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A Sunrise, A Hangover and A Sniper Rifle

Posted on Mon Sep 14th, 2020 @ 7:23am by Alden Loxley & Alison Bliss & Jonas Bailey

Mission: The Milk Run
Location: Hera Boneyards - Fortune's Echo
Timeline: Day 15 - Morning

She looked fine from the front, Alden thought, as he sat on the battered Firefly's cargo ramp and watched the sun come up over the jagged mess of rock that was Serenity Valley. He'd be up early if he'd actually been to sleep, but somewhere along the line there had been a definite disconnect between time, mind and consciousness and so he was still here, pushing on through those hours like they were nothing.

Today was the day, he hoped, that they'd finally test the newly installed engine, the kit that represented the last of his savings and likely a day of work for Chloe. If it all went together well, they might even be leaving before nightfall, and leaving... sounded good.

Head as muzzy as the light fog drifting up out of the valley, Alden closed his eyes and spoke a quiet prayer for the wife he'd lost to that six year old battle. He didn't hear the footsteps on the sand as someone approached.

Jonas had been in the nest for a while. Long enough to not startle any nearby critters that scampered by. He rolled over to prone and lifted the Heckler & Koch SL8 sniper rifle. As he adjusted himself, he went over the plan again. The man who'd hired him, Wilson something or other, had only told him the bare minimum...even after Jonas had tried to get more specifics. All he knew was the landing coordinates, a rough time frame, Firefly class, and kill the captain. Apparently that would give this Wilson guy the time and confusion to do what he needed.

The mercenary got comfortable with the rifle and settled his right eye near the scope. There was the Firefly and there was the ramp and there was the captain. Jonas grinned. He was sitting there. So open. So exposed. Not a care in the world. Little did he know that everything was about to change for him. He lined the cross-hairs up with the man's head and slowly moved his index finger to the trigger. He started to control his breathing for the kill shot when the captain turned his head. What the holy hell? he thought. He quickly took his finger off the trigger and shifted the stock of the rifle to the right. The big guy took out the binoculars for another look, just to confirm. "Huh," he said aloud and then began to quickly pack up his things.

With a bag in his right hand and the sniper rifle slung over his back, Jonas began the trek across the sand to the ship. The Desert Eagle Mark VII was sitting in the holster on his left leg, but not fully secured. One could never be too careful. As he got closer, he could tell that the captain couldn't hear him. That would make this perfect. "Hey! You butt ugly baboon! You gonna face me or what!?" he yelled to the man.

No, Alden's brain was reminding him as he sat there, eyes closed, feeling the day shift from cool night to slightly less cool dawn. Reds and oranges picked up the rocks beyond him even as they also formed his current view of the inside of his own eyelids. Thoughts wandered. He'd slept. He must have. Because he'd woken up on the floor beneath the galley table... next to... Go shi...

"Baboon?!" He yelled as he opened his eyes to see someone standing before him. Slowly, his addled brain wandered into the realm of reality, dragged kicking and screaming from that soporific state by the combination of sight and sound wrapped about familiar words.

Then Alden laughed, his sleepy face exploding into a vast open-mouthed grin as he pushed his palms against the metal ramp and forced himself to a leaping stance. Straight from seated to hurling himself forward, arms outstretched, Alden shifted across the space between him at the nonchalant looking desert marksman.

"Ugly?" He countered as he stopped just short of colliding. "I'm gorram adorable compared to you, you scruffy, over-tall, frog-humper." A brief frown and Alden wrapped those long arms about the other man's shoulders in an impromptu, but serious hug, asking his question into a dusty shoulder. "Whatcha come here for, you need someone to braid your hair?"

Alison walked down the ramp, seemingly relaxed, but she had her trusty Sig Sauer in her hand, casually pointed to the ground but ready to fire. The blonde moved gracefully, but at the same time ready for action at any point. She had a black leather, tight-fitting pants and a flannel shirt tied up under her bust to expose the midriff and the empty holster on the belt.

She had noticed something suspicious as she was looking around in the morning and went to check it surreptitiously with the binoculars from the inside of the ship. She found the shooter moments before he decided to approach. It left her with enough time to put on the holster, but not enough to get her own rifle. Now, seeing Alden, Alison couldn't help but smile. He either was very much aware of the danger and was playing it flawlessly or was still drunk and lucky with his actions. Knowing him, Alison would put the money on the latter. Still, it was an excellent opportunity to join in and step out of the cargo bay.

Now, as she touched the hard ground, she stopped.
"Alden, disarm the man. I don't think he ain't here looking to braid his hairs. But how about you enlighten us, Chwen?" She directed the question at the man.

Jonas laughed heartily and wrapped his free arm around Alden. After the hug, he looked over the blonde woman who had approached. "Got yourself a pretty blonde to watch your back, these days? Lucky." He faced the blonde and smiled before stepping back. "Well, to answer your questions, I was sent here to kill ya. Seems some little weasel of man name of Wilson was willing to pay a pretty platinum to have you pushin' up daisies. But all he gave me was landing coordinates, ship class, and orders to kill the captain. Well, that and the up-front that I always require before a job...twenty percent of the whole." He shook the bag and let the jingle of silver, gold, and platinum ring out. "He even tossed some untraceable credits in there. Whatever you've gone and got yourself into ole man, others ain't too happy about it."

He tossed the bag down at Alden's feet. "From the looks of your ship, you could use this more than me. 'Sides, a little help, and I could swindle the rest out of Wilson. Be set pretty good for a few months."

He had no idea how she did it, but as Alden disengaged from the manly hug and turned to regard Alison, he wolf-whistled, then winced. The sound was too loud in his head, but damn she did look fine, all prettied up and carrying that pistol. He beamed a conspiratorial grin at their friendly sniper.

"Never travel without her," he told him. "And yessir, still lucky. Surprised she didn't shoot you though," Alden added, grin fading just a little, "we did have kinda a late night last night though, she must be tired."

Then the big guy with the twisted hair explained his side of things and Alden's eyes went wide as the story unfolded. "Who the hells is Wilson?" He asked, his gaze stuck on the large amount of coin lying there beside him. "And why's he want me dead so bad?" That was... worriesome to say the least. And a serious conversation to be had in private, just the three of them.

"Oh, Ali," Alden added as an afterthought as he crouched down and opened the bag so that he could run some coinage through his fingers. "This is Jonas. Jonas - Alison."

He looked up to the taller man and nodded, serious now. "You need a little help, brother, then you got it. And yeah, we definitely welcome charity," he made that last admission with a look of amused chagrin, then Alden stood up, frowned darkly and asked somewhat more brightly. "Coffee?"

With how things turned out, obviously Alden knowing Jonas, Alison relaxed, secured and holstered the pistol.

"Why am I not surprised." She said folding her hands at the level of the shirt knot. She gave Alden a long stare. "Are we really taking him in?"

"We're really taking him in," Alden confirmed, his nod and his tone absolutely certain and a captain level of firm. He wasn't about to explain the details of their mutual past right here and now, but he had zero doubts on that score.

Alison couldn't decide if she should get annoyed with how Alden easily trusted people.
"Where do you know Alden from?" The question was addressed to Jonas.

Jonas nodded at Alison and smiled. "Nice to meet you, Alison," he said. "Know, there, and everywhere, I guess. Been around the block a time or two. But coffee does sound great, especially after being cramped in a sniper's nest."

Alison eyed Alden, giving him a cold stare. She didn't like the evasiveness of the man as it didn't look good considering recent events.

"Great. Your friend does know what to say to make sure I won't trust him." She said with a casual tone, turned around, and started walking up the ramp. "Just don't light any incenses, don't bring any animals, and don't pretend to be family."

With a warm laugh and a big dumb grin, Alden ignored Alison's misgivings. While he appreciated them, and her ability to see the grimmer side of reality, Jonas was not someone he felt they needed to worry about. He could, however, totally understand his co-owner's justified paranoia. In his mind though, the big dude was the best possible person who could have been sent to kill him. But... the killing part was definitely not great.

"Nothing to worry about with this one," Alden stated, resting a heavy hand on his old friend's shoulder as he walked with him up the cargo ramp into the ship's belly. "I've known him since... before the war." There was a brief pause then, as captain turned to mercenary and raised both his eyebrows in a pre-emptive strike for a question. "If he didn't kill me then, he won't do it now," he added, with a wry wrinkle of his nose.

"Only one animal I'd let him bring on board," noted Alden, then looked from Alison to Jonas as he added. "You still have him?"

Jonas usually didn't make friends wherever he went these days. So the blonde woman's paranoia and statement about not trusting him didn't rub any skin off his nose. "Hon, in my line of work, I can't afford to have family. People care about family. And if someone, like Wilson, found out I had 'family' that I cared about, I'd be under his thumb. And Jonas Bailey ain't under anybody's thumb."

He looked back at the man he'd known since forever, and grinned. It was a big, dumb grin. "Hell yeah I still have him. He's a lot calmer than he was when we parted ways, though. But still likes to hunt. Little guy keeps the scorpions, insects, and rodents away. Hell, he came home the other day dragging a meter and a half long snake in his mouth. Plopped his furry self down out front and commenced to eating."

Just hearing that made Alden happy, of things that had changed, but remained the same. Jonas, the lil critter and himself, riding shotgun into... well, it would take a while to relive it all, but they were fixing to have time. "Fluffy," he said, on an exhale, and couldn't help chuckling at the memory of that fateful road trip way back when. "I miss that bitey lil fella like a literal hole in my head." He canted his head and smirked. "And shoulder. And leg, as I recall?" Alden's smirk shifted to a grin. "Though not the most dangerous individual I've ever shared a bunk with..."

Alison shook her head as she kept going. This was a bit too much for her and she just decide to roll with it. It wasn't her ship. Moving past the cargo bay she started to go up the stairs. "I'll be on the bridge while you to catch up."

"Okay," Alden called after her. He shot a worried look to Jonas. "If I'm gonna survive to get the both of us all caught up, I guess we kinda need to figure out what we're doing about Wilson, and Ali needs to be in on that too. C'mon in, I'll call a crew meeting."

Jonas nodded. "Yeah, best to catch up later. And thanks for the coffee."



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