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Time on the Ramp (Just ... Stay ... Away)

Posted on Sun Sep 11th, 2022 @ 4:28pm by Quinlan Barrett Poe & Juniper Farnsby

Mission: The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Xiao Jin, Eavesdown Docks, On the Ramp
Timeline: Mission Day 46 at 1100

Poe had never been good at pretense. Now, he was good at some aspects of investigative work, of course, because he had to be. Work from the shadows, figure out what's going on, and come up with a plan of action, then execute. All that he could do and do well. But maintaining the fiction that he and Addy were over was ... wearing. Oh, he'd figured it out well enough. Rely on his habitually taciturn nature and not spend any more time than necessary in her presence which of course meant that he appeared to be brooding all the time. That's good. The crew didn't like him much anyways. So, he ate in his room and spent time thinking the whole thing through. Making plans.

Now that they were back on Persephone, he was out on the ramp waiting. Teague should be arriving soon, and his plans would be set in motion at last. He wanted that. Needed that. Matthias Stone and hopefully, if his suspicions proved correct, Hank Weysmith would face justice and he would be free to be with Addy. Build a proper future for them both.

Though Juniper had packed light, she reckoned her bag had begun to wear a groove in her shoulder. 'Course she'd worn a true steel boned corset most nights to work for the last long while, but that dug in other places and her shoulder was making its displeasure known. With a sort of half skip in her step she hefted the bag higher, taking some of the weight on her thumb which she had threaded between the strap and the billowy off-white button-down shirt she wore. Touch on the big side, but she didn't mind if folks mistook her for younger than she was when they couldn't be sure of her dimensions.

The search for a ship hadn't been so easy as she had originally thought. Seems there must be more cooks in the 'Verse than she expected or fewer ships willing to take on a petite redhead as a deckhand thinking, mistakenly, that she couldn't pull her own weight. She looked up at the next ship down the lists as she walked and felt a spark of hope at the sight of a man standing by the ramp seemingly scanning the crowd. He wasn't barking for positions, but he weren't moving either and so she set her steps to the bottom of his ramp figuring she couldn't do worse than another no and back on her way.

There were always things to draw a person's attention on the ramp. Barkers whose job it was to talk people into something and of course, the endless stream of folks looking for a ride or a job or more likely, a way to get a little coin selling whatever they had. Sometimes it was small piles of goods, sometimes it was other things. And while he registered potential threats, for the most part, Poe watched with the distracted gaze of someone whose mind was elsewhere.

Juniper took the man's measure as she approached more out of habit than any concern he raised. Handsome fella and tall, but not with the most welcoming expression. Not closed neither, so she kept going. Not everyone loves working a ramp and not every day can be a good one so she figured she had as good a chance with this one as any.

"Evening," she called, pitching a bit of the friendly singsong she used as a barkeep into her voice. Mayhap the man just hadn't gotten any friendly faces that day. "Any chance you're hiring?"

"Evening," Poe said in return as he rose to his feet and approached her. "Might be. Course that would depend on what your skills are."

Juniper stopped at the bottom of the ramp, craning her neck as he approached. "I'm a fair hand in the kitchen," she said, free hand settling on her hip as she gave a little half hop to adjust the strap of her bag again. "No stranger to hard work either. I've been a deckhand before, so not afraid of the scut work." She paused there watching and waiting for a reaction.

He hadn't been looking to hire anyone, but the idea wasn't without merit either. "If we can work out an arrangement, you'd be one of two deckhands," he said. The thought occurred to him that it was best to be upfront. See what scared her off and what didn't and so, he laid things out for her. "The other is Sula. She does double-duty as our medic and helps with the cleaning. You'd be expected to do the same. Have responsibility for meal preparation and help her with the general cleaning and that includes the passenger dorms. Everyone does their own laundry but guest towels and what-not is something the two of you take care of. "

Juniper shrugged. Didn't sound like a bad gig where she sat. She'd been cooking and cleaning for as long as she could remember. "That sounds reasonable to me," she answered. "Assuming the position is paid and there's a place I can sleep," she said before adding, "I'm Juniper by the by. Juniper Farnsby."

"I'm Poe," he answered while, in the back of his mind, he was wondering what kind of deck hand jobs she took that didn't come with a place to sleep. Bad ones. "And this is the Xiao Jin. And so we're clear, meals, use of the facilities, and a room of your own on the crew deck are all included. Pay is a percentage of the profits but expenses are taken out first."

She tried not to look too over enthusiastic, but this seemed more than a good deal all around. For a quick moment a shot of guilt ran through her as she thought of Mac. She'd left Glenn with a note so that Mac would know she was alright, but still... he'd done right by her plenty often. Still, a body has to do what they have to do. "That all sounds mighty fine to me. What other information would you be needing? Do you need me to cook something first?"

"We'll do this on a trial basis," Poe said after a minute. "If you can get along with everyone and the meals are good, it'll be permanent. For now, go through the food stores and figure out if you have enough and if you don't make a list of what you'll need ... within reason."

With a nod Juniper took a step toward the ramp before pausing. "How long do you want the ship stocked for?" That would have some bearing on how much or little she recommended they carry and how much, if any, could be fresh.

"Say two months," Poe said. "Most cargo jobs won't take quite that long but it's better to have a bit extra just in case."

"And you've how many aboard?" she asked. She had a very loose idea of what a vessel this size could hold, but it wouldn't do to plan meals for 5 if there were closer to 10 or if they expected to pick up people along the way.

"Five," Poe answered. "There's me, Sula, Morgan, he's our pilot, and Mrs. Stone, she's our mechanic. You should talk to her about where your quarters are, she'll help you get settled in."

Now there was an interesting tidbit. She didn't know why Mrs. Stone warranted such an honorific when the other two were afforded first name description, but she imagined she'd find out soon enough. "Five it is then," she said before sticking out a small delicate hand to shake. Long slender fingers that had the wear of work about them graced a hand that might have made more sense on a musician.

Poe shook her hand, his expression more serious than the situation warranted and then, as though realizing it, he offered his habitual smile, a tiny upward tic on the left side of his mouth. "Welcome to the Xiao Jin."

"Thank you Mr. Poe," she said with all of the genteel civility she'd learned over the years. She gripped his hand firmly, though, and shook warmly, matching smile for smile. "Thank you very much.

 

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