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Messages - Barnaby Goodweather

1
The Darling IC / Re: S1:Ep5 - Life from Red Clay
October 22, 2020, 04:29:45 pm
"Mayday, Mayday Darlin. Comin in hot... well cold. Potter took sick. Road was damn impassable. We're comin back. I repeat. Comin back. Over." No response. Barnaby had to wonder if the message even went through, but he couldn't worry about that too hard. He had a mule to drive.

Though the lights did little to illuminate their path, it did point Barnaby in the right direction, and were therefore just what he needed. As if some inner barometer were gauging his mood based on his distance from the Darling, the closer they approached the better he started to feel. Damn land-legs. He thought. They were the cause of all of it, he was sure. That tumble he took in the snow was the least of it. Whenever he was off-ship, Barnaby just felt off. There was no other way to describe it. His normal clarity was clouded. His sense of direction went all higgidy. Being back on Darling, he'd know what to do and how to get them out of this mess.

And there she was, warm and inviting. Small still, but getting bigger. The time it had taken to pack Potter with polarized precipitation and arriving on their doorstep had gone in a flash, or at least so it seemed now. Home. Things would be better there, Barnaby just knew it. Tabby would see to Potter. They could wait out the storm in the warmth of the ship's belly. Maybe Rian could make a stew. Preacher could tell stories, maybe. Mr. Arlo, Barnaby was certain, would appreciate being back where it was snug and civilized. And Mattie... Barnaby spared a glance at the young woman in the co-pilot's seat. Well, maybe she'd warm up, too.

Potter could go spit, for all Barnaby reckoned. Old bastard had lied to them. No. Not that again, Barn'. Ain't fallin back into the hole. Things'll be right soon, just you wait.

At least they better be.

He didn't get a reply from Darling after his radio in, best to try again before they came barging in through the doors. "Darlin'. This is your Captain speaking. We's almost back." As if it slipped his mind, he added. "Oh and Potter's sick. ETA um soon."

They pulled up and into the cargo bay and as Barnaby killed the ignition he didn't even really care that there was a stranger sitting next to Rian waiting for them. He hopped out of the vehicle and stamped his feet to get the snow off and bring a little life back into his legs. "Hey there." The captain extended a hand in greeting. "Rian, who's your friend? Oh-" He remembered. "Dunno if you got my message. Potter's in a bad way. Instructions in his case said keep him cold so we packed him with snow. Get Tabby down here-" Their wispy doctor appeared, as if summoned. "Tabby. See what you can do with Mr. Potter, wouldja? He ain't feelin' so hot." Barnaby grinned at his own joke. "Get it?" Barnaby clocked yet another new friend. He couldn't remember off-hand, was one of them the new mechanic? He didn't think so. That fella was taller.

"Speakin' of hot, Rian, we got any cocoa?" He noticed the cup in Tabby's hand. "Bingo. I'll take one of them please and thank you."
2
The Darling IC / Re: S1:Ep5 - Life from Red Clay
September 21, 2020, 04:05:51 pm
Well they'd gone and done it. The impossible. They'd taken an easy peasy, smooth sailing, no frills, lickity split job and made an entire mess of the thing. His knuckles white as he steered, his foot remained firmly on the gas (as safety would allow, of course) and his gut told him don't stop. Rut that. Rut that damn Potter. He'd lied to them. Lied to him! Barnaby sulked. It wasn't fair.

Barnaby glanced in the rearview and saw the faces of his crew. "Gorram it all to hell." He cursed and switched his foot to the brake. The mule lurched to a halt and if his mood wasn't already terrible Barnaby might have been glad they were hovering and not now skidding to a stop inches from the ravine and certain death. He climbed out of the mule, struggling with the zipper cover, somehow tangling himself in his frustration.

A foot, caught up inextricably in the canvas, tripped him up and sent him face first into the snow. Barnaby thought about just staying there. Maybe the snow would bury him and he wouldn't exist anymore. That was damned fool thinking, he knew it. With a sigh, Barnaby picked himself up and went to the passenger side to help his crew save Potter the Phony's life.
3
The Darling IC / Re: S1:Ep5 - Life from Red Clay
September 09, 2020, 04:32:20 pm
A hibernating bear awoken from its winter sleep would have been in a finer mood than Barnaby was behind the wheel of the mule, the accelerator moving them through the snow as quickly as could be afforded. He almost wished someone would say something to him. Tell him he'd made a mess of everything. Not only were they in danger of freezing to death, or worse, but they weren't likely to be paid for this trip as the man with the wallet was making his way to Heaven as they rode.

"Somebody dig in that red bag o' his. See if he's got some remedy in there for his condition. Or instructions." Cold hard cash would do, as well. So foul was his mood, Barnaby Goodweather, the nicest guy in the 'verse, was contemplating ransacking a convalescent. "Call out what you find." Truth was, he didn't care what was in there, curious though the luggage and its owner were. His thoughts were focused on the road ahead, getting them home and out of this snowy snow.

Barnaby hated St. Albans. He hated Potter. He hated that little red suitcase. He hated the snow, the damned avalanche. Throw in those puppy dog clocks, his Baroness, and that spooky Mr. Abernathy for good measure. Barnaby, the nicest guy in the 'verse, wasn't used to hate as a feeling and it left a sour taste in his mouth. Everything was broke, and he didn't know how to fix it. "Well...?"
4
The Darling IC / Re: S1:Ep5 - Life from Red Clay
August 16, 2020, 12:50:33 pm
The Away-Team

Failure. Utter and complete, and Barnaby wasn't just talking about this job. He felt it in his bones and it was getting harder and harder to quell the voices in his head reminding him about it. Barnaby had done his fair share of listening to others in all his years, and not a lot of listening to himself. He'd let his pappy boss him around even when he wasn't the boss. And that led to... well, Barnaby didn't want to think about that. He'd let Tricky do his worst on the ship, and hadn't even been the one to stop him. That was Gerry, and she'd tied Barnaby around her little finger. And now Potter had gone and gotten himself sick or killed because Barnaby hadn't talked the old man out of proceeding on the perilous path.

Hell, Mattie had told him it was foolish. Why hadn't he listened to her? Barnaby looked back at the young woman and remembered how he'd failed her on the last job, too. Rian had gotten shot. Riot had left. Mona, too. How long would the rest of them stick around? Even Potter seemed to want rid of him.

Failure.

"Alright. Thanks for your help, Mr. Jeb. Much obliged. We'll be heading back now." Barnaby said, his voice calmer than his thoughts. The Captain tipped his cap in the man's direction and ushered Viktor along with him. The Preacher had also expressed concern about Barnaby's plan of action, he needn't remind himself. "Preacher I..." An apology formed on his tongue, but wouldn't speak itself. What good would it do? Unless Jesus empowered his clergy with atonement for incompetence. "I... uh... would appreciate you administering to Mr. Potter as best you're able. We'll get him back to Darling and hopefully Tabby can, I dunno, give him a tonic or some such."

They hustled back as quickly as the snow would allow and Barnaby looked at Mattie briefly before climbing back up into the driver's seat. "We're heading back." He announced and zipped it back up before putting the Mule in reverse and high-tailing it back. If there was anyone on board the vehicle at that moment who wished he wasn't Captain, it was Barnaby himself.
5
The Darling IC / Re: S1:Ep5 - Life from Red Clay
July 31, 2020, 07:42:42 am
The Away-Team

"Confound it." Barnaby muttered, staring out the windscreen ahead of him as snow piled on their path. He sat there for a moment, contemplating their situation. They were well and truly cursed, Barnaby was beginning to be sure of it. Normally one for a sunny disposition, these clouds and winds and snowflakes all overcast his optimism. He should have taken everyone back when he had the chance. Hell, he shouldn't have left the ship at all. Damn that Potter. Barnaby glanced back to see the old man and Arlo were getting comfy with one another. Now the two of them are agreeable? Figured. "Everybody..." He didn't know what orders to give. Jeb came into view of the mule's headlights, partially obscured by the storm but visible all the same. "...Stay here." He said, pulled his hat tight over his ears, and exited the mule.

The fall down from the Mule was only a few feet, but finding himself buried then again by the snowdrifts really put the sour on. "Ruttin' gorram tarnation son of a mother-" Barnaby said, curses flowing freely in the light of recent events. He trudged, because that's all you can do when snow is around your legs, over to where Jeb stood surveying the damage. The pass no longer was. It was a stop. Barnaby sighed. "Well- I'm open to suggestions Mr. Jeb."
6
The Away Team

A thumb to return the gesture and Barnaby zipped the cover back into place and it began to warm back up inside of the Mule. "Thanks, Preacher. Knew bringing you was a good idea." There was no one currently with him that he regretted bringing with, though Barnaby reckoned that Mr. Arlo probably had some lamentations of his own. "This'll be just fine." He said as Jeb led them from the prescribed road and found the detour. Of course, the hover functionality of the Mule would work fine to keep them away from any rocks or frozen treacheries on the ground. But it still required ground underneath it to work. And if they did happen to slide off of the side of the mountain, the hover functionality would try to compensate, likely send them spinning into a death spiral, where they would grash down on the rocks at the bottom. Barnaby didn't know for sure there were rocks at the bottom, but it was probably a safe bet. The Captain kept those thoughts to himself.

"Hey, you know what might be fun? Anybody know any road games? I got one! I'll start. My name is Barnaby and I'm going on a picnic. And on this picnic I'm bringing..." He thought for a moment. "Apples! Okay, now, Mattie, you gotta say, 'My name is- then you say your name- and I'm going on a picnic with Barnaby. He's bringin' apples, and I'm bringin'- this where you say whatever you're bringin'. Sometimes we'd play it where you gotta pick something that starts with the next letter in the alphabet. Like, um, bread or blueberries. But you can say whatever you like, long as you remember what the other folks packed. Ain't that fun?"

Barnaby didn't know if this was something a good captain would do. But it felt like the right thing at this moment. Everyone being cold with uncertainty and danger on their path and a weird old coot being sick in the back, folks needed some distraction. And Barnaby could distract with the best of them. "Or if somebody else wants to go 'fore Mattie, that's good, too."
7
The Away-Team

Barnaby pondered the information he was given, and the responses of his crew (or at least the two he reckoned had an opinion on proceeding one way or t'other). Mattie made a good point. They didn't know this place or the man who was telling them about this shortcut. It was dangerous, but they'd known that, and only a little more without the main road. And the guy seemed friendly enough. Despite everything that had happened the last few weeks, Barnaby was bound and determined to keep his sun-shiny view of humanity intact. Sure was a pickle.

"Jebidiah, is that you under all those layers? You're talking about the old miner's trail up the way here, right? That'll surely be a mess in this kind of weather."

Well there you had it. Preacher was vouching for this Jebidiah character and, heck, that was pretty close to his own Pappy's given name. A sure sign. To Mattie, "Your word rates highly with me, but we're obliged to get Mr. Potter to his destination on time." And they were. They'd agreed to it, and were being paid well to do so. He left out the part where if they failed to get paid he, and the Darling, would likely be bankrupt. And that wasn't even going into how pallid Potter appeared. Old man was a sight and Barnaby wanted to do right by him. To Viktor, "Preacher, I reckon with the hover workin' we can get past just 'bout anything, don't you? Or this mining trail of yorn got some obstacles I ain't thought of?"

Barnaby considered what to do. He turned in his seat so as to face everyone as well as possible in a vehicle. "Listen, I ain't gonna force nobody t' do nothin', but seems safe enough to me. We'll turn back though if we got a consensus to do so."
8
The Away-Team

Everything was so bright, Barnaby was glad for the traffic so as to stay on the road. Otherwise he might have driven straight off into nowhere. But he didn't and for that he could be proud of himself. The wind was heavy and made driving difficult and using two hands necessary, but he was glad that the snow didn't seem to be accumulating itself on top of the mule as they moved. The prudence of their current actions still escaped him, but Barnaby and his crew were capable. He was sure of it.

One of the passing vehicles turned out not to be, flashed their lights at them and slowed their speed; a common motorist parlance requesting the same. "Alright." Barnaby said, putting on the brake. "Mat'." He didn't figure he had to tell her what to do in a situation such as this, but just wanted to make sure she was ready. It could be nothing. Road could be out down the way. Could be they needed help themselves. There was nasty, mean spirited, awful folk in the 'Verse and Barnaby Goodweather wasn't one of them. "I'm gon' slow and see what's what. Preacher. Any insight on what they might want would be helpful about now."

Their mule came to a rest and the engine coughed a touch at idling, but held steady. Barnaby unzipped the driver's side "window" and let the wind in. "Hi!" He said with a holler. "Some wind, huh? What can I do you for?"
9
The Away-Team:

Off the ship was generally the last place that Barnaby ever wanted to be. His land legs notwithstanding, his recent run of luck left him shaky and uncertain. But, there were memories and conversations that needed addressing on the Darling and, for now at least, he could avoid those things with a little ride through the snow. There was no road to speak of, though it might have been there buried beneath the drifts of white that passed beneath the mule as it hovered to their destination. Lucky for them the all-terrain functionality was operating. Trying to drive on tires in this mess? No thank you.

He was glad to see everybody talking and getting along, aside from the Preacher, everybody was Fresh to him. This could be seen as something of a proving ground for them, particularly for Mattie, who spoke to him over the rush of wind and rumble of the mule's motor.

"Gotta be honest with you, Boss. This ain't exactly the kind of landscape I'm used to survivin' in."

"You'll do just fine, Mattie. I know it." The girl was smart as a whip and tough like the leather of one, too. Barnaby had no shortage of confidence in her abilities to help out with what he was praying would be an easy drop off. Over the din, it was hard for him to overhear what they were talking about in the back, but a small mirror at eye level kept him informed that they were at least conversing.

He found Mr. Arlo and the mirror and shared a secret smile with himself. He'd asked the man along mostly for sport- fancy pants like himself out in the wilderness? That was an opportunity Barnaby couldn't pass up. But he'd also asked the man along to see if he was amiable to the request. Barnaby had half expected Mr. Arlo to pitch some sort of fit and refuse to go. But that didn't happen, which was a pleasant surprise. Whether Mr. Arlo would prove useful to them, Barnaby wasn't sure, but he had to think there was some reason the man hadn't left the Darling yet...

Preacher, on the other hand, Barnaby knew he could count on Viktor to do whatever was needed without hesitation. Couldn't find a more reliable person, and the fact he was from St. Albans was just the cherry on top. Like most of the folk on the ship, Barnaby found himself relying on the Preacher for his particular set of skills, which seemed to be varied and vast, but it was his spiritual guidance that had helped Barnaby most often recently. A soul was a hard thing to fix, and Barnaby wasn't sure he was ready to dig into all that, but the few times he'd sought help from the Preacher, he'd come away from it feeling better.

And then Barnaby found Mr. Potter in the mirror, and the old man likewise found him. They shared a glance that crossed straight from lingering right into a cold hard stare without any notice and if Barnaby hadn't been afraid of any potential obstacles in the road he might not have been able to tear his eyes away. The man was spooky and Barnaby was beginning to suspect he was unwell. Best to get this job done and over with quick, fast, and in a hurry. "Gee, this ain't so bad. A little snow don't scare me!"
10
Barnaby, befitted in a well-worn parka and a faux-rabbit fur hat, and a bright green scarf that Tabby had knit him many years ago, descended from the bowels of the Darling to greet the dock crew. He glanced at his away crew to be sure they were all, likewise, safely bedecked with appropriately warm gear. This wasn't going to be a fun trip, but with winter modifications like the top, canvas window covers, and the hover function, they should at least arrive safely, if not comfortably. The dock crew intercepted his one final goodbye hug with Mona, which made his heart ache. But they'd already done their see-ya-laters. Time to move on. Chris was unexpected, he'd been quiet but a hard worker. Spacing ain't for everyone, though, and far as Barnaby knew, the kid had been terrestrial his whole life to now. Best a clean break. He'd get a good recommendation if he asked for it.

He listened patiently as the crew leader gave him the rigmarole. Normally, Barnaby wasn't one to to let these folks upcharge him for the works. He knew that the nickels and dimes were where these folks got their money, but he couldn't afford it every time. And he liked to think that maybe he took good enough care of Darling to not need such things. But this particular berth was on Mr. Potter's dime and, well, when in Rome... "Fill'er up, pal." He said, checking each of the items off with a flourish of the pen. "My... errr... mechanic..." Sh*t. Who was going to supervise maintenance while he was gone for near a week? Sh*t sh*t sh*t. Barnaby tried not to show the distress on his face. A glance at Mr. Potter indicated the man hadn't really noticed, apparently battling his own discomfort. Just what he needed. A sickly elder barking orders with that dog-gumb suitcase of his. Can't even fit a suit in there. Barnaby looked back into the ship to see Rian standing up at the top, watching them.

There was something holding Barnaby back from trusting Rian to run things on either side of this endeavor, he couldn't put his finger on it. Of course he'd known about his brother-in-law's past. Knew it when Rian had met Maya, sister to Barnaby's late wife. Knew it when they got married. Barnaby had known it and helped Rian escape with Maya to build a new life. He'd known it when Maya died and when Rian went hog-wild against his gangster father. All those years in between, Rian on the run getting into trouble and Barnaby often as not bailing the youngster out. And Barnaby knew that having him come be a permanent part of Darling that there was a risk Rian would cause trouble for them. And that trouble hadn't come yet and Barnaby didn't mind if it did- he'd rather face it head on than run - but sure as hell it was coming.

Maybe it was fear that bound Barnaby? Not of Rian - and by extension himself - failing. But of Rian leaving. Anna-Maria had passed. His folks had passed. His brother was gone, probably dead. Gerry had left. Autumn, too. But they'd never loved him. Tamara though... Barnaby tried not to think about Tammy. Crew came and went but this last batch was hitting him harder than most. Would tossing too much responsibility at Rian drive him away? Maybe. But more likely Barnaby saw him leaving on his own accord to "protect" the crew. Maybe that would be for the best, but Barnaby didn't want him to go.

Barnaby didn't know what to do. About any of it. He sighed. "Alright. Gimme a few and I'll get you situated on board." Barnaby pulled his hat from his head and began climbing back up the ramp. "Everybody get loaded up quick-like. We're heading out soon." As the gap closed between him and Rian, Barnaby didn't know what he was going to say. Would he stay and help with maintenance? Send Rian on the expedition? He stopped and took a deep breath, looking at Rian again. This was it. This was the test. If Rian could run things proper while Barnaby was gone then he'd get the job. Maybe. Probably. Barnaby still wasn't sure. Barnaby waved goodbye to Rian and walked over to Mr. Potter. "Grab your bag, Mr. Potter?" Barnaby said, knowing the answer.

"No."

"Thought so. Hop on up into the mule if you don't mind. We'll get shortly." Barnaby loaded himself up into the driver's seat and waited for Mattie, Mr. Arlo, and the Preacher to get on before putting it in gear and heading out into the snow.
11
With everyone assembled, stragglers like Chris and the passenger Mr. Potter filtering next to last and last, respectively, Barnaby was able to get a good look at everyone. He liked what he saw, for the most part. Mr. Potter still gave him the heebie-jeebies but hadn't made any trouble yet. Barnaby was sure he'd be glad they were almost to their destination. The rest of the news maybe not so much. "Alright folks. Thanks for comin'. I'll get right to it. We're narrowing in on St. Albans, we shoulda been landing in about an hour or so." He paused. "That's the good news. Bad news is we can't land, not where we thought; place called Primary Claim. Storm passin' through says we gotta land at Secondary Claim, they tell me is half-day's journey in the best of conditions. That your recollection, Preacher? Mona?" He let them answer and considered their options. He couldn't shake the feeling that he didn't have a choice, and so he gave in to that inevitability. "So. All that considered, we'll just sit tight up here in orbit 'till the storm passes. Land at Primary Claim like we reckoned. Safest thing. Everyone get cozy, might be a spell."

Everyone seemed content with this course and Barnaby pulled Chris aside. "Hey Chrissy, make sure the orbital navigation array is pinging at the right waves, don't wanna spin out into space, savvy?" Chris nodded and went to do his work. Seeing that everything was in order, Barnaby turned to head to the cockpit to find Mr. Potter blocking his path. "We'll get your boots snowy in no time, Mr. Potter. Just hang tight. Shouldn't be more'n a day or so."

Mr. Potter's hands clutched at his red briefcase, knuckles white, his jaw clenched and visibly twitching. "I am afraid this plan is a ...no...go," he informed the captain, his voice slow and overly drawn out, like every word took eons to form and complete. The leather of the bag's handles creaked, wrinkled hands wringing the life out of it slowly and rhythmically.

"How long is forever?" he asked, leaning toward Barnaby and jutting his nose at him accusingly, "Sometimes, just one second," the man answered, bushy brows furrowed in barely contained anger, although his tone remained even and strangely greasy.

"I knew who I was this morning, but I've changed a few times since then, and we must make landfall on schedule," he demanded, almost moving to remove one hand from his briefcase, likely to point or wave a finger emphatically. However, at the last second, his hand clamped back down on the handle almost frantically. "You have been paid for a timeline, and the timeline must be kept...on...time. I insist. You have given your word. We land today. Now. Or. No pay," he finally decided, shoulders relaxing and his spine straightening, which brought his nose out of Barnaby's personal space bubble and back into his own. A strained and rarely used smile pulled his lips in a taunt line, his eyes blank and devoid of the joy or mirth the gesture might have imparted when placed upon just about any face but his.

Barnaby's jaw fell, his mouth agape, concern on his face. What the hell was this guy talking about? "I... uh..." He tried to swallow, but his mouth was dry. "You see, Mr. Potter, all due respect, it just ain't safe. Might take us even longer. Storm could be over in, I dunno, a few hours." The confrontation hadn't waited for the rest of the crew to depart. Barnaby felt a powerful need to assert his captaincy. "And as Captain-" An idea. "-Couldn't risk me and mine for less than double what we agreed on."

"Deal," Potter replied simply, then turned to walk around Barnaby and find a nice spot in the far corner to brood. "You tell me when we are landed," he called from across the cargo bay, then fell into silence and stared into space.

A deep breath, exhaled sharply out of his cheeks and Barnaby was able to relax again. "Okay, folks. Belay that recent set of orders. New set formulating. We're landing at Secondary Claim afterall. We'll take the mule, only five spots onner so-" He looked at the assembled crew and did some math in his head. "-Me and Mr. Potter o'course. Who else? I reckon-" His gaze fell on Rian, and quickly shifted away. "-Mattie. You got some survival experience. Might need it. Preacher, you're native, could do with a body who knows his way around. And hell, whataya say, Mr. Arlo? Let's see what you got." He nodded, satisfied. "That'll do. Chris, I'll need your help converting the mule for snow. Mona knows what's what. Use Rian if'n you need help. Tabs, make sure we got supplies we need on the mule. When the weather clears hopefully we can ourselves stocked up, too. Check the larders and the like. Use Rian if'n you need help." That was that. Decision was made. Barnaby checked the time. "We got forty-five till we land. Everybody who's comin' ashore, bundle up. It's gonna be cold."


Co-written with Lomari
12
The Captain sat at the desk in his quarters, a pair of reading glasses perched on his nose; manifests and journals spread before him. By no account was Barnaby an expert at numbers and figures. There were many things he was good at; spacing, hauling, even a bit of fighting and smuggling. But arithmetic beyond the number of fingers and toes he had was something at which he was forever fated to be just shy of adequate. But these sums were easy. He took the total in his accounts and subtracted the regular expenses involved with running a ship; food, supplies, fuel, repairs, payroll. This is where Barnaby would normally factor in the earnings from their latest job. And that's what made this math simple. It was a cinch factoring in a big fat zero.

He scratched at his head in frustration. No self-employed entrepreneur liked seeing a steady trajectory of his business into the red line. And The Darling had always been in that satisfactory middle ground. Not entirely profitable but nobody lost any money. Jeremiah Goodweather had been satisfied with that and Barnaby took after his pappy. But they hadn't been at that range for a while now.

Sad images of selling The Darling and giving up the life came and went like a shadow's breath. Nah. He'd never live to see the day. That thought had its own ramifications that Barnaby refused to even consider. So, Barnaby did a thing he tried not to ever do; he added in what was owed to him from the passenger run they were in the middle of. It was best not to count chickens before they hatched and that went double for passenger fares. Desperate times and all that...

They'd have enough to refuel and head to the next job. His savings could float wages and necessities for another cycle; maybe two. Barnaby sighed. He reminded himself another thing his Pappy had always said. "Y'anna be rich, get the f*ck off a cargo freighter." Pappy's saying weren't always zippy.

"Uh, Boss? You might wanna swing by the bridge real prompt-like. We've got a problem."

Thankful for the reprieve from the numbers game, Barnaby reached nearby to the ship comm system and opened the channel for the bridge. "Be right up, Mat'." He dropped the glasses on the desktop and stood up with a stretch. Back to what he was good at.

Barnaby entered the cockpit and took a quick look around. "Hi." He said, full of cheer. "What's up?" After being filled in on the message from the ground, Barnaby grumbled for just a moment before his head cleared enough to begin formulating a plan. He opened the ship wide comm. "This is your Captain speaking. We got ourselves a storm down on St. Albans. Ain't irregular but it does necessitate a change of plans. Meet me in the cargo bay quick-like and we'll go over details." He hung up and nodded for Mattie and Arlo to follow him to the destination. It wasn't a request.
13
Barnaby stopped and stared at Mr. Potter. Helping oneself to the larder was one thing. There was a blanket policy on the Darling that if you were hungry, you go on and eat till you ain't. But just digging in on something that could have, before all the shoveling, been shared with the rest of the crew - not to mention with his hands - well, that was another thing. Not one to be impolite, however, Barnaby tried to think of a more tactful approach. He looked at Mattie, who had indeed followed him, and shrugged. "Well I didn't say he wouldn't eat the cake." A chuckle was ill-suppressed, and came out as more of a hacking wheeze.

"Pardon me, Mr. Potter. Didn't see you there. Hope you're finding your accommodations-" Barnaby watched the man's hand dip back into the frosted desert. "-Agreeable."

Potter turned slightly, barely putting his eyes on his hosts. "A perfect morning; in perfect harmony with myself I'm walking briskly uphill ... For once I didn't notice that I was walking, all the way up to the mountaintop forest I was absorbed in deep thought. Perfect clarity and freshness in the air; up further there's some snow. This cake makes me completely euphoric." He said. "I am finished." Potter descended upon the nearby sink and washed his hand thoroughly, still gripping the red briefcase. Barnaby gave Mattie a wide-eyed look and a forced smile. They'd picked up a total loon. Cleansed of whipped sugar, Potter turned and regarded Barnaby and Mattie fully. "Goodbye." And he left.

"Welp. That was..." Barnaby trailed off as words failed him. "Well it was sure..." Nope, still nothing. "At least he washed his hands?" Barnaby laughed. "In all my years sailing back and forth in the 'verse, i've met an odd character or two." He thought of something clever and grinned. "This guy takes the cake." And waited for Mattie to laugh. "Get it?"
14
Location: The Catwalk

"Heinrich Potter's his name. Quiet fella. Referred by a business associate of mine, Miriam Finch." He had to tell her everything. No half-ways in trust, it was all or nothing. "Ol' Miriam runs a passenger service, but it's all above board. Documents and licenses and the like. Mr. Potter ain't want none of that, so Miriam sent him our way. She vetted that he weren't troublesome, just looking for private passage. And he's payin' for it, too. Charged him a fortune and he ain't blink. Shoulda charged him twice." Barnaby winked with a smile. "I don't think he'll be trouble. Didn't get that sense from him myself, but I'll count on you to help keep an eye, savvy?"

Normally he'd be sharing all of this with Mona, but with her leaving Barnaby found himself pulling away from her. Didn't want to trouble her obviously occupied mind. Besides, Mona would know to look at this guy from every angle. Next logical step from that was Rian and Barnaby trusted him to go without instruction, but there was still a lot unspoken between them, and Barnaby wanted to keep leaving it that way. Time just wasn't right. He wasn't sure when it would be, and avoiding it was a lot easier, but that was a problem for another day.

Barnaby leaned off the railing and set to walking towards the galley. "Welp. I fancy myself a slice of that cake 'fore I go check on the cockpit." It wasn't pretending like things were normal between the two of them. Barnaby knew that they were only just getting to know one another. And what better way to do that than to share strategical analysis of newcomers and a slice of chocolate cake? "You want some? I think there's enough for two."
15
DING

The cake was done. But Barnaby wasn't sure anyone would be up for some sweets after all that. His attempt at bringing everyone on even footing had perhaps been successful, but down on a low that no one could have prepared for. Had he known that's the direction his story would have taken everyone, he might have told a story with a little more comedic panache, which, to be fair, he thought he had done. But his crew absolving themselves of their sins, so to speak, wasn't necessarily a bad thing, was it? Maybe his plan had worked! "Welp..." He trailed off, finding words difficult to come by. So he laughed. "We's all just a buncha sad sack screw ups, ain't we? But that's how just how it is. If we wasn't, then we all wouldn't be here, one way or t'other. So I say, cheers to that."

He raised his tea cup to his lips and found it empty. "Tabby, how's 'bout we get some more of that tea. I'll take mine with a splash of bourbon, hold the tea, extra bourbon." He waited for the joke to land, and hoped to hell it did. While Tabby fussed with the tea, Barnaby reached under the bench he sat upon and knocked on a secret compartment where sat a bottle of bourbon whiskey. "Rian, why doncha pull that cake 'fore it get crispy-like? Ya'll want a story, I got a humdinger of one. Let me tell you 'bout the missing graveyard. One time, back in '94 or '95 we was workin'..." His story (and the one after that) lasted well into the night, longer than the bourbon, and as the crew filtered out as it got later, Barnaby began to feel at ease about everything. And though change was coming, he felt more sure than ever as other shared their tales and jokes that things were going to be better. He could just feel it.
16
Barnaby folded his hand when it seemed Mattie wouldn't be taking it and, instead, listened to what she had to say. Maybe she just needed to vent a bit, let out some steam. That was healthy and Barnaby was ready to let her do that as much as she needed. It was difficult not to absorb her stress but strangely the captain felt a bit of calm in the last couple of days. His panicked responses to the events on Aphrodite had flowed and now they ebbed. As was the nature of such things. And so, as she yelled at him, Barnaby was able to more clearly process her words and see them for what they were.

Mattie was right, of course. He had made mistakes. Mistakes that he owned up to. Mistakes he'd have to live with. But you can't dwell on them forever and Barnaby had to make sure his crew was safe, which, by his estimation, he'd done. Targets on backs didn't come bigger than the one on his, and keeping everyone in the dark made sure of that. Could he explain that to Mattie? Probably, but he didn't come to find her to try and win a fight. He came to apologize. "If you're sore about it, I get it, but I ain't gonna beg your forgiveness. I said my piece. If you feel like you can't stay on, we can drop you at Iscariot station."

He turned to go, but stopped short. "I hope you stay. You're brave and honest and true, and those are my three favorite qualities in a person." He turned and took the stairs back up, a lifetime of walking them making his boots heavy, adding as he went. "Deck looks good. You can call it, if you like."
17
Barnaby came closer and looked at where Mattie was working and shook his head. That damned spot. He'd been trying to get that up for years but it was a persistent bugger. A leftover of a spill from long ago, a combination of battery acid and hard coated plastic that had melted and coalesced into the mess that was at their feet. "Aw sorry 'bout that, Mattie." Barnaby said, rubbing at the back of his head. "That ones stubborn as a blind mule. Been workin' at it since 'fore you could walk, I reckon. Shoulda said so." There were a lot of things that he should've said.

"Appreciate your effort, though." Just get to it already, old man. "Um. Well. Reason I came to find you, is I figure we should have ourselves a little talk." A lump formed in his throat, a small one, but he still needed to cough to get it out. It wasn't that it was hard for him to apologize, but talking about his failings with someone he didn't know too well... that he wasn't good at. "You and I stood and joined hands and then I wasn't honest with you. For that I'm sorry. I ain't gonna excuse it 'cept to say it felt like the right move at the time. Maybe I was wrong. Likely so. Can't change it but, cross my heart, I won't take it so lightly next time. Got my oath on that."

He held out a calloused hand for hers. "I'm glad you're here."
18
Location: on the catwalk, yeah, on the catwalk

After dropping Chris off with Arlo, an odd pair but one Barnaby couldn't find harm in at this particular moment, Barnaby retreated aft from the engine room, but stopped short as he saw Tabby, the Preacher, and Rian heading into the medbay. "Tarnation." He said, under his breath. "Everybody's somewhere." He turned a heel and packed it in to take the long way around and caught sight of Mattie opposite him, eagle-eyed and watching. He saw her see him and he offered a friendly gesture somewhere in the vicinity of a wave, but not quite there. Like he was out of practice at it.

She didn't seem to take offense at his salutation, so he wandered over and leaned back on the railing, elbows draped, one foot casually tucked nearby where she had perched, legs dangling. He leaned back to catch her eye. "Hey." Short and simple. "Keepin' vigil, eh? Good on ya." Barnaby said, playing it cool. "How'd them new folks look to you? Anything I should know?" Deciding to trust Mattie and her skills as a gunhand, a deadeye to boot, meant trusting Mattie to use those skills to recognize danger.
19
Mouth agape, Barnaby wasn't quite sure what words could possibly fill the space between his teeth. He had not expected Rian to go all in on his past, in fact they had once upon a time discussed keeping the exact opposite as a matter of policy. When the two of them had first met, years ago, there had been an understanding of the man that Rian had been and the man he was going to be with Barnaby's sister-in-law. The marriage wouldn't have been allowed otherwise. Since Anna-Maria and Jorge's untimely deaths, Barnaby had taken more than a passing interest in the remaining Iglesias sisters and their mother, seeing after them when he could. He sent them money out of every paycheck. And so when this young buck named Rian Russo came waltzing in to court the youngest girl, Maya, well Barnaby was justifiably protective.

But Rian proved that his love outweighed any past entanglements and Barnaby eventually gave his blessing to the two of them. By the time that Maya died, Barnaby had already lost his first wife to death, his second to divorce, a third to trickery, his folks both died and his brother, Nate, was lost to the war and Barnaby just knew that no one could possibly understand the loss of an Iglesias woman like he could, and provided solace as best as he could to his young new brother-in-law. They were bonded after that though it took a few years for Rian to come to his senses and come work on the Darling.

And it was then that they'd decided to keep his past a secret, both for his protection and for that of the crew. Barnaby tried not to think too deep on his record of keeping the crew safe. He'd had a bad run of luck was all.

"Ain't nothing to be sorry for, Ri'. Everybody at this table is family." He stopped his eyes flickering in the direction of either Arlo or Mattie. They weren't excluded just because they were new. A stranger was just a friend you ain't made yet. Seemed like something that his Pappy would have said, but Barnaby couldn't exactly recall the words coming out of Jerry Goodweather's mouth. He briefly wondered if maybe he in fact had the ability to spout wisdom afterall. Made him feel good to think so, if even for just a moment. "We all know you a little better now, and that's a good thing. Everybody, let's tell something we all don't know about each other. I'll go first."

Barnaby paused for just a moment while thinking. "Hm, oh okay, I know! Tabby, you remember Tricky, right? He was a piece of work, wad'n'e?" It felt good to spin yarns for a bit and not worry about their current state of affairs. Barnaby felt like he was on to something here. "He was hired by my pappy and, well, I don't wanna speak ill of my pappy but he was gettin' on in years by that point and he hired all manner of folks right 'fore he passed." That made him think for a moment. "Tabby. I don't think I realized 'till just now you were my first real hire. Huh." That made him feel good that she was still around after all they'd been through.

"At the time he was XO but that was more process of elimination than it was meritorious. He hired on as crew hand, but I never seen him lift anything heavier than a beer. Anyhoo, so you think Rian sounds like a crook - no offense - this guy puts that to shame. He was always trying to get us to run schemes and scams and whatnot. This one time, Tricky he comes up to me and he says, you know what he says, he says -" Barnaby dropped into a voice approximating that of Tricky O'Doyle, which only worked for anyone who knows the man. "-Hey, Barney. What say you we head to Pelorum? I knows a man who knows a man who's got a casino and they've got this can't miss game. Double the money in your pocket, guaranteed." Barnaby chuckled to think of it. "Well, he convinced me somehow I'm sorry to say. But, that's how I met Gerry, you see, because Tricky O'Doyle had himself a list of warrants long as my arm. She tracked him to Darling, and Darling to Pelorum and while Tricky and Hardy and me - Hardy was our mechanic at the time - was hammered drunk, she snuck in close to me and we, erm, made friends."

Barnaby blushed. "She said she liked me. I think that part was true. One thing led t'other and we's married in one of those twenty-minute deals. Preacher, if you can call'm that, was dressed like a teddy bear. Dangedest thing. Tricky couldn't stop laughing about it. Joke was on him, though, with Gerrie being a Federal and all. She put him in cuffs back at the ship and took him away." He stopped for a moment, as if coming to the point of this whole story, which he presented thusly. "Now, you might think that story makes me seem foolhardy. I did for a time. Felt like I'd been hoodwinked twice over. But if I'm a dunderhead for trusting people well then I guess that's fine. Folks deserve the chance to prove'emselves to ya. That I do believe." The story, which inadvertently became a sermon, was done and Barnaby sat. "Who's next?"
20
Barnaby hadn't noticed Chris' hand and suddenly felt silly for trying to shake it. Color filled his cheeks, but he was quick to course correct and offer the correct shaker. "Sorry 'bout that. Bet there's a story there, huh?" Barnaby didn't press for details. If Chris felt like talking about it, he would. "Anyhow, yeah, we can take a look at the engine room." Barnaby turned on his heel to lead the way and bumped into Rian, who seemed to the Captain to lately always be right in where Barnaby didn't want him to be. "Rian, um, at ease bud. Chris here's ok, ain't ya Chris?" It wasn't that he was mad at his brother-in-law. But there was a conversation coming between the two of them that Barnaby didn't want to have. And that stuck at him like a sore tooth. "Why don't you and Tab' go check on... I dunno something or other." Not mad, withdrawn.

He pulled away from them and led Chris in the opposite direction. "No problems right now to speak of, except for the thermal actuator is grinding a bit but in these '64 Scarabs that's sorta to be expected." Soon they found the engine room and Barnaby felt Riot's absence inside, though she had left it in as perfect condition as she could manage with the hodge-podge of parts and fixes after some fifty-odd years of wear and tear. Barnaby could tell she'd polished her up though. The biggest missing piece was the oversized pillow that Bandit had used for a bed while Riot worked. Barnaby tried not to dwell on that. "Here she is. Not too many modifications, just mended to the best of our ability over time. You notice anything off, you let me know and we'll see about getting it fixed up." Barnaby then realized that the two of them were actually three; Arlo was in there as well. Barnaby had found the man to be surprisingly pleasant company when it came to talking about things like engines and ships and such, which he'd never had reckoned in a million years. Thing was, Barnaby wasn't quite sure what he was doing on the Darling at all. But, never one to turn a person away, Barnaby would allow it until he became a nuisance.  "Oh, um, Chris. This is Mr. Arlo. He's... in here, too."

After a moment, "Okay, well, I'll leave ya to it. Just holler you need anything." And Barnaby left Chris to some poking around on his own and get acquainted with Arlo, and went to check on the rest of the crew.
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