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Approaching Legerity (Part One)

Posted on Thu Sep 3rd, 2020 @ 10:44pm by Karen Dawson MD & Alden Loxley & Alison Bliss & Sibyl Rajani
Edited on on Sat Sep 5th, 2020 @ 2:45am

Mission: The Milk Run
Location: Orbit Above Hera
Timeline: Day 14 - Afternoon

Sibyl sat alone on her bed, aboard her ship Legerity.

The woman sighed, leaning back against the plush pillows. On her wall she'd taped pictures of Noah. Their parents had gone through and tossed many of his pictures, but Sibyl was the one in charge now and Sibyl had brought a half dozen old photo albums to dig through during the voyage. There'd be no new pictures of Noah, now; these were all she had.

"Shuttle from Fortune's Echo is now five minutes away," her pilot called on the ship-wide intercom.

Sibyl took a deep breath, embracing the comfort of her bed like the still before the storm. After a moment, she decided her time spent sitting and thinking was up. She had to make a decision; she had to force herself to do this. Sibyl was good at that, by now - forcing herself to do things. The woman sat straight up, then stood. She paused before her mirror, adjusting her black suit and brown hair one last time. Satisfied, she took a step back and opened a drawer beside her bed. From that, she pulled a laser pistol, complete with a holster. Sibyl wasn't a fighter; but she had money, access to technology and gray morals. After a quick evaluation, she strapped it on, the black holster blending perfectly with her suit. She figured that this Captain, with his beat-up ship and black eye would understand the significance of such a weapon. "Don't threaten me," it seemed to say, and Sibyl surely did not want to be threatened. She could never shake the feeling that they were walking straight into a trap, which is why she requested to meet this Alden character here, instead of on the surface.

"Gregory, Dimitri, Hannah, Chloe - meet me by the shuttle docking zone," Sibyl clicked a button by her door to speak on the intercom herself, "Todd, open the shuttle hatch. Send them a clear to dock." With that, Sibyl took one last breath, stepping out of her room. There was no delaying now.

Sibyl and her staff found their places in a semicircle around the entrance to the shuttle, with herself in the center. They made quite the crew, all in matching black suits, for mourning. The two security personnel carried large rifles beside them. Sibyl had no concerns displaying her mistrust. Her brother was dead. She had no reason to be trusting.

As the shuttle approached, its occupants would be able to see her ship up close. It was everything their Firefly wasn't - new, sleek, fast and expensive, complete with weaponry. The ship was something in between a military stealth ship and a personal cruiser and reeked of wealth, despite only being marginally larger than the Firefly in size. It was one of Sibyl's finest possessions; one of her company's best works for which she had not yet found a buyer willing to pay the asking price. That didn't bother her too much; she would be fine with keeping this ship herself.




He'd let Alison fly the shuttle, but only because his own hands were shaking and he hated to admit that fact. Sat behind his partner in business, hands folded in his lap, Alden could pretend he was alright and try to force his tired, emotionally exhausted brain that Noah's sister was going to handle this just fine. All things considered.

Through the shuttle's front window, the three members of the Echo's crew could all see the half circle of suitably attired mourners waiting for them. They could feel the gravity of this situation, see the seriousness in this venture and be absolutely and fully aware of the nightmare they were about to walk into.

Alden looked back at Karen and sighed. Then he stood, rested a hand on Alison's shoulder and visibly flinched as the shuttle touched down on the Legerity's deck.

"Stay here until I call you," Alden told Karen. "Get your head straight, okay?"

"Right," Karen spoke dully, with a green-like complexion and shades covering her dark eyes. This was the last place she wanted to be.

He was pretty sure she was still a little drunk from the night before, but he'd forced as much black coffee into her system as he dared and he needed her here. Not badly enough to walk her out into that first up though, not with all those rifles on display and important looking rich people. That was not the second impression he wished to make.

There wasn't much he could do about the discoloured skin around and above his left eye, but he'd put on his newest black shirt (which also hid any other wounds he might have incurred recently) and a clean pair of work trousers, and even unscuffed his boots.

"You should let me treat your face. I could add some makeup and no one would even notice." Alison said looking at Alden critically. She was surprised that he wanted her with him on this run. Them both leaving the Echo behind when she was vulnerable. It didn't feel right. But, honestly, who would steal her? As Alison was flying though, she realized the true reason behind it. She knew Alden all too well to see through his masks by now. Still, knowing that he needed to keep the appearances more for himself than anyone else, she acted as if nothing happened.

"I'm not wearing make-up," Alden muttered. "Got nothing to hide right now."

Looking over his shoulder Alison glanced at Karen, assessing her briefly and a shade of a grin appeared in the corner of her lips.

Karen smiled Alison's way, but quickly found a waste disposal bin and upchucked the remaining alcohol content and other things, still inside her stomach.




"Hey," Alden said, politely and with direct eye contact to Ms Rajani as he and Alison strode across from the shuttle to Sibyl's gathered crew. A firm arm was extended for an intended shake in greeting. "Ms Rajani, thank you for getting here so quickly, and my deepest, most sincere apologies for the nature of our meeting."

He nodded, holding his confidence well, and added. "Real shiny ship you have here," then winced awkwardly at his own words.

"I thank you for the compliment," Sibyl responded in a completely neutral tone, glancing over towards the woman that walked out with the Captain. Was she a romantic partner? Or just a member of the crew? Sibyl found it best to not assume. "And I wish that we could have met under different circumstances. Did you bring his body?" She cut straight to the point. Of course, they had much to discuss. But she wanted to be back in the Core, away from this mess as soon as possible. They could talk while her man was examining the... the corpse.

"Yes ma'am, s'on the shuttle," Alden answered that pressing question first. Noah's body was clean, wrapped and safely stowed inside the best coffin his credits could afford. Probably not good enough for this fine woman and her beautifully expensive ship, but he wasn't ashamed in the least of their choice. The fact he'd needed to make said choice, however, was a matter for a far deeper and festering guilt. "If it's alright with you, my first mate and I would like to help your crew carry him out."

Alison was happy to let things roll, standing two steps behind Alden on his right, in the flannel shirt unbuttoned two buttons too low to be considered decent, tight fighting denim pants, heavy tan leather boots and leather jacket. She kept a relaxed pose, but her hand was close to the holster. Not close enough to be taunting, but close enough to say she was here to fight if needed be. She was good at posing. Her eyes slipped over all the people but not holding for long on anyone in particular.

Sibyl nodded, and although she didn't show it, her heart sank a bit at the response. The fact that he was really here made everything seem so real, so sudden. "Hannah," she turned towards one of her security, then the other, "Dimitri - I want you two to help carry." The two security guards gave small responses of confirmation, then stowed their rifles - both at the same time with uncanny synchronization - and stepped forward towards the Captain and his first mate, towards the shuttle. Sibyl turned her attention back to these two strangers. She didn't know the name of the first mate, but compared to the Captain she seemed more... normal. More like what Sibyl was used to. A pretty young woman, not covered in bruises.

It took him a while, sorrow and the gravity of this moment affecting Alden deeply. He didn't see any real sign of upset in the face of that fierce, powerful woman before him, neither did he see much of Noah-Jade. But people in Sibyl's position didn't necessarily get to show weakness openly, and Alden knew that more than most.

"Ms Rajani," he said, the naming of her own crew reminding Alden of his omission with regards to his own. He indicated the blond standing just behind him and tried not to look too shocked as the two guards moved in sync. "This is Alison Bliss."

There was a moment, where Alden didn't quite know what to say next, but then his confidence slipped back into place and he nodded. "We'll be right back with Noah," he promised.




It was a small, unofficial parade, that return with the coffin box, but it was completed with as much dignity as the four pallbearers could muster. Alden and Hannah at the front, Alison and Dimitri at the rear, walking together in almost perfect step until they stood before Sibyl waiting for direction.

For a moment, Alison was still back for Noah-Jade. She didn't like losing friends and even if they weren't close, they were comrades-in-crime. He was her crew. With the sad look, focused on the back of Alden in front of her she just maintained the step.

Sibyl looked at the four people carrying the coffin and frowned, just slightly. Her brother deserved better than this. He would get something better, once they were back home, but for now this would have to do... back home... Sibyl considered the thought. How long had it been since Noah had been "home"? She wished he could've come back home alive. "This way," the woman said. The other two crew that had arrived with her - Chloe and her medical adviser - walked just behind her. She led the way to their infirmary, where they had the tools to examine him. She wanted that done as soon as possible... to make sure these folks' story lined up before she let them get away. In there, a flat table had been prepared to set down the coffin.

Alison put the coffin as indicated, together with everyone else. As soon as she had her hands free, she moved back and joined Alden, seemingly in the same place as she had before, behind him on his right.

He waited a moment, gave the coffin a slow dip of a respectful bow, and then Alden placed his hand on the top, closed his eyes. Rest easy, friend. You'll be missed.

"I really am sorry," Alden told Sibyl then. "Your brother was truly a good friend to me, right when I needed one the most. And I'd do anything to change the way we lost him." His voice cracked a bit on that last sentence, but Alden pushed on past it. His question was sincere and his gaze direct as he asked. "Is there anything else you want from me?"

Sibyl looked over at the captain. At least he seemed to care. Noah wasn't the kind of guy to hang with people he didn't consider friends. Unlike Sibyl, he held himself to higher company, not just whoever made good business. After all, Noah would rather desert than fight for an army he didn't like, while Sibyl would marry just for business. The two were opposites in that regard, and Sibyl often found herself wishing she were more like him.

"Yes," the businesswoman said simply. "There is more to discuss. Will you come talk with me -privately - while we finish this... examination here." She wasn't sure what word to use. Autopsy? She looked over at the first mate. She hated to be outnumbered in conversations and dealings but if the captain asked to bring her to discuss as well, Sibyl figured why not?

Alden nodded. "Of course," he agreed easily. A private conversation was the least he owed the woman who now had to say a last goodbye to her brother, and he could only imagine the emotions behind that stoic expression of hers. He had a brother to lose, and therefore the ability to imagine, if not completely understand just yet.

"Ali, will you wait out here, but stay close enough to hear when I call you? Please?" Alden asked, as politely as he could muster. He didn't want to exclude Alison or to piss her off, he just wanted a few words alone with Sibyl and the ability to bring his partner into the mix if the need arose. Right now, he had no idea what Sibyl wanted from him, but if she trusted to be alone with him, he'd return the favour.

Alison watched Sibyl since she proposed a private conversation, gauging what the woman was thinking and scheming. She was good enough in reading people to see someone who was on the pragmatic, opportunistic and low scrupulous spectrum. Still looking at her she spoke to Alden but loud enough to be heard by the woman too.

"Do you think it is wise? We don't owe her anything, we are equal enough, so if she wants to speak with you, she can speak in front of us."

He sighed, and looked from one strong woman to the other to stall for thinking time. They both had valid points, but Alden didn't see any threat to life here. "Just give me 10 minutes, okay Ali?" He asked. "Captain to Captain. And I promise not to discuss business until you're with us. If you could just go fetch the Doc so she can be with Noah while they check him over, then come give join me and Ms Rajani here. Deal?"

Sibyl half-listened to their conversation, politely pretending not to hear with a large portion of her attention devoted to the coffin... To Noah. She glanced over as her man opened it. Noah looked... Older. Maybe that was just what death did to people. Or maybe it was that she hadn't seen him in over a decade. She frowned. But she didn't have time to think about that now. Back home she would have all the time in the world to grieve. Here she only had limited time to figure this all out. Instead of focusing on her brother she looked at the coffin itself, waiting for Alden and Alison.

"No deal." Alison said slowly to Alden. "If you want to talk with her on the side, do so where I can see you." Her voice was steely and unyielding. She was not going to say aloud when Sibyl was able to listen to them anything about having already one person kidnapped. She was not in a trusting mood and Alden was too trusting with people recently. She gave him a cold stare. "Unless you plan to fuck her, then say so." She added the last harshly. "But that I should be watching too... like the last time."

He'd been leaning towards Ali's side, trusting her judgment for the most part and feeling as if he'd been a serious soft touch lately - Drake, Tristan, Daiyu... too many examples of his kind heart - but then she went and lowered the tone and Alden snapped, his words thrown across the space moodily and with venom.

"Watch your mouth, Yao Nu (demon woman)," he told Alison, exhaustion, frustration and sorrow keeping Alden's patience a little shorter. "This is Noah's sister, remember. And fine, we'll talk where you can see us," he conceded, snippily, "but please go fetch the Doc. We'll be right here, waiting."

Sibyl frowned just slightly, her gaze following the woodwork of the coffin, not letting herself think of much else. What a surprise - these people from so far from the Core would fall so easily into arguments. This sort of honesty was almost refreshing after the stiff politeness of her home, but not over a dead body. That was like arguing at a funeral: not a kind way to grieve.

"I have a conference room on this ship that can fit enough of us," Sibyl offered, only now turning back towards Alden and Alison. "I'd rather not discuss it right here. Not in front of Noah."

"Thank you," Alden told Sibyl as politely as he could possibly speak two words. "And yes, I can definitely appreciate that." He waited a couple of seconds, then added. "I'm so very sorry about this..." Then he hit Alison with a withering stare.

Alison nodded slightly to Alden and made a gesture raising her hand pointing at her eyes with fingers and then at Alden. With that she went back just enough to see Karen.

"Karen! Come on."

"Don't shout," Karen groaned, held her head in her left hand, and walked in stride with Alison.

The doctor could not understand why she was needed. She was not there to see the injury and much of the issues Noah died from was due to foreign objects being removed without her supervision. But she refused to place blame on anyone's shoulders.

He'd had lived painlessly a few hours more if she'd been there. Her absence was the cause of his suffering, a fact she wanted very much to punish herself for.

"I guess we're ready," Alden said, with a soft, apologetic sigh to Sibyl. "Do you want my doctor to liaise with yours? She was with Noah when..." he let that thought trail.

Sibyl looked over at the doctor. She looked like she had seen better days. "If you wish, though I think Gregory can handle it by himself if needed." Then she turned, and started walking towards another door. Unlike the Firefly, the main bulk of this ship seemed to be comprised of various rooms, not a large cargo hold, so despite the ship's same size it had more hallways and rooms. Her assistant, Chloe, and one of the security, Hannah, followed without command as Sibyl turned to walk in. The businesswoman took a seat on one side of the table and motioned for Alison and Alden to take the other side.

Watching Sibyl assess Karen, Alden had to admit that allowing the hungover doc to stand near a dead body probably wasn't his greatest idea today. "If he has any questions," he decided, "he knows where she is. Let's get to what you need to know."

As directed, the Captain on the Fortune's Echo took a seat directly opposite Noah's sister, and he waited to see where the other four women would place themselves. It felt strangely discomforting to be outnumbered, but Alden offered up a genuine smile as they all took their positions. He was just thinking about Noah, and all the people who cared about him, casting his mind back to the complicated times they'd both shared while he waited for the hammer to fall.

Alison followed Alden and took the seat at the table as indicated. Her eyes calmly moved from Sibyl to the walls, picking up details of the interior. She patiently waited for what was to follow.

And Alden indicated for Karen to join them, motioning with a gentle, but definite, sense of authority as the doc moved into the room and around the table. He watched Ms Rajani's staff take up their own positions too, curious as to their place in all of this.

Sibyl took a deep breath when the two sat down. Her two crewmembers found their way outside - they must have been told what to do beforehand. "Would you like anything to drink?" Sibyl offered as a platitude before going on to the real business.

"What happened?" She asked, with just the slightest hint of desperation. She needed to know. She couldn't rest until she did. "How did he die?"

TBC

 

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