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Landfall: Hera and Back Again

Posted on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 @ 11:06pm by Alden Loxley & Alison Bliss & Jacob Lara & Karen Dawson MD & Noah-Jade True & Kaila Atwood & Tristan & Daiyu

Mission: The Milk Run
Location: Hera - The Hub
Timeline: Day 12 - Lunchtime

Earlier that morning, just as they’d approached atmo, Alden had received the coordinates for their illicit recovery mission. His heart had sunk as he’d passed that information on to Alison and Kai though, on account of the gorram location they had to dig was within Serenity Valley. Away from the protected ground, yet still well within the limits of the myriad of graves. But they were here now, the path was set and their fates decided. The Echo sat down on solid ground, Noah arranging a refuel, Alison finalising the details of their legitimate finances - the blond definitely had a way with both men and money.

With a heavy sense of foreboding for the immediate future, Alden had helped to handle the transaction that put a good weight of mined ore on board for the next client in the mercantile chain. If they could keep this up, they’d keep flying just peachy-fine, but they weren’t making a whole lot of profit. And then there was that little matter of the job on the side.

He’d let the rest of the crew wander about town for the hour it took to deal with ship business, and now, the Captain stood on the cargo ramp waiting for those who had wandered off to return. Then, Alden decided, he’d have to tell them about the side mission. First though, he had to do The Deed.

“Morning, Tristan,” he called out as the boy emerged from the depths of the cargo bay and headed towards the light. As per their previous discussion, this was where they’d agreed to part ways. “Good fortune to you, Di Di,” Alden wished him with a warm tone. “Stay safe out there, okay?” He added with a smile and offered his hand to be shaken in an amicable farewell.

Tristan nodded as he gently took the man's hand. "Thank you for the ride," he said, giving a slight smile as he shifted his backpack on his shoulder. He had everything with him, his music player, his extra set of clothes. He took a deep breath before he turned and walked through the cargo bay, taking a look around to appreciate the view. This was the first place he ever truly felt safe.

"Just..." He turned for a moment, "Just in case I won the lottery or something. H-how much does it cost to be a passenger?" He felt stupid the moment he asked. The truth was, he knew he wasn't going to win the lottery or suddenly get a job that would pay him enough in such little time. But it didn't hurt to ask.

Alden shook the kid's hand firmly, and then didn't let go. He pulled Tristan towards him and gave him a quick, fraternal hug before instantly letting go. "Think you'd have more chance of working your passage back," Alden pointed out. "But next time you want to do that, ask up front. Don't stowaway," he added with a smile and a conspiratorial wink.

As Alden and Tristan talked, Noah strode out of the cargo bay, wearing one of his more formal suits and a parrot on his shoulder. He gave a perfunctory wave to the two, looking ahead, then paused, turning back towards them. "Bye," he said to Tristan. It just one word; but it had a quietness, a gravity, not found in his usual voice. Just the slightest frown. He wasn't sure if he even liked that kid, but goodbyes were always difficult. It was almost like he was saying goodbye to any potential friendship they might have had, not just a goodbye to a stranger. Then he shrugged that feeling off, quickly returning to his usual, almost apathetic self. "I'm headed out for a bit; off to find some fuel," he added, briefly, as he turned back around and walked down the cargo ramp.

"Take the mule," Alden told him, giving Noah an upward nod.

Alison appeared on the ramp to see Tristan and Alden saying goodbyes. In leather pants, high boots, and tired-up grid shirt just under her breasts, she had her trusty pistol in the holster at the belt. She finished talking over the comm with the locals, things went smoother than she thought. She even got lucky to find out that the lockdown of the planet by Alliance was just temporary and that they were looking for something. The impression that local authorities had that if they would find it, they would leave. Alison wondered if they were looking for the same thing. She waited to make eye contact with Alden and then gave him sign to talk to her when he would have a moment.

In return to that significant look, Alden blew Alison a quick kiss off the top of his fingers and grinned. He'd seen The Look, and he'd talk to her once the kid was on his way. For some reason he just needed to watch Tristan physically leave to be sure the boy had gone.

Jacob walked down into the cargo bay, seeing Noah-Jade and Alison down by the end of the ramp, Alison talking on her comm unit, and Noah-Jade walking off the ship. Down further was Alden, and then further still was the man he had been hoping to catch up to. He'd still not been able to get Tristan to do much more than just look at him, and every attempt at talking had been met with avoidance. This was his last chance and he wasn't going to miss it. He passed everyone else, not stopping to say anything, and approached Tristan, reaching out to lay his hand lightly on his forearm. "Can I please talk to you? Somewhere private..." he asked, his eyes pleading.

Tristan nodded to Jacob but turned back to Alden. “Thanks, Captain. I really appreciate what you’ve done for me.” Without waiting, he turned and followed Jacob off of the ship.

"Be safe out there, little brother," said Alden, quietly and he geniunely meant those words. They were, as Tristan was followed by Jacob, followed however by an overly dramatic roll of the Captain's eyes.

On the catwalk overhead, Daiyu crept out but said nothing. Her dark eyes were keenly scanning everything that happened.

Once Karen had seen where the ship landed, she had already planned to borrow a shuttle and get as far from the valley as possible. Maybe find a bakery. Buy some dainshes... Anything really, to get her mind off of the memories from her last time in this cursed place.

Alden turned then, reluctantly leaving the lower section of ramp for a moment to see what Alison wanted. "Everything okay?"

"Just to let you know." Alison said. "The Alliance locked down the planet because they are looking for something." She paused briefly before giving Alden a wry grin. "How much do you want to bet they are looking for the same thing we do?" She asked and pointed at the mule. "Maybe go with Noah-Jade, take James and maybe Kai and go look for that thing?"

"Oh great..." Alden sighed. He looked, unintentionally and without malice of forethought, up at Daiyu as he continued. "Something, not someone? Not necessarily what we're looking for though," he added, optimistically. He'd considered options with regards the mission, and the coordinates that they needed to investigate, and there was only one option in his mind. The fewer people in the firing line the better. "We'll get out there together. Then I'll take James down into the Valley with me," he told Alison simply. "Rest of you stay with the ship, in case we need to make a swift exit."

"Why are we here, Alden?" Karen finally asked him, her tone etched in skepticism and a tad anger. If they were graverobbing, she was for sure, stealing the shuttle for a few hours - to be as far from it as possible.

"Dropping off and picking up cargo, like the flight plan says," said Alden, but he couldn't fight off the sheepish expression as Karen's emotions piqued his guilt. "With a minor sidetrack to go fetch something for a third party."

"Right...." Karen gave him a look that meant she was not buying his dung. "I"ll go prep the other shuttle then. Maybe buy some danishes and produce while you lot go pick the cargo."

The wry ton and dark look she shot Alden said it all. That she suspected something non-legit was taking place.

"I'll take a talk-box with me. Hail me if I ain't back when y'all are done," Karen spoke dismissively as she made her way up the steps.

He knew The Look, and Alden totally understood why she was hitting him with it, and, in all honesty, he was kinda glad to have the Doc's moral compass as well as her safely out of any firing lines he considered them likely to be encouraging with this next sideline. "Sure thing," he told her, amicably, with a lingering moment of eye contact that let her know he knew that she knew and he was okay with that. "Blueberries," Alden added. "Y'know, if you find some."

Kai happened to come down the ramp when this conversation was taking place and kept her distance to be unnoticed but able to listen in. It was when he said he wasn't going to bring her that she cleared her throat and marched up to Alden.

"Why am I not going?" she asked, angrily.

Alison turned to Kai and gave her a calm glance.

"Why would you?" She asked. "You heard the captain's reasoning, do you have a counterargument?" She raised her eyebrow tauntingly. The question Kai asked was childish. No reason, just antagonistic and not productive as to why.

"Why wouldn't I be the one to go? If he wants to keep people in the ship I'm the one who knows Drake best next to him," Kai said, answering Alison's question to Alden.

"You and James both do," stated Alden loudly. "But it's not a gorram competition, Kai. But Drake isn't out there."

"Why is everybody yelling?" Daiyu asked from overhead. After she asked, she dropped down to a crouch and hugged one knee as if it would make her less visible somehow. "Someone might hear..."

Alison looked at Daiyu and raised her eyebrow.

"Who is yelling here?" She asked surprised. So far there was a civil, normal level conversation so the comment was somewhat unexpected for the blonde.

"It's okay, Mei Mei," Alden called gently up to the worried mystery girl on the upper deck. Then he turned his full attention to the very well-known and clearly irritated young lady who he knew far better.

"Kai," he stated, clearly and not unkindly. "You're gonna be right there, line of sight on James and me. But I need you to keep the Echo and the others here safe. And," he offered a lopsided smile and a shrug. "Depending on what happens when we dig up whatever we dig up... well, I might need you to rescue us."

"You're just trying to charm me," she said, rolling her eyes. "There's no reason I shouldn't be the one doing this with you," she said, the expression on her face was clearly anger. She shook her head and then she turned and went back up the ramp into the ship.

"I'm really not," Alden said to the world in general as Kai walked away. He sighed sharply, because he did understand why she might be frustrated, and he knew there was no way right now to explain this any way she'd like. What he didn't want to say out loud was that he couldn't put her out in harm's way and risk losing her as well as Drake. But that wasn't even all his reasoning. Genuinely if anyone had to come to his rescue, he expected that to be Ali and Kai.

"Soon as Noah gets back," stated the Echo's captain quietly to himself. "We're moving on out."

As if on cue, Noah returned, having conveniently missed any arguing. He glanced at Alden before pausing on the ramp and rolling his shoulders in a stretch. "I found a guy to swap out our fuel cells. He'll be over in five." And without further ado, the engineer turned back towards the ramp to walk off.

Alden smiled. It seemed for once the Verse was working with him rather than against him. He just hoped that luck continued on through the next few hours. "Great job, thanks Noah," Alden patted the engineer's shoulder. "I'll come help too, it'll go faster if we give him a hand."



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