Knockin' em Down
Mission 1: Gearing Up
Location: Captain's Quarters, Deck 2
Clayton found himself sitting in front of the Cortex panel in his cabin, eyes glazed over. His brain felt fried with the sheer amount of chaos that had transpired recently. Crew forced on him, passengers trying to kill him, and that damn crest. It had taken all of his energy not to lose his mind right then and there. He wasn't the type to take orders, not anymore, not after what happened. What was he doing? Why was he being forced into this situation?
He sighed, letting his tensed shoulders drop. Hadn't he paid his dues? Hadn't he been through enough? Evidently not...
She'd given the Captain time, probably not as much as he would prefer, but the domino was burning a hole in her pocket. It wasn't the first time she'd seen one, or gorram held one. The first one had been given to her by Fancy-Pants to give to Clayton, to the captain. This one? This one she had found on Tobias and kept. Why? Because as much as she had tried to stay impartial, she wanted answers. Seeing the way the Captain had reacted to the first one, the way his handsome face and paled...not that she wanted to even consider why she found his face handsome, there were answers to be had.
Ayla gave the tile a quick pat, double checking that it was still safe and sound in her pocket. And it was. She rose from the table, leaving the tea she was drinking behind and hit the com on the wall to put her through to Clayton's quarters.
"Need a word, Cap'n."
Clayton was snapped back to reality like a rubber band, making him jump, his head snapping to attention hard enough to give himself whiplash. The fog, the seeming fugue state he had been in, quickly dissipated as he pulled himself together. He had to at least pretend to be professional a bit. He tapped the com panel, conveniently located next to his Cortex panel. "Yeah, alright. Door's open."
Briefly she wondered if there was even a time when he'd seem a bit friendly, but the thought was fleeting since she sure she didn't come across as the friendly sort either. But if the Captain was in a good mood, or at least a decent mood, that was good enough.
Stepping her, her gaze sought him out, it was his quarters after all, and although Ayla wasn't much for sharing secrets..."Know you ain't really wantin' to talk about it, an' well..." She pulled the tile from her pocket, that second domino and held it up.
Clayton moved as if in slow motion, glancing first at the domino, then at Ayla, then back at the domino, then at his feet. He paused there for a few seconds. After then, when the tension had just begun to mount, he let out a heavy side, reaching for the bottle of amber colored liquor sitting on top of the desk beside him. Reaching into a drawer, he extracted two glasses, pouring a few fingers into one of the glasses.
Glancing at it for a moment, he downed the liquid in one gulp, setting the glass back down on the desk with a heavy thud. He savored the burning sensation. He needed it, in order to even broach this topic. Pouring another few fingers, he then allowed his gaze to return to Ayla. "I really don't. It's true. And yet, here we are." He gestured the bottle to her slightly. "Drink?"
Ayla wasn't sure the captain was going to be any more forthcoming than he had been before, only there were two dominoes now and she was determined to let him know just what she thought about it all. Espeically if he didn't let her in on whatever this was, because it certainly wasn't gorram going away like she thought he might have been hoping. She opened mouth, intent on saying something, but snapped it shut as he finally moved. Her nose wrinkled as he reached for the alcohol, and took a subconscious step backwards. "Indeed." Ayla responded. Here they were.
Her gaze darted to the bottle. It was such an innocent thing, and it would be so easy to try it...yet after ten years it still brought up bad memories. She shook her head, intent on keeping the trepidation from both her face and her voice, "I don't-don't drink."
Clayton cocked his head automatically at the response, a bit baffled. Almost no one passed up a free drink, especially one of this caliber. He then looked at Ayla, pausing slightly. Despite the stutter, she seemed fairly calm. And he would have been fooled, if not for the darting eyes.
Showing no signs of recognition himself, he simply nodded. "Suit yourself." He sighed heavily, reclining in his chair. He gestured towards the other end of the room, where both his bed and another chair were available, though the chair currently had a jacket strewn across the back.
"You won't know everything. Accept that now. However, since you seemingly stumbled into something way over your head, there are some things you might find useful. So, what do you want to know?"
Over the years, Ayla had grown accustomed to the fact that people drank, that people could drink and not turn into belligerent, abusive assholes, but the captain here was still seemingly unknown. Sure, he'd basically invited her on board when she'd needed the safety and well, given her a job as well. But she still wasn't keen on the whole trusting thing, which wasn't out of character for the young woman either. Ayla was right pleased with herself that she seemed to turn the offer of the drink down without raising Clayton's interest too much. That was a step in the right direction and she let out a faint, small sigh of relief.
She started to tuck her hands into her pockets when he gestured for her to sit. Blue eyes followed and eyes both places, and with a quick, nervous drumming of her fingers on her thigh, moved to the chair.
After a short sweep around his quarters, Ayla turned her gaze back to her captain. "Ain't gotta know everythin', don't care 'bout that." Truth. "Not so sure it was stumblin' though, Cap'n, seems like someone was wantin' me to know. Your right, might be over my head, but that ain't gotta mean I can just ignore things. Not if'n it's gonna come bite us in the...well, bite us." She tucked her hair behind her ear, "What's so important 'bout the tile?"
He sighed. Straight into it, he supposed. "Well, I'm sure you know it's a domino tile, made from pure ivory. Not much of that left in the 'Verse. But that's not the part you're asking about. Flip it over," he said, gesturing in a circle with his index finger.
"You see the crest? Pure 24 karat gold. Again, not what you're asking, but a nice detail. The detail that you're looking for is that it's a family crest. They're kept private, but I recognize that I'm supposed to know that particular one. It represents one of the noble families on Albion, the type of people what come with the title 'Lord' or 'Lady'...or higher."
He paused, glancing at the tile again. "This," he began, slowly, cautiously, "is a message to me. Let's just say that I'm familiar with the crest and the person you described back on Albion. And the fact that they are aware of my recognition is a message in itself. As you can see, they're attempting to apply some...leverage. Evidently, they have been successful so far."
Ayla eyed the tile in her hand, flipping it over as the Captain suggested. Blue eyes gave it a quick passing glance, sweeping over it briefly as she listened and turned her gaze back to Clayton. She'd already inspected the domino thoroughly, having turned in over in her hand numerous times since she'd taken it from Tobias. Which.... was bound to have some sort of repercussions at some point, Ayla was sure.
Gold. That grabbed her attention and had her eyes dropping back down to the domino. So, Fancy-Pants hadn't been lying about it bringing in a hefty payout, if she had chosen such. The real shocker of it all was hearing that it was family crest. Not just any family crest, but one from a noble family on Albion. Why did things have to come right around back to that gorram rock.
Turning the tile over again, Ayla glanced back upwards. What he was saying made sense, sorta kinda explained his reaction over her handing the first one over to him. She shifted in the chair. The domino had been given to her to give to Clayton. And now there was a second one. Plus the new hires. Ayla held the tile up, looking from it to the Captain and back, "Someone's wantin' you for somethin'." She stated, "You should have this one too."
He waved it off with a hand. "No, I believe that the appropriate reaction from me has already been garnered. I would rather not have that particular connection at the moment. Besides, if this job goes south, you'll need something to bail me out with. Assuming I'm not in Alliance custody." With that, he paused, awaiting her next question.
Ayla palmed the tile, fingers closing around it as she lowered her hand and nodded. Not that she wanted to keep the thing, but it was what it was. Her gaze lifted to meet his, an arch of delicate brow accompanying her words, "I'm supposed to bail you out?" It wasn't the question that she was supposed to ask, wasn't the reason she'd requested this little meeting, but it was also a bit of a joke as well. She'd bail him out for sure, unless she was right there beside him wondering just who would be bailing them out. "So it's like someone's tryin to pull your strings?"
Clayton flashed a small smile, fleeting and rare in its appearance. "Well, I'd certainly hope you would. Jailbreaks are not much fun, so I'm told." Growing serious again, he nodded. "Yes, that's precisely what someone is attempting to do. And quite the hefty string, at that."
He paused, debating in his head whether to continue. After a heavy sigh, he relented. "That particular string has already caused a significant amount of disgrace and disappearances. Possibly deaths, though I certainly hope not, and have no involvement in."
They barely knew each other. Sure, they’d been through the trouble with the two passengers, but they still had some learning to do. But truthfully, Ayla knew she’d more than likely bail the Captain out if need be. He’d given her a place to hide when she needed it, plus a way off Albion without having to worry about those goons. Or at least she hoped. “Ain’t gotta fret, Cap’n, I’d bail you out...dependin’ on what got you locked up.” The small, fleeting smile was there and gone before she’d realized there had even been a smile on his face. Maybe she was seeing things?
Her head tilted slightly as she ran his words through her head. “You ain’t gotta let ‘em.” To Ayla it seemed simple enough. But it also sounded a tab bit like a tangled web of something that she wanted no part in. “That mean we got things to worry ‘bout?”
Clayton nodded at her nicety, confirming that he wouldn't rot in prison, if it came to that. "I'll try not to make too much of a mess of things." Though he didn't know exactly what he faced.
He reflected on her question, pausing to think. "...Let's just say that there are some things that are better left buried. And if that means I've gotta suffer a little for it, so bet it. Nothing you all need to worry about, I appear to be the sole focus here. All of the actions we've seen thus far are to benefit or challenge me. The extra crew, the domino, all of it. I believe there is no direct threat to any of you. Just to me."
Ayla shrugged. “You saved mine back on Albion, so it seems only fittin’ to watch yours.” Which, once those last few words were said, a light blush hit her cheeks. Not that she was gonna be watching… “See about returnin’ the favor if’n I need to.”
She shifted in the chair, tucking the domino back away, though, she wasn’t sure just what she was gonna do with it, “To be honest, Fancy-Pants was a bit on the strange side. I’d rather not be runnin’ into him again.” Ayla paused, her gaze turning inquisitive, “You don’t seem like you’d take too well to a threat.” Still didn’t explain why he’d reacted so badly when she’d given him the first domino. “Is that all?”
He smirked, raising an eyebrow. "You're right. I don't take well to threats. And yeah, I think you've got the hang of things for now. If something else comes up, we'll talk."
After a quick nod Ayla rose from the chair, hands fidgeting awkwardly. She'd spent enough time in such a small space with a member of of the opposite sex that it was time for her to get out before more was given away than she was willing. Which, seeing as how she'd just pried into things with Clayton, would only make sense. Not that she was ready for a reveal of her past.
Ayla paused, "Maybe. Seems like you like to talk less than I do." Though, she was finding Moira easy to open up to.
What he said as she left his quarters registered only after the hatch swished shut behind her.
"Oh, before I forget. You seem to be the most trustworthy person on here. If I'm not around, or indisposed, consider yourself first mate."