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Hera: Chilling at the Junkyard

Posted on Sun Aug 9th, 2020 @ 12:51pm by Alden Loxley & Alison Bliss & Karen Dawson MD & James Thomson & Tristan & Daiyu

Mission: The Milk Run
Location: Serenity Valley Overlook, Ship Boneyards
Timeline: Day 13 (Very Early morning)

Yesterday had been a gamechanger of a day for sure. His brain was still reeling from more than just the couple of hard blows to the head, and while Karen had bandaged him and James up, nothing could heal that ache in Alden's heart and soul with regards to the sealed coffin resting in the Echo's cargo bay.

Noah had been there during the hard times, back when the Alliance was kicking his butt and destroying his mind. Noah had been there to patch the Echo up the first time, bring her back to fighting fit. And the fact that another engineer was currently putting her back together just felt wrong, like a violation in some way, like cheating on a lover.

Now, sat on the cargo bay ramp soaking up the sunrise across the valley below, Alden exhaled, eyes closed briefly as he walked his insomniac mind through the last 24hrs. He and James had been dug out of a grave in Serenity Valley. They'd lost the one thing that they'd needed to get. The Echo had been shot down. Jacob was gone. Noah was dead.

Maybe. Just maybe, the luck that had always somehow saved him had finally run out?

The peaceful silence was shattered as James cautiously limped down the ramp to join his cousin. Each step he took was followed by a sharp intake of air, it was too soon for the lumbering brute to acclimate to his temporary limitations, but he didn't care. The pain reminded him that he'd made it, after the day before he took that as a small victory. When he finally reached Alden he plonked a hand on the older man's shoulder, squeeze it supportively before using it to bear his weight as he lowered himself into to the ground, lying flat on his back once he'd made it.

"I'm sorry," James commented quietly, his arm covering his eyes to block out the glare from the sun. sorry for not telling you about Niska, sorry for almost getting us killed with my mouth, sorry I didn't kill that fucker before he left us alone to die. He said none of that out loud though, now wasn't the time. It wouldn't help.

Out of long habit, Alden leant towards his cousin, bolstering the support on that side to assist the younger Ezran's downward motion. He noted the welcome squeeze and the quiet apology, and sighed.

"Sorry ain't gonna fix this one," Alden said, sounding exhausted rather than pissed off. He needed, but wasn't likely to get, sleep. His gaze remained on the horizon and the scrapyard they sat on the edge of, and his mind wandered around that familiarly unpleasant circle. There was also one person left to worry about, one missing piece in the bigger puzzle.

"Maybe not, but still," James countered quietly. The painkillers were good and the gentle warmth of the sun on his face seemed to enhance the drowsiness they caused forcing him to uncover his eyes.

"Apology accepted," noted Alden. He didn't want to fight, not right now. Fighting would keep for another time, and he had the distinct feeling that there were going to be plentymore opportunities to yell at James in their mutual future.

Alcohol was something Karen prescribed on exceptionally rare occasions. Given the amount of guilt she felt, the young surgeon took it personally. Her fault she could not take being on Hera. Her fault she pushed Jacob to go shopping with her. To have some fun while Noah lay dying in the infirmary. Waiting for an S.O.S message sent to Jacob that they wouldn't get to until it was too late.

Listening to Alden and James' talk made her angry or drunker? Karen shook her head in confusion for it was hard to tell which.

From the vantage of the catwalk near Jacob's shuttle, she had mostly been unnoticed until now. Gulps and sloshes of her drinking eventually interrupted the two of them. Three bottles of Hera-distilled beer sat beside of the red-eyed, non-apologetic doc as she waved casually to them.

"Not 'nay of yer's fault," Karen finally spoke. Heavily slurred, heavily inebriated.

At the sound of a messed up version of a familiar voice behind and above them, Alden turned, face worried, and then grimaced. He stood, awkwardly, head reeling as he rose up to his full height, then ruffled James' hair and strode into the cargo bay to regard Karen, stood up there in her lofty position.

"C'mon down here, you drunkard," Alden said, with a half-smile that was far more sympathy than mockery. She didn't look like she'd had any sleep either, and his conscience spiked with major guilt that he'd not noticed before now. He climbed halfway and held out his hand. "C'mon, I got ya."

"Is she ok?" came a familiar voice from behind the Captain. As Alden turned to see where it came from, he saw the familiar small frame of Tristan take a step onto the loading ramp. Tristan smiled to the man and walked into the cargo bay. "I hope I'm not too late."

Beneath the bruised eye and obvious accompanying head wound, a grin found a means to wrap itself about Alden's face as he heard that voice. It faded super fast though, as Tristan spoke about being late. "Di Di," the expression on the older man's face was a mixture of many emotions as he greeted the kid. He held out long arms as relief kicked in to see that, despite all odds and his imagination running riot, at least Tristan was still alive. "Ta Ma Duh, it's good to see you, kid."

Tristan smiled as he walked forward, sliding into Alden’s embrace. “I tried my best but I couldn’t stop them.” He smile faded. “I hope your bruises are the worst you and the crew endured?”

"Just glad you're okay." He pulled Tristan in tight against his chest, shamelessly gifting the younger man a close squeeze of a enveloping fraternal hug, while delaying the answer to the kid's question long enough to stop himself crying outright. But, even as Alden relented, and allowed Tristan a chance to breathe again, there were tears clear in his eyes as he spoke the words. "Tristan, Noah's dead," Alden said, his words flat, his hands still resting upon the boy's shoulders.

“That’s not a funny joke,” Tristan said as he pulled himself from the embrace. “Where is he really?”

"Naraka," Daiyu said bluntly, having snuck up behind them without being noticed. Naraka was a Chinese name for Hell. "That's where all thieves go when they die."

Alden shot the young woman a significant look, but Alison spoke faster.

"I see you are as supportive as you were yesterday Daiyu." Alison listened to the recent exchange approaching the ship. She was following Tristan for a while, coming from the port. She didn't feel like spending a night on Echo, so she went to have some fun in the town, and a reset her mind. "I am sorry, Tristan but Alden is painfully true." She put hand on Tristan’s shoulder as she approached and squeezed it briefly, before moving past him, Daiyu, and Alden, up the ramp. "Karen, do you have anything left there? I could use a drink."

"But Noah said he stole," Daiyu insisted. "Why wouldn't he be in Naraka?"

"Daiyu," Alden's voice was firm but not unkind.

Karen snickered and shook her head to Alison while ignoring Daiyu's crazy talk once more. "Drankitall," she spoke as she slurred the words together. "Imma ge'more... ga-ga-ga-go fly ta that 'tore sssoon."

The Doc started to move toward Alden's hand and felt the world spin, falling very hard and fast on her rump. Then laughed and rolled a few feet. "Nope... Maybe notnow."

Alison grinned.

"Stay there Doc." She said and continued walking toward Karen getting on the stairs. She looked back at Daiyu for a moment but didn't comment. Moving lightly two steps at a time, she reached Karen and her grin turned into a giggle. "Oh, Karen, it looks like you went all in here." Alison reached out her hand offering Karen to help getting up and at the same time looking down over the railing she focused on Tristan. "So... are you back with us Tristan? Jacob's gone." She reflected it would be nice to add clarification. "Alive. Just left us."

Tears welled in Tristan's eyes as the gravity of what Alison said weighed upon him. Noah was actually dead. He looked up at Alden. "I'm sorry I didn't stop them like you asked," he said before he walked away back towards his cabin.

"That wasn't your job, kiddo," Alden told Tristan, but he didn't follow.

While such a super serious conversation transpired, Karen was busy trying to steady herself as she stood. Transfixed on Alison's offered hand, the drunken doc kept poking and stroking it as if the hand were a cute pet.

Alison turned her face back to look at Karen and she involuntary smiled. Alison could sense that something changed in the doctor under the influence. She reached out with her other hand and stroked Karen's hand, gently on the top but then also insides of it. "Come, Karen." She said softly. "Let's see if there is more alcohol somewhere around."

"Yessss!" Karen shook her head excitedly but then quickly held on to a railing with her free hand. Then she giggled and winked to Tristan, "S'you wannacome?" she asked in a slurred manner and a slight sway.

Tristan ignored the woman as he walked past and into his room, shutting the door behind him.

Deciding against dealing with either situation right now, Alden focused on the strange, complicated little silent lady. "Daiyu, walk with me a moment, okay?" He led her back towards the cargo ramp where they could feel the warm breeze from the valley stretched out below their viewpoint. "What did Noah say he stole?"

Bristling against being led away from the group, Daiyu considered protesting the gesture. Then again, she was here at Alden's pleasure. She didn't understand what she'd done wrong, but it would be best for now not to bite the hand that fed her. When he asked his question, though, she wondered if she had misread his tone. Maybe he was not angry with her after all.

"A locket," she said eagerly, more than happy to not be the object of his ire. "He said he stole it from the ship."

Alison seeing Alden taking Daiyu on the side, observed them long enough to gauge it was some kind of questioning. For the moment, though it didn't seem as important as taking care of Karen.

"Come on, sweetie." She sighed and wrapped her hand around Karen’s waist to give her support. "Let's see if there is something more to get drunk together. And if not, we can put you to bed."

Alden frowned. "A locket?" He both contemplated and asked out loud. "I don't think we had one to be stolen..." He looked back to Daiyu. "Do you know where it is?"

Daiyu shook her head. "He didn't say. Maybe it's in his bunk." She looked over Alden's shoulder at Alison leading Karen away. "Are they going to fornicate? Father Johns says fornication and intoxication go hand in hand."

A moment of thoughtful conflict was crushed by Daiyu's question, at which point Alden's face creased into an expression of utterly delighted amusement. A break from the darkness, a big dumb grin. "Could happen," he said as he turned to follow Daiyu's gaze, lingering his own attention at the two women. "Definitely might happen..."

"I hope they won't die," Daiyu said, "or they will go to Naraka like Noah-Jade."

"We're already in Naraka," James quipped matter-of-factly as he made his presence known before slowly and labouriously beginning to make his way up the steps. His face was a painting of regret as he struggled to mask his pain until he gave up halfway and plonked himself down on a step. As far as he was concerned Karen had the right idea, heck he'd only not drunk so far to avoid concern.

"I may have a bottle of whiskey or two stowed away in my bunk," James called out before Karen and Alison got too far, "help yourself" he added, it was the least he could do. Pain aside, things could have been a lot worse for him without Karen.

Though James only made an offhanded quip, it struck Daiyu to the quick. On assessment, she could not deny it. "Duì," she said weakly. Yep.

Diayu's confirmation silenced James for a moment, although he wouldn't admit it he felt bad. Wanted to shift the focus to something more productive James looked over his shoulder, locking eyes on Alden, "So we, you know, do something?" he asked awkwardly, "you know, for Noah?" he elaborated watching his cousin intently as he awaited an answer.

"If we're in Naraka," Alden said, evenly. "Then at least we're all in it together." He gave Daiyu's shoulder a gentle squeeze, then shot James a stern look that softened as the younger man finally made a sensible suggestion. "Yeah," the elder cousin said, with a gently painful but decisive nod in the affirmative. "We'll give Noah a good send off. Later," he said. "A proper wake and everything, promise. First though, we go see if there's anything in Noah's bunk."

He felt guilty about that, just a little bit, but with Karen and Alison getting drunk and who knew what together, Daiyu somewhat worked up, Tristan hiding and James surprisingly focused, Alden needed to seize the moment.

"C'mon," he lightly steered Daiyu in the right direction and let James lead the way and open the door to Noah's room.

All its crew now absent, the cargo bay fell silent, a light and innocent breeze lifting dust particles up into the air while the broken and battered Firefly awaited the loving care of local paid help.



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