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Voyages of the Rocinante - Back-history

This is reserved for the back story of the crew.


Posted on 2007-01-02 at 10:15:49.

Eol Fefalas
Turning Capashanese
RDI Staff
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7384 Posts


Episode 1: Wyatt meets Sam

(Collaboative effort between Brom and Eol))

Wyatt’s face was solid-stone-cold as he sat casually back in his chair, his left hand on the table in front of him, his right below and out of sight of those who sat near him. His head was tilted slightly forward so that he could barely see the eyes of the man across from him from underneath the brim of his dark reddish-brown cowboy hat. His brown duster—the very same that marked him as a former Independent—hung from his shoulders like a proud banner that spread open for easy access to the Colt holstered at his waist. His hands were gloved with soft leather gloves indicative of a pilot and where his left hand rested were five cards face up so that all could see. All were black spades and they bore a ten, jack, queen, king, and ace; Wyatt had arranged them in that order for effect as he’d lain them down upon the surface of the scarred table. Now, he felt the familiar curve of the pistol’s grip underneath his gloved palm as he eyed the fellow who’d just called him a cheat.

It had started as such a calm affair. Five men had sat down at a table in a saloon on a backwater planet called Beylix and one of them had been Wyatt Sung. They’d gone hand after hand and Wyatt had barely been able to keep himself in through the whole evening. The fellow across from him hadn’t been so lucky... he also hadn’t been very prudent. Wyatt had remained quiet while this captain of a firefly class ship had bought and imbibed whiskey after whiskey, pushing his hard-earned platinum in front of him as though he were paying the others for the right to sit at the table. It wasn’t none of Wyatt’s business if this flyboy wanted to waste his payday in one fell swoop. As a matter-of-fact, Wyatt could give a feh feh pi goh about the man’s personal finances as very little of it came his way. He also could care very little for what the man kept on about.

”Yup, she’s a beaut, ol’ Rocinante is.” The man had started speaking using that introduction at least six times already that night. “Why Rocinante? Let me tell you about this man back on Earth that was. Went by the name of Don Quixote and he wasn’t a lord or mayor or a man of standing; he was just folk like you and me. Lived in a place called Las Mancha, which I think was in Texas back on Earth. Anyways, the man had a love of reading though, and took to books like a fish to water. So much so that them folks in his town started to think he had a leaky brainpan due to all that reading. You know how them backwater folks can get them strange notions in their heads.

Anyways, this Quixote fella, he took disagreement with the local uppity-ups. Real giants of industry that held the area in a tight grip on the account that they owned all the wind-mill power generators. Since they had the power and the money, they basically took control of the area and made their ways known to the folks. Not completely different from some places in the Verse now, come to think of it. But Don wouldn’t stand for it. He took up arms against that sea of troubles, even though he was just one man.

Now Don had a horse - wasn’t a pretty horse or a fast horse or even a young spirited one. It was an old nag workhorse, much like any of us have rode or used on the farms. But Don didn’t see the horse as old and useless; he saw the horse as a faithful steed upon which to ride out and undo the wrongs of the world. So he called her Rocinante, which was Spaniard for “not a work horse”.

Now I’d like to tell you that Mr. Quixote went out and did great things and became a big damn hero. But, sure as shooting, one man against giants doesn’t have much of a chance. However, no matter how often he went out and got beaten, bruised and generally messed up – Rocinante always got him home again.The folks tried to get Don to stop, being scared of them lords and their power, but he kept right on trying, and Rocinante keep bringing him back for mending.

Soon enough though, an old man can’t take the beatings anymore and he died a broken man. But once he was gone, the folks suddenly realized they had lost something. They felt it in their hearts and it made them mourn something awful. Then they rose up against those giants of industry and cast off their shackles. Wasn’t for Quixote though, they wouldn’t have say boo. Isn’t that the way though? Folks don’t know what they got until its plum gone.

So I named her Rocinante, cause she was once a work horse, but she ain’t to me. She’s much more than that, and if I love her and take care of her; she’ll always bring me home. No matter if I succeed in my ventures or I am running bruised and bleeding – she’ll get me home again. She’ll do the same for you too.”

He wasn’t offering anyone the right to take the ship when he’d said that as near as Wyatt could figure. He’d just been talkative and overly friendly. Of course, that changed on a dime when after a night of piss-poor hands and constant losing, the poor sod had ran out of things to wager, but figured luck was finally looking his way as he had a real good hand show up. He was so certain that he wagered the only thing he had left to put on the table: Rocinante. Unfortunately for him, Wyatt had also wound up with an unbelievable turn of luck, and that luck was now sitting on the table in front of him and the air still hung heavy after the previous owner of Rocinante had launched himself backward from his chair, dropped his hand to his hog’s leg, and growled, “Ya ung jeong jia ching jien soh! Ya think I wouldn’t notice when ya cheated?”

That’s when Wyatt’s hand had slowly gone beneath the table, though the rest of his body didn’t move. Some would have felt their heart racing, sweat trickling down their face, or gone all red like a hot iron, but not Wyatt. There were a couple of reasons for this: one was he just didn’t care if he lived or died; not since losing his family a few years earlier. The other was because he was one of those rare types that never really felt such emotions in the face of danger.

Chui se,” was all he said, his tone low so as not to excite. Of course, the combination of the two things—the words and the tone—told others who’d just scooted back to witness the action that they’d best be getting some more distance between the two men and a number of chairs scraped against the wooden floor.

”I ain’t abidin’ no cheat, an’ you sure as hell ain’t takin’ Rocinante from me with no feh wu hand!” The man was, apparently one of those who sweat when facing danger as two lines of it were carving a path through the dirt that caked his face on the left temple.

”Mister,” Wyatt answered in a slow drawl, his eyes never leaving the other man’s. “I don’t cheat. Never have, never will. Now, way I sees it, yer wong dahn should ya skin that iron. I’ve said it once, an’ I’ll says it again: Chui se.”

”Afta’ you, bei bi shiou ren.” The man stepped back one more step and flipped the leather that was keeping his handgun in its holster. “I ain’t the one gonna die tonight, son.”

Wyatt sighed, “Joo how rin.”

The gunshots rang out in the tavern momentarily deafening those watching. Some jumped at the sudden sound, others blinked at the sight of Wyatt still sitting, his Colt just above the table’s edge a thin trail of ghostly white smoke escaping from the barrel. Eyes shifted at once to where the other man stood with his own weapon in a weak hand, the barrel pointed towards the floor. The man coughed and looked down at his chest as a red stain slowly spread across his tan shirt. He looked back up at his killer with pain-filled eyes.

Ta ma duh...

Wyatt slowly slipped his pistol back in its holster and tipped his hat to the dying man.

”Take care o’ ‘er.” Those were the last words ever spoken by that poor poker player as he dropped to his knees, his handgun clattering to the floor near him before he keeled over backwards. Wyatt looked down at the pot, and then reached across the table to where the dead man’s whiskey sat undisturbed. Lifting the tumbler to his lips, the young man tossed it back, enjoying the fiery sensation as it burned down his throat. When he set the glass down once more his eyes drifted to the key card that denoted access to the dock where Rocinante sat waiting for her new owner.

It didn’t really occur to him what kind of prize he’d just won. Right then and there, with the body of the loser still in view over the edge of the table, Wyatt was focused on the pile of platinum in the center of the table. Something was twisting in his gut; something that he couldn’t put a name to right away. Then, as someone coughed, it sprang to mind. There was Eden ‘s beautiful, tan face looking at him with eyes filled with disapproval and in her arms was the light of Wyatt’s life, the baby girl Summer. A frown pressed in on his lips as they pressed together. Closing his eyes, Wyatt took a deep breath and then called out to the barkeep, “Whiskey, puhn yo, an’ keep the trough filled.”

The other men who’d been playing poker with them departed leaving Wyatt alone at the table with his winnings and a never-ending supply of golden liquid. Throughout the night, the young man watched the ghost of his wife slowly blur until the painful reminder of a life he’d once known was no more; replaced by the dull, disconnected feeling of a man heavily under the influence. He didn’t care if the previous crew of Rocinante was coming for him. He didn’t care that people were looking at him with a mixture of fear and awe. He didn’t see the way they skirted his table except when the barkeep moved in to fill the tumbler again and again. Wyatt didn’t even see the diminishing pile of platinum anymore. Everything was a blur, everything was dull. The brightly colored dresses of the dancing girls had been chased away by awful grays that swirled before him, taunting him with their terrible dance. So lost in his drunken daze was he that Wyatt Sung barely heard the gruff voice behind him.

”Son, yer bound by law for the murder o’—“

Wyatt didn’t catch the last of the phrase as a blinding burst of light exploded before his eyes and a loud cracking sound echoed in his head followed by the sounds of the saloon getting quieter and quieter like he was traveling down a long tunnel away from his comfortable seat and the escape that the whiskey provided.

A prairie dog had made its home in Wyatt’s mouth. He was dead sure that this was the truth of the matter as he lay with his forearm cast over his eyes, his mouth working to dislodge the inconsiderate creature. With a groan, the browncoat realized the familiar sensation of a hang-over augmented slightly by the press of something about his head. Using the fingers of his right hand (his left still covering his eyes), Wyatt felt about his temples and towards the back of his head, wincing as pain lanced through the haze of his recovering state. He felt a damp bandage tied tightly about his skull and the spot that had caused the pain was just behind his right ear. With a groan, Wyatt rolled to a sitting position, feeling the heels of his boots strike a wood floor with an unforgiving announcement. He tried to piece together what had happened the night before, but nothing was coming just yet. Squinting from underneath his hand, Wyatt allowed his eyes to become accustomed to the bright light that shown about him. It was a difficult task, but eventually he could make out the room about him and the bars of his cell.

Duhn ruhn,” he muttered as it all came back to him. Through the haze he knew what must’ve happened. He’d been bound by law for the gunfight despite having acted in self defense.

”Good,” a semi-familiar gruff voice sounded from off to his left, causing Wyatt to painfully turn his head and wince at the blurred image of a man in a gray suit leaning against the bars with what looked like a shotgun tucked under his right arm. “Yer awake. Been waitin’ t’ talk with ya. Feel up t’ some conversatin’?”

Wyatt took a slow breath and gave a hint of a nod before turning and cradling his head in his hands while he rested his elbows on his knees.

”What’s yer name, son?”

”Wyatt. Sung. Wyatt Sung.”

”Well, Wyatt Sung, d’ ya know why yer here?”

”I can puzzle it out.”

”Can ya? Well, that’s good ‘cause folk ‘round these parts did some figurin’ as well. Why don’t we start with yer story first.”

”Ain’t got no gorram story, lawman.” Wyatt snarled a little. He’d been in a similar situation before and just like then, he felt no remorse for what had happened.

”Cool it, cowboy, or I’ll let ya cool yer heels in here fer a few days for I make words with ya again. Don-luh-mah?”

Wyatt understood, but couldn’t bring himself to care.

”Strong an’ silent’ll git ya hung, boy. I’m the only friend ya got right now, so I’d be makin’ with the tellin’ right quick.”

With some effort, Wyatt glared at the lawman from the corner of his slightly slanted eye.

”All right, I’ll tell ya what I think occurred, an’ you can jus’ nod acceptance of it when I’m done. How’s that?” When Wyatt didn’t respond, the sheriff pushed away from the bars and began a slow walk in front of the cell. “Yer havin’ yerself a nice quiet game o’ poker waitin’ fer the right opportunity t’ slip that ace from yer sleeve into yer hand so’s you can walk away from the tables with a bit more drinkin’ money than ya came t’ them with. Only this easy mark comes in an’ dishes out a right pretty plate complete with a shiny new ship. So ya make the classic mistake of makin’ yer move when the pot looks too good an’ deliverin’ a hand that’s damn near bu kuh nuhn. The feller takes offense—rightly so—an’ objects with words. Then, near as I can see it, ya decide t’ seal the deal by puttin’ a hole in his outfit. Could’ve gotten away with it too had ya the smarts in that hollow brainpan o’ yers t’ take the pass key an’ lift that ship right outta dock, but no. You had to celebrate. So here I got ya, dead t’ rights lad.

”Yer gonna hang.”

Wyatt rolled his head back—slowly—his eyes still closed. He’d heard the sheriff, but couldn’t care less about what the man thought happened. He was pretty sure it hadn’t gone down that way…pretty sure. The blur that was the previous night wasn’t necessarily altogether clear yet, though bits and pieces were certainly in place; such as the gunfight and the betting of the... what had the man called that ship? Ross is a hottie? Wyatt shivered. He knew a Ross from back in the war. The fellow had been a roughneck with a penchant for spitting tobacco through a gap in his teeth. He’d also died at the end of an Alliance rifle after being captured and tried. Another ghost...

”Still not talkin’, huh? Shame, that. I was kinda hopin’ fer a bit of a debate this mornin’. Coffee’s a bit brutal an’ I didn’t get much sleep seein’ how I had me some paperwork t’ finish since you decided t’ go an’ make things excitin’.”

Wyatt sniffed and rolled back onto the bunk, propping the boot heel of his left foot up on the toe of his right and folding his hands across his chest. As far as he was concerned the conversation was over. The sheriff chuckled and Wyatt heard the clomping of his boots as the man exited the room, leaving the convict to his own thoughts; sour thoughts though they were.

Sleep must have snuck up on Wyatt after a while because he woke with a start when the sounds of metal cranking metal echoed loudly through his head. Instinct took over, the phantom sounds of war crashing in over the key in the lock. Rolling from the bunk, Wyatt crouched low, his back up against the wood of the bed he’d just vacated, his eyes burning wide as he quickly scanned the room, his right hand dropping to the place at his hip where his pistol was and grabbing only air.

”Heh,” the sheriff’s derisive snort brought Wyatt immediately back to the present. Watching the lawman slide the cell door open the browncoat was amazed at how quickly they arranged their hangings in these parts. Rising to his feet, he felt his balance shift precariously forcing him to bend slightly to right himself against the bed again.

”Still feeling the butt o’ my scattergun ‘ginst the back o’ yer head, eh boy?” The sheriff chuckled again as though he enjoyed the notion. “Well, ain’t that just too bad. But I’ll tell ya what’s even worse: someone came t’ yer rescue, boy. Some good citizen thought it’d be right awful t’ hang ya when some folk consider ya innocent. So, they stopped by an’ said that the fella now takin’ up residence in a pine box down yonder drew firs’ an’ provoked the fight when ya tried t’ git him t’ stop. There ain’t much more I can do fer this, but t’ let ya go. So, yer stay at my hotel’s up, son. Got yer things up front an’ some papers fer ya t’ sign, then you can make yer sorry way t’ that new ship o’ yers an’ git the hell off my rock.”

Wyatt blinked as he processed what was happening and then nodded once; a motion that momentarily caused his world to shift underneath his feet once more. Quickly regaining his sense of self, Wyatt pushed away from his support and walked as smoothly as he could out the door, taking the lead to the front area of the sheriff’s offices. There, upon the sheriff’s desk, he saw his gunbelt, hat, and that pass key.

”I ran ya,” the sheriff said casually as he dropped into his swivel chair behind the desk and motioned for Wyatt to be seated across from him in a stiff-backed wood chair. “The Cortex’s got ya listed, boy. Served in the war—though that much was obvious from the coat. But the real interestin’ read was that which happened ‘fore the war. That piece o’ interestin’ material on Jiangyin. Ya know what I’m speakin’ on, boy?”

Wyatt allowed his head to shift just enough so that he could look warily down his nose at the sheriff as the man retrieved the paperwork he’d have to sign.

”You know what I’m referrin’ to, dontcha boy?”

”Sure do.” Wyatt finally answered in a dry, flat voice. His mouth still felt as though he had a varmint nesting in it.

”Oh, ya do? Good.” The sheriff put the paper in front of Wyatt and offered him a pen all the while displaying a friendly smile beneath his bushy white mustaches. “I look t’ that an’ figure I gots myself a serial killer, but then I read this tiny little notation down at the bottom that states ya gots a clean bill an’ I get all disappointed. I thought fer sure I was gonna get t’ witness a hangin’ this Sunday.”

Wyatt quickly signed his name and stood. Taking up his hat, he placed it gingerly on his bruised head and tipped the rim towards the pleasant-looking lawman. “Sorry t’ disappoint. Now, which way t’ the shipyard, agin?”

The sheriff pointed out the door and just to be insufferable, Wyatt smiled. “Right kind o’ ya.” Wrapping his gunbelt up in his fingers, the man hoisted the rig about his shoulder and then snatched up the pass key before turning and walking out the door onto the busy street.

There was a slight breeze blowing and the sounds of leather creaking drew Wyatt’s attention to the horses in front of him. Across the street was a general store and the rumbling in his stomach informed him that a stop there might be prudent, but then he caught sight of the saloon down the street and made his detour. As it turned out, what remained of Wyatt’s winnings from the night before had been shored up behind the counter. It bought him a fair stock of some fine liquor that accompanied him to the docks in a clinking, jingling sack slung over his shoulder (the one without the gun). After asking a few dockhands, he made his way down the long walkway before encountering the bug-like form of his new ship. His ship. The thought rang strange to Wyatt as he scanned the body up to the cockpit where the word Rocinante was painted over the image of a rearing horse. Wyatt nodded slowly as he took the imagery in and then made his way to the cargo hold doors. He’d worked plenty of fireflies in his days running blockades for the Independents; he was intimately familiar with them.

Up the gangplank, across the hold to the stairs, up the stairs to the catwalk, then up more stairs to the fore deck, down the length of that hall to the ladder on the foremost right; that would be the captain’s quarters. The previous crew had cleared out before the captain had lost the ship. Wyatt later found out that he’d been about to refit her and they’d gone looking for other work, so Wyatt encountered no one as he stepped onto the ladder and felt it fall away underneath him, granting him access to his new quarters like some magical portal from a fairy tale. Dropping to the floor, he stepped around the wall and surveyed his new home. The previous captain had been into a strange combination of art deco and Asian artistry. It was enough to make Wyatt fairly jump into his alcohol. He planned on changing the decor as soon as he could afford it, but first... the whiskey.

Sleep had once again taken a hold of Wyatt and he woke from its embrace slowly. He was sprawled out on the bed, his right leg hanging over the edge, one boot on, one boot half-way off. An empty bottle rested against his chest, another was still being held lovingly though it had barely a swallow left in it. The others were on the floor, still in the bag. Rolling his head, Wyatt tried to register why he’d woken up, then he heard it: a loud banging on the bulkhead followed by a faint call.

Bi jweh!”

Silence greeted his yell and Wyatt sighed in relief, closing his eyes to drift off to sleep once more. Bang! Bang! Bang! Wyatt sat straight up in bed and nearly rolled right off the edge once more. The bottle that had been nested against his chest fell to the floor and shattered causing Rocinante’s new captain to wince at the horrible noise.

Juh shi suh mo go dohng shee?” he mumbled and rubbed at his eyes. Pounding his boot back on his foot, Wyatt stumbled to the wall, leaned against it for a moment, closing his eyes again only to be rudely brought back to reality by more pounding. Mumbling incoherently, Wyatt found the ladder and made his way to the fore deck. He crawled onto the grating and slowly gained his feet, bottle still in hand. Staring with blurred vision down the length of the hall, he stumbled forward until he reached the stairs. These, he took more slowly and while he went, more pounding ensued. Stepping onto the catwalk he peered out towards the cargo bay and the darkness that indicated night beyond. He could faintly make out a form standing at the entrance, already on the gangplank partially illuminated by Rocinante’s interior lights.

Nee yow wuo kai chiung? Quit poundin’ on my ship!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“C’mon,” Sam grumbled, pounding, once again, on the heavy plate of the airlock door that separated the gangplank from the primary cargo hold of these Fireflies, “I ain’t got all ruttin’ night… Ni How, Rocinante,” he hollered a bit louder, “Pilot on the cheap, puhn yoh!”

He leaned in, shading either side of his face with cupped hands as he peered through the triangular window and tried to catch sight of anybody wandering about inside the ship. “Mi Tian Gohn,” he griped, kicking the door and pushing away from the window. Shaking his head in frustration, the scruffy looking pilot stomped down the length of the gangplank and glanced up at the image of the rearing stallion with the name Rocinante painted over it just to reassure himself that he was at the right ship.

“Yup,” he nodded, “big ruttin’ horse flashin’ ‘is nethers at the world. Says Rocinante. Must be it.” He snorted, spit on the deck, and, scratching absently at the three days growth of whiskers under his chin, swept his whiskey colored eyes around the dock looking for the hand that recently had informed him that the captain of this particular boat was, in fact, on board.

“Hey,” Sam called, quickly spotting the thick-built Chinese as the man emerged from behind a stack of crates, “You sure the cap of this bird’s in there? Sumbitch’s darker’n the sphincter o’ Hades.”

“He’s inside,” the dockhand reaffirmed with a grunt, nodding his head even as he wrapped his arms around a crate and lifted it onto the light-duty mule nearby, “He’s been inside for six hours, at least… ask me directions even though the ship’s right there… smelled like powerful strong whiskey.”

Sam arched a brow at that – an action that went all but unnoticed by the dockhand as the black bandana that was tied around Sam’s head all but covered his eyebrows – and glanced back at the bug-like ship. “Jao gao! No foolin’,” the scruffy pilot smirked, “what about the rest of the se duhng; they all plastered, too?”

“No se duhng,” the dock hand replied as he secured another crate to the mule’s stowage rack before looking in Sam’s direction again. The moon-faced fellow’s scowl turned to a smile when he took a moment to glance at the faded image on Sam’s t-shirt – an amply endowed ‘geisha’, wearing little more than her makeup, straddled an absurdly large Gatling gun; the Chinese characters surrounding the image translated loosely to ‘Hump fashion; let’s kill something’…

“Nice shirt,” the big dockworker mopped his brow and chuckled as he clomped towards Sam.

“Yeah,” Sam grinned, “I like ‘er good enough. So, no crew aboard, then?”

“Just the captain,” the dockhand said, shaking his head, “and not same captain went on as came off, dohn-ma? Rocinante come in for a refit, her crew left and found new work whilst they was waitin’. Old captain goes to town, new captain comes back. Heard the new guy won the ship from the old captain in a game of cards and then shot him dead in the saloon,” he added in a not-very-subtle whisper, “you din’t hear ‘bout that?”

Sam shrugged as he turned to face the looming freighter, one thumb hooked over his belt as his other hand moved to tug the bandana a bit lower on his forehead. “Can’t say as I did,” he replied without looking at the man, “Don’t reckon it matters none, neither. Just means the man’s gonna need crew what with his fees comin’ short an’ all…”

It did matter, of course. Everything mattered as far as Sam was concerned because everything always seemed to be one step around the corner from the Alliance (or whoever it was they had sent after him this time) catching him with his pants down. He’d almost forgotten that during his time on Beylix – until just a few days ago when a whole gorram platoon of Feds broke atmo and decided to camp out planetside. Sam had made it a point to stay out of their way as best he could, of course, but he didn’t like the way the few of them he had encountered looked at him… it was like they knew who he used to be and were just waiting for their moment, or the kill order, or whatever it was they were waiting for… the Feds presence on Beylix had started to get under his skin; make him twitchy. It didn’t take him long to figure out that hunkering down on one rock for too awful long was the safest thing for him to do and decided that crewing up permanent with a boat was the best way to keep his tracks scarce from them as were looking for him. So, he thought, it was a good turn of luck that he heard about Rocinante when he did. He wasn’t so sure now, though, considering what the dockhand had just told him.

“Course I reckon if this’n were too much trouble, there’d be purple bellies plumb swarmin’ the thing,” Sam mumbled, convincing himself that he really needed to get some work in line that would keep him moving rather than holing up in one tiny corner of the ‘Verse. “Feds, bounts, always like to be somethin’, I reckon…”

Shuh muh?”Sam blinked and cast a sidelong glance at the thick man who still lingered at his side.

“Nothin’,” he said, offering a curt nod as he started to stroll back towards the gangplank of the Firefly, “Sheh sheh. Bao jone.

The dockhand made a reply and returned to his work. Sam didn’t hear it, though. He was already back in the foreward airlock of the Rocinante, pounding insistently at the door. “Ni how, Rocinante! Wakey, wakey, eggs an’ baykee!”

This time, Sam was sure he heard a muffled response; “'Nee yow wuo kai chiung? Quit poundin’ on my ship!”

Did he just threaten to shoot me in the throat, the scruffy pilot wondered as an amused smile twisted his lips, That’s gorram hilarious…
Hilarious or not, Sam’s hand instinctively hovered close to the butt of the pistol strapped low on his thigh. “Hey,” he shouted back, peering through the window again to catch site of what was presumably the captain’s silhouette standing (somewhat unsteadily) on the catwalk, “open up! I hear tell yer lookin’ fer crew an’ thought I’d stake my claim first…”

Gun! Is that a bottle he’s clutchin’? “…Jus’ room an’ board an’ a nice little wad of credits fer shore leave ever now an’ agin’s all it’ll cost ya! Won’t find a better driver fer the price!”

~*~**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Where the devil am I? Wyatt squinted his eyes and pushed his eyebrows up to his hairline trying to stretch the pressure from behind his eyes. His whole body tingled, seeming to him to echo the vibrations this newcomer had sent through the ship’s bulkheads—the ship! Rocky Mountain, or something like that. I own a ship. Am I looking for a crew? Wyatt felt himself go forward dangerously leaning over the rail. The realization that he was just about to topple came from somewhere crowded to a dim recognition by the domineering alcohol he’d consumed. It was enough, however, to cause him to reflexively jerk backward, his arms wind-milling instinctively, the bottle slipping from his numb fingers to fly up, then drop lazily to the cargo bay floor with a loud shattering of glass.

Surprised at the sudden necessity to right himself, Wyatt sniffed and blinked rapidly, a frown creasing his features. Smacking his lips loudly he peered about at the unfamiliar setting… no, it was somewhat familiar. All fireflies had the same general layout. Then, quite suddenly a voice penetrated his subconscious fog. You do need a crew!

Sheh sheh,” Wyatt called back, waving a hand in the man’s direction. “I didn’ order no food.” Turning to stumble back down the hall towards the stairs, Wyatt paused. Maybe I did…
“Ya can stow it…” he peered about again as he turned groggily around on one boot heel in a position that’d barely put him in Dash’s range of sight. “Somewhere…”
That said, Wyatt promptly passed out, dropping like a sack of potatoes to the grid-iron floor of the gangway.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Damn but he’s more’n a little roostered up, ain’t he? Sam mused as the man he presumed was the captain of this boat slurred out something about ordering food and then passed dead away in midstep and crashed to the grated floor. Dash had just stepped through the hatch a second or two before the man had passed out and had barely caught sight of him before he took his tumble, but Sam had clearly heard the Rocinante’s captain say ‘stow it… somewhere…”

“I reckon that means I got the job,” he asked with a chuckle, securing the hatch behind him and dropping the bag containing his gear before squinting in the direction of the unconscious man.

He’s snorin’ like a gorram bear, Sam noted as he climbed the steps and found Wyatt sprawled out on the gangway and caught sight of the shards of busted glass not far off, Heh, I reckon the hooch broke his fall. Might’ve hurt, otherwise. He crouched near the man and let his eyes pan around the shadowed cargo bay and catwalks that crisscrossed it, making sure there wasn’t anybody lurking in those dark spots before allowing his attention to turn more fully to the besotted captain. Not that it was easy to ignore the guy what with the whiskey fumes rising from him like he’d just took a swim in the stuff.

“Hey,” Sam reached out and nudged the man, trying to prod him into wakefulness, “Does ‘stow it somewhere’ mean I get my choice o’ bunks?”

Wyatt mumbled something incoherent in reply, shifted a little bit, and smacked his lips before returning to sawing logs and making nice with the deck.

“Shiny,” Sam laughed, wincing as the stink of whiskey on the captain’s breath wafted up and stung his eyes, “An’ I s’pose I prob’ly oughta find a place fer you, too… Wouldn’t do fer nobody else ta see ya like this I don’t reckon.”

Twenty minutes later, Dash had his gear stowed in the single cabin closest to the ship’s bridge and, through no small amount of effort, had managed to get the rag-doll captain dragged back onto the foredeck and propped up next to the hatch to his own cabin (wasn’t too awful hard to figure which one that was, considering the reek of liquor that exuded from the open hatch), and was giving himself the nickel tour of the boat. Despite the captain’s sorry state, Sam figured he’d stumbled into a right fine deal crewing up on this boat. Fireflies were pretty common ships so there was a sense of anonymity that appealed to him and, he figured, if the captain was the sort that could pull in work, it was all but certain that Sam would find himself on the move enough to keep the hounds off his heels for a good spell.

After checking the cargo holds, the engine room, and all the various nooks and crannies that these boats were known for, Dash finally made his way back to the bridge. The captain hadn’t moved much and was still snoring as Sam clipped down the corridor. “Nice barge ya got here, Cap,” he quipped as he stepped over the man’s splayed legs.

Now, let’s check out the shiny bits. He flicked another glance over his shoulder at Wyatt as he stepped onto the bridge and moved for the pilot’s seat.

“Now this is what I’m talkin’ about,” he sighed running his fingers over the consoles that surrounded the chair as he eased himself into the seat. His palms tingled and the urge to light the fires under this boat swelled in his chest and stomach. “Ni how, darlin’,” he whispered as his fingers toggled a few switches to bring some of the Rocinante’s systems online and the cockpit hummed to life in the winking of display screens and flickering of indicator light, “you an’ me’re gonna be good friends, I think…”

As Dash was checking the engine displays and verifying that the reaction control thrusters and engine core were in order he heard a mumbling groan from the hallway behind him. “You comin’ around, Cap?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Wyatt felt as though he’d been ran over by a mule. Where am I? The man squinted as he opened his eyes, feeling the rough surface of the hallway grating underneath him and the steel of the bulkhead against his shoulders and the back of his head. There was something else too… his left hand went gingerly to the side of his head where he felt a bruise. Must’ve clonked it on somethin’.
As Dash was checking the engine displays and verifying that the reaction control thrusters and engine core were in order he heard a mumbling groan from the hallway behind him. “You comin’ around, Cap?”

Who the…Cap? Confusion flooded Wyatt’s senses for a moment before he swiveled his head to peer up the stairs at the cockpit and the source of the voice.

“Did you jus’ call me cap?” Shifting, Wyatt struggled to his feet, feeling the weight of all the alcohol he’d imbibed some hours before pressing down on his head. He heard the man’s affirmation, and something about hiring him as pilot, but it didn’t immediately sink in. Leaning against the wall, Wyatt licked his dry lips and processed the information he’d just received. Pilot? I don’t need no gorram pilot! I can fly this boat sure as down a bottle o’ whiskey an’ pro’lly better drunk than this lout could sober!
“Heh,” Wyatt chuckled apologetically. “Must’ve been some mistake, puhn yo. Don’t need no one sittin’ in that seat exactly. Now, if’n yer decent at scrubbin’ decks an’ changin’ filters… well, that’s the kinda da shiong la se la ch’wohn tian I don’t like t’ do an’ I’m more’n happy t’ hire crew fer that.

Sung glanced down at his cabin where he’d left his iron; after all, he didn’t really know this fellow. Paranoid sod, the man coulda killed ya in yer drunken sleep if’n he wanted the ship. An’ ya can’t fly all shifts… maybe a spare’d be a good thing.
“Tell ya what, puhn yo,” Wyatt scratched at his head, carefully avoiding the bruise. “If’n I remember correct, there’s this little shanty out yonder that sports a simulation. Why don’ we test things up proper an’ if’n ya pass; we’ll talk salary. Jus’ give me a time t’ gather my outfit an’ I’ll escort ya.”

It didn’t matter to Wyatt whether this fellow believed he was being treated fairly or not right then. First things first, Wyatt wanted to strap iron just in case trouble arose. Second, he wasn’t about to let just anyone fly this boat of his. Third; well, he knew he had exactly thirty-two credits saved up after his gambling and drinking, didn’t know whether his new boat was fueled, and didn’t have a job lined up. He was sure hoping he didn’t have to discuss salaries with anyone at the moment.

Carefully, so as not to jar his hang-over, Wyatt turned away from the newcomer and opened the hatch to his new quarters. Once again, he was nearly overcome by the décor, but pushed through to grab his guns, hat, and coat. Then, he nearly tripped over the remaining bottles of whiskey he’d unwisely spent his winnings on and headed back to the foredeck.

“Well, let’s mosey.” Wyatt let the man lead the way out of the ship. “By the by, what’s yer handle?”

“Samuel Dash,” was the simple answer.

“Wyatt Sung.”

That was the only discussion they had until they were standing in front of the simulation machine. Making a show of being the one in charge, Wyatt offered up the coin to start the action.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Did you jus’ call me Cap,” Sam heard the man ask. The voice sounded a little worse for wear due to the whiskey that had poured down his gullet and Sam was sure that the caravel’s captain had more than a touch of the dry-mouth, but the man’s question indicated a touch more lucidity than it had a short time ago.

“Uh… yeah,” he answered, still eyeing the helm panels and walking himself through various checklists to make sure that the systems on this boat were in keeping with the refit that had been mentioned to him, “Figured that’s what I oughta call ya since ya weren’t in no shape ta be offerin’ yer name when ya hired me on to drive this heap, you as bein’ captain o’ this boat an’ all. Cap sounds better’n ‘hey, drunk guy,’ don’t it?”

“Heh! Must’ve been some mistake, puhn yo. Don’t need no one sittin’ in that seat exactly …”

Tah mah duh! I knew that interview was a might simple! Sam’s shoulders slumped a little when he caught the ‘oops, what’d I drink myself into this time’ tone in the man’s voice and, even though he hadn’t quite abandoned his examination of the firefly’s controls, he did manage to turn in the seat in, at least, an attempt to face the man who was probably about a heartbeat from tossing him off the ship.

“…Now, if’n yer decent at scrubbin’ decks an’ changin’ filters… well,” Rocinante’s captain continued, “that’s the kinda da shiong la se la ch’wohn tian I don’t like t’ do an’ I’m more’n happy t’ hire crew fer that…”

That’s why ya don’t take jobs from those as ain’t got their wits ‘bout ‘em; always ends up with them extra duties as assigned hitches. Sam eased slowly, almost hesitantly out of the chair, making sure as not to make any sudden moves that might get him shot. He didn’t remember the man having any noticeable iron on him when Sam had drug him up to the foredeck but that didn’t mean he couldn’t have procured some between then and now, did it?

Hump a bunch o’ that, Sam wanted to laugh as he caught sight of the man casting one of those ‘damn I wish I had my gun’ looks down the hatch into his cabin, I ain’t no gorram swabbie, get me? I mean, ya sign me on an’ I’ll do my share but, if ya don’t put me at the wheel, puhn yoh, yer wu toh wu now. Ya ain’t like to come across many as is good as me inna sky, Cap, an’ sure as Hell’s hot, ya ain’t gonna get one nigh on close fer the price. All I wanna do is get off this ruttin’ rock an’ back in the Black.
“Tell ya what, puhn yo,” the fellow interrupted, scratching his head all ginger-like and, luckily, before Sam could try his hand at negotiating, “If’n I remember correct, there’s this little shanty out yonder that sports a simulation. Why don’ we test things up proper an’ if’n ya pass; we’ll talk salary. Jus’ give me a time t’ gather my outfit an’ I’ll escort ya.”

Ku,” Sam nodded, a quick, double blink being the only thing to betray his surprise at not even having to open his mouth. He knew the simulator the man spoke of well, actually, as he’d spent more than a few off hours in the thing when he felt he’d been too long between rows in the sky (and when he got a handle on his nerves enough to turn his back on folk for that long). It ain’t quite like being out there in the Black with all that nothin’ whisperin’ over yer hull, he grinned wryly as the Captain disappeared down the hatch to put himself together, but it’ll do ta turn this into a how shi chung sung. How’s he gonna say no once he gets a gander at yer skills?
The wry grin quickly disappeared when the man reemerged from his bunk wearing that brown coat… How w’rin bu lai, whai w’rin bu jwo! A ruttin’ Browncoat! Juuust shiny... his eyes rolled skyward for a second… Lord, why do ya got it in fer me? Din’t I try ta do the right thing?Yer testin’ me, ain’t ya? Showin’ me humility an’ sech? It wasn’t so much that Sam bore any ill-will to them as had been Independants during the war – far from it, in fact, it was the tenacity, determination, and balls-out refusal to give up of the Browncoats that had helped inspire Sam to break from the Alliance the way he had – rather, now that the war was over, seeing those dusters did little more than remind him of all the evil he’d done for the sake of Unification and under the misguided pretenses of making life better for folks on the Rim. Though, I reckon, he told himself, them as’re lookin’ fer me like wouldn’t expect me ta be keepin’ comp’ny with a Jone Yee.
“Well, let’s mosey.” The Captain said, indicating with a subtle gesture that Sam should lead. “By the by, what’s yer handle?”

“Samuel Dash,” he answered. He usually introduced himself as just plain Sam but as Dash wasn’t really comfortable with the guy walking behind him (especially not now that there was iron strapped to man’s leg) he’d tightened up and gotten all formal. Twitchy or not, though, as it stood, this man was his best shot right now of getting some distance between himself and Beylix. So, gritting his teeth and choking back the paranoia, he let the man fall behind him just a little but also made sure that he never got directly behind him… always keeping the Browncoat in his periphery…

“Wyatt Sung,” the Captain replied.

Sam nodded but said nothing else until they strolled up on the simulator. As he turned to face Captain Sung he offered up a half-grin when he saw the man already had a coin out and pinched between his fingers.

“I reckon if yer payin’ fer the ride, Cap,” Sam said as he tugged at his fingerless gloves and stretched his fingers, “Ya may as well pick the scenario, too…” he inclined his head toward the machine as his grin spread a bit wider “…cuz if’n ya left it up ta me, I’d like pick some namby-pamby li’l cargo run sim an’ make it look easy er sump’n.

So, what’s in gonna be, Wyatt? You want me ta run a firefly through a boneyard with some Fed cruisers in my wake, a combat sim, er do ya jus’ wanna take me ta flight school?” He winked at Rocinante’s captain and he settled himself in behind the controls.

“You pick it, Cap,” he grinned, “An’ I’ll fly it like ya ain’t never seen it flew.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~

Wyatt had woken up even more during the time it took to gear up and get out of the ship. His hangover wasn’t completely gone, but he was doing much better now. He’d always been able to hold more liquor than the next man and he tended to recover faster after a binge. Now, he had to admire Dash’s bravado in the face of what he was sure would be a test that Wyatt would dismiss as common.

“Ain’t no point in running ya with an Alliance cruiser on yer tail,” Sung leaned against the machine and inserted the coin. “Them dogs couldn’t fly worth crap no ways. The whole lot of ‘em were ruttin’ tian di wu yohn in the sky an’ in the Black. There’s a run on ‘ere through an ice canyon. Let’s see how ya fare there, puhn yoh.”
That being said, Wyatt selected the scenario and then made room for Sam to take the seat, purposefully watching over his shoulder to make him a bit nervous… just like back in flight school.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sam chaffed a bit at Wyatt’s comment about all Alliance pilots being useless. He understood the man’s sentiment, of course – after all, being a Browncoat himself, Sung had probably been on the receiving end of, at least, a strafing run or a hundred during the war – but the man was generalizing, as if everyone who’d ever gone to burn on behind the yoke of a Fed ship was a cheong bao ho tze gun. It wasn’t so much that Wyatt bore the Alliance ill-will (Find me a former Independent as don’t an’ I’ll find ya a Fed plant!) as it was that the man had just unknowingly questioned Dash’s skill without so much as trying.

“Uh… Yeah,” Sam said after sucking on his teeth for a second, “I reckon not, Cap. Ice canyon ya want, ice canyon ya get.” He slid into the seat, casting a quick, sidelong glance at Sung as the man dropped the coin into the machine and loaded the scenario. “How fast d’ya want it run?” he grinned confidently as he cracked his knuckles and took hold of the stick. I’ll show ya what worthless’s all about, ja hwo!
Sam didn’t expect an answer and, even if one had been given it wouldn’t have mattered; after that shiah hwa jab at his driving skills, he planned on running the sim as fast as he could push it out. “Tian-ling-ling, di-ling-ling,” he muttered as the sim started up, glancing back once to see Wyatt hovering over his shoulder.

He grinned at the man again, not even watching the display before him as he fired up the virtual boat’s engines and lifted it off the launch point; “Tryin’ ta make me nervous, are ya,” he chuckled as he sensed that he’d cleared the pad and turned to focus on the screen, “I get ya.”

His eyes checked the simulated navsat readings and, ever so calmly, his fingers flexing delicately on the yoke, Sam adjusted course to point him at the mouth of the canyon he was expected to fly through, then moved his hand to the throttle… “Drop yer jocks an’ grab yer socks, mijo,” he laughed as he shoved the throttle forward and opened up the engines, “here we go! Yeeeeeehaaaaaaaw!!!”

The canyon came up fast – maybe a little too fast for the liking of most pilots – but Sam didn’t seem swayed at all by the speed of it, in fact, flying at such speeds seemed to come almost natural to him. He rolled the ship as he blasted through the entrance to the canyon, keeping a hard bank to port and goading the throttle open even more as he threaded the simulated ship through a needles eye that had formed uncomfortably close to the canyon wall and then, pulling back hard to skim clear of a craggy outcropping just on the other side… Most of the remainder of the simulation was peppered with similar maneuvers, too – flying balls-out at nap-of-the earth, wrenching the ship into what some might have called shiang jing ping aerobatics that might have called the integrity of his brainpan into question, and, as he’d promised himself following Wyatt’s appraisal of purple-belly flying prowess, he’d blasted through the canyon at as close to top speed as could have been managed – as he reached the end of the canyon, he finally tugged the throttle back to a sane velocity and hauled back on the yoke to pull the ship up into a tight arc, looping it over on it’s back as it cleared the rim and then rolling it back onto it’s belly before gunning the engines again and rocketing back to the landing zone to finish the sim.

Sam was laughing as he brought the bird to roost and, once the simulator announced that the program had been completed and displayed the run time and stats, he jumped out of the seat and jabbed a victorious finger at the screen. “Now that’s how she’s done, bunky! Tian bu pa, di bu pa, tze pa Sam Dash! Ha ha!

Izzat good enough ta get me the gig, Cap?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Wyatt had watched the whole episode in silence born of true admiration. He’d flown through some of the stickiest blockades the Alliance could form and pulled some crazy maneuvers in his day, but this Sam Dash character seemed to be born with wings. Someone less skilled behind the stick themselves might have looked at the way Dash pushed the limits as a little shy of dangerous, but Wyatt knew that Sam was selling himself. He apparently really wanted the job, and with those flying skills Wyatt was sure he couldn’t afford him.

“I said we’d see how ya did, puhn yoh, an’ then talk salary.” Wyatt glanced about the game room before motioning towards the door. “Got somethin’ fiery back at the boat. Why not go there an’ talk?”

He didn’t wait for Sam’s reply but instead started out the door. When he caught site of the ship once more he committed to memory the name he was having difficulty remembering and then stepped through the boarding door to the cargo hold.

“Well, I gotsta say, you sure ain’t no Nien Mohn pilot. Got yerself some Jing Tian Dwohn Di skills.” Wyatt paused and motioned towards one of the jutting pieces of the bulkhead for Sam to sit. “I’ll just grab the alcohol an’ be right back.”

It took him hardly any time to get two bottles of the stuff he’d just purchased a few hours earlier and return to the cargo hold. Handing one bottle to Dash he leaned against the wall and popped the top. Taking a swig to clear his head, Wyatt screwed his face up as the burning sensation almost instantly rid him of whatever bit of hangover was remaining. Taking a deep breath, he focused on the cocky pilot.

“I won’t lie,” he began. “I ain’t seen flyin’ like that in ages, an’ I’m no slouch behind the stick. So, ways I figure it I’d be a Lio Coh Jwei Ji Neong Hur Ho Deh Yung Duh Buhn Jah J’wohn if I let ya pass by like a tumbleweed. I ain’t payin’ nothing up front, though. I know ya can fly, but Rocinante ain’t a ferry ride.” Wyatt’s brain was working overtime as he made up process on the fly. He had no idea what he was going to do with a firefly. The only thing he knew how to do with a ship was run cargo, and mostly through Alliance space when they didn’t want you to be there. Way he figured it, that’s pretty much how he was going to have to make a living now, and his crew would have to play along.

“There’s t’ be some hard work an’ I won’t stand no one shirkin’.” Sung tried hard to remember what the previous captain had said at the tables concerning the condition of things and remembered quite suddenly that Rocinante had about used up her stay. “I’ll be settin’ off first thing in the mornin’ t’ find some cargo an’ you’ll get twenty credits a month—“ Wyatt had no idea that he’d just offered top salary. “—not a cred more. We’ll be flyin’ in overlapping shifts, an’ I’ll ‘xcpect t’ know I can trust ya with that iron too. I won’t have no ruttin’ Guay Toh Guay Nown Nien Mohn Feh Feh Pi Goh sleepin’ quarters on my ship, Dohn-lyh-mah?”

It was a speech and a half, especially for Wyatt at the time. He’d always been straight to the point, not caring about people’s feelings none. Now, lookin’ at the man he’d just hired (the first since his hired hands on the ranch) Wyatt found himself caring even less if he walked. That was the benefit of not knowing much about a person. You could care even less about the way you chaffed them.

“One other thing I won’t have on my boat. Those that love the Alliance. Anyone serves that master ain’t got no business breathin’ far as I’m concerned.” Wyatt made no move towards his hogleg as he spoke, but he was ready to draw down seeing how the Alliance had won the Unification War and as far as they were concerned, he’d just expressed a severe dislike on that fact as well as a very real eagerness to put anyone he could who felt otherwise to the curb. Of course, he didn’t know where Sam Dash stood concerning the Alliance and that just meant he had to be more wary.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

An’ here we go with the negotiatin’, Sam thought as a stone-faced Wyatt scanned the arcade right quick and then suggested returning to the Rocinante to discuss salary over a nip of hooch, if this guy’s as long on speechifyin’ as he’s been to now, I reckon that ain’t gonna take but a minute an’ a half. Like a fart in the wind, this Wyatt Sung. Hell, an’ if he’s half-crocked when it comes ta offerin’ pay, I could end up on the richer side o’ well heeled, the scruffy pilot chuckled to himself as he cast another quick glance at his score displayed on the simulator’s screen.

Another of the arcade’s patrons, too, had stopped to gawk at the seemingly incredible tally; the man’s dubious gaze shifting from the display to the man in tattered jeans and a headscarf standing just a step or two away. “That’s right,” Sam grinned, offering the gawker a quick nod and a cocky wink before spitting on the floor, “all me. I won’t wait around ta see if ya can beat it, hump-face. I don’t reckon ya could stand the shame.” With that, Dash tapped the simulator with the side of a closed fist and moseyed out of the game room in Wyatt’s wake.

“Well, I gotsta say,” Wyatt said once they’d stepped through the door and into the ship’s main hold, “you sure ain’t no Nien Mohn pilot…”

Agin with the Alliance crap? Ya privy ta sump’n ya shouldn’t be, Wyatt Sung?
Dash glanced sidelong at the Rocinante’s captain, suddenly wondering if finding out about Rocinante needing crew hadn’t been some sort of elaborate set-up. Could this whole thing have been a trap? Wyatt being a pawn in the Alliance’s twisted dealings or a player in one of Phoenix’s games?

“Nope,” Sam replied simply, “sure ain’t.” Not no more…Not in a long gorram time.
“…Got yerself some Jing Tian Dwohn Di skills.” Wyatt paused and motioned towards one of the jutting pieces of the bulkhead for Sam to sit. “I’ll just grab the alcohol an’ be right back.”

Sheh sheh,” Dash nodded. He cast a wary eye on the offered seat, quickly returning his attention to Sung as the man disappeared in search of the promised libations, and, finally, sat, if somewhat uneasily. Something about this whole situation had suddenly started making his skin crawl and his trigger-finger itch. How convenient was it that he was looking for a ticket off of Beylix because he figured that either the purple bellies or some ruttin’ slinger looking to collect on Phoenix’s bounty was about to catch up to him and, all the damn sudden, here’s a former Browncoat rooster looking to put together a crew? Yeah, Sam muttered to himself, he either knows somethin’ he shouldn’t er he’s just one damn sore loser carryin’ one ruttin’ big damn grudge…
His gaze ticked nervously around the bay, squinting uncertainly into the shadowed places as he rubbed his itching palms over the already worn denim encasing his legs. …Keep it easy… Don’t play into it… Ya can hope fer the latter, right?... If that’s all it is, Dash, ya can deal fer a ticket, right?
“Yeah,” he whispered, “an’ if it ain’t, I reckon I can get the drop on him once he’s back in that bottle, can’t I?” He leaned back then, dragging his hands along his legs once more, this time, his right hand stopped long enough to flip the catch on his holster, ensuring that the Avenger sheathed there would be one step closer to the ready. Sam’s eyes completed another circuit around the expanse of the bay and his fingers tugged at the edge of his bandana, lowering it enough to compensate for any glare from the overhead lights should he need to end up giving this Sung fellow a case of the dead. Then, forcing himself to play casual, leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, inclining his head just enough to track Wyatt’s return.

Sam did straighten a bit when the man returned with two bottles. When Wyatt handed him one and opened the other, he offered a nod of thanks – even if his mind was screaming that separate bottles like meant that the one he’d been given had been doped or worse – and accepted the hooch. Sam watched as the other man leaned casually against the bulkhead and took a hard pull on the bottle he’d kept for himself…

“I won’t lie,” Wyatt said, following a screw-faced reaction to a swallowing a gullet full of rotgut, “I ain’t seen flyin’ like that in ages, an’ I’m no slouch behind the stick. So, ways I figure it I’d be a Lio Coh Jwei Ji Neong Hur Ho Deh Yung Duh Buhn Jah J’wohn if I let ya pass by like a tumbleweed…”

“I figure,” Sam offered as personable a grin as he could manage and, after a brief internal battle over doing so, finally uncapped the bottle of whiskey and lifted it to his lips. Gotta play the game an’ see where it goes for ya blow a chance, right? The amber liquid sloshed against his lips – he even let a bit trickle into the stubble at his chin for effect – but none of the whiskey entered his mouth. The way he figured it, if his lips didn’t fall off in the next minute or so, this Wyatt Sung weren’t no doper of any caliber and a real drink was safe.

“…I ain’t payin’ nothing up front, though. I know ya can fly, but Rocinante ain’t a ferry ride. There’s t’ be some hard work an’ I won’t stand no one shirkin’.”

Mei wen ti,” Sam nodded before tentatively licking his lips and then taking another small sip from the bottle, “I got enough credits as’ll do me til we c’n get some income flowin’ an’ I c’n do a thing’r two aside from flyin’.”

“I’ll be settin’ off first thing in the mornin’ t’ find some cargo an’ you’ll get twenty credits a month…”

Sam arched a brow and probably straightened a bit more; his elbows came free of his knees as he took a decent pull of the whiskey and, somewhat incredulously eyed the man. Tah fah shian jing! This has gotta be a setup! No one offers pay like that off the top!
“…not a cred more. We’ll be flyin’ in overlapping shifts, an’ I’ll ‘xcpect t’ know I can trust ya with that iron too. I won’t have no ruttin’ Guay Toh Guay Nown Nien Mohn Feh Feh Pi Goh sleepin’ quarters on my ship, Dohn-lyh-mah?”

“Yup,” Dash nodded again, wiping his mouth on his forearm before setting the whiskey bottle aside, “Feh chun.”

He got to his feet, trying hard to ignore yet another generalized jab at the Alliance – again, Sam almost understood the sentiment but, with this one it seemed that anyone or anything that had ever so much as seen Alliance space was beneath contempt – and was prepared to seal the deal with a handshake. To get off this planet and get his ass in motion, Sam had decided that he could crew up with this prejudiced wong bah duhn and ride out the rough trails as they come.

“One other thing I won’t have on my boat,” Sung added before Sam could pace off two steps between them, “Those that love the Alliance…”

Sam took a third step. Suddenly, though, there was a sour taste in his mouth that hadn’t been left by the whiskey. Sam Dash didn’t love the Alliance as most would call it, in fact him and the Alliance’d had a major partin’ of ways, but Sung was taking all of this Fed-bashing just a might over full burn and, having been born to the Alliance (and despite the radically differing views where politickin’ and right and wrong was concerned) was beginning to take it right personal.

“…Anyone serves that master ain’t got no business breathin’ far as I’m concerned.”

Sam stopped before he could take a fourth step, hooked his thumbs over his gun belt, and studied Wyatt Sung long and hard for a moment. One corner of his mouth twitched and his eyes narrowed a bit, then, after an almost overlong silence, Dash chuckled and looked away. He snorted, spit on the deck, and, rubbing at one stubbled cheek, turned his whiskey colored eyes back to the man; “Ya ain’t never done this before, have ya?”

He noticed that Wyatt’s eyes had narrowed a bit, too, but job or no job, Sam couldn’t bring himself to let the caravel captain’s bias go unchecked… if he did, it was liable to get a far sight on the bad side of ugly at the wrong time. “I mean, first off, ya offer me top pay without hemmin’, hawin’, er hagglin’… that’s plumb crazy, son!

Then, ya ‘spect me ta believe yer gonna go out an’ scare us up work – any kinda work – when, from the minute I seen ya, ya been runnin’ off at the yap about the gorram Alliance this an’ the ruttin’ Alliance that! Shia Hwa!

Like it er don’t, Wyatt,” Sam sneered, jabbing a finger in the man’s direction to emphasize his point, “the gorram war’s over! An’ if ya ‘spect ta pull in any kinda credits whilst captainin’ a boat, yer gonna hafta learn ta reign yer politickin’ in… It ain’t just them as was friendly ta you Browncoats as have the contracts an’ cash! Hump! If ya run around the Verse spoutin’ that kinda mi tian gohn, ya might’s well go ‘head an’ starve yerself an’ gimme the gorram ship, now, get me?”

You Browncoats, is it,” Wyatt returned from under raised brows. Not that he cared much if he had, but something he’d said to this pilot seemed to have touched a nerve, and that ‘you Browncoats’ might’ve just hinted “I ain’t sure tha’ yer tone is proper for them as is lookin’ fer work, puhn yoh. ‘Sides, I’m startin’ ta conjure tha’ ya like might’ve been one o’ them cheong bao ho tze Purple Bellies as gorram forced m’ politickin’ t’ th’ trail it’s ridin’… When th’ big damn ugly men rides up t’ yer place an’ takes from ya what’s yers… kills yer wife…” Wyatt’s fingers curled around the bottle’s neck before lifting it to his lips to numb the pain…

Bi jweh,” Sam growled, hanging his head as he regrettably knew that what the man described was the truth… he didn’t care to be reminded that he knew such things, though… that he had had a part in killing innocents, too.

“…kills yer baby-girl…” Another agonized pull at the bottle; this time, the fingers on Wyatt’s other hand flexed, as if aching to grip the butt of his pistol just as he gripped the bottle.

He had actually winced when Wyatt said that… Yeah, I killed babies, too, din’t I?... “Gorram it,” Dash’s eyes lifted from the deck, “bi jweh!”

“Tha’s wha’ ya are, ain’t it, Sam,” Wyatt hissed following another swallow of the sour mash, “Jes’ a gorram baby-killin’, purple bellied Joo Bah Jeh…”

In the fraction of a second it took for Wyatt’s brainpan to send the order to his hand to raise the bottle to his lips again, Sam’s pistol had been ripped from its holster… The pistol coughed… the whiskey bottle exploded in Wyatt’s hand, showering his coat with shards of glass and splashing him with alcohol.

“I said,” Sam growled through the wisp of smoke that snaked out of the barrel of his pistol, “ta shut yer ruttin’ mouth!”

(continued...)


Posted on 2007-01-02 at 18:02:28.
Edited on 2007-01-02 at 18:04:04 by Eol Fefalas

Eol Fefalas
Turning Capashanese
RDI Staff
Karma: 449/28
7384 Posts


Episode II: Wyatt meets Sam; concluded...

Wyatt blinked, dropped the remains of the bottle that still clung to the unbroken neck of the thing, and made to draw his own iron.

“’Uh uh,” Sam warned, cocking back the hammer of his pistol for emphasis as he trained his aim on Wyatt’s chest, “leastways not til ya hear me out.”

Chui se!”

“No. Ya hear my piece, Wyatt, hear it til it’s done, an’ then, if ya still wanna do this, I’ll put my iron away an’ we’ll do it proper. Duhn luh mah?”

To this day, neither man could likely say true why what happened next happened – Sam, despite his better judgment, was about to share with someone who wanted nothing more to see him dead something that only a handful of people in the entire Verse was privy to. Maybe it was because he really wanted the job and felt that being completely and brutally honest with Wyatt was the only way to ensure that he landed the job and held it for a long time. Maybe it was because, in the very short time he’d known the man, he’d sensed… what?... a kinship?... a common foothold in the world?... a chance to apologize to the right folk and make things right with his guilty conscience… something… about the man that made him want to trust him with this secret.

For his part, Wyatt right at this moment, wanted nothing more than to tune this ruttin’ purple belly out, slap leather and either end this pain permanent-like or get another little piece of retribution for Eden and his precious Summer-girl. Something in this Dash fellow’s eyes, though, told him that he might be well advised to let them man have his say. There was definitely the threat of danger behind those squinting, amber eyes, but more than that, Wyatt thought he saw a pain that might, somehow, come close to matching his own… that, and seeing as how Dash had already gotten the drop on him, drawing the hogleg now would like get him killed as it’d get him revenge. If he heard the wong bah duhn out, he’d at least get the chance to shoot the bastard down from an even draw. Rocinante’s new captain wriggled the fingers of his gun-hand slowly once more, as if deliberating the choice further, then nodded fractionally and let the hand drift away from the gun.

“Shiny,” Sam nodded, slowly lowering his own weapon and, after a time, easing it back into the low-slung holster but still keeping a keen eye on the former Browncoat. “Yeah, Wyatt,” he swallowed, “If ya want the truth of it, I did do my time with the Alliance… an’ yeah, I’m prob’ly guilty of the things yer thinkin’…”

Wyatt’s lips pursed and his shoulders tensed.

“Thing that separates me an’ them as who done you wrong, Wyatt, is when I come ta find out what I were doin’ in th’ name o’ makin’ a better life fer folk out here, I had ta gorram kill my own self ta git away from it…”

Sung still didn’t care to hear this man’s excuses and still waged an internal battle over continuing to listen or, since Dash had holstered his piece already, taking advantage of the moment and shooting him down. The thing was though, it didn’t much sound like Dash was excusing himself for anything… more as like confessin’.

“…an’,” Sam swallowed hard, “I’m awful sorry… Up ‘til the day I seen them kids on my targetin’ display, runnin’ out of a buildin’ as was s’posed ta be a Browncoat command center but comed up ta be a gorram schoolhouse, I never believed we was actual targetin’ civilians… gorram innocent kids!!!”

Wyatt’s hands balled into fists whether he realized it or not… an’ apologizin’? For some reason, that twisted his gut more than if Sam had been bragging about his deeds. He didn’t want to shoot Samuel Dash, anymore, though… No, he wanted to beat this feh feh pi goh to death. “My ass yer sorry,” he hissed, “Ya don’ have no idea wha’ sorry is, ya rotten sumbitch! But I aim ta learn ya.”

As Sung howled like a lunatic and charged, Sam knew he could easily draw and fire before Wyatt got to him; instead, he nodded in resignation and let Sung’s bull-rush hit him full on in the gut. Even as Wyatt’s lowered shoulder knocked the wind from his lungs and plowed him roughly into the grated deck of the cargo hold, Sam had the wherewithal to wrap one arm around the man’s head and flail madly at his kidneys with the other, dragging Wyatt down into the dirt with him.

“Yeah,” Sam whoofed as Wyatt pulled free of the head lock and shot a knee into his ribs, “I am…” Sung’s fist stroked painfully across his cheek before he could finish. In reply, Sam grabbed two hands full of that damned brown coat, worked a foot into the man’s gut, and tossed him roughly away. Wincing, he got to his feet and was advancing on Wyatt before the firefly captain had truly finish sprawling. “I was out there doin’ what I reckoned was the right thing… fer somethin’ I’d been taught my whole ruttin’ life was honest an’ true… an’ I come ta find out I ain’t no hero, puhn yoh, I’m a gorram monst.. uuuhhr!!!”

As Sam reached down to haul him back to his feet, both of Wyatt’s legs had come up and found solid purchase in the rag wearing bastard’s stomach. Now it was the purple belly’s turn to go flying… Jes’ like the sumbitch wants!

For the next half hour, the sounds of battle rang from the hold of Rocinante. Passers-by were treated to growled expletives punctuated by the sounds of violent physical contact – flesh hitting flesh and flesh colliding with metal, the crash and clatter of upset and overturned containers and equipment – and had any of those folk stopped to gander through the portal to see the ruckus, each one would like to have seen the tide of that battle turned in favor of a different combatant. In truth, if the fight could have gone longer than the half an hour it had, it would’ve. After thirty-some minutes of full out, unbridled fisticuffs, though, battered, beaten, bruised, and bloodied, neither Wyatt nor Sam could scarce stand, let alone swing the wildest of haymakers.

Nee… nee tzao se mah,” Wyatt wheezed through the grating in the deck as he found the strength to push himself up and look at Sam who was also breathing raggedly through the gridwork of the bay floor.

Chi nwi duh,” came the garbled reply as Sam got his knees under him and managed to get his rubbery arms dragged into a position to push himself up off of the floor. If it wasn’t sheer force of will, it was dumb luck that Dash managed to push himself, more or less, into an upright position, “Ya hit like a girl.”

Wyatt was dragging himself across the floor, obviously intent on throwing at least one more punch if it was possible by any chance in the Verse… Sam was so numb with adrenaline and endorphins that he could scarce make a fist, so when he took a wobbling swing at one of the three Wyatt’s he saw, it looked more like a sleepy swat and resulted in nothing more than Sam falling forward onto his face again.

Wyatt snorted, not quite laughed, at that and, finally managing to find his own legs again, lunged forward and landed just short of being able to lob his weakly clenched fist into Sam’s face, which he was now looking directly into. Only a meter or so of atmo separated the swollen and bruised face of one man from the other, both of them wishing more than anything to continue the fight but neither having the strength to do much more than glare at the other one.

“A girl mule,” Sam groaned his amended appraisal after a long while spent gulping down painful swallows of air. He laughed, then, moaning once more as he mustered the strength to roll over onto his back. “So,” he winced, clutching at his tender ribs, “do I get the gorram job er not?”

“Ha,” Wyatt spat, “ha ha ha. Get off my ruttin’ boat!” He couldn’t fight off the chuckles that erupted from his mouth as he dragged himself closer to the man who had just exposed his belly to the wolf. Once more, though this time laughing, he launched himself at the very un-Alliance looking pilot with the intent of delivering that one final blow to the man’s jaw.

Sam coughed when Wyatt’s open hand fell across his face and pushed his bleary gaze toward the bulkhead. “So that’s a no, I reckon,” he chuffed, clenching his eyes shut as the sudden movement shot bolts of stabbing light into his brain.

“Tha’s a right proper no.”

When he opened his eyes again, Wyatt was still laughing, and Sam, too, found that he was chuckling in spite of himself. He reached up and shoved Wyatt’s limp hand off of his face and, blinking, realized that he was looking directly at the nearly untouched bottle of hooch that Wyatt had handed him earlier…

“Oh,” he grinned, reaching for the bottle and trying to haul himself up to a vaguely seated position at the same time, “looky yonder.” One hand, of course, found the bottle and the other found purchase on the jutting piece of bulkhead on which he had sat not half an hour ago. He flinched and groaned more than once as he propped himself up but it was all worth it when he was able to put the bottle to his stinging lips and take a proper drink.

Wyatt was still throwing what he thought were punches – his hands rising and falling, landing weakly on Dash’s legs – when Sam’s hands grabbed hold of his collar and hauled him up, roughly depositing him against the bulkhead next to him. Next, Sam’s hand, clutching a bottle slapped against Wyatt’s chest.

“I a’ready stowed m’gear,” Sam laughed as Wyatt tugged the bottle free of his grip and took a long shuddering drink.
Wyatt winced as his laughter forced a portion of the alcohol to shoot through his nose. As he gingerly wiped his bleeding mouth on his sleeve, he weakly jabbed an elbow into Dash’s ribs before taking another swig and passing the bottle back.

“So,” Sung sighed as he rolled his back completely onto the bulkhead, “killed yerself ta get away, ya says?”

“Yup,” Sam said around the mouth of the bottle, “that’s a tale long in the tellin’, though, Cap.”

“Well,” Wyatt reached over and took the bottle, “I don’ much feel like runnin’ off anywhere jes’ yet…”

Sam grinned as the whiskey bottle was thumped back into his chest and Sung said; “I got all gorram day t’morra as t’ find us some work.”

The man who, these days, called himself Sam Dash took another long, appreciative pull on the bottle, let his head loll to one side and squinted Wyatt into focus. “That bein’ the case,” he said, “here’s how it is…”



Posted on 2007-01-02 at 18:10:59.
Edited on 2007-01-03 at 12:12:00 by Eol Fefalas

Eol Fefalas
Turning Capashanese
RDI Staff
Karma: 449/28
7384 Posts


Kora comes aboard.

((What follows is the backhistory of how Rocinante got her mechanic. Not sure if there's more of this or not, but these are the bits and pieces that Brom and Lysk wrote up some time ago...))

Ta Ma Duh!” Wyatt placed his head on the reg vent and closed his eyes. His hands were covered in grease, his face smudged with the same. He’d removed his hat hours ago and his sleeves were rolled right up to his elbows. He held a wrench in his right hand, though loosely, and the expression on his face was tired frustration.

“Didn’t work, huh?” Sam’s voice came from across the engine room where he was working on repairing a seized power coupling. “Ain’t havin’ much luck myself.”

“We got a cargo hold full of medicals an’ can’t even lift off the gorram pad, Sam!” Wyatt dropped the wrench in the sparsely populated toolbox at his feet and picked up an already soiled towel. “Oil’s burnin’ an’ it’s as apparen’ t’ me as the sun risin’ o’er a bluff that the two o’ us ain’t gonna git the job done.”

“Hey now!” Sam’s face suddenly appeared over the top of the engine, smudged with grease the same as Wyatt’s. “I’m jus’ gettin’ started. Give me another… oh, three, four weeks, an’ I’ll have this bird flyin’ again.”

Wyatt stared in bland amusement at the pilot and then shook his head. “I’m gonna go see if I can’t find a ruttin’ mechanic.”

“Don’t have much dough.”

“Thanks fer the reminder.” Wyatt left Sam to clean up in the room walking with a purpose to his quarters where he spent a couple of minutes cleaning up the best he could, strapping iron, and retrieving his hat and coat before leaving Rocinante in Sam’s capable hands.

Beylix was a teaming port of rejects and rimmers as usual, but that didn’t bother Wyatt none. He and Sam had dropped off a rather hot bunch of sim chips for recreational purposes and had almost immediately picked up a rather hot bunch of medicines for transport to Greenleaf where a strange fever had broken out. Wyatt reviewed the problems that had arisen since then with a scowl on his face that kept people out of his way.

First, the port had fined them for being expired on the cortex, then the regulator vent had fallen off and though Wyatt had tried to jimmy a temporary fix, it wasn’t working. That didn’t end the trouble though. As Wyatt always said, things came in threes and when Sam had gone to the trouble of looking through the spare parts trying to find something that would help in the repairs he’d discovered that the power coupling had seized up. They just weren’t qualified to handle those kinds of repairs and due to the fine, didn’t have enough to pay for a mechanic to fix them, nor the time to allow it. He had no idea what he was going to do, but he had to do something or Rocinante would just sit there and they’d lose their cargo.

There was one mechanic on Beylix that Wyatt knew and it was to his shop that the captain went. Quartermaster worked out of a huge hanger nearly rusted clean through with skylight windows that looked as though they’d been painted by grime. Rocinante had been in that hanger on a couple of occasions, and every time it happened Wyatt swore to Sam that the whole hanger was about to fall in on them. Sung wasn’t normally claustrophobic, but every time he entered the hanger he suddenly felt like the room was shrinking around him.

“Quartermaster?” Wyatt asked as he stepped through the door to a dirty-faced fellow with his arms to the elbows in engine parts. The man nodded past the relic of a ship that Wyatt recognized as Quartermaster’s pet project. He called it a bigger, better ship, but Wyatt seriously doubted it would do anything more than make a lot of smoke. Making his way around the thrusters, Wyatt immediately spotted the bulky fellow.

Quartermaster wore brown coveralls that were constantly covered in grease and oil, welding goggles about his forehead, and seemed to always be sweating. He was rotund and jovial, and some of his statements made Wyatt think that he had a sieve for a brainpan. Still, he was reliable…when you had the credits.

“Wyatt Sung! One of my favorite customers. How’s Rocinante?” Quartermaster’s face lit up and Wyatt inwardly cringed at the yellow, coffee stained teeth, but outwardly returned the welcome.

Ni how Quartermaster,” Wyatt pretended cheerfulness. “Well, that’s exactly why I’m here. Rocinante ain’t flyin’ an’ I’ve got a pressin’ need t’ git her on the move.”

“What’s the problem?”

“Reg vent fell off an’ the power couplin’ seized.”

“Sui! Wyatt! What’re ya doin’ t’ her? Rocinante’s a firefly, man. She should be flyin’ with one thruster burned an’ a hole the size o’ Beylix in her hull.” Quartermaster laughed at his own ridiculous theory. “That ain’t no cheap fix, neither.”

“Say it ain’t so, Quartermaster.” Wyatt gave a pathetic shake of his head and spread his hands wide. “I’m flat broke. Need this run t’ git back on my feet.”

“Then make the run without Rocinante.” Quartermaster guffawed at the image that presented to him, Wyatt swimming through space holding his breath, a cargo net of crates being dragged behind him. “Yer an athletic bloke.”

“Jus’ a man, Quartermaster, an’ like everyone else I’ll freeze up in the black an’ call in dead.” Exacerbated, Wyatt sighed. “So if’n yer no’ gonna help, then point me t’ someone who can.”

“Ain’t no one gonna help when there ain’t no pay in it, Wyatt. Unless…”

“Yeah?”
“Unless yer willin’ t’ take on some extra hands, permanent like.” Quartermaster had a twinkle in his eye as he said it that caused Wyatt to pause. Still, like it or not, he was in bad and a mechanic was the only thing that could pull their butts out of the fire right then.

“Why not?” Wyatt feigned indifference, though numbers were running through his head already refiguring his income based on another salary. “He any good?”

For some reason this elicited another loud burst of laughter from Quartermaster. Wyatt stood by with a dour look on his face while the other man calmed down enough to answer, “I’ll let you decide if he’s any good. C’mon.”

“You’d be a Lio Coh Jwei Ji Neong Hur Ho Deh Yung Duh Buhn Jab J’wohn if’n ya turn this one away, Wyatt. A good, reliable mechanic an’ damn fine in a fight too.” Quartermaster was leading him out the back of the main hanger, through a door that didn’t close all the way, to a side hanger where a Mirage class ship stood on repair rails with a small crew of mechanics floating about it doing various pieces of work.

“Sounds like yer right, Q.” Wyatt scanned the lot of the mechanics, looking over each of the men as they welded, wrenched, and generally grease-monkeyed, but Quartermaster didn’t stop there. Instead, he led Wyatt through the bay to another door that took them out to a dirt yard filled with various, near rusted ship parts. Quartermaster continued through the maze of junk metal until Wyatt could make out the ringing sound of metal on metal like an old smithy preparing horseshoes. Rounding the hull of a cracked and ruined Montreal, Wyatt spotted a woman wearing a sleeveless khaki T and khaki coveralls rolled to her waist and tied off. She had her back turned to them and was busy hammering a tempered piece of steel against a large engine block.

“Wyatt Sung,” Quartermaster yelled so he could be heard above the ringing; which stopped as soon as the voice was heard. Wyatt watched as the woman turned around and raised his eyebrows. She was a looker even with the grime covering her face that came with the job. “Meet Kora Mei Ling, the mechanic I was tellin’ ya about.”

“No offense, Q, but I got an’ all boys boat right now—“

“I said, she’s good in a fight.”

That’s when Wyatt noticed the tattoo on Kora’s bicep. A number of emotions swelled at the sight of it, for he knew it immediately. He’d transported more than a few units bearing that tattoo across enemy lines to perform acts of war that most thought criminal. He knew well the dangers a person with that marking presented and for a moment, Wyatt felt a strong urge to turn on his boot heel and make his way out of that scrapyard, but then he caught the look in her eye. Kora seemed to be calculating, sizing him up and just like in the wild when two animals face off, to turn away then would have been disastrous.
“All right,” Wyatt shifted his hat so that it rode low on his brow. “Kora is it? All right, Kora. Got me a firefly–”

“Good ship Kora,” Quartermaster interrupted cheerfully. “You’ve seen her in her before: Rocinante?”

Wyatt glanced at Quartermaster for a brief second before turning his gaze back to the Asian beauty. “Rocinante’s right. Needs a mechanic. No matter the love me and my present crew gives her, she eventually breaks down t’ the poin’ where as we can’t fix ‘er. We’ll do it straight, make ya a salaried member o’ the crew. Ten credits a month plus room an’ board. But I’m in a pressin’ hurry an’ there’s a couple o’ shoes that need fittin’ in the engine room quick-like so I can’t let ya think it over. Guess what I’m sayin’ is that ya gotsta Yo Hua Kwai Suo if’n ya want the spot.”

(Carry on, Lyskhala)...
__________________________________________________

Kora turned when she heard Q's booming voice. The Quartermaster was one of very few people she trusted explicitly so when he made his way back to the out lot with a stranger, she knew it was either a business opportunity or a dispute that needed to be settled with a customer.

Kora knew the corpulent man from her Black Ops days in the war. They had seen a lot of action and had done things under orders that would leave them with bad memories for the rest of their lives and as is the way of such traumatic events had bonded them in a way not many people outside the military could understand. When the order came to "stand down", their unit scattered to the wind as did countless others. A few made their way home to family, some who had no family wandered into the Black in hopes of finding jobs that suited their 'qualifications". Some had stayed in touch, others…well, they had lost touch.

After the war, Q, being a mechanic by trade, set up shop as a junkyard dealer on Beylix employing a few locals to work as full time mechanics. As it turned out, a good piece of business came from repairing and "upgrading" derelict ships that no one else would consider working because of their dilapidated condition or because they didn't want their fingerprints all over an illegal improvement. Q figured he had seen the worst part of life already and wasn't too intimidated by what the Alliance might do if they caught him dealin' with those on the outside track of the law.

Kora wasn't one of his employees. As a favor to a comrade in arms, he allowed her to use his facilities to work her own business projects that she gleaned from those who couldn't afford Q's services. She barely made enough to survive even on this dust ball of a planet but if there was one thing in her life she did well, it was surviving.

Turning her focus to the stranger she eyed him suspiciously. He wasn't a local and not a customer of hers…she would have remembered him. He was clean and sober…not many on this rock could lay claim to that distinction. The stranger raised his eyebrows when she turned as if surprised to see a woman in grease up to her elbows and wielding a ball peen hammer. His reaction didn't phase her, she had been underestimated enough in her life to expect that reaction, especially from men.

She heard him say "No offense, Q, but I got an' all boys boat right now—"

She chuckled silently and cocked her head slightly to the side, giving the stranger a thorough once over through squinted jade eyes. He was tall and slender and wore a wide brimmed hat that shaded his eyes and a well worn brown duster she immediately identified as Browncoat issue.

"I said, she's good in a fight." She heard Q reply as if trying to sell the stranger on her. Kora turned her gaze briefly to the large man, concentrating as much disdain as she could muster in his direction. Once she was sure he had noticed, she turned her focus back to the stranger who had apparently noticed the tattoo, shiny with sweat, on her arm. She could sense his uneasiness. Her scrutinizing gaze trailed down his lanky body stopping briefly at the leather strap tied securely around his thigh then back up to the shaded eyes hiding beneath the hat.

"Well" she thought, "he ain't nervous enough to leave…must be in dire need of somethin'" she reasoned silently.

"All right," Wyatt shifted his hat so that it rode low on his brow. "Kora is it? All right, Kora. Got me a firefly—"

"Good ship Kora," Quartermaster interrupted cheerfully. "You've seen her in her before: Rocinante?"

Wyatt glanced at Quartermaster for a brief second before turning his gaze back to the Asian beauty. "Rocinante's right. Needs a mechanic. No matter the love me and my present crew gives her, she eventually breaks down t' the poin' where as we can't fix 'er. We'll do it straight, make ya a salaried member o' the crew. Ten credits a month plus room an' board. But I'm in a pressin' hurry an' there's a couple o' shoes that need fittin' in the engine room quick-like so I can't let ya think it over. Guess what I'm sayin' is that ya gotsta Yo Hua Kwai Suo if'n ya want the spot."

Kora continued to stare at the stranger as she wiped her greasy hands on a rag she pulled from her back pocket. Was he offering her a job? A real job? Skeptical, she slowly walked over to the stranger trying to get a look at his eyes. She could always tell if a person was on the up and up by their eyes…even those she didn't know. She stopped a few inches from him and looked beneath the brim of the hat. He was handsome in a rugged way. He had a dark, intense gaze that didn't waver as she stopped to peer up at him and she guessed by the shape of his eyes he had some Asian blood mixed up in him. Immediately she got a sense of trust.

Quickly looking at Q, he answered her unspoken questions with a wink and a crooked grin.
Returning her gaze to the stranger, she said with a whisper of a smile "Well, what d'ya know Q…I'm gettin' asked ta dance." The Quartermaster chuckled slightly at her analogy and sighed to dispel the tension that had gripped his gut. He had not been sure Kora would take kindly to the stranger or his offer as she was as suspicious as they come, but he had taken the chance. He had always been very protective of her. She was like a daughter to him and he would never have intentionally put her in harm's way. He knew eventually he wouldn't be around to "look after her" and when he heard Wyatt's dilemma, he figured this was the opportunity to see that she had a place to be…a place to call home. He knew the decision was hers to make and should she choose to go, he would miss her terribly, but it was a better life than wastin' away on this rock. He hoped his reassuring gestures would help her make the right choice.

After a few seconds of deliberation, she spoke directly to the stranger. "Well, Wyatt Sung, seein how I ain't got nuthin' holdin' me here but gravity, I reckon I'll take you up on that offer" Offering her still somewhat dirty hand as a gesture of agreement, she smiled sheepishly…"Rocinante…wasn't that a horse?"

The captain raised his eyebrows at her bravado. He knew from experience that those who bore the tattoo had a right to bear bravado; still, it seemed strange coming from that small, engaging frame.
“Sure,” Wyatt said, though he didn’t really know. It made sense to the ex-rancher after all, horses were the main form of transportation. Why not the firefly? Wyatt held his hands out as though he were searching for something to say, then dropped them to his thighs with a slapping sound. “So… ya got gear t’ fetch?”



Posted on 2007-04-08 at 16:25:14.

Vanadia
Den Mother
RDI Staff
Karma: 111/12
1188 Posts


Willow meets the Rocinante crew

There was a time when Sung and the crew were shot up pretty bad and he knew that the hospital on Ariel was your only hope of keeping everyone alive.

The doctor in charge of the ER that night was one Dr. A. Assante, and a tighter wound piece of uppity-up you'd never seen. He took one look down his fancipants nose and refused to treat you immediately; the space junk could wait until more important people had been attended to. He began to turn away, motioning to his gaggle of med students, when one of them spoke up.

Now this doctor to be was just a little thing, and while she tried to look purely doctor like with simple clothes and her hair bound in a severe bun at the nape of her neck, her prettiness shone brighter than any light in that room. A swan could flock with geese, but would still be a swan, and that's what it was like with this girl.

"Dr. Assante, " she spoke with eyes downcast and a demure manner, " the Hippocratic Oath would have us do no harm, but to stay our hand now would surely harm these people. Let a humble student as myself attend them while you deal with greater matters. "

The fancy doctor had started to bristle when one of his students disagreed with him, but somehow, that low sweet voice, and her use of both flattery and humility seemed to work.

"Very well, Takahara," he huffed," they're yours to practice on. " And he swept away, taking his entourage of students with him. The remaining student stood still looking downwards until he was out of sight, then she sprang into action. You find yourself looking into jade green eyes while gentle hands unwrapped field banadages and assessing the damage.

"Don't mind him, " the student assured you," Dr. A. Assante can be Dr. A. Right Asshole, but the equipment here is first rate. I'm not bad at this patching up business, either. I'm Willow, by the way, so no need to call me Doctor. I'm not there yet, though I'm awful close. "

She chatters on as she works, but it's a lovely, musical sing song of reassuring chatter that soothes better than the pain meds. And she is as good as her word, sewing up your crew's hurts with neat little stitches, and binding up broken limbs.

She sets you all to rights soon enough, and even takes care of a few old injuries that some of you hadn't bothered to look after. "You have a habit of getting folks mad at you," she murmured as she finished tying off one last bandage. "You may want to reconsider your approach, someday. "

In the course of things, you told her your names, but you noticed different names being recorded in the hospital log. She sent you on your way with some additional supplies that you probably shouldn't have been given, but she was called away by that nasty doctor before you could say much more.

A few months later, Willow contacted you, asking if you were still acquiring bullet holes and stab wounds as part of the negotiating process. When you agreed that it did still happen on occasion, she suggested that someone good at convincing others may be handy as crew, and someone who could patch you up when things still went bad would be handier. You agreed, and Willow, with her med school credits, skilled hands and boxes upon boxes of clothes, came to join the crew.

She seemed a little sad when she first came on board, but was awfully good at hiding it for the most part, and it seemed to fade into a more customary serene manner. The medical training you knew about immediately but the companion training came out later (and explained a lot about her persuasiveness).


Posted on 2007-11-02 at 17:59:46.
Edited on 2007-11-02 at 18:05:21 by Vanadia

Celeste
Hippy-snapper!
Karma: 138/3
1049 Posts


On Tess ~ So about those goggles...

Collaboration between Odyson and myself, originally posted in the Destiny’s Flight game.

Independence Forces Training Base “Shadow”
“Lieutenant Brown, be seated. You are being reassigned to the supply transfer depot on Ezra.”

The Colonel stood and walked around his desk. Handing Jon two envelops. “These are your promotion, Captain Jon Brown”, indicating the letter sized packed,” These are your orders, you’re to take command of the 37th Recon Group.

You’ve proven yourself in a pinch and the 37th is an interesting group. Don’t let the supply depot throw you, you’ll find it has plenty of toys to help get the job done.” Extending a hand in congratulation Colonel Jackson smiled,” There’s a driver wait’n outside to take you to your ride, they’re breaking atmo in 30 minutes so you better get a wiggle on.”

Jon stood, took the papers and grasped the Colonels hand, “Thank you, sir!” Jon saluted the Colonel, “Dismissed Captain”, the Colonel return to his desk as Jon turned and left the small office.

Jon had been in the service for about a year now and this was his second time back on Shadow. Each time had added to his rank and responsibilities. He had served on several missions of search and destroy. The last was a hit run to an Alliance supply depot, his captain had been killed and he led his group back safely. That must of got him noticed for promotion or they hurt’n for officers.

Jon knew he was being reassigned so his duffle bag was packed and waiting for him outside the Colonels office. Grabbing the bag he headed out the officer hut to find his ride.

A hover bike sat out front of the hut, Jon looked at the small bike and a small coveralled person crouched behind the bike tinkering with engine. Jon looks over the bike and says, “You must be my ride, you think this thing can get me to port before my boat leaves?”

The girl that stood up from behind the bike had dark hair, dark eyes and a dark grease smudged across her cheek. Wiping her hands on shop rug that she stuffed in her back pocket , cocked head, looked Jon in the eye and said, “Well this’ll get there with time to spare but it ain’t your ride Lieutenant, I’m here to pick up a captain and you ain’t got enough bars. You ain’t snarfing this ride and getting my a** in trouble.”

With his bare face hangin out Jon stared at the driver, “But it is my ride, I just got promoted, here look these are the papers.” Jon couldn’t believe it, he hadn’t been a Captain for five minutes and he was already have’n to prove himself. He whipped out the papers and handed them to the drive. “Here, see for yourself, I’m Captain Brown.”

The drive took the papers and checked the name, “Well that fits, I’m supposed pick up a Capt’n Brown. Maybe we better stop you by the PX and let buy your bars afore you gets stopped for impersonating a Capt’n.” The drive swung into the seat and started the hover bike.

“I ain’t got time to waste, I’ll take my chances.” Jon strapped his bag to the bike a hopped on behind drive.

“Hang on tight Capt’n, we’ll just see if you got time.” With that the drive kicked the mini mule and with a roar they shot off down the across the based.

The jerk of bikes unexpectedly fast acceleration caught Jon off guard and threw his arms around the driver to hold on for dear life. As the bike continued to accelerate Jon heard the driver laugh. They weaved in and out through traffic, kicking up dust and scattering crowds.

As they pulled up to PX The driver brought the bike to a quick halt, “I’ve worked a bit on this Iron Horse so there now ya got a couple minutes to get your bars, better hurry though.”

Jon jumped off the bike and steadied himself, “Fine.. uh.. I’ll be right back.” He turn and rushed in to the PX. Getting to office window in the back he presented and asked for a set Captains bars. As he waited his eye was drawn to a display on vintage gear and there was a set goggles, round lens and leather strapping. When the clerk returned he asked,”Them goggles for sale?” The clerk looked around and then said, “Sure you got credits, I’ll put the bars against your till you pay me for the goggles!?” “Ok, how much?” “ Show me what’cha you got.” Jon understood then what was going on. “Oh, sure gotcha.”

With that Jon pulled out a wad of credits and the clerk snatch up a batch, “Grab um and head out… uh Sir.” Picking up his bars Jon turned, grabbed the goggles and stuffed um in his pocket.

Remembering he needed to hurry Jon rushed out and climbed on the bike. As the driver got ready to kick it again Jon pulled out the goggles, “If you’re gonna fly like that again you better wear these,” with that he handed them to the driver. “By the way, what’s your name , I may need it later when they ask me who that speed demon is?”

Taking the goggle the driver slipped them on and secured them over her eyes, ”Speed demon?, well ya got that right cuse the devil made me do it, I’m Tess Zhou, please to make your acquaintance Capt’n Brown. Ok hold tight you got a boat to catch.” With that she hit the accelerator and they were off even faster than before.



Oh sure, Jon had given those goggles to Tess for a laugh, but the devil do take her if they didn’t save her pretty little eyes. Saved her life, far as she's concerned. Not long after Jon gave her those do-dads, Tess was tasked out to take a small unit behind enemy lines on Athens. Independants had ahold of a short range shuttlecraft that Tess and a handy browncoat mechanic by the name of Shims had jerry rigged for quick flight. That shuttle had lost so much weight that they doubted she’d break atmo, but damned if it wasn’t fast planetside.

Wasn’t rightly sure what those men were gonna be doing, but she knew she had to get them in and out quick and quiet. She managed the first bit, but whatever those boys had done caused such a ruckus that she barely got airborne before they started shootin' at her.

Now the Alliance had all sorts of fancy weapons at their disposal, and they started shootin' at that small carrier with anti aircraft missiles and the like. Tess started puttin' that little unit through barrel rolls, pitchbacks, and all sorts of gao gun loop-de-loos to try and keep from gittin’ shot down. Thing was, by trimmin' all that weight off of the shuttle, they was trimmin' off a helluva lot of armor to boot. One of those missiles caught that shuttle upside the window, and plexiglas exploded inside the cockpit. Thing about plexiglass is that it don’t break up into nice chunks like glass does. What it do is shatter into itty bitty pieces that may not plumb kill you, but it does do a tian fuhn di fu number to the human hide when you is cruisin' at near burn speeds.

Whole darn thing would have crashed then, had Tess not been wearing those gorram goggles. She had taken such a humor to ‘em that she started wearing ‘em on missions. Told the others she was just tryin’ to keep the bugs outta her eyes. Well if it ain’t the gorram truth. She made it back to base with those men in tow. Her face was bloodied up plenty. Took the Doc on near five hours to pick all the small pieces out of her skin. Pretty sure there’s still some left somewhere in there. He figures those specs saved her eyes. She figures they were the only thing standin' between livin’, and a fiery explosion resultin' in her and six other men’s death. Hasn’t been a time since where Tess went without wearin' them goggles while she was flyin'.




Posted on 2012-10-21 at 17:16:06.
Edited on 2012-10-21 at 17:21:42 by Celeste

Odyson
PUN-dit
Karma: 154/25
6131 Posts


The Kid...........

Asher Talhone is the fifth child (of six) of Job and Mary Talhone. The Talhones worked the family farm, an impressive operation owned by Asher's grandfather, Simon Talhone. Asher grew up milking cows, haying fields, and moving herds through the ranch lands.

The ranch on Ezra was all Asher had known; it was filled with family and the good honest work that brought folk together. Matt and Ben had showed him how to milk a cow, teasing him about pulling down that cow teat to make it squirt in the bucket. “You just grab it and squeeze, if you do it smooth enough Bessy here will give you a big facelick and follow you all day.” They laughed as he tried and tried but nothing came out. “Now Ash just squeeze it from top to end, like rolling your finger, not full fist.” They all roared as the milk shot out this time missing the bucket and covering his boots. “Ma’s gonna have a fit if’n ya try to bring milk home in your boots instead of the pail.” They all laughed again.”

Those were good times, Ma took care of her “baby boy”. Most of the house chores were his and his little sister’s. “The bigger boys could tend the farm”, she used say, “I need you here to keep things straight; your time will come soon enough.”

It came all too soon, the Alliance started pushing it weight round way out there in Ezra. Matt and Ben didn’t think it right and they joined the Independents movement. They looked mighty fine in their Brown coats. But even on a dusty old farming world like Ezra the Alliance came in force. Matt and Ben had been called to duty not too far from the family ranch. Word had just reached them that they perished in the first wave of the Alliance assault.

Them purplebellies didn’t seem to care where they bombed or strafed. A couple of days later those ships came over the farm. Ma was running out to get Miriam to the tornado shelter; Gramps was sitt’n out in his rocker. Ma had just got to the front porch as something big rocketed in. The roar and flash took the whole front of house off, leaving only smoke, fire and a large creator. The ships just kept on going, they never even circled back to see their damage. Pa screamed and crawled through rubble, but there wasn’t nothing left. The porch, Gramps and Ma were just gone.

Things got bad then, Pa just couldn’t take loosing Ma. Pa would sit or wander, always a bottle in his hand. Jacob and Andy took to running the ranch. Time had come to learn to ride, plant, harvest, herd and all the other things the “bigger boys” used to do. Miriam took care of Pa and tended to house now.

The war took its toll on the planet too. The fighting had killed the Governor and most of the law enforcement. Criminal lords began staking the claims, taking over good folk’s land, and pressing them into slavery or shooting them dead.

It wasn’t long before the land jumpers started coming in stealing folk’s ranches and homes. A puffed up bully, Waylend Gayner, staked his claim on the Talhone land, and “invited” Job to leave peacefully and without a fuss. The prospect of losing the family farm sobered Job up right quick. The Talhones decided to protect their lands and beat back this upstart off-worlder. It wasn’t right and that’s when Job brought out the guns. Enough was enough and it was time to stand up for what was right and protect those you loved. Folk around the farm appreciated what the Talhomes did and joined in to help. Soon there were enough to push the land grabber back. It didn’t take Asher long to learn how use pistols, rifles and few other toys that were left over from the war. Waylend did not back down so easy, though, and he was supported by Adelei Niska. The private war went on for six months, each side inflicting heavy casualties.

The But right comes with a price sometimes. By the time Waylend was dead, Jacob and Andrew gave up their lives protecting friend and innocents. They died honorably and were missed by many. Even with Waylend gone, the Talhone’s troubles were not over. Adelei Niska, angered by the loss of control of the area, sent more men to track down the usurpers. Hearing the news, and not unwilling to lose his youngest boy, Job convinced Asher to leave Ezra, only to return when things had cooled down.

That was two years ago.

Asher joined the crew of the Rocinante though a mutual connection shared with Wyatt. The captain was looking for man who could handle himself in a fight; Asher had gained a bit of a reputation for liking guns. The kid respected Wyatt’s and it felt right.

Asher was fascinated with the ship and flying. On the farm he’d watched his dad and brother work on the equipment but was never allowed to tinker. There were so many amazing things that kept them in the sky he just wanted to know how the worked. The ship’s engineer ,Nora , had finally given in and started to show Asher more about the ship and he had a thirst to learn more. He knew he would never be an engineer but it was fascinating and maybe someday it would save his friends.

And while there are many great things about the Rocinante, it is Trish who really keeps the young lad on the ship. Asher has taken a liking to the mature woman . Trish reminds him of his mother, and Asher nearly treats her as such.

Ash took his responsibility seriously and quickly assembled a formidable collection of weapons. Wyatt was never sure how or where the kid had gathered what he had, but never questioned it either. It was just known by the crew that Asher had most of what he needed to protect them and the Roc, It was also known that you didn’t “borrow” any of it.


Posted on 2017-06-03 at 13:20:29.

   
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