Road Snacks and Improv
Mission 1: Gearing Up
Location: Persephone Festival
Timeline: An hour after leaving the warehouse
As he walked back through, the festival had ramped up some. More people, more noise, more delicious smells of food being cooked out in the open air, more… well everything. Alden hadn’t left any of his gear back at the warehouse, but that wasn’t a statement indicating his commitment or lack of it, no, it was simply force of habit. Take what you can carry. Be ready to leave at any second. That had been his life for so long now, he just kinda rolled with it.
She wasn’t at the Duck, he checked with the staff. So, Abigail was somewhere out in the midst of all this humanity, hopefully having fun. Alden smiled at the thought, and formulated his plan within a few seconds of realising what he needed to do.
It didn’t take much convincing for them to let him join the talent contest running on the main stage, the one with its whole wooden frame lit up with multi-coloured lights. He took the slot of someone who’d chickened out, which was just the way Alden’s luck ran sometimes. Perfect timing. A need for the universe to play along with his needs.
So, guitar in hand, microphone before him, the smuggler pilot from Ezra strummed his way into a song, voice belting out into the night. No one else had to know he was making it up as he went.
“I don’t know where we’re going to, I don’t know how long we’ll be. But if you see me leave at this end of this song, you’re gonna wanna come with me. Up there, up there, into the black. I don’t know when we’re coming back, but you’re gonna wanna come with me. I know his name, the old boss man, you’d know him if you’d been to Canton. That mud strewn town ain’t mighty fine, but those folks sure know how to…. rhyme.”
Abigail was on the good way to get a nice rest of the evening with the handsome, although looking like ten years younger guy. He was relatively funny considering amount of alcohol she drank, and he was very very handsome. And eager.
And then she heard the song and rolled her eyes, leaning forward and giggling.
"What?" The guy asked in front of him. "Did I say something funny?" He asked disoriented.
Abi shook her head. The song continued and it seemed to be a message. At least that was what she was guessing.
"No, no Shwai." She replied and leaned forward and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "But I need to check with the guy that is trying to sing."
"Should I wait?"
"Definitely." Abi gave him a wink, then jumped off the bar stool she was sitting on and walked away, heading toward the stage.
She pushed few people out of her way, some too big and heavy she had bypass, but eventually she came close enough to notice Alden. Abi continued on until she squeezed through to the front row against several loudly protesting people. But the hand on the holstered SIG was enough to calm them all down.
He’d been keeping an eye on the crowd, but also playing to his audience. Alden enjoyed that attention, soaked up the looks and bobbing heads of those who were into the music he was actively creating. There was something inherently comforting about being an integral part of a song, something energising in the process of just allowing that tune, those lyrics to flow through him from the collective unconsciousness of the universe.
Then he saw her, and he shifted his words as he locked eyes with Abigail up there in the front row and grinned. A complicated middle eight that was really beautifully simple and Alden kept going through another verse or two, to end on a high note and a fancy series of chords that closed with a dead stop.
He stood up, took a bow with a flourish and jumped down from the stage.
“Hey, stranger,” Alden greeted Abigail with a friendly smile. “Buy you a drink and a moment of your time?”
Abi squinted her eyes and then shrugged.
"Sure. How was your meeting?" She pointed with her head toward a nearby stand with drinks. She was briefly considering refusing Alden since there was some fun waiting for her. But she decided if it was worth it, the teenager will wait. "That was a great performance. You get my vote for the win." She giggled.
He shook his head lightly and regarded her as Abigail seemed undecided but whatever private struggle was going on in that pretty head of hers, it apparently went his way. So, graciously, Alden led the way to the bar stand and ordered a couple of pints of an apparently award winning homebrew.
"Why thank you kindly, ma'am," he replied, gifting her a genuine smile and giving a mini-bow in overly dramatic gratitude for the compliment. "Not sure what the prize is... or if I'll be around to claim it though. Listen, that meeting - it's somehow connected to the guy you and the Ninja mentioned."
Abi nodded slightly as he was explaining.
"How it is connected?" She asked and paused when the pints were put in front of them. She picked one and lead Alden on the side to an empty table. "Can you be more specific?" She added sitting down and trying to gauge how much there was from Alden's behavior.
He sank a good draught of ale before he answered that question, but Alden met Abigail's eyes directly as he spoke.
"I can only tell ya it's connected. And that the guy. He's coming here," he said, taking a seat and looking apprehensive. Alden shrugged. She didn't have to be a part of this, and he couldn't tell her everything, but... well he said it out loud. "I just couldn't leave without letting you know that."
"I see." Abigail leaned back. She took her pint and took a small sip, then another. She watched Alden all that time assessing him and being somewhat disappointed that he decided to tell her nothing. And she wasn't hiding the disappointed in her eyes either, as she decided to grill him over that if he had any feelings here. "Now I know." She finally said putting back the pint.
She looked unhappy, Alden thought. And rightly so, he supposed. He wasn't giving her a lot of information on which to make a decision. So, he needed to give Abigail enough without compromising the secret he had been asked to keep. He'd thought about that on the walk over, and time was running short.
"All I can tell ya is that we've been offered positions on the ship that's coming in. Stanton's ship. I don't know all the details on how that'll pain out until it gets here and we have words with him," Alden said, honestly. "But all being well, I'm gonna take up the offer of the ride at the very least. And," he smiled with a warm fondness in his eyes as he regarded the woman before him. "I just didn't want to leave without speaking to you."
"I understand." Abigail nodded and sighed. "Well, I guess then I will wait for another ship." She added, took another sip of from the pint and finished. "Watch out for yourself."
Alden couldn't hide the unexpected surprise from his face, which fell enough to be obvious as Abigail spoke. For some reason he'd expected the opposite response, but, well he barely knew this young lady and her choices would always be her own. He forced up a smile for their brief time together and looked from Abigail to his pint and back up to meet her eyes.
"Duly noted," he replied, bittersweet expression on his face as he spoke. "Well, thanks for the naked cuddles and medical attention," Alden continued, his smile a little warmer despite their parting of ways. "Be lucky out there in the black, Abigail, been a mixed bag of pleasure to share some time with ya."
"Any time." Abigail replied standing up. She took another big swig from the pint and gave Alden mocking salute. "I am off... for me there is fun to have this evening."
Alden laughed at the salute. "Some poor unsuspecting guy about to be kidnapped, shot at and stripped naked?" He asked, mischief bright in his eyes as he regarded the dangerous blonde.
"You had your chance." She said lightly and leaving nearly finished pint she went off, leaving Alden alone.