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Truth, Lies and Trinkets

Posted on Sun Sep 6th, 2020 @ 8:27am by Alison Bliss & Alden Loxley

Mission: The Milk Run
Location: Boneyards - Edge of the Valley's Cliff
Timeline: Day 13 - Morning

Behind them, the charred and sorry-looking Firefly was now being worked on by a local engineer, paid for by the profit from their last successful mission. Said engineer had promised to get the Fortune's Echo up and running in just a few days for what he considered to be a very reasonable price, and given their current financial situation, Alden and Alison hadn't had much choice other than to accept.

Sitting out on the wall that separated this particular junkyard from Serenity Valley's vast crease in the landscape below, Alden swung his legs miserably and didn't turn around to face Ali as she approached. He'd called her out here, away from the others to bring her up to speed in the wake of Tristan's return, and - much like everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours - she wasn't going to like this.

"Hey," Alden greeted the Echo's co-owner and his partner. "So, we have a good news, bad news situation. Which do you want first?"

Alison walked lightly, her feet nimbly finding the right spots while she was more focused on the sight that one could marvel from that high up. She was glad to see Alden in better shape. Karen did her best and the effects were already seen. It was shame that she wasn't around when Noah-Jade was in need. At the same time, she was far from blaming Karen for what had happened. It was just a matter of getting hurt at the wrong time and place.

She stopped next to Alden facing the Echo, tips of her boots over the edge of the wall, and looked down at him.

"All right, give me the good one." She asked.

He sighed, self-consciously allowed his fingertips to lightly find the wound above his eye and then tilted his head upwards, letting his dark blue gaze hit hers.

"We've got it," Alden said, a slight smile catching the edge of his mouth for a moment. "What James and I were digging for. Tristan managed to rescue it from their clutches." He frowned. "And since no one's come looking for us, I'm guessing they don't realise that yet. Kid just brought what was inside the box I found, left the box behind. Should buy us some time."

Seeing him straining to meet her look, Alison squatted and then sat down next to him.
"I see. And what's the bad news?"

His sigh was monumental, dragging his shoulders up and then sinking them back down again as Alden fought the internal emotional thunderstorm. Alden leant against his partner just a little as he voiced the words he really didn't want to speak.

"I think Drake lied to me."

Alison reached out, wrapping Alden in a gentle hug and gently patted him on the back. It lasted long enough to convey all the understanding she had for this and the support.
"Why is that?"

It was a testament to just how low Alden felt that he didn't even attempt to resist the simple comforting gesture from the tough woman beside him. Eyes closed, he soaked up the momentary affection as he answered her simple question.

"Niska," Alden said. "James recognised one of the guys who attacked us. No way Niska would let anything bad happen to Drake, y'know, like let him get kidnapped." He'd been mulling it over since he'd awoken in that grave. "Drake's the golden goose." Another soul weary sigh followed and Alden didn't dare open his eyes, unwilling to let Alison see the emotion there. "I'm so gorram stupid..."

"Of course you are. That is why I am here." Alison said playfully, to pull him out of the state he was in. "You would be dead already if not for me."

She let that linger, likely giving him a bit of emotional boost so, he could get his bearings. Alison was too well trained as a companion and knew Alden too long not to see through him and his current emotional state. And she understood how he felt.
"Maybe we've been played and maybe Drake just fucked Niska so bad that he needs to make him an example?"

"Thanks," he said, the one word coated with a begrudging gratitude for her generally supportive banter and friendly verbal abuse. "I have my moments, though, right?" Rhetorical question. "I defrosted you first," Alden noted, which was his answer to every one of this kind of to and fro.

"Oh, I think we've been played, yeah," he added, after a long moment of unhappy silence. "I just think Drake and Niska teamed up." Alden didn't want to believe that, but it made miserable and unpleasant sense. "Kai's headed back, she'll figure it out."

Alison leaned back and placed hands behind her back, letting her legs swing freely off the wall.

"Assuming that is true, it would be good to check what exactly Niska is after." She inhaled deeply before she finished ominously. "And talk to Drake. He is your family, but he is not mine. I can break his legs for Noah-Jade. Just say a word."

"Agreed on the check," Alden noted briefly, his mind wrapping about this major concern for the hundredth time since the revelation. He doubted Niska's underlying plan would be revealed easily, but Drake was much easier to squeeze. "Not yet on the broken legs." A deep frown furrowed his brown and Alden rubbed his right palm across his forehead as if he aimed to smooth it out by touch alone. "I'll let Kai talk to him first," he said. "I wanna spend a little time with this gizmo first, see if we can figure out what it is, or does."

Alison nodded.

"Fair enough." She said looking to the distant horizon briefly before she turned to face Alden again. "How are you feeling?"

"Exhausted, betrayed..." He stared out across the rock-strewn valley full of ghosts and graves and Alden lowered his head. "Sad, Ali, just really sad."

"Try to think of something that will cheer you up before we leave." Alison said with a sigh. "As the captain, you need to be the one taking the charge of the situation."

Alden raised his gaze to meet hers and frowned darkly. "Sure, Ali," he muttered. "I'll just think happy thoughts, sure it'll all be fucking peachy if I focus on unicorns and rainbows." He turned to stare out into the valley again. "Go away," he said.

"Come on, Alden, I am just saying. No need to be upset about me." Alison said calming and raising her hands in surrender. "The crew always looks up to the captain for the example so I am reminding you about it. I am reminding you that here you can brood, before me you can open up anytime and I'll be there for you, but the rest of the crew needs you."

She was right and he knew it, but Alden was just in the mood to be cantankerous and Ali was one person who didn't get emotional when he bitched and snapped. "I'm not upset with you," he clarified quietly. "I'm mad at myself. I got us into this wild goose chase... I thought I was doing it to save Drake. I just... I need a job that takes us away from all this for a while." He shrugged. "Once we're all fixed up."

"Don't be too harsh on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes." Alison said softly. "Especially if someone else uses one's weaknesses. We all know family is yours." She paused for a moment. "And count me in for a nice, boring ferry run when we get the Echo flying again."

Quiet for a long moment, Alden finally looked over to Alison again. He didn't smile, apologise or retract any of his previous words, but he did ease down a couple of notches on the bad mood. "Couple of days," he said. "The guy said it would be a couple of days and we'd be able to leave." A harsh sigh, and he didn't bother to try and argue with her about weaknesses, despite the fact it ached some deep inside, Alden knew his own well enough too.

"I'm taking the job that puts us the furthest out from the damn Core for a while," he muttered, then realised it wasn't his choice alone. "You okay with that, Ali?"

"Perfectly." Alison simply said. She sighed taking the sight of the battered ship. "You'll be ok?"

"Shiny," Alden chimed the word with about as much contentment as he could currently summon. He studied the valley beneath them again, considering all the ghosts out there and wondering where Noah's would lurk. Here, or on the Echo? He thought his gaze caught a flash of light reflected from something out there, but dismissed that concern swiftly enough. "I'm always okay," he finally answered his first mate. "And Ali? Thanks for the support."

Alden was silent for a long few seconds before he added.

"So, what happened with you and the Doc this morning?" A raised eyebrow accompanied his question. "There were... happy sounding noises..."

"There was... a lot of happiness... to share." Alison replied mischievously and licked her lips in a bit over-the-top sensual fashion. "I leave it to your imagination what had happened."

A filthy grin took up residence on Alden's features. "No fair," he stated, but his mind was already racing through a variety of visual options. He nodded. "Hmm..." Alden added, with a malevolent wistfulness. "Oohh... yeah... that's... woa..." As distractions from worldly woes went, considering a bit of girl on girl really did help, at least temporarily.

Alison giggled seeing Alden's reaction and just shook her head.


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