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Rich People Buy Cool Stuff

Posted on Thu Jul 30th, 2020 @ 10:49pm by Alden Loxley & Alison Bliss & Karen Dawson MD & James Thomson & Noah-Jade True

Mission: Fortune & Glory
Location: Bellerophon
Timeline: 4 Months Ago (Next stop after Persephone)

A short hop from Persephone, the wealthy ocean world of Bellerophon was just three relaxing days away from that swift rescue mission at the free clinic in Eavesdown Docks. Alden was always wary of stopping off here - far too many rich, wealthy, paranoid people for his liking - but Drake Loxley's business needs helped to pay off the ever increasing debts. Besides, Drake was family.

So, here they were, docking at the gleaming palace-like home of Rodney and Gladys Leckington-Smythe. An island with an estate the size of a small town, its own mini population of tenant workers and a location hovering a mile above the sea.

"Bring us in slow," Alden told Alison for the hundreth time. "And don't muss up their lawn, okay? We can't afford to fix... well anything that we break here."

He looked and sounded anxious, and with good reason. This planet was home to some of the richest people in the 'Verse, and it screamed high security and low tolerance.

"Calm down, Alden." Alison said playfully for the hundredth time. It was annoying her at first but she understood where it was coming from. "Should I add to your worries?" She decided to have a bit of fun. "Or are you sufficiently stressed as you are?"

Alden rolled his eyes and rested a hand on the back of her chair from his seat beside her. “Lie to me,” he said, with a wry smile.

The Echo gently soared, lower and lower, and lower. Slowing down, Alison brought the beaten up transporter to a halt over the landing pad. It was sticking out like a sore thumb against the luxurious landscape.

Noah stood in the engine room, stepping back and forth to turn off levels and switches. Some of it should be automated... but the ship was still a work in progress and some of it only worked by hand. The fact that they even worked put them fairly low on the list of priorities. Bellerophon he thought to himself. This was where he had learned to swim; his family had a vacation home on the planet - but it wasn't nearly the size of the estate they were coming in for a landing on. A part of him wanted to go out and see it; but a smarter part of him was wary about all the people on it. Noah? Wary? Preposterous. But he had to admit to some level of wariness, or else he would've been caught by the Alliance years ago. Caution, yes, that's what it was. It was caution that wanted him to stay on the ship.

The landing gear extended, the Firefly-class transporter lowered more and then Alison felt the changing thruster balance. It made the ship dance in the air like a drunken bull.

“Whoa…” Alison moaned compensating and increased the altitude in the very last moment to avoid knocking down a tall tree near the landing site. “Noah, gentler please.” She said into the intercom.

"You got it," Noah responded over the intercom. It's a junker firefly that I'm shifting manually, he thought to himself, how smooth do you expect? But he didn't have to say that out loud. Instead he just quietly turned a few switches, readjusted the fuel mixture a tad, and released a bit of pressure. All with the same neutral expression. This was far from his favorite part of engineering. He had went to college expecting to get a job in R&D. He liked slow experiments with lots of time to prepare and perfect, not this quick, important work that was probably more suited to a pilot than anything else. The ships he had worked on in the Alliance only needed babying like this when they were limping away from combat, not after two months of work and preparation. Either way; whatever he did seemed to work, and the ship started flying smoother and slower.

From that point on, Alison had no more problems. The Echo, not particularly pretty being a patched up vessel, like a feline predator softly touched the ground at the exact spot she should, down to a few centimeters. The landing gear slightly gave in under the weight of the ship, but remained stable. Switching off engines, Alison turned to Alden.

“We landed, captain. Perfectly.” She said boastingly.

"Yep, perfectly," James quipped cheekily from the threshold of the cockpit. Unless he was on the defensive, and transporting cargo James had a fair amount of free time on the ship. Usually, he spent this time acting like Alden's shadow annoying his older cousin with his cheeky quips and morally questionable comments. Although acknowledged that that was just James, even his family had their limits. Earlier that morning, he had sworn to himself that he'd be on his best behaviour, but he often found the crew made it too easy for him. That and he felt antsy about getting boots down, he loved his job, but there was only so much of the Fortune to see.

Alden opened his eyes, leant forward and gently patted the console before him. “Good girl,” he told the Echo, and only then did he look across to Alison. “Nicely done,” he told her, before picking up the intercom to address Noah. “Still working her on manual?” Alden asked their engineer. They needed a new part, but the cash hadn’t been there to upgrade her yet.

"Yeah, she's still manual right now," the engineer responded over the intercom. "Don't be expecting too much smoothness from her. Even on auto she's still a Firefly."

“Fair comment," agreed Alden with a lazy smile. "But she's so pretty," he added, meaning the Echo, but looking directly at Alison as he said it. "Good job it’s payday...”

“It better be.” Alison commented giving Alden cool stare. More to motivate him in a playful way than anything else.

The Echo’s Captain turned to regard his cousin, James lurking at the door with a smug grin on his face. “Pretty damn close to perfect,” Alden told the younger man, but the light in his gaze was kind. It shifted as the elder considered the job at hand here. “Now you guys stay close to the ship and don’t upset the nice security people,” he kept his gaze solidly on James as he spoke. “Karen and I will go deliver the package.” Alden’s eyes narrowed on his cousin. “Best behaviour, understand?”

James' smirked, but nodded, "I promise whilst you're gone I won't maim, harm or argue with another soul until your return, skipper," He said, joking but still sincere. It wasn't as though the request had been unfounded.

"I'm holding you to that," Alden noted, with a touch of seriousness as he kept his gaze locked with the younger man.

Karen had mostly used her time aboard to rest in the dorm room. The one stipulation of her staying aboard. A bigger room for an extremely demanding job.

Alden had loaned her a few baggy shirts until they could get to the skyplex to retrieve her things. So she looked a bit off, sitting in the kitchen table in clothes two sizes too big. On top of that, she thought she herd her name.

"I'm doin' what?!" Karen asked into the void that led to the cockpit.

He grinned as the doc's voice floated down the corridor towards them. "You're coming with me to deliver these nice folk the expensive item they paid my brother a great deal of credits to own," Alden told her.

Alison stood up and followed Alden putting a hand on the grip of a pistol holstered at her hip. While she was planning to stay on board, she felt it would be nice to accompany him on the ramp. Just in case, someone on the planet would want to give them troubles.

Stepping out onto the ramp as it lowered was one of Alden's favourite moments on landing. He sucked in a breath of ridiculously fresh air and regarded the scenic, landscaped gardens around him for a long moment. There was the obvious presence of a few uniformed security in the periphery, two of whom seemed to be headed this way, but their guns were holstered, and neither were shouting commands.

"No one shooting at us," Alden commented quietly to Alison. "Looks like it's gonna be a good day."

"If you're expecting me to be... well... classy," Karen began to protest as she followed him out, "...Jack didn't exactly pack my finest things in my medical bag. So I can't exactly look like my status without my things - likely now at the Skyplex."

"Don't need you to be classy or act up to impress folks," Alden promised openly as he regarded Karen's current dress code. "In fact, prefer it if you weren't." His own dress was a usual combination of work trousers and a dark cotton shirt, the holster at his side as nonchalant as the man's current attitude. "No sense in drawing attention, I've been here before, they know me. We're just a delivery service, regular client. No one to impress, Doc," he added, because in Alden's opinion, Karen didn't look that amused with his first response. "C'mon, let's get this done."

Alison glanced at Karen and giggled slightly shaking her head.
"Have fun guys."

Karen blinked in totally confusion. "...So what am I supposed to do?"

"Come along with me, check out the big pretty house and make sure I don't say anything stupid," said Alden with a wry smile back at them both. "And if you manage that, you can carry the credits back."

Karen gave him a dubious expression. "Well.. that's not suspicious at all."

----------

As soon as Karen and Alden were out of sight up towards the house, those two security guards adjusted their path so as to ensure they ended up right alongside the Echo. They let their voices carry loudly, clearly intentionally baiting those within.

"What a yī dà tuó dà biàn!" (big pile of shit) Said the light skinned man. His darker skinned companion chuckled.

"Fey Wu," (junk)he agreed. "Probably gonna need to get it towed outta here, not sure it's gonna be able to move on its own."

Alison folded her hands and stood as she was on the ramp, watching both guards. She was tempted to say something taunting, but then it could quickly evolve into complications. Especially on this planet. Stay calm, she thought, do not allow herself to be provoked by dumbheads with the captain away. She took deep breath and exhaled with the friendliest grin she could muster.

"She might be a pile of junk, but she's our pile of junk," Noah said with a dry tone, speaking over the intercom so he didn't have to raise his voice.

One of the guards kicked the landing gear with a steel-toe boot and chuckled. "One more of those it might just fall over," he noted with a look to the open cargo ramp.

"I'll get the other side," said his buddy, a smirk taking up residence on his face. "See if we can't drop this whole thing on its belly. Then claim some salvage."

"I wonder how much we could get if we dropped you are your belly?" James questioned as he made his approach, Alden told him to behave but he didn't say he couldn't have a bit of fun along his road to self-improvement, "I hear there's plenty of folk out there looking for a good liver, could fuel a ship like that for month" he said, pointing behind him towards the echo with his thumb, Reaching the pair he draped his thick arms other their shoulders, drawing the pair in with a friendly grin, "But what kinda' sicko would want to do that?" He asked, his tone innocent but his expression clear that it was a warning.

"James. Let them be. They are harmless." Alison said softly, observing the whole situation from her spot on the ramp.

"Doesn't sound like you are though," said the darker skinned guard with an edge to his tone of voice as his finger and thumb reached for his radio. "Organ trafficing's a very serious, criminal offence," he noted.

"Better check them with the authorities, Chris," agreed his light-skilled buddy.

"Yeah, better do. We don't want any of the important people to get annoyed because the transport they ordered for their money was damaged by some local guards." Alison said with a sigh.

James winced dramatically before backing towards the ships ramp and Allison, "I wouldn't want to be those two guards, I imagine the important folk don't take to kindly to incompetence." He commented with a grin.

"You might be surprised how little they care about who brings them stuff," Chris the Security Guard noted, derision coating every word he spoke. "Besides, their stuff's being delivered right now, while you Chwen Joo spare parts just wait."

Alison rolled her eyes and decided to stay quiet and not escalate things further. Even if she really, really... really wanted. With Alden and Karen out, this could turn sour and cause problems for them too.

"You're a pretty little thing, ain't ya?" Asked the as-yet-unnamed guard as he made eyes at Alison. "You Registered?"

Alison gave the man a soft and sultry smile. She was wondering when it would come to that.

"Well thank ya, handsome. I am not unfortunately." She replied and her voice turned sweeter. "I knew that you are the one with the better eyesight of the two of you."

James snorted into his hand, covering the smirk forming on his face. Somehow watching Allison toying with the guards significantly reduced James' urge to smash their heads together. He stayed quiet content to let Allison keep the guards at bay.

"Ah, understood. Just a common whore then?" The guard asked, his face utterly deadpan as he attempted one more time to get under their skins and force a fight he knew he'd win. He'd have put money on this dark-haired kid being trouble, now he just wanted to prove it.

"A whore yes. Common? No. It is called a courtesan." Alison said sweetly, gently changing position into a more sensual, putting right hand on her hip. "Still interested, Shwai?

The guard grinned, turned to his partner to raise both eyebrows, and then faced back towards the shameless slim blonde with the smart mouth. He had to concede at least a minor win to her there. "Definitely," he said, honestly, then shrugged.

"Mike..." His buddy warned.

"That's the spirit! Not only the one who is more handsome, but also the one with a business sense." Alison replied, keeping her voice sweet and gently changing position moving her weight from one leg to the other. "That will cost ya 500 Platinum for an hour. I think I'll be here that long, sweetheart."

"You can't be worth more than 250, darlin," Mike stated, as if he were bartering for fruit at a market stall. He did look somewhat pleased with himself for that one.

"500. I know what I am worth." Alison said softly, invitingly smiling at Mike. "I told ya, I am a courtesan. You can get a whore for 250 in the bar." She nodded toward buildings in the distance vaguely suggesting where to go.

"350, final offer," said Mike, while his buddy rolled his eyes dramatically and regarded James as if hoping the other man would prevent either of them having to suffer this situation any longer. "And you better be worth it."

Alison frowned royally.

"Fuck off Buhn Dahn." She said keeping her sweet tone though her eyes became colder. "Stop wasting my time if you don't have the money."

Chris laughed, Mike growled at the cursing, but he was still looking Alison up and down as if he was considering renting a new vehicle for the weekend.

Despite the entertainment, there was only so long James was willing to let Mike run his mouth before getting bored of the garbage spilling out of it. With purpose, he headed directly for Mike and grabbed both the man's shoulders once he reached him, keeping the guard at an arm's-length, "See, if you'd have just accepted the fee our good XO had offered, what's about to happen would have been avoidable" James spoke his smile wide and the unmistakable glint of excitement was swimming in his eyes.

"But you didn't, you got cheeky, you disrespected my XO even when she offered you an out," He carried on, pressing his fingers into the flesh of Mike's shoulders. "See, though I have no doubt she'd have my ass if we ever went toe to toe, her restraint makes her the lesser of two evils in this situation with finding ourselves in" James finished before snapping his head forward and colliding it with Mike's, letting go as the guard stumbled, "and now I'm annoyed."

It was hellish amusing, thought Chris, watching this yokel with the increasingly bad attitude stand up for the whore. He leant back, casually standing spectator, to enjoy the show, right up until his buddy stumbled backwards from a headbutt.

"Okay," stated Chris, clearly and with a complete lack of any sense of humour now. His rifle aimed directly at James' chest, ready to fire, his attention entirely taken up by the crew of the Firefly. "On your knees on the ground, both of you. NOW."

Alison didn't see that coming. What James did was pretty much sealing their fate and something Alison wanted to avoid. She had the guard under control and James just had to play the white knight. She curbed raising anger and put the most innocent and disarming smile.

"Oh, come on... you were pushing his buttons to have him blew up like that. James is a dickhead. So treating him like one, you got the reaction." She said raising her hands in calming gesture, making a step toward guards. "How about guys, I'll do you both for free and you just let that slide. Free of charge. One by one or two at the same time." She said seductively arching her body. She had to step in and offer the only thing she had that could sway things around. "A bit fun and pleasure for you, and I'll promise I'll deal with the dickhead later."

"No thanks," Mike spat the words as he dragged himself up to his feet finally. He gently shook his head as if testing to see if his brains were still safely inside, then scowled darkly and raised his own rifle. "I've got a headache." He sighed heavily and overtly, then added. "And I think, Ching Soh, you need to get down on the ground."

Behind the two guards now, Alison and James could see Alden and Karen striding back through the landscaped gardens towards the Echo.

"All right, all right. But here comes our boss. You can take it with him and whoever is hiring us." Alison kept her hands raised but pointed with her head at the coming back members of the crew.

----

The mansion, once they stood inside its vast hall, with its triple sweeping stone staircases and artistically painted high ceiling, did not disappoint. Alden, who had been there before, wandered about the exquisitely tiled floor (each one with its own individually ornate pattern) in a lazy circle, simply stretching his legs.

In every niche and on shelves spaced perfectly about the pristine pale green walls were an eclectic mix of Earth That Was artefacts.

As Karen walked the files of the shelves, she spoke in awe to each item she saw.

"Chanel Number 5," the doc began with excitement. "...An old portable music player with an apple logo, with bass-supported headphone buds. A Magnavox Odyssey - First-ever gaming console."

Karen spotted some other things too. A collection of fifty consecutive years of British holiday stamps from the 19th and 20th centuries. Then there was an autographed baseball from Babe Ruth, during his rookie season. The final item to catch her eye, was a 1977 action figure collector's case, from a movie called, Star Wars. Mint condition.

"Who are these people, Alden?" Karen finally asked once she began to formulate the price of all the items in front of her.

"Mr and Mrs Leckington-Smythe," Alden told her, but he knew what she meant. "Her family made their money in waste disposal and funerial services, so he took her name. As you can see, they're crazy rich," he added, just as a ridiculously handsome olive-skinned, dark-haired man in his twenties appeared behind him, visible only to Karen in that moment.

"That Mister Leckington-Smythe?" Karen prodded for Alden to turn around at the nicely-dressed man.

Alden spun on his feet and presented a warm smile to their patron. "Hullo," he said, simply and looked momentarily awkward. "Uh, sorry."

"Well, I am crazy rich," the other man noted, his tone lacking humour entirely. Mister Leckington-Smythe offered up a tolerant smile, then spent a long moment regarding Karen and her chosen attire, before returning a greeting of his own. "Captain Loxley," he said, abruptly, then, with a raised eyebrow to Alden's companion, added. "And guest?"

"Indeed," answered Alden, unskillfully avoiding an immediate introduction for Karen since he didn't really wish to provide anyone with her full real name right now. He should, he realised, probably have thought about that before bringing the Doc along for the ride. In absence of a politer response, he reached into his pack and produced a small cube of a parcel wrapped neatly in brown paper and string. "As requested," Alden said. "Pending payment of course," he continued with a lopsided grin.

Karen maintained a neutral composure though she did wonder what was in the package. Likely some ill-gotten gain.

"Mercy," Karen finally supplied the man. A nickname Browncoats of Serenity Valley dubbed her. So technically it was not a lie.

Alden hid the surprise in his expression as best he could, and recovered swiftly as their patron handed over a small leather pouch and an unsealed, lightly padded envelope. From above them, at the wooden rail of the upper galley landing, came a feminine call and the lilting scent of stupidly expensive perfume.

"Payment," said the rich fella. "For your brother and," he smirked. "A little extra for your trouble. Now," he added, as the woman above them leant over the railing and called seductively to him. "Go away."

"They could join us!" Called the female voice from above impishly. Her long red hair fell in rivulets of luxuriously lazy corkscrew curls, and her unmade up face showed crinkles and lines that put her age a decade or so above her husband's.

Rodney leveled dark eyes at 'Mercy' and Alden and raised a single eyebrow.

Karen looked to Alden for help. She had no clue what madness they'd just stepped into and she was instantly uncomfortable. "It's up to you, Captain."

Without any shame whatsoever, Alden shook his head and laughed warmly. "Just the delivery," he told their rich patron. "You know this, she knows this." He rested a calm hand on Karen's shoulder protectively, and added, with a direct look to Rodney's eyes. "I'll see you next month, yes?"

From above came a moody sigh that was absolutely and of course intentionally, audible to all present, and the redhead stormed off out of view. Rodney face brightened instantly, and he rubbed his hands together with obvious excitement. "Next month," was all he said and he nodded towards the door.

With no need for further encouragement, Alden ushered Karen along with him as the door was opened by a valet to admit them back into the ornamental gardens.

"Soooo, sorry about that!" Alden advised. He raised both eyebrows and grinned. "Woman is apparently insatiable... So the legend goes."

"Yeah... ok..." Karen gave herself a moment for the confusion in her voice to lift before she said, "But you still haven't explained why I'm here... Not that I don't mind getting off the ship, but I do feel left in the dark about whatever just happened."

He couldn't blame the Doc for being confused, but he just hadn't been able to bring himself to admit the reason for needing company up back at the ship. Not in front of the rest of the crew, and then not to Karen either as they'd walked up. It was as if Alden had treasured those few extra minutes of having some pride left before he had to fess up the thing he was going to have to admit to now.

"Uh, yeah," he looked off across the landscaped shrubbery awkwardly and steeled his expression before continuing. "Well, first time I went alone. Didn't get outta there for 12 hours. And... well, let's just say her tastes are different to mine. Turns out they don't argue with a no if there's two of ya. So, basically," he turned back to meet her gaze and winced as he confessed. "You were there to protect me."

Honesty. Something she appreciated and gave a nod of approval for. Also something she felt she should reciprocate in return.

"I don't know where I see myself, a year from now," Karen confessed. "Until a new station chief takes over, I can't return to my clinic on Persephone as long as he persecutes false shadows of a past he can't let go of... So if you need a doc, you have me - for now. But I refuse to be involved in anything that could get me barred from practicing medicine."

Alden gave a soft sigh of regret for all the people wronged in the Core, all those hard working souls kicked and pushed down on a regular basis by an overly enthusiastic Alliance. Persephone, stomach wounds and surgery and a rescue of the woman who had not long ago saved his life. In the aftermath of that respectful moment of emotion, he offered Karen a broad and genuine smile as he leaned a little closer to her, as if they needed privacy out here in the gardens.

"I definitely need a doc," he agreed, wholeheartedly and with grateful happiness. "And you're welcome to stay just as very long as you want to." He nodded agreeably with their mutual decision. "You ever want off, or away from anything we're doing, you just tell me straight. But I promise," he placed his fist over his heart in an oath-making position. "I will never knowingly put you in any trouble that will damage you or your reputation."

Karen thought about it for a few moments. Shook her head. Then smiled, "We have an accord then."

"Shiny!" Alden smiled. It didn't linger on his face long though as he caught a glimpse of the small gathering outside the Echo. "Ah.. Tzao Gao..." He noted, and picked up the pace. "James!" He called, as he neared the little collection of people. "What did you do now?"

"Me?" James complained, "I simply did my job as ship's security, Captain. This one" he pointed at Mike, "got a bit cheeky with Alison, had to make sure her authority was respected." he explained, his eyes full of humour as he struggled to suppress a grin. "Of course, being that we are on the ramp, we're on the ship so it seemed appropriate" he carried on matter of factly, he arms crossed defensively.

"In other words, James was again his usual self... brutish, Yu Bun Duh and now we are as usual..." Alison emphasized the last words with melodramatic flair and nodding toward the guards continued. "...in troubles with the locals. I wish to live the day when he actually lets me handle things, without need for violence every time. But since you two are related, I really shouldn't be surprised." She finished with a long sigh.

Alden's expression shifted from irritated, to resigned to mock hurt as they both reported in, then he looked from cousin and co-owner to the two guards who'd been remarkably quiet while the two spoke their side.

"We good?" Alden asked them, tilting his head to the side and giving Chris and Mike a lingering look that suggested an affirmative response would be their best exit strategy here. Two curt and silent nods returned, and the security contingent wandered away without further comment, Chris' hand at Mike's back to help steer him out of the conversation.

Alden turned back to regard the two on the Echo's ramp, and threw the bag of money to Alison. "We got paid," he told her with a grin. "Take out our agreed cut, and the rest we're banking for my brother. All honest, above board and legal. Think we need to celebrate." There was a small sigh. "If Noah has anything left after fixing whatever we broke this week..."

Alison lowered her hands when the guards pulled back. She caught the bag and weighted it before she smiled.

"Good. You need to take Karen with you on business more often. I am leaning toward her being the reason we got paid." She joked and winked at Karen.

He stepped up onto the ramp then, gave James a gentle cuff across the back of his head in chastisement. "I told ya, cuz," Alden reminded him. "Alison's more than able to look after herself. But I can't be too mad at ya for sticking up for her either," he added, with a quick smile. "Sorry, Ali," he called over his shoulder. "I guess chivalry's not dead though, huh?"

Alison gave both of them infatuated look and batted with her eyelashes.

"Apparently, at least in your family... which is why I am putting up with you two." She said and walked up the ramp.

"As long as I get cheese danishes and some pocket coin, I don't mind being eye candy," Karen yawned. "But for now, I'm off to my dorm for a good, long nap."

James smiled as he made his way up the ramp. Moments like this reminded him why he needed to stay. It was the closest to sunshine and rainbow's as he'd ever come.

-----

 

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