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Right Where I Belong

Posted on Sat Jan 16th, 2021 @ 2:06pm by The Narrator & Alison Bliss & Karen Dawson MD & Daiyu & Chloe Waltz PhD & Jonas Bailey & Kindra Graham
Edited on on Sat Jan 16th, 2021 @ 4:13pm

Mission: Six Days to Santo
Location: Santo/Caster - Fortune's Echo
Timeline: Day 23 - Early Evening

Silently observing out across the darkening cliff-top's sky and outwards to the ocean beyond, the battered old Firefly sat and waited. She listened, observed and creaked quietly to herself as the winds rushing up the steep rocky incline drove sea-salt on that fresh breeze. She hummed quietly, basic systems checking themselves over with a gently skilled hand from her newest engineer and perhaps she pined for the one she had lost.

Striding out into Caster for a little alone time, Niamh looked over her shoulder one last time to see a female figure approaching that ship, but she turned back to town anyway. There were enough people left on the Fortune's Echo to ensure the old girl was safe, and one young lady surely couldn't cause any more trouble than they were already embroiled within.

Beneath her tea-length green silk gown, Kindra's booted feet crunched on the bare earth with each step. It was not a long walk to the dockyard. The Shepherd must still be at the hospital, and Kindra considered looking for Whit there first. She wanted to know what Whit had learned. But after seeing Alden in that jail cell, she was convinced she needed to find his crew. Make sure whoever he was protecting was safe, and find allies to face the man behind Alden's incarceration - Huckleberry Howson.

The deputy had described the Fortune's Echo as a piece of junk. From a distance, the firefly stood out. Even Kindra, who knew little about engineering, could appreciate her elegant balance of form and function. As she got closer, the deputy's assessment made more sense, even to her untrained eye. Beautiful, tough, and broken. Alden always was attracted to a certain kind of female.

She found the cargo ramp down as she approached, and Kindra heard indistinct, muffled voices inside. In situations where the participants were likely to be armed, she knew better than to appear unannounced. Kindra adjusted her green dupatta around her bare shoulders and composed herself, then as she walked up the ramp called out, "Hello? I'm here to speak with Alden Loxley's crew."

Daiyu came running down the ramp with a covered plate in hand. "Captain?!" she exclaimed excitedly. "We didn't expect you so soon, but if you can wait there's more on--"

Seeing Kindra and not recognizing her, Daiyu visibly deflated. "You mentioned the captain," she said, looking around, sparing no more eye contact for Kindra as she searched for Alden. "Where is he?"

Kindra regarded this young person with some consternation. Woman or teen, it was hard to tell, she was so childlike. Could it be that Alden's crew didn't know what happened to him? Kindra resisted the urge to ask this girl if her parents were home. "I just saw Alden Loxley in the Caster jail. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and grievous bodily harm." She looked past the young woman hoping to find someone more adult.

"Yes..." Daiyu lowered her scarred face as if in shame. "We know about that. I... I just thought he got released..." A tear might have formed in the corner of her eye, but she turned away and ran back up the ramp without another word.

"Wait-" started Kindra, but the girl ran away. Weird… and not even close to what she was expecting. She continued to the top of the ramp and paused, just inside the confines of the ship, to allow her eyes to adjust to the early evening sun that cast the cargo bay in shadow. "Hello?" she called again.

Alison was moving up the stairs in the cargo hold when she saw Daiyu first run outside and then run back in. The extra voice Daiyu had exchange with outside was very much familiar and had the tall blonde stop on the landing. She leaned against the railing, to see what was going on, and watching Daiyu storm in before certainly familiar figure appeared surrounded with the fading light of the day outside.

"Kindra. As always you show up with the halo of the sun trying to outshine your beauty." She greeted the companion with a playful grin. She was standing there in leather pants and buttoned up shirt, unbuttoned to the point it could be considered seductive or even indecent, and with a pistol in her holster. Looking down at Kindra, Alison felt a pang of several emotions mixed together. It has been a while. "Are you looking for Alden?"

Time had passed while they all talked about what to next. Jonas, who was rather keen on just going to get Alden by whatever means necessary, had gone up to his bunk and grabbed a ratty tennis ball that he'd found in the corner when he first moved in. He was still new to the crew and wasn't exactly sure how they'd take his actions. So for now, he sat on a crate on the other side of the cargo bay and bounced the ball on the wall, not caring one whit about what else was going on at the moment. The ball hit the floor and came back to him and he repeated the process over and over and over. The noise wasn't much. But were it to be described, it'd be like a water faucet dripping into a metal sink at two o'clock in the morning. Annoying as hell.

"Alison!" Kindra grinned up at the stunning blonde and started making her way across the cargo bay toward her. A jumble of emotions churned in her chest, but the one that bubbled to the top was relief. "I think I'm looking for you, actually. And I must say, you're looking just as bad-ass, capable, and gorgeous as ever. Ta ma duh, it's good to see you." She paused for a moment. What was making that sound? "I just saw Alden. Spoke with him at the jail where the sheriff has him locked up. I came to share what I learned and work out a plan."

Inside the cargo bay, Kindra localized the repetitive sound to a figure sitting on a crate. The long locks, imposing form, and cunning smile... she knew him. "Jonas? Is that you, my wei shan (really dangerous) friend?"

Alison glanced at Jonas. Who would it thought that the verse was so small. Her eyes moved back at Kindra as she straightened up.
"Well, gorgeous, we were planning to send a recon party to see what the situation was. Since you saw Alden, tell us, what are our options, aside from storming the place?" She asked walking down the stairs and getting on the cargo bay floor.

Kindra's attention lingered on Jonas. He had shown up out of the blue and was there for her when her life had turned upside down and she'd needed a protector. Just seeing him here soothed her anxiety. Kindra held her arms out to Jonas, a silent invitation for a hug.

Jonas looked over at the sound of his name. He couldn't believe his eyes for a second. He put the ball on the crate and walked over, those big arms open wide. "Yep, it's me," he said. "Good to see you again." He patted her on the back to conclude the hug.

There would be time to catch up later, Just now Kindra returned to the matter at hand, as focused on Alden's predicament as Jonas and Alison. "Recon. Right. I think it's best if I tell you everything." Kindra briefly described meeting Shepherd Whit, who was also looking for transport off Santo and knew Alden. She repeated the conversation with Sheriff Clixby in the constabulary, and how Whit had gone with Clixby to interview witnesses and the injured man at the hospital. She conveyed her entire conversation with Alden and the deputy, including her conclusion that Alden was protecting a member of his crew, and that legally the charges against him wouldn't hold up in court. Someone named Huckleberry Howson claimed Alden owned him money, and that's who Clixby was working for and why he locked Alden up. Other than her personal feelings about Alden, Kindra left nothing out.

"So unless one of you has a better idea, I think we need to negotiate with this Huckleberry Howson for Alden's release." Kindra wished she knew what information Whit had gleaned at the hospital. "It would be helpful to know the injured man's prognosis. Is there anyone on the crew who can access – or hack into - the hospital's medical records?"

Karen shifted a bit where she stood. She wanted to help, but not at the extent of losing her license.

"If it's a public hospital, doctors who have a Medical Cortex - like me - can network in easily," the Doc began. "But as I'm not a local doctor, I would not be able to access patient records unless I had their patient ID numbers.. I won't help you hack into that system, but if you can sneak into a nurse's desk on the level of said patient, pulling up their paper file will have what you need."

Kindra turned to the woman, a doctor apparently, and wondered how many other crew members were lurking. "I didn't even get the man's name, though there couldn't have been many patients admitted around that time with those injuries." She intuited that this doctor was delineating a boundary she'd marked before. "I understand and respect your position. You don't have access."

"Breaking into a hospital to steal a paper file, though..." Kindra shook her head. It was unfortunate the crew didn't include a skilled hacker, capable of getting in and out without leaving a digital trail. She knew what Alden would say about putting his crew in jeopardy on his behalf. "We'd risk adding more hostages to the sheriff's jail cells. Maybe best to negotiate with Howson without knowing his man's condition."

"I don't know..." Alison said slowly. "Breaking into hospitals is feels to risky." She said slowly. She was feeling that the crew was way too new and unfamiliar with each other to conduct any kind of actions in such scope. Alison herself wasn't fully aware of each of them skill sets. "Besides knowing injuries doesn't help directly enough in my opinion. If Howson is a problem, Alden will stay in the prison regardless of the guy in the hospital." She pointed out. "What do we know about this Howson?"

"I could access the medical records," Chloe butted in with a shy, quiet tone. "I mean. I'm pretty good at networking things. Getting past security measures, hacking whatever you call. I could try." She made no promises that she couldn't keep. "I don't want to do anything illegal though. Or at least get caught. But I'm, well, stuck out here without Alden."

"This town is small," Karen reminded them. "It might be possible to negotiate Alden for my services for a few days to a week. Fringe worlds often trade out of desperation, and a trauma surgeon trained on Ariel is worth more to these communities than shiny coin."

"I like that idea." Alison turned to Karen and inhaled deeply. "With Alden behind the bars... and my wanted poster still circulating around, I am reluctant to agree to any kind of illegal activity." She said softly. "I'd prefer to buy Alden out or settle his problems in an amicable way."

Jonas had been quiet during most of the exchange. Until now. Alden had done a lot for him when they were young guys working together. It seemed only fitting to repay him. "I can settle his problems as I amicably beat Howson with his own arm and then make for damn sure he ain't gonna taint the 'verse with any descendancy."

Kindra gave the big man a fond smile, knowing that he was not only dangerous but smart and strategic when necessary. "I appreciate the sentiment, Jonas, but maybe that's more like our backup plan." She nodded to the woman with short, silver-blonde hair. "We find out more about Howson's injured man and more about Howson himself on the cortex, we may find an advantage." Kindra turned her thoughtful regard to the doctor. She'd made a brave offer. Trading in services could be a dangerous proposition for the service provider, coin was far safer. She turned to Alison, who seemed to be in charge in Alden's absence. She was probably in charge when Alden was there. "Then we try negotiating with Howson in the morning. Does that sound about right, Alison?"

Alison nodded slowly.

"Yes, it does." She agreed and gave final look to everyone gathered if anyone wanted to add anything.

A comfortable silence told the pilot - formerly and currently acting as First Mate - all she needed to know. Tonight for the information gathering. Tomorrow morning for the friendly confrontation.



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