SS Iscariot - Episode 1: New Beginnings

Started by Lomari, February 22, 2019, 07:54:44 am

Lomari

Click. Snap. Woosh.


The salvage ship settled into its docking bay and began the shut down sequence, its engines seeming to sigh contently as they slowed their whirring and thrumming. Several crewmen at the docking bay worked around the newly arrived ship, one of them at a console near the cargo door, entering and accepting the ship's information into the station's database. Another wheeled a dolly up the ramp with his partner to assist in the unloading of goods and supplies the ship had brought in. Past them, the docks were abuzz with the general activity of men at work. Maintenance men, technicians, dock workers, the crews of visiting ships, all melded together into a multicolored crowd.

With another loud clunk and grinding of gears, the salvage vessel's bay doors lowered, and the crew walked out just as the dock workers moved in. Boxes of foodstuffs and basic necessities for life were piled into the dollies and wheeled out. A man stood watch over the whole operation with a pipe unlit between his teeth and his hat tipped back too far past his forehead to be stylish, dark eyes watching the goings on and making sure nothing went awry. A worker approached him with papers to sign, having over the clipboard. The Captain signed, checked it over, and tapped the stylus against the digital paper in approval before handing it back to him.

"Welcome to Iscariot," the worker greeted with a lopsided smile before turning and heading back down the gangplank.

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Any port will do in a storm, and this was one such port. The station was not large, it was not brimming with new technology, and the underbelly was as rotten as it got, but it was stable, it was safe, and it was a place to find refuge if you knew where to look. Home to honest and dishonest alike, Iscariot was not picky in who it allowed to find shelter within its walls. A third of the station was made up of industrial sectors, meant to keep the Iscariot alive as well as to take on work and make extra money refining raw materials brought in by salvagers and scrappers alike. Another third was made up of small shops, stalls, and vendors that gave the residents of the station as well as visitors a lively and entertaining place to shop, eat, and enjoy themselves during their time away from their ships or their families.

The walkways were kept clean and on the outside, the station seemed like any port in the 'verse not run by the thick-walleted Alliance. Its people were not wealthy, but they made do with what they had and their life was comfortable and profitable for it. As long as the rules were followed and dues were paid, no one had to worry about their general safety aboard the SS Iscariot.
CHARACTERS
Charity ~ Melody ~ Tabitha


NARRATION
Darling ~ Iscariot

Rev. Onyx Clark

Reverend Onyx Clark, nurse, paramedic, and Chaplain of the Iscariot, through about his time aboard the station. Every day Rev. Onyx goes out to the station himself, at any hour of the day or night, going to people's ships to treat any injuries requested or secure the patient for transport off the ship and to the station's medical center in the hub. Sometimes he's called on a broken bone, other times he's called on a broken soul. He is never called "Doc" or "Nurse," instead settling on either "Padre" or "Rev." When he walks, he walks with his medical kit, ready to handle the anything from the sniffles to removing a bullet or two (or five.) He is very well trained in his crafts, giving him plenty of leeway from the station owner.

To find him when he is not making his rounds, one must simply go to the Church. It is not a large church by any stretch of the imagination, probably fitting perhaps 30 people at most. To keep the space neutral, basic alter items such as a few candles and a Buddhist incense box in the middle, which a gold plated cross can be rested on top of it during services. While ordained in a Christian denomination, he caters to all faiths and religions, even when the individual does not have one. The lighting is subtle, yet a conveyance of peace and sacred ground rings true. A donation box (bolted to the wall) rests inside the church next to the door, where any donation is freely accepted. The profit goes to the Church where alms to the poor can be distributed and those who were left penniless by circumstance. The rest goes to his rent as well as his Zen Protection Plan. Some might call it extortion, Rev. Onyx calls it "alms giving to the poor guards to feed their families." (At least, that is what helps him sleep at night.)

Most of the time however, Rev. Onyx is located in the Infirmary, always on call, and charges very reasonable prices. Station personnel and permanent residences get discounts to varying degrees, while visitors get the best care possible. Since he is a male and he would not be caught in a position he does not want to be, he often finds a Companion (in exchange for free preventative care instead of a discount) to be a female witness. When he set up the practice, Reverend Onyx realized that there was a Companion House on board. If there was one thing the Reverend made himself promise, above all else, is to follow the most important rule he could ever have when it came to the station.

Thou shalt not be alone with a Companion.

Johann Krüger

February 22, 2019, 01:15:19 pm #2 Last Edit: February 25, 2019, 12:16:43 pm by Johann Krüger
A click of the heel, a tap of the toe, Johann Krüger walked through the SS Iscariot like it was his space station. It wasn't. But that could change, maybe; one day.

Everyone he passed knew him by sight, and made sure not to make eye-contact. He had made sure of that soon after first coming on board with his partner, Patrick O'Doyle. O'Doyle was the silver-tongued operator who smoothed things over once Johann was done pulling their teeth out with a soldering iron. He wore the pieces to a brown tweed suit, but left the jacket at home. A brilliant navy tie, loosened at his throat and the sleeves of his striped shirt rolled to his elbows cemented the formal-casual alliance of his ensemble, while shined up brown boots and a silver pocket chain completed the look.

Candy, crunchy but chewable with sweet fruit "juice" inside the shell rattled inside of a small box in his hand. As he absentmindedly walked through the space station, he sought out his favorite flavors first, not one to delay his desires. "Mmm strawberry. I love strawberry." These candies were, theoretically designed to dissolve slowly on the tongue. But Johann preferred to bite down immediately. Bad for his teeth? Perhaps. But seldom is something pleasurable good for you. Crunching on his candy, Johann found that he enjoyed the Iscariot and its immense possibilities.

So many people, so little time.
Dialogue Color - Gold

Martin Miller

February 22, 2019, 07:20:30 pm #3 Last Edit: February 22, 2019, 07:23:34 pm by Martin Miller
"Your gorram champion has returned!!"


"Mad Marty" Miller practically exploded onto the docking bay. Only a few people in the crowd even looked up. A clenched fist and nearly drained bottle of champagne thrust in to the air, he didn't quite care that nobody cared. Things were on the upswing for one Martin Miller. Thrust into a military life, blackballed from his dream-job, Marty Miller was making money, having fun, risking his arse and that's about as close to being a stunt-man as he could get. And it would certainly do. At least for now. Especially since he'd just won that race. And especially since the shuttle crew was kind enough to overlook the serving restrictions in exchange for the sizable tip he offered.

"Ahhh your subtle dismissal means nothing to me! For I have conquered those who dared underestimate me!"

He laughed a bit to himself, taking another healthy swig of the champagne. Marty slowly began to traipse out onto the walkway.

"I'm just taking the piss, everyone!"

He chuckled a bit more and put a bit more pep into his step. He needed to find drinking partners to celebrate with. Anyone from the crew'd do. Maybe there'd be a new friendly face? The night was young. Or was it the morning? Space travel made stuff like that a bit cock-eyed.

He was still stable on his feet. But some of the last walls of inhibition were crumbling down. The Millers were a competitive lot and drinking was never any exception. Lifting the bottle up he finished it in a long, languorous last drink of the cheap-ish champagne. He paused and spotted a recycling collector and he hopped slightly into the air, and planted a pretty decent jump shot. Though only from about two or three steps away. The bottle clanked satisfyingly into the other refuse.

The victory-high (and fairly drunk) pilot nodded confidently. Today was going his way.

Not a damn thing can go wrong today.

Miller looked around and wondered aloud to himself. Momentarily a little lost.

"Where's the bloody bar?"

He wasn't sure, but that wasn't going to stop him. The wheelman started to just lightly jog down the walkway, scanning for any sign of alcohol that might be procured with his newly acquired largess.

Aksel Munck

February 23, 2019, 09:09:20 am #4 Last Edit: March 10, 2019, 07:59:58 pm by Aksel Munck
The shop was quiet today, a few in and out customers came to pick up repairs but no new business came from the odd window-shoppers.  Aksel suspected some had ulterior motives but he wasn't too worried about them, especially after catching a glance of his mangled mug.  He sat behind the counter in front of his work bench, peering down through a magnifying glass at a delicate assembly of wires, the odd waft of smoke from the cigarette burning in his left hand which he idled above an ashtray so not to dirty his work space.

After inspection he fused two wires together with a soldering gun creating a smaller puff of smoke that was quickly assimilated into the much larger cloud and disappeared into the open hatch above which led to the attic or as he referred to it.  Home.

Aksel had been running his security needs store on Iscariot quite awhile now though had very few acquaintances and fewer friends.  He walked the station time to time to break from his routine and stopped by the chapel every once in awhile.  Not that he was religious but it was a good place to think and nobody bothered him.  Not that many wanted to bother him anyway.

In his youth he had been quite a fearsome warrior, or that's the way he would've described it.  His aged body would argue more of a reckless moron.  They say the definition of insanity was to repeat the same action over and over again expecting different results, if that was true he was well past the point of insanity.  However his fearsome look only menaced the cowardly or the legitimate citizens of this spinning top, there were many others on this ship that took more than a few scars and missing body parts to disturb.  Good thing he had that generous government pension since between the two demographics neither had much use for him.  Nor he for them for that matter.

Sitting back in his chair he stretched his back trying to work out the ache that had festered from his leaning over the bench.  He took one last pull from his cigarette before extinguishing it, watching the last embers die as they gasped for oxygen much as many dying soldiers had done around him save for the anguished din of their cries for mother.

Aksel stood from the stool and rolled down the sleeves of his charcoal dress shirt, buttoning up the cuffs before sliding on a black jacket and moving to the entrance of his store.  For all the technology he employed in his business the most trusted piece of equipment he had was his security gate, a steel web of a gate which he pulled down and sealed into the floor at the front of his shop and secured six different locks around the structure.  Leave nothing to chance one of his CO's always said.  He wished he'd used that advice before moving his family to that bowden-infested nightmare Paradiso.

Moving through the station there was the usual buzz as ships came and went, one young man hustled past calling out for a bar.  Aksel took little note of him as he paced through the station, his mind focused on his cramped legs, which felt near atrophied from the long hours of sitting stagnantly at that work table as he did most days fixing up equipment for re-sale.

Later on another man took his mild attention away from his legs which were starting to lighten up on him.  This one was much the opposite of the short brown-haired lad looking for a drink as he had a full strap of facial hair, some ill-advised tattoos and a look of experience and practice-dominance also stood him apart.  Aside from that he seemed pretty run of the mill for this station other than the noticeable berth many gave him as he walked.  Aksel's one remaining eye watched him from the peripheral as he passed and made his way to the church.

Location: Station Church

He found a seat apart from the rest, at the back and in the corner as he always did and grabbed one of the song books and opened it before setting it on his lap.  He then reached a finger in the collar of his shirt and produced an aged silver locket and like the book pulled it apart to reveal two pictures.  He lowered it into the book as the chain coiled into a mound then his hands returned to holding the book as he stared down at his wife and daughter.  He spent some time looking at it, wondering where the people in those photos were and if they were still alive.  He knew he could find them if he wanted to but knew they were better off.  As he always did when he stared too long he started to feel the regrets of the past weighing down and like he always did when they rose up he swiped the locked up and dropped it into his jacket pocket.  After all, regret was unprofessional.  He remained staring at the same page of that book for the next while, not reading a single word.


Pele Kesher

February 23, 2019, 10:25:07 am #5 Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 11:12:33 pm by Pele Kesher
"Are you kidding me? It's worth at least five times that!

"This is a pawn shop, lady. My customers ain't made of money, and neither am I."

Pele stormed out, mentally cursing the shopkeep, but herself a little as well. Why had she even attempted that? Now that she stood in front of the store, cheeks burning with rage and humiliation, it seemed like such a tacky thing to do, pawning off your engagement ring after running away from your fiancé. It wasn't like she needed the cash; the credits she'd taken out of Cecil's bank account would be enough to keep her flying for now. No, there was something else weighing her mind.

When she'd first arrived on Iscariot, she'd spotted a familiar-looking man across the hall, and for one horrible moment and against all her better judgment she'd thought she recognized him as one of Cecil's lackeys, and her heart had skipped a beat.

Then the man had turned around, and of course it wasn't anyone she knew. She was in the godforsaken middle of nowhere, far away from her fiancé and his gang of brown-nosers who were back on Londinum, cozying up to each other as they wove their plots of tax evasion and stock market fraud. There was no way they'd be able to track her down this soon.

And yet, the encounter had rattled Pele. She'd been flying high on leaving her old life behind, flown high all the way to SS Iscariot, and now the reality of her situation was slowly beginning to sink in. She hated to admit it, but she was worried. Maybe even a little scared, but only a little. Mostly she just wanted to get rid of the darn ring. It felt cursed, tying her to Cecil like some blood pact even when it lay buried at the bottom of her purse instead of adorning her finger. She decided she'd just flush it down a toilet the first chance she got. For now, she needed a drink.

Location: Station Bar


"One pomegranate martini, please," Pele told the bartender of the space station's rather dinghy-looking karaoke joint. The bartender looked her up and down like she'd just asked him to conjure up a flying pony for her.

"We ain't got nothin' like that, lady," he said. There was that word again. Lady. It wasn't much of an insult; in fact, when you really thought about it, it was kind of the opposite of one. So why did she feel so offended by it?

"Well, just give me something you do have," she said impatiently. "Something fruity."

The bartender continued to give her that aggravating, dumbfounded look. Pele could tell by the twitch of his lips that he was holding back a smirk, and she responded by flashing him the sweetest, most passive-aggressive smile she could muster up. With a shake of his head he turned around, and Pele let her smile fall and her gaze sweep the bar area, appraising the people around her. In her expensive silk shirt and tailored pants, with a cloud of magnolia-scented perfume wafting around her, she stood out like a sore thumb from the other patrons. She could understand they couldn't afford nice clothes like her, but couldn't they at least afford to wash the ones they did own? Or their teeth, for that matter?

"There you go, ma'am," the bartender slid her a glass of thick, urine-colored liquid with colorful cubes of some unappetizing gelatinous substance floating in it.

"What in the Verse is this sh- you know what, never mind," Pele decided she'd had enough arguing with rude customer service workers for the day. With an exasperated sigh, she paid for her cocktail and headed for an unoccupied table in the corner. She took a cautious sip of the drink, immediately scrunching up her face in disgust at the taste and texture. She couldn't even tell what flavor of fruit it was supposed to be.

She should've just gone full peasant and gotten a bottle of whiskey.

Rev. Onyx Clark

February 23, 2019, 11:02:39 am #6 Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 09:51:03 pm by Rev. Onyx Clark
Location: Station Church

There comes a point in every Medic's life where silence is in itself something to be feared. The quiet had tension, and there was a sense that something was going to happen, where he would have to get up from his meal to a dead sprint trying to save someone's life. Soldiers in war also know that feeling, where absolute boredom is replaced with unadulterated life or death terror. The process is most of the time the same. First, his ears twitch and the eyes blink as the mind goes silent. The eyes start moving as well, soon the head starts moving, causing the former combat medic to scan the room. He listens, he sees, he even smells the air around him. For those precious seconds, anyone who have lived through combat knows what Rev. Onyx is feeling. Some would reach for a gun, he however reached for his bag. Some might say "just get over it, nothing is happening." Combat veterans double check to make sure nothing is happening.

Standing up, the medic grabbed his kit as well as put his brown trench coat over his body and his kit. He then walked out of the hub and made his way trough the sections carefully, scanning the various sections by instinct looking for whatever or whoever gave him the feeling of alertness. His heart pumped in his chest, his steps cautious yet moving gently with the crowd. Everyone who called the Iscariot home knew Rev. Onyx by name, and that granted him ever so slightly some protection from the absolute monsters who needed to be locked in a cage. Wither that meant that anyone would come up and take advantage of his charity or not was down to the person's personal choice. Somewhat by choice, somewhat by duty, if the monster was crying for a medic, he would still tend to them without judgement. That also meant he was not afraid to look at someone in the eye and say "How do you do?"

As he wondered through the station, he saw the honest and dishonest, the sober and the drunk, the angels and the demons, the quick and the dead, the blessed and the damned. As he made his way through the station, Rev. Onyx gradually began to relax, his hand no longer gripping his bag hard and he was able to walk easy by the time he made his way through the shops, some were moving rather quickly for a drink. There had been many times a bartender would call for him and Security to get a drunkard out. Eventually all feelings of tension subsided and he decided to make sure that the Church was not in disorder. Taking a look inside, he spotted someone in the corner. As he quietly made his way through the chapel, he decided to offer a quick prayer to the heavens and leave the man in peace. The Chaplain's policy is simple. He is always available, but he will never approach someone directly. A ministry of presence is 9 times out of 10 all that is needed. The fact that the church is still open for business is more than enough proof that letting people come to him Is the better, and safer, idea.

It only took one .50 caliber pistol pointed at his face from a very distressed pirate to convince him of that.

Xiǎodāo

A little shadow crept along in the wake of the terrifying man in tweed cutting his way through the station and making everyone nervous. It ducked behind crates, pretended to have conversations with people who were confused about the newest addition to their group, and picked up items at merchant stalls, turning them over as though interested in purchasing them. Of course, the items always ended up back in their place and the conversations abandoned partway.

In the end, the tail settled on walking behind him, attempting to imitate the way he walked and trying to glare intimidatingly out from their bluntly cut black bangs at everyone she passed who'd lowered their gaze to avoid Johann's only to find themselves staring in confusion at the person behind him. Wanting to be the best mimic that they could, dainty hands moved to begin rolling up the thick sleeves of their very oversized bomber jacket, the leather old and worn and its hem stopping at the knees. It was left unbuttoned, allowing the mismatched outfit consisting of a plaid skirt and pop culture shirt (also oversized) to be on full display. They had no tie to loosen, but figured they'd done their best at making themselves look as Johann-y as possible.

"Mmm strawberry. I love strawberry."

"Strawberry is one of the best ones, but I'm partial to apple, myself," she told him, finally making herself known, although it was more than a little possible he'd noticed her before then. X hurried forward, the black platform boots lengthening her stride enough that she could keep up relatively well with the taller man. The girl held her hand out to him and wagged her brows, hoping he'd grace her with a green orb of fruity goodness from the box of candies.

Johann Krüger

February 25, 2019, 09:14:39 am #8 Last Edit: February 25, 2019, 12:16:27 pm by Johann Krüger
There were few people that could sneak up on Johann Krüger. He prided himself on that. A childhood spent on the streets had conditioned him with keen senses and fast reflexes. A lifetime of illicit enterprises has put that experience into practice. Plus he'd been in bloody prison, when you're locked up with a mob of outlaws, murderers, and thieves you learn to watch your back. But Xiǎodāo was different. "Ahh Exie, you lovely thing. You're as quiet as a cat's shadow, you know that?" He held out the box of candy to her with a wide grin and shook out a few sugar coated pieces into her hand. The list of people able to stealth past Johann's perception was a short one. The list of people Johann liked was shorter still. "How are you, dear?"

As he considered this chance encounter, Johann couldn't help but but feel as though it was anything but happenstance. But Xiǎodāo came and went as she chose, the feline analogy coming back to the fore. Out of the corner of his eye, a shopkeeper who was behind on his rent caught Johann's eye. And the man saw Johann see him. There was no threatening look or gesture nor did Johann need to go over to the man to remind him of his debt. The mere mutual acknowledgement was enough to send the man scurrying off, likely to pull the cash from his till and bring it over to the Station Administrator's bulldog.

Another candy crept into his mouth and he gave it a good crunch, savoring the juice. He smiled. Strawberry.
Dialogue Color - Gold

Xiǎodāo

The girl beamed up at him, her chest puffing up at the compliment and she popped one of the candies into her mouth, her free hand slipping into the pocket of her jacket. She enjoyed running into Johann, and despite his gruff demeanor, they seemed to get along just fine. X was proficient and did her job well when she was called upon to do it, and she figured that might've gone a long way when it came to putting her on his good side.

"How are you, dear?" he asked.

"Much better now, thank you," she answered, holding up the rest of her candies and winking at him cheerily. As she directed attention to the sweet treats, a card was moved from her pocket and deftly slid into his with the barest hint of any contact between them at all, her large coat closing the gap between them enough to make the quick and gentle movement of her hand neigh imperceptible.

X skipped ahead of him a couple of steps and turned on her heel to face him, sucking on the piece of candy in her mouth and putting the other into her pocket for later. Unlike Johann, it seemed that she liked to savor and prolong her pleasure and desires as much as possible. She could deny herself a bit if it meant more of the same later on. "Any idea where Marty is?" she asked, raising her brows and rocking back on her heels, glancing curiously toward where the shopkeeper had returned to the entrance of his business, a thick manilla envelope pressed against his chest. He seemed reluctant to interrupt the man's conversation, however, and was lingering on the peripheral.


Martin Miller

February 25, 2019, 08:14:35 pm #10 Last Edit: February 26, 2019, 03:59:32 pm by Martin Miller
Location: Station Bar / Karaoke Bar


Marty skidded to a stop as he saw the bright blinking KARAOKE sign. Like the sign, he too lit up.

"Sweet gods of intoxicating spirits you have heard my prayers!"

He swaggered in to the entrance and pointed over to the barman.

"Reggie! I have come to drink approximately..."

Getting closer to the bar he scanned the racks of liquor, pointing at them all slowly with his index finger.

"...all of your alcohol."

Marty leaned in over the bar and grinned big at Reggie. However, Reggie just started back at him like a statue of indifference. The wheelman frowned and relented.

"Fiiine, mate. I'll have a double of some of... I would say top shelf but I know you cheeky bastards fill the top shelf bottles with the middle shelf crap don't ya? Ahh Tā mā de, make it a triple of the middle shelf bourbon."

Looking around the bar as he waited for his drink, he spotted one of their fence's employees. Or one of his "minions" as he so often and deviously referred to them. He was headed for the door. Slapping down his coin for the drink, he picked it up and took a quick sip. He whistled near loud enough for half the bar to hear him.

"Oy don't pretend I don't see you!"

Just as Sebastian's boy was sliding through the back door he looked back to see Miller "throwing him the V" and grinning like he wasn't even mad.

"I know you took the odds I'd eat it on the track but sorry to disappoint mate!"

The door slammed shut and Marty turned back to his drink, chuckling lightly to himself. He took a sip of his bourbon and flipped through a list of songs in the karaoke system. An eternal sucker for classical music from earth that was. Taking another sip he started singing (somewhat) quietly to himself as he idly flipped through the songs list.

"And I think it's gonna be a long long time
'Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone..."


The former tank pilot turned stuntman turned wheelman had a surprisingly good singing voice. He wasn't quite a popstar himself but he could carry a tune. Just as he trailed off he took another giant gulp of his bourbon, finishing it. Then belched. He covered his mouth and made a face of slight embarrassment to no one in particular.

"Bugger all, pardon me. Can you fetch me another, Reg?"

Johann Krüger

February 26, 2019, 08:30:30 am #11 Last Edit: February 26, 2019, 08:31:57 am by Johann Krüger
Three things at once is what Johann currently found himself paying attention to. Perhaps four, if one were to count how many pieces of candy remained in the box. The other three (the shopkeep scurrying around with a very poorly hidden envelope, his conversation with Xiǎodāo, and the little card she expertly placed within his pocket) were easy enough to juggle. The card he could ignore for now. He knew what it was, what it was for, why it was given and the subterfuge with which it was placed was the rutting point so why acknowledge it anyhow? The conversation did require a bit of attention; namely the whereabouts of one Mr. Martin Miller, an accomplice of theirs.

In situations such as this, another person might use a different word to describe a fellow conspirator. Conspirator being a perfect example. However, Martin's place within their cabal of crime was recent and while he had performed admirably, Johann was slow to trust anyone. So an employee of their enterprise seemed a more fitting description, rather than partner. "The sprout? I don't know. But I have got a hunch." He said, allowing his eyes to do the answering. The bright lights and loud noises coming from the Karaoke bar down the way drew his gaze. "We should give that place a name one of these days."

As if on cue, the postponed proprietor appeared, sweating like a pig on Easter, and stood awkwardly without a word for longer than was comfortable. "Well." Johann said and it wasn't a question, regarding the man with no small amount of disdain. He chuckled and held out his hand, using the other to shake another candy from the box into his waiting pallet. The shopkeep's eyes darted back and forth between Johann and Xiǎodāo, as if asking whether business could be conducted with those present. He really made for a pathetic picture. Finally, when the silence was no longer fun, "Yes, what is it?"

"Sorry Mr. Krüger. Won't happen again." The man clumsily grabbed the envelope from his pocket and held it out to Johann, who looked at the sweaty mess with disgust. Johann smiled at Xiǎodāo, feigning bemused ignorance.

"What are you doing?" The question was sudden and fierce and the rage implied was surprising. Slapping the envelope to the ground doubly so, and when Johann grabbed the man by the collar, the bewilderment must have quadrupled by the look on the man's face. Up close and personal, Johann uttered the next words through clenched jaw and fangs, the hackles on the back of his neck raised and his tone of voice like the low rumble of a mongrel's growl. "In public? In public? Your sin was tardiness, and now you try to compensate in public? Currency changing hands where fracking anyone can see it, you blithering tzao gao! You'll make your deposit as agreed from this day forth or so help me I'll break every gorram bone in your body starting with your toes." A hard toss and the man's ass met floor. "Be gone."

There was no need to say it twice. The man crawled until he could find his feet and then ran from the scene. Once he was gone, Johann casually collected the envelope off of the ground and stuck it unopened inside his waistcoat and offered Xiǎodāo his arm like nothing had happened. "Shall we find our chauffeur?"
Dialogue Color - Gold

Pele Kesher

Location: Station Bar


Pele had come to the bar to drown her inbound sorrow in a nice drink. Instead, the experience of sitting in a dive surrounded by smelly space travelers and staring down a glass of clumpy piss was proving to be quite the sobering experience.

Because the truth was, the trip to SS Iscariot had burned through a larger chunk of her funds than she'd anticipated. The remainder might be enough to buy her a few more jumps from planet to planet, but then what? Where was she supposed to get more? And where was she headed? What was there to even do out here?

She didn't have a plan. Perhaps for the first time in her life Pele needed a plan, and she didn't have one. There had been that brief dark period after she'd been kicked out of the Guild and cut off by her parents where she'd been without a safety net, unsure about her future prospects. Then she'd discovered that you didn't need a valid companion license to make money off of lonely rich men, and things had turned out fine, at least for a few years. But there were no sugar daddies out on the rim, at least not the kind she was interested in.

Pele's thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of a very boisterous and quite intoxicated young man. It was difficult not to notice him: he swaggered into the bar like he owned the place, shaking his feathers everywhere and announcing his intentions to buy all the liquor they had. It was the obvious behavior of someone who had suddenly come into the possession of a large sum of money after making a great investment or winning a bet or through some other one-time stroke of luck. He didn't really look particularly rich, especially not by Pele's standards, but he sure was acting like he was. More importantly, he was acting like a complete shǎzi, and that gave her an idea.

Getting up from her table and leaving her almost untouched schlocktail behind, Pele approached the man as he perused the karaoke selection, his back turned to her. He was singing to himself: his voice wasn't as horrible as she would have expected, but she recognized and hated his song of choice. It was yet another one of those self-indulgent dirges men crooned about missing their wives all the while leaving them behind in favor of chasing some grandiose dream and feeling special.

She cringed when her mark belched, but erased any trace of disgust from her face before drawing his attention. As far as he was concerned, she was just a party girl, looking to have a good time and very interested in his accomplishments and perhaps other things he had under his belt as well.

"What's the occasion, Rocketman?" she asked, regarding him with a friendly curiosity.

Xiǎodāo

"The sprout? I don't know. But I have got a hunch," Johann wagered. When he looked in the direction of the noise and frivolities, X half-turned to follow his gaze. Her head tilted to the side and back again, realizing he was probably right. That was the likeliest place to find Marty between jobs and interesting women. She shoved her hands into her jacket and looked back at the bulldog, grinning in silent agreement. 

"We should give that place a name one of these days," he remarked and X took to nibbling on her lower lip, slipping a hand free to pop one of her candies into her mouth, hiding it behind her cheek. "Maybe we can hold a meeting, ask for suggestions," she joked, laughing a little and moving the candy to her other cheek, wiggling her hips a little in happiness at the taste of it.

The shopkeep interrupted their conversation and the girl turned her head to stare at him, the smile on her face fading into a mask of impressive nothingness as her gaze slid curiously over his sweaty, shimmering face. Almost instinctively, X rocked forward onto the toes of her boots and sniffed the air, wondering if he smelled as bad as he looked, the piece of candy nestled against her tongue now, lips forming a closed straight line. With every glance in her direction, X's brows lifted higher and higher and it took a bit of effort to fight the smirk pulling at one corner of her lips.

"What are you doing?...In public? In public? Your sin was tardiness, and now you try to compensate in public? Currency changing hands where fracking anyone can see it, you blithering tzao gao! You'll make your deposit as agreed from this day forth or so help me I'll break every gorram bone in your body starting with your toes."

Her arms crossed over her chest, one hand resting in the crook of an elbow while the other hand supported her chin in its palm. "Whoops," X said cheerily, finally grinning down at the man from his new position on the floor. Really, he should have paid on time, and really doing this in public wasn't the smartest idea. But the poor man would have faced some kind of punishment for being late on the payment and this was probably the best possible outcome for the man. A little intimidation and humiliation beat getting mauled any day of the week. And, he learned a lesson, which was the noblest part.

"Be gone," Krüger snapped, picking up the envelope when the shopkeep was gone and offering his arm to the girl. With a grin, X slipped her arm into the crook of his elbow and leaned her cheek against his bicep for a second, smiling up at him adoringly. She didn't seem perturbed or put off by the man's display in any way.

"Shall we find our chauffeur?" he asked.

"I think we shall!" She agreed, laughing softly and walking with him toward the lights and music trickling out of the Karaoke bar. There was a happy bounce in her step and she continued to suck on the bit of candy until it dissolved into nothing, leaving her tongue a fun color and making her breath smell like 'fruit'.

Location: Station Bar


They rounded the corner into the bar not long after the candy vanished and X looked around for their new driver, her chin tilted up a bit as her eyes scanned the patrons. She spotted a few familiar faces, residents of the station who frequented the bar just about every night as well as some lackeys of various vendors and contacts they'd worked with before in previous dealings or side jobs. Of course, it didn't take her long to spot him standing by the karaoke system looking pleased with himself and a little twirly, being spoken to by a beautiful stranger which his favorite kind of stranger, from what she'd seen of him so far. "Oh, he's going to sing," she told Johann under her breath, grinning up at him, more than a little eager to see what his expression told her about how he felt about that. She waved at Reggie, who nodded his chin almost imperceptibly from behind the bar, used to tolerating her presence but not wanting to really be her friend if he could help it.


Tricky

February 27, 2019, 10:19:19 pm #14 Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 01:11:54 pm by Tricky
Location: The Tiangong 5 Karaoke Lounge ("VIP Lounge")


Beneath the dim light of the stock room in the back of the SS Iscariot's infamous bar and karaoke lounge, Patrick "Tricky" O'Doyle picked at a plate of chicken marsala with a pair of chopsticks with the voracity of a man who'd forgotten what it meant to be satiated. He pulled the small glass of Pinot Noir, the vintage of which the bar's proprietor surely lied to him about, to his cream-laden mustache and sipped at it with a loud, obnoxious slurp. A modest burp followed as he cleaned the wine and mushroom sauce with his lip warmer. Raising the glass toward the figure standing in the shadows away from the table, Tricky offered his genuine compliments. "Well, Mr. Jyiang. My compliments to the chef. Though, I suppose you are the chef? Duck style. Nice touch. Skin and fat still on the meat. Makes it a little more primal. Reminds you you're eating something used to actually be alive. Pleasant surprise, I gotta say. Way you've been slingin' that cloned meat we've been shippin' in here for you I'd reckon you'd plum ruttin' forgot what it was like to cook a real chicken!"

"Fēi cháng gǎn xiè nǐ, Mr. Tricky. Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ."

Completely missing the sarcastic tone in his host's voice, Patrick plucked a mushroom into his mouth and waved the chopsticks as if he required no thanks. "No, I mean it. You've really outdone yourself. You're an asset to this station, Mr. Jiyang. Sure, you're culinary ethics are... questionable. But hey, whose aren't?" Trick paused, blue eyes searching the room for an answer to a question he'd only just asked himself. "Isn't? 'Aren't' sounds weird. Does it sound weird to you? Anyway, I'm just sayin'. Whose methods ain't a little questionable around here? You're in good company, my friend. Oh, speaking of questionable ethics. My associate, Johann - you know, Mr. Krüger - will be around a little later. So. You're paid up on your insurance, right?"

"Yes! Yes, of course. No trouble!"

"Hey, hey. Now, that's between you and Mr. Krüger. That part of your business is none of mine. Though, if I could make one suggestion: you really ought to have a sign. You know, some big neon thing. Nobody knows the name of this place. They just keep calling it the bar. There's just no brand awareness. Now, I did do you the favor of handing off a stack of business cards to a friend of mine to distribute among some of our other associates. Granted, I think these friends of our already have a pretty good idea of where your establish is, but you know. Word of mouth is a good thing." Trick's eyes set to searching again but the smile returned to his face. "That is, long as they don't get to talkin' too much." Patrick patted his mouth clean and tossed the white cloth on the table and laid the sticks across the shallow, wok-shaped dish. "That said, I thank ya kindly for you lettin' me make use of your place like this. My friends and I can only get together so often, and we do appreciate our privacy. Speakin' of which, reckon it's right around time for everyone to arrive. If you'll excuse me, Mr. Jiyang, I think I ought to go mingle."

Patrick finished his wine, rose from his chair, and bowed in a manner that came off as vaguely condescending before making his way out of the stockroom. O'Doyle stepped through the kitchen where the staff shaped and prepared the aforementioned clone meat into dishes mostly fit for human consumption and exited onto the karaoke lounge's floor. Trick closed the bottom two buttons on his jacket, nodded to a patron in a far corner in order to make them feel important, then shook hands and clapped backs as he made his way around the bar. A point and a wink to Reggie later, and a mixed drink slid it's way down the bar in Trick's direction. Stepping between Xiǎodāo and Johann, Trick whispered to the girl "Got those papers delivered?" before turning his back to the bar. Experienced eyes scanned the room, taking note of the usual cast of characters before settling on an irregular and rather fetching sight. Barely tamed hair, light mocha skin, and a practiced air of confidence that almost wafted down the bar and struck him in the face all wrapped in one perfect package the conman knew as too good to be true toying with the baby driver as a bored house cat might play with a trapped mouse. Trick smirked, dipped his whiskers into a tumbler of rum and cherry cola, then nudged Johann under the ribs and motioned toward the end of the bar with a subtle nod of his head. "Now lookee here. What ya make of that, huh? Reckon the kid's got any clue he's 'bout to get hooked?"
And in the city it's a pity 'cause we just can't hide
Tinted windows don't mean nothin', they know who's inside

- RUN-DMC "It's Tricky"

Martin Miller

February 28, 2019, 05:33:47 pm #15 Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 05:36:57 pm by Martin Miller
Location: Station Bar


Martin Miller attended a training session during his time at the Alliance's officer training program, that was meant to help prepare the future officers, and holders of secrets, how to look out for what they call a "honeypot". It can come in many guises, but the general structure is:

A stranger approaches you. They are attractive. They show immediate and unceasing interest in you. They cold read you. Slyly ask leading questions. And when they've gotten you vulnerable, one way or another, they'll sneak off with whatever of value you have. There are many variations on the scheme, but the general structure is usually the same, and if you can spot the signs, you can protect yourself from potential embarrassment and worse. The instructor said something like this. But unfortunately, a certain cadet picked a seat near the back and dozed off about 5 minutes into the presentation. It was a particularly dry and unengaging presentation of this useful information, so it was dreamland for Marty. But, that's why you should never be over-reliant on slide presentations with any learning environment. It practically wasn't his fault. Maybe even if he'd payed attention, it is highly likely he would have completely disregarded it in his present state.

Marty pivoted to turn and see someone had heard his crooning. And probably the belch that followed. But hey, the crooning works sometimes. Was he a madman to believe another attractive human being was interested in him?

"Good evening. And pardon my belching like a gorram wazzock."

He smiled back at her big. The instructor back at the academy was very clear. Never volunteer that you've just gotten paid, or gotten a bonus to a stranger, especially in a bar. Especially in THIS bar.

"The occasion, my enchanting new friend, is that I was the winner of a race today. I guess the term is champion."

He put his back up against the machine for selecting songs and simultaneously put his hand out for the drink Reggie was bringing him.

"Cheers, mate. Can you hold on a second I've got to order this work of art given mortal form a libation."

Reggie rolled his eyes. Marty turned back to the attractive newcomer.

"Name and drink of choice? Whatever you'd like."

The former Sergeant blew right past the part where his instructor had also mentioned not to be excessively generous, or make a show of said generosity.


Aksel Munck

February 28, 2019, 08:44:28 pm #16 Last Edit: March 01, 2019, 04:08:17 pm by Aksel Munck
Location: Station Church
Some time had passed as he sat at the back of the church, thinking mostly about nothing and enjoying the silence of his surroundings.  He felt the familiar ache of his sciatic nerve sending a ping of pain through his lower back and down his leg.  Say one thing about Aksel Munck.  He was getting old.

Shortly after the ache subsided he caught a figure from the corner of his eye, recognizing him as the preacher who ran this place.  They had never spoken and maybe shared a passing nod but he was well-known on the station since he provided all the different sorts of healing one could want.  Spiritual for those who believed and physical for those who bled.  Aksel counted himself more toward the latter, heavy on the bleeding part. 

After some effort Munck brought himself to his feet and set the book back where he pulled it from.  Gripping the lapel on each side he gave it a quick tug to adjust it to a more comfortable position and moved towards the preacher/doctor.  He reached inside the left breast pocket and withdrew a cigarette case, removing a stick of death from it and returning it to it's prison.  He placed the cigarette between his lips but didn't light it as he came up to the man.

The reverend himself was a tall man, dark hair and beard suited to the dark attire he wore.  Looked much the part of an undertaker which given his other two professions didn't seem too much of a stretch that he performed those services as well.

"Doc."  He nodded on approach, his hand meanwhile reaching into the opposite pocket his cigarette case rested in and produced a money clip.

"Names Munck.  Having some pain in the lower back.  Circulation seems to come and go in my toes.  Know why?"  He asked around his lip-gripped smoke all the while fingering out some denominations and slipping them into the donation box.  Wasn't much but everyone felt the pinch on this station due to external factors and he personally liked having a second location to go and be alone at.

Johann Krüger

Sidling up to the bar with Xiǎodāo, Johann settled in for the show with an impish grin. "Beer." Johann said to Reggie, and the bartender knew better than to ask what kind. It was a special beer, brewed and bottled at a monastery on Sinhon and shipped in and reserved for him.. Johann didn't always drink beer, but when he did, he drank this recipe. It was brought to him in the bottle, still capped, and accompanied by a glass chalice, slightly chilled. No thanks or tip was offered, nor was it expected. In Johann's view, his gratitude was expressed in paying Reggie a living wage, not saying "Cheers, mate, really appreciate you, how's the wife?" Because while Johann was happy to now have the beer that he had ordered in just the way he liked it, there was also the simple fact that any idiot could do the job. Reggie was paid to do his job and to be loyal to Johann and Tricky's interests. Not to be their friend.

Speaking of Tricky, their fearless leader joined them at the bar's edge. "He may've, but all that bubbly's gone to his head." Johann said, with a gleam in his eye. He poured his beer. "I admire the woman's derring-do, but her prize being what it is..." They all knew Marty relatively well, though he was a fresh face. Or at least they knew the type of person that he was. He was young and hadn't been chewed up and spit out by the 'Verse yet. Brash, but in all the ways you want someone behind the wheel of a getaway vehicle. Not afraid to take risks, brave in the face of utter defeat, and defiant of the odds. In a word he was an imbecile. "...Well actually, he's bloody perfect for her!" Though he was cackling at his own joke, Johann couldn't deny the lad's pluck. Marty had done well on their last job and had, deservedly, earned his place in their next job, should they require him.

A sip of his fine, malty beer and it was back to business. "You've got something for us." Johann assumed, or else why the meeting? Why the key cards? All the subterfuge and the gimmickry were cute in their own way, but Johann didn't quite see the point. Smoke and mirrors and bollocks. The station was theirs. They could do as they liked. Who could stop them?
Dialogue Color - Gold

Rev. Onyx Clark

Location: Station Church

When the priest in in prayer, one might think that nothing could disturb him. Frankly, it was the exact opposite. Everyone gives off a feeling of some kind, which usually played well into Rev. Onyx's reason for living as long as he did. Opening his eyes when 'doc' was spoken, he turned a calm glance over at the man who was there when Onyx arrived to check on the place. His mind raced through as he went over every name in his mind to match the patient before him. He found it interesting that even when one person is not of the same religion, a certain voice is used to address a clergyman. A level of trust is established before anything is even spoken, especially when said clergyman is also a medic. He knew that this man did not need a Chaplain, he needed a medic, yet he kept the same composure as so many before.

Not only that, but a diagnosis based on lower back pain and claims of poor circulation in the toes. He did see the cigarette screwed to his lips, as well as a donation being slipped into the box. Often times, a donation to the church meant the same thing for free advise. That was one of those times.

"There are some reasons. Not all of them terminal."

Standing up, he took a look at the man and saw him for what he was. Possible middle aged male with lots of mileage in his life. Just by what he saw, Rev. Onyx knew that this individual had seen action, or at least been caught in some action.

"Sometimes it could be a pinched nerve or a muscle spasm over a nerve which could cause those symptoms. Other times it could be something more severe, but I'd have to take you to my other office in order to get a full workup on you."

Taking a deep breath, it didn't seem like to Rev. Onyx that it would require much. After all in an ideal world anyone could afford to go get a check up and do what needs to be done for their health. The reverend also knew that money is always tight out in the black away from the core worlds.

"If you feel it the worst at the beginning of the day, I recommend taking a look at your mattress and see if there are any dips in there that could indicate it no longer supports your body and is causing pressure points. If you feel it at it's worst later in the day, I recommend stretching and putting this on your back."

Going into his medic bag that he always carries with him, he pulled out a few ice packs that activate once the seal within them is broken.

"Place this on your lower back as close to the point of pain as you can and put it there for 10 minutes at least. After that take it off and stretch out your back gently for another 10 minutes. Only go to the point of maximum stretch and breath through it and keep going until the pack is no longer cold. Repeat this in the morning and go about your day keeping in mind of your posture and what you do. If those don't work feel free to call for me at any time."

His personal wave cortex went off and he took a quick look at it to see what the message was. Taking a breath, Onyx put it it back in his pocket and breathed a sigh. Apparently it's going to be a busy night for the bars on board.

"You are more than welcome to stay here and thank you for your donation. I have to make my way to the bar.."

Rev. Onyx then smiled.

"I'm Reverend Onyx Clark by the way. You're more than welcome to call me Doc or even Onyx if you like."

Aksel Munck

Location: Station Church

Aksel watched the man inspect him as he gave a few potential causes for the pain.  He really wasn't too worried about it but the doctor was right there so he figured he might as well while it was fresh in his mind and active on his body.  To his credit the man who called himself Onyx was quite thorough in such a preliminary and information-lacking diagnosis.  The older of the two rolled the cigarette between his lips as he listened, wondering if sleeping on a cot might be the culprit after the observations of the younger man.

There was one thing Aksel could appreciate in another person and that was preparation.  When he produced the two ice packs there grew a modicum of respect for the man who by all accounts Aksel heard had earned a respectable reputation on the station.  He nodded thanks and slipped them into one of his deeper pockets, his knuckle brushing against another object already resident in it.

After releasing the packs his fingers pinched around the card with his index finger running along the edge of it.  It took only a breath of air for him to realize what it was and tried to recall how it got there.  He was quite aware of his surroundings even at his advancing age, then again the person who delivered it had a reputation for going unnoticed.

As Reverend Onyx indicated he had business at the bar Munck decided he might as well join him since he now had business there as well.

"Drink sounds like a good prescription for my ailments.  I'll come with."

He left along with the preacher and headed towards the bar.

Location: Station Bar

Once he arrived at the bar he took a spot at the bar not far from the man he'd passed earlier, Johann.  The work he'd done for them had been indirect, some signatures from an Alliance Officer to release some parcels and some security equipment for a reason he didn't care to ask.  Aksel wasn't exactly crooked, he was proud of his service in the Alliance even if recent events had dimmed the luster on his former employers sterling reputation but it wasn't exactly easy living and sometimes turning a blind eye turned quite a profit.  A task made easier to stomach considering he only had one to turn.

The veteran reached into his breast pocket and pulled out the same money clip from earlier, dropping some bills on the bar and waited for the bartender to finish with Johann's crew.  He also produced a match and struck it on the bar top to produce a flame which he used to light his smoke.  The bartender, Reggie was his name, eventually got around to him and he placed his order.  Two shots of whiskey and a rock glass with a disgusting looking muddy drink.  Mudder's milk.

To say it tasted as bad as it looked was an understatement to say the least but it was cheap and acted like a meal.  Not to mention he'd grown accustomed to the taste after spending some time on Higgin's moon overseeing a transfer of product from the Magistrate and the Alliance military.  He took a stiff glug of it before raising one of the whiskey shots to chase it.  The first mouthful was always the roughest.  Munck remained drink in hand observing the goings on around him and waiting to find out why he'd been summoned a third time by this crew.

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