Previous Next

Money For Nothing And Kicks For Free

Posted on Tue May 17th, 2022 @ 7:16am by Alden Loxley & Whit

Mission: Twas The Twelve Days of Travel
Location: Starboard Shuttle
Timeline: November 13th late night (two days til Three Hills)

"So far so good," noted Alden as he leant against the shuttle's inner airlock door and regarded Whit with an overt look of intrigue. "Seems if anyone's gonna jump us they're waiting til we land." There was a quiet exhale and he scratched his head. This whole matter was complicated and yet really simple, but either way he had questions.

"Daiyu's behaving herself, you and your partner in violent prayer have been model passengers and no one's died for a while, least not on this boat. You gonna tell me just exactly what we're doing here, with all that money you invested?" He let his gaze land on Whit's own and remain heavily present.

"Are we the distraction, paid babysitters or just an expensive taxi service?" Alden queried. "I mean... I can get us some topnotch ship repairs on Three Hills with your payment for passage. That'll keep us flying. But Ali does make a - repeatedly - fair point. I'm putting my crew at risk here. You and yer buddies - Grimshaw and all - have serious connections. And all the while, Daiyu's an emotional nuke, how and where are we getting the little lady some real help?"

Whit's eye gave a little twinkle as he answered. "The Lord works in mysterious ways," he intoned before dropping into a slightly more casual tone, "which is to say I don't have a wénzi de húxū of an idea what happens next. The original plan was for the A-Men to rescue Daiyu, take her to safety, and then lead her pursuers into an ambush. Hopes were they would be able to uncover the root of evil and rain divine retribution upon them for a change, who and wherever they are." Hands up in a shrug, Whit twisted his mouth in a half-frown. "Now? The only way I talked Daiyu out of that alleyway I found her in was if we headed back here, and that puts you and yours in a tricky spot."

Although a smirk came over Whit's face, it was not mirthful. Cocky, perhaps, and a little cavalier, but the man's tone was solemn.

"Now your bitter first mate is two steps from tarnation if she thinks to make good on her threat against Daiyu, but lucky for her I know a tantrum when I hear one. As it stands, until justice is meted on the sons of hell who chased Daiyu across half the 'Verse, you're flyin' in a big fishbowl." He put two fingers up to his eyes and pointed them at Alden. "Those Blue Sun Alliance mercs will stop before we will, and they ain't fixin' to stop. If you want to take your chances without us, Alden--dump off Daiyu, me, and Coop at the next port, and I wouldn't rightly blame you. But it would mean you are on your own. The A-Men would leave you to go about your business while they stay atop the target." He rolled his eyes for just a moment. "I'm sure Miss Alison ain't got a qualm about goin' down swingin', but I reckon the others got a better notion about kicking against the pricks."

Not Alden's first time in dealing with the 'mysterious ways' response, so he left that slide. Whit had his secrets and, when they weren't hurting his own, Alden could weren't quite gonna cut it. At least Whit went on to share some (lack of) detail from his own experience and mind though, which was something. A small something, but something. Not enough.

"Daiyu would only move if she came back to me?" Rhetorical question, rolling his brain through understanding this messed up situation. "How come Grimshaw didn't overrule? Seems like he'd have a better notion as to where she might be helped more than me and mine." Alden didn't personally mind escorting a person in need from A to B, particularly when he was being paid handsomely for it, but there was definitely a higher element of risk involved with this one than he'd previously encountered. He didn't want anyone here to get hurt, and there seemed like an extremely high chance of that not being so.

Whit shrugged as if it were obvious. "We're Shepherds. We don't take no one anywhere they don't want to go exceptin' to meet their Maker as they need meetin' him."

"Now, I 'ppreciate your predicament and all, Whit, and as you noticed I have a soft spot for the little miss, but - death threats notwithstanding - Alison's damn near died for Daiyu and she didn't rightly like her too much to start with. She's within her rights to grumble and grouse 'bout that. For the record though, Daiyu's under our protection - yours and mine - for the time being. But yes, as you rightly suggest, I need to keep all of us alive and breathing. Daiyu has a way of making trouble, and at least one death that we're all keenly aware of happening." Alden pointed his best searching glare at Whit and waited for the response. "What are you and I gonna do to ensure Daiyu's safety don't jeopardise anyone else's on my ship?"

Whit leaned forward. "You might consider becoming a praying man, Captain Loxley, 'cause I got the feeling this road gets a might darker before it gets brighter." Leaning back and crossing his arms, Whit said, "I'm a Shepherd, not a miracle worker. You want to put a lid on crazy, you better start praying. Best I can do is run interference, and that might mean taking the lash to some of your more smartmouthed crew."

Alden bristled and straightened his back in response to the other man's lean. "I send the occasional prayer up and out into the Black," he admitted. "Like most of us though, ain't never really gotten much in return but trouble and complications." A short sigh, then he steeled his gaze, folded his arms in front of his chest and regarded Whit with a stern, utterly serious glare. "I'll take your help, Shepherd," Alden confirmed. "But not your advice with regards my crew. No one's getting hit for voicing their opinion." There followed a short pause in which he continued to trade stares with Whit.

"They get stabby?" Alden eventually added with a cant of his head. "Then I'll bring out the retributional violence. But words they get to have and speak."

"I don't hit people," Whit said plainly. "I avenge them. Daiyu don't get special treatment. She does a fella wrong, she gets put down because the Good Lord ain't a respector of persons and I ain't about to be neither. But if any of your hútú rén haul off and grab a dog by the ears, they gonna get what they deserve..." Whit's brow arched as he held Alden's stare. "... one way or 'nother."

For a moment, Alden regarded Whit with a quizzical expression. "It might not have come to your attention, Shepherd," he said, with an even and not unkind or sarcastic tone. "But Daiyu did some damage back on Santo that ended up with a man dying. And another one," he quirked a wry smile. "Took the blame for it. Unless," Alden's thoughts wandered further. "You do know more than you've said up til now?"

"What I know and what I can prove are two different things," Whit said with a smirk. "Chalk it up to faith. What I know is the man whose face Daiyu rearranged more than had it coming. You'd do well to let your people know that. You want proof? Call a Fed. I'm just a Shepherd."

Alden sighed. He wasn't as wordy-wise as the man standing before him and he knew it. Whit would run conversational rings about him until Alden decided he'd had enough, and that had been a few days's back if he was honest. Shepherds and Feds didn't seem all that different when it came to sharing information, which was interesting on a level the Echo's captain hadn't needed to experience before now, but what Alden needed was enough assurance that everything they'd been through and had coming was both necessary and worthwhile. He had a feeling, based on every conversation he'd had with Alison over the last week that she was way past caring about either of those and was now seriously considering something that Alden was pretending he didn't see coming.

Faced between trying to save Daiyu and losing his business partner, Alden only had one play left to make.

"I need to know if it's possible to help Daiyu," he said. "I need to know that you and I can make a difference to her life. That we're not just dragging her 'round the Verse when she should be in a hospital. That she ain't gonna be better off with those medical types, receiving the care and attention she needs. I don't need evidence, but I do need to be sure that I ain't doing more harm than good on her account. And I want to talk to your pal Grimshaw if'n that's possible. Cos if you, me and the lil lady are staying together I need some real help for her medical needs. I can absolutely call a Fed to ask, but y'all might not like that."

Whit leaned back and shrugged. "I can send a Wave. Most I can do. You call the Feds and I expect things still work out one way or 'nother. As for Daiyu, I got the notion she ain't long for any hospital before more of those blue devils show up. Ain't you a might curious what they want with her so bad they're killing men o' God and all else to get to her? We find that out, then I reckon you can be rid of more than just her. We might be able to make the black a little brighter."

Alden paced the shuttle floor and sighed. He seemed to be sighing a lot lately, been a while since he'd sung a song or played his guitar, but this was serious stuff, and Whit was right. It wasn't ever going to be as simple as handing Daiyu over to a hospital and letting her heal.

"Heck yeah, I'm curious," Alden admitted openly. "Up until you and Coop 'came involved, all I could tell was that I'd picked up a disturbed young woman from an escape pod out near Hera. A young woman who's manifested some mental issues including a couple of extra personnas from outta nowhere I've seen coming. She mentioned the abbey, the abbot and her plants, and she shifts brain gears at the sight of blood. We're talking trauma of some kind," he levelled a steely gaze at Whit. "The kind I'm trusting you ain't involved with on account of Daiyu not trying to kill you yet. But how d'ya spose we start unravelling this unpleasant mystery?"

"You check out those papers I gave ye?" Whit asked. "I sent more than one soul to perdition acquiring them while Grimshaw had his lil' standoff. Hopefully you were inclined to do more than wipe your arse like Miss Alison."

Alden nodded, and reached over to lift the folder from the shuttle's console to demonstrate his commitment to this particular investigation. "Since you put so much pre-work into this, and I'm risking the lives of my passengers and crew," he stated with a calm tone. "How bout we look through them together, right now?"

"Fine by me." Whit shrugged. "Though to be painfully honest, I already took a gander and didn't come up with much. Too much that refers to other information. Not exactly encrypted, but we'd need access to a Fed database or a piggy willin' to squeal if we want real answers. Even so," he said, nodding at the papers, "I got nothin' better to do."

"Okay," said Alden, meaning it wasn't, but that blame didn't fall on Whit. He regarded the stack of paper again and rubbed the stubble on his chin in contemplative silence for a short moment. "Received and understood," he noted. "I might be able to get us some help on that front, but it'll be hacking rather than legal, and it would mean being nice to my little brother. Mebbee we work up a basic timeline first? Figure out all the questions we need the Feds to answer, sound like a good place to start?" He exhaled softly. It was practically morning, shipboard time-wise rather than any actual planetary rotation, and while he knew he wasn't getting any sleep anytime soon, he could at least enjoy the last couple of days of Alison sharing the pilot duties. "Coffee? Or something stronger?"

"Shiny," said Whit. "All that sounds just shiny."



Previous Next