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How It Began (Part One)

Posted on Sat Dec 12th, 2020 @ 2:31pm by Alden Loxley & Jonas Bailey
Edited on on Sat Dec 12th, 2020 @ 2:31pm

Mission: Yuan Fen
Location: Persephone - Wilderness Pick-up
Timeline: 2506 (Eleven Years Ago)

For the last year, life had been decent. Fair trade between the Core and the Border Planets paid for their upkeep with a little fun profit on the side, right up until the U-war hit.

That’s when the trader business really started to get hectic, chaotic and very much in need of onboard security. That, eighteen year old Alden Loxley had decided, was where a friendly face with a reliable penchant for necessary violence was pretty much essential.

Today, that necessary violence had a name. A new hire. Right now the dude didn’t know that, he just thought he was paying for passage off Persephone, but Alden liked the look of this one, the swagger, the way his handgun sat ready and accessible in a lazy holster with the worn leather strap nonchalantly undone. He looked confident. Ready for anything.

He didn't seem to mind that they'd asked him to meet them out in the wilds, or that they'd asked him to help load the cargo. And, as he'd strolled across the arid landscape all on his lonesome, he hadn't even tried to kill them. That was definitely promising.

“Jonas Bailey?” Asked the fresh-faced young pilot as he stood, as was traditional, on the cargo ramp of the chunky little Sandfly. He wore a dark blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, dirty brown cargo trousers and a comfortably rough-worn pair of cowboy boots. He held out a tanned arm, hoping for a friendly handshake. The other remained close to his own Model B, sat idly at his upper thigh. “I’m Alden Loxley.”

Jedidiah Lonergahn. That's who had taken Jonas under his wing a year or so ago. JD owned a tailor shop in the city on Persephone. They made some real nice suits. And laundered money. But now, after his 'apprenticeship' under the mercenary, he'd been allowed to strike out on his own for a bit. He took what he'd learned and applied it and bought passage on a Sandfly. The plan was to eventually come back to Persephone and give a report to JD.

When he'd been asked to meet in the wilds, he'd shrugged and agreed easily enough. Seventeen year old Jonas had a swagger about him. Some might call it arrogance, but even in the short time he'd worked for JD, he'd gotten a few kills under his belt. And he knew it. His shoulder length hair blew loose in the wind and his holster carrying his LeMat Revolver barely tapped against his leg as he walked. The other one, his SIG-Sauer P229 was safely tucked away.

Jonas beat the dust off of his black trousers, and his hands. His brown shirt was visible through the open vest he wore over the top. "That'd be me." He extended his hand and grabbed the other young man's, giving it an overly firm shake. "Alden Loxley is it now? Right then, I've got coin as was agreed on. You want it now?"

"It is, yeah." That handshake sealed the deal, and Alden wrinkled his nose at the strength in the other man’s arm. “Ta Ma Duh,” he lightly cursed as he shook out his fingers from their light crushing and beamed an amused grin, then jabbed a thumb over his shoulder. “Nah, stow your stuff and give me a hand with the cargo,” Alden suggested. “Figure we get the hell outta here before we start counting coin.”

If Jonas here was not to be trusted, this would be his first mistake, but Alden trusted his gut. He also didn’t wish to be out here in the open any longer than they needed to be.

Jonas grinned sideways as he watched Alden shake his fingers. He tossed the bag he was carrying inside the cargo bay and against a wall. "There. Stowed, at least for now." He walked over to one of the crates and knelt down to grab the handle. "So loading cargo, huh. Since when do payin' passengers work for their supper? Not that I'm complain'. A little hard work never hurt anybody."

"Since my engineer's prepping to leave and that only leaves you and me," Alden answered with a lazy smile. "And I can't lift them by myself. Won't take us long, s'good exercise and it means I can see you right up until we take-off," he added, casually and without any overt malice. "Besides, you're gonna be sitting on your butt for a few days in transit, you'll thank me later."

"Can't blame ya there, I suppose. I'd keep an eye on new passengers, too," Jonas added with a grin. "And yeah, I don't take kindly sittin' on my butt a lot. But such is life in transit, I guess. I'm sure I'll find something to keep myself busy."

Alden nodded. His little brother always told him not to trust strangers, his father said the same, but all friends outside of the family were strangers once and if you didn't trust anyone, what kinda life was that to be living? He didn't want the paranoia or the worry, he simply wanted to get out there, make a living and work his way out around the Verse.

"Ship's real small," he said as they carried crates from A to B, stacked them and tied them. "But you can see that. You travelling for business, pleasure or adventure?" Maybe he shouldn't ask, but Alden was curious and unafraid to try.

"Nothin' wrong with smaller ships. Comfy and cozy can't be beat when you're in the Black, I suppose," answered Jonas. Jonas chuckled at the next question. "Well I suppose you could say business mixed with a little pleasure...dependin' on how you look at it." He paused a second and wiped a few beads of sweat from his forehead.

Alden grinned and nodded. "I like 'em too," he admitted. "Well, ain't you mysterious. Bit of both huh..." Then his grin broadened. "I bought beer," he added, rattling the next crate as he carried it into the hold and placed it gently down. Four more to go, a little puffing and panting, and they were all loaded up.

Casting a last look out at the hilly scrubland, Alden welcomed the lack of any warning calls from his engineer and hit the button to close the hatch. As it slid quietly upright, he led the way further into the ship. "Welcome to the Komorebi," Alden told the taller man and he indicated a door on their right as they exited the cargo bay. "That's the bathroom." He pointed to metal steps to their left. "Galley and bridge are up that way."

They strolled down a wide common corridor to a smaller one that had four doors leading immediately from it. Alden opened the first one on their right.

"This is you," he said, showing Jonas a small, but tidy and clean bunk room. "We've got about a 7 day trip to Shadow, and I'd advise keeping yourself armed at all times. You're also welcome to come talk, eat, drink with us any time." Alden offered a wry smile. "Any questions?"

Jonas tugged the back over his shoulder back in place a bit as he took note of where everything was that Alden was pointing out. "Three hots and a cot," he said, referencing the bunk and invitation to eat and drink. "That, a bathroom, is pretty much it. Thanks for the invite, too. So, couple of things. What times do you eat? What times do you drink? And how well armed can I be at all times?"

Alden grinned. "Well, definitely one hot," he corrected and waggled a hand. "Mebbe two. But I can cook, you won't go hungry," he added, with a definite sense of pride, then rolled contentedly into a reply to cover Jonas' questions. "I make us breakfast when I get up, lunch middle of the day when my belly starts rumbling and supper in the early evening. Ship this size, you'll know. If'n you're hungry between times, grab yourself a snack from the cookie tin. Drinking - end of shift, but I'm our pilot so I don't get rollin' drunk while we're out in the black, for obvious reasons. And, finally," he said, "Since we're running cargo through a war, so far as I'm c'n'cerned, you carry whatever the hell you like long as you don't use it on me and mine."

"Well that sounds like a pretty good deal to me, then," he replied. "Hots and a cot and hella armed. I can live with that. As far as using it on you and yours, I wouldn't worry about that. All I need is transport." His mind raced to the question that had been asked a moment ago about his reason for traveling.

"Good stuff," said a happy sounded Alden. He'd forgotten about the initial need for more information with regards to Jonas' mission, and merely offered up a grin in response. "Transport we got, for sure," the pilot added, giving the corridor wall a friendly smack with his palm. "She's a good ship, only partly mine. Get yourself comfy, I'm gonna stop talking." Alden's grin broadened. "And go get us up in the air."

Partly his? Huh, interesting. "Comfy as can be comin' right up, cap'n pilot. Just don't roll me out of my bunk while gettin' us up there. Hurts a damn lot, hittin' the floor on take-off."

"See," Alden mused out loud, his eyes bright. "Now I just really wanna barrel roll until you fall," he joked. "But seriously, trust me, it'll be a smooth ride up outta atmo." He jabbed his thumb upwards. "Trouble's usually likely after that though, Alliance ain't feeling too kind to independent couriers these days."

The young Jonas Bailey let out a little chuckle at first. His countenance changed to a little more serious tone when he brought up the Alliance. "Yeah, they can be pesky at times. But I don't imagine you've lasted this long without a few tricks up your sleeve."

He liked that, Alden decided. The chuckle. Either his luck was working for him with his choice of paying passenger, or he was being naively stupid and about to be in serious trouble, but he had a good feeling about this one. "You're not wrong," Alden agreed, with a lazy nonchalance rather than an overbearing ego. "I know a couple." He canted his head to the side.

"We get boarded, you're on our side, right?" Dumb question, asking for a lie, but he asked it anyways.

"You let me on your ship," Jonas said. "I'm payin' you for passage. I'd be dumb as hell if I went back on that deal."



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