Mission 1: Gearing Up
Location: Passenger Dorm, Room 2
Lilly had popped open her bunk. Much like Alliance navy ships, space was creatively procured. The sleeping rack was one method of creating space.
With the built-in arm keeping the rack open, Lilly stored her gun box, medicines, and toiletry bag, then gently held the top of the rack and pulled the arm.
Gently she closed the rack's storage compartment and was about to store her dress bag, when she heard roaming.
Lilly, dressed more as a deckhand than a passenger, walked out of her room, turned a right, and headed toward the catwalk that opened and led to the main cargo hold.
"An' here I thought ever'one was out in town," Lilly spoke from the top of the walkway as she spotted Alden. She pulled a vape from her navy peacoat and began to turn it on.
Alden was investigating. Just mooching about the cargo bay, not causing any overt trouble, getting a feel for the ship and its sounds. Every one was unique in that way, a myriad of noises that made up part of the ship's personality, and he had no idea how this one sang just yet. It wasn't talking to him much, just sat here in the warehouse.
A female voice raised his head up to seek the owner, and Alden smiled openly. Sure were a lot of womenfolk aboard this vessel, which was just peachy as far as he was concerned. The skinny redhead with the serious blue eyes seemed unassuming enough, he thought. But first impressions were dangerous beasts.
"Nope, some of us have had plenty enough of 'town' just now," he replied nonchalantly.
Lilly gave a vague nod. She honestly had no plan for this scenario. She intended to get off Persephone, but failed to anticipate socializing with people, using the default identity former Browncoats helped give her.
After a few moments of glancing at her worn-in, brown-leather shoes, she decided going with a false personality to an identity she more or less decided was to be her True Self, meant she had to be as real as she could.
This, of course, was an uncomfortable concept for her grasp. Lilly, however, decided to power through despite her feelings. Creating two different personas off one identity might just get confusing.
"I have ta say..." Lilly, at last, replied with an agreeing nod. "I too grow tired of Persephone. Working in tha docks in tha hot-boilin' sun all day can be mighty gruelin'."
Lilly was going to comment more, but movement from the passenger dorm hallway caught her attention. Her eyes narrowed to understand what it was she heard.
Moira approached the passenger dorms casually, not really expecting too many people to be there - after all, Tobias was still tied up somewhere, as far as she knew and the lady passenger was in the infirmary. She carried a small bag in one hand, with some medicine in it - medicine which she had carried down to supplement what she found in the infirmary. She wasn't about to leave it down there, though, so she was returning to put it back under her bed.
The woman paused when she thought she heard some conversation. "Hello?" she called out, in a relatively cheerful, high-pitched voice.
Lilly's brief moment of high-alert simmered enough to turn back and look down to Alden. "Another passenger, by tha looks of it. Ya recognize her?"
He was still trying to imagine what work this slip of a lass might have been doing in the Persephone docks when he heard footsteps and a familiar voice. Alden didn't immediately turn to see who this was though, his gaze remained - curiously intrigued - on the new woman in the mix. She looked... tense?
"I do," he nodded, knowing Moira's voice before he needed to visually confirm. A relaxed grin took up residence on his features as he finally turned to see the other young woman. "Hey," Alden returned Moira's greeting. "Y'all, alright?"
"Yeah..." Moira looked at the other woman, a bit confused. She hadn't known they were taking on new passengers; but she had been busy performing surgery in the infirmary when they landed. It was still a bit disconcerting to not know who everybody was, even if she had only recently gotten to know most of the crew. But she had gathered the words 'another passenger' so she just decided to roll with it. "You must be the new passenger?" She asked, shooing away her own hesitation.
"Yes," Lilly answered, then turned her vape stick on and began to enjoy the strawberry-flavored maryjane-type substance. A calmative to help her own nerves. "Cap'n said there was room in the dorm across the bathroom, so I took it."
He stood back, smiled, and watched the two women regard each other. People. They were complicated, for sure, and it was definitely a welcome change to have none of them trying to shoot, stab, or punch him.
"You have a name, new passenger lady?" Alden asked outright, feeling a subconscious need to protect the doc, despite his really short time onboard this vessel. He caught the artificial scent of fake strawberries and wrinkled his nose in response.
"Lilly," the new passenger answered, then her eyes looked to Moira. "This ship go anywhere interestin'?
Moira shrugged at the other passenger's question, silently filing the name away into her memory. "I honestly have no clue where this ship is going. Sounds like a question for the Captain... or Ayla... or maybe even he -" she glanced at Alden, " - has some idea." She frowned a bit at the smell of the vape - it brought back memories of med school - of course some of her classmates on Londinium would try that out - which was far from the best time of her life.
"Hey, Lilly," Alden said, his tone warm enough for yet another new stranger on this shiny boat. "I'm Alden." He didn't introduce Moira, figuring she would share her name when she wanted to. Then he shook his head as Moira looked to him for a literal direction. "Don't look at me," he said with a grin. "I'm new and unproven. Nobody tells me nuthin'."
"Looks like we're all equally ignorant here," Moira said with a chuckle. Then her tone became just a touch more serious; still cheerful, but less comedic. "I'm Moira," she introduced herself to the other passenger. As she spoke, she started to lean against the hallway in between the two passenger dorms, still holding a bag of medicine in her left hand.
A neutral observer might think the three of them were rehearsing a dancing recital, for as Moria shift against the corridor's bulkhead, Lilly shifted to the stair landing at her right.
From there, the newest arrival could comfortably see both Alden and Moira without feeling like she was being boxed in. Then the redhead looked up at Moria's hand.
"That a first aid kit?" Lilly asked with skepticism.
"It was," Moira said, glancing back down at the medicine. "I had to use some of my own supplies to take care of him-" she glanced at Alden "- another somebody else." She didn't miss the skepticism in the woman's voice, but for once she didn't think it was deserved. She had hardly met this girl, and so this girl didn't know of her as a naive coreworlder; was it really so strange to have some medical supplies? As much as Moira didn't want to consider herself proud, but she couldn't help but feel a bit indignant at the other passenger's doubt.
"Yup," agreed the tall man in the middle of the conversation. "Moira patched me up good," he said, and he gifted Moira a grateful nod and smile combo.
While they jostled position slightly, Alden stayed exactly where he was, upright and standing, no leaning required, and he watched the interplay between these two women with interest. Moira, he'd met a scant hour or two ago, but Lilly was new to them both it seemed, and their dance intrigued him. He was more direct about it than the doc.
"What else were you thinking it might be?" He asked Lilly, his expression pure curiosity rather than accusation.
With all the poking and prodding Lilly had been subject to - most against her will - she was fighting an internal battle of extreme anxiety. Only by Alden's question, was her attention jerked back to focus.
"Oh..." She blushed a bit, then attempted to shrug it off. "Nothing. Just childhood jitters an' fears of silly needles an' things."
Try as she might relax at that moment, Lilly's body language betrayed her with that same aura of skepticism.
There was more to it than that, clearly, but Alden wasn't about to ask for a life-story (from either of them) in this exact moment. He remained calm, relaxed and amicable by virtue of his basic nature and lack of any immediate concern for his, or Moira's, personal safety.
"We're all afraid of something," he offered verbal consolation without any sign of mockery. "Me," Alden admitted. "I'm not a big fan of needles either. But don't worry, Moira and I ain't got plans to go all medicky on ya." He looked to Moira with a lopsided smile. "Do we?"
Moira just shrugged, and smiled in a way that could be taken for agreement. Honestly, she rarely had to deal with patients that were scared of needles and such - as a surgeon, most of hers were under anesthesia when she worked on them - and she could only think that she was glad she wasn't a pediatrician. She heard of her classmates stories about kids so scared of needles that they'd hide under exam tables. Still; she'd make no outright promises. If something happened that required medical care, she certainly would go "all medicky" on whoever needed it.
"And I'm claustrophobic," she admitted. She certainly had no issue with needles. "If somebody says they have no fear - they're lying." Then she chuckled. "This is certainly one strange introduction; my apologies on that part."
Claustraphobic and traveling on a small ship, Lilly thought with even more skepticism and intrigue of the other woman in the room.
"As introductions go," Alden noted. "I like the stranger ones best. Plus, y'all get bonus points for no one getting shot," he added with a chuckle. He looked from one young lady to the other and considered something in the privacy of his own head for a second or two. Then....
"The dark," said Alden suddenly, as if this was a huge confession. It kinda was, in fairness. The needles thing had been a total cop-out and Moira's apparent honesty piqued his guilt some. "Not that simple darkness when you turn out the lights, I don't mean I'm 'fraid of that," he began to explain. "But the real dark. The one that swallows you up and refuses to let in light. The one you can't escape. That's definitely terrifying."
Something in the way Alden admitted his last fear caught Lilly's full attention. She looked at him with a pair of eyes that suggested that Darkness was something that touched her greatly.
For a few seconds, it looked like Lilly too wanted to confess that fear, or maybe something else related to it. Instead, there was a physical jerk of her head to look down through the grated catwalk.
Lilly wanted to be herself here, without the confusion of a secret identity if she were to be a long-term passenger. So how much could she tell these complete strangers? What was considered too much or too little information? She did not have those answers yet.
"Fear lets ya know you're still livin," Lilly diverted with a twinge of conflicted emotion, if only for a moment. Then she sounded more in-control as she further replied with, "I don' judge folks by what their fears are, only how they cope with 'em."
Moira couldn't help but let out a laugh at that last part. "You know - my ex would always say that exact same thing about coping. I don't think he was much one to talk, though: sort of the 'do as I say, not as I do' type." Then she sighed. Honestly - her coping was probably not ideal. Running away from the core, from her family, from everything, tossing herself into the middle of danger by catching a ride on the sketchiest ship she could find just to see if the faint touch of fear or adrenaline or whatever might be what it takes to push her back out of inaction? That coping almost made drugs look like a smarter, if not safer, choice.
Alden's gaze lingered on Lilly as her eyes lit upon a momentary, but full-on thousand yard stare. Oh yeah, that look spoke volumes to the well travelled man, he'd see that silent trauma tell many times before. For the first time in animals on the ranch. Later in the presence of Niska. And then later, many times during the War. He shook that sense of deeply held scars slowly and tuned back into the conversation as Lilly spoke about coping, and Moira laughed.
He thought about it, mulled over their briefly voiced views and frowned lightly. They were hiding things, of course, everyone was. Didn't mean anything nefarious. Life had a way of giving you secrets that you didn't exactly want or need to share with every individual you bumped into in this Verse. But, here they were, and bouncing onto the subject of those deeper fears at least a little early on in their encounter.
"I'm not sure it matters exactly how you cope," Alden said, his voice quietly strong. "So long as we each find a way. It's having the courage to continue on that truly matters. Sometimes we do that with help from others, but in those moments when we're utterly alone, that's when we really start to understand what we can cope with and how we're gonna do it. Sometimes it's simply a matter of taking that next breath, or a helping hand or..." He smiled wryly. "Punching someone in the face."
Now Lilly carried a completely confused face. She looked to her right hand, which she balled into a fist.
Surely he doesn't want to be a target, Lilly thought, looked at the man's grin and quickly unclenched her fist. Most with silly grins like him were generally just joking.
After taking a medicinal puff of her vape, Lilly relaxed a bit more. Hunger started to set in if her tummy grumbling could be believed.
"Would seem a shame ta mess your shiny face up," Lilly finally smiled. If only he knew just how much her life had been exactly what he preached.
Alden didn't look overly concerned, though he noticed her hand clench into a fist and subsequently relax. He waited while she took a drag from the sweet smelling smoky treat and he felt his face drift into a broad grin as she spoke.
"Happens more than you'd like to think, Shao Jeh," he told her, his tone full of resigned warmth. "I surrender," Alden teased, holding his hands up.
Moira watched in relative silence as the two talked. She couldn't but to glance at the woman's fist when she balled it up. Was she... okay? Moira wondered what it would take for a woman to take that joke seriously, even if just for a moment - what type of hidden anger or obedience issues or who knows what did that girl have? Well, it wasn't Moira's place to pry and even if it were, she didn't know any therapists to recommend in this side of the 'Verse.
"How about no punching today?" Moira added, with a broad smile to make it seem even more like a joke than it actually was. "I've already patched Alden up once this week, and that's enough for me."
"I wasn' gonna," Lilly shrugged aside. "Long day, workin' in tha docks... Should probably finish unpackin' my things, now I think on it."
Alden laughed warmly as Moira gave her friendly intervention. "I'm good with a no punching theme for the day," he concurred merrily as he lightly rubbed fingertips over his upper left sleeve. "Would feel mighty guilty if I made more work for you, Mei Mei," he added to Moira specifically. Then, Alden looked to Lilly.
"From dock worker working in the hot sun, to passenger going somewhere she doesn't know where," he said, his tone coloured with curiosity and filled with questions he didn't specifically ask. "Sounds like a tiring day for sure. Mebbe, join us for a drink and some food in a bit," Alden suggested, gifting first Lilly and then Moira a raised eyebrow look. "If'n that's allowed."
"Sure," Lilly agreed as she started to make her way up the stairs once more.
Moira decided she certainly could use a drink after a long day such as this. "I'll meet you all in there; I have some stuff to put away in my room." At that she sort of half-lifted the bag in her hand, as if to add validity to her statement.
"Sounds good to me," agreed Alden with a nod. He didn't have anything to put away, but he did want to see where Max was, the kid might as well join them for that drink too.