Posted on Wed Oct 9th, 2019 @ 9:19pm by Abigail Preston
Mission 1: Gearing Up
Location: Persephone - The Drunken Duck
Timeline: 22:00hrs Local
That transition from afternoon to evening had mostly been a blur of happy food time and a variety of drinks. At first, Alden had drunk until the pain eased down a notch, booze being easier, cheaper and legally simpler to obtain than meds. Then, he’d tried one of the pretty coloured drinks other people had opted for on their arrival in the bar at the end of yet another work shift.
While he would never admit this to a soul, not too far into the second tall orangey-purple cocktail with a real slice of fruit in it, he’d found himself a quiet, shadowy corner and fallen asleep sitting upright on that comfy seat.
By the time Abigail returned to the Drunken Duck, it was dark outside and the barman she knew was on shift. He pointed her towards the far corner where Alden lay curled up on a two-seater sofa under a blanket and offered her a smile.
“Griffin told me to keep an eye on him,” the man said. “On account of he paid more than he needed to, up in advance. Told me he was a mark of yours?”
"He was, Ray, he was. But he proved to be a better company to a good brawl." Abigail grinned at the bartender. "So, I think he might stay around for a while. Give me a bottle of something nice..." She fished in her pocket and put small bag with a few things that she knew Ray would appreciate. "...and if we get too drunk to get to the room by ourselves, just toss us there."
When Ray put a bottle of whiskey in front of her with glasses, she picked them up, gave Ray a nod, and moved between tables toward Alden.
Abigail had spent most of her afternoon checking the info from Chin about this Stanton guy. There wasn't much about him. A bit of seductive talk and allowing few guys to buy her drinks came with the information that indeed he was the captain of a freighter. Some considered him pretty. Others cold. But he wasn't around, so the info seemed to be useless. On the way back, Abigail began to think that this was a dead end and an alternative option would be needed to leave the planet. Although, seeing some adverts for He Bo Xian Tu Festival, Abigail thought staying for now wasn't a bad option.
She sat down next to Alden and put the bottle on the table, along with the two glasses and then poured whiskey.
"Hey, Shwai. Wake up." She kicked him gently under the table.
Alden mumbled something incoherent as Abigail sat down, but he didn’t stir. Not until she spoke her words and nudged him with her foot. That contact brought him upright to a seated position in one move, a sudden rise to full, bright-eyed wakefulness as if her light touch had been a poke with a cattle prod.
“I’m awake!” Alden declared, and he cast his gaze sharply from left to right as if expecting more trouble than the offer of mere alcohol. “I’m awake….” He repeated, his voice trailing gently as his eyes met hers. “Yao Nu,” he added, with that now familiar lopsided smile accompanying his softer words. He looked past Abigail then, out at the bar in general and the substantial increase in clientele. “Where’s your lil ninja friend?”
"I don't know. He just left before me." She pushed the glass with whiskey toward him and raised her own.
To be honest, she thought they would go and check the information on Stanton together but then she wouldn't have been able to talk to as many guys and find out what she did. So splitting was in the end a good idea. Maybe Chin will find out more on his own from his kind. If they ever saw him again.
"How are the stitches?"
Alden amicably clunked his shot glass against hers and downed the shot. He didn’t question Abigail further with regards to Chin, unwilling to pry into their business when there was enough of his own to consider.
“Okay, I think,” he answered her, and he lightly prodded his left arm with two fingertips from his right hand. Alden winced. “Still holding me together, thanks,” he added, with a nonchalant shrug.
“So, were you a medic? In the war?” He asked her, as he refilled their glasses.
Abigail shook her head when she downed the glass.
"Me? No... I was just a grunt, then I was a pilot. They even made an officer out of me... that's how they were desperate in the area I was fighting." She replied and leaned back against the chair in a relaxed manner. "But the war isn't pretty, I learned quickly what to do with wounds, at least with flesh wounds like yours." She giggled. "You'll get a nice scar if you're lucky and you'll be able to brag to girls with it."
She pulled refilled glass closer and raised it again.
Alden listened to her speak before he drank his second shot of liquor. He watched Abigail with silent respect, but there was something else in his eyes as he regarded her. He didn't want to ask, told himself he didn't need to know, but that question resounded in his head nonetheless.
"Looks like you did well for yourself," was all he actually said out loud. Alden raised the tiny glass and threw the whiskey at the back of his throat. "And yeah, ain't no beauty in people dying."
He slowed on the third round, holding that refill close to his mouth as she mocked him, kindly. He offered up a nod and smile combo to her belittling of his wound, drank the drink and spoke softly.
"You kicked my butt, captured my ass, tried to sell me down the river, offered me a way out and then fixed me up," Alden noted out loud. Then he let a warm smile settle on his features. "And now you're telling me to go brag about it? You're a complicated creation, blonde demon lady."
Abigail licked her lips amused.
"Yes, so I heard. Though others tend to use also weird, fucked up, insane, and shameless." She shrugged. "What about you, feel like sharing how come you ended up here, got beaten up by a girl and decided to stay with her? At least for the moment?"
Alden frowned darkly as she described how others apparently saw her, but he couldn’t help wondering what they knew that he currently didn’t.
“Oh, really?” He asked, somewhat rhetorically. “Sounds like you hang out with some real nice people…” She had, however, asked him a direct question and it’d be rude to completely ignore such a thing. Alden shrugged. “There was exactly one way out of that Ratchet situation and we both know it. Doesn’t mean we’re engaged or anything,” he told her, but there was a hint of a smile in his eyes as he said it. “I’m here cos the ship I was supposed to be on took off without me. Simple as that.”
"Fair enough." Abigail nodded deciding not to press on further. He was not trusting, similarly like she was. Difference was that she was willing to share minor things and say more to hide the things she didn't want to share, while Alden seemed to not willing to talk about certain subjects at all. She picked the bottle and poured them another round. "I asked around about this Stanton guy. I know now he has a ship called Geronimo. I know also that he is not on the planet. So I guess we are sort of back to square one."
He looked at her, this slip of a lass who hid so much power within, but wore her life on her sleeve. She’d invited them both, him and Ninja Mark Two, into her room after all. Alden sighed.
“Y’know,” he said. “I’m not hiding anything for a reason. I genuinely don’t know why they up and left me.” He shrugged, and slowly sipped at the current round, then placed his hand over the empty glass to stop Abigail refilling it for a moment. He didn’t really care as much about this Stanton guy as they did. “Granted I wasn’t the pilot for the Helix but - as you know - I was the guy who picked up the money. Kinda odd for them to forget me, dontcha think?” He grinned, lazily then nodded towards the bathrooms.
“I gotta pee,” Alden confessed. “But how bout on my way back, I get us a couple of those fancy drinks with strawberries in, just to say thanks for the shower and the medical assistance? And don’t worry, Mei Mei, you’re a pilot, right? There’s always a way off-world if you want one.”
"Maybe they were running from something?" Abigail said referring to what he said earlier. "Emergencies not always allow for everyone to be informed." She continued thoughtfully. "They might plan to come back for you, but the question is if you want to wait for them." She shrugged. "And what do you mean by there is always a way... what? Buy or steal a ship?"
Abigail waved at Alden to go on and take care of his bladder first. With one leg she pulled a third chair, put legs on it, and sighed with pleasure, stretching out her slim body.
He didn’t take long, smoothly ordering the drinks on his way out and picking them up on his way back, with a friendly fist-bump and additional beverage for Ray the barman to boot. Alden sank a quiet pint of tap water too, unashamed to recognise a need for hydration. Hangovers were the worst.
As he placed both tall, extremely pink drinks down on the table, Alden grinned. “Taste is totally worth the emasculation,” he told Abigail, then rested long fingers on her shoulders in a supportive gesture. “Don’t worry about me,” he said, “I’ll be fine whether they come back or not. And as for you, no need to buy or steal a whole ship, just offer your services to fly one. Course, depends on your standards, but it’s got me around the Verse just fine.”
Abigail glanced at the drinks with curiosity. They looked very nice, she decided and pulled one for her close and tasted it.
"They are indeed worth it. Though I don't have a problem with emasculation." She commented and then focused on what he said. "So you are a pilot too?" She asked looking at Alden in new light. That would explain a lot.
He gave her shoulder a firm squeeze, then took his seat back on the sofa, leaning forward to grab the second cocktail and take a long drink via the tall straw. Mmmm, strawberries… It had been a while.
“Haha,” he said, dryly as he readjusted to sitting on the edge of the seat holding the cold glass. Then Alden smiled again. “Yeah, funny, but I got that feeling real early into our acquaintance.” He considered Abigail’s question with a serious air for a moment before answering her properly.
“Yeah,” Alden admitted openly. “I’m a pilot. My dad taught me to fly. I have other talents too,” he added, with a grin. “But you haven’t really seen any of those yet.”