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How it Began... (Part Two)

Posted on Thu Jan 28th, 2021 @ 9:02am by Alden Loxley & Jonas Bailey

Mission: Yuan Fen
Location: En route from Persephone to Shadow
Timeline: 2506 (Eleven Years Ago)

They were four days into the journey to Shadow when it happened. Proximity alert. Which broke down to a loud BEEPING noise in the middle of Alden’s main sleep cycle, a noise that immediately shoved him into full consciousness and an upright position. He’d been sleeping in the pilot’s chair, feet up on the console, resting backwards and comfy enough.

Now though, he was instantly jerked into waking minor panic just in time to hear something scrape against the hull. It turned out to be a line. Someone… someone was fishing.

Elijah, the Komorebi’s engineer appeared behind Alden on the bridge, dark features awake and clearly frightened, but the man’s voice was cooler, more held together than it ought to be.

“Pirates,” Elijah said, and Alden swore.

“We’re humped,” he said, casting out an active scan. That sensory net did indeed find just what the young pilot had been dreading to see. “Pirates,” Alden agreed, as the other ship, a Lacewing-class transport, pinged up close by.

This potential foe wasn’t much bigger than the Sandfly it was aiming at, but it did sport twin turrets, and that stayed Alden’s hand with regards making a run for it.

Jonas was resting in his bunk when he felt the ship slow down. He held the firearm he'd been wiping while resting and mumbled, "No way we're already there." He stood up and shoved it into the thigh holster. He also placed a piece in the concealed holster on his hip and headed out to see what was going on. Someone ran by him and Jonas grabbed his arm. "What's happening?"

On his short way back from bridge to engineering, Elijah skidded to a halt as their passenger caught him by the arm. "Pirates!" He said, black eyes bright with fear. "We're about to get boarded!"

"Oh hell no," he said and let the man go. "Get out of here then." Jonas went back into his room and finished getting ready. In a matter of seconds, the young man was fully armed. He had his LeMat Revolver in his thigh holster and his SIG-Sauer P229 in the concealed holster on his hip from a moment ago. He slung his dressed up Heckler & Koch MP5SD over his shoulder so that it would hang down on his chest and put his trusty boot knife perfectly hidden in it's proper place. He looked down at the MP5K and figured if he needed to, he'd fake a way to get back to his room and grab it. But he felt pretty good about his 'gonna get boarded by pirates' loadout.

Jonas quickly ran to the bridge and pounded on the doorjamb without entering. "Kid says we're about to get boarded by pirates."

"C'mon in," Alden called over his shoulder, his hands busy grabbing the Model B from under the console, his attention split between the monitors before him and the view out the front screen. "Lacewing," he said, as heard Jonas' boots cross the small bridge floor. "Armed with turrets. Probably four of them."

Yup, not his first rodeo.

"Wang Ba Dan..." The pilot swore. "I just need this one. I just really need this one..." Then he turned to see Jonas the Warlord all dressed to kill, tilted his head to the side and grinned. "Ta Ma Duh, dude," Alden noted. "You can shoot right? Don't need any holes in this baby," he added, reaching up to affectionaly pat the ceiling.

Like most young people out for their first job, Jonas had overcompensated. Still, the young man laughed. "Knowing how to shoot is my job. I promise I won't put any holes this ole girl. Cant' promise I won't put any in the pirates."

"I'll take that," Alden noted, a bold grin on his face mismatched with worry in his gaze.

Right on cue, the threat solidified into harsh reality as they were both interrupted by a rally of shots that peppered the front armour of the Sandfly's hull. No penetration, yet, but a show of force. It was rapidly followed by a stern face on the console screen and a gruff promise.

"Let us take the cargo and you can live," said the fierce female voice. Pale jade eyes in an oriental face framed by short dark hair and attitude. "You don't have to die today. Open the airlock."

Alden made unhappy face back at her, but nodded. "Don't shoot us," he said, playing it more scared than he actually was. "Please? Just take it." He didn't break character until she closed down the comm and the bashing sound of metal against metal indicated the two ships were involuntarily docked together. "Elijah, you dug in?" Alden asked via the internal comm.

"Engineering secure," came back the curt reply.

"To the cargo bay," Alden said, this time to Jonas. The lopsided grin on his face offered more optimism than they both deserved going into battle two against four.

Jonas nodded, "To the cargo bay it is then." He started to turn and go out the door, but paused. "How do you want to handle this? Open the door and start shootin' or hide and snipe the first one in, then start shootin'?"

As he followed Jonas out, Alden triple checked his weapon, then picked up his pace. "I'll open the door in plain sight, you hide-snipe the first one in." He shrugged with the nonchalant invulnerability of an immortal teenager. "Least that way only one of us might get a hole in 'em."

Jonas nodded and patted his primary weapon as it hung across his chest. "Only ones I'm plannin' on havin' holes in 'em is the pirates. Besides, once the first one falls, I'll take aim on the second and be ready to drop him if they try anything. Hopefully all they'll do is freeze when number one goes down. Give us an advantage."

The 'Verse was a hard place and sometimes dealt a hard hand. Folks had to be pretty confident to live outside the Core. Couple that with the confident swagger of a teenage boy on his first solo job as a mercenary, and you have someone that thinks he can take on the world. Well, at least a band of pirates.

Dark blue eyes regarded the big fella beside him for a second, then Alden's boyish features split into a big open-mouthed grin. "Hell yeah!" He said, with the greatest of enthusiasm, then held his hand up for a classic high-five. "We got this, dude." Ah, the unshakeable self-confidence of youth. "Ready?"

On Jonas's return signal, Alden positioned himself with as much cover as he could muster behind the crates they were transporting. The button for the external cargo bay airlock hatch was rigged on a long-wire for safety (and due to many previous situations like this one over the years way before his time), so he didn't have to stand right in harm's way. As he saw movement through the tiny window in the hatch's second door, Alden tensed, and hit the button.

The second a gap wide enough to allow it existed, a small metal object rolled in and across the floor. To Jonas' keen and trained eye, he recognised a flash grenade just before it went off and spewed bright light in every direction.

Jonas ducked down and closed his eyes as tight as he could. It'd helped, but not as much as if he'd actually ducked behind the crate. And it most certainly caught the young guy off guard. He tried to open his eyes, but they were still trying to get used the light. The explosion of the grenade left a slight ringing in his ears. That meant he couldn't get a bead on where they might be that way, either.

Alden blinked. Once. Twice. Three times. He heard the sound of shots firing into the space he and Jonas occupied, he heard movement of heavy boots on metal flooring and he realised, just in time, that the power lead protecting him from being out in the open, also led them right to his hiding place.

Someone blurry in amongst his current fuzzy vision fired, and on instinct, Alden fired back. He felt their bullet skim past his ear, grazing his skull just enough to drop him off balance and force him to slump down to the floor. That altered the trajectory of Alden's own bullet though, which lodged in the pirate's thigh.

The second pirate in through the cargo bay door aimed both pistols in Jonas' direction, a dirty grin on his face as he moved into the room, swift and sure.

Jonas heard the gunfire and presumed it was coming from the cargo bay entrance. Then he felt a couple of bullets graze his left shoulder. "Gorram it! So much for not putting any holes in his ship." Jonas clicked the safety off of his dressed up Heckler & Koch MP5SD, switched it off single shot, and poked it around the corner. He then opened fire in the general direction of the pirate gunfire.

Alden's pirate dropped to the floor clutching his leg and howling as blood started to pump with alarming speed. Jonas' ducked behind a crate and swore colourfully in Chinese as the MP5 chewed up the wooden barrier between them.

"Nooooooooooo!" Alden yelled. "Ni Ta Ma De, Tian Xia Suo You De Ren Dou Gai Si!" No holes, he'd said. No holes in the pretty ship. He moved position, head still a little muzzy, and shifted around behind 'Bleeding Thigh' and 'Crate Cover', trying to get a drop on either of them.

Jonas stopped shooting at the sound of Alden's scream. He let the gun hang on his chest for a minute as he rubbed his eyes. His vision was returning, but not quite what it was. He could make out blurry shapes easily enough. And the ones that weren't hiding would probably be the pirates. He switched back over to single shot and found a different hiding place. Jonas took aim through the scope and found the blurry image of a body near the ramp. Any hit at this point would be a good hit. He targeted the body mass and pulled the trigger.

The cessation of Jonas' blindfiring allowed the remaining mobile pirate to shift position. One blurry shape ducked left, as a third slipped into play to the right. He swiftly came across Alden, the two literally bumping into each other as they rounded a tall stack of crates. Both men froze.

And then there was a loud sound, a heavy inhalation of pain as Jonas' shot hit its mark. Light body armour absorbed enough of the shot to prevent penetration, but the pirate fell back clutching his chest and trying to breathe.

Bleeding Thigh Pirate, however, was crawling quietly into play to Jonas' portside, a trail of blood marking his pathway across the deck.

Jonas was still blinking and rubbing his eyes after that shot to the other pirate. His primary weapon hung across his chest as his vision slowly left the blurriness behind. The crawling pirate caught the eighteen year-old off guard with a shot to his shoulder. Jonas screamed in pain and then anger at the through-and-through. Jedidiah wouldn't be happy. With blood running down the front and back of his shoulder, he raised his MP5 and pointed it straight at Bleeding Thigh's head. "Drop it or I drop your brains, panda piss! I don't care how far away you are, you'll be all over these gorram walls!"

Bleeding Thigh cursed up and down the spectrum of his known Chinese repertoire, but he dropped the gun and - with more colourful words - slid it across the floor towards Jonas.

Heart racing as he heard Jonas cry out, Alden focused on the guy noisily struggling to breathe on the floor and missed Crate Cover's motion behind him. He felt the muzzle of the third pirate's shotgun as it cooly kissed the back of his skull though, and exhaled one word. "Fuck."

Jonas heard the weapon skitter across the deck plating, but paid it no attention. He took a few steps closer and lowered the weapon, shooting the man's right elbow and both knees. "Didn't say anything about the other body parts. Now stay right there or I'll make sure the 'verse won't see any of your offspring." He pointed the weapon at the man's groin.

"Wang Ba Dan!" Crate Cover pulled the shotgun's trigger as he swore at Jonas. Alden closed his eyes and screwed up his face expecting oblivion, but there was just a click. "Ching Soh!" Cursed the stocky Oriental and he tried again. A second click coincided with Alden twisting around and grappling with the guy.

Two misfires? What were the chances...

The ever arrogant and over-doing it teenager left Bleeding Thigh Kneecaps Elbow wallowing in a growing pool of his own life. Not wanting to take a chance on a bullet hitting his source of payment, Jonas grabbed a large piece of splintered wood from a crate that he'd accidently hit while firing blindly. He picked the head of the pirate and followed it a little during the grapple before bringing it down solidly on the pirate's head. A resounding crack followed, but the long-haired guy wasn't sure if it was the wood or the skull.

Crate Cover hit the deck hard, out cold and blood running down his face. As Alden rolled free and clear of his opponent, he caught the motion of the third pirate as the guy in body armour sat back up. All the teenager saw was that the darker skinned bald fella had a pistol in his hand, cocked and ready and aimed at Jonas' back. Alden fired without hesitation then exhaled on a string of curses.

Jonas jerked around at Alden's firing of his gun and let Body Armor have the full force of the MP5 on automatic. "Chicken bastard. Shoot somebody in the back. Thanks, Alden. By the way, I left mine still alive over there for questioning," he pointed with the muzzle of his weapon. "Unless of course he's already bled out and passed out."

Face bloody but pale, Alden's eyes and mouth were wide open as his brain processed everything that had just gone down. No one was shooting now, but his hand shook as he stared at each floored pirate and felt the adrenaline rush begin to ebb. He nodded, focus mainly on the one he'd shot until he managed to shift his gaze back to Jonas. The man was cool as fuck about all of this, but all Alden could do was whisper a rushed mess of curses.

"They're still docked," he said, finally making some sense as he nodded towards the cargo hatch. "Their pilot..."

And over the comm, that cocksure female voice sounded in response. At first, like Alden, she merely hurled a wealth of insults, then realisation began to dawn and the tune shifted from action thriller to horror movie. "You'll pay for this! You killed them?!"

"They're alive," Alden called back. He looked to Jonas as he tried to think of a safe way to trade. "You want them back you better fish them out of the Black real quick cos they're gonna be crated up with no suits."

Jonas nodded. "That's probably a pretty good idea," he said. "Not so sure I can take on one more what with this through-and-through. Startin' to feel the affects comin' on. You okay, though?" He'd noticed Alden's shaking hand.

For a moment, Alden stared at the man he'd known for all of a few days and said nothing. Jonas was bleeding. A lot. And while Alden himself felt his guts churn with the thrill and speed of the firefight, he wasn't badly hurt. His head hurt like a bitch, but Jonas' face was grey...

"I'm okay," the elder teen said, though his gaze wandered back to the dead guy in the body armour and the hole in his skull. "First time I killed anyone..." The words came out in a hoarse whisper, but Alden turned his attention fully back to Jonas and refocused. He reached up to rest a flat palm on the obvious wound. "Need to get you patched up."

"Not for me," said Jonas, as he felt the dizzy come on after the adrenaline rush. "But yeah, patched up would be good. But ditchin' this trash and gettin' away from the pilot...yeah, that."

Alden pushed his personal emotions down as deep as he could and pushed Jonas gently in the direction of the emergency medical station. It sounded way fancier that it was - basically a metal cupboard full of supplies - but he'd stocked it up before they'd left and he always kept it up to date. That was something his father had instilled him from the first time they'd been out into the black together.

"You'll be okay," Alden promised Jonas, as he unapologetically ripped the other man's shirt in order to reach both sides of the gunshot wound. Ta Ma Duh the dude was a bulldozer. Entry and exit both received the confident application of haemostatic gauze pads then Alden took a small step back. "I'm O pos," he said. "I can give you back some blood if you need it." A worried pair of eyes regarded the big man before him. "But if you can help me move these guys first, we can get outta here."

"Move 'em, run, water, and a seat. That's all I ask right now," said Jonas. "If we need a blood transfusion, we can do that after the seat." Jonas took a deep breath and straightened up. Well, as far as the pain in his shoulder would allow. "Oh, and something for the pain. But let's get this mess cleaned up, first."

Alden nodded. He could do that. He could also help a little more than he was doing, his head was just a little clouded right now. "Okay," he agreed, wiping his hand to the graze on his temple and coming back bloody. It wasn't still bleeding though, and that was what counted. "We got this," he said, as much for himself as Jonas. Then he handed the other man a small packet and shrugged. "Painkillers."

It took a little while to manhandle, drag and load those warm bodies into two crates, minus their weapons, and they had to listen to the pirate pilot yell and scream at them the whole time. She didn't risk leaving her ship though, regardless of how impatiently she waited.

Finally watching the unhappy cargo slip out into vacuum and the Sandfly's outer airlock door seal shut again, Alden breathed a sigh of relief and offered an arm to help Jonas to the bridge. "Let's get outta here."

Jonas watched as the unwanted cargo slid into the black and the doors all sealed shut. He happily accepted the arm and nodded. "Yeah, the faster the better," he said.

"If'n it's alright with you," Alden said, giving his hired gunman a worried look. "I'll get us the hell outta here first, then stitch y'all up once we've got some distance. Elijah's tracker in that crate oughta bring some Alliance trouble down on the pirates, and we need to be long gone.

Some time later, the Komorebi aimed like a silent dart at their final destination, Alden stood over Jonas' prone form as the bigger man lay upon the galley table. The Sandfly was too small for a proper infirmary, though their medical supplies were sufficient to support the occasional battlefield doctoring.

"This," Alden said, as he waggled a bottle of clear liquid in one hand, a fistful of cotton wool in the other and winced at Jonas. "Is really gonna hurt..."

Jonas lay there, waiting. There was no sense in holding his breath or clenching his teeth or anything else like that. "Just glad you don't have to go diggin' around in there. Just do it, Alden. Let's get this over with. And the next time I see a bloody pirate, the first one to do the talkin' will be my gun."

He'd worked with the vet sometimes on his mother's ranch - well that was a lie - he'd fetched and carried more than anything. And he'd seen gruesome sights, death, injuries and such, the worst of all being his own father. This was different. Corpses didn't tend to scream when you poked them.

"Okay," said the teen. "Here goes." He tested Jonas by first roughly cleaning those nasty grazes, then, confidence up, Alden shifted gear. Most of the bottle went to that shoulder shot, both sides, making sure to thoroughly disinfect it before he followed by plugging the holes either side with sterile dressing. Then Alden let out the breath he'd been holding and looked proudly at the wounded man.

"You look a bit pale," he said. "How y'all doing?"

"Well enough, I reckon," said Jonas. "Feelin' a might bit tired. And thirsty. Yeah, need some water. Nice job, though."

Alden reached over for a bottle of water, looked at the emergency medkit and frowned. "I could try and do the IV-thing," he noted, looking really worried. "But I've only done it once and that was on a cow." He handed Jonas the bottle and smiled. "Mebbe drink this and have a sleep. I'll get us to Shadow and some proper help."

Jonas sleepily nodded his head and took the bottle. After a few small drinks, he looked up Alden. "Sleep sounds good."

He covered the man with a blanket, hit him with a couple of quick shots from the kit - antibiotics and vitamins, analgesic - and then Alden sat with Jonas as the big man fell slowly into a deeper sleep. He lingered a good while, listening Jonas breathe, checking his pulse, fretting and worrying that he'd killed the dude on their first trip out. But Jonas' breath was even and strong, even if his face was pale, and Alden needed to check on the ship too.

He set up the camera feed though, so he could monitor Jonas from the bridge, and over the next six hours, he'd wander back and forth on a regular basis until the man woke up again or needed intervention.



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