the art of tai chi was never my main focus. More of an on-again, off-again thing -- something to provide stress relief. And improve coordination."

That was the thing, wasn't it? For a companion in training, even the supposedly relaxing activities had to somehow serve the goal of self-improvement. No soaking in a bubble bath with a nice glass of rosé. God, when was the last time she'd taken a bath?

"I wouldn't mind delving in deeper now that I have less distractions." It was true enough -- knowing a martial art might make her feel marginally less terrified about being the runaway bride of a ruthless mobster. "But it has been over five years, so I could use a refresher of the basics to begin with."

Jedikiah Rembo

June 11, 2022, 02:03:14 PM #81 Last Edit: June 11, 2022, 02:04:48 PM by Jedikiah Rembo
Odette, Lounge

Jedikiah nodded in the affirmative. He had a plan on how to proceed. First a walk through of the short form, perhaps finish it, perhaps not. That would depend on how solid her recollection and previous training. The short form of 24 movements or forms was a quick (well shorter, Tai Chi was not meant to be quick) method to determine an unknown prospective student's advancement. The longer forms had 72 movements.

"I'll stand a little to your left and in front, but keep you head straight, I'll just turn mine a little to observe." He began in the standing Tai Chi position and began, calling out the form, "Beginning." Up with the arms and down.

"Parting of the Wild Horse's Mane, left

And on through a dozen forms.

After studying the young woman's gracious movements he stopped. "A moment. You have a natural grace and control, this usually comes after much practice, though not necessarily in Tai Chi. There are though subtle corrections that I think would make your continuing of greater benefit. Each form must be done with a certain .. exactness. Not perfection. If you like we could proceed in that manner, rather than, " a little shrug, "just going through the motions".

Jed had her go through the first half dozen forms again, during each one he offered a correction or two. A slight moving of an elbow, the lessening of the bends of the fingers, and slowing the motion.
"Balance changes from one foot to another with always the same continuous flow."

"Let us go again, empty your mind and do not think of the corrections, let the chi flow through you and keep your mind clear."

"There is no objective.
There is no goal."
No more elaboration. His own instinct suggested she understood. Now it was simply, to do.

They completed the short form in about twenty minutes.

Jedikiah bowed. "You have an amazing elegance. Fluid and adroit. A dancer perhaps? Ballet?" A smile offered.
I think you will find other comforts if you would like to continue in your practice."
A small deep breath of his own.
"There is in my humble opinion, much of value in this practice."
Yang Style Tai Chi and Shaolin Kung Fu
 - And Medical Practitioner

Cooper Brown

June 15, 2022, 06:30:25 PM #82 Last Edit: June 15, 2022, 06:32:32 PM by Cooper Brown
Cooper nodded at the captain's suggestion he stay behind. Shame. Disgust. Fear. They dominated his mind. The Golden Trail had many rules. The thoughts running through the background of his mind were forbidden. His eyes darted over to her. To Velocity. His eyes quickly shot back to the ground.

"May I be excused? My uh... it's just a bit of shrapnel in my shoulder... alloy that uhh interacts with the artificial grav systems. Maks it kinda wiggle waggle in there..."

His eyes darted over to her again. It was an excuse but the anecdote about a reactive piece of shrapnel in his shoulder was true.

"I'm gonna go have a bit of a lie down for a minute...Call me on comms if you need me."

The previously unflappable mechanic made a hasty exit, trying and failing to keep his cool. As he rounded his way through the halls towards the engine room he couldn't help but admonish himself.

Such thoughts are impure, and a slap in the face of your traditions. To think of her like that.... As some kind of monster that will eat your guts while you watch? The brothers and sisters of the stars are to be welcomed with open arms. Its the entire point of your religion based around bloody space! To join with our interstellar brothers and sisters. Even thinking of them as Aliens is an insult and against every bit of our ways!

His internal monologue continued to admonish the devout follower of the Golden Trail's obscure religion. Cooper couldn't help but keep imagining her, over and over again, ripping his head off and eating his brains.


Location: Cargo Hold

"I'm ready, Captain," Velocity said. She didn't know why, but something about the timid woman's apparent resolution made her feel proud. She hadn't known her long but she figured this was a big step for the pilot, and it thrilled her to see that she was ready and willing to be a part of the team.

"May I be excused?..." Cooper rambled, looking awfully uncomfortable. Charity quirked a brow and stared at him, watching him squirm and throw several glances in their new pilot's direction. She turned her head slightly to look Velocity over, frowning when she didn't find anything obviously out of place on the taller woman. So, not seeing a reason for Cooper's concern, the Captain turned her dark gaze back toward the mechanic.

"You may," she finally decided, not that she would have kept him here. She'd find out later what was going on with him, or maybe King could chat him up about it. They seemed to have bonded a little in the infirmary. Charity shook her head a little and sighed, her dark curls bouncing. 

"I'm gonna go have a bit of a lie down for a minute...Call me on comms if you need me," he said on his way out. Charity stepped out of his way and turned to stare at him before shaking it off and taking a long, deep breath.

"Mister Francis," she began, moving back to the control panel and pressing the button for the cargo bay doors. "I believe you should lead the way, yes?" Charity politely requested, her polite smile having returned. He was the one with the most information about this particular mission and their contact, after all.
Dialogue Color: AntiqueWhite

Francis Church

"Mister Francis, I believe you should lead the way, yes?"

"What? Oh, right. Of course. Follow me." Francis had been distracted by trying not to be distracted and had nearly missed his name being called. He steeled himself as the doors dropped and a cloudy, gray landscape greeted him. A booted step out onto the hard packed snow, thinly spread over the forest floor, crunched satisfactorily. Pine needles poked out of the snow, leavings from the evergreens that towered overhead. It was quiet. Serene. Nice.

As the away party exited the ship, Francis walked them a few yards away from the ship and looked around them. "Huh..." He said, stumped. "That's weird." Panic began to set in, again. Hazard was supposed to meet them. In his mind, this was the last point before things were officially sideways for Francis. He turned on his heel and gave Charity a wide-eyed look of worry that he hoped was subtle enough to hide from the rest of the crew. He surely failed in that.

Luckily, the sound of a truck approached from down the road, formerly the way Francis had been facing. He perked up and even smiled. They were just running late. He spun again and saw what appeared to be a surplus military vehicle stopping, armed soldiers hanging off the side and hopping down to the snowy ground. They seemed prepared to fight, but not actively threatening the assembled Odette away team.

Francis perked down and spun to look at Charity. Behind him a grizzled soldier stepped forward ahead of the rest and spoke."Who's in charge here?"
Dialogue Color - MediumVioletRed

On Odette's bridge, Velocity had been completely unaware of the effect that she was having on Odette's engineer and probably would have been so even if she had known him very much better. Reading body language and noticing tone and timbre had never been strong points and, on the bridge, she had been too focused on getting her few but precious possessions secured to have noticed Cooper's behaviour.

In the cargo bay, with no immediate concerns or duties, Velocity did, at least subconsciously, notice that Cooper's gaze abruptly landed on her and then, just as abruptly, moved to the cargo bay deck.

"That's odd," Bonnie commented, He can't look at you!".

It was enough to bring Cooper's odd behaviour, not limited to the glance, to Velocity's attention in time for her to see his second glance.

"Is he interested in my like that? she wondered in alarm and it was her turn to shudder.

That he thought her some sort of monster would have appalled her and amused Bonnie. It was true that she could resemble a spider, or a Marsh-Wiggle; her height was in her legs, and her arms were similarly long but there was nothing in her temperament that would suggest Velocity was capable of being such.

Velocity followed the others down the ramp and out into the cold which immediately seeped through even Charity's warm coat and the leather armour she wore underneath. Velocity shivered and pulled the coat tighter and looked around, a little surprised that they didn't go very far from the ship.

The arrival of the military vehicle surprised her, and the sight of the armed soldiers hanging off it alarmed her, causing her to shrink back further behind the others, trying to make herself inconspicuous; a futile gesture given her height, even if the shock of white hair that stuck out from the hood of the jacket blended into the white snowy backdrop. Velocity had always hated guns, had always hated men with guns even more, and the fact that they didn't seem to be threatening them with the guns didn't make much difference to her. They were noisy, messy, and too often inaccurate; and then there were the guns.

Player: Clare
Characters: Beth


Away Team

"Huh..." He said, stumped. "That's weird."

Charity's brow rose and she inched closer to King, keeping their newest crew member nestled between them. It wasn't clear if she'd done this with any tactical defense in mind or if it had just been a subconscious movement with little strategic thought behind it, but this kept Charity and King on either side of the uncertain Velocity. Francis' worry sparked a nervous fire in her gut, but she set both hands demurely over her belly to soothe the flame. Before she could ask him if his contact was late or if he thought perhaps they'd been set up to fail here, the sound of the approaching vehicles stilled her tongue.

The debutante swallowed hard and squared her shoulders, offering Velocity a warm pat on her hand before she stepped forward to join Francis at the head of the group.

"Who's in charge here?" the grizzled stranger asked.

"That would be me," Charity answered, smiling in welcome at the man. "Captain Charity," she clarified, canting her head forward in a polite nod of greeting. "And who do I have the honor of addressing?" she asked, brows raised in question. The worry that she'd be shot for the second time did cross her mind, and her dark gaze scanned the stranger's armed compatriots before finally returning to the man who seemed to be in charge. She'd have to push that fear down into the deeper recesses of her mind with the other ones.

A second worry, that this was not who they were meant to be meeting and might have been someone probing for incriminating information, also crossed her mind, so she kept her responses vague and generally friendly.
Dialogue Color: AntiqueWhite


August 25, 2022, 09:59:27 AM #87 Last Edit: December 02, 2022, 06:14:51 AM by noseatbelts
Away Team

The soldier looked Charity up and down and decided she was no threat, because he chuckled. "Aye aye." He said with a sarcastic salute. Francis and King got a more respectful nod and the look King gave him wiped the grin right off of his face. He cleared his throat. "Right. I'm Sergeant James formerly of the 188th, now I'm XO of this Dust Devil outfit, The Leather Hounds-"

He is momentarily cut off as he and his comrades all bark at the sky in unison. "Pleased to meet you. I'm to escort you to Dust, where we're HQ'd." His eyes, again, fell on Francis. "You serve?"

'What? Me? No." Francis lied, perhaps too strenuously.

James hrmphd and stepped in front of King. "You did. I can tell. Ops? I can smell you Intel Ops types from a mile away." James took an exaggerated sniff.

"War's over." King said, otherwise not moving a muscle.

This enraged some of the Leather Hounds, who shouted from their positions but James just laughed. "We'll see about that." He stepped back from King and gave Velocity a once- then twice- over and shrugged. He held out a hand for Charity. "Ma'am. If you'd like a seat up in front with me, your folks can ride in the back with my men." James escorted Charity over to the truck and helped her load up into the cab. Francis, King, and Velocity were met with glares and devious grins in the back as the ship lurched to a start and, after turning back the way they came, rumbled down the forested road to their destination.

Some time later...

They were surrounded by trees for about an hour, just tall pines stretching up to the sky with nary a sign of anything else. Being in the front of the truck, Charity was the first of the Odette crew to spot it. An opening, coming ever closer as they traveled. Soon, the trees melted away and a barren landscape of snow and ice greeted them. The truck shifted from the sudden wind previously blocked by the trees and those in the back of the truck bundled up against the chill. Less than a mile down the road sat an outpost, more of a collection of buildings than a true village, the only building discernable from this distance was the spire of a church. Beyond was a compound with a wall of a height with the peak of the chepel.

This was Dust.

The truck passed quickly through the town, several inhabitants scurrying out of the way as they did. The gates on the compound opened before them and closed behind them. James looked over at Charity as they came to a stop within. "My men will show you to your quarters so you can get cleaned up. The Major has asked that you join him for dinner."

Pele Kesher

Location: Odette, Lounge

Pele had never been much for the spiritual side of things; tai chi was a form of physical exercise like any other, and the idea of connecting with your spiritual center through moving your limbs around had always felt a little foreign to her, even pretentious coming from certain people. She'd frequently wondered how many of the fellow companions-in-training were as lost as she was, and just pretending they were getting something more out of the practice.

Still, as she repeated the movements under Rembo's watchful and respectful eye and all that pent-up tension drained from her body, Pele was overtaken by a sensation which could be described as "being in harmony with the universe" -- not by Pele, not out loud, but by someone. Cecil's ever-present shadow looming over her, Charity's invasion of her personal quarters, the eruption of engine oil Cooper had failed to warn her about -- all those things still twisted her stomach when she thought about them, but now it felt like her mind had to make an active effort to dredge up those thoughts, instead of them popping up uninvited and pestering her like little mosquitoes.

At the end of the session, she almost felt like she could pass Cooper in the hallway and look him in the eye without scowling. Almost.

"You have an amazing elegance. Fluid and adroit. A dancer perhaps? Ballet?"

"Among other things," Pele's bow was accompanied by an enigmatic smile. Perhaps she would just play the part of a rich girl with lots of hobbies. Plenty of upper crust parents put their children through hellish self-improvement regimens from a young age, even outside Companion training.

"I think you will find other comforts if you would like to continue in your practice. There is in my humble opinion, much of value in this practice."

"I will think it over. Thank you, it's been a pleasure." With that and another gracious smile, Pele parted ways with her teacher.

As she headed down the hallway she felt like she was floating, the endorphins of her practice making her body feel light and at ease. Now if only she could sink into a nice, hot bath to complete her de-stressing ritual... but the only thing sinking was her heart as she remembered that the only bathing facilities on the ship were the communal showers.


Location: Odette, Captain's Quarters

God bless Captain Ingenue for her incompetence, leaving the door to her quarters unlocked. Given how Charity had disrespected her personal space earlier, Pele felt zero guilt over trespassing into her room without permission. Really, when you thought about it, it was only fair. She would consider them even after this.

Besides, she did respect Charity's privacy enough not to snoop around her personal belongings, tempting as it was. Instead, Pele passed through the bedroom with only a cursory glance at the surroundings. Her heart fluttered with hopeful anticipation as she opened the door to the captain's private bathroom, praying that it came equipped with...

...a bathtub. There it was. Small and spartan, but the sight made Pele's heart jump with joy.

While she ran the bathwater, she rummaged through Charity's collection of toiletries, grateful that their captain happened to be a fellow high society lady of sophisticated taste and not one of those people who just washed with a bar of cheap soap with zero moisturizing properties and no scent or, even worse, a cheap, synthetic fragrance that evoked a headache and nothing more. Of course, their specific tastes didn't line up perfectly; while Pele favored heady white florals, Charity seemed partial to more delicate, somewhat sweeter fragrances.

After some deliberation, Pele picked an understated lilac-scented soap she figured would play nice with her signature perfume. The tub was cramped and the lighting was not very moody at all, but Pele found it hard to get hung up on those details once the warm water engulfed her body. She closed her eyes, inhaled the floral fumes, then let go all of her frustration in one  single, long exhale.

Finally, after months spent on the run, suffering constant turmoil and discomfort, Pele had managed to carve herself a little happy place. She felt completely alone here, in the best sense of the word possible. She'd try to enjoy it while it lasted.

Hidden behind her colleagues, Velocity's fists clenched with anger at the disrespect the men were showing to Captain Charity; the clenching of her jaw was a little more noticeable but only a little. She couldn't see what King's expression had been but she was gratified with the response it seemed to engender.

"Shouldn't be necessary," she thought and wondered how she might take her revenge. "Careful, my love," Bonnie said but Velocity could sense her late wife's anger; she too did not had not dealt well with misogyny.

Velocity's mood was not improved when Sergeant James only seemed interested in whether the men had served, not Charity or herself. All she could do was sigh and mark the misogyny up on the slate of things to be avenged.

Velocity was used to people looking at her twice but normally she would look away, pretend not to notice, or try to make herself as inconspicuous as practicable. This time, such were her feelings, that she stared back aggressively at Sergeant James; if looks could kill the snow would have been stained red with his blood but that was as aggressive as Velocity got; she didn't believe in violence. That hadn't stopped her serving with the Browncoats but it had meant that she had flown unarmed ships that could neither defend themselves nor attack, and which, except when she was piloting high speed courier vessels, were much slower than the ships the Alliance attacked them with.

The moment passed and Velocity found herself walking toward the truck when every instinct told her to run back to the ship. Velocity's misgivings were only heightened by the reception that the three of them got when they clambered into the back of the truck. The cold seemed to bite deeper as the truck travelled along the road and Velocity's unhealthily thin body was ill-equipped to cope, even with Charity's warm coat. She started to shiver and pulled the coat closer around herself as she tried to draw herself into the smallest ball she could while still maintain balance against the lurching of the truck.

Velocity didn't feel any better about the situation when the truck turned into the compound and the gates closed behind it. The mention of dinner didn't raise her spirits much but it had a predictable result; Velocity's stomach rumbled very loudly which had an equally predictable result; Velocity's normally very pale skin turned a vivid shade of red. Not that she had any real hope that she might be fed; she had a feeling that the offer to dine was directed at Charity directly rather than a wider offer to the rest of them.

Player: Clare
Characters: Beth

Jedikiah Rembo

Jedikiah felt the urge to walk. There wasn't much for a walk about on Odette.

He took the stairs. Watched the engineering diagnostic data cycle through half a dozen times in the engineering chamber aft of the bridge. Up and down the main ladder shaft in the center of the ship, all the traveling about he soaked up the ship.

Then again, eyes closed, reaching for the ladder rungs and down again.

He smiled, relaxed and very refreshed after the Tai Chi with Miss Pele he returned to his quarters, took 'the old Lady' in her case to the extra port cargo deck.

Sitting on a small crate he took 'her' out from her case and slid her under his chin.

A little classical starting with Bach's Chaconne in D Minor and then slipped without a pause into his favorite jigs: Snowden's Jug into Callin' Baton Rouge and then he let the moment take him.

He moved from style to style, loud and triumphant, melodic and sad, then bright and country fast.

After awhile he stood and walked around the bay letting music move his soul.
Yang Style Tai Chi and Shaolin Kung Fu
 - And Medical Practitioner


"Ma'am. If you'd like a seat up in front with me, your folks can ride in the back with my men."

Charity glanced back toward King, doubt drawing her brows down and furrowing them in the middle. It was always risky getting into a vehicle with a man you didn't know, but he'd called her ma'am, was offering her his hand, and seemed pleasant enough. Figuring this was a better situation than going back to Iscariot and telling Sebastian they'd decided to just cancel the whole thing, the Captain took the offered hand and let him lead her to the cab of the truck.

Through the ride, the debutante remained mostly silent, only occasionally humming with interest when they drove past an interesting tree or when she saw a bird watching them pass from the branches above. She kept her peripheral vision focused on the man beside her, but figured after the first half hour that if he'd been planning on killing her while they were together in the cab, he'd have done so by now. With her gaze now focused outward, she watched the trees give way to barren snow and felt the chill of it deep in her bones. Gloved hands rubbed up and down the sides of her arms in the confines of her black fur lined cloak.

As they passed through the gate, she craned her neck to look back at the massive wall around the compound, her lower lip momentarily trapped between her teeth. Hopefully their stay here would be quick and easy. She rolled her eyes at herself. Of course it wouldn't.

"My men will show you to your quarters so you can get cleaned up." She turned her head to stare back at James, brows raised curiously. "The Major has asked that you join him for dinner." Charity nodded, then paused a moment and smiled warmly.

"I'm delighted to accept his invitation," she responded, setting her hand on the door and waiting for someone to help her out of the truck. "Thank you," she added politely.
Dialogue Color: AntiqueWhite

Cooper Brown

December 01, 2022, 05:34:02 PM #92 Last Edit: December 01, 2022, 05:38:03 PM by Cooper Brown
Meanwhile back on the Odette. More specifically, the engine room.

"She's not gonna eat me... right?"

Cooper was staring at the small screen on his cortex unit. The light from his screen wasn't a lot, but enough to fill up the coffin-sized crawl space over the engine. He'd spread out the bedding from his bunk on the metal grating and hooked the communication device onto an improvised mount made from a coat hanger, hanging over his head as he laid flat.

The face looking back at him squinted her eyes. The priestess admonished him.

"We got ku ev mijareke ciddî ya olî û felsefî ye."
*Translation: You said this was a matter of serious religious and philosophical importance.

The Aussie-accented nomad nodded.

The priestess shook her head.

"Maybe I can get through to you in this awful tongue."

Cooper tried to demonstrate his knowledge of his first language.
"Baş e. Ez hîn jî dikarim biaxivim -"

She cut him off.

"Have you ever considered the possibility you just met a pale woman? I understand your zeal to reconnect with your faith since your banishment but seeking out our prophesized universal brethren where you should never expect to encounter them... Cooper, you have to let go. You say you're done with conflict, that you seek a life of serenity on the Golden Trail but you fought a war that wasn't yours to fight, you fix machines that aren't broken until they are! I have devoted my life to our faith but you have to reconnect with what's here and now."

Cooper was quiet for a moment. Every word of what she said hit him hard. He tried to speak but then couldn't.

"Thank you, sister."

With a soft resignation in his voice he ended the call. Here and now... Cooper pondered the notion. he hadn't had anything to eat since yesterday. He grabbed onto the handles he'd sloppily welded onto the wall just outside his little hidey-hole in the crawl space and pulled himself halfway out, then grabbed onto another set higher up so he could pull himself up, and get his legs out.

Mr Brown hit the steel floor with a clang, his steel-lined boots echoing through the room.

"Here and now..."

The thought, and parting advice echoed through his mind. And whether the pale lady was a lady alien or just ... pale.


Away Team

Charity, King, Velocity, and Francis were all led from the truck quickly, without much chance to look at the courtyard and the inner armaments of the compound. But those who knew how to look and what to look for would notice a number of guards in towers, high walls, and barbed wire. To the casual observer, it might look impregnable, but there were weaknesses to find.

The fort itself was more ramshackle than one might have guessed based on the military presence. Tents, mostly, with a variety of buildings built with brick-a-brack and tin sheeting. This was an improvised operation, though not in the way a soldier like Francis or King might recognize as an infantry Bivouac, easily mobile for quick getaways or troop movements. No, this was closer to a shanty town.

One building was bigger than the rest with troops moving in and out at a regular pace. This might be recognized as the barracks. Another building, slightly taller and better built, stood at the center of the compound. It had the strongest walls and an armed guard outside the doors, a variation of the Independent Flag flew tall on a rusty pole outside.

The last of the three non-canvas walled buildings also had an armed guard outside and a bolt on the outside of the door. A stockade. So, of course, this is where Sergeant James' men led them. "Here we are." One said with a tight smile. A nod to the guards and they opened the iron door with a loud creak. "Don't let the door fool you, you aren't prisoners. Sergeant James said you can leave any time you like and to let you keep your weapons. But this is for our protection and, frankly, we don't have anywhere else to put you." There was not really any choice in the matter. Leave or go in.

Home Team

As everyone went about their individual activities the Odette was quiet. Perhaps, a little too quiet...

While there hadn't necessarily been a communication plan put in place with the Away Team, it had been over an hour since they'd left. The polite thing to do was to give a ring when you go somewhere, wasn't it?

As they were lead deeper into the compound, Velocity became more and more agitated, and her head constantly turned this way and that as if looking for the danger that she was sure would leap out at her. She kept up with the rest of the crew, perhaps because she felt that that was the least dangerous place to be. A soft mewl of distress escaped her lips occasionally.

With her complexion, it didn't seem possible for Velocity to become paler but at the sight of the bolt on the outside of the door she somehow achieved it. Her memory, usually so cantankerous, especially when it behaving itself was so useful, decided at this moment to fling vivid images of her incarceration in the bug house at her, flooding her senses with the anguish she had suffered there at the hands of uncaring staff and other inmates.

"No," she said softly. "No... No... No..." her voice becoming louder and more distressed with each repetition, and her hands coming up as if to ward something off. She started backing away, shaking back her head in negation. "No. Please. No!" she repeated, her voice having reached an hysterical pitch. One boot caught on the other and she started tumbling over backwards.

Player: Clare
Characters: Beth

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