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Remember When Rescuing People Was The Right Thing to Do?

Posted on Sat Apr 30th, 2022 @ 5:49pm by Alden Loxley & Alison Bliss

Mission: Twas The Twelve Days of Travel
Location: Echo Bridge
Timeline: November 4th - after Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Turns out it's usually better to have at least one pilot on the bridge of a ship, even when said vessel is hurtling through the Black on a guided navi-path. So the heavy conversation Alden had invited by virtue of agreeing with a couple of unknown Shepherds versus his partner in crime, ship-building and commerce was happening in the Echo's cockpit. Noise-deadened and private, the location was about as perfect as it could get, if a little too far from food.

Alden had dragged some with him. No booze this time - they both still had headaches from whatever the fuck had been done to their brains by the blue-handed tech - but definitely caffeine and definitely all teh food groups with a reputation for comfort and high sugar content.

Booted feet up on their familiar spot from the co-pilot seat to the console, Alden regarded Alison as she rocked the pilot's chair.

"C'mon," he said. "Hit me with your best shot. I deserve it." There was irony wrapped about those words. "But you gotta know I didn't expect rescuing a girl from a pod in the middle of nowhere would nearly get us killed."

Alison still felt discomfort, and she felt miserable. Stretched in the seat, she hid her long legs under the console. She was not in the mood and neither was she feeling any strong emotions that flared during the last conversation. She turned her head away from the console and glanced at Alden, and shrugged. "What? I've said enough already. I don't know what it will take for you to open your eyes about Daiyu. Her frantic antisocial outbursts were not enough, so was not enough: eerie behavior, suicidal attempts, a bloody berserk spout when she took a man's face off with her bare hands." She went through the motions of raising each finger. "Now, if risking your friend's life is not enough, because you know that Jacy being where she was, it was one in a million. I should be dead. What next are you willing to sacrifice in the name of your love for stray cats?"

"My eyes ain't closed," Alden protested quietly, but with a gentle firmness. He didn't want to argue. He wanted what he could never have for long - everyone safe and sound at the same time. "I can clearly see Daiyu has some serious issues. But we tried to deliver her to safety and they tried to kidnap her and didn't waste any time in kindness doing it."

There followed a long pause as he internalised some muttering and useless comments that meant nothing. Alison and Kindra were right. Daiyu was danger personified. They had no means to change that on board Echo and he was running a huge risk in travelling with her. The Shepherds too - what the hell had they been mixed up in?! Ghost was a clusterfuck of what looked suspiciously like... no he wasn't gonna say it.

"You've never minded risking danger by my side before," he pointed out, unfairly. "And we've been paid handsomely to travel with Daiyu, Whit and Coop. We need money for the ship," Alden added. They always did. "And when we're back in the Core, maybe we can find them all some help. It's a temporary situation, Ali, just an escort job."

Alison clenched her teeth. She felt like shouting, but there was this realization that it wouldn't change a thing. She deluded herself that she had some kind of influence here on Alden. She never had. With the realization came a decision, and he relaxed. "Sure. You know it is not true." She said softly with a tinge of sadness in it. "I think this is the point. Next port, I am off." 

He could feel it, that icy chill in his gut that told him he'd crossed that line too far. That he wasn't listening. That he was simply hearing Ali's point of view, her valid opinion and he was blatantly ignoring it. No wonder she was pissed. Alden spent a couple of minutes in silent contemplation of this realisation, all the while studying those telltale signs that had preceded her soulful words. He didn't want to rush into a response, make it sound half-assed or uncaring.

He cared. Too much. That was almost always the problem. Hurt one to save another?

"Don't..." Alden said, dark blue gaze seeling Ali's and holding. It was a small struggle to say the rest of the sentiment, but he meant every word. "Don't leave me?" A pause. A heartfelt sigh. "Three Hills. We'll drop them off. Plenty of places to go hide from there."

Alison was tired. She waved her hand dismissively. "Do what you need to do." She stood up and finished not looking at Alden. "We will see what happens on Three Hills." Then she headed out.

Should have waited some, Alden chastised himself. Let Ali rest more, hold his damn tongue until she could at least look him in the eyes and yell at him. He could deal with being yelled at a lot better than this ocean of dark guilt that haunted him every second. She could have died. Hell, they both could have. And for what? They didn't even know who those gloved Alliance assholes were or what they wanted with the damaged young woman.

"I'm sorry, Ali," he said, to the back of Alison's head as she walked away. "I'm really really sorry." But that didn't change the weight of the sorrow, the guilt or the split conscience that plagued the Echo's current captain, not even as he heard the airlock door close behind his good friend and partner. Not even as Alden buried his head in his hands and let the emotions silently overwhelm him.



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