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Read So Hard Librarians Tryin' ta Fine Me

Posted on Sat Nov 13th, 2021 @ 11:49am by The Narrator & Alison Bliss & Chloe Waltz PhD & Kindra Graham & Jacy Wright

Mission: Li Shen's Bazaar
Location: Li Shen's Bazaar
Timeline: November 3 - Mid-morning

Traversing the station bazaar was like being submerged in an ocean of flashing neon signs and scrolling hypnotic messages the savvy shopper tried not to focus on long enough for a subliminal compulsion to take hold. Kindra and Chloe were surrounded by a cacophony of blasting music, sound bite advertisements, and even vendors hawking their wares by the time-honored method of shouting at and cajoling passersby.

Kindra's nose was assaulted by the stink of unwashed bodies, the sickening sweetness of chemical carbon filters, cheap perfume, and in contrast the rather delicious scent of roasting meat from somewhere she couldn't identify. Every aspect of humanity was represented in the ebb and flow of the crowd.

Diligently scanning their surroundings as they made their way through the busy space bazaar, Kindra stayed close to Chloe, sometimes resting a gloved hand on the engineer's arm to insure they weren't separated. Kindra wore a modest but elegant ankle-length blue dress, a matching veil that did not obscure her features, and a mostly-empty shopping bag on her arm. She held up the portable cortex on her wrist to consult the station map. "The book shop is just ahead."

Chloe nodded, looking through the busy street to try and figure out where the bookstore might be. This was... quite different from her homeworld. Still, she found that the more time she spent on the Echo, the more she was coming to expect a chaotic market such as this. Hopefully this time, it wouldn't end up with a bar fight and somebody getting their face ripped off.

"I think I see it," the engineer spoke quietly. As opposed to Kindra's blue dress, Chloe wore a gray suit, slightly more formal than her normal (already slightly formal) attire. She hated dresses. If her mother wasn't here to make her wear one, she wasn't going to. At least there was one sort of freedom that came with living in a ship in the middle of nowhere; she couldn't easily imagine Alden or any of the crew chastising her on her fashion choices.

Alison stepped out of the bookstore still dressed in the laced up country washed pink tunic, black leather pants and combat boots. She looked behind on the flashing logo above. The bookstore had books all right and some of them was quite rare and interesting from what she saw. However, the bookstore was not just a bookstore. The owner also was part of the underground chain of liquor stores that Alison had access. With most of the alcohols coming from smuggling, it was also at the very good price and of the highest quality. This was Alison's secret of having the best stash of alcohol on the ship. The new additions to the stash were tightly packed, secured in her backpack. She looked around and noticed familiar faces.

With a twinkle of amusement, she crossed her hands on her chest and waited for her crewmates to approach. "Now that is an unexpected meeting. Who would it thought that on this big bazaar we meet again so soon."

Chloe looked up towards Alison, and gave a small wave. Chloe did not, truly, have much idea about how big this bazaar was so despite some intellectual part of her realizing that this was a coincidental meeting, she couldn't say that she was surprised by seeing somebody she knew.

"Alison?" Kindra took in the unexpected appearance of her friend, noting that her rucksack was heavier. She wondered how Alison had gotten there before them, but the 'Echo's pilot knew Li Shen's Bazaar and probably had a short-cut. "Small world… or rather station. Chloe and I are headed for the bookshop. Would you like to join us?"

Alison opened mouth, then instead of answering smiled wickedly and nodded. "Shi. Why not. So what kind of books are you after?" She asked and eyed both women with growing amusement. She couldn't say way she felt it but she decided to play along. "Cooking books? Kama Sutra? Mechanic courses?"

"Fiction," Chloe responded, though she realized after responded that Alison was probably joking. One didn't include the Kama Sutra in such a list without joking... unless... did Companions actually read that book? Like, was that a legitimate, well, textbook, for that career? Chloe paused a moment in confusion before shrugging. "But I don't turn down any cheap mechanical guides I find."

Kindra smiled at Alison mentioning the Kama Sutra, an ancient text that was still commonly thought of as a sex manual, but was more accurately described as a philosophical treatise on the nature of pleasure, and – in its time – living well. "I have no preconceived literary agenda, I'm on a mission of discovery."

Alison nodded slightly sucking in lips, turned to the side, and then waved with one hand invitingly at the bookshop's door. "After you."

Kindra pushed the shop door open, to the sound of a chime from the back. Sure enough, the place was a bookshop. There were bookshelves brimming with used books, pristine displays of new releases, and behind the counter a locked case that probably contained rare books. The small shop appeared to be empty except for a pretty blonde woman of medium height. Kindra gave her a friendly smile. "Are you the proprietress of this shop?"

Slender fingers trailed over the row of books, skimming the spines as Jacy silently read the names, backtracking and pulling on free from the shelf. She really had no business perusing the books or buying any, but she’d talked the bookseller into letting her do a little trade with a few books she had. So, basically, she had a small bit of in-store credit. Flipping the book over she was reading the synopsis when chatter broke through the silence of the store. Jacy glanced up, spying the newcomers, the three of them, before putting the book back into place and attempting to move further away from them. Safety first, right?

Her hood had fallen from her head, showcasing long blonde hair in a not so tidy braid. Jacy was dressed to blend in as easily as possible with a pair of loose fitting denims, a black tank top, which was mostly covered by the green jacket that had a hood she could pull up over her head. The question took her by surprise and she was greeted with a friendly smile, “Shuh muh? No,” she shook her head, “just perusing.”

Alison stopped finding the woman familiar. She couldn't place it though, so she remained silent and remaining a bit absent in thoughts, she tried to recall where did she knew the woman from.

Her blue gaze slid over the three of them, lingering a bit longer on the blonde before Jacy forced her gaze back to the books. There was someone both familiar and eerie about the woman and she thought it best to call as little attention to herself as possible. No, what she needed was to find a ride off the Bazaar, but Jacy planned on looking for jobs later.

A consumate professional in his trade, Sebastian made no personal comment to Ali as she stepped back into his shop so swiftly after having left. His head bobbed up from behind two wonky stacks of weathered hardback tomes as he heard Kindra's question and he ran a hand through curly ginger hair. "I'm the owner," he said, tone warm with welcome and hope for profitable business, his attire comfortably scruffy and his age somewhere in the late 40s. "May I help you fine ladies with any search in particular?"

Chloe nodded and pulled a list of books out of her pocket. This was the normal way that she visited a bookstore; required less talking to people. And Chloe liked making lists. Of course she would have one already handy. "I'm looking for anything on here," she said, handing it towards the man. The list contained about a dozen sci-fi books, a couple obscure mechanical texts that were not something to be found in a bazaar like this unless somebody had recently robbed a professor, and a recently released book about tarantulas. "I have a few books I could sell, as well, if that is something your business does." Chloe did not care much about the price she would receive for such, but she was done reading them and room on the ship was limited.

Hazel eyes scanned the offered list and Sebastian nodded sagely. He indicated a window display over to the far left as he spoke, "all the new releases are on the sloping stand over there," he told Chloe. "Don't have these," he continued, fingertip grazing the paper list over the mech texts. "Sci-fi is over to the right," he pointed with his left hand and then he met the engineer's eyes directly if Chloe allowed it. "And I'd be happy to evaluate any books you wish to sell, I generally give more in store credit if you're interested in that kinda trade-off."

"Here." Chloe took her bag off her shoulder and started pulling a few books out of it. The books were all sci-fi; ones she was finished reading. She wasn't about to get rid of reference books, whether she was done reading them or not. With all the books on the table, she reshouldered her bag and made her way to the display. That was just a quick look. No surprise that they didn't have the specific book in stock. So she made her way towards the sci-fi section, and there she found enough books to entertain her shopping self for a moment.

Quietly, Sebastian pencilled his monetary workings-out on a desktop notepad, listing title and credit for his customer's benefit. Once done, he placed said list atop Chloe's short stack of discarded books and resumed his own work. When the young woman returned, she'd know exactly where she stood, he had no intention of disturbing her perusal of the shelves.

Whilst Chloe went over her list with the bookshop owner, Kindra began scanning the nearest shelf of used books. She had moved on to the next shelf when the name Pablo Neruda caught her eye and she pulled it for a closer look. It was a book of Neruda's love poems, translated from the original ancient Spanish. Kindra opened the book at random, and read love sonnet seventeen, speaking the last verse out loud, " close that your eyes close as I fall asleep." Kindra abruptly realized she was facing the woman she had erroneously assumed was the shop owner. She smiled apologetically and turned the open book toward the other woman in explanation. "Sorry. Poetry... guess I got carried away."

The sudden appearance of the shop’s owner gave her the opportunity to slip away, onto another shelf and away from the small crowd that had formed. Though, she guessed four bodies wouldn't really be considered a crowd, but given she had no idea who Ford had out looking for her, it was best this way. Though why the man just hadn’t given up already was beyond her. Jacy would have gotten lost in her own thoughts if the woman, the one that had mistakenly thought her the store’s proprietor spoke up, reciting a line of poetry from a book. It made her pause and turn. The woman was dressed fancier than the other two, reminding Jacy of a Companion she’d met once. She nodded, a small little smile on her face, “That can happen with a good book. Or good poetry.”

"I remember you." Alison stepped in closer and smiled at Jacy. "Three years ago. You treated my broken ribs." She said and glanced on Kindra tilting her head slightly. "Are you reading a poetry to a stranger, my dear? One could consider that a foreplay." She added with the straight face giving each of the woman a studied look. "Should I leave you two alone?"

Kindra chuckled and responded to Alison, "The brain is the most sensual part of the body, but you know I always insist on full and enthusiastic consent." Shifting her attention to the other blonde, Kindra gave her a warm smile and offered her hand. "Since you patched up my friend, I owe you a debt of gratitude. My name is Kindra Graham."

Jacy’s blue eyes darted from one woman to the other, lingering on the blonde as the memory came back to her. Yes, she had indeed treated the woman’s broken ribs. But what was her name? Isabelle? No, that wasn’t it and it hadn’t been all that long ago, either. Adelaide? She snapped her fingers, eyes rounding in recognition as the name hit her, “Adabelle!” That was it.

“Jacy. Wright. Jacy Wright.” She responded, taking the offered hand. “And as much as I agree about the brain, there is certainly something to be said about muscles. No offence, but you’re not really my type.”

Kindra released Jacy's hand and adopted a formal companion smile. She knew her friend had pseudonyms – Alison might not even be her real name. Kindra hid her surprise at Jacy's reaction and answered more formally. "None taken. It is a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Wright. You are lovely indeed, but it was not my intention to solicit, uh, your personal company." She caught Alison's gaze and raised an eyebrow. Didn't the 'Echo need a medic, now that Karen had left?

Alison hesitated but under Kindra's gaze came the realization. "It's Alison now. Alison Bliss." She said with a big smile as the introduction. "Say Jacy... do you feel like settling on a ship? We lost our medic and there is a free spot." She paused suggestively before adding. "I think I could convince the captain to take you in, if you haven't lost the touch."

Kindra gestured to Chloe and added, "This is Fortune's Echo's engineer, Chloe. Most of the crew are meeting up later for Ice Planets." She paused. Yeah, going out for ice cream, that didn't sound strange or suspiciously wholesome at all. "You could meet the captain and more of the ship's crew."

She felt a bit chagrined that she had basically insinuated such a thing, or no, it was more that maybe they’d taken her words the wrong way. But what was a bit of miscommunication between strangers? Though Adabelle...or, Alison wasn’t technically a stranger. This was just a prime example as to why Jacy needed to find herself a ship with good people, people that could hopefully become more than just acquaintances like she’d had back on Beylix. She was a bit into her thoughts and missed the look Kindra tossed to Alison. Jacy shook her head, clearing away her thoughts, “Wait… what?”

“You’re on a ship? That’s needs a Doctor?” Jacy’s blue eyes darted back and forth between the two women, “Ice cream?” The thought of a crew sitting around eating icecream together brought a wistful smile to her face.

"I-what?" Chloe looked up from her books, in which she had been wholeheartedly distracted. "Oh. Yeah. I'm Chloe." She looked back towards the book, which was open to the one of the first few pages.

Jacy nodded, “I think.. Yes, I think I’d like that.”

"Cool." Alison smiled. "We would need to talk to the captain first, but as a doctor, you shouldn't have problems getting his permission to join the crew." She glanced at Chloe and opened her mouth then closed it and turned to Kindra. "How about I leave Jacy with you two, Kindra? I need to meet Alden and Daiyu and then we can all meet for ice planets." She suggested.

"Sure 'nough, it'd be a pleasure," replied Kindra to Alison. She hoped all went well at St. Lucy's and they found Daiyu the help she needed. Then speaking to Jacy she added, "If you want to join us, of course. The bookstore was the main destination Chloe and I had in mind, plus checkin' for mail. Otherwise we don't have a particular agenda. Possibly a meal, shopping for fresh food, finding a proprietor of good quality liquor."

"Perfect." Alison smiled and nodded to Jacy. "See you later doctor. You too Chloe." She added looking briefly at the mechanic before she headed out of the bookshop.

That tiny jingle-chime they'd all heard when they'd entered the bookshop gently sounded as someone entered. Sebastian briefly cast his gaze at this new customer as he approached, then Alison heard him utter a sentence containing the words she'd used the first time she'd come here. Code words.

"Hi, I placed a special order? It's a collectors' edition hardback," said the mocha-skinned man in his early 30s. "Name's Osei."

Kindra approached the counter, ready to purchase the book of poetry, but waited with polite interest whilst the bookshop owner served his current customer.

"Of course," Sebastian noted to Osei, a man he'd met often over the past few years. "I have it in back," he advised. "Could you bear with me while I serve this customer?" Osei nodded his consent to the minor delay and took up a standing position to the left of the cluttered desk so that Kindra might have both the space and the owner's attention.

"Quite a stunning customer, if'n you don't mind me saying," Osei noted, giving the Companion a slow look up and down, then a polite bow of his head accompanied by a bright smile while Sebastian rung up the cost of Kindra's poetry tome and traded for the small amount of due credits.

With a gracious bow of her head to the ginger-haired proprietor, Kindra acknowledged the compliment. Her transaction complete, she slipped the book into her shopping bag and gave Sebastian and his dark-skinned customer a friendly smile. "Thank you for your kindness. I must say, I'm curious about the aforementioned collectors' edition hardback."

Jade eyes regarded Kindra for a politely hungry moment and he waggled a finger between them for her unwanted curiosity, but didn't shut down the conversation either. "Curiosity is a good thing," Osei noted. "But in this case I don't believe you'd be interested in the tome. Technical manual for an Earth-That-Was vehicle," he half-explained.

"If you'll excuse me," Sebastian intervened, addressing Osei. "Would you like to come through to the back room and examine said item?"

"Of course," his patron answered, gifting Kindra a bright and gentle bow. "A pleasure to meet you," he noted as they exited together.


ooc: shuh muh - What


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