Into The Black

The love boat

It was supposed to be a quiet trip. Everything was lined up nice: booze, paying passengers, ship upgrades, booze, my old friend-with-benefit Nadia, booze. Good booze too, snatched during the party we organized for the overpaid brats we were supposed to babysit, aka the Gators. I wonder what a gator is, by the way, never seen one in the black…

So, anyway, take off went superbly, we were all in space in no time. It looks like ruddin’ Rammstein’s ship had already left when we hit orbit, probably headed for the coordinates I had sent him. Who knows how long it’ll take him off our track, but he’ll be back that’s for sure. In the meantime, he can sure kiss my Pei Gu. I owe the crew a solid on that one, they could just as well have sold me out, the offer was tempting after all. But where would they find such an awesome pilot, with such a winning personality ? In any case, I really wonder why Obersturmbannführer Rammstein has such a tumescence for my tribe? Ok, they’ve been causing trouble for a while, but not more than notorious criminals like Badger or Niska…

We’ve never been that crowded on this ship, what with the unexpected arrival of Leonid’s Natasha and my Nadia, plus a full complement of passengers (mostly Gator fans, to the exception of Lisa Kung-Lau (a real firecracker). Then, there’s the addition of a stowaway, Brad Armstrong himself, one of the aforementioned brats. This one has been damaging my calm ever since I met him, and by climbing on our ship uninvited, he just officially made it on my shit list… He wanted to be with Alicera, hoping she’d put up for the rest of the trip and welcome him like a hero. Well, it turned out quite different: although he did get to spend a night in her bunk, he was welcomed the next morning with an optical grenade and the business end of a shotgun. And this time I aimed the grenade just right… Discussion with Captain Prudie ensued, and the boy was sent to our improvised brig, i.e. the starboard shuttle. We soon after warned Charles Ringessen (Brad’s boss, and our current employer) that we had his boy and that he was safe and sound.

The trip started well and quickly fell into routine: for me that was day shifts with piloting and “light drinking,” and night shifts in my bunk with not-so-light drinking and sometime a nice visit from Nadia (ouch, she hasn’t lost her touch one bit. I’ll have more scars by the end of the trip, but that’s worth it). For the rest of the crew things were going fine, Gideon was taking care of the food and passenger activities (good old Bingo-Gator-Trivia…) and Brad was trying to ingratiate the rest of the crew by making himself useful in the kitchen and impressing the passengers. The latter soon realized who he was and went nuts: we should have asked more money for their ride. Alicera tried to stay away as much as possible from loverboy and kept busy in the engine room. Leonid was taking care of Natasha, who mostly kept to herself. The Padre started working on some counselling with them. Things were quiet, there was a bit of smack talk between the Gator fans and miss Kung-Lau who could hold her own. One of the passengers, a nerdy boy called Robert Blake, actually asked for some advice from our Shepherd about the best way to make her understand he had a crush on her. I’m not sure why you’d ask such a young fellow, with a bible for a brain, about such matters, but I guess the Religiosity Kid’s got more common sense than most, so why not.

On the twelfth day of our trip (about midway), Brad paid a visit to Alicera in the engine room to chat her up. I dunno what they talked about, but soon after they were joined by Robert Blake (the nerd), who had brought a gun to the party! He locked the door behind him, and forced Alicera to sabotage the engine. suddenly we were “dead in the water.” I was at the helm with the Captain at the time and we asked over the comm what was happening. Alicera replied that there was a problem with the engine, and that “they” were working on it… As the Captain was making her way to the ship’s poup, I gathered some gear and warned Wilson about the situation. When we arrived at the locked engine room airlock, Blake was yanking cables and pipes left and right while holding Brad and Alicera at gun point. He told us to stay put and that we’d have some visit shortly.

I raced back to the bridge and scanned the surrounding, pushing the Nightingale’s sensors to their farthest range. Indeed, a ship was incoming and would be on us in less than two hours. Like my uncle Luc would always say when something was breaking down on the Je me souviens (about every other day) : Criss de calice de tabarnac d’osti de sacrament! I rushed back and took Gideon in tow. Blake would not answer to any kind of negotiation. He seemed crazed, almost hysterical. Looking through the blueprints of the ship, there seemed to be an air vent going from the center of the ship (above the galley) to the ceiling of the engine room. It was pretty tight, so Leonid was out of the question, and both Gideon and Captain Prudie were keeping Blake busy to keep him from shooting his hostages. I warned the others to look away from the room on signal, ‘cause there’d be some fireworks.

I climbed into the vent after donning my welding goggles and my ballistic mesh. Crawling through the space was taking forever, I barely had space to wiggle my way forward. As I was making my way and listening to the events in my comm unit, the situation was escalating and Blake was threatening from shooting Alicera in the face at any moment. Than suddenly, time stopped: I heard the echo of a gunshot coming from the back of the ship. I didn’t hear any scream from Alicera, so either she was dead or had frozen again. Gideon and Wilson started shooting bullet after bullet through the three inch thick porthole set in the airlock blast door. They finally cracked the door and Wilson tried to slide his arm through the opening, to unlock the door.

That’s when I arrived on top of the vent. There was no time and not much room, so I just threw my weight, head first, into the vent to break through it. As I was falling into the room I unpinned another Optical Bomb. I gave the signal to the others and hoped my welding goggles would protect me from the effects. Of course Alicera and Brad could not be warned ahead of time and dropped to the ground at the same time as Blake, the psychedelic LED strobe having wrecked havoc with their nervous system. I fell heavily on the floor but managed to mostly protect my head and back. I stood up, kicked his gun out of Blake’s hands and head butted him as hard as I could, then unlocked the blast door. Prudie, Wilson, Gideon and Leonid rushed in, tied Blake with the wires he had yanked from the engine, and helped Brad. Unbeknownst to me, Brad had dived in the way to protect Alicera when Blake tried to shoot her. He was badly hurt in the shoulder, there was blood everywhere. Although I’m glad Alicera is fine, I realized that Blake had just shot our moneymaker…

As Brad was being carried to the med bay for some express surgery, the Nightingale received a call from the incoming ship: this was Liu Bei, the same gorram triad boss who had tried to intercept us a couple months ago when we were transporting the wine cargo for baron Othello. Obviously he didn’t like the fact that we gave him the slip and dumped our septic tank all over his nice luxury ship… He explained that he had to kill his previous crew because they had witnessed this humiliation. Now, imagine what he’s going to do to us if he sacrificed his men so easily…

As the yacht was approaching and when Alicera stopped seeing dots, she diagnosed the damage and realized there is no way she could fix the ship before the K14 men arrived. We now had to defend she ship the best we could. I offered to pilot one of the shuttles, loaded with explosives, into their yacht as they approached (hopefully jumping off before impact), but the plan was deemed too reckless (good thing they didn’t see what I pulled off during the war).

We armed some of the passengers (and I gave my repeater crossbow to Nadia, who thought Xmas had come early), and I prepared a plan B involving my trusty and all patched up military spacesuit, several packs of Scrapper Gel (will burn a hole through a hull in seconds) and some rope. Hopefully the rest of the crew will manage to hold the Tongs long enough for me to blow a few unhealthy holes in their ship.

Wish us luck !!

Dazed and Confused

Our lives are in peril once again with the Tong moving closer to board us, and yet all I can think of is guilt and regret over Brad. He should have been just an easy casual thing, we finish our job, I blow a kiss goodbye and move on. But this job is taking a lot longer and I’m starting to feel hemmed in here.

When I first discovered him in my bunk, at first I was elated and we shared another fun night together. But the next morning, I lay there listening to him softly snore, and I started getting angrier and angrier. How dare he presume I wanted him on this three week trip! I haven’t spent three weeks with a fling since I left Greenleaf. The physical part is fun, but to be honest here, I just get bored with the person inside of them.

Look, I know I’m naïve about a lot of things. I don’t have a lot of street smarts. I’m all booksmarts. But none of the pretty boys I’ve had a nice easy time with haven’t had much in their brains to talk about, and that’s just fine for a night or two. But three weeks!!!

So, I was getting angrier and angrier. I had led him on, promising him more of me when we get to Londinium to keep a string inside the team that my over protective brothers wouldn’t give me. Brad could be relied upon to tell me what he was up to if it meant getting lucky and I was happy to have some fun with him to, ya know, to make it easier to find him and his buddies when they’d try to sneak out again. If they were going out to party, I’d be the first one Brad would confess to about it in order to have some fun with me.

Having fun has become a job to do and I ain’t no Companion. It’s makin’ me feel kinda whorish here and I’m not likin’ it one bit. And Brad ASSUMING that I’d be happy to spend THREE WEEKS with him without him asking my permission, well boys are just not allowed to assume things about me and not ask permission.

It’s a respect thing. I had to prove myself to my brothers by teaching them to respect my little fist. I had to out-think competitors at University in order to get respect despite my country-girl voice. I want respect dammit, and assuming that I’d just lay down and be a happy little floozie for three weeks. Well. Angry.

I always thought it silly, good girls being good girls and not having any fun. Boys had fun, why not girls? It’s been a great ride, pun intended. But this….it’s not so fun anymore. Three weeks with someone as brainless as Brad, very nice guy, really, but intellectually he’s just a jock. Again, really sweet guy, but certainly not my type to spend three weeks with an’ nothing in common ‘cept sharin’ sheets.

And speaking of respect, Capt’n is a girl, good girl or not depending on whose scale of opinion yer lookin’ at, she’s a successful business woman and can do anything a man can do. Me hiding a stowaway would be breaking all kinds of rules and I can’t do disrespect like that to Miss Prudy. Knucklehead thinks stealing a ride is the same as stealing a seat on a bus trip. He don’t get that the oxygen isn’t plentiful and too many people put a strain on the scrubbers. I’m sure I’ll be havin’ to go through them, maybe even replace them when this is all over.

And the food. You can’t just pull the bus over when the food is gone and get a refill on that Icy Cup. Miss Purdy and Preacher plan carefully on the food supply and promise paying folks fresh food. An extra mouth to feed is an issue. All kinds of things are different here in the black. This just ain’t the joy ride Brad thinks this should be.

But then Brad has to go and save my life by getting himself shot. It’s different when Wilson or Rocket gets themselves shot for us,. I’d throw down my life to save anyone in this crew, and any one of us would too. But Brad isn’t part of this family and I didn’t invite him to be one.

If I were a cruel person, I’d just shrug my shoulders and tell myself that Brad had it coming and he needs to learn about consequences. Miss Prudy tried to teach that to Brad by putting in a time out, but I’ve no doubt he’s learned nothing by it. He’s used to getting his way no matter how many rules he has to break.

Keeping the team safe and out of trouble means it’s our job to take on that trouble for them, so being here is certainly not the safest place for him. He never should have assumed I’d be okay with three weeks. I’m not on a vacation here. I got work to do. And see what the consequences are? He’sbleeding at Doc’s and likely will be unable to play. I bet I get blamed for that, everyone will assume I enticed Brad to hitch this ride which couldn’t be further from the truth, but how to I put all the blame on him when he has t’go and get himself shot. Ugh. I hate feeling guilt.

Now I’m talking myself in circles, and though recording this while I race at getting Nightingale running again which isn’t likely to happen before we are boarded, still it isn’t slowing me down and recording in my journal makes me feel better and I’m just feeling too much guilt for my likin and need to shake it off.

Maybe Preachers right in some o’that stuff he sermons about. Maybe I should just take up with men I at least have something in common with, someone that is talkable. Brad wouldn’t know a heat dispersing bundle of coil wires from a bundle of wires that take on an ignition load. Of course most folks don’t, but he has absolutely no want to learn anything about it, or me for that matter.

I’m so confused. I used to really like the joy ride. Now there’s a kind of heaviness. Maybe it’s cuz I’m getting older. At Temple on Hera, a priest told me that “every day is another chance to change your life.” Maybe if I get to wake up to a new day tomorrow after all this, I’ll consider taking that advice.

The Game Gets Bigger

Reavers, Alliance, Cricket calamities. We’ve been through it all, fighting the bad guys with great frequency of late, so much so, it’s taking me less time to take a swing when I need to. Maybe it’s that, or maybe it’s that without a big brother traveling with us I’ve found a bit more courage to defend myself. I dunno, a combination of both?

The job of keepin’ my twin brothers’ team safe has been quite the adventure. More has happened since the brawl at the bar and the party in the ship. For one, we won the game on Hera and will move on to the the ’Verse Championship on Londinium.

But before we get there, well, the game didn’t get off without a hitch. In the background while the game played on, we had succeeded in fouling a kidnap attempt one one of the twins, and freed a girl held hostage as well. I think I talked about that in my last journal entry.

Getting ready for the next flight, I decided that it would be too risky to keep hacking into dock securities at each stop, so after coming back from the Temple to give alms, I created two more sensors (which took some time as the cameras I added were tricky) to the one I had put on the team’s ship last time. This way instead of dock security cameras, we could watch with our own, and record when not there to watch them.

We are waiting for word from Mr. Tighty Whitie as to when we lift off. In the meantime, we got a call from Ram-sleeze. He offered us amnesty and credits to turn over Rocket to him. What the ‘Sleeze wanted was information from him. It took a lot of throwin’ ideas around before we could settle on a plan. See, while tryin’ to show us how comfortable Rocket’s prison cell would be, Ramstein’s camera rolled across the images of two women being held captive. One of them was a friend of Rocket’s, a feisty one that is registered with the Companion’s Guild. The other woman’s image put Doc in all kinds of anxiety. I’ve never seen him so shook-up!

So we went through ideas. We couldn’t turn over Rocket to ‘Sleeze unless we could come up with a plan to rescue those women, and there just wasn’t a way we could come up with a safe way to turn in Rocket and then get him back out again.

Hacking into their crew list, I discovered that Ram-Sleeze wasn’t registered as being aboard. That didn’t really help much other than he seems to be either on a covert mission, or a personal one.

We got ahold of the Companion’s Guild and they set t’getting that one free. In the end, Capt’n made a deal with Sleeze that we’d agree to let him meet Rocket in a public place. I’m not sure what was agreed upon that Sleezy would give us in exchange for that. The next deal was that that Ram-sleeze could ask Rocket questions, get the information that he’d been chasing Rocket over, in exchange for the ladies.

The deal was made to meet in the diner we’d gone to next door from the brawl at the Pot & Kettle last time we were on Hera. We got there before them and set ourselves up to protect Rocket. Me an’ Preacher stayed in the mule for a quick get-away if need be since Preacher has been learnin’ to drive it and Rocket would be preoccupied with answerin’ questions. Leo was at the backdoor of the diner until Ramstein’s goons got showed up to guard the back, so we found out later that Doc had moved to the kitchen and when he came out he smelled enough like onions t’make my eyes sting.

Sleeze kept to his word, and the ladies were freed to us. Back to Nightengale we all went, and then we alerted the passengers we took on that Nightengale would be lifting off soon. I ran down to the team’s ships and attached the sensors (that finally have working cameras) and we lifted off as smooth as Rocket’s ever done. He must have been pretty tanked.

Meeting the ladies we’d saved, I found Rocket’s friend had an energy much like Rocket’s but with a touch of sultry and not smellin’ of booze. Don’t know if that will change now that’s she’s out of a locked cell. Leo’s friend, Natasha, she was real bad off. Once Doc got Natasha sedated, he told us an incredibly sad story, all that he and Natasha had been through together. It explains his feelings for her and why he was so anxious to get her freed. I’m not sure, but I take it he’s protective of her, like a sibling. It also explains how he knows all that natural medicine an’ healing stuff.

We ended up with yet one more passenger, a stowaway. Found him naked in my bunk. Brad. This tryst with him is getting complicated. I hope he’s in this for fun and not expecting a relationship. My first love is this ship and the heart of her I keep running smooth. My life is here, in the Black.

Leonid and Natasha come clean

I didnt want to play this out last night as it would have taken too much time, and by the time it came up it was getting quite late, but I also didnt want to just gloss over it. This can be as interactive as you want or as little as you want.

Leo and Natasha will call a meeting with the crew, they will cook up a fine meal of what they would eat while living on the run for 2 years on Jiangyin. Which probably consists deep fried rocks, rotten or partially spoiled veggies, nice tasty bugs, slugs and the carcass of something dead that the buzzards did not eat blended with the herbs from his garden and the finest homemade vodka and virgin shirley temples for the more pious individuals :-)

Leo and Natasha were both taken as slaves a very young age, Leo 14 and Natasha 10. They lived in the same cell block aboard the Chuck Schwarsky travelling entertainment group, which would come to the lesser planets in the realm as an entertainment extravaganza like a travelling Las Vegas of tents, coming to your town to bleed you of all your money for a week of the most vile entertainment you could stomach. Once all the cities on said planet were wringed of all the credits they could get they packed up and visited the next planet. For these two it went on for 7 years.

From the age of 10 Natasha was a prostitute and unlike high priced and classy companions this was a free for all, whomever had the most money could pretty much do whatever they liked for as long as they liked, assuming the slaves returned more or less in 1 piece and breathing. This time left Natasha as a broken soul, no will to live, no self esteem, no skills in life, nothing but a rotten piece of meat.

Leo was part of the fighting troupe, Chuck and his promotions team would dress up all the fighters in outlandish costumes and antagonize the locals to find all the local toughs and build up their egos through a fixed tournament of fighting which rallied the village against the roadshow, obviously allowing the locals to advance to the point where the toughest of the locals would advance to the main event, usually on the last evening of the roadshow, it pitted the towns champion against the roadshows champion, the towns ALWAYS rallied behind their guy and usually bet everything they had to beat the champion. And of course they never did, Leo was so full of hate, rage and anger the final bouts never lasted long and usually the local tough would remain in intensive care for many weeks, while the roadshow rolled along.

This was wash, rinse and repeat for almost 7 years, Leo was in charge of keeping the slaves healthy enough to perform, whether that was mending wounds, treating and curing diseases or keeping the slaves from killing themselves that was Leo’s job outside of pounding people into dust.

Chuck was a very shrewd business man and realized the dog and pony show needed to stop, no more setting up tents and travelling on busses, this was going to be an independent fighting circuit, the rim planets would bid for the services and house the events in the finest arenas across the black, in the last year they received 12 bids so every month an event was set, this was now something different, the fights were now to the death and the stakes were massive and the demand was insane. Leo was making him more money then he could count, the events got more intense fighting in pits filled with broken glass or cages of razor wire anything to get more people to watch and more money to be bet.

Chuck became the biggest promoter in the underground fighting scene and with Leo in his stable he could not lose, until one of Chucks accountants discovered where this money came from and at what cost in human lives, by this time Leos mental state had deteriorated to the point of suicides, simply lose this next fight and he could finally go to sleep, however just before the match, this woman arranged for Leo and the slaves in his cell block to escape which included Natasha. They ran.

Leo was put in charge of the rest of the slaves and managed to live off the lands of Jiangyin for 2 years hiding and surviving on anything they could find until all of the slaves were placed in good homes with loving good families that would take care of them and rehabilitate them to become someday normal people, Natasha was like his little sister and he was incredibly protective and when the time and Leo was 100% sure he left her with her new family.

Having no one to care for and no prospects in life Leo returned to the ruins of his home and was discovered by sandy the woman who set the slaves free, she arranged for passage to the furthest planet from Jiangyin and a few names and some money. This turned into a job on the Nightengale.

At this point half drunk and teary eyed they show you what 7 years of slavery looks like, Leo shows you his back which is a complete mess of scar tissue which he smiles and says he could not fix because his hands cannot reach these places, and upon looking closely at Natasha while strikingly beautiful from 2 feet away you see the well hidden damage that has been brought upon her and looking in her eyes you wonder how much damage is behind those eyes?

Leo closes and says he must protect Natasha as Chuck and his group was behind the events that led to Natasha being arrested, this puts the crew in possible danger and if that is too much of a burden for the ship then they will leave at Londinium.

Amateur hour......

The day after the party we were summoned to the stadium when we getz to zee stadium we have many new screenz showing seemingly every inch of zeee stadium, after listening to owner Mr. Charlz explain all thees new tingz one camera goes dark Mr Jefferz and his men go to check out what iz wrong with new screenz showing blackz, we volunteered to check dis but Mr Jefferz insist.

After some time has passed we get callz on radio explaining troublz, we run down to help and find men down and a stink in the airz, Aliceria and I start to drag zee men in black to zee safety and Prudy and Rocket find grenade of gas which caused troublz, zee lightz and fans get turned back onz, zen anothr callz comes to radio about hostages and more trouble, I take zee gun from Mr Jeffers and doctors are on zee way to help as we come back up to level were zee playerz are housed.

One of zee team doctorz has needle to neck of Aliceria’s brother Bob or Rob? I do not know all zee crickets look zee same to me, Prudy tries to negotiate with zis doctor, he sayz man have his daughter and force him to take zee Bob cricket…..or was it zee Rob cricket? Rocket and Wilson and Prudy work a planz to shoot zee doctor, Prudy gets them to move outside roomz and gives signal to shoot and Wilson shootz zee doctor in zee shoulderz, we secure hostage and zee doctorz.

We decide zee doctor was not bad man, just manipulated by very bad manz, docotorz explain were trade offf of cricket hostage take plaze and we decide Rocket will dress like doctorz and Wilson will be zee the cricket, we follow but not closely down many levels until finally at end of long hallwayz we find bad manz who wants Cricket to sabotage crickets game, Prudy Aliceria and me Leonid hide around corner waiting, zee man tells cricket to get down and crawl away from Rocket, manz zen sayz doctor rocketz iz no longer needed and shootz rocket, Wilson crawls towards bad manz and Rocket throws grenade of lightz and zee smokz but somehow grenade hits ceilling and lands between doctor rockets and cricket wilson, both now cannot seez, meanwhile Prudy gets gunz and says shootz high and follow, Prudy goes around corner and shoots zee gunz, Aliceria and me leonid are still trying to get past fears of killinz, I make zee gunz loadedz and take deep breath and run around cornerz, I shootz and shootz and shootz but flashing lights and smokez confuse mind and I see Wilson playing cricketman fallz down as I get to side doorz passage, I have shot blinded cricketmanz Wilson in zee back!!!!!!

Prudy must have hit somezing with oil as badmanz realizez thingz turn badz fleez and leavez footprints of oilz. Prudy, Rocket and me leonid decide to chaze badmanz, Aliceria finally works up zee courage to come around corner in time to see uz givingz chaze. I quickly check Wilsons and tell him to put fingerz in zee bullet hole and he will be goodz, then join chase for bad man, we climb up many many many stairz and wounded Rocketz cannot keep pace, Aliceria also cannot maintain zee pace, so Prudy and me leonid chaze man up to upper decks of seating, many peoplz dressed in silly colors confuze and we alomst lose badmanz, ever clever Prudy zees the oily footprints, pointz and tells me leonid she sees man and to get him, I see manz at stairwell watching zee start of zee games, I run very fast and decide I will take man down and ride him down zee stairwells using face as cushion, I tackle man perfectly and push face down into stone steps as we slide down zee stairwellz, he iz in much pain and after quick chat with man spitting out teeth we learnz he was forced to switch into oily shooz or face beating, luckily he did switchz zee shoez so not beating waz given poor manz. I say I am sorryz and zee chaze begins anew.

We starts to tink where would be good place to shoot cricketz and decide it must be up, we climb more stairz and ask man at fistpoint if they zee tall blond man has been by and he says yez and points up to top of stadium seats, finally we zee manz with rifles climbing light towerz with no shooz, Prudy starts to climnb zee towerz and shoots up at mans buttocks, I cannot getzs good shootinz so I shoot at zee glass lights, i remember diehard movies where manz walkz on broken glass with no shooz, i hit zee lightz one and broken glass showerz down on platform, at this time Rocketz and Aliceria arrive, rocketz has beer in hand and fat seciryt guardz chasing him, Prudy and badmnz climz higher and I wait for barefoot badmanz to fall into glass trappz I leonid setz for him, Rocket tries to get clear shotz as fat securty man triez to recover stolen beerz, rocketz finally shootzs and hits man before leonids clever trapz and falls down ladderz, Prudy gets out of wayz just in time as man fallz to hard stone floorz, zee peoplez waching cricketz are confused by all zee shootinz but qiuckly get backzzz to zee gamez.

We Prudy findz only 1 key on dead barefoot man, we ask fat security guardz what zis keey is forz and he shows us cleaning lockerz and we open and open and open and findz zee doctors little girl, we bring her back to zee office of securityz and watch zee last of zee crickets games, zee team winz zee games and we get to celebrate with zee crickets and learn our jobz are not overz yet. Wilson seemsz ok, Mr Jeffers and his menz are recovering also………

Preacher's Got A Ship of Sinners

Soooo, we got put to work hauling a lot of huge and heavy crates. We weren’t hired for menial labor, but it was pointed out that the contents were important equipment of the team and we’d be failing our job we’re getting paid for if something happens to the equipment. It was decided that Preacher would watch the ship while we were out. Missed him. He likely would have been entertaining in the brawl that was to come. Last time he was a’yellin “not the face!” I wondered what funny thing he’d yell this time.

Before we started hauling, I zipped away to the outer belly of their ship and retrieved my tracker. If they Gators win this game and they go on to Londinium, they will likely play musical chairs with the ships again and I’ll have to move this tracker anyway once we find which is which.

It was a tough decision. Brad (the Gator with the nicest butt) wanted to sneak out and meet me somewhere, which I was torn about, I really wanted to land him. I heard he’s a womanizer and that’s the best kind because they don’t try to do that syrupy puppy eye gig. Anyway…do I meet him? Or do I let Capt’n know show she can warn Mr Too Tighty Whities of an impending break-out, which meant doing more to keep my brothers safe.

Brad would be a one night deal, my brothers are forever, so the decision was made. And then what happens? Brad and one of his buddies were still able to sneak out anyway. At least my brothers were left safe behind in Players Prison.

So, Capt’n went with me to meet the boys. I think Brad’s friend really took a shine to Capt’n. We were having a great time at the Pot & Kettle till the brawl broke out. Capt’n was like a Joan of Arc standing there on top of the table shooting off her gun. And of course Trembly, Doc and Wilson made it to the ruckus, our Nightengale Cavalry. I threw a cog at on of the bar patrons participating in what had become an all out bar brawl (one of them persisted in giving Cap’n a hard time.) Chairs were broken, bottles smashed, black-eyes swelled. It was great fun to break up the monotany of space flight.

We took ourselves to a cafe and Trembly gorged on some ice cream. I think Doc may have indulged in it too. I’m pretty sure Capt’n was stalling till Too Tighty Whitie got there. And like the efficient robot he is, he showed up with his goonies, all still wearing their dark glasses even though it was getting on evening. The escaped Gators were brought back to the stadium with their legs between their legs like puppies.

Nice thing out of it though, is since it was dropped on us to keep the team safe, and it was obvious there would be more sneak outs if the boys weren’t allowed to blow off some steam, so TightyWhitie agreed to let us throw the boys a party where they could rowdy up but in a controlled setting.

And it started with a great roar, right here on our Nightengale! The men, the food, the booze! Decorations and loud music and lots a’dancin’. O’course Preacher was having a great time trying to convert some of those he thought lost…until the whores got there. I think Preacher disappeared after that. Doubt he retired with one of the ladies, though his God knows that it would be good for Preacher to loosen up a bit.

And me, I got t’loosen up a lot. Brad was every bit as his reputation promised. Happy sighs!

Doctor Death to Doctor Who via Doctor Suess

zee ship left zee docks on time, with two weekz of travel I settled into my normal routine with one new wrinkle, weightz in zee morning, late morning brooding has been replaced with reading bookz, lunch and punching zee bag in zee high sun, brooding in the afternoon has been replaced with trying to figure out what machinez in zee corner do, dinner and cardio in the late afternoon, then drinking and brooding has been replaced with drinking and more complicated reading, Alicera has been most helpful and patient helping use zee cortex to get more information not available in zee books I have on readerz, another furious couple of hours on zee bag, then wind down with tending to zee ant farms, slugzs, herb gardensz, and various things I am brewing.

Zee boat seems more and more like home now, as much as it pains me to say it, zee departure of BB has done much to improve my morale, tings were alwaysz tensze and i was always prepared for zee worst, living with unstable powder keg of violence that was armed for war made for many sleepless nights, in many ways he is what I was 2 short years ago without zee gunz.

Over the two weekzs I wasz able to assess the capabilities of machines in corner and learned some of them appear to be useful, I learned I will be ablez to use one of these machines to cook and brew more complex things, my first brew will be to make a type of synthetic adrenaline. Once our job is done on Hera I can gather zee necessary ingredients to try and make a brew during our next long travel.

Upon arrival we were instructed to unload 20 huge boxes and deliver them to zeee stadium, with zee boxes being so large and heavy it took us the evening and early morning to get them all delivered, once we were done, this man opens zee boxes and they were full of cricket players. with this job done we had 2 hours to sleep, then we needed to protect the cricket men while they practice catching crickets, this made for a long long long day.

two of zee crickets took a liking to Aliceria and Prudy and decided to sneak into zee town and blow off some steam, Rocket, Wilson and myself stayed well behind until Rocket received a call that trouble was brewing, so we made our way to zee Pot and Kettle an out of the way hotspot, Wilson and Rocket entered thru the front, I moved down an alley to find a back door into the building, while doing so I see a man smoking a cigar and asked him for one and proceeded to try this fancy thing, gunshots erupt from inside the building, I thank zee man and make my way thru the kitchen and determine that thru the double doors much trouble awaits, much chaos and fighting and screams trickle thru the door and for a moment it gave me pause and filled my mind with fear, gathering myself I kick in zee doors as hard as I possibly can assuming there could be bad people on the other side and a door in the face might give me zee needed time to extract our crew. Upon opening everyone is looking at me, I see Prudy standing on a table with a gun in her hand and a swollen face, the two crickets appear to have been bloodied and Aliceria had just thrown something at another man who promptly crumpled to the floor, thru the mass of people Rocket and Wilson had just cleared a path to where Prudy, zee Crickets and Aliceria. I motioned for zee others that we need to go, as they piled into the kitchen and out to the back alley we noticed Mr Jeffers and his goons just arriving at the scene thru the front door, more mayhem was about to ensue.

We found a nice quiet cafe to lay low and see how bad everyone was hurt, Rocket ordered a fine meal, i waited outside to protect the door from unwanted guests, Prudy made a call to Jeffers so he could collect his drunken crickets, Rocket stalled them long enough for Jeffers to arrive.

Back at the stadium we now have our own windowless office with some cots to act as our base of operations. The team was restricted to the stadium now and morale was low, having heard of the shennanigans the owner decided the team could go out tonight to blow off some steam within in 2 mile radius of the stadium, this would make it impossible for us to protect them all as they would scatter in all directions. We decided we would throw a party on the Nighti ngale ship instead, this way they would be safe and in a semi controlled enviroment, we quickly hatched the best plan we could, which would require lots of booze, Gideons fine food, loud music, team colored decor and lots of whores.

I of course locked up the med bay, the engine room, cockpit and other restricted areas were also sealed. Gideon cooked up an amazing batch of meatballs and other wonderful foods, Rocket was in charge of the bartending, having ordered way more booze then would be required Rocket dispensed the cheapest stuff first and held the fine spirits in reserve just in case. The plan worked beautifully and Jeffers told us to keep what was left which was of course all zee good stuff!

About sunrise the team was all gathered up and bused back to the stadium and we were left with a ship completely trashed

All in a day's work

Jeffers had a bug up his butt. That’s what happens when you eat puppies for breakfast. He told us there would be three Corazon-class ships departing for Hera—two decoys and one with the Gators. Sneerface instructed us to be ready to depart and that sometime in the next 72 hours, we’d get a 15 minute advance notice.

We were able to get six passengers who paid a premium for transport to Hera. Not knowing if we would depart in the next hour or in three days, I told them we planned to depart in two hours. They were Johnny-on-the-spot ready. Gideon was all happy to take them to their rooms, being polite, giving good service, and of course, talking about God stuff. When I asked Gideon to collect their fare, he hemmed and hawed. Mercy! Does that boy have a problem with earning an honest dollar? Once we had them on board, in their rooms, and took their money, I reckoned they weren’t likely to leave, even if they were impatient with the indefinitely delayed departure.

Alicera tried to call her brothers, but wasn’t getting anywhere with the automaton policing the phone lines. Alice double-downed and unleashed the b-word, and then click the call was over.

If we knew what ship the Gators were on, we’d have an advantage in keeping them safe. Alicera looked up the ships registered at the port, and she found five Corazon-class ships. Rocket drove her, Leonid, and Wilson around to look at each of them. We had no clue which one her brothers would be in. The five ships were spread wide over the port, and keepin’ an eye on them over the next 72 hours was no simple task. Not a problem. Alice and Rocket were able to hack into the ports surveillance cameras, so we could spy on all five at the same time.

Time goes by, and the passengers are gettin’ all fidgety, asking why we haven’t lifted off. I assured them it’d be soon, without sayin’ exactly when. Fortunately, they were easily distracted with food and games. Gideon whipped up a Gator-themed bingo/trivia game, which mollified them for a bit.

Alice placed another call and left a message for her brothers to call. To her surprise and delight, Bobby called her back. He was all anxious, as the call was violatin’ the rules set by security. Bobby gave her a tip about which ship they’d be on.

Rocket and Alice shadowed over to the Gator ship to place a tracking device she devised. Unexpectedly, they discover another tracking device already on the ship. Two Tong members appeared outta nowhere. Alice drops one and she and Rocket share the other one. Wilson and Leonid go out to help them bring the unconscious gangsters back. Wilson slips through unnoticed. Leonid was spotted by some uniforms.

He improvised to create a distraction and buy time for the others. “I am looking for womenz.” He staggered drunkenly. “Where iz brothel? I have moneyz.” More uniforms showed up. Leonid managed to keep the situation non-violent, and kept up the charade long enough for crew to carry the Tong back to Nightingale. Then I went out, convinced the uniforms to let Leonid come back to the ship with me, giving them ₡50 for their troubles.

Back on the ship, Leonid extracts the suicide molar out each of them. One regains consciousness, and starts saying the Tong would找到我们 and 杀了我们and other death threats. Leo cooks up a potion to make the captive more cooperative. Drugged and dazed, he tells us they were assigned to plant the tracking device. We don’t learn much more. Now these two Tong were just a complication for us.

I called Ringessen to tell him about the incident. He directed me to Jeffers, so I called him. I told him about the Tong and their tracking device, which was now placed on an adjacent ship. He asked how we knew it was the Gator ship. I told him we were watching all of the Corazon-class ships, and this was the one with the Tong and their tracker. He was persuaded to think that we removed the tracking threat. Hopefully he won’t go looking for Alice’s device.

Rocket calls one of his Tremblay kin to arrange for pick-up of the gang members and keep them out of our hair for a few days. The cleaners were fast and efficient, and fortunately, Gideon was entertaining the antsy passengers in another part of the ship. That could have been an ugly mess.

Finally in the wee hours, we got the call. It was a short conversation. Jeffers said it was time, and at the end of the call he choked out, “Good job.” I hope he didn’t hurt himself forcing those words outta his mouth. Alice fired up Nightingale and Rocket took the helm. Time to go to Hera.

Toilet trouble

Well, BB’s run off. I think he was worried that enemies from his past would come back and put the crew in danger. Must be rough for Alicera, who finally got her brother back, only to lose him again. At least this time, wherever he is, he’s there on his own volition. (BB, if you’re readin’ this, “volition” means by your own free will.)

At least Alice got to see her brothers Rob and Bob play. Some 响亮的小丑 gave us a hard time for cheering the Gators, so we just cheered louder. It wasn’t too long before Rocket had to take a leak. Him and the preacher boy went off to find the john. A few minutes later, they come back with more beers. Didn’t mention any problems at that point.

Then Rocket saw somethin’ and dashed towards the field. He was stopped by some ape in a fancy security suit. Rocket and Gideon started hollering about the men in the bathroom, about a conspiracy about waters and towels and whatnot. Well, when they told security about the plan, they locked us up like we were the criminals. 公鸡吸盘! Rocket and the preacher helped them catch one of the men from the john. I’m not too pleased at how were treated like thugs. At least, the Sam boys and the rest of the Gators were safe.

And the Gators won!

This all led to us meetin’ the owner of the Gators, Ringessen, who offered us a job protecting the team. Good pay, if we actually ever collect. The minimum is decent pay, not great. Then ₡7000 in bonus money, which has all these strings attached and came with a lawyer and contract that made my head hurt after reading about 30 pages.

Ringessen is a self-made man from Greenleaf. Doesn’t look like he’s from Greenleaf, dressed in high cotton. He has a pit bull named Jeffers, also dressed fancy. At first I thought he had some kinda deformity on his face, but it’s just a sneer. Our job is to keep the team safe, planetside, here on Persephone and again on Hera. Unfortunately, we have to work with sneerface. Not a problem. I’ve worked for worse 蛀虫.

White Stallion

“Oh my stars!!!!! I got to dance in a beautiful dress! I got to rub elbows with rich folk! I got to eat fancy little snacks from silver trays!”

The trip there, the pirates trying to take their cargo, the shots fired, the hidden diamonds, nothing could compare to Alicera to the excitement of the dance. The grand charity ball completely blocked out the slight getting to that night of a lifetime event for her.

She exhales a dreamy smile as she finishes the Nightingale painting she’s been working on for weeks on the side of her baby’s heart, the Nightingale engine


With a blue paint smear on her face she walks to the clutter of a workbench and with water hose patch tape she sticks a photo onto the ships inner hull, a photo of an unforgettable night. the highlight of her night of nights.



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